To the North: Last night of the trip at Wannamal

Updated music to something more suitable.

We haven’t actually stayed at the Wannamal (Robert Hindmarsh) Rest Area but have looked in a couple of times. We wanted a peaceful night and the possibility of wildflowers and it turned out to be a good choice. From the van we could only see yellow flowering bushes, but in the morning when we walked further out we found lots of different flowers including cowslip and donkey orchids.

There were about six vans, etc. sharing the RA with us. They have two bright lights on all night, which was slightly disappointing. One lit up the toilets (flushing toilets) and the other the picnic area. The road noise disappeared after dark.

Quite late in the morning we set off on the historical walk. It crosses the road, then goes past the tennis court and Wannamal Hall, over a shallow creek and then followed a road along the lake. As the sun was quite challenging even with hats we only walked a couple of kilometres. We should have done it in the early morning.

For lunch it was off to the Bindoon Bakhous for soup of the day. Unfortunately they had sold out of interesting bread. Still, it made a good break.

Instead of taking the Tonkin Highway loop home we drove down through Muchea on the Great Northern Highway so that I could have a visit with Mum. When I arrived she was a bit distressed and vomiting (not that she has anything to bring up, she is continually nauseous) and I waited outside whilst the staff took care of her. They gave her an injection, that was all the squeals I heard from her room. When I saw her she looked comfortable, but the medication hadn’t taken effect and she was still uncomfortable. Still, she was glad to see me and knew who I was.

The rest of the drive home was tiring. We unpacked a bit, then went around the corner to one of the many little restaurants near home for a tasty meal. Early to bed afterwards for me.

Even though we arrived home about 10 days early we feel as though we had a really good trip with many interesting times and places. We are still savouring it.

To the North: enjoying the wildflowers

After Nerren Nerren Rest Area our next stopover was in Geraldton. We arrived by lunchtime and went straight to the John Batten Hall where we have previously stayed overnight. At about 3.30 p.m. we drove into the centre of Geraldton for Stephen’s GP appointment. The Dr didn’t find anything wrong, but gave him an antibiotic eye drop script, just in case. We thought we might stay at the short stay area at Town Beach, but it was fully occupied.

We also, indepenently, looked for options for an evening meal. Stephen found a Chinese restaurant and I found a Turkish. The Turkish didn’t really cater for sit down meals so we walked to the Chinese. They didn’t really cater for sit down meals either. We ordered a meal with noodles, and it was mostly noodles, as you can imagine. We decided that the standard of higiene wasn’t that good and we just might end up sick. As a cleansing measure we walked to the Italian restaurant for a takeaway gelato, which we enjoyed on the foreshore. Afterwards we headed back to the John Batten Hall, about 14 kms north, and found there were still three bays available.

In the morning we noticed the rangers talking with the owners of a large motorhome which fortunately parked away from our area as it was so large. Although our overnight place is for vans without facilities, they did not question us. Clearly, we are in a campervan, though it has a small bathroom, which isn’t immediately obvious.

Yesterday morning we drove to the nearby Puma service station to fill up, then headed towards Mingenew by backroads that meant we didn’t have to travel on the terribly busy highway. Just as we were getting close to Mingenew I pulled into a car park to let a car go by on the narrow, winding road. It turned out to be a good move. We stayed for afternoon tea, then a walk to look at wildflowers. The place is called Depot Hill Walk and Parking. There were a few orchids which had been highlighted with ribbons and an arrow on the ground. I even found a couple of orchids after noticing a tissue on the ground, although I don’t think that was intentional.

Our overnight spot was an Enanty barn, which apparently has historical significance, and once we were there it was clear we had been there before in the Winnie. We had a quiet overnight with a very chilly morning.

We checked out the bakery in Mingenew the next day, but it was a bit early for our morning tea and also very crowded. We bought some rolls and moved on. I did a little bit of shopping at the local IGA.

We picked our next spot based on free camping with hookups at the Watheroo Tavern. By this time we are on the Midlands Road. Wikicamps reviews were very favourable and we looked forward to having a hot meal, which is the price of staying there. They offer toilets and hot showers as well. But, when we got there it was closed. It’s a good thing we don’t absolutely count on things because we would have otherwise been very disappointed. As it was, we were able to shrug it off and decided to head for Moora. Here we are in the free overnight camping area. We looked at the caravan park (so we could have hookups and run the heater, and Stephen could have a shower), but it was completely full.

