The Big Lap 2015 – Carnarvon, Tom Price, Karijini

From Kalbarri we headed out to the North West Coastal Highway and set sail for Carnarvon (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnarvon,_Western_Australia). All along the road, water was ponded in the table drains making the shoulders soft. There has been good rain in the region for a few days and evidence of this was apparent. Our first stop along the way was at the Billabong Roadhouse where we stopped for morning tea before driving on.

Only 378 kilometres to Carnarvon

Only 378 kilometres to Carnarvon

Billabong Roadhouse

Billabong Roadhouse

Next we passed the Overland Roadhouse at the junction with the highway of the road to Denham and Monkey Mia. About twenty kilometres north of the roadhouse water was across the road in two places; the initial hazard was under traffic control and vehicles were able to drive through but at the second spot the highway was completely covered and the road was closed. Traffic was being diverted through a roadside rest area with a detour of about a kilometres involved.

Salt lake on the side of the road on the way to Carnarvon

Salt lake on the side of the road on the way to Carnarvon

Low sand hills on the road to Carnarvon

Low sand hills on the road to Carnarvon

Low hills on the road to Carnarvon

Low hills on the road to Carnarvon

We are now crossing the 26th Parallel

We are now crossing the 26th Parallel

Ponded rainwater on the road to Carnarvon

Ponded rainwater on the road to Carnarvon

We called in to Worramel Roadhouse but found it too crowded and boggy to bother stopping so we drove a little further to a roadside parking area and had lunch then drove on to Carnarvon arriving in town at about 2:30pm. We drove to the caravan park and set up the caravan before driving into town to buy some groceries and other essentials.

Welcome to Carnarvon

Welcome to Carnarvon

The Caravan Park at Carnarvon

The Caravan Park at Carnarvon

The Caravan Park at Carnarvon

The Caravan Park at Carnarvon

Our caravan site at Carnarvon

Our caravan site at Carnarvon

Thursday morning was a beautiful day so we attended to a bit of maintenance on the vehicle and completed a little laundry before driving in to town to explore the One Mile Jetty (http://www.carnarvonheritage.com.au/carnarvon-one-mile-jetty.aspx). This jetty is as long as the Busselton Jetty but obviously much more money has been made available for restoration and maintenance at Busselton than at Carnarvon.

One Mile Jetty sign at Carnarvon

One Mile Jetty sign at Carnarvon

Tug boat awaiting a larger ship off the coast at Carnarvon

Tug boat awaiting a larger ship off the coast at Carnarvon

One Mile Jetty at Carnarvon

One Mile Jetty at Carnarvon

Looking back along the jetty to the Interpretive Centre and  Railway Museum at Carnarvon

Looking back along the jetty to the Interpretive Centre and Railway Museum at Carnarvon

Looking back to the Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage at Carnarvon

Looking back to the Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage at Carnarvon

Looking back to the beach from the jetty

Looking back to the beach from the jetty

Looking along the beach from One Mile Jetty

Looking along the beach from One Mile Jetty

It was an interesting walk along the old jetty on a warm sunny morning and we were able to take a number of interesting photos. The Coffee Pot Train (http://www.carnarvonheritage.com.au/coffee-pot-train.aspx) takes paying passengers on a trip from the Jetty Interpretive Centre almost to the end of the jetty.

The Coffee Pot train on One Mile Jetty at Carnarvon

The Coffee Pot train on One Mile Jetty at Carnarvon

The Coffee Pot train on One Mile Jetty at Carnarvon

The Coffee Pot train on One Mile Jetty at Carnarvon

This bird was fishing off the jetty at Carnarvon

This bird was fishing off the jetty at Carnarvon

Those rails are really straight

Those rails are really straight

Some fool started a fire on the jetty and this is the result

Some fool started a fire on the jetty and this is the result

Right at the end of the jetty public access has been terminated as the structure at this juncture is obviously unsound and too dangerous for public access. In addition to the jetty, there is a lot to see at the Carnarvon Heritage Precinct (which was the original Port of Carnarvon); there are museums to explore – The Railway Station Museum and The Lighthouse Keepers Cottage Museum as well as the Shearing Hall of Fame. On this trip we only walked the jetty as we had explored the other venues previously.

