We arrived in Onslow on the 15th of August. It’s quite a big detour to visit Onslow as its approx 70kms from the main road into Onslow and then another 70kms back! We are so glad we did this though, as we ended up having a great time. We found a playground around lunchtime and whilst making lunch I befriended a local (hi Tiffany) and we found out that the social event of the year was happening tomorrow (Saturday), being a rodeo. I have wanted to go to a rodeo for a long time to show the kids all the horse and bull riding so was thrilled to hear there was one happening here. We went to the local information centre and asked if there was camping available and found out yes there was but only for Saturday night, but were kindly offered a place to camp in front of a ladies house just outside of town. Thanks to Carol and her home called ‘The Stables’ for having us over along with various other horsey people and their horse floats! Most people know I’m not a horse person at all, so the smell of horse manure all night was quite interesting lol, but we were so grateful to have somewhere to stay it wasn’t a problem!
The next day we headed over to the rodeo grounds and went to the designated camping area. Not much room and covered in water to keep the dust down, but we found a fairly dry, flat spot and set up camp for the day and evening. Gradually during the day the grounds were filled with people and me, Wayne and the kids enjoyed sitting down watching all the different events. Lots going on all day and even a food truck giving away free snow cones to everyone. The kids thought they were in heaven lol. The rodeo was sponsored by a local mining company, so free show bags were a hit with most people. The kids were getting tired by the end of the day, so after a quick wash we let them stay in the locked van while Wayne and I went for a walk to mingle with the crowd. Was lots of fun!
The next morning after breakfast, we packed up and headed towards Exmouth. It was quite a long drive down to the main road and then towards Exmouth. We stopped at one of the many WA council run 24hr stops and had lunch. Usually these places have lots of room, have drop toilets (and a dump point) and are a great place to stay overnight. Today we only stopped for lunch but still managed to fit in a quick chat to some grey nomads who had just come from where we were going. We headed off after lunch and found a place to stay for the night, about 60km south of Exmouth where it was great to rest and have a nice dinner.
We arrive in Exmouth the next morning and went for a drive around and got some diesel, water and groceries from the IGA. Exmouth is a nice big town, mainly catering to tourists. We were lucky enough to find some toilets which had a hot shower, so we all had a lovely long shower and washed our hair!!! Doesn’t sound like much, but to us it’s so lovely to have hot water on tap and have a good scrub lol. For dinner we went down to the local Town Beach and cooked a lovely dinner on one of the bbq’s there, overlooking the gorgeous view over the beach.
On the 19th, Wayne set his alarm for 5am and we all headed over to Cape Range National Park to line up at 5.45am, waiting for the ranger to arrive at 8am to see if we could get a spot! A bit ridiculous, we have never had to line up anywhere to camp, but they have limited spots and a lot more people than spots! Even arriving at that time we still were third in line. I won’t go into the drama of the morning with the dumb ranger getting our van and truck measurements totally wrong, but needless to say we ended up at the furthest campground possible, but in the end we discovered you had to drive to see everything anyway. We had a lovely day driving around and seeing all the sites. They had various campgrounds and towards the middle of the park were many day spots to go swimming, snorkelling and look outs. That night I cooked a beautiful leg of lamb in the camp oven with lots of vegies. It’s a hard life this camping business.
The next day we all went snorkelling at Oyster Stacks which was just amazing. You literally walk only a few metres from your car and then you walk into the water and swim out to the reef. It was a beautiful aquarium with so many types of fish and beautiful coral. We have now been snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef and even Vanuatu, but this place (Ningaloo Reef) is just magical. Wayne took us all out at another spot on his kayak for some snorkelling and swimming and it was hard to believe it was still winter, the water was cool but nowhere near freezing and we saw dolphins, turtles and even a whale in the far distance. I can see why it’s so popular to come to the cape, it is magnificent. After 3 nights at Cape Range we headed back towards Exmouth for more water and then left the peninsula on Saturday 23rd heading towards Coral Bay.
