Monthly Archives: February 2015

Wave Rock, Hyden and other rock formations

West of Eucla, we stopped briefly at Cocklebiddy and headed down to the Eyre Bird Observatory. The road to the escarpment was pretty rough but we had to unhitch the trailer to get the last 12km to the observatory. The road was very soft and sandy, making it a fun ride in.

Whilst very little remains of the original telegraph station (1877-1897), the later built telegraph station now acts as a tranquil rest for bird watchers and bushwalkers. The caretakers showed the kids the weather station and took measurements, a task performed 3 times a day. The building also houses an interesting museum that the kids loved due to the amount of bones and preserved animals there. We had a quick bird-watching bushwalk and headed down to the beach, over one of the most challenging dunes we have encountered yet. The beach was tough driving so we made a hasty exit and departed.

The explorer, Edward John Eyre, passed nearby in 1841, on his epic 1500km journey from Fowlers Bay to Albany.

Back to Cocklebiddy for an overnight stop, then saw an Australian Bustard (a bird, not a person!) in the morning before commencing a long drive to Norseman. This stretch saw us diverting to find Caiguna blowhole, driving for 20 minutes in the worst dust roads, only to find it back by the main road on our return. Tidal airflows blast through many such blowholes on the Nullarbor, some over 70km/h. Jumping into them offers instant air conditioning on hot summer days. The next stretch of road is the longest straight road in Australia – 146km of boring driving.

Past Norseman we continued on towards Hyden via the Granite-Woodlands track, stopping overnight at McDermid rock. A brief stop at Disappointment rock was far from it! We watched a small bush fire working its way towards us, until it got within a kilometre, when we had to press on to camp before sunset. McDermid Rock is actually a mini-Wave Rock formation and an impressive sight, but to avoid disappointment see it before the Wave Rock. The road took us past the Breakaways, another obligatory stop offering more rock formations and beautiful colouration in the rock.

Wave rock was impressive but quite busy. Having seen pictures of it as a kid growing up it was great to see it in reality. Well worth a visit.

 

 

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Categories: 4WD, Adventure, australia, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Natural World, Photography, Travel, Travel Adventure, West Australia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Eucla

Arriving in Eucla we headed straight for the Telegraph Station that has been engulfed by sand. Movement of sand dunes along the beach slowly overtook the station following a rabbit plague in the 1890s that ate all the vegetation that stabilised the dunes.

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We then set off looking for a beach camp and once again found a maze of 4WD tracks leading everywhere except where we wanted. Anyone watching from the escarpment would have been amused to follow the trail of dust billowing up behind us as we negotiated the multitude of paths. Finally we gave up and headed back into Eucla for the night and enjoyed a dip in their pool, refreshing after several days of inhaling dust from remote tracks. I got some local knowledge and found that one of the sandy paths we had tried actually lead to the jetty and beach and I was keen to go so I dashed down before the sunset. With just the car and no trailer in tow it was a lot easier to get through the sand but I wasn’t expecting to pop onto the beach so quickly. A great photo opportunity indeed and the time of day offered great lighting.

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, australia, Australian Outback, Beach, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Mitsubishi, National Park, Offroad, Photography, Travel, Travel Adventure, West Australia | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Into the Nullarbor

As we drove towards the Nullarbor Plain we couldn’t resist to stop for the road signs, look out for Camels, Kangaroos and Wombats. Pulling over at lunchtime the kids soon were running back to car clutching beautiful feathers, asking what they were from. A quick scan of nearby trees revealed a group of Major Mitchells, or Pink Cockatoos, beautiful birds and one to add to the list of sightings.

 

At Nullarbor we turned north off the road, to look for Murrawijinie Caves, lying approximately 10km along a dirt track. The temperature gauge snuck up to 46 degrees and was testing everyone. Why were we looking around in this heat in the bush for caves didn’t need to be said but the moment they set foot in the cool shaded environment below all was forgiven. I have never seen Amanda move so fast down a 3m log to get out of the heat. We found a wall with aboriginal red ochre hand paintings which proved quite exciting for the kids. In one cave we climbed down some tight passages until we found a large pile of bones, those of animals who had entered and perished after failing to find their way out. Many raptors roost and nest in the cool caves and so we found many rodent bones scattered in piles too, particularly beneath one owl nest.

