14.06.2014 - 16.06.2014 19 °C
At this point I'll be spending enough time here that I should probably rename the blog "The Red Centre and Great Western Deserts...And A Bunch Of Aimless Meandering Along The South Central Coast".
Day 14: The Wayside Carpark At A Cove
Really, this is all denouement. I've done what I came to do. Now it is all just exploring for the sake of doing so. But, I've decided that if I can at all avoid it, I'm not staying at caravan parks...until my last night when I'll need their facilities to clean up the yet-unnamed-campervan.
The campervan that now has grown a crack where once there was only a star-shaped chip. It started suddenly, but once it started growing, it did so fast enough that I could actually watch the bastard creep across my windscreen while driving. This poor vehicle.
A bunch of awesome pictures from Kalbarri (the town)...
...and then another 300 km south with no real purpose, other than to, you know, get closer to Perth.
Here's a picture of the red inlet just south of Kabarri. I read that it was because of a particular red plant that grows on the ocean floor, or a red algea or something but there is a large chenical factory set up on this bay, so you make up your own mind.
I stop for lunch in Geraldton, to again avoid cooking or making another crappy ham-and-cheese sandwich.
Geraldton was a bit weird after my journey through the Outback...the glimpse of a McDonalds brought reality rushing back in to remind me that I am, in fact, actually in an established Westernized country. Kind of depressing, really.
Like I said, I decided I'm going to try to avoid caravan parks. I have this awesome app on my iPad called 'WikiCamps' which is a user-based database of all the places one can camp in Australia, including ratings and photos and such. So I decide I'll follow it to a few free camps along the way to Perth. Not that I am adverse to paying for campsites, but the free ones offer: a) a chance at some solitude and no lights and the potential sensation of actually camping, and b) a challenge to find. I am in a 4WD truck, so why can't I try to use it for what it was meant to do?
My first stop turns out to be a dirt carpark in a cove called Point Louise, close to a town called Green Head. There is only one other party here, a family with a full Outback camping setup that, as it turns out, spend all their time travelling the country. There is a man and wife, and two daughters that they have pulled from school and are home schooling whilst travelling the country. I could never do that - home-school my boys, I mean. That's what we pay teachers the big bucks for. They should bloody well work for their money.
(Note: political rant regarding BC politics and education removed...'cause it really didn't belong here!)
Besides, at least one of my boys is smarter than me. Vote is still out on the second, but there is definitely a really good chance.
The carpark stays empty while I spend my afternoon walking the beach and watching the sunset, thoroughly convinced I made the right decision. Who needs camp kitchens, and TV rooms, and...running water...or hot showers Not me. I think.
Night rolls around and the carpark gets a few more residents, namely tourists in vans who only show up to sleep, and promptly fuck off in the morning. Not me, I have only 200km to Perth and two days to waste so I totally drag my ass around until I'm the only person left here. This is awesome. Lonely, but awesome.
Sure could use a shower, though.
Day 15: Caves, Not Caves, and Sandy Cove
I decide again to try to avoid caravan parks, despite the fact I am starting to deteriorate in the personal hygiene department. I venture into Stockyard Gully National Park, which as it turns out requires one to navigate a road that starts to lean towards Gunbarrel-level shittiness. This provides a great deal of fun...except this is when I noticed the long crack growing along the windscreen, which kind of ruins the mood.
Stockyard Gully is a cave, not a long one, especially compared to Tunnel Creek in the Kimberly. At this time of year the creek that normally runs through it (creating in places, apparently, quicksand) is completely dried up so the 1/4km cave is easy to walk through, though it snakes a bit leaving one in complete darkness for a time...which is totally awesome.
There are also lots of feral bees that have made hives at the entrances of the cave. The otherwise peacefully quiet is torn apart by the loud buzzing of these angry beasts flying around their hives they have made on the cave walls outside. I am careful not to disturb them or make any tasteless bee jokes.
The temptation to hang around for lunch is squashed by, well, the bees that have strayed from their hive. I have no idea if these things are as docile as bees at home, so I decide not to hang around to find out. Instead, lunch is a crappy sandwich in the back of the campervan in a gas station parking lot. Whee.
