On Friday, August 10, we head into Karijini National
The mountains along the way are very pretty.
Karijini NP is set in the Hamersley Range and is Western
Australia second largest national park, encompassing some
Erosion has carved spectacular gorges into the 2'500 mio
year old rocks.
Our first stop is at the Fortescue Falls.
It is the first really warm day of our trip with 28°C.
We pack our backpacks and head down into the gorge.
The banded iron formations are very picturesque.
The pools look very inviting too but the water is to cold
The trees and their roots-systems are quiet impressive.
Some ochre can also bee found along the way.
Then we hike along Dale Gorge to the Circular
The views into the gorge on the way back are very impressive.
Along the way we see many fine examples of trees that hang
on to the sheer face of the rocks with their roots.
They are just amazing!
Walking through the river bed and seeing how high the water
comes during the rainy season is impressive too.
Right now there is only a trickle of water left in the river.
There is also plenty of animal life to can be observed.
We continue on to Circular Pool.
The way is quiet adventurous and lots of fun.
Passing fern gardens we reach the pool.
It is such a pretty place and so peaceful.
Then the hard work starts ... getting back up to the surface
of the tablelands.
The views into the gorges from up there are just stunning.
Amazing what water and time can do to rock ....
On the way back we see many flowers ....
... and some pretty specimen of Eucalyptus trees.
We continue on to the Savannah Campground.
The dirt road is very badly corrugated.
At the campground we are lucky to get a site, as it is high
season and we had not reserve.
The warm water for the showers is done with solar power and
is almost as cold as the beer ....
After another cold night with only 5.6°C on Saturday
morning the sun quickly changes things and soon temperatures
reach the 20s.
Looks like we will have another perfect day in the beautiful
Karijini National Park.
We walk to the Joffre Gorge from the Caravan
Park and pass some large termite mounts.
It is too early, no sunlight has entered the gorge yet,
but we spot a lookout on the other side of the gorge and
quickly adjust today's travel plans to include it.
We head to the Oxer Lookout and are impressed.
To stand on the platform and look down into the gorge is
stunning ..... but also creepy for the ones that have a
problem with heights.
The grave of Jim, the SES Volunteer killed here in 2004,
reminds one of the hidden dangers of hiking and canyoning
in this area.
We leave the cars at the day area and head to the Waemo
Again a warning has been placed at the beginning of the decent.
The way down it steep but the pool is pretty and worth getting
But the water is too cold, even Ruedi doesn't go for a swim
.... even with the air-temperatures now reaching 29°C
We cannot proceed to the Handrail Pool as the water is still
So we head back and drive to the Joffre Lookout.
The views over to the waterfall are great.
Then its time to leave Karijini and head toward Tom Price.
It is a beautiful sunny day and the temperature is already
Once we reach the bitumen Ruedi and Roger have to inflate
the tyres again giving Katarina and Susi time to have a look
at the flowers.
Susi tries to identify as many flowers as possible but many
flowers are not listed in Susi's flower books (and she is
pretty frustrated about that ....).
Pass the mouse over the pictures .... were Susi has found
the names (and hopefully has picked the correct ones!) they
will be displayed.
We see a Photo-Stop sign and stop.
We find our selves on a lookout, were people can leave rocks
with messages regarding their loved ones that have passed
It is a very strange feeling standing there and reading all
We continue on, pass Tom Price and take
the dirt road westwards passing Mt. Samson.
It's a very pretty valley, some kind of lupines blooming
along the road.
At the Beasley River Rest Area we stop for the night and
camp directly in the riverbed.
It's a nice spot with large River Gums, lots of birds,
a camp fire … the perfect way to end a nice day.
After a not too cold night with 10.6°C we wake up to
a sunny Sunday.
We hit the road shortly after 8 AM.
Driving west through the ranges is so pretty in the morning
The red is really strong and the light-green Spinifex looks
The temperature rises to 29 °C and there is no cloud
on the sky.
We reach the North West Coastal Highway and head south.
We find out that getting fuel at the Narutarra Roadhouse
is an expensive hobby ... they charge 30 cents more per
litre than we paid in Tom Price!
The country changes and we drive through sand dunes.
They are covered with green vegetation.
Every so often patches of pink flowers can be seen.
We turn into the Burkett Road, later on into Minilya – Exmouth
Road towards Exmouth.
In Exmouth all caravan parks are fully booked
so we take a site at the overflow camping besides the Tourist
Later on we head out to the Light house for the sunset.
We see a few whales but it is hard to see them in the white
Still, they are here and Roger and Katarina get all excited
as they have booked a whale-watching tour for tomorrow.
