It had been showering through the night but when we finished breakfast and started to roll up hoses in preparation for departure the rain had eased and we were able to hook up and leave the caravan park before it started to rain again. We headed north from Busselton along the Bussel Highway heading towards Bunbury, Mandurah and Perth.
As we progressed we joined the Forrest Highway and the Kwinana Freeway which took us into Perth itself and then joined the Mitchell Highway taking us to the northern suburb of Joondalup.
The freeway ended abruptly at Burns Beach Road with a choice to turn right or left; we turned left and joined Wanneroo Road which led us on to the Indian Ocean Drive taking us all the way to Jurien Bay. Along the way we drove past the towns of Lancelin and Cervantes.
Just before we reached Cervantes we found a small lookout – Nilgen Lookout and Wildflower Walk. The access to the lookout was suitable for caravan access so we turned off the highway and pulled up in the parking lot so we could take a look at the view.
A little further on from the lookout just before Cervantes we passed the Pinnacles (http://www.westernaustralia.com/au/Pages/Attraction.aspx?n=Pinnacles&pid=9009443&cid=dgm:sem:au1415:intra:The%20Pinnacles&gclid=CKX68I7un8YCFUoGvAod0VkAMg) which is a most interesting natural location which we explored (in the car and on foot) and really liked when we visited in 2010.
On reaching Jurien Bay (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jurien_Bay,_Western_Australia) the weather was overcast but fine and we were able to set up without problems; however sitting outside later in the day we were blessed with fine showers which caused a hasty retreat inside. These showers developed into frequent showers sometimes heavy and it rained through the night and much of the next day. In the afternoon of Friday it fined up somewhat and we were able to explore a little of Jurien Bay.
Next morning we were lucky enough to be able to pack up without getting wet and drove north towards Geraldton (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geraldton) passing small towns including Green Head (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Head,_Western_Australia), Leeman (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leeman,_Western_Australia) and Dongara (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dongara,_Western_Australia) along the way. We stopped for morning tea at roadside rest area near Greenough (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenough,_Western_Australia) the site of a well photographed leaning tree and shortly after this we encountered reasonably heavy rain that pursued us all the way to the north of Geraldton.
Once we arrived at Northampton (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northampton,_Western_Australia) we turned off the Brand Highway on to the road to Kalbarri. Lunch was at the site of the Port Gregory Convict Hiring Depot (http://www.ashadocs.org/aha/25/25_04_Gibbs.pdf) where some intact ruins still stand.
Onward to Kalbarri under ever threatening skies we passed the turnoff to the Hutt River Province (http://www.hutt-river-province.com/) but decided to drive on rather than turn off to visit HRH Prince Leonard.
Arriving in Kalbarri (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalbarri,_Western_Australia) we headed for the Murchison River Caravan Park (http://www.murcp.com/) where we had decided to stay for a few days. We set up on site and went for a walk to the local Visitor Centre (http://www.kalbarri.org.au/) to see what was available and then proceeded to the local commercial centre where we browsed the local newsagent/souvenir shop and the local café where we had a mid-afternoon snack of fish and chips.
While we were enjoying our fish and chips the showers started again and when we finished our feed we were forced to beat a hasty retreat to the caravan. I had set the awning up with the “Aussie Traveller” anti-flappers and curved rafters in an effort to ensure the awning remained intact and all seemed well when we went to bed. It rained on and off most the night and at about 4:00am we experienced very squally conditions and heavy rain. So much for the awning remaining intact and at 4:30am I was outside in my pyjamas dismantling the system and rolling up the awning to save it from damage. The people on the next site had a pop-top caravan and their awning flapped and blew very loudly (and I would think dangerously) until at 6:30am the guy rolled it up – they left the park a couple of hours later.
This morning we arose late and after breakfast the skies were reasonably clear so I put the awning out to dry it. After some adjustments to the holes in the roller where the ant-flap bars and curved awnings fit the system is once again in place (much more securely now) and as an added precaution a rope has been lashed across the top of the awning to hold it in place. Hopefully we will have a calmer night tonight and better weather tomorrow.
Sunday afternoon we drove out to take another look at the high cliffs south of Kalbarri (part of the Kalbarri National Park – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalbarri_National_Park) to enjoy the spectacular views offered at these vantage points. There was a strong onshore wind which made things a little uncomfortable and frequent showers which made photography occasionally difficult. In addition to the great views we were lucky enough to also see a rainbow and capture some images of a water spout just off the coast. The rain became a little too frequent so we called it a day and returned to the caravan to explore another day.
Monday was an overcast day but the forecast suggested it would clear so with a need to wash clothes we were up early and off to the laundry; we weren’t the first however and only able to use one machine. Between loads the clothe lines started to fill with people who had obviously washed in their caravans hanging out clothes. Managed to grab three quarters of a line then nervously watched as the clouds grew heavier and more threatening with even a light scud as we were hanging out the laundry. However, by lunch time most of the washing was dry and what wasn’t fitted on a line under the caravan awning.
We went to finish our view of the coastal cliffs in the Kalbarri National Park and walked along the path to Red Bluff where we met a little girl who told us she had seen whales, dolphins and a pink mermaid in the bay below (her mother clarified that they had just seen dolphins); pity I would have liked to see the pink mermaid. The views from the bluff are quite spectacular and we took quite a few photos; next we drove to Red Bluff Beach and surveyed Red Bluff from its base. Back toward town a memorial has been erected to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the sinking of the Dutch Ship Zuytdorp (https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Zuytdorp) and from this vantage point it is possible to observe the wave action at the mouth of the Murchison River – quite spectacular on occasions.
It was a glorious day on Tuesday and we had decided to try to see the river gorges of the Kalbarri National Park. Before we left on our trip we walked down to the foreshore to watch the daily feeding of the pelicans which is undertaken daily by a group of volunteers. Today there were only three of these magnificent birds present for the feeding but it was a very interesting experience to watch.
We headed out of town with our packed lunch in the car hoping to see Nature’s Window (http://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/site/loop-natures-window), one of the spectacular sights in the Kalbarri National Park (http://www.kalbarri.org.au/things-to-do/kalbarri-national-park). Because of the rain over recent times the road to the Loop and Z Bend has been closed. It hadn’t rained heavily for a couple of days and we had our fingers crossed, however we were disappointed when we passed National Park Headquarters just a couple of kilometres out of town to see the sign which declared that the road was still closed. Maybe the road will be open tomorrow the girl at the National Parks office told us; but it has been maybe tomorrow for a few days now so we had to content ourselves with a visit to Hawks Head and the Ross Graham Lookout, both quite spectacular in their own right. At the latter you can actually walk down to the river – so we did and found more great sites lower down.
Back to town we drove up Meanarra Hill (http://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/site/meanarra-hill-lookout) to see a different view of Kalbarri and the lower reaches of the Murchison then back to the van to eat our sandwiches then back to Red Bluff to see if the elusive pink mermaid had returned or perhaps some dolphins or whales; all in vain.
Back in town we filled the truck with fuel and prepared the van for our departure tomorrow heading for Carnarvon.