Week 17 - 21 November 2006 to 27 November 2006

By Steve & Alison Kruger

Day 113 Tuesday 21 November 2006

Wind wind wind! It has been driving us crazy for days and interfering with our sleep and more importantly our photographs. So we have decided to head inland to the Kennedy Ranges National Park, as was suggested by a fellow forum member, and there maybe find some relief from the winds, we hope! Before we left Quobba Station we took the route along the cliff tops for one last view of the stunning scenery which has captivated us. To have access to such wonderful areas like this is really something for which WA should be treasured and we hope not over regulated so it is taken away from everyone in the future. (enough seriousness - live for today).

Saying goodbye to the coast we returned to Carnarvon to post the previous week's update to the web. Checking our emails, we were thrilled to have received an email from Shaun (This is the "Shaun and Kel" who started their round OZ trip in 2004, and posted their reports on the Overlander Forum site) They were a part of our motivation for doing this trip. BTW another party who helped motivate us were the "2 J's" (who were going to do their own trip in May 06, Jul 06, Nov 06, Dec 06). Back to Shaun and Kel's postings... these were what sparked Alison's initial interest in panorama's through stitching photos. We sometimes review Shaun & Kel postings as part of our research on a location before we venture there and this has helped us get the most from our trip. Sometimes we have a laugh that they were where we are 2 years earlier to the day, eg Kununurra and Broome.

Whilst travelling from Carnarvon to Kennedy Range, we took a side track to Rocky Pool where we took a quick break. We arrived at Kennedy Range to set up camp just before dusk. Being on the easterly of the range there was no setting sun prospects and with the wind quiet we hit the sack to try and catch up on some sleep.


Day 114 Wednesday 22 November 2006

What a night arh! Dead calm until we went to bed and then the wind suddenly picked up an shook the tent all night long. It was like someone switched on a fan at 9pm precisely. We both had very little sleep and we are wondering where can we go to get away from these strong winds. To add to this was we had decided to photograph the Kennedy Ranges at sunrise (4.50am). By 6.30am 2 people really needed coffee!

With the heat on the rise today, any strenuous activities were out of the question, so we decided to stay in the vehicle and do some touring. Mind you, sun madness over took Alison in a panorama she was producing at Honeycomb Gorge, see below. We drove onwards to the other 2 gorges and took some great photos from the vehicle basically.

Now we had read in 4Wheeling SA magazine of a track that traverses the Kennedy Ranges running from Mooka Springs to Sandiman Station, thank you author Graham Cross. We set off to Sandiman Station to find the start of the track, but when we arrived at the Station the road was signed as closed to all traffic. We then decided to find the track from the other end, namely Mooka Springs. After many kilometres we found the old track with its springs and date palms left by Afghan camel traders. Crossing the Gascoyne River was extremely sandy and hard going on our fully inflated tyres, but with the tracks to follow we didn't want to drop our pressures. The country we crossed changed many times distinctly from springs with gum trees, to dry rocky fields, to red sand dunes, to cliffs over looking where we had been earlier this morning. There was a sign next to the track which gave some idea of its age. Welded onto a piece of plate steel, the sign indicated construction commencing Dec 1966.

The heat had been on the rise all day, and by 4pm was 45.1c in the vehicle. We consumed so much liquid today, mostly water sadly, and it has surprised us that we still feel somewhat dehydrated and certainly not hungry enough to eat dinner tonight. So the kitchen was closed for the night.

The day ended with a spectacular sunset. Although clouds can increase the enjoyment of a setting sun, they also had the effect of producing rays emanating from the centre! We have seen many a sunset, but this was truly a unique one for us.


Day 115 Thursday 23 November 2006

Finally we got a decent nights sleep! We were so tired last night, that we were in bed by 9pm and slept solidly and soundly until 6.30am when the heat of the day started to warm the tent. The winds were gentle near the summit of the range and the view from close to campsite was great. As the road got closer to the cliffs a few kilometres from camp, we continued along the cliff tops and captured some stunning photographs. We also had seen an alternative exit from the range via Binthalya Homestead which wanted to explore, so instead of trying to exit through Sandiman Homestead we turned around and retraced our track to the western side of the range. Binthalya Homestead had been abandoned and the ferial animals had taken up residence. Sad to see the result of peoples hard work left to decay like this (We believe that the station has been taken over by CALM, and is still used occasionally as an out station)  From here we worked our way through the sand dunes towards Carnarvon. As we neared the coast, the temperatures in the car dropped from the mid 40's to around 29 degrees. We almost felt cold.

We decided to stay in one of the local caravan parks in Carnarvon for a bit of a freshen up and restock. While Steve was enjoying a revitalising swim in the park's pool, we met Jürg Moser, from Bern Switzerland. a 25 year experienced business banker, who is here on a holiday with his wife and daughter. Their holiday started in Thailand, moved on to Australia and is going to New Zealand next. The trip home even included a stop over in Hawaii!!! Certainly a huge amount to pack into an itinerary.



