Week 18 - 28 November 2006 to 4 December 2006

By Steve & Alison Kruger

Day 120 Tuesday 28 November 2006

Last night the winds were better than expected for a campsite that was so exposed to the full onslaught of the Indian Ocean. By morning we had enjoyed a light dusting of summer storms, and we could see the lightning in some of the storm cells that were skirting around us. The clouds also formed some unique patterns as if they were being folded back on themselves. From False Entrance Blowholes we drove along the cliff tops south passing Mt Dorrigo until we were approx 15km south. The views along the way were incredible as the storm clouds slowly dissipated enough for the sun to shine through. It would be certainly an incredible trip to travel the full length of the Zuytdorp Cliffs to Kalbarri (if that was possible), but averaging just 10km/h you would really need a good reserve of fuel. For us this meant a return trip as we wanted to see the sights further north towards Steep Point, the most westerly point of the Australian mainland. The first land marks we encountered were Caratti and Clough Bars. These bars (dam faces) are man made and are used to trap the ocean's waters in the bays inlets to produce salt. Eventually, the track comes to a sign which threatens tat if you do not reduce your tyre pressures to 20psi (we were running 25psi) you will be fined $25/tyre. We weigh close to 4 tonnes and would be uncomfortable dropping pressures that far exposing our side walls to the sharp rocks which are plentiful on these cliffs so we turned around and called it a day. Alison was able to save the day photo wise with this mock up.


Day 121 Wednesday 29 November 2006

Our first stop today was the Ross Graham and Hawks Head Sections of Kalbarri National Park. The scenes of the gorges were pretty as were the wildflowers on the road side on the way into the park. We arrived in Kalbarri about 11am and discovered a town by the sea. The town's atmosphere reminded us of times when we were a lot younger and the world was a little more innocent. A little later in the day when we travelled a little further south to Red Bluff we found that this sleepy little hollow had a huge new subdivision on the bluff over looking the sea. A little innocence had been lost in our minds! The Murchison River reaches the sea at Kalbarri at the southern end of the Zuytdorp Cliffs. These cliffs dominate a large section of coastline and we have only seen such a small amount. It must be amazing to fly the cliffs from end to end. We decided to indulge ourselves in lunch at the local hotel and had a fisherman's basket each. This made dinner easy later in the day as we were not hungry! By sunset we found ourselves at Pot Alley watching the surf pound the rocky cliffs with the sun setting behind some clouds giving a golden glow to the whole scene.


Day 122 Thursday 30 November 2006

Something we realised we were doing a while ago was when we get to the big attractions like Kalbarri National Park we tend to break the photographing down to 2 days. So here is day 2 of Kalbarri NP. We had thought the slightly cloudy morning would be great contrast for our photos, but as we drove towards the park we realised that it was going to be too cloudy. So we chose to do the Z Bend section first as we hoped the cloud might clear by the time we reached Natures Window in the Loop section. The viewing platform in the Z Bend section is like an island with a bridge linking it to the main land. We were surprised by how pretty this gorge was especially when we had been told by other people that if you had seen Karajini NP then you would not appreciate this one as much. The beauty here is so different to Karajini and we believe you can not compare the two at all. By the time we reach The Loop the clouds began to clear which certainly brightened up the pictures at this site. We were both "gob smacked" at how incredible the views were in this section of the park. The white sands flooded into the gorge mixed with the rich red sands to produce an incredible mixture of colours. An incredible sight!

After taking many many photos we headed back towards Kalbarri to have some lunch and start our journey south again. This journey would take us though the southern section of Kalbarri NP which is along the coast. This section includes, but is not limited to Red Bluff, Pot Alley, Rock Island and Natural Arch. Watching the ocean pounding the shore is something one could not get tired of. Throughout the Kalbarri region the wildflowers are incredible. We are only seeing the tail end of it and it must be a visual meal when it is in the high of season.

Alison continues work on her photo DVD - the equivalent of a modern day slide show with music, although she is finding it difficult with week 9 (The Bungles) as we had taken well over 1300 photos for the week. So be patient family it will be ready for mailing soon, but the week may be an hours viewing!


Day 123 Friday 1 December 2006

Today we dug out the passports as we were leaving Australia for the Hutt River Province, a small country the same size as Hong Kong and a citizenship of some 15,000 people (most of which live abroad of Hutt). Prince Leonard greeted us on the steps of the Government House before he issued us with a visa and stamped our passports. He also showed us some of the security features of our passports before giving us the royal tour. The Hutt River Province seceded from Australia on the 21 April 1970 over a wheat board quota dispute and has thumbed its nose at the Australian Govt ever since. There is Hutt money, licence plates, stamps, coins, church, to name a few. There are also royal collections of shells, bank notes, replica Ned Kelly armour, paintings, books....... Hutt also had its own army cadets at one stage. The more you dig about this place the more amazed we became. Prince Leonard runs through his speech at a quick pace about his province, but if you stop and ask a question, then he gets into the nitty gritty of the subject. An amazing man with a huge amount of life experience and as Alison is fond of saying - "You are a sum of your experiences". If you would like to know more about the Hutt River Province then see http://www.huttriverprovince.com - you too may wish to become a "Huttener".