After killing some time out of the heat we finally had to re-emerge from the caves and find a camp. We camped at the head of the Great Australian Bight, literally on the clifftops, not a place to go if you are at all susceptible to sleepwalking.

Up early and off again before the wind could blow us over the cliffs! We found a zebra crossing in the middle of the Nullarbor Plain (only a few hundred cars cross the 1600km plain daily) so we had to use it. After a couple more lookouts we decided to explore and drove off along an unsigned little track.

After 15km a myriad of diminishing tracks brought us to a homestead and a vintage car graveyard. We were looking for more caves but gave up eventually fearing our ability to retrace our route back along the tracks. But first we had to take photos and a GPS position to check where we had been later.

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Finally we worked our way back to the main road and headed West again. Next stop West Australia!

 

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, australia, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Camper Trailer, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Photography, South Australia, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

West Australia – here we come

Just as we approached the West Australian border a wild dingo calmly crossed the freeway in front of us. It was our first on the trip. We pulled over for lunch to eat some residual items that we knew would be lost through quarantine. 25km short of the border the coastline becomes a sloping descent rather than precipitous cliffs. Whilst a dirt road to the beach beckoned we gave it a miss and the kids had fun catching desert cockroaches in the car park. These insects were of herculean stature, buzzing past slowly everywhere. We swatted a couple for closer examination.

At the border we decided to play another Nullarbor Links hole to relieve the boredom of long straight roads. The straight par 3 hole looked a doddle, but when the clubs were handed over without balls, “because everyone loses them”, we noticed the fairway was largely rocks and dirt and it wasn’t long before balls were ricocheting into the bush in all directions. Armed with two clubs, one for striking the ball, the other for defence against abundant brown snakes, we zigzagged our way up the fairway several times, as we all wanted a go and we only had two balls. Best score of the day, two over par, 5.

50m away as we crossed the border we had a good chat with the quarantine officers who spoiled the kids with chuppa chups. We surrendered the few remaining items we hadn’t been able to eat then drove through. Here we are in West Australia after almost 15,000km on the clock.

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Ceduna and heading towards the Nullarbor

Ceduna was just a stop to fill up with water, clean up a bit, stock up with supplies and plan for the trip across the Nullabor. All but the planning were performed proficiently. We found a few spares that were required and spent quite a bit of time catching blue swimmer crabs off the jetty again.

After two days in Ceduna we travelled the one hour or so north west to the famous surfing beach, Cactus, at Port Sinclair. The three main surf spots there are Cactus, Castles and Caves, all a short distance from the campground. The swell was small but there were enough waves to keep the surfers happy. Most impressive was the windsurfer catching the waves though. With no board it was frustrating just having to watch, but with two shark attacks in NSW in the last two days, and a memorial plaque for a surfer taken from Cactus in September 2000, I was happy to watch the keen ones surf beyond sundown.

The next day we went for a swim in a nearby salt lake and found a golf ball ready for the next challenge. We stopped in Penong for a hole of golf on the Nullarbor Links course, the longest in the world. With not a single blade of green grass to be seen we all launched in and I think the best result was a score of 8 on the par 4 hole. Challenge complete!

Next stop Fowlers Bay where we camped near the beach in the National Park. We all snorkelled and I fished one night/morning with limited success – still not sure what fish I caught and returned but think it might have been a small jewfish. Time to press onwards and into the Nullarbor.

 

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Streaky Bay and heading north

From Murphy’s Haystacks we headed west towards the coast and took in the three scenic drives for the area. The first took us to the sealion colony at Point Labatt, then back up via Sceale Bay we drove the Westall Way loop drive that has a number of lookouts, Granites and Smooth Pools where a huge the promise of a huge ocean rock pool in the heat was very enticing. Unfortunately the strong south easterly breezes continued to blow and when we all got out of the car it didn’t seem such a good idea again.

 

Passing through the quiet, but attractive town of Streaky Bay the Cape Baer loop drive showcased some beautiful beaches, Hallys Beach being the standout. Whistling rocks were trying their hardest to perform, but the tide was not right to witness any action at the adjacent blowholes. In big swell the five holes in the ground must put on an impressive show but we missed out.