Are you looking at me Sunshine?

Are you looking at me Sunshine?

No public access to this part of the jetty - for obvious reasons

No public access to this part of the jetty – for obvious reasons

Nearing the end of the One Mile Jetty at Carnarvon

Nearing the end of the One Mile Jetty at Carnarvon

The end of the One Mile Jetty at Carnarvon - no public access to this part

The end of the One Mile Jetty at Carnarvon – no public access to this part

Looking back along One Mile Jetty

Looking back along One Mile Jetty

After lunch we visited the shop operated by the Morel family who produce many fresh vegetables and fruits and sell these in the shop on the property. The specialty of the house is frozen fruit (such as bananas) dipped in chocolate. Since we had walked from the caravan park we decided a cold snack was in order and I had a “Pure Black Sapote no added ingredients. Covered in rich milk dipping chocolate.” While Margaret tried a “Pure Strawberry no added ingredients. Covered in rich milk dipping chocolate.” Very tasty!

A large pile of netting which we think may have been blown off crops during a recent cyclone at Carnarvon

A large pile of netting which we think may have been blown off crops during a recent cyclone at Carnarvon

Radio telescope at Carnarvon

Radio telescope at Carnarvon

Radio telescopes at Carnarvon

Radio telescopes at Carnarvon

Radio telescope at Carnarvon

Radio telescope at Carnarvon

Driving north from Carnarvon next day we passed through country with a sameness about it that never seemed to change – low scrub and poor type of grasses. We made reasonably good progress and passed the turnoff for Coral Bay and Exmouth just north of Minilya. Here we ran into road works that virtually went on for kilometres and it wasn’t until we reached the Lyndon River that we were able to pull up for smoko. Just north of this rest area we passed the Tropic of Cancer signifying that we were on the same latitude as Rockhampton in Queensland. The further north we travelled the more interesting the country became, firstly with low rolling sand hills then low hills and ranges.

On the road heading north of Carnarvon

On the road heading north of Carnarvon

On the road heading north of Carnarvon

On the road heading north of Carnarvon

On the road heading north of Carnarvon

On the road heading north of Carnarvon

On the road heading north of Carnarvon

On the road heading north of Carnarvon

On the road heading north of Carnarvon

On the road heading north of Carnarvon

On the road heading north of Carnarvon

On the road heading north of Carnarvon

On the road heading north of Carnarvon

On the road heading north of Carnarvon

We pushed on past the northern turnoff to Coral Bay and Exmouth and then passed the large rest area at Barradale (which is very popular with travellers) before we reached the Nanutarra Roadhouse where we would turn off for Tom Price (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Price,_Western_Australia). Here we filled up with diesel and had lunch before heading along the Wittenoom Road toward Paraburdoo (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraburdoo,_Western_Australia) and Tom Price. Along this road the country became very interesting as we moved into the Hamersley Range area and the Pilbara.

The sign for Karijini National Park just north of the Nanutarra Roadhouse

The sign for Karijini National Park just north of the Nanutarra Roadhouse

We headed towards Paraburdoo

We headed towards Paraburdoo

Only 289 kilometres o Tom Price - via the shortcut

Only 289 kilometres o Tom Price – via the shortcut

On the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

Mine site on the road to Paraburdoo

Mine site on the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

About four o’clock we pulled into the Beasley River Rest Area and camped for the night with about eight other vans and campers and two car loads of back packers who camped right on the river where they disturbed no one.

Next morning we were away bright and early and on the road to Paraburdoo; we had thought about taking the unsealed shortcut to Tom Price, but speaking to one of our fellow travellers at Beasley River (who had received advice from his brother at Tom Price that the road was very rough and unsuitable for caravans) we decided to take the longer (about 75 kms) route through Paraburdoo.

On the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

Watch your fire - it can get out of hand

Watch your fire – it can get out of hand

We're on the way - The Warlu Way

We’re on the way – The Warlu Way

132 Kilometres to Tom Price from this point

132 Kilometres to Tom Price from this point

On the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

On the road to Paraburdoo

Paraburdoo mine workings in the distance

Paraburdoo mine workings in the distance

Paraburdoo mine workings in the distance

Paraburdoo mine workings in the distance

Paraburdoo mine workings in the distance

Paraburdoo mine workings in the distance

Roadside wildflowers - weeds maybe?

