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.

IMG_5470_edited.jpg
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.

5J7A3405_edited
Moored on the Fascine – Carnarvon, WA
5J7A3406_edited
Fascine View – Carnarvon WA
5J7A3407_edited
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”

5J7A3403_edited
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.

IMG_5449_edited
Tantabiddi Boat Ramp – Glass Bottom Boat just below the horizon
IMG_5450_edited
Alek paddling out to the glass bottomed boat

Soon he was motoring back into the jetty ….

IMG_5453_edited
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.

Exmouth, WA


We arrived in Exmouth in the early afternoon of Friday,  We were spending two nights so that gave us plenty of time to take a look around. What we didn’t realise is that, although it is summer time, we had arrived in the off-season. This meant that many of the tour companies were taking a break. It also meant that the whales were elsewhere along with the whale sharks who presumably were off on their holidays.

This left us to entertain ourselves, which we duly did.

On arrival at the Ningaloo Lodge we were greeted by this character …..

5J7A3292_edited
Emu – Exmouth, WA

He was back again the following morning too !!!

During our first afternoon we went exploring and discovered Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt …..

5J7A3293_edited.jpg
VLF Antenna – Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt

The station provides very low frequency (VLF) radio transmission to United States Navy and Royal Australian Navy ships and submarines in the western Pacific Ocean and eastern Indian Ocean. The thirteen towers are huge, the tallest is called Tower Zero and is 387 m (1,270 ft) tall. These towers are visible for miles.

…… further along the road we arrived at a car park with access to the beach to view the wreck of the SS Mildura …..

5J7A3312_edited
SS Mildura – Exmouth, WA

The SS Mildura was carrying Kimberley cattle south when it foundered on the reef during a cyclone in 1907. No human lives were lost but many cattle did not survive. During WWII, allied planes used it for bombing practice.

We spent an hour or more on the beach overlooking the wreck. Paddling and just sitting in the sunshine. We were the only ones on the beach for quite some time. We did have some wild company …

The wreck  can be viewed from the beach at the end of Mildura Wreck Road. As I said we had the beach to ourselves until, just before we were about to leave, three guys turned up to fish.

We watched for a while, to check out their methods. However their method entailed wading a long way out until they were waist deep, fishing with a lure until they got it caught on the rocks and lost it. Then they would wade back to shore, re-tackle, and wade back out. One of them lost his tackle several times. I think they spent more time tramping back and forth than they did fishing.

Having decided that there was nothing to be learnt we headed back to Exmouth to search out somewhere for an evening meal. We eventually settled on 5 Kennedy St.

The food here is superb and if you are ever in Exmouth I highly recommend a visit. To give you a hint of what is on offer I had Chilli Pepper Squid, Berry Vinaigrette, Chilli Lime Sauce as an entrée, followed by Lamb Shoulder, Israeli Cous Cous Salad, Baba Ganoush, Dukkah. The lamb was quite a substantial dish and I didn’t think I would make it to desert. However, I struggled manfully on to round of the meal with Churros, Chocolate Chilli Sauce, Vanilla Ice Cream.

Feeling pleasantly plump we took ourselves back to the Ningaloo Lodge for a well-earned kip to prepare for the next day.

Saturday morning saw us up and out searching for a breakfast venue. And for the early morning jump-start we settled on See Salt. Suitably fueled we set of in search of the visitor centre.

They confirmed that we were indeed visiting out of season but informed us that one tour company was still operating and that they still had spaces available. We duly booked ourselves onto a glass bottom boat trip out over the reef. Our departure time was to be 07:30 Sunday morning.

That left us with the whole of Saturday to go and explore. After studying maps and brochures we decided that we would follow Yardie Creek Road which winds its way down the western side of the North West Cape. Our target was to follow this road all the way to Yardie Creek and then to wend our way back to Exmouth, stopping off en-route to go swimming and even get in a little fishing. As always our plans are flexible and any trip is likely punctuated by numerous stops to admire the views and take pictures.

Consequently we hadn’t been on the road very long when we detoured of to visit Vlaming Head Lighthouse.

The wreck of the SS Mildura was directly responsible for the building of this lighthouse. Vlaming Head was also the site for a radar station. There is quite a comprehensive set of information boards pertaining to the history of the area and providing information about the views and wildlife that may be spotted. It is well worth the visit.

Continuing along Yardie Creek Road we did eventually reach Yardie Creek. This is pretty much the end of the paved road. To continue on requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle and the courage to cross the creek.

As you can see from the photos this area is absolutely swarming with tourists. No room to move on the beach. Honestly though, I’m sure it would be busier here if it wasn’t out of season. Would love to have taken the boat trip up Yardie Creek Gorge. Perhaps next time.

So, we managed to drag ourselves away from the creek and start our meander back to Exmouth. Although there are many tracks off Yardie Creek Road, to various beaches, we had decide to visit Turquoise Bay. We were not disappointed ……

We spent a good couple of hours here. The water was warm and very clear with loads of fish. They, the fish, were big enough to have given great sport to a fisherman. Unfortunately, fishing is not allowed here as this is a protected zone. Great for snorkelers who can observe the fish and the corals on the reef. Once again the beach was absolutely swarming with people…… not.

Alas time, as always, moved on and we had to set off back to Exmouth. As the sun sets the kangaroos and other wildlife become active and it becomes decidedly risky to drive after dark. We saw several kangaroos as we motored along and Gerry managed to get a couple of pictures ….

Back in Exmouth we again ate at 5 Kennedy St and with it being Saturday night the restaurant was very busy. The food was really good, five-star. My compliments to Dexter and his chef.