Thursday 30 April 2015

Camp Range National Park

This was one of those places that I had no idea what to expect. I had booked us a site online for the Yardie Creek camping ground within the National Park, purely because it sounded nice and the one photo I saw online looked ok.

We left Coral Bay and drove straight through to Exmouth, we stocked up on food from the local IGA then headed the hour out to the National Park. Entry for us was free because I had bought an annual parks pass earlier in the year.

When we arrived at yardie Creek it was easy to see it was a ‘basic camp’. There was one long drop toilet and a bin and that’s. Um. It.

Long drop toilet! 

The camp ground has ten gravel and unshaded sites with one of them occupied by a full time ‘camp host’. We were greeted as we arrived and directed to our site.

Our set up

We set up the best we could in the hot sun with flies EVERYWHERE. Oh my god the flies were horrible. We had fly nets on and we left the three kids in the car (with it running) while we put the front room on the camper so they could come inside and sit.

Later on in the evening when the sun was setting and the flies had disappeared we walked down to the beach and met a lovely couple and their son. The kids played and the adults chatted and it was a beautiful sunset. They were booked in for two weeks but had decided to head home after one week as the flies were so intense.

The next day we did the Yardie Creek river cruise. This hour long boat trip took exploring us through the Yardie Gorges. We saw rock wallabies and Osprey birds and a couple of very hot looking surfer dudes with no shirts on paddle boarding up the river. I named them Fabio 1 and Fabio 2. I particularly liked Fabio 2 and think he might one day be my lover boy.

Anyway back to Yardie Creek.

The Gorges of Yardie Creek Gorge

On the last night of our stay we were invited to the camper hosts caravan for some freshly caught fish. It was lovely to sit around with the other campers and chat about our travels. I popped on some Calvin Klien perfume to mask the fact I hadn’t showered for three days, but it was wasted as Fabio 2 was nowhere to be seen at our fish dinner. I must say the fish was delicious. It was caught that day and to buy in the shop was $68 a kilo! 

Everyone enjoying some fish for dinner at Cape Range National Park

Anyways, if you are thinking of visiting Cape Range National Park there are some things to note.

Ok, so I coped with no shower or flushing toilets. We had our chemical loo and the kids and I used at night because I wasn’t walking to the long drop at night. But unless you have a flash caravan or a solar shower you will end up washing in the ocean like us.

As we are setting up the people on the site next to us come to say they had seen a red belly black snake then a duguite at their van a few days before. Apparently the snakes had gone off into the bush. So you can imagine I was very cautious and never let the kids out of the camper without me. I actually got quite anxious as snakes are my phobia and Craig did say we could pack up and leave if I wanted to. The people who told us could see my anxiety and came back the next day to say that the snakes had accidently found their way under the shovel. Didn’t make me feel much better though.

Because there were no showers we went swimming in the beach to wash off. Then on the second day when I was sitting on the beach making a sand castle with Matilda we looked up to see a huge dorsal fin and a 1.5 metre tiger shark come up to the edge. Apparently Tiger sharks are friendly but I say a shark is a shark and I never put so much as a big toe in the water after that!

We saw both on the waters edge, they are beautiful creatures and I got to see a quite a few of them when I went on my early morning walk alone.

Sand in my car, sand in my bed, sand in my towel, sand in my Tupperware containers, sand in my food, sand in my hair… so much sand. But I guess that’s what happens at the beach!

The place is mainly full of grey nomads. Oldies in their vans who travel for long periods of time up the coast of Western Australia. You get two types of Grey Nomads. The ones who stop and say how lovely the kids