The Coastal Road To Kalbarri and Perth


There is something special about being close to the sea – at least for me.  I am in my element when watching the moods of the ocean, the vegetation, coastal scenery and the different lifestyles of the communities all along the coastal stretch.  For a while we are out of the red dust, the dramatic landscapes and rock faces, the vast distances between places – not to mention the flies and the heat!

Leaving Shark Bay we visited the remarkable Hamelin Pool stromatolites.  I had no idea what these were until we visited the Discovery Centre and so we were keen to see what it was all about.  These Hamelin Pool stromatolites are the oldest and largest living fossils on earth.  These are considered “living fossils” and are part of the Earth’s evolutionary history.


Now part of the Word Heritage Area, a purpose built jetty has been built over these amazing life forms so people can walk and observe without causing damage. This gives everyone has a chance to see what is of great interest to botanists and geologists and give an indication of what the earth may have looked like about 3.7 billion years ago when stromatolites grew widespread across the water.



Some scientists are now saying that this is what life on Mars may look like right now.

An easier explanation is the following quote:

The oldest Stromatolites in the world are found in Western Australia, and date to 3.7 billion years old. As such, the stromatolites provide a record of local environmental changes. Hamelin Pool in Western Australia is one of only four places on earth where living marine stromatolites exist and the location contains by far the biggest colony on earth. 

Stromatolites which are found up to a metre high are believed to grow at a maximum of 0.3mm per year – they are truly “living fossils”. 80% of the history of all life was stromatolites – for that time, stromatolites were king.

Our next destination was Kalbarri.  This little town on the mouth of the Murchison River is known for its seaside cliffs, estuary beaches, pelicans and birdlife and the National Park nearby.  Once again there are gorges and and natural bridge forms and several scenic walks and climbs for those who are more adventurous.

When I did my first Road Trip all those years ago, there was nothing here except a couple of holiday houses and fishing shacks.  Now it is a thriving tourist destination and very popular with families.  The first thing you notice on driving into the village is the river – which is currently very muddy and so it is easy to see where the river meets the ocean.


There are sandy beaches close by which are protected by a reef – and the thundering surf beyond is quite spectacular.



Red Bluff is where ancient rock meets the ocean and the history of this area is interesting.


The first European people to visit the area were the crew of the trading ship Batavia belonging to the Dutch East India Company who apparently put ashore two mutinous crew members here.  The wreck of another ship – the Zuytdorp – which sank in 1712 is also here.

There is a lovely little walk along the cliff top which illustrates clearly the problem ships would have had sailing into this area.




At the bottom of the cliff is a trail from the beach leading up to the top and here the contrast between the red rock and the beach is obvious.  This is a popular fishing spot.


Bird life is prolific and at times, walking on the beach, the only company you have is our feathered friends.




Another interesting place to visit is Port Gregory and the “Pink Lake” .  This is on the road south of Kalbarri and we were told one should see it in the morning when the sun is overhead.  We were not disappointed.




The Hutt Lagoon has a pink hue created by the presence of carotenoid producing algae which is a source of B carotene, a food colouring agent and a source of Vitamin A.   There are other pink lakes in WA and hopefully we will get to see more on this “Big Loop”.

History has always been a passion of mine and so a stop at Lytton close by was a must as this was a Convict Hiring Station and there are several ruins and many tales to tell here.


And finally – not far from Perth we came across an amazing sight – a desert in the bush. This is The Pinnacles – in Nambung National Park and is incredible.


These are limestone formations and some reach 3.5m.  Some are jagged, sharp edged columns and others are smooth and rounded.  There are thousands of them and they literally take your breath away.



And my favourite image is this one, of a little resident of the area out for his morning munchies!










Our next destination was Karijini National Park in the Pilbara.  It is a long way from the coast and so we had to drive via Port Hedland for an overnight stop.  To be honest, the road from Broome to Port Hedland is the most boring we have yet had to tackle.  It is very long and very straight and there is nothing to see even though it runs parallel to 80 Mile Beach. Access to the beach is denied except through the caravan park.


