Kalbarri to Jurien Bay / Perth


Despite Gerry tweaking her back, we enjoyed Kalbarri and would really like to go back and spend more time there. Unfortunately, we’ll have to save that for another trip. And so we headed out on the road to Jurien Bay a journey, of approximately 350 kilometers, that was supposed to take just under four hours.

I was expecting to take the coastal route out of Kalbarri but the satnav had other ideas and we found ourselves back, heading South, on the Northwest Coastal Highway before rejoining the Brand Highway. We made good progress and soon made the turn onto Indian Ocean Drive.

Indian Ocean Drive is a much quieter road. I had read that there were no road trains on this road. Not strictly true, we did encounter a couple but they are less intimidating as they are having to travel more slowly due to the winding nature of the road.

AS we followed the road to Leeman we became aware that the clouds were thickening and that somewhere up ahead it looked like a lot of rain was being dumped. By the time we pulled into Leeman it had gotten quite dark and the ever-present coastal wind was winding itself up into a frenzy. We topped up with fuel and continued down the road.

Shortly after leaving Leeman we saw a huge lightning strike. What I called a floor to ceiling bolt. I think the storm we had been trailing stopped and waited for us. And there we were driving with windscreen wipers going full pelt, headlights on and our speed less than half what it was.

I became aware of flashing lights coming up fast behind me and I pulled off onto the verge to let them go by, three fire service trucks on a mission. On our way again but a short distance up the road we moved over to allow some more to go by.

We eventually cleared the storm, the rains petered out and it became brighter. At Green Head we pulled off the road to look out over the ocean and at the storm clouds.

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Storm Cloud, Looking South – Green Head, WA

This was the filthiest stop we had made, north of Perth. Alongside this view-point there was heaps of litter and just off the tarmac was masses of used toilet paper and disposable nappies as well as the bane of the modern world, wrappers and containers from numerous takeaway establishments. I was surprised that there wasn’t a supermarket trolley.

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Storm Cloud, Looking North – Green Head, WA

Arriving in the Jurien Bay area we prepared to locate the B & B. This was easier said than done as the satnav had decided that the B & B was located off-road to our left. At the next turn we hung a u-turn and headed back thinking we had missed a farm entrance or something similar. But no, the satnav seemed to be suggesting that we go off-road and follow a line of power lines disappearing into the bush. Not prepared to do that we continued down the road and towards the centre of Jurien Bay where we came across an information board and map. There we found an ad for our B & B, helpfully marked with a grid reference. The only problem was that the map wasn’t sporting a “you are here” arrow. As luck would have it a truck pulled in to empty the bins. The driver was very helpful and knew exactly where we needed to go.

Firmly on the scent of our accommodation we headed back the way we came. It was around this time that Gerry began to feel unwell. Not just her back but also some kind of skin irritation. She was itching all over. We think it was probably a reaction to the pain killers she had just taken. Either way she didn’t want to stay anywhere, she just wanted to go home. Given we were so close to the B & B, I said we had to do the courteous thing and go in an explain why we wouldn’t be stopping the night.

The landlady was very understanding, even offering us tea before we headed on back to Perth. When we declined, she pointed out to us that, South of Jurien Bay, Indian Ocean Drive was closed due to bushfires. That explained the fire service trucks that had passed us earlier. Her recommendation was for us to go back to the Brand Highway, which is what we did.

As we headed on our way to Perth we began to see the smoke from the bushfire, mingling with the clouds. The smoke stack was to be visible to us for most of our journey back to Perth…

After around seven hours of driving, broken up by pee and fuel stops and, much to my son-in-laws surprise, we arrived back home, a whole day early.

We were sad to have missed Jurien Bay but never has a cup of tea tasted better.

 

 

 

Heading North


So, having spent a brief week travelling South, from Perth to Albany, we turned our sights North. Our aim was to visit Exmouth, but to break the journey into manageable chunks.

The morning of Wednesday, 20th January, found us driving to Geraldton. The port of Geraldton is just over 400 kilometers North of Perth.

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View from Brand Highway – Beermullah, WA
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View from Brand Highway – Mimegarra, WA
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Leaning Tree – Greenough, WA

The Leaning Trees of Greenough are a species of Eucalyptus, the River Gum. This leaning behaviour, a natural phenomenon, is caused by the airborne salt content of the strong winds that blow in off the Indian Ocean.

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Ocean View – Our room at the Ocean Centre Hotel, Geraldton, WA

Geraldton was to be our first overnight stop. The Ocean Centre Hotel set a standard that subsequent hotels/motels failed to meet.

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Ocean Centre Hotel, Geraldton, WA

After relaxing on the balcony with a cold beer we took a walk around the area and met some of the local residents ….

A Local Geraldton Resident - Possibly feral harbour cat
A Local Geraldton Resident – Possibly feral harbour cat

….. got an art infusion ….

Local Art - Geraldton, WA
Local Art – Geraldton, WA

…… and watched the lifeblood of Geraldton flowing out …..

Guo Yuan 32 Leaving Geraldton - Bulk Carrier sailing under the Chinese Flag
Guo Yuan 32 Leaving Geraldton – Bulk Carrier sailing under the Chinese Flag

…. and in …..

Santa Roslia - Bulk Carrier entering Geraldton
Santa Rosalia – Bulk Carrier entering Geraldton

We had a very pleasant meal at Topo’s On The Terrace, a short walk away from the hotel. Then retired to recharge the batteries for the next step of our northerly journey, on to Carnarvon.

Clouds


Travelling south from Kalbarri, heading to Perth, we had been following a storm cell for some time. Eventually it allowed us to catch up and experience the strong winds and rain. The temperatures plummeted from the low to mid 30’s we had been experiencing, dropping down to the low 20’s as we entered Leeman.

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Storm Clouds

Between Leeman and Jurien Bay we discovered that Indian Ocean Drive was closed up ahead and we were diverted onto the Brand Highway. We had been watching a smoke stack in the distance and as we travelled onwards it grew in magnitude.

Bushfire Smokestack - viewed from Emu Downs Wind Farm WA
Bushfire Smokestack – viewed from Emu Downs Wind Farm WA

The smokestack seemed to interact with the existing cloud formations and dominated the skyline even as we traveled on southwards.

Bushfire Smokestack -viewed from Brand Highway
Bushfire Smokestack -viewed from Brand Highway

Apparently the fire was started by a lightning strike and at the time of writing was burning out of control. The DFES issued a Bushfire Emergency Warning

Emergency

Emergency

Emergency

I guess when you choose to live in this kind of environment you accept that there are risks. You also accept that others may have to put themselves at risk on your behalf when the worst happens.

One can only hope that, on this occasion, nobody is injured or loses their life.