Mid WA

Beautiful Sharks - Something for Kate

"It never rains in Exmouth" - Ringo
"Exmouth's annual rainfall is 210mm"- Ringo
"There is sun for 300 days a year"- Ringo

Well it did rain in Exmouth and it was a bit windy. Not things we let stop us from heading to the reef in search of whale sharks.
We did an initial snorkel on the inner reef. This allowed the crew to see who was deemed competent to snorkel with the whale sharks and who may need to stay on the boat. Luckily for us we were deemed competent.
By this time our plane was in the air and the pilot was in search of whale sharks. After a few false starts the call "spotter ready" was made and into the water our spotter, the lovely Ronny, dived. Once a visual is made with the shark we all jumped in. We had an awesome swim with this first shark, a male approximately 5m long.
After some more searching we got to swim with a 2.5m friendly and inquisitive male. We had been advised the we needed to remain at least 3m from the sharks at all times. This shark had other ideas, chasing people and wanting to be right in the middle of everyone. Apparently the juvenile males behave like this - similar to humans really.
As everyone got to have a great look at this whale and half the boat were vomiting it was decided to head back to the inner reef for lunch and another snorkel.
We had a lovely snorkel seeing reef sharks, turtles, lion fish, anemone fish, rays, cat fish and various species of parrot fish. Jaks was just about to hop back on the boat when a tiger shark was spotted. This shark didn't want anything to do with us and despite our best efforts to take a closer look it swam away faster than we could keep up.
Upon returning to Exmouth it was still raining.
We had a top meal at Gracie's Tavern. Awesome service and extremely friendly staff.
Thanks to Ringo and Ronny for everything!

Shake, Rattle and Roll- Bill Haley and the Comets

Strong coffee and fancy tea for breakfast this morning gave us a kick start and we were ready to roll. With the tyre pressures down we hit the dunes to head from Coral Bay to Exmouth via Ningaloo Station and the Cape Range NP. The road was in worse condition than we had expected with lots of corrugations and was pretty slow going.
With the sugar levels dropping and fear of the cars rattling apart we stopped for lunch next to the ocean. The reef in most places along the coast is a few km off shore so we planned to reserve our swimming for later in the day.
We reached Yardie Creek at about 3pm. When we were here in 2005 you had to drive through the creek to continue northward. This time the creek had dried up and after a section through what would have been the creek bed and is now sandy we hit the bitumen.
We were all underprepared for the class 2 walk to the gorge lookout. After this quick stroll we all followed Ringo's lead jumping into the creek and washing away all our tiredness and dustiness.
Jaks then ran into an old school friend, only need one degree of separation if you are Tasmanian!
A quiet night tonight with an early start tomorrow (pick up at 7.25am) for the trip to the reef. Fingers crossed for some whale shark action tomorrow.

The Long Run-The Eagles

I was wandering around the IGA while Jaks was doing grown-up stuff. After finding some milk and not finding a spray bottle it was time to go. Earlier this morning we had been llistening to disputes in the caravan park between the park managers and cubs as we packed up. You can dress them up but you can't take them out. (Thanks Jill).
Our plan was to head out East towards Gascoyne Junction.
This town was destroyed by the floods in December 2010, and is slowly rebuilding. Sadly the pub got washed away so Jaks could not add to her stubby cooler collection. Being a Saturday everything was shut so we hitched up our shorts and moved on.
The road from Gascyone Junction north was corrugated but by no means a shocker. We sat on 100km/h +. After arriving and setting up camp we spent the afternoon doing some of the walks in the park. We attempted a Grade 4 walk without 15 liters of water, in our pluggers, and without sensible hats. The 2 hour walk was completed in 15 minutes. There was evidence of water flowing through the gorges but no water for us to swim in.
There were seven groups camped in the park for the evening, 3 of us were from Tasmania. Peter and Jill were kind enough to share their campfire with us and we spent the evening chatting and sharing ideas about our favourite campsites and worst roads.
Our evening was interrupted by the arrival of two carloads of backpackers with limited camping etiquette. During the night they walked through our campsite on their way to the toilet speaking loudly.
Feeling like a pair of oldies we chastised them all night. They were not bad people just not accustomed to the ways of the bush.
We awoke this morning to the rumblings of the backpackers and packed up camp.
Our friends from NZ had a quiet word with the new arrivals about camp etiquette. We had a quick walk up into Honeycomb Gorge before hitting the farm tracks back to the coast to meet up with Ringo and Ronnie.
Unfortunately the road we had planned to take was closed, so we had to take a further 100km of dirt road to get back to the main drag. Luckily the roads were awesome and we cruised between 90 and 100km/h.
All the planning Ringo and Bryce had done payed off and we met up with R & R in Coral Bay.
Ronnie cooked a lovely curry for dinner and the boys are chilling in the hammocks and drinking port.
Tomorrow we plan to head north through the Cape Range NP, stopping for some snorkels along the way.
Tuesday we are booked to head out to snorkel with the whale sharks.

