Galena Bridge to Coral Bay

After our night at Galena Bridge we headed for world heritage listed Shark Bay.

Green ‘twenty eight’ parrots at Galena Bridge

Reading all the Wiki camp reviews (our travel bible), it appeared that Hamelin Station had the best atmosphere, so that’s where we headed. We gather after our two night stay, that most of the positive Wiki reviews had been written by patrons who had been lucky enough to be there when a sociable crowd had gathered. On the two nights we were there, the travellers seemed to be more solitary, and stayed in their own caravans, so the reported atmosphere of commoradie wasn’t in evidence.

With Hamelin Station being close to the main highway, and over 100kms from the townships of Denham and Monkey Mia, we felt too far away from everything. However, we did enjoy the birdlife on the station.

A Rainbow Bee-eater
Zebra Finch

We took a drive to Nanga Station on Mother’s day, approximately 50 kms away, for an ice-cream. Then a visit to Shell Beach, and the Stromatalites. Shell Beach is literally a beach of undulating Shell dunes, millions and millions of tiny shells.

Small shells that make up Shell Beach.

If you’re not familiar with Stromatatlites, they’re the oldest living organisms known to exist on our planet, and I gather are one of the main reasons Shark Bay captured the attention for World Heritage listing. All interesting, but not as captivating for us they would be to Marine Biologists. There’s a boardwalk that goes out over the warm, shallow water so you get to look down on the rock-like, living, formations. While for us it was only mildly interesting to see, the ambience created by the water softly lapping over hundreds of Stromatalites was amongst one of the most peaceful ambiences I’ve yet to experience.

Rock-like living Stromatalites.

From Hamelin Station we travelled onto Carnarvan for another two nights, staying at the Winter Sun Caravan Park. An enjoyable two days there that included a successful mornings fishing. Paul caught a lovely flathead, several good sized whiting, and a few undersized bream. I only managed a couple of undersized bream, so nothing to keep for me. We’ve ear-marked Carnarvon and the Winter Sun for a return visit, with a longer stay next time.

Yesterday we arrived at Coral Bay. Temperatures are expected to be around 30 most days, the skies are blue, the water’s pleasantly warm, and there’s a gentle breeze blowing. We’re here for a week. What a pleasure!

A mix of blue waters in Coral Bay
And more of the same….

I’m pleased to say, so far we’re sticking to our plan of shorter travel days. All trips between destinations so far have been between two and a half and three and a half hours. Not exhausting at all.

Galena Bridge

We left Lake Indoon around 9.30 this morning, and arrived at Galena Bridge just after mid-day. What a pleasure it is to be travelling shorter distances in comparison to our usual full days of travel. With only a short distance planned for the day we had time for a cuppa in bed this morning, and I even read a couple of chapters of my book before rising. Then it was a leisurely breakfast of yogurt and fruit before filling our travel mugs with coffee, and starting out for today’s trip. With such a short distance – not even 300kms,  we barely even needed a loo stop.

A quick mini set up as we’re staying hooked up, then lunch cooked in the van. That’s almost a first. On our previous longer travelling days, we would make lunch to eat as we travelled along. I think, and hope those days are now long behind us. This is a much more leisurely way to travel, allowing us to enjoy the trip, as well as the destination.

Lunch and dishes out of the way, we set off to explore our surroundings on foot.

How good is this on your doorstep, and for free,
and this
and this…

The area is divided into two camping areas with caravans on one side of the river, and tent groups on the other. I’m not sure if that’s the usual way of things, but that’s how it is today. Over the river from us is a large group of back-packers on tour, all with their little tents supplied by the tour operator. I wasn’t sure if we were going to be in for a raucous night  as they seemed to be in party mode. All quiet now though, so perhaps they’ve burned out early.

The caravan/camping area on our side is quite large. We have dump points for our chemical toilets, lots of bins for our rubbish, and well maintained drop toilets. A shady walk track runs between the level caravan sites and the river.

Paul meandering down the walk track.
Black swans adding to the tranquility

There’s also several fire pit rings. Hopefully someone will have wood tonight for a bit of a camp fire – there’s nothing quite like a camp fire for the swapping of camping tales.

Free camps, particularly ones as good as this one tend to fill up quickly. We usually arrive late in the afternoon when planning a free stop only to end up on uneven sites nowhere near the best of views. Today, arriving earlier, we’ve found ourselves a  level site in a prime position.

Parked up for the night, and hitched up ready for tomorrows leg of our journey

It’s currently just after 4.30pm and now all the good sites have been taken. The place is filling up fast but there’s still a few spaces. No doubt by morning the area will be full to capacity as the younger back-packers  don’t tend to arrive  until after dark. They like to make the most of their time and money by filling their days completely in the towns, and then heading for a free camp spot to find a place to squeeze into later. I gather not many countries have the facilities we have here for visitors on a budget. They love it, and why wouldn’t they – what’s not to love. It’s good to be living in the ‘lucky country’.

Wildflowers in the Pilbarra

Our eagerness to get back to Perth after having been away for nearly two and a half years has trumped our desire to travel slowly through the Pilbarra on our last leg of this trip.

Iron-ore rich, red Pilbara country.
Iron-ore rich, red Pilbara country.
Balancing Rocks.
Balancing Rocks.

Our planned four day trip has been condensed into two days. We left Broome, travelled through Port Hedland and took the Great Northern Highway via Newman towards Perth. First stop was a roadside stop approximately 280kms north of Newman.

Tonight, our second night, we’re in Cue, 1582kms south of Broome. Tomorrow we’ll travel the remaining 646kms and will be back in Perth at our favourite Perth caravan Park – Karrinyup Waters.

Those distances no doubt sound horrendous to both my overseas readers, and to some of my interstate readers. BUT – in WA, those distances aren’t difficult, even with a fifth wheeler trailing along behind. Since leaving Broome we haven’t been through any traffic lights, and we’ve only been through a couple of intersections ( both in Hedland). We’ve only had two road turns, the first as we left Broome and turned onto the Great Northern Highway, and then again as same Highway turns south just after Hedland.

Being a mining area, the superb roads are maintained to a high standard for the huge road trains. The road train drivers travel at a good speed on the flat or down hill, and are very courteous when they’re on an uphill grind. We have a CB radio which we keep tuned into the truckie’s channel. The truck drivers have a long, clear view of the road ahead, and give us the all clear when it’s safe to overtake. A constant speed of around 95kms an hour is easy to maintain.

A road train with three carriages, (some have four carriages and can be up to 53metres long.)
A road train with three carriages, (some have four carriages and can be up to 53metres long.)

Before we depart in the morning (at around 7am) we fill our thermos for coffee, and we pack our snack and lunch cooler bag to keep in the car between us. Paul drives, and it’s my job to keep him fed, watered, and entertained. A good supply of fresh fruit, nuts, and crackers with cheese, between sips of iced water keeps us sustained throughout the day. The iP0d provides entertainment with a good selection of our preferred music.

We usually have one fuel stop a day, and perhaps a couple of loo stops, at which times we fill our travel mugs with coffee, and on the road again.

So, that’s how we manage the long travel days – easy.

A sea of pink bursts from the red earth.
A sea of pink bursts from the red earth.

Not so easy, bi-passing Karijini National Park, and only snapping all the gorgeous wild flowers from inside the car as we zip past. Promise to ourselves – a slow trip next year over the same route taking time to enjoy all the pleasures whizzing past us this time round.