Roadside wildflowers – weeds maybe?

Dump truck monument at Paraburdoo

Dump truck monument at Paraburdoo

The road is open and so is the airport

The road is open and so is the airport

Driving into Paraburdoo we were looking at the town and I was not paying attention to where I should be going and we missed a turn and started to drive into the entry to Paraburdoo Mine (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraburdoo_mine). Realizing the error of my ways I turned into a side street and attempted to reverse to head back in the right direction – unfortunately I reversed into a low post that I couldn’t see (even with the rear view camera) and wrecked the pole carrier and sustained some (what I hope is only) superficial damage to the cladding at the rear of the caravan.

Caravan damage from the encounter with the low post

Caravan damage from the encounter with the low post

Caravan damage from the encounter with the low post

Caravan damage from the encounter with the low post

Finally back on the right track (and at that time not even knowing the extent of the damage to the van – we thought we had just nudged the rear bumper) we made good time and pulled into the Tourist Park at Tom Price (http://tompricetouristpark.com.au/) at about ten o’clock. It was when we were setting up on our site that we noted the damage to the van.

On the road to Tom Price

On the road to Tom Price

Tom Price town sign

Tom Price town sign

Entrance to Tom Price Tourist Park

Entrance to Tom Price Tourist Park

Mt Nameless overlooking the Tom Price Tourist Park

Mt Nameless overlooking the Tom Price Tourist Park

Went to town to buy a few things and tried to purchase new piping for the pole carrier but no luck there. There were a couple of old flexible cutting boards in the van (previously used as dust excluders) and Margaret had another in the kitchen cupboard. We taped up the rear panel damage to keep dirt and water out then worked on the pole carrier with the cutting boards and gaffer tape – good enough to get us home – fingers crossed. Fortunately we were able to make an insurance claim on line and will sort out proper repairs when we get back to the Sunshine Coast.

Tom Price Visitors' Centre

Tom Price Visitors’ Centre

Tom Price Shopping Centre

Tom Price Shopping Centre

You need to stop for long ore trains at Tom Price

You need to stop for long ore trains at Tom Price

We had booked a bus tour to see Karijini National Park (http://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park/karijini) and had intended to move on to Dales Gorge Campground in the National Park to catch up on anything the tour did not cover. Sunday morning the bus from Lestok Tours (http://www.lestoktours.com.au/) arrived to pick us up at 7:30am and with one other coupe we headed for the Karijini Eco Retreat (http://www.karijiniecoretreat.com.au/ ) where we were to collect a third couple.

As they do, the bus driver asked us where we were from and as it turned out he was also from the Sunshine Coast and lived not far from where we used to live. He and his wife decided to “run away” when their adult children left home and he took the job in Tom Price where his wife is to join him; they plan to stay for five to eight years before formally retiring back to the east.

Along the way to the National Park we drove past the entrance to the Marandoo Mine (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marandoo_mine) and Mt Bruce (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Bruce_%28Western_Australia%29), the second highest peak in Western Australia. We then entered the park at the western entrance and drove to the Eco Retreat along a good stretch of bitumen road before hitting the gravel for three kilometres before reaching the Retreat.

Mt Bruce - near the Marandoo Mine

Mt Bruce – near the Marandoo Mine

Our Karijini Tour took us from the Eco Retreat, where we had collected a couple from Belgium, firstly to Oxer Lookout overlooking Junction Pool where Hancock Gorge, Joffre Gorge, Knox Gorge, Weano Gorge, and Red Gorge all converge. The views from the two lookouts are quite spectacular and we took many photos.

Memorial to an SES worker killed at Hancock Gorge

Memorial to an SES worker killed at Hancock Gorge

Hancock Gorge

Hancock Gorge

After a lot of rain everything is green including the spinifex

After a lot of rain everything is green including the spinifex

Weano gorge near Central Pool

Weano gorge near Central Pool

Sign for Junction Pool at Oxer Lookout

Sign for Junction Pool at Oxer Lookout

Junction Pool where the gorges meet

Junction Pool where the gorges meet

Next we went to the Weano Gorge day use area and descended about one hundred steps down into the gorge where we then had morning tea. As we were heading down into the gorge we were passed by a group of canyoneers complete with inflated rubber truck inner tubes who were to float along the stream at the base of the gorge then descend via ladders into Handrail Pool then travel along the stream to Hancock Gorge where they would eventually emerge back at the parking area – not for the feint hearted.