Back in Streaky Bay we finally got to see the replica Great White Shark in the roadhouse.

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Our destination for the night was Perlubie Beach and driving into a dusty carpark behind the beach our hearts sank. It looked average and while I tried to find a flat spot in the last viable spot we just parked and decide to check out the beach. Our spirits lifted again when we found the camping spots were actually on the beach, with cabana covers for sunshade. Sweeet!

School term is back in progress and we had found a great place to get the kids back into it.

 

Perlubie Beach Camp

Perlubie Beach Camp

 

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Murphy’s Haystacks

In between last blogs we had an overnight stay at Murphy’s Haystacks. Not much too add other than to display the photos – a very photogenic spot and gave me time to find out more about my camera, what it can and can’t do, and experimented with a few new shots.

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Coffin Bay National Park

Another short drive west from Lincoln National Park brings you to Coffin Bay National Park. Determined to keep up the adventure we decided to camp at Black Springs, the tides were in our favour so we drove down to Yangie Bay, deflated the tyres and headed on. We had a temporary bog that took five minutes to get out of then plain “sailing” from then on in, albeit quite rocky and rough in places.

Despite being a very dusty campground, the site we chose was on the edge of a low cliff directly above the beach. With its own bench it offered glorious views across the bay to the east. We took the Black Rocks hike to Avoid Bay, a 3.8km walk across the peninsula. A large osprey nest perched prominently on top of a stack below the cliff and a pair of ospreys circled, one with a fish in its talons. The beach was really shallow and water warm so we spent some time snorkelling to cool down. Plenty of fish life but nothing big enough to catch for dinner without a boat!

We took one day with just the car to explore the whole National Park. There is plenty of 4WD fun to be had with lots of sand to Morgans Landing, then rocky to Point Sir Isaac where we watched sea lions and dolphins cruising up and down the coastline. Sensation Beach presented a dune that appeared to go nowhere from below, but in fact a right turn at the crest takes you down to a huge surf fishing beach. On our return we stopped at the big sand dunes beside Seven Mile beach and let the kids run up and down them for an hour.

A short excursion from the campsite to Black Springs Well was worth the walk. The hand pump finally brought forward a brown stream of water that did go clear, albeit full of organic detritus. The park also has a number of wells dug by 19th century Whalers which we found on our excursion around the park

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Lincoln National Park – Memory Cove

A short drive from Port Lincoln brought us to Lincoln National Park, and we drove down the 4WD track to Memory Cove. During Matthew Flinder’s trip to the area in 1802, eight of his crew took a boat to shore, foundered on the reef near Cape Catastrophe, and lost their lives. The surrounding offshore islands were individually named after them and Memory Cove as a reminder of the incident.

Access is via a padlocked gate and a very rough road takes you to the beach. Unfortunately as soon as you arrive a swarm of bees descends looking for water, so the full awning went up to protect us, but not before I accidentally trod on one and got stung. Once set up things got better and the next few days were spent exploring the beach, shoreline, surrounding area and a bit of fishing. Wildlife abounds in the National Park and when Xavier wasn’t finding sea hares, peninsula brown snake jawbones and more besides we were watching Australian sea lions frolicking around the bay, and sea eagles flying overhead. We even got to watch a newly born baby dolphin being taught the ropes by its parents in the shallows of a nearby beach. It was tiny, barely a metre long and looked very clumsy when it surfaced to breathe, pushing its whole head and torso out, rather than just exposing the blowhole. Fish were everywhere and when the wrasse had stopped eating all the bait the big stuff came out (around dusk). Having watched swimmers in the sandy shallows it was a bit unnerving to see a 2+m bronze whaler cruising in knee-deep water two nights on the trot. Memory Cove is famous for the presence of Great White Sharks in the murky depths but this was 10m from the shore. That said I couldn’t resist slipping into the water at a spot where the sea lions were hanging out to try and get a photo. Unfortunately they were very wary and not as inquisitive as I was hoping they would be in the water. When I didn’t have a camera at hand they were more than happy to mock and put on fantastic jumping performances as we approached. I landed a large eagle ray on the last night after a 30 minute battle, and released it back.

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, Animal Action, australia, Australian Outback, Beach, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, National Park, Natural World, Photography, South Australia, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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