During most of the journey from Na\erren Nerren Rest Area we have enjoyed seeing lots and lots of wildflowers. Stephen has been using the GoPro as we drive along and that, more than the photos I’ve taken, show just how lovely it has been.

Today we had a good spot for our lunch break overlooking a lake just out of Carnamah. It took us a little while to find it as we missed the turning, something we are very good at!

At this stage we are thinking of having one more night on the road before heading home, perhaps at the Wannamal Rest Area fairly close to where Mum used to live.

To the North: homeward bound

On Monday in Carnarvon we shopped, then went the space museum. There was lots to see and we spent a few hours there, with a lunch break as well. We went back to the caravan park where I sorted our washing which had been hanging on the airer at our campsite. It was a windy, partly cloudy day and we wanted to make sure we had the washing in before going out for the late afternoon/evening. Stephen had put our gas bottle in for a refill in the morning and he spent a bit of time getting it secured in the van. The sealed cabinet makes that slightly difficult, although we appreciate the safety.

Later we went to the main area of Carnarvon on the water. Cafes were closed by the time we got there, but we found a nice spot to park up for afternoon tea. In the evening we went to the nearby Carnarvon pub for a meal. We liked the atmosphere and were surprised that it was so busy on a Monday night.

Yesterday morning after packing up and filling up on water and fuel we went to the nearby indigenous cultural centre. I was appalled at the prices of some of the artwork – not so much paintings as the materials are expensive and you’ve got to cover that before charging for the painting itself, but a simple woven basket was over $400 and it couldn’t see the value in that! There was a very good exhibition on the local indidgenous history, but it seems people’s memories don’t go further back than European occupation. There is nothing about traditional culture separate from the often negative encounters with Europeans. It’s important to have this perspective, but I would like it if people remembered customs, etc. from before the occupation.

We drove about 80 kms to the Edaggee Rest Area. We were relaxing and reading our books when a man with a tag around his neck came to our door and greeted us. It was the census man! He said his area covered our camping spot and he had a form for us to fill in. Our plan had been to do it online at the next roadhouse today, but we were charmed by the idea of filling in our census form on the night as occupants of a Rest Area on the road. This morning we handed it in at the roadhouse to be collected, probably by the same man. Now, isn’t that interesting!

I had a call from Eli and Matt yesterday morning to clarify a few questions for Matt’s form. He was fairly patient as we went through things, but keen to get on to watch staff doing housework.

Today we’ve driven just over 200 kms to the Nerren Nerren Rest Area. We’ve come off the blue metal area into some bushes. As usual, the rest area is fairly packed and although we have chosen a private spot we could end up surrounded, as happened last night.

Marie sent me some photos of new equipment Mum has, an air mattress to relieve pressure and a falls monitor. For the first time she looks really comfortable lying on her bed. However, she has ‘the look’ and I now feel that I don’t want to do any more exploring, I just want to get home. We are about 230 kms north of Geraldton and should be able to get home in about four days at our normal pace of travel.

We’ve been wanting to see wildflowers and realise that we don’t need to go anywhere special to see thick beds of everlastings and other flowers as we’ve been driving through them today on both sides of the road. There are even some flowers here at the rest area. Our plan is to continue down the road to Dongara, then head inland to Mingenew and come down the central road through Moora. We are now far enough south that there are plenty of facilities for free camping the rest of the way home.

Stephen has noticed a slight swelling in the corner of his right eye, which I can see as well. It is making his eye ache. He has made an appointment to see a GP in Geraldton late tomorrow afternoon. We can spend the night in one of the free overnight places afterwards. The local weather forecast is for fine weather with cool nights. Chilly in the van, but we love to snuggle under our doona.

On the moon, thanks to green screen technology. But, why was I sticking out my tummy.

To the North: Quobba to Carnarvon

After packing up this morning we drove up to the blow holes for one last look, and to have hot donuts and coffee at the food truck! This sign, which greets you as you arrive at Quobba is the reason we didn’t go and stand next to the blowholes as other people did.

After our restful day yesterday we went for a walk along the beach in the late afternoon and were eventually chased back to the van by a heavy shower.

We are now at the Wintersun Caravan Park in Carnarvon. We want to go to the Space museum and it’s also an opportunity to do a bit of washing. We were out of water, and even though we have an unpowered site we have access to a shared water tap. We are almost at the back of the caravan park on grass.