The night is warm and we can keep the windows open for
a long time.
This feels great!
The temperature only drops to 15.6°C
On Monday, August 13, the sunrise is very orange, which
points to rain later on.
There are a few clouds around but they soon disappear.
We want to catch a site at the National Park.
As the sites are assigned to people in sequence of their
appearance Ruedi goes to the local CALM office before opening
to be first in line.
But he comes back without an allocated site.
The sites are allocated by the order of appearance of people,
first the ones at the park entrance then the ones at the
office are considered.
Once a site has been assigned one has one hour time to go
and claim it otherwise they will be given away to the next
person asking for one.
As Roger and Katarina have their whaler-watching tour today
we decide to try our luck tomorrow directly at the park entrance
and stay the night at a Caravan Park close of the entrance
of the park.
We call the Lighthouse Caravan Park and are lucky to get
two sites for the night.
When we ask for water at the tourist information we find
out that here water is very precious.
Only bore water, that usually is lightly salty, can be obtained
We still have one full tank of fresh water, so we decide
to fill the other one with bore water for every-day use.
This is the first time that we are confronted with having
to deal with two qualities of water at the same time.
We appreciate our design of having two separate tanks.
This way we can protect our fresh water for drinking-only
purposes in one tank and can use the other one with bore
water without any restrictions, swapping between the tanks
by just unplugging a hose-connection.
But Ruedi already thinks about a technical solution so we
don't have to switch tanks by hand .... let's see what he
comes up with!.
We head out to Caravan Park and find great sites with view
onto the ocean.
Just the road separates the park from the beach; it's
a great spot for walking.
We spend the rest of the day at the beach.
It is low tide and we are able to walk the reef and inspect
Late in the afternoon Roger and Katarina return from their
trip, filled with the impressions of having had a whale really
close to the boat.
On Tuesday morning we have to rise early.
Cape Range National Park opens at 8 AM and
we want to be there at least 30 minutes before.
We sneak out of the still sleeping caravan park (try to be
quiet with a truck like the OKA ....) and drive to the entrance.
Well, we are already vehicles 6 and 7 ..... the first one
was at the entrance at 6 AM!!!
When the ranger comes it is quite interesting to watch the
The National Park has many camping spots with sites.
Each spot has a camp host that takes care of the sites.
The host calls in by radio in the morning and reports the
available site for the day.
The ranger then writes them down on a board and people, in
order of appearance at the gate, can chose which place they
want to go to.
Sounds like a complicated system but it is absolutely fair
one, strictly "first in best dressed" ...
We are lucky and get two sites at Tulki Bay directly
at the ocean.
At the turn-off to the camping we spot these Desert Peas,
relatives of the Stuart Desert Peas we know from Central
Different to these ones their relatives in Central Australia
have black "eyes".
The camp host informs us about the local attractions.
We leave the OKA on site and take off for the day in Roger
and Katarina's camper.
First stop is the Pilgonaman Gorge, where
black footed Wallabies can be observed.
Then we continue on south to Yardie Creek Gorge,
where we venture into the gorge.
Plats in all shapes and colours grow on the sand dunes
Interesting is also to see how the wind damages the bushes
... and they still manage to survive on the side that is
turned away from the wind.
We also find signs that this gorge a long time ago was part
of a coral reef.
On the way back we see an Echidna, our first one in all
these years that we have been travelling through Australia.
We are trilled!
Echidnas are strange animals, they lay eggs but suckle their
The poor thing gets so frightened about all this fuzz that
id digs itself into the ground.
Ruedi tries to lift it up to carry it to the side, away form
the side of the road, but he has no success, the Echidna
has dug himself into the ground so much that it cannot be
Then we stop at Osprey Bay, a beautiful
place for snorkelling and swimming.
Next time we would try to get a spot on this camp.
Here we find the same kind of "rocks" we have
seen further down in the gorge.
Then we stop at Turquoise Bay, famous for
its drift-snorkelling too, but known to have nasty undertows
The water really is turquoise here.
We hear that snorkelling at Lakeside is very good too, but
the best spot must be South Mandu.
Next time we know where to go ... do we?
Ah well, one after the other one will do too!
When we arrive back at our site the wind is blowing very
We still go for a swim but as one comes out of the water
one is immediately sandblasted.
In the evening it is Susi's turn to cook.
The Wallas cooker gives up on her and she has to cook in
Roger and Katarina's campervan.
Over night the temperature only drops to 15°C but the
wind rattles and shakes the OKA all night.
It is already Wednesday, August 15, and Roger and Katarina
have mere 10 days left, before they have to fly back to France.