Pool in Weano gorge

Pool in Weano gorge

Water flowing through Weano gorge

Water flowing through Weano gorge

Stream through Weano Gorge

Stream through Weano Gorge

Rock fall in Weano Gorge

Rock fall in Weano Gorge

Weano Gorge

Weano Gorge

Descending into Weano Gorge

Descending into Weano Gorge

Weano Gorge

Weano Gorge

Weano Gorge

Weano Gorge

Who is the fool behind the camera under the interesting tree in Weano Gorge

Who is the fool behind the camera under the interesting tree in Weano Gorge

Pool in Weano Gorge

Pool in Weano Gorge

We walked along the gorge for a short distance before facing the task of ascending the one hundred steps we had come down. Great aerobic exercise and good stretch of the legs on the way back up to the bus.

Next we skirted back around the Eco Retreat and headed for Joffre Falls – the view from the lookout here is also quite spectacular. From the Eco Retreat side of the gorge there is a track that takes you down into the bottom of the gorge providing access to a pool in which people swim.

Information sign at Joffre Gorge

Information sign at Joffre Gorge

Joffre Gorge

Joffre Gorge

Looking across Joffre Gorge to part of the Eco Retreat

Looking across Joffre Gorge to part of the Eco Retreat

Joffre Falls

Joffre Falls

Joffre Falls

Joffre Falls

Joffre Gorge

Joffre Gorge

Steps from the lookout at Joffre Gorge

Steps from the lookout at Joffre Gorge

A picture of a picture of Joffre Falls in flood

A picture of a picture of Joffre Falls in flood

From Joffre Falls we moved on to Knox Gorge for a view from the lookout then backtracked to the Banjima Road to travel the twenty eight kilometres to the Karijini Visitor Centre (http://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/site/karijini-visitor-centre).

Plants cling on in the most unusual places

Plants cling on in the most unusual places

Information sign at Knox Gorge

Information sign at Knox Gorge

Knox Gorge

Knox Gorge

Sign at Knox Gorge

Sign at Knox Gorge

We bought a few things then re-joined the bus for a twelve kilometre drive (all bitumen) to the Dales Gorge day use area where we ate a very sumptuous lunch provided by the tour company.

Typical unsealed road in Karijini National Park

Typical unsealed road in Karijini National Park

The VC building is of a unique design in the shape of a goanna travelling through the country and is constructed of steel to be as fire resistant as is possible.

Karijini Visitor Centre

Karijini Visitor Centre

Explaining the design of the Karijini Visitor Centre

Explaining the design of the Karijini Visitor Centre

After lunch we walked to the lookout for a view of Circular Pool in Dales Gorge. The view from the lookout is breathtaking and the pool is a popular swimming spot with a track along the bottom of the gorge leading to the pool.

Circular Pool at Dales Gorge

Circular Pool at Dales Gorge

A tree clinging to the top of Dales Gorge

A tree clinging to the top of Dales Gorge

Dales Gorge

Dales Gorge

Sign for Circular Pool

Sign for Circular Pool

A ledge above Circular Pool in Dales Gorge

A ledge above Circular Pool in Dales Gorge

A ledge above Circular Pool in Dales Gorge

A ledge above Circular Pool in Dales Gorge

Next we took a short drive and descended the many steps down to Fortescue Falls; another beautiful site and popular with swimmers.

Sign for Fortescue Falls

Sign for Fortescue Falls

Fortescue Falls

Fortescue Falls

Part of the descent to Fortescue Falls

Part of the descent to Fortescue Falls

Gorge walls above Fortescue Falls

Gorge walls above Fortescue Falls

At the very top of Fortescue Falls

At the very top of Fortescue Falls

Fortescue Falls in Dales Gorge

Fortescue Falls in Dales Gorge

Layer upon layer built over over millions of years

Layer upon layer built over over millions of years

Rock face on the way to Fern Pool - can you see the face of the man?

Rock face on the way to Fern Pool – can you see the face of the man?