Breakdown-Foofighters

Another beautiful morning greeted us. We disassembled camp and headed out towards the main drag. The road had improved considerably by this stage so it was time to pump up the tyres. Jaks' favorite job!
There was a lot more traffic heading out to Steep Point, a sign of the long weekend to come.
We were planning to head north to to the Overlander Roadhouse and the turn east towards the Kennedy Range.
As we refueled we noticed another Prado that seemed to be draining its fuel tank. We wandered over for a chat and found they had put unleaded in their D4D diesel Prado. Uh-oh. After obtaining a bit more info it turns out that they had only put 50 litres in it and they had stopped it before it stopped them. Bryce removed the fuel filter while Stan the owner continued draining the tank. Once it was empty and the lines had been purged of unleaded and refilled with diesel the big moment came.
It fired quite happily and ran fine without blowing any smoke. A lucky escape! I can hear Dave shuddering from here!
We left them to fill up with diesel and continued up the highway.
We found the track we wanted, and we also found a No Through Road sign. The bridge had been washed away in previous floods. Bugger.
Plan B went into effect, this took us to Carnarvon for the night and out to the Kennedy by sealed roads tomorrow.
So here we are at the Big4. Surrounded by CUBS with all their new toys. We were here 6 years ago and it's still the same.
Tomorrow we will be glad to get out of town head bush again. After the Kennedy's we will peel back towards the coast and the expense of Coral Bay and the coastal track up through Ningaloo towards Exmouth.
Well that's the plan....

The theme from Jaws

We were sitting on the beach having breakfast after a refreshing morning dip when we noticed several triangular fins moving back and forward along the beach where we had just been swimming. I guess that is how Shark Bay got its name.
As kickout time was 10am, we packed up the tent and headed to the Zutdorp Cliffs. These cliffs run down the coast towards Kalbarri and are around 80-100 meters high. Once again not a breath of wind and speccy views.
There is a memorial here to a prawn trawler that sank after crashing into the cliffs. 3 crewman died but the skipper stayed afloat on the brine tank and survived on the crews rations and water from the melting ice. 2 weeks later he managed to to carve a surf ski and paddle from the tank and was rowing into the bay when he was picked up.
The road back out from Steep Point seemed much further than on the way in. We passed 2 4WDs full of lads, beer, fishing gear a deep freeze and both towing large boats. From our observations I think their trip in would have taken a lot longer than our trip out.
It is a long weekend here in WA and the popular spots are filling up in preparation for the weekend. We managed to find a secluded camp at False Entrance. All thoughts of a swim were further abandoned after watching reasonably large sharks circling in the shallows. Instead we opted for a quick splash and decided to wet the lines.
Our small, cheap, pack up lines proved to be not up to the task and the fish were all safe in the ocean. No risk of reaching bag limits for us.
The weather has been kind to us and the forecast is looking good for the weekend. More sun filled, still, warm days.
Tomorrow we are aiming for the Kennedy Ranges inland from Carnarvon. The mountains there look very pretty and hopefully it's far away from the holidaying crowds.