Setting off for Karijini we were again to find the road long and mostly straight but this time we had dozens of huge road trains travelling to Port Hedland with their loads of iron ore.  This is the Pilbara and the area is rich with culture and a huge array of natural rock formations, deep red in colour. The soil is a fine red sand which gets into everything and is hard to remove! There are gorges, rock pools and canyons in the two National Parks of the area and we were heading for Karijini which has beautiful scenery and much of it is accessible by car. We booked into an “Eco Tent” which was said to be “luxury” but having been on several African safaris, this was not at all up to the standard they were trying to attain. This being an Eco Resort comfort was minimal in the so called “glamping” tents.  We used torch light at night as electricity was solar and we were conscious of waste. The tents were cooled by natural breezes – if there were any – with the result that the afternoons were very, very hot and early mornings freezing cold!  We did have a small ensuite bathroom though which was roofless and it was fabulous to shower late at night and look up at the billions of stars.  Being in such a remote location, the stars were simply amazing with no light to detract.






We were told of several walks which culminated in rock pools for a refreshing swim.  Unfortunately it has been a very dry season and several waterfalls have dried up and the pools in which you are able to swim are hard to get to unless you are very fit.It was also very hot but the worst problem was the bush flies.  There were millions of them and they were relentless. 

On arrival at the Eco Resort,  we noticed people walking around with fly nets covering their heads.  It was comical really as they resembled aliens from another planet – dark nets covering faces and over hats of all shapes giving their heads an oddly conical or flat shape.

O67uHv4sSEas2G07sTgbsw_thumb_3fc.jpgUnfortunately everywhere had sold out of the nets so we were not able to “join the party” and instead had to either stay in our flyproof tent or explore in the airconditioned car!

Weano Gorge is probably the best introduction to Karijini as there are easy walks around the top of the gorge as the more adventurous can venture down the rocks into the canyon. The lookout we went to gave unsurpassed views out over the Weano, Red, Hancock and Joffre Gorges.  The sheer enormity and grandeur is awesome and must be really spectacular when the waterfalls are running.


The path in is sandy – the deep red of the Pilbara – and fortunately there was a breeze so the flies were not so aggressive!




The colours of this part of the Pilbara are amazing at any time of day.  This I remember from the road trip so long ago – but then this was not a National Park and we ventured in on our way to Wittenoom township which is now closed because of asbestos.



The roads are red dirt and the silver and green of the leaves plus the groundcover colours give a special sense to this place which is sacred to the indigenous people.



We drove to Tom Price which is a mining town and a really impressive little community.

IMG_3904 (1)

With huge mining machines on display!

Sadly the flies and the heat drove us out of the beautiful Karijini Park but the drive was spectacular after a beautiful dawn rising viewed from our tent.



Next stop – Exmouth on the Coral Coast – maybe the flies will be gone by then?


The Road continues – Katherine to Jabiru

Katherine was a bit of a surprise. It holds great historical significance to local Aborigines (who make up 60% of the population) as it is where the lands of three tribes – the Dagoman, Jawoyn and Wardaman people – meet and has been an important meeting place for thousands of years.  Sadly the Cultural Centre was closed as it was the weekend but we learned a lot from the guide on the Gorge Tour.

Katherine Gorge – now known as Nitmiluk Gorge is absolutely beautiful.  Apparently “Luk” means “Place” and “nit” means “Cicada” thus the whole area is the place of cicadas.  I have to admit I didn’t hear any but legends abound.


We had a very informative tour for two hours through two of the thirteen gorges which are of immense significance to the traditional owners, the Jawoyn people as home to the spirits of creation.  Quietly motoring through the first gorge leaves one with a sense of peace and belonging.


Then we reached a crossing point where we had to change boats as the water level was low.  Here more surprises awaited – ancient rock art.


Some of the paintings were hard to find until they were pointed out and unlike many sites, these were not in caves but under overhanging rocks so they were sheltered over the years.  The estimate is that they are more than 10,000 years old but that may well change to be older.


One painting depicted circles which told the people that bush potatoes were growing in the area.  Another showed a figure upside down – apparently he was a sinner who had done very bad things in his life and would be forever remembered this way!


