day 14 - coral bay
quiet day today. ciaran woke with a very sore tummy and then proceeded to throw up. spent the day looking after him and just lazing around the campsite. quite a peaceful day really - all things considered.
song for the day: white stripes - icky thump
day 15 - coral bay
ciaran much better today. this afternoon we went on a glass bottom boat tour of the inner reef just off coral bay itself. truly amazing what you see under the boat. the coral here is hard coral and so is mainly brown and dark greens with the odd splash of other colours. there are four main coral types here; brain, cabbage, staghorn, and a word starting with 'p' that eludes me right now. within these four main types there are over 150 different species of coral found in the bay. there were also heaps of fish - from enormous norwest snapper down to tiny little electric blues. according to the guide on the boat there are over 600 distinct species of fish to be found on the reef. the tour lasted an hour and we were moving the whole time and we were over the coral the whole time too. the reef really is huge and in good health.
we all went back down tot he beach late this arvo to catch the sunset. it sets right over coral bay and is a most spectacular view. there must have been 50 or 60 people down on the beach to see the sunset - all with cameras - so i'm not alone in that.
ruth and the boys watched a movie on the laptop and i wandered down the road to look at the stars away from the town lights. the night sky is so much clearer and brighter up here away from the light pollution of the cities and towns. saw several "shooting stars" and 5 or 6 different satellites. i find it incredibly comforting knowing that wherever i am in australia, home is just to the right of the southern cross.
song for the day: nothing specific but it would have to be something by dave graney and the coral snakes surely....
day 16 - coral bay to tom price
back to another long day in the saddle after some days with less travel. 540 plus kms with the last 100 or so on gravel. we could have travelled via paraburdoo and stayed on the bitumen the whole way but that would have added another 50 or kms to the trip and it wouldn't have been half as much fun. lots of cows and eagles and hawks along the way.
got into tom price late in the afternoon, got set up and then headed out to buy tea. the only place we could find open was a chinese restaurant so we bought dinner there - 5 minutes after we bought the chinese we found a takeaway joint hidden behind some other shops and in a really odd spot. that would have a been a much better option for us considering ciaran's allergies - but hey thems the breaks. btw the chinese was actually quite delicious.
song for the day: U2 - red hill mining town
day 17 - tom price
went out to hamersley gorge today after doing a bit of shopping in the morning. the last time i was here was almost 20 years ago - and nothing's changed. it is still as beautiful and as awesome as ever but with perhaps a few more tourists now. hamersley has become a bit of a forgotten place. with the closing of wittenoom there is really no need for people to travel on the road that passes hamersley gorge unless they are specifically going there. the other end of karijini national park (about 60 kms away) is where all the action is with all the other major gorges in that area. still, imho, no visit to the karijini is complete without a trip to hamersley. we had planned to continue out to wittenoom but the road was quite bad and the kids really weren't that interested so we gave it a miss.
when we got back to tom price we drove to the top of mt nameless which just happens to be the highest peak in west oz with vehicle access. the view from the top is spectacular, overlooking the mine and the town with views to mt bruce (2nd highest peak in wa) and mt meharry (highest peak in wa). the road to the top is single lane and 4 wheel drive only, due to the steepness of some sections. it gets a bit hairy when you meet cars coming down as you're going upespecially on some of the tighter corners.
after nameless we went to do a geocache at kings lake. i was in tom price when the lake was officially opened. it was the parting gift of the current mine manager of the time and he created a lake with grand visions of people swimming and boating and windsurfing without ever having to leave town. unfortunately his plan was fatally flawed with no allowance being made for cyclone run off and the whole thing being built way too close to the town's water treatment plant. these days, kings lake is a very pretty picnic spot with lots of green grass and a little bit of water contaminated with effluent from the treatment plant. too bad really, cos the official opening was a party to behold. they trucked in more booze than you can imagine and had food and music and all manner of other entertainment for a one day splurge to rival the best of them.
spent the evening sitting out under the stars watching the universe go by. again saw lots of satellites and shooting stars. very cool.