So after the morning duties have been finished we hit the
We stop to watch the wind playing with the waves and generating
We pass a large area of termite mounts, nicely surrounded
by spring flowers.
Then we turn off towards Coral Bay.
We find 2 sites in one of the Caravan Parks but find them
to be rather expensive (34$ for an unpowered site ....).
On the way to the bay to watch the fish feeding we pass
this old tractor.
The old and the new mix well, the solar panel keeping the
old battery alive ....
Ruedi tries to fix the Wallas cooker. It is neither dirty
nor is the tank empty, it looks more like the pump being
faulty .... but he is nor sure yet.
Roger invites us all for dinner at Fins Cafe to comfort poor
On Thursday, August 16, after another mild night with 14°C
another sunny day greets us but the strong winds are still
As we head south on the North West Coastal Highway
we start reaching the spring flowers .....
For hours we drive through endless blankets of flowers in
It is just marvellous.
Katarina and Susi are having a ball of a time.
But not only we humans seem to appreciate the flowers; large
spiders seem to find lots of pray with the many insects flying
As we drive through the blankets of Everlastings we cannot
resist and stop to reproduce the pictures found in so many
This is wildflowers at its best!
As we crawl around in the flowers a station wagon stops
and a woman gets out.
She approaches us and asks if this is our OKA ....
A bit puzzled we confirm.
She then identifies herself as being the daughter of Cherry
and Robert, our friends with the sheep farm in Beverly.
By coincidence we have stopped exactly on their station and
also by coincidence Cherry had called her last night, telling
her that we are in the vicinity ....
How small can Australia be!
We are crossed by trucks "moving house" and once
again are amazed about what is transported on Australian
The closer we get to Carnarvon the greener
the country gets.
More and more farms appear, fruits are offered for sale at
the side of the road.
Carnarvon, a rather large country town with good facilities,
lies at the mouth of the Gascoyne River.
Even though the river is tidal it has a second "river" some
7 - 8 meters below its riverbed, where fresh water flows
This water is being used for the irrigation.
The town has an almost unlimited supply of fresh water at
At the tourist information centre we find out that there
is a tap at the entry of the town where we can fill up our
water tanks with as much water as we want.
Great! We haven't had fresh water in abundance since Newman.
We rinse all the filters and tanks then bunker as much water
as we can, knowing that further south we will encounter the
problem of water again.
We continue on south through more carpets of flowers.
Late in the afternoon we stop at the Gladstone Scenic
Lookout and decide to stay for the night.
The sunset with the very pretty view out to the ocean is
definitely worth a stop there.
The nights are getting colder, the temperature now hovers
just a bit over 10°C.
But as the Friday morning greats us with sunshine soon the
cold night is forgotten.
We continue on to Shark Bay and stop at Hamelin
It's an interesting little corner of this world ....
At the entrance to Hamelin Pool is a massive sand bar called
the Fauré Sill, which has built up over 6'000 years
and restricted the tide flow into the Pool.
The shallow waters of Hamelin Pool evaporate quickly and
create super-salty water.
Cardid Cockles are one of the few marine species which
thrive in very salty water. They live in dense clusters in
Shells in the beach ridges gradually cement together. Rainwater
slowly dissolves calcium carbonate from shells.
Water evaporating from the shell ridges then triggers a cementing
action and forms the "Hamelin Coquina".
Early settlers in this area had few sources of timber or
rock for building. But coquina provided a solution.
Excavated with a crosscut saw blocks were used to construct
many buildings including the church in Denham.
Today, shell blocks from this quarry are taken only to maintain
historic buildings in Shark Bay.
We continue on and find a gangplank leading out to the stromatolites
with signs, where a funny little comic figure called "Stumpy" guides
through his family.
The cyanobacteria that build the stromatolites first appeared
on earth 3.5 bill years ago when oxygen was scarce.
As the original stromatolite colonies expanded, they released
more and more oxygen into atmosphere, eventually raising
the oxygen level to 20% of all atmospheric gases.
This led the way for air-breathing life forms to evolve.
When the tide is in air bubbles may be seen.
For more details on the stromatolite
In the late 1800's and early 1900's, camel trains transported
wool from nearby pastoral stations to a Government wool shed
once located at the nearby Flagpole
Wool bales were carted to the foreshore in small drays, loaded
into dinghies and ferried out to a waiting lighter (a small
The lighter then sailed 190 km to a deep anchorage off Dirk
Hartog Island where the cargo was transferred to a larger
ship for the journey to Fremantle.