Typical of the layered rock over which the falls flow

Typical of the layered rock over which the falls flow

Looking down Fortescue Falls

Looking down Fortescue Falls

Looking down Fortescue Falls

Looking down Fortescue Falls

The pool below Fortescue Falls

The pool below Fortescue Falls

From the falls it is not far along a quite good track to Fern Pool which is a lovely swimming spot popular with hikers. When we were there it was also popular with flying foxes and a small colony had taken roost in the trees immediately about the boardwalk near the pool.

The trees cling to the rocks and hang on with their roots down to the water

The trees cling to the rocks and hang on with their roots down to the water

The trees cling to the rocks and hang on with their roots down to the water

The trees cling to the rocks and hang on with their roots down to the water

Fern Pool in Dales Gorge

Fern Pool in Dales Gorge

Flying fox are roosting in the trees above Fern Pool

Flying fox are roosting in the trees above Fern Pool

Sign for Fern Pool

Sign for Fern Pool

This old fig is sending out roots above the path to Fern Pool

This old fig is sending out roots above the path to Fern Pool

Fern Pool in Dales Gorge

Fern Pool in Dales Gorge

Picture of a picture of a huge snake trying to pull a dead kangaroo from the water at Fern Pool

Picture of a picture of a huge snake trying to pull a dead kangaroo from the water at Fern Pool

Steps up to the rim from Fortescue Falls

Steps up to the rim from Fortescue Falls

I wonder when this section of the wall will fall?

I wonder when this section of the wall will fall?

Looking along Dales Gorge on the path back to the rim

Looking along Dales Gorge on the path back to the rim

Our Tour Bus

Our Tour Bus

After climbing out of the gorge (more aerobic exercise and leg stretching) we boarded the bus for the drive back, firstly to the Eco Retreat to deposit the Belgium tourists then back to Tom Price where we arrived at about 4:30pm. We had seen so much in the day from the comfort of the air-conditioned bus that we decided not to move to Dales Campground as there was little else for us to see in Karijini so we decided to drive on to Port Hedland the next day.

These galahs were happy to be hand fed so long as it was peanuts

These galahs were happy to be hand fed so long as it was peanuts

These galahs were happy to be hand fed so long as it was peanuts

These galahs were happy to be hand fed so long as it was peanuts

We packed up and were on the road just after eight the next morning and travelled along Karijini Drive to the junction with the Great Northern Highway. Not long before reaching Munjina Gorge (which straddles the highway) we encountered two haul trucks being carried along the highway on the back of large semi-trailers. These vehicles were each 8 metres wide and took up the whole of the roadway forcing oncoming traffic to the side of the road while they passed. Our intention had been to stop at Auski Roadhouse for morning tea but we arrived to find it a very dusty place with all the road trains going in and out that we travelled a few kilometres further on and pulled into a roadside rest area instead.

Along the road past Karijini National Park

Along the road past Karijini National Park

Along the road to Port Hedland

Along the road to Port Hedland

Along the road to Port Hedland

Along the road to Port Hedland

Along the road to Port Hedland

Along the road to Port Hedland

Along the road to Port Hedland

Along the road to Port Hedland

There is a lot of heavy traffic on this section of road including many road trains of four trailers in length. When you encounter one of these behemoths you need to sit behind them until an opportunity arises to pass or they pull over to let you by. Some of these don’t waste any time in travel and we were passed by one towing four tankers at about one hundred kilometres an hour – we used the CB Radio to assist him to move by. Our progress was good and we reached our destination – Black Rock Tourist Park (http://www.blackrocktouristpark.com.au/) in South Hedland by mid-afternoon.

Along the road to Port Hedland

Along the road to Port Hedland

Balanced rocks along the road to Port Hedland

Balanced rocks along the road to Port Hedland

Finely balanced

Finely balanced

These flags appear on this hill in the middle of nowhere south of Port Hedland - note the Jolly Roger is there too

These flags appear on this hill in the middle of nowhere south of Port Hedland – note the Jolly Roger is there too

We have arrived at South Hedland

We have arrived at South Hedland

Our time in Port Hedland will be spent quietly – washing, repacking, re-provisioning and the like before we move further north to Broome, Derby and Kununurra.

More later!

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