song for the day: the church - under the milky way
day 18 - tom price
today was the other end of the karijini. circular pool, fortescue falls, joffre falls and oxers lookout. ruth and the boys thought joffre was the most spectacular spot of the day. but after hamersley from yesterday, i reckon circular pool takes the cake for wonderful. circular pool never sees sunlight on its surface, so the water is incredibly cold. back in the olden days - when i was younger and more resilient - the caper was to climb down to the pool, swim across and back (preferrably without dieing from the cold) and then climb back up to the car park to get your circulation going again. not only did i mange the swim, but i did the climb in bare feet. needless to say there was much blood from my sliced up feet and the shock of diving into the cold water is an experience i will never forget.
we dropped in to the karijini visitor's centre which is quite an amazing place. the outside is like some retro futuristic cyber punk fortress made of huge sheets of rusted steel. think blade runner or one of the many australian movies of the mad max ilk and you'll be getting close. inside was all sorts of art and an interpretive section on the changes the karijini has seen over the years and the changes in the roles that the local aboriginal people have had in the use of the area.
groovy sign for the day was one that read: wirlankarra yanama. yurlu nyinku mirda yurndarirda: go with a clear open and accepting spirit and the country will not treat you badly.
song for the day: the eagles - rocky mountain way
day 19 - tom price - indee station
we had planned to jump all the way from tom price to eighty mile beach but after the last 500 plus km day we decided that trying to do 700ish with kids and trailers in tow was just gonna be asking for trouble. so we opted to stop and spend the night at indee station and it turned out to be a great decision.
the station was pretty primitive - dongas for ablution blocks and a camp kitchen but the people were really friendly, the place was incredibly quiet and the surrounding area was fascinating. indee station has in its boundaries a spot called red rocks which is a largish group of (funnily enough) red rocks that sit on the edge of the turner river. the rocks themselves probably aren't anything special but they are home to a bunch of very old aboriginal carvings and engravings which are fascinating. it is also very close to the site of a commercial airliner crash from the 60s and there is a memorial to the people on that flight right near the rock. whilst we were scrambling about looking at the aboriginal carvings we saw what looked like a fire in the distance. turned out that it was actually a quite large twister - biggest one i've ever seen - that lasted a good 5 or 6 minutes winding its way through the bush.
the road out from the station to red rocks passes through the station's 'boneyard' where they have all their cars bodies and stuff dumped. in the middle of it all is a whole pile of old dongas and infrastructure, the remains of the station from a cyclone last year which pretty well destroyed the place. the evidence of the damage was mind blowing. the cyclone must have been a screamer cos the twisted carnage it left behind was intense.
song for the day: greenday - boulevard of broken dreams
day 20 - indee station to 80 mile beach via port hedland
another day on the road, another bunch of geocaches under our belts, another day of amazing sights and interesting facts. really just travel travel travel at the moment.
80 mile beach caravan park is stuck out in the middle of nowhere, right on the beach and yet has over 200 powered caravan bays plus cabins and unpowered sites and even a small camping area just for tents. its huge and when we got there at 3pm in the afternoon there wasn't a powered bay to be had. we got a nice spot in an unpowered site but strike, what a lot of people in the middle of nowhere - its incredible. sunset was quite amazing made perhaps even more so by the fact that there must have been 300 people stretched along the beach fishing, collecting shells, sitting having a quiet drink, all watching the beautiful sunset.
song for the day: john cougar - small paradise
day 21 - 80 mile beach - broome
well i finally feel like we're getting some decent way in to our holiday. so far its been amazing, so many interesting places and so many stunning sights to behold. i just love it. but when you get to broome and look at the map you really can see that you are a long way from home and its a good feeling to know that you are making some headway into your planned travels.
got into broome about lunch time and went and did a few bits of emergency shopping that needed doing and then headed out to the broome bird obseratory for a few days in a chalet rather than in the camper. the bbo is a bit primitive and the facilities are quite minimalistic but we have walls and a roof that don't need pulling down or putting up and we've got space to put our junk and the tardis that our trailer has become can be stripped out and cleaned up and repacked in a few days time.
we've extended our stay here by one night as it looks like we're going to have to get the car checked out because the airbag light has come on and won't go off. hopefully we have just jarred a connection loose on the gravel somewhere and it won't be some major job that needs doing.
no plans for tomorrow, just to sleep in late in a real bed and then relax for the day.
song for the day: pigram brothers - johnny walker's shoes