Coral Bay sounds and looks very pretty with crystal clear water, a really gorgeous part of the world is here. We booked into Coral Bay Caravan Park, and even unpowered it was still $36 a night!!! The kids did love the jumping pillow and swimming pool and quickly made friends with all the kids running around the park. It was very cramped in the park and several times Wayne had to move our truck so someone could get past with their van while trying to get into their spot.
On the day we left we parked our rig across the road and went for a 4wd quad bike tour which lasted about 2 hours and took us through the sand dunes and along the beach. We had such a fun time, and loved going to places that only a 4wd can access. After the tour we went for a swim at Coral Bay beach where the water is stunning and we all enjoyed a swim and Wayne went for another snorkel. Afterwards, we sneaked back into the caravan park for a quick shower each and then headed towards another WA free campground.
The next day we headed south towards Carnarvon and met up with our lovely friends Jo, Jim & Arid after a month apart. We agreed to meet up later that day at another campground, so we spent a few hours in Carnarvon getting diesel, water and groceries. It was good to shop in Woolies again!! That night we slept at a spot not far from our destination of Point Quobba and the next day, bright and early we arrived at Pt Quobba and had a fantastic set up on the beach campground. The waves here are enormous (they get king waves here) and just up from us were the blow holes, with tremendous waves crashing into the rocks. We had so much fun here, the kids loved playing on the beach, the kayak good a good workout and Jo enjoyed snorkelling and looking at the reef and all the colourful fish. We ended up staying for 3 nights before heading back to Carnarvon where we cleaned the truck and van at a park that had a public toilet, dump point and tap points. You don’t quite realise how important water is unless you have to go looking for it and then store it and not run out of it! So it was great to the use council water supplied for travellers to do a bit of cleaning, Wayne even got some clothes and sheets washed and hung out! We looked like back packers lol. We treated ourselves to a 2 litre tub of hokey pokey ice-cream afterwards (we don’t have a freezer, so we just had to eat all of it in one sitting, the kids thought they were in heaven lol). That night we slept at Edaggee Rest Area (council run).
The next day we arrived at Gladstone Campground, another beachside camp but not with the giant waves of Quobba. It had huge tides though and when its low tide it was quite a big walk out to the water for Wayne with his kayak! We camped with our friends for 3 nights here and on the morning we were due to leave, it started to rain. We were warned that if it rains here you need to get out immediately as the road becomes impassable and they lock the gate! So, we jumped out of bed, quickly packed up and took the tarp down and got out just before the gate was locked. We only went up the road a few kms before stopping at a scenic lookout and since the rain had set in, we decided to stay here. It was on top of a high cliff overlooking pretty much where we just camped (we could just make out the tiny caravans in the distance). Wayne put the generator on so the kids enjoyed watching some movies and I also enjoyed watching some shows on my computer. Near this lookout are hundreds of garden gnomes that people have left as a remembrance to lost loved ones and also another mound of rocks with people’s names on it. It was quite moving and we placed a rock here for Wayne’s uncle that died the day before.
The next day was still overcast but the rain had at least stopped, so we slowly made our way towards the Monkey Mia peninsula where we stopped and seen some Stromatolies (link explains more). Then we drove to Denham and spend the day there looking around this quaint little town which is right on the beach. That night thankfully the weather turned bright and sunny and we had a wonderful bbq on the foreshore with Jo & Jim watching the sunset over the gorgeous bay.
