Australia Day threw a spanner into the works, causing us to abandon our plans of staying in a caravan park near The Pinnacles, and instead stopping further north, at Green Heads. Lesson learned, book caravan parks well ahead of time for Australia holidays. The change of plans ended up working out pretty well though, Green Heads was a great place to stay, and the caravan park was very nice. Once at the park I went out to shoot the sunset for what would be the last time for the trip, and the city lived up to its name. There was plenty of green on the cliffs, and it provided a nice balance of colour with the blues and oranges of the sunset. I spent the next morning again on the cliffs, facing the other way to capture the sunrise. We packed up early that morning and headed down to visit The Pinnacles, then over to Hutt River Provence. A very interesting place, it exists as a sovereign independent state, outside of the control of Australia, despite being completely landlocked. The final stop for the evening was New Norcia, home to a Benedictine Monastery, and a wonderful Abbey Ale. We got a little loose that night on the Abbey brew, went on an impromptu ghost walk with a local resident, and heard some wonderful behind the scenes stories of the former orphanage and boarding school. No ghosts were spotted, so we headed back to the RV. That night we hurriedly packed and clean, preparing for a busy morning of driving to the airport, returning the RV, and heading home. Western Australia was a wonderful place, and look forward to making it back to that side of the country.
We arrived in Kalbarri well after dark, as intended, and quickly settle in to sleep. With two nights planned at the caravan park, and no need to pack up quickly, we were able to relax a little the next day. We spent the morning relaxing at the pool, and running errands around town. In the afternoon we visited Rainbow Jungle, a free flight aviary full of hundreds of species of Australia parrots. We then attempted to do a coastal walk, but the wind proved to be too much of a nuisance, so we retired to the comfort of the caravan park. That evening I decided to brave the wind, and the sand-blaster beach, and shoot the sunset. I'm glad I did, as the wind meant the waves were extra active, and showed a lot of motion over the rocks. The following morning we took a rented car deep into Kalbarri National Park, the car providing a relative luxury on the corrugated dirt roads, compared to extreme rattling we normally experienced in the RV. We walked part of The Loop Walk in the park, stopping to take the customary pictures at Nature's Window, before giving in to the heat and flies, and heading back to the car. We took another short walk in the park, before heading back to the town, exchanging the car for the RV, and departing on our last legs of the holiday.
After two days in the sun and isolation of Cape Range National Park we headed back around the cape, through Exmouth, and down to Coral Bay. It was a sparsely populated drive south, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a nice little town at the end. We signed in and orientated ourselves at the caravan park, and then I quickly made my way down to the shore for the sunset. I had to descend a very sandy cliff to get down and scale it to get back up, but it was well worth the effort. Back on top, I went to meet the family at the local restaurant and bar, which looked to be a very popular establishment. We relaxed over a couple of beers and laid out tentative plans for the rest of the trip. The next morning I went out to explore with my camera, and ended up following a family of plovers around, the parents having to repeatedly fend off seagulls who seemed way too interested in their chick. Later, we made our way down to the beach for another session of snorkeling. The water was beautiful and clear and the corals full of life, and we soaked in as much as we could. Eventually we dragged ourselves out of the ocean, cleaned up, ate lunch, and began our long drive down to Kalbarri National Park.
Leaving Karijini, we once again entered the vast emptiness of Western Australia. The long, flat drive west was broken up by stops in the mining town of Tom Price and a roadhouse off Highway 1. Cell phone towers were spotted on the hills outside of Tom Price, and for the first time in days we had service. The coverage disappeared as soon as we got out of town though, and all we had left was red dirt and road trains on our way to Exmouth. We arrived at our caravan park in Exmouth well before sunset, allowing plenty of time to have a dip in the pool. We enjoyed a dinner at an actual restaurant that night, before taking part in another rarity, an air conditioned night of sleep. I woke up early the next day to shoot the sunrise, and was greeted by plenty of red kangaroos on the walk back. We restocked our food before leaving Exmouth, knowing that we weren't going to have another chance for a couple more days. Those 2 days took us deep into Cape Range National Park, where we enjoyed snorkeling, bushwalking, great sunsets, and moonlight crab spotting on the beach. I even had the opportunity to spend some time in a bird hide, and saw a white bellied sea eagle buzz a couple of pelicans and successfully pluck a fish out of the water. Be sure to view the gallery below to see all the wonderful creatures.
Port Hedland was the type of town that felt like the population doubled every time a plane landed. On arrival, our 737 seemed to dwarf the terminal that was receiving it, itself the largest structure I saw on the way in. I met my sister-in-law Jenn and nephew Ben inside, and we quickly made our way outside to meet my brother Justin and other nephew Evan in a rented RV. It had already served as their home and transportation for the previous 2 weeks, and would continue to fulfill that service for the following 10 days. We made our way through town, which despite appearances, is the largest in the region and responsible for receiving most of the regions fuel and supplies, and shipping out a large tonnage of mined materials. In keeping with the export theme, we headed out of the area and towards Karijini National Park, a few hours away. Our destination for the evening was a roadhouse just outside the park, and served as a fine place to rest for the night. My first time at a roadhouse, i had to fight my temptation to round-house kick everything and say "roadhouse". The following morning we headed into the park, slipped slapped slopped, and went out on our first or many nature walks. The park has a good number of gorges, with most walks consisting of steep descents, stunning views of waterfalls, and then steep ascents. A few hours of walking the first day had us looking forward to our next stop, Karijini Eco Resort. A relative oasis in the park, it featured a full restaurant and bar, and was a very pleasant place to stay. It was also located next to a wonderful gorge, which meant I didn't have to walk far to shoot the sunrise the next morning. After the sun came up, we all took a trek down a gully and spent some time in a wonderful rock pool, before packing up and heading to our next destination. Have a look through the pictures below, to learn a little more about the area, and see all the wonderful animals and places that greeted us.