We could feel ourselves wanting to spend more time in the Kalbarri region, but we are also mindful that we don't want to rush the last part of our trip towards home. So we regretfully moved on towards The Pinnacles near Cervantes. This will be Alison's 4th visit to this region - and she is very excited about it. On our way out of Geraldton we saw a turn off for a wind farm...this needed further investigation. This is the largest collection of wind generators we have ever seen - 54 in total speckled across the landscape. The Alinta Wind Farm was opened 20 August 2004 and generates enough power to run 60,000 homes at a setup cost of $210m. Each tower is 78m tall and those blades are 41m long. You could see the blades flexing in the wind as the gusts hit the towers. Now Alison believes there is a conspiracy theory between how windy it is in this region and the existence of these huge oversized desk fans. To support this theory she presents evidence of this tree that has been blown over, but continues to grow and struggle against the blown air. Yes its was blowing a gale today and all the 54 fans were turning - so maybe she is right.



Day 124 Saturday 2 December 2006

Our first attraction we visited today were the Stromatolites near Cervantes. So we arrived at the Pinnacles about 11am and the strong winds persisted. The is something very challenging about taking photos and composing landscapes while the sand, propelled at high speed by the wind, stings your legs and your body. Alison knew, from her experience, that the best time to take photos was later in the day, so we scoped out the best places to take pictures. We then headed down this goat track to Grey for some 4WDing. Unfortunately, besides a few sand dunes, there isn't many tracks to explore here, except if you want to head onwards to Lancelin. Now what we think we know about the Village of Grey is that it is comprised of many squatter shacks nestled against the Indian Ocean. We believe there is a new road planned from Lancelin to Cervantes which will result in the bulldozing of these shacks, sadly for the people involved. Anyway, back to the story, there was this telephone box behind the dunes in Grey which had a welded checker plate steel box securing the phone. Now we have debated the reason for this security and it is either to prevent vandalism, or Telstra removing the phone! As there is a rather large padlock on the box, no one can use the phone with out a key which we failed to locate.

Leaving Grey behind we head back to Hangover Bay (we would love to know the story on how this one got its name?) for lunch before we headed on to the Pinnacles again for the photography to start, and that it did! Alison took a dislike to the sky in one of her panoramas so she replaced it. We will let you pick the altered image and you decide if its better!


Day 125 Sunday 3 December 2006

We had a little sleep in today before we headed back to the Pinnacles. Daylight savings started last night our time difference to Brisbane is now only 1 hour, so we had to make up for that lost hour of sleep!. The Pinnacles is an incredible place. With the sun light now from the opposite side of the desert, they took on a completely new look and photo opportunities appeared where we couldn't see them before.

From the Pinnacles we headed south once more towards Perth. The route would take us back to Grey and onwards along the beach to Lancelin before rejoining the bitumen. Beth, one of the park ranges at the Pinnacles told us they were starting the construction of the new road in this area Jan 07, so this is the last time we will be able to do the trip in its current format. The track was sandy, windy and extremely tight. We were travelling well until we climbed an extremely high coastal dune which had a large sand blow across it. We managed to clear the dune crest and run onto the beach, but in the panic we slowed too much in a critical section of the soft sand to become stuck. First we lowered our pressure to 20lbs in our tyres and tried again to move on only digging ourselves further into trouble. Our diff locks only helped to bury us further. In the distance a lone fisherman stood in the turquoise waters. Realising our trouble he fired up his trusty Maverick to come to our assistance. A shining knight on a white horse, he appeared and proceeded to help dig us out of our hopeless predicament. Within 10 minutes Shane and Steve (and Rex - one of the dogs digging) had us rescued and on terra firma again The 2 of them looked on with a beer each and admired their handy work. This is the first time it has been us that needed the rescuing in many many years and Shane was just wonderful - thank you so much Shane, Rex & Holly (the latter 2 being his gorgeous dogs). 

After our escape from the clutches of the beach we continued our drive to Lancelin and passed these 2 cars that were in varying degrees of dilapidation. Now the humorous side of us thought these might have been vehicles that did not take notice of the firing range notice!! The next major land mark we passed was Wedge Island where we believe there used to be 300 squatter shacks until recently. Shane had told us to avoid Narrowneck Beach so we detoured using the inland track through the sand dunes to Lancelin where we saw people riding quad bikes and sand boards over the dunes. An amazing sight the vastness and pure whiteness of the dunes in this region.

Ok Perth readers, can you help identify the concrete structure below (net the the red sign). The shelter is near Yanchep and there are 2 of them. There also seems to be a tower base next to them?


Day 126 Monday 4 December 2006

We arrived in Perth today and started a search for a vehicle part which we had bent early in the trip. We met Guy at Midlands 4WD Centre who was terrific and had us on our way in no time. Before we had entered the shop we had seen this GU Patrol which we eyed with very green eyes. It appeared to be in immaculate condition, with lift kit, bull bar, winch, the works, a credit to it's owner. To our delight, it belonged to Guy who was more than happy to show off his baby. In our rush we missed getting a photo - sorry!

From here we were supposed to have a day touring and be photo free, BUT Alison lost her control in Fremantle when she discovered this yard of cars which had been unloaded from this ship. They looked like SS Commodores, but the badges were not Holden and they were left hand drive. We could not understand why they were unloading them unless they were being stored here before being reloaded once more? Anyone know more - please email us?




Stay tuned as the adventure continues...

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