Customer Blog Post-Peter Kinlyside’s Outback Trip-Part 2
Words and images by Peter Kinlyside
Days 12 &13 – Port Hedland.
Fixed a few things around Erin’s place, played with the dogs a bit. Had to fill in a few holes in cement driveway, and got some good assist from the dogs – had to make 2 batches of concrete, and they had to ensure I was laying it properly by digging it out between batches. They were told that I was OK, and didn’t need their help… in no uncertain terms.
Had a tour of the BHP facilities – lots of refurb work going on, but the new deep-water loading facility has been put on hold. Jase took us to dinner at one of the mining camps near Pt Hedland – huge, and good tucker. Weather in Pt Hedland was great, and got the chance to open up the tent in Jason’s back yard to dry it out properly.
Given two computers to fix when I get back home, and did some minor repairs on the stone retaining wall at the back of the Hotel in Lukis St.
Day 14 – Port Hedland to Karijini NP
Back down the road to Auski, then on to Karijini NP. Booked in, set up and had some lunch, waiting for Erin and Jase to show up. Hilarious watching them set up their new tent…
Set up the shower and HWS on the CT for the first time, and went through 20-odd litres of water testing and washing dishes. Not enough water left for a shower, so will get some tomorrow from the tank at the visitors centre. Went for a look at a couple of gorges close by – stunning views. Great dinner by Kaysie, and a good chat round the table. Jason’s chair had a malfunction (it broke under the strain), and had a good belly laugh. He had to sit on the 20L drum (bush washing machine) for the rest of the night and next day.
Day 15 – Karijini NP.
10 Km drive to Visitors Centre, pretty interesting, and some great artwork. Drive 40Km on dirt track (pretty corrugated), to view Joffregorge, and the 4 gorges confluence – Spectacular!!. Back to camp for lunch, then Erin and Jase had to take off. Snooze in the afternoon, then showers in the en-suite. Works pretty well, and nice to be clean again.
Day 16 – Karijini to Karratha via Tom Price
Rained overnight at Karijini, and packed up in the rain. Sick of this weather pattern. So much for coming north to get away from winter. Drove to Tom Price, intending to stop overnight, but the rain kept coming down, so decided to head for Millstream NP, via dirt road – rain got heavier. Decided to head for Karratha, to save getting caught out with little fresh water, and stuck in a bad place with roads closed all around. Dirt road was getting worse by the minute, very muddy in parts, and lots of water over the road. Fun drive for a couple of hundred K’s – reminded me of the trip back to Woomera from Olympic Dam many years ago.
Got to Karratha around 4:30 pm, and booked into Big 4 park, only to find out there is a flood warning for the Pilbara for the next 3-4 days. Correct decision, PK. Set up in the rain AGAIN, and this time fitted the full annex walls. KFC for dinner.
Day 17-19 Karratha
Rained 210mm overnight – bit dampish. A few leaks showed up in the tent, but nothing too drastic. Did washing for 3 hours (1 dryer in the whole park of 200 spaces, and everyone wanted to dry their bedding). Went out to Hearson’s Bay to try to get pictures of Stairway to the Moon, but failed due to cloud. Did manage to get a great shot of a decent flare-off, and steam from the plant lit by setting sun – sky on fire.
Vitamin M for dinner. Good weather next day, so went out to Cossack historic township for a look round (interesting), back to camp for lunch, then off to Dampier. Got a picture with Red Dog, but the town itself is a shambles – basically been let go with no maintenance. Rio Tinto not putting much effort in there.
Back to base camp for a while (SWMBO snooze, while I fixed a cracked hose on the truck), then I took her out for Chinese, then back to Hearson’s for a 2nd go at the Stairway – better luck this time, and scored brownie points for “being in touch with my romantic side” – I call it temporary insanity.
Day 20 – Karratha to Exmouth
Longish run on tar. Not much scenery, but did manage to find some rocks (similar to Devil’s Marbles) that hadn’t been graffitied. Nice lawned Caravan Park at Exmouth but had trouble getting the jockey wheel down, so had to resort to using the hi-lift jack. Really need to clean the red mud and stones out of all the nooks and crannies in the trailer, and do some serious lube.
Day 21 – Exmouth
Went out on Ningaloo Reef in a glass-bottom boat to take a look at the coral and fish. Nice and calm, with an interesting skipper (Alec). Saw some very big Barracuda, angel fish, juvenile green sea turtle, and electric blue tiny fish – evidently the first pointer to a healthy reef system. Alec knew his way around the reef, to the point where he could show us individual coral formations, and places where specific fish lived. Had a look around the lighthouse, also a radar sire during WW2. Then went to Cape Range NP to have a look at the scenery and canyons from the top down, and also up Shot Canyon (road closed – oh well, what are 4WD’s for…) to see things from the bottom up. Windy night, and up at 2AM to tie the annex down a bit. Packed up dry (at last), after fairly decent weather for the last few days.
Day 22 – Exmouth to Carnarvon.
Shortish run of 390Km, including a diversion into Coral Bay for a quick look round – that joint was as busy as Bourke St on a Saturday morning. 30Km/hr headwind the whole way, so only managed 22.8L/100Km. Truck going reasonably well now, despite a few more rattles than we started with.
Day 23 – Carnarvon
Took it easy today, 70 Km up to the blowholes, and also to see the HMAS Sydney Memorial – they might have been pussers, but they were brothers all the same – lest we forget. Weather beautiful 24-25 degrees – bit windy, but we have sunshine! Had to change plans a little due to road works around Kalbarri NP, have to stay a few extra days at Carnarvon and Monkey Mia.
Day 24 – Carnarvon
Rest day. Went to see the Space and Technology museum at the old OTC site. Only a small museum, but packed with all sorts from the deep space tracking site as well as OTC station – very interesting. Also worked on cleaning up the jockey wheel, did some laundry.
Day 25 – Carnarvon to Monkey Mia
Caught a rock on the windscreen a couple of days ago, now it’s turned into a crack. Truck still running OK – 22L/100 on this leg, but I was pushing it along a bit. Setup in Monkey Mia CP.
Day 26 – Monkey Mia
Felt crook overnight, and not much sleep.
Got up to have a look at the dolphin interaction show, but not much interaction. Went and had a look at the Aquarium – over-priced in terms of value for money.
But SWMBO got some good close-ups of sharks feeding and the logger head turtle.
We had lunch there, but the food truck broke down (where have I heard that before?) and all they had was fish and chips.
Went for a sunset scenic flight over Denham, the NP and Monkey Mia, but windows on the Cessna were filthy.
Called Youi to make sure insurance covered windscreen, and within 20 minutes they had organised for a new one to be fitted in Geraldton first thing Monday morning-impressed.
Day 27 – Monkey Mia to Geraldton
Windscreen crack got worse, so decided to call the windscreen mob and see if they could fit me in on Friday, which they did. Thus, gave up one night at Monkey Mia, and travelled to Geraldton, so they can start first thing in the morning, and we can go back up to Kalbarri NP in the afternoon. Last 40-50 km into Geraldton is very pretty country – mostly farmland, but rolling hills and good scenery. Might have to go back to a village called Northampton going to, or coming back from Kalbarri – looks like a WA version of Maldon.