Huge sandstone cliffs line the river and in places there are sandy beaches and a lot of vegetation.  Mostly freshwater crocodiles live here but in the wet season huge salties come in and have to be removed by the Park Rangers under a special program which relocates them mostly to Darwin to farms.



This is Jedda’s Rock – made famous by the 1950’s film and is about 62 metres in height.

Close to Katherine on the road to Pine Creek is the beautiful Edith Falls – we called in and found the most delightful little park with a large waterhole and a special swimming area – away from the crocodiles!


Notices are everywhere up here but one thing I have learned over the years is that Freshwater crocodiles are more afraid of us than we are of them and I have swam in waterholes with them – albeit keeping well out of their way!



There are lots of walks around Edith Falls and they are well marked and very well maintained.  In fact the Park is a credit to the caretakers.

The road to Jabiru is excellent with lush country all around – there has been a massive amount of rain in recent days and so the creeks and billabongs are full.  The road was devoid of traffic and at times we felt we were the only beings on the planet – wide open spaces, beautiful waterholes, no wildlife except the odd young dingo and a huge silence.


Then we came across “Termite Country” – these have to be seen to be believed.  As they say – everything is larger than life and twice as vivid in the Territory!


Now we are about to explore Kakadu – or what we can due to the amount of water everywhere.  I think perhaps a flight would be the best way ……..


Elephants Never Forget

A regular feature for a blog?   What a good idea.  Not only does it keep your mind on track but it should develop a routine – and I am a creature of routine!

My “Regular” will be photographic and I have a huge store of images I can draw on.  Several safaris in Africa have furnished me with hundreds of wildlife photos and I have lots of favourites.  This is the first one which I thought appropriate as “Elephants Never Forget” and hopefully I won’t forget to post on a weekly basis!

Dunia ele 01

This beautiful mother and her baby were cooling off in a waterhole in the Serengeti.  The herd had several young and they behaved like children, wallowing in the water, rolling in the dust and pulling at each other’s  tails.  This little one just wanted to stay close to Mum.

Random Thoughts on a Journey

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Journey.”

One of my favourite quotes is by the well known travel writer, Paul Theroux – “Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travellers don’t know where they are going”  It’s all about the journey whether that be in the travel sense or in life.  There are times when I sit and ponder on where life is taking me and I wonder at the turn of events.  They say that everything happens for a reason but many times we don’t know why.  I have had cause to seriously question fate and the lessons we have to learn.

Let me begin by saying I have been a traveller since a very young age.  Travelling the world has been part of my life since the age of 2 years and travelling through the vagaries of life is always there, in all of us.  Life is a journey.

Not long ago I embarked on another journey with my husband – to Africa.  It is often said that Africa weaves its way into your soul like nowhere else on earth.  It is certainly true for us and we have visited the continent several times in the past decade.  We loved it.  I use the past tense because now I am not sure if we will ever return.

Our wonderful holiday turned into a nightmare which grew worse day by day until fate decided that maybe we had endured enough and it was time to go home.  Today I am sitting at my desk looking at a calm and sparkling sea.  The sky is clear and blue.  Everything is calm and serene and I know I am lucky to be living in this peaceful part of the world far from recent events which have terrorised Europe and the world.  However, I cannot think of Africa in such light again and now know that we were meant to be on that particular journey for a reason – which I have yet to figure out.

Mother and baby

An African Story – Dream Reader Assignment Blogging 101

Are you interested in Travel and new experiences?  Then you are my Dream Reader. Perhaps my story will awaken a long suppressed desire to go to Africa – one of the joys of which is to observe animals in their native habitat.  So, please read on!

