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.

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.

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.

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 ….

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.

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.

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.

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.


Margaret River

Traveled down to Margaret River on Monday 4th January, the first of five days down in southern W.A. The itinerary was such that we planned  to spend one night each at Margaret River, Pemberton and Denmark with two nights at Albany. We also had a bit of time for ad hoc side excursions.

Eighteen years ago, Gerry and I did a similar trip, although we had less time and we did the journey in the reverse order, omitting Margaret River which we bypassed on our way home to Perth.

This time we were four, each of us with varying knowledge and experience of our various destinations. En route to Margaret River we stopped of for refreshments at the “Settlers Roadhouse”.

Settlers Roadhouse – Myalup, WA

Steve and Denise had previously experienced their “pig butties” and had been selling them to us for quite a few days, so our expectations were high. We were not disappointed. Nice soft rolls, multiple rashers of bacon and fried eggs.

On the down side, the main toilet block in the car park was out of action, so was the gents attached to the roadhouse, so men were having to use the disabled facilities. This also meant that there was a queue, something that a lady waiting to use the women’s facilities commented on …… “not often you see a queue for the mens toilet”.

Back on the road and we were soon in Margaret River.

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Sign – Margaret River, WA

What a pleasant bustling town Margaret River is. Lots of small boutique style shops and plenty of cafe’s and eateries. We stopped in a cafe and wrapped ourselves around a cup of tea and some apple pie, well I did. Can’t remember what anyone else had. After quenching our thirst we headed over to the visitor centre to find out what was going on locally.

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Main Street – Margaret River, WA

As we had a bit of time to spare, before we could check in to our hotel, we took off for a tour around the area. Denise and Steve had been here before , so they had some idea of where to go.

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View From Wallcliffe Road – Margaret River, WA

So we found ourselves heading out along Wallcliffe Road towards Surfers Point…..

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Rejuvenation by Simon James

Rejuvenation was placed to commemorate a bush-fire that occurred in incident that occurred in November of 2011. Burning through 3,400 hectares (8,400 acres) of land and leaving a total of 39 homes destroyed and another 14 damaged. No lives were lost.

I’m not sure what this next artwork is commemorating. Note, she is on the top of a hill, on a skateboard and wearing a blindfold.

Statue – Margaret River, WA

The wind was blowing very hard. As we crested the rise we were presented with this initial view ….

Wallcliffe Road looking towards Surfers Point – Margaret River, WA

Just some of the many surfers taking advantage of the strong wind …..

Surfers – Surfers Point, Margaret River, WA
View North, Surfers Point – Margaret River, WA
View North, Surfers Point – Margaret River, WA

This guy was doing very well, controlling his kite as he emerged from the sea. There have been a couple of nasty accidents, here in the Perth area, where the wind has gusted and carried the surfer away. Slamming one unfortunate soul into a tree.

Kite Surfer - Surfers Point, Margaret River, WA
Kite Surfer – Surfers Point, Margaret River, WA

Just a few others around Surfers Point …

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After braving the winds gusting up these cliffs, I’d had to tie my hat on, we decided to move on to a cafe for more tea. We found ourselves at the White Elephant Cafe at Gnarabup.

White Elephant Cafe - Gnarabup W.A.
White Elephant Cafe – Gnarabup W.A.

Whats not shown in this photo is the tasty bowls of wedges that we shared. This cafe has a superb terrace / deck from which to watch the surfers, sea birds and sunbathers.

Margaret River - Flowing Out To Sea
Margaret River – Flowing Out To Sea

And so it was time to head to our hotel so that we could unload the car and freshen ourselves up for our evening meal.

We were staying at the Quality Inn and this is an establishment that I can highly recommend. The rooms were large and airy. Ours came with a little terrace with a bistro set overlooking a small stream which linked the two ponds. Steve and Denise had pretty much the same but their terrace looked out over the larger of the two ponds.

Main Pond, Quality Inn - Margaret River, WA
Main Pond, Quality Inn – Margaret River, WA

In the evening the frogs began their chorus. We were informed that we could hear several different species of frog. There were the tradition frogs that call out the usual “ribbet, ribbet”. Then, yes really, there were the “motor bike” frogs. They sound like an old honda accelerating away into the distance. And last, but not least, there were the “banjo” frogs. Sounding out a single “bonk” like the plucking of a banjo string.

We chose to eat in the hotel, in part because we were quite tired, but also because Steve and Denise had eaten there before and were very pleased with their meal. Once again their recommendation was well founded. The staff were friendly, the food was superbly cooked and the portions were more than ample.

Here endeth our Margaret River experience. We wished we had allowed more time for this lovely town. Needless to say we will be returning as soon as we can.

One of the many flowers in the grounds of the hotel
One of the many flowers in the grounds of the hotel