We were up early on the 6th September and drove to Monkey Mia. The first dolphin feed is at 8am, so we had an early breakfast and waited on the beach for the dolphins to arrive. Monkey Mia is a lovely place, but really touristy and you have to pay a fee just to walk on the beach let alone see the dolphins. But you can’t come this far and not see the dolphins which they claim are the only dolphins not in captivity that the public can get up close and personal. They are very cute though and are only fed a small amount of fish each day so they still know to hunt for themselves and their babies. The kids were lucky enough to be picked to feed them and enjoyed dropping a fish into their mouths! Dolphins are so enchanting! We really wanted to go on a catamaran cruise but the wind was howling that day, we were really disappointed as we would have loved to have seen the dugongs up close (before they become extinct). That night we stayed at a campground called Eagle Bluff which was the weirdest paid campground we have stayed in! Hardly any signs, no directions and no set out camps. Since no one else was there, we found a nice spot near the water and still don’t know if it was the correct place to stay lol. We did wake up to fresh footprints near our van in the morning that we definitely not ours… a little bit disconcerting!!!
On Father’s Day, the kids and I made Wayne brekkie in bed and cups of tea. It was a leisurely morning spent slowly packing up before we headed to the Ocean Park shark feeding place just up the road. We had loads of fun here viewing all the different fish, squid, sharks, eels, and sea snakes they had to view. The lemon sharks performed on queue and came up for feeding and showed us their lovely sets of white teeth!!! Wayne especially enjoyed teasing the lone squid in his tank by dipping his fingers in the water and watching the squid dart over to attack him! That afternoon we arrived at our free camp at a place called Useless Loop!!! Just a giant gravel pit really, but far enough off the road to be a quiet and peaceful sleep. We even got to have a fire, Wayne was clever enough to get one started with a lot of wet wood due to the rain earlier. Grey clouds with a cold wind and pelting rain in the afternoon and then by night it had all cleared. WA you are putting on a great show for us!!!
Monday was more driving and looking at the gorgeous coastline, it was extremely windy so stopping for lunch at a lookout proved challenging! On Tuesday we slowly started to enter the wheat belt and really felt like we had said goodbye to the Pilbara and desert. Mixed feelings here as I really loved the desert with its fragile beauty but a bit glad to say goodbye to the red dirt, it gets everywhere!!!!
Another bonus on our drive was the wild flowers everywhere!!! All these stunning native plants are striking and we stopped a few times to take some photos. Wayne realised as we headed into Kalbarri that our diesel was getting pretty low and there was worried frowns and concentration setting on his face and it was with much joy we made it to the IGA fuel with 2 litres of diesel to spare!!!! No way was I pushing 7.5 tonnes to the next servo lol. Kalbarri is one of my favourite places so far in WA, such a picturesque coastal town that is very traveller friendly. After a quick look around we drove up the coast to the lookouts to see the giant swells and waves crashing into the high cliff faces. Wayne even went on an 8km one way walk along the coast while me and the kids drove the rig down and met him at the end. The next day the kids enjoyed playing in the large kids playground and we even met a single day travelling with his two daughters who are also in the same school as us – North East Public School of Distant Education (NEPSODE) located in Port Macquarie. Nice to meet other travelling families. Sadly we said goodbye to Kalbarri, we would have liked to stay longer but time is our enemy and even though we are travelling for 13 months, we still want to see as much as possible.
Yesterday we arrived at the Principality of Hutt River (click on link if you want to read more about this place, its an interesting true story!!). We were told a few months ago by other travellers not to miss this place due to its uniqueness. Hutt River is an Independent Sovereign State having seceded from Australia in April 1970. So we are actually not in Australia, so to speak, as Hutt River is its on legal principality with its own Prince (Leonard), coat of arms, currency, stamps and even its own navy!!!!
Even if it wasn’t so interesting for the above information, it’s still a great camp for $10 a night and it provides a lovely hot shower, toilets, rain water for drinking and bore water for washing (our twin tub has had a good run!). We are the only campers here and since the main buildings of the Principality have thousands of visitors each year, we are located far enough away from them to enjoy the lovely peace and quiet. The only grumble is the flies, enough to wear the attractive fly net so they aren’t trying to suck the liquid from your eyeballs!!!
We have spent the last few days in Geraldton and will update this soon (including Wayne’s kayak with a great white shark!!)