WARNING! WARNING! What you are about to view is a SUPER post, jam packed with pictures. Read on at your own risk!
Heading west from Karijini, the landscape started to make some noticeable changes. The red dust faded to a pinkish orange and we started to get the distinct feeling that we were getting close to water.
Sure enough, we made it out to Exmouth and some of us were sure excited to be back by the sea.
We drove around the peninsula to the Cape Range National Park, which borders onto the Ningaloo Reef, and also had several camp sites that we could stay at. We booked into one and then mosied over to Turquoise Bay where we went snorkeling in the beautiful clear water. We first went over to the more sheltered bay area, as it was afternoon and the open water was getting very choppy – and boy were we glad we did! We were lucky enough to see a stunning turtle swimming around gracefully as it looked for food on the ocean floor. It really was special! We swam around the big fella for a while, watching him do his thing before hopping out to hear that the people over in the open part had seen a reef shark, and in fact, a lady had been bitten by one earlier that day! Reef sharks are quite small and definitely nowhere near as dangerous as some of the sharks out there, but I was definitely stoked to be in turtle town rather than shark strip.
We stayed overnight in a camp spot right on the beach, meaning beautiful sunset walks.
The next morning, we had time for a quick play on the beach before heading into town to pick up our hitchhiker who was to be traveling with us for the next while.
On our way our to Cape Range National Park, we had picked up two German backpackers, one of whom needed to make her way down to Perth in the next week or so. As it happened, that’s what we were wanting to do to so we offered her a ride with us. She gladly accepted and we picked her up in the morning and started our trip south.
Our first stop was Coral Bay to take a quick dip in more sparkling blue water (sigh…), before jumping back in the van and getting down to Carnarvon (after a minor breakdown which the Bear was able to resolve with his pocket knife and some handiwork). We stocked up on supplied and kept going south until we found a suitable camp spot.
The next morning we were up early and off on our mission for the day – Shark Bay. We drove up the peninsula, stopping at the Hamelin Pool to check out the stromatolites, which are super duper old ‘living fossils’, created by single-celled microbes called cyanobacteria. These stromatolites are thousands of years old!
Further up the peninsula, we stopped at the aptly named Shell Beach. Rather than fine sand, the whole beach was made up of tiny white shells. It was quite incredible!
The water was beautiful and clear, but not at all deep. We walked for a couple of hundred metres off the shore and the water level was still below our knees! We pretty much had the whole place to ourselves for most of the time we were there. The children went crazy building shell castles and throwing shells into the air.
We continued up the peninsula, stopping at lookouts, taking selfies and spotting emus.
Don’t be alarmed, this is not an amputee emu. It was just chilling. There were about six emus here, but I couldn’t get them all in one shot. I’ve never seen so many emus (in the wild) in the one spot!
Next up to the Francois Peron National Park at the top of the peninsula. We could barely go into this park without a 4WD, but were told we could go as far as the homestead, where there was a natural hot tub which we couldn’t miss (even though it was probably too hot to be getting in a hot tub…ah well).
It was pretty outback. Drinking beers in a corrugated hot tub drawing water from an artesian bore. Yep, pretty sweet.
We made it off the peninsula and found a campsite to rest for the night. The next morning we were absolutely INVADED by flies. I am not kidding you, we threw all our stuff in the van without even packing properly and put the pedal to the floor to get away from them. There were like, 40 flies just in my facial region. It was such an invasion of personal space…flies just have no idea of social etiquette.
On the plus side, we arrived early to Kalbarri National Park and were able to have breakfast overlooking this beautiful gorge.
We checked out a few different sites in Kalbarri National Park, namely ‘Nature’s Window’, which was a pretty sweet rock formation. I guess it’s sweeter after there’s been some rain and the river behind is flowing, but we weren’t going to let that ruin our photo shoot. After all, we almost murdered our van getting down the track to it – all our belongings flying around the van and our bones shuddering over the corrugated path.
Next stop was the Principality of Hutt River – Australia’s second largest country. Yep. You heard me.
People from our generation may not be so familiar with Prince Leonard of Hutt River and his trials, as it was a bit before our time. In very VERY basic terms, this dude (Leonard) was in the wheat farming business back when they introduced wheat quotas (how much wheat they could sell). The quota they were allowed was only a small percentage of their actual crop size, so they asked for compensation for the crop that they would not be able to sell. The government refused, and from then on, Leonard used his solid knowledge of the legal system to secede from Australia and become Australia’s largest micronation. It is pretty freaking awesome.
We didn’t get to meet Prince Leonard, as he was in hospital the day we visited. We did, however, get to meet his oldest son, who happily showed us around the place and gave us lots of info (and answered our stupid questions like “what is your national food?” “is it legal to drink on the streets of Hutt River?”, etc. On grounds they have a chapel, a post office and more. They also have their own national anthem, currency, stamps, etc. It was out of this world (or country)..
Just hanging out with royalty, don’t mind us.
We were on a bit of a high after our visit to Hutt River, so we splurged on a site at a caravan park in Geraldton and chillaxed with some ciders by the beach.
Then it was off again. Our next major stop that I recall was the Pinnacles.
These bizarre rock formations cover the land, and are really impressive to see. It kind of feels like you’re on some strange post-apocalyptic planet as you walk amongst them.
Oh my holy! What a post! After the Pinnacles we shot straight down to Perth, bid farewell to our hitchhiker (until later that evening, anyway) and checked in with my Nanna and Grandad in Claremont, settling down for some temporary familiarity.
I’ve got a whole heap of delicious foodie related posts to come from our time in Perth, I’ll hopefully be rattling them off over the next few days. Phew!