“Watch out for elephants!” we were warned on arrival at Old Mondoro Bush camp in Zambia. “They love the winter thorn and acacia tree pods and are always wandering through the camp.”     Set in a grove of Acacia trees on the banks of the Zambezi River in the Lower Zambezi National Park this beautiful little camp overlooks a maze of hippo-inhabited islands and channels and provides the thrill of a genuine bush camp experience in Africa. With no electricity or hot water, the camp is a far cry from the luxury camps we had been staying at up until now. Constructed of four reed and canvas tents all with ensuite bathrooms with flush toilets, washbasins and canvas bucket showers combined with beautiful views of the river and hippo islands, this is a very special place.Old Mondoro2

On arrival we were greeted by John and Lana, a young Afrikaans couple who manage the camp – and an elephant slowly making his way through the camp in search of more pods! These huge animals, whilst they look gentle and seem to be quiet, are still wild and unpredictable and we were told to never walk from our tent to the lodge area if an elephant was wandering along the path. Over the three days we were there, we met these animals daily and became so confident, that we watched from our tent as they slowly walked by ignoring us. On one occasion, when an elephant heard the shower running in the afternoon, we were greeted by a trunk appearing over the reed wall in an effort to take some water! Eyeballing an elephant from close quarters is a very unnerving experience especially when the animal is taller than the tent! Turning the shower off did the trick; the elephant lost interest and wandered off.ele eye

Mondoro is the Shona name for “lion” and the camp is named after a legendary white lion seen during David Livingstone’s exploration of the Zambezi River. The genuinely rustic theme is carried through to all activities. Dinner is always taken by the light of paraffin lamps and candles, giving a really romantic edge to the evening. The river water gently lapping the edge of the bank and hippos honking in the distance, communicating with each other whilst hundreds of stars twinkled above instantly puts guests in a relaxed mode. This is just as well as one evening during our stay the table had been set in the open under an acacia tree. Eight of us sat down to a beautifully presented dinner and then we heard it; the soft thud of an elephant treading towards us. It is amazing how gently these huge creatures can walk. A bulky shape appeared in the dark and there he was, our uninvited guest who had decided to feast on the delicious pods hanging above us. “Get up very slowly and quietly” Lana told us “and move towards the covered area”. This we did in slow motion although the natural reaction was to rush for cover. Any sudden movement would cause the elephant to charge. Dining silently in the company of a huge male elephant who entertained us by shaking and rattling the tree to obtain pods was certainly not on the programme and presented a few heart stopping moments but is a memory which will stay with us forever.


This same elephant was nicknamed “Stinky” because he was wandering through the camp one morning and happened to step on a septic tank which broke under the weight of his foot and he fell in. The resulting odour and mess to be cleared up did not endear him to the staff but he returns time and again and appears to love human company.


Evening game drives can provide a different kind of adventure. Part of the safari culture is to have ‘sundowners’ in a unique spot followed by a drive spotting various animals. Watching the crimson sunset backdrops, often along a hippo lined riverbank or on a plain with harems of zebra or herds of buffalo staring is breath-taking. We followed bachelor herds of elephants, were amused by a family of warthogs and fascinated by the eerie cry of the hyena and the distant roar of the lion. One evening, finding a dead baboon in the bush, we concluded it had been killed in baboon combat and not by a predator. Deciding to check later, we drove on and followed the spoor of a leopard. Leopards are shy creatures and not often spotted; then we saw her, Kinky (so named because of the kink in her tail) had just made a kill, blood was on her face and she walked slowly around the stationary car and then disappeared into the bush. We waited some minutes for her to reappear and decided to move on. Unfortunately at that moment the vehicle refused to start. The battery was flat and we were unable to even radio the camp. It was dark, we were in an open vehicle, down a gully with a leopard on the prowl, lions nearby and a cantankerous mother elephant and her calf in the vicinity. This was when I felt extremely vulnerable and remembered a friend telling me “Africa is not for sissies!” Eventually we were able to make faint contact with a distant camp and forty minutes later help arrived in the form of ten Africans in a car who first tried to jump start our vehicle. Attaching the jumper leads to the wrong points did not help. Refusing to take our advice and demanding we sit in our seats, these ten men finally decided to use brute strength and manually pushed the Toyota up the hill to get it started whilst we sat in total amazement.


“Would you like to see if something has taken the dead baboon?” our guide asked us once we were back on track. We declined and decided the bar at the camp made a safer option.