Day 116 Friday 24 November 2006

A bit of an admin type morning for us. Last night we painted the rear windows of the vehicle silver (not the bright shiny version) as the taped on blackout was not holding in the hot and dusty conditions. That should hold the heat out to some degree we hope. While checking fluid levels under the bonnet, we noticed battery #2 was a little less level than it usually was. Further investigations revealed stress fractures below it's support. So we called in at Carnarvon Smash Repairs and met Bob, one of the owners, who went out of his way to help us. Steve assisted by removing the battery, its plate and associated items. Andy was our welder today and he set to work on a job which revealed itself to be a larger job than first thought. Not only was the guard below the battery cracked, but the 2 other screw down points were also cracked. In no time at all Bob and Andy had us back on the road again. Real country service which we really appreciated. And Bob had some great tales to tell us about the area. Nothing like local knowledge.

By 1pm we turned the vehicle towards Shark Bay World Heritage Area and said good bye to Carnarvon. The highlights we left behind us were the Blow Holes, Quobba Station and the Kennedy Ranges. There is very little to see until we headed towards Denham after turning off at the Overlander Roadhouse.

The first stop was the stomatolites at Hamelin Pools. These organisms are very very old and are thought to be the key to oxygen being produced which kicked started life as we know it.

Arriving in Denham near sunset, and with the winds close to gale force, we decided to buy some food we could prepare with the minimum of effort, should we be unable to cook. We eventually located a semi sheltered campsite and were able to cook with little sand being sprayed across our food. Needless to say we ate dinner upstairs in bed.

Day 117 Saturday 25 November 2006

We planned a day of 4WDriving and swimming for today, so we headed off to Francois Peron National Park.  The Park stretches from Monkey Mia to the end of the Peninsular and would be approx 60km long. The first spot we visited was the old Peron Homestead. This preserved homestead was a surprise with its hot springs tub and excellent displays. Certainly a worthwhile stop on anyone's holiday. From here we 4WD'd to the very tip of the peninsular to a place called Skipjack Point where the lighthouse is positioned. The view was spectacular where the ocean was meeting the Red dunes and white sands. Additionally, the water was so clear we could see the reef, shovel nose sharks, turtles, stingrays, eagle rays and many birds, incredible! After some time observing we decided to check out the park's camping areas and to find a place for a swim. Bottle Bay and Gregories were very pretty but a bit exposed to the winds, so we headed to Herald Bight which is on the opposite side of the peninsular. It was certainly a lot quieter here and the waters were calm and very inviting so we decided a swim was on. We met Dave and Hailey from Melbourne who are 8 months into their trip around. They are both keen fisher people and travelling the same route that we have done. Additionally, they have also seem many of the sites we have seen and it was certainly great chatting about like experiences.

With the day done we returned to Monkey Mia to watch the sun set and reminisce on another enjoyable day  away from the grind .

Day 118 Sunday 26 November 2006

Everybody will probably be aware that Monkey Mia is associated with dolphins in Australia. We have decided that this is where we would spend our day today. The CALM rangers feed the dolphins generally 3 times a day and normally the 3rd feed is over by 10.30am. People are selected at random to feed the dolphins and Steve was lucky enough to be one of those select today. Generally only 6 or 7 fish are handed out at a time and the ranges do a great job of ensuring all the public get a good view. Sometimes 1 ranger draws the pelicans away so they do not interfere with the show, there is one named Pesky Pelican Pete who loves to cause trouble. After feeds we sat on the grass over looking the water and had a relaxing lazy day.

After the feeding we went to the car park to feed ourselves and we met Joap and Katrin from Holland who are also doing the round Australia trip before they decide where to set up their own cafe / restaurant business somewhere around Cairns. They are also expecting their first baby in Feb so there are some amazing times ahead for them. We heard of some of their mechanical experiences with a 25 year old land cruiser and some of the people they have met as a consequence. We hope to hear all is going well for them in the future.

Day 119 Monday 27 November 2006

We were finding it very difficult to leave Monkey Mia this morning, and the realisation didn't help that there is only 2 months left in our walkabout, before it will be time to return to our old reality. But we do intent to change our lifestyle for the better when we return. Before we left Denham we decided to drop in on the Interpretive Centre, an ultra modern centre with a huge amount of displays, multimedia centres, interactive info centres and photographic displays of the region. Someone has done a fantastic effort in the whole centre... 10 out of 10!

On our way to Useless Loop Road and False Entrance we stopped at Eagle Bluff and Shell Beach. The Eagle Bluff offered some incredible views, and from our vantage point we saw a shark making its way through the shallow waters. The board walk is well done and offers a 400m walk along the bluff edge. Shell Beach is a 5m deep beach made from tiny shells and is very similar to the Dampier Peninsular beach we saw a few weeks ago.

From here we started the drive west again towards False Entrance and its cliffs named Zuytdorf after a Dutch ship that was wrecked further down the coast from here in the winter of 1712. The wreck was discovered in 1927 by station workers and the riddle of the survivors put together over the past 40 years. As we  entered the False Entrance region we made our way to the Blow holes and the cliff area to see some amazing sights. Unfortunately the clouds and the day had beaten us and we would return there tomorrow with a hope of less clouds.


Stay tuned as the adventure continues...

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