More than 60 years have passed since wagons carrying wool
rolled over the living stromatolite mats but the deep ruts
made by the wheels are still visible.
Cormorants or Wanamalu as they are called by the Aboriginal
people seem to like the stromatolites as basis for their
For more details on the Cormorants of Shark Bay
Welcome Swallows (Hirundo Neoxena) chasse insects along
the shore and underneath the gangplank.
We continue on to Shell Beach.
Shells in their millions make up this white landscape, nearly
all them being the small white bivalve known as the Cardiid
Cockle (Fragum eragatum).
Masses of shells have been drifting in for about 4'000 years,
the tides, winds and waves carrying them to shore when they
die ... they are five metres deep and still pilling up ...
Soon we are all wrapped up in sieving through the shells
.... we just can't help it ....
Shell grit has been mined at Shell Beach since the early
1960. Since new shell is regularly deposited on the beaches,
it is considered a renewable resource.
The poultry industry of Western Australia relies on loose
shell. When eaten, the minerals in the grit enable chickens
to produce hard egg shells.
The shell is also a source of lime for the cement industry,
and in the production of ornamental plant holders and pottery.
As we continue on in direction of Denham we stop at Eagle
The large sea grass banks (the largest in the world!) are
We spot a few sharks and turtles, but otherwise it is rather
This gives us time to read the excellent displays about
Shark Bay's shallow bays, the concentration with salt and
how the marine life has adjusted to it.
For more details
As we continue our way to Denham an Echidna crosses the
But again we are too noisy, the animal buries itself into
the ground underneath a bush.
In Denham Roger and Katarina want to book
a tour into Francois Peron National Park.
As Saturday is fully booked we decide to stay an extra day
so they can go on Sunday.
We head out to Monkey Mia Resort but are just about 30 minutes
too late, all sites are gone.
So we head back to Denham and stay at the Caravan Park.
On Saturday we get up early to be at Monkey Mia at 8 AM
to catch a site for certain and also watch the dolphins coming
into the bay.
We are lucky and get two sites side by site.
Then we hit the beach to watch the animals.
As the dolphins have already left again we have time to
watch the pelicans, trying to drink water from the sprinkler
Click here to view the movie.
For more details on the Australian pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)
and their life
Then the dolphins return ...
Click here to view the movie.
We learn about the history of these visits:
From the late 1970's a female dolphin, Holey Fin, started
visiting the beach at Monkey Mia to meet with people and
to be hand fed.
Holey Fin was the mother of Nicky and the grandmother of
Holey Kin and Nomad.
These dolphins continue the family tradition of dolphin-human
Holey Fin died in 1995 from a stingray barb that lodged in
For more details on the dolphins and their life
It is obvious, that dolphins play an important role in Monkey
Roger and Katarina leave for a boat-cruise to watch Dugongs
and Ruedi starts looking into the Wallas cooker and why it
does not work anymore.
He finally finds a cable to be broken on the diesel pump.
The coil was not mounted rattle proof. He drowns all in with
Sikaflex and Susi is very happy again.
We meet Andy, a Swiss traveller with a Britz campervan,
and decide to go to the Francis Peron National Park together,
so we can help each other on the sand should need arise ....
the park is known for its deep and soft sandy passages ....
On Sunday morning the weather soon deteriorates and stormy
weather roles in.
Still we decide to go into the sand but we will drive up
quickly and come down slowly, so should the rain hit us we
can leave the park as quickly as possible.
We are lucky.
Even though we keep seeing small showers of rain we encounter
no major problems in the sand on the way up to the top.
We stop at the various beaches but due to the missing sunshine
the different colours of sand are not really as eye-catching
as they could be.
Well, next time .....
All at the top we see the Leeuwin current virtually "hitting"
the cold water from the south.
Not only we are impressed by this phenomenon, hundreds if
not thousands of cormorants and other seabirds seem to find
this an interesting place for fishing and rest at the beach
The Leeuwin ('LOO-win') current is a band of warm, tropical
water that flows from northern waters southwards along the
continental shelf past Perth.
The current is strongest in winter and the mixing of warm
water with cooler southerly water is vital to Shark Bay's
The thermal pictures nicely show the difference of summer
Susi finds some more flowers ....
... and some interesting caterpillars too.
The interesting mixture of sand and "rocks", made
from compressed shells, generates this colourful scenery.
The OKA ploughs its way through the sand beautifully.
A bit more of a worry could the salt lakes become should
some more rain fall.
But we are lucky again, no major rainfalls all day.
Susi even finds her flowers again (we had taken waypoints
on the way up to find them again on the way down ....) and
can now take her pictures in peace and quiet.
