This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2004 Travels August 13

 FRIDAY 13 AUGUST   MESA CAMP TO CARNARVON   405kms

Another of those inauspicious Friday 13ths! I had lost track of the dates – easy to do when just idling away the days. Had I realized before we were on the road, I might have suggested staying another day!

We got away at 8.30. Having the pressure of the next lot of occupants waiting, did ensure we didn’t linger.

In Exmouth, took my library books back to the Exmouth Library. I had been so grateful to have books to read while we were relaxing in our Mesa camp.

Refuelled at $1.28cpl.

Bought bread rolls for lunch.

It was a comfortable drive south.

We stopped for me to make up our lunch at an overnight free camp spot – Lyndon River. It would be an adequate place to overnight. It was obviously well used.

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Lyndon River Rest Area

South of this, we rejoined the main Highway 1.

When we crossed the Gascoyne River bridge, on the approach to Carnarvon, the river was flowing! Not a banker, but a clear stream. This was obviously the aftermath of all the rain there had been, after we left town, back in early July. This was the first time we’d seen water in this river.

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Gascoyne River with water

Went back to the Wintersun Caravan Park. Our main purpose for returning here to Carnarvon was for John to watch the Olympic Games – at a place where he knows TV reception is good. Yet again, our travels were being dictated by sport and TV! But, at least, it was better than Karratha, in that there was a bit more to do on the occasional breaks from viewing.

We booked in for two weeks at $110 a week, after discount.

After setting up, drove to the shopping centre. Collected mail at the PO. Went and bought prawns and snapper at the fish co-op.

I had a lovely, long, shower. It was great to feel properly clean again, after getting by with washes from a bucket, in the van, and the judicious use of wet wipes.

There was a text from house sitter L, to phone her, which we did. She said our old Russian Blue cat was really sick. This was basically cat decline from old age, and not unexpected. We told L to use her judgement about what to do. But we didn’t think we’d see the old cat again, which made us sad.

After tea, watched the last episode of “Old Dogs” on TV. It had been an entertaining  series.

There was no sea noise to lull us to sleep tonight. Just the assorted noises of lots of other campers and the town environment in general.

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2004 Travels July 2

FRIDAY 2 JULY   KENNEDY RANGE NATIONAL PARK TO CARNARVON   240kms

The Kennedy Range extends south almost to Gascoyne Junction. So, today was attractive driving, that far, with the Range to our right.

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Roadside patterns

Not far after rejoining the main road beside the Lyons River, we crossed that again, at a dry point. After that, the river was to our right, as well. Again, we crossed several dry stream beds – tributaries of the Lyons, and hence eventually, the Gascoyne.

Just north of Gascoyne Junction, we crossed that river, on a dry causeway ford.

Refuelled at Gascoyne Junction – just 20 litres, at $1.30cpl.

Last time we came this way, in ’93, the road west was closed by rain, and we could only go south west, via poorly signed station tracks, through Pimbee and Meedo stations, to Wooramel Roadhouse, on the highway. It was an adventure!

At Gascoyne Junction, I used the public phone (no mobile signal out here) to phone the  caravan park in Carnarvon to book us in for four nights. John was impatient to get going again and cross about me doing this – until I informed him that the park had only one multi-night site available, which I’d booked. So it was a good thing that I’d thought to phone ahead.

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The unsealed road between Gascoyne Junction and the main highway, just north of Carnarvon, was rather corrugated, and with patches of bulldust in parts. We could see why this road was closed as soon as it rains – runs right by the river.

This section of the drive was pleasant – a little undulating, with very low sand dune sections, scrub covered, in places with little lakes between. Nice variety.

As we approached Carnarvon, the sky ahead was clouding over.

Went into the Wintersun Caravan Park. Top Tourist. $19.35 a night, after discount. The park was full, but did not feel too crowded. We were next to a big van, a couple with two little boys, the younger just walking. He reminded me of my little grandson – I was missing that little guy.

After setting up camp, drove into town – this caravan park is out on the edge – to get some foodstuffs.

We went to the prawn processing plant and bought a kilo of king prawn meat, for $27. For that, we got fifty one prawns!

We had TV again.

The showers were very welcome, after our showerless, dusty stay out in the bush.

Bought fish and chips for tea. Very greasy.

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2004 Travels June 25

FRIDAY 25 JUNE   MURCHISON SETTLEMENT TO MT AUGUSTUS   390kms

Today’s was a really interesting drive. North of Murchison Settlement, we moved into slightly less flat country, with more interesting stream crossings.

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Wooramel River

We stopped for a while at the Wooramel River crossing, walked around, took some photos.

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Wooramel River

Then stopped at Bilung Pool for lunch.

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Bilung Pool

These occurrences of water in the otherwise semi-arid country, act like magnets. A little stream that would be unremarkable in, say, Victoria, assumes great significance up here.

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At Bilung Pool we chatted for a while with another couple with a van, who pulled in behind us.

Bilung Pool would be a very pleasant place for an overnight stop – or longer – if we came this way again.

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Could be a pleasant camp at Bilung Pool

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The road was surprisingly good – all unsealed, of course.

At “Glenburgh” we took the road past “Dalgety Downs”, north west to “Landor”.

By now, we were in the upper reaches of the Gascoyne River basin, and the little floodways and stream crossings – mostly dry – became quite frequent.

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Near “Landor” we met and turned north onto the Meekatharra-Landor road. We had used this route in 1993, to go from Meekatharra to Mt Augustus.

Crossed the upper Gascoyne River – multiple channels.

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On Landor Station

There were a few aboriginal driven cars around the Burringurrah community, about half way between Landor and Mt Augustus.

We reached Mt Augustus about 5pm. The mountain was even more impressive than I remembered. It looms large from the camp ground, and can be seen from about 160kms away.

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Satellite image of Mt Augustus (from Google)

Mount Augustus is actually the world’s biggest rock, reaching about 717 metres above the surrounding land. This is supposed to only be the top third – the other two thirds stretch below! Geologically, it is a monocline structure – a great fold of rock which protrudes through the surface – as opposed to Ayers Rock, which is a monolith, where the ground was worn down around it.

Mount Augustus is so much bigger than the better known – and more accessible – Ayers Rock. Mount Augustus is about 8km long and to drive around it is 49kms. It is really old – at least 1000 million years.

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Mt Augustus area (from CALM brochure)

The “resort” – really just a camp area, with a few dongas too, on a station – does not seem to have changed much (progressed) in the eleven years since we were last here. It was kind of tatty and poorly maintained – but was $18 a night for a powered site.

The place is licensed. John bought a slab of beer – he forgot to do that in parts further south – whoops. Cost him $50. Diesel was $1.40cpl. The place appeared to do a sound trade in selling alcohol to aboriginals – presumably from the community we passed.

We set up on an area with a very welcome surround of grass.

Sat outside before and after tea. just watching the changing light on the mountain, and rejoicing in being in a remote place again.

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2000 Travels November 1

WEDNESDAY 1 NOVEMBER   CORAL BAY TO CARNARVON   247kms

We thought about having a final snorkel on the reef, before breakfast, but decided we needed to focus on the pack up and travel.

Left Coral Bay about 9.30am, after topping up the fuel with 20 litres, at $1.31cpl.

The van jockey wheel had been going flat really quickly, since Onslow, and John had not been able to get a new tube in the small towns we’ve been in. So, here, he tried putting silicone on the perished parts, and it actually stayed up longer. Having the flat jockey wheel had made hitching up the van harder for me, so I was pleased with any improvement.

It was a routine, but rather tedious drive to Carnarvon, through featureless, scrubby country.

We crossed the Tropic of Capricorn again, before reaching Highway 1. I wondered if/when we would return to the tropics?

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Going south again

Just before reaching Carnarvon, we came into the irrigated fruit and vegetable growing area that exists around it, relying on  water from bores around the Gascoyne River. This river is another with a really large catchment area. It can flood quite spectacularly. Its waters soak really quickly into the underlying aquifer and that is where the irrigation water comes from. Some say it is a river that flows upside down.

We stopped at a roadside produce stall on the approach to town and bought tomatoes and capsicums. They were cheap and fresh – lovely.

Booked into Wintersun Caravan Park, for $16.50 a night. John paid them an extra $3 so we could wash the van and get the Coral Bay salt off.

We ate lunch as soon as we arrived, then set up the camp.

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Less arid here than at Coral Bay

Drove into town – this caravan park was right on the outskirts. There were banana plantations lining both sides of the road as we drove.

John was able to buy a new tube for the jockey wheel – hooray!

Bought a few supplies and meat for tea at Woolworths.

Carnarvon is rather a strange town – there seems to be no really defined central focus to it, just straggles of shops and businesses. There were quite a few closed businesses, which would seem to indicate some sort of local downturn.

John wanted me to make stuffed peppers for tea. They take quite a while to do, so tea was late.

I missed the sound of the sea at night, that we had at Coral Bay.

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