To the North: Quobba Blowholes

We stayed last night at the Quobba Blowholes Campground and we have one more night here before heading to Carnarvon. Our experience is that it is a good idea to have a meal out in Carnarvon as the food is local and great. But, who knows if that is the case now. Anyway, we will be needing water and some washing could be done there. We are about 75 kms north of Carnarvon at the moment.

On the way here to Quobba we spent a night at the Lyndon River Rest Area (Thursday night) and we are pretty sure we have stopped there on the previous trip to have lunch. We were fortunate enough to get a spot on the river bank (no water in the river) due to being small enough to squeeze between two caravans. There were lots of caravans staying the night and they all left by about 9.15 a.m. We left at about 10.00 and were pleased when we went to the dump point to find that there was still some water in the water containers left by Main Roads so we could rinse our toilet cassette. We have noticed these water containers at dump points before, but they have always been empty.

There was a little rain overnight and today we have ‘sunny spells’, with a very strong wind which is rocking the van. We had already decided to have today as a writing day and it suits us to rest up and just do some short walks locally. There are good hybrid flushing toilets here and although they are supposed to be for day use and we are supposed to use our chemical toilet, we are making use of them for some purposes.

The instructions were to arrive, find a spot to camp, then go online to book your camping. It’s $8.00 per person per night, with a pensioner concession, so $32 for the two nights. We have an ocean view through the windscreen of the van and as the sun is behind us we can leave it open all day to enjoy the view. There is a reef and island protecting this section of the beach from the huge waves, which makes it suitable for swimming in good weather.

After Carnarvon the plan is to visit Kalbarri, then Geraldton, then head inland to see wildflowers. We still have about three weeks before we a due back in Perth.

We didn’t go up close to the blowholes as the first thing we saw on arrival was a huge sign warning about killer king waves.

To the North: Tom Price, Parrabadu and back on the road

Our unpowered site at the Tom Price Caravan Park

So, why did we go to Tom Price if it wasn’t to go to Karijini? It was because the drive through the Hammersley Ranges is very beautiful. We took the route through Paraburdoo because we didn’t want to tackle the 60kms of gravel road taking the shortcut. However, we’ve since been told that the gravel road is quite good, unlike the gravel roads in Karijini.

We enjoyed two different 24hr rest areas on the way in and on the way out. Our site at the Tom Price Caravan Park was nice, there is a good view of Mt Nameless nearby. We tried to find the familiar pathway up the hill at sunset, but it has become overgrown. After taking another route we were able to find the path coming down the hill.

Sequence of overnight stays: Nanuatarra, Beasley RA, Cheela Downs, Mt Sheila RA, Tom Price (2 nights), Parraburdoo, House Creek RA.

Our stay at Cheela Downs Station Stay was good , without being spectacular. We had coffee and cake at the cafe on arrival, then were shown to our site. There was no shade, but the day was cloudy and windy so it didn’t matter. We had spent the night before at the Beasley Rest Area, which was lovely, but lots of bugs in the van after dark. Cheela Downs is only about 2kms away, but on the other side of the road and there were no bugs.

The link above is for a slideshow of photos from the past few days.

We celebrated Stephen’s birthday by having a meal in the evening, a two course dinner with a glass of wine. We chatted with the camp hosts over the meal.

We had run out of fresh food and needed to shop or we might have stayed another night. A bonus was that our water problem seemed to be fixed!

Our last night in the area was at Paraburdoo where I was able to get my second COVID jab. The caravan park there is very stark, but at $25 per night with free washing machines and dryers we didn’t complain.

Yesterday morning we got fuel and did some more shopping to stock up for a few nights as the next town is Carnarvon. We changed our minds about Exmouth as we didn’t really have a good reason to go and it’s very expensive to stay there. Instead we are headed for the Quobba Blowholes campground north of Carnarvon.

We enjoyed our last evening at the House Creek Rest Area about 70 kms from Nanutarra. we had a family with children staying near to us and the kids were playing an imaginary game which was very entertaining. Their parents were trying to hush them and we hoped they’d speak a bit louder so we could follow the story. We had a chat with the parents and they seemed a very nice family.

House Creek Rest Area

We were told there was a possibility of a lockdown in Perth, so checked the news when we arrived at Nanutarra this morning. Fortunately, there doesn’t seem to be enough of a threat for it to happen.

One of the views last night
It was warm when we arrived and we sat outside until it was cool.