I have one other attraction to take in before heading to camp, another national park called Drover's Cave. I'm not able to find an access road on Google maps so I punch it into the GPS. Matilda (that's the name of the GPS...don't ask) happily draws me out a route...that seems to lead into some dirt track trailing off into nowhere. No signs or any other indications that I'm heading in the right direction. It then dawns on me that perhaps my GPS is, as she has on a few other occasions, trying to kill me. A quick Google search of this park reveals no detailed directions, but on more than one site it is referred to as "otherwise unremarkable". Nice try, Matilda..I win this one. I'm giving up the hunt and going camping. You'll have to kill me some other day.
I head back into an area called the Sandy Cove Recreation Area. I know there is a campsite here, but there is apparently also a network of isolated free sites south of the actual park. Let's go on an "ad-ven-chah!"
I drive into a maze of narrow overgrown dirt tracks that lead through the sand-dune scrub and eventually come across what I believe to be these 'free' camps. Unfortunately, none of them are close to the beach, and the couple of tracks I find leading up to the sand dune shelf are really deep sand, which I'm sure a seasoned 4WD driver could easily get up with a careful calculation of reduced tyre pressure and whatnot, but I'm kind of not that guy and decide I do not feel like getting bogged halfway up a track that maybe I'm not supposed to be on in the first place. Damnit. Guess I'm heading to the campground. I was really looking forward to camping right on the Indian Ocean, by myself.
So I cheat...kind of.
Again, I'm not adverse to paying for the site, so I pay my $15 and head into the campground. It's really a beautiful campground with huge spots, most just on the sheltered side of the sand dune dividing the campground from the beach. I snake my way up to the far north end and find a narrow track that again turns into deep sand that only really 4WD vehicles can go into. I lock into 4WD and blast into a little hollow, wherein with some calculated angling I'm able to situate myself in such a way as I cannot see anyone else, nor can they see me. Close enough.
Again, one of the best camp experiences of my life with only the beach and the thunderous sound of the waves of the Indian Ocean to keep me company. I wander up and down the beach, and spend the sunset trying desperately to remember how to play "The Rain Song" by Led Zeppelin whilst sipping on a tumbler of fine Australian red. I toast to Australia, saddened a bit that this is very likely my last night of real camping.
Though there are costs. I washed my hair over a bucket with luke-warm water from the solar heated shower bag I rented...that needs to be hung up high enough to act like a shower, so I found myself rinsing shampoo from my hair hunched over the bucket like a racoon cleaning itself in our backyard inflatable pool. And no matter how well I think I have kept myself clean, I'm sure I'm probably taking on a bit of an Outback traveller smell.
But looking out on the stars with no one else around (within sight at least) it is all...so...worth it.
Day 16: The Pinnacles and the Lowest of the Low
A restless night, a cold sponge bath in the morning, and the same shitty cereal I've been choking down for two weeks and I'm starting to get grouchy, kind of ready for the end of this amazing journey. Which is within one day. Well, the camping part at least.
I call home and wish my dad a happy Father's Day (it's Monday for me but still Father's Day back home). I give one last nod to the awesome beach I camped at and head off to my next, albeit last attraction along this roadtrip, the Nambung National Park, known primarily for "The Pinnacles".
The Pinnacles is a desert that is made up of large stone columns that have arisen from the desert floor after a bagillion years of erosion carved out the land around them. That is a pretty simplistic and aunscientific way to put it, but you get the gist.
Pretty cool, a desert with a forest of stone columns. I take the 1ish Km walk around the desert which is probably heightening my Outback aroma. Kind of ready for a caravan park now.
And I drive south. Nothing exciting, I just drive, until I get to my last stop, the Burns Beach Sunset Village, which I had earmarked all along because it is within 30 minutes of the Britz outlet where I'lll be dropping off the campervan.
This place, on first glance, is so completely the opposite of anything I want it to be. It is actually primarily a permanent residence trailer park, with a hand-full of 'sites' along the front fence for travellers. I am officially spending my last night in a full-fledged trailer park. Gawd...
But...the view of the beach from the site kind of makes up for it. And even now that the sun has gone down, the only real sound is the monstrous impact of the waves just a few metres from where I'm sitting now. And the people here are quite friendly, already I've had a couple conversations with folks who are more than happy to simply walk up to you and start talking. So, unlike some of the other 'nicer' caravan parks I've been in, maybe it isn't the nice grounds or shaded groves of trees over the campsites that need to be considered to judge a campground nice or not. Maybe it's the people. Maybe it's just being able to sit back, listen to the waves, and know that no matter where I actually am, I'm in Australia. And that alone is awesome enough to make up for anything else.
This is Australia.