Carnarvon Revisited


 

Having spent a couple of nights in Exmouth we headed back south to Carnarvon. As we left Exmouth, heading along the Exmouth Minilya Road we stopped very briefly to visit the Potshot Memorial site.

The Potshot Memorial commemorates the use of the West Australian coast for the allied attacks on the Japanese. US submarines used this area as a refuelling base and an airstrip was built for the fighting squadron

We returned to Carnarvon, to stop overnight, for no other reason than to break the journey to Kalbarri. I know many folks like to dose up on energy drinks and punch on down the road and get the journey over with. Some folks have told me that they drive from Perth to Exmouth in one continuous bash, stopping only for fuel and pee breaks.  Madness is what I call it, certainly asking for trouble.

Driving all that way is tiring and boring, yes boring. Long, very long, flat, straight stretches of road with countryside that doesn’t change very often. Nothing to keep you alert. Which is why we purchased some CDs. Nothing like singing along to ELO, Fleetwood Mac and of course, it had to be done, Men at Work’s greatest hits.

At times the bush is fairly close to the edge of the road, meaning that you get a form of tunnel vision. You become mesmerised staring off into the distance. That is the time that you get a cow, sheep or herd of goats or a kangaroo wander out into the road. There are plenty of signs along the roads, where collisions were not avoided.

Rkill

We observed some very fresh road kill, a young cow that was decapitated and it’s entrails spread along the road, providing fresh food for the scavengers. Not a pretty sight. On our journey I learnt to look ahead and spot the dark clusters of crows which would reluctantly scatter as we got nearer. As soon as I saw the crows I would slow down and prepare to deviate around whatever carcass was laid there. The roadsides are littered with skeletons and desiccated corpses. I dread to think what it must be like to hit something the size of sheep, let alone a kangaroo or even a cow. Although our car had “roo bars” fitted, I suspect hitting a cow at the state speed limit of 110 kilometers per hour would be pretty devastating for all involved. Luckily, whenever something chose to cross the road in front of us, I spotted them early enough to slow down. And, on at least one occasion come to a complete stop. Luckily there was nothing following behind me. I wouldn’t want to be stopped in front of a road train.

On arrival at Carnarvon we booked into the Best Western Hospitality Inn. Very friendly receptionist who dealt with us most efficiently and we were soon stretched out having been folded in the car for several hours.

After our last experience, looking for an eatery, in Carnarvon we chose to eat in Sails, the motel restaurant. The food and service was very good. Although, the breakfast was another story. The food quality was okay but the service was somewhat off kilter since this was provided by a very pleasant, chatty lady. However, her normal role was in the laundry. Consequently, she didn’t have all the information regarding food options.

Overnight, the weather had changed. There had been a nice sunset in the evening but we were greeted with a dull and overcast morning. As I packed the car, ready for our onward journey there was a pleasant surprise waiting for us.

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Cecils Calling Card

Tucked under our windscreen wiper blade was a card, left by Cecil. He had cleaned our windscreen while we were tucked up in bed. A nice touch.

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Moored on the Fascine – Carnarvon, WA
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Fascine View – Carnarvon WA
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Satellite Earth Station –  Carnarvon, WA

This satellite dish dominates the Carnarvon skyline. The following has been lifted straight from Wikipedia.

The OTC Satellite Earth Station Carnarvon was established to meet the need for more reliable and higher quality communications for NASA’s Apollo Moon project. NASA contracted Australia’s Overseas Telecommunications Commission (OTC) “to provide an earth station nearCarnarvon, Western Australia to link the NASA tracking station in that area to the control centre in the USA”

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Foreshore Fascine – Carnarvon, WA

 

Exmouth, WA – Part 2


In my previous post I had mentioned  that we booked to go on a glass bottomed boat tour. Consequently we found ourselves up at the unearthly hour of 06:30, packing our bags into the car, so that we could both check-out from Ningaloo Lodge and be ready for our 07:30 pick up.

We were picked up ,on time, by Alek in his bus. He gave a running commentary on what were to see and what our itinerary was going to be. On the way down to the boat he took us down to see the SS Mildura and on the way back we popped up to Vlaming Head Lighthouse. As I have already covered both in my previous post I won’t bore you again.

By the time we arrived at the Tantabiddi boat ramp there were twenty-three passengers.

Alek, left us on shore while he clambered into a canoe and paddled out to his boat which was anchored offshore.

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Tantabiddi Boat Ramp – Glass Bottom Boat just below the horizon
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Alek paddling out to the glass bottomed boat

Soon he was motoring back into the jetty ….

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Alek motoring in to the jetty

After a short informational pitch we were all aboard and heading out to the reef. As you can see from the photos, the sun was hiding and the reef was not well illuminated. The following shots have all had to be adjusted to try to remove the reflections so are not truly representative of what we actually saw. Hopefully they will give you a hint….

After a tour over the reef Alek tied up to a mooring to allow some of the passengers to go snorkeling. The wind was rising and this session was curtailed. Although the boat was very stable, turning from the mooring brought us across the wind and tide which made an uncomfortable ride, for a short period of time.

On the run back to the Tantabiddi boat ramp we were joined by a couple of dolphins who played across our bows and in the wake.

After returning to Exmouth we headed to See Salt for brunch before setting off back down to Carnarvon.

Geraldton to Carnarvon


Awoke in Geraldton to wet pavements and fairly heavy rain. Seemed just like home in the UK, except that the temperature was up in the twenties. First things first, we had a full cooked breakfast. The Ocean Centre Hotel has so much going for it, but the breakfast let it down. Soggy toast, tasteless scrambled eggs and poor service.

Car loaded up we set out for Carnarvon. After a while the rain stopped but it wasn’t to be the last time that we saw it. After about forty minutes of driving, we are heading up the Northwest Coastal Highway and soon approaching Northampton. Having been following a road train for some time, we were presented with a much-needed overtaking lane. So I hit the pedal and we were soon speeding past the leviathan of the road. Admittedly by the time I passed the truck I was probably doing approximately 120 -130 km, which is exactly when I spotted the dark vehicle parked at the side of the road. The one with the strange device facing out of the back window. No flash, no blue meanies on motor bikes like back home, in fact no indication that I had been nabbed. I’ll just have to wait and see if this turns into a ticket.

A general comment for driving in Australia but it is amazing how often the highways folks put in place an overtaking lane and just as you reach it they will reduce the speed limit from say 110 km down to 80 km !!! Especially when the overtaking lane is on a long incline. Does that make sense ?

We passed through Northampton which looked to be a pretty rural town. I made a mental note that we should stop and have a wander on our way back to Perth.

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I can see for miles and miles and …….. somewhere near Alma, WA

A few kilometers north of Northampton I stopped to take a photo of the never-ending countryside. According to the GPS on the camera we were near someplace called Alma.

On we traveled until we reached the Billabong Roadhouse some 180 km north of Northampton.

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Billabong Roadhouse – Meadow, WA

We topped up with fuel, made good use of the toilet facilities and stretched our legs at the roadhouse before continuing northwards.

Travelling along the North West Coastal Highway you begin to realise the name is something of a misnomer. Mile after mile of generally straight roads bounded on both side by sandy soil based bush might give one the feeling that you are driving over a very large beach but close to the coast ? Nope, I don’t think so.

If you look at a map of WA you will see that the road does run sort of parallel with the coast but in reality you are usually many kilometers away.

A few kilometers up the road from Billabong we topped a rise and I stopped to attempt to show how long and straight these roads are. These two photos show the north and south views of the North West Coastal Highway from a point near Carbla.

And so we moved on….. and eventually we made it to the 26th Parralel.

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Your’s truly at the 26th Parallel

Now we were truly into the north of the state. The roads looked pretty much the same but the accompanying countryside had changed and soon we came upon signs for a lookout. We didn’t see any signs giving a name and there were no information boards explaining what you could see. Subsequent googling identified it as White Bluff or the Gladstone Lookout.

On top of this, very windy, flat-topped, hill we discovered a couple of “cairns” comprising all manner of memorial artefacts. Some were formal, cast iron, plaques. Most were just rocks that had been written or painted on. One of the “cairns” comprised various gnomes, dolls and other figures. White Bluff gives an almost 360 degree view over the Wooramel countryside. Showing the highway disappearing northwards and southwards, views across the plain and out to the sea at Shark Bay (I think).

descending, from White Bluff, we once again commenced our journey north. Pausing at the Wooramel Roadhouse to top up again with fuel. Shortly after leaving the roadhouse we crossed the Wooramel River ….

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Wooramel River

This picture doesn’t really show just how dry this land is. This river is actually just a sandy river bed. You get used to seeing signs on the road for such and such a river or so and so creek. Never seeing a drop of water or even mud in the little, narrow, gully passing under the road. However, the Wooramel River is quite a reasonable size. The pictures below show how wide and how dry.

After only another 115 kilometers we arrived in Carnarvon and checked into the Carnarvon Motel.

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FootBridge – Carnarvon

This foot bridge was once part of the railway line from town to the One Mile Jetty. It now provides a pleasant walkway along the same route.

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Fascine Boardwalk – Carnarvon

The Fascine is a picturesque bay in Carnarvon. The boardwalk is apparently popular with the locals for walking and picnicking. It wasn’t very busy while we were there.

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One Mile Jetty – Carnarvon, WA

We had thought to freshen up and go into Carnarvon for dinner. It, the town, appeared to be closed so we returned to the motel and had dinner in their restaurant. Which, as it turned out, wasn’t bad at all.