After this exciting day we enjoy a long evening with Andy,
Roger and Katarina, drink some of Roger's excellent Cognac
and tell each other stories.
On Monday the sun is back, but we have to leave this relaxing
We leave early, drive through some impressive flower carpets
and already reach the Kalbarri National Park shortly after
We stop at the Ross Graham Lookout.
Again we find different coloured rock.
It is fascinating.
It looks like somebody has coloured them in with a brush.
We also learn that in Kalbarri National Park they have a
program to restore the natural system as it used to be before
feral pigs, goats, feral cats and foxes invaded the National
Local animals like the black footed rock wallaby, malleefowls,
woylies, chuditchs and other small mammals, reptiles and
invertebrates have almost disappeared.
It is the world's biggest campaign against feral predators.
It also involves captive breeding of displaced native animals
and relocations to protected and monitored areas.
Reintroduction of the chuditch has been successful, is ongoing
for the woylie, and is planned for the black footed rock
We continue on to Hawk's Head and Natures
We have picked the right time of the day, the afternoon sun
brings out the colours in the rocks.
For more on the formation of the area of the Kalbarri National
Kalbarri National Park seems to have received a fair lot
The flowers are very pretty and Susi, Roger and Katarina
are busy taking pictures.
Susi is surprised to find many different varieties of sundew.
She is also proud to get pictures of Murchison Rose and
the Kalbarri Cowslip Orchid which are the local specialties.
Knowing that Kalbarri is a popular place this time of the
season Susi had reserved a site at one of the caravan parks
listed in the Kalbarri brochure.
When we get there they have the sites .... but the OKA is
too high and will not fit under the trees.
That is bad news.
We drive to the caravan park we stayed last time and are
lucky that they have one empty site without trees.
So we learn that when we book a site we not only have to
tell them that we are 6 m long but also that we are 3 m high.
On Tuesday morning we continue on south and on the way visit Red
Memories of our first trip in the OKA,
first testing of the OKA in sand and the nice bogs
come to mind.
We continue on to Eagle Gorge, Grandstand and Island
We even see wales on their journey south!
At Hutt Lagoon the water is very red, meaning
that there are lots of algae in the water.
visit in 2006
it was less obvious.
For lunch we head to Port Gregory and enjoy
the great views of the natural harbour.
Then we stop at Yerina Spring Road just
south of Port Gregory and have a look for orchids.
We are a wee bit too early for the orchids but still manage
to find some flowers.
After passing Geraldton and Dongara we
decide to deviate to Mingenew and the Coalseam
National Park, which is famous for its everlasting.
But the camp hostess informs us that due to the missing rains
there are no flowers this year.
Looks like we did this trip in vain .... well, maybe next
time we are luckier.
We stay for the night and Roger and Katarina once more enjoy
the warmth of our heated camper.
On Wednesday morning we head into the canyon to search for
Even with all the looking and searching all we find id a
block of solidified mussels and snails, to us similar to
the stuff we have seen at Francois Peron National Park.
We find some more people looking for it .... about as unsuccessfully
Then we find some people with plans, magnifying glasses,
brushes and other equipment.
Assuming that they know what to look for we ask them.
They show us some fossils, tiny little things that we can
Not very impressed we decide that these fossils are not made
for us and leave the park.
The drive south through the green pastures and canolla fields
is very pretty.
We reach Eneaba where we stop at the Eneaba National
Park to have a look at its famous flowers.
Susi quickly has contact to another couple that is taking
pictures of flowers too, learns the difference between Cats
Paw and Kangaroo Paw and ....
... is sent a bit down the road to a spot where we have
the chance to see our first Donkey Orchids and many other
Deviating towards to coast we drive through blooming wattles,
a very pretty sight.
Passing through Jurien Bay and Cervantes we
reach The Pinnacles
return to top
Bad weather is approaching and the wind generates a small
Just as we reach the exit point gale-force winds and rain
We drive to Lancelin where we stay at the
local camping for the night.
Somehow we get the impression that the weather knows that
this is the last night of the trip for Roger and Katarina
and wants to make it easier for them to leave this beautiful
country by being unpleasant.
The next morning on the last stretch into Perth we pass
a small patch of pink everlasting, almost knee-high.
What a sight!
At least now we know how it should have looked like at the
Coalseam National Park!
Conclusion of this trip:
We drove 6'500 km in 4 weeks.
Due to the lack in time we had no time to enjoy the different
sections and its attractions the way we would have liked
We had a beautiful time together, but once more we realize,
that "tourists" travel the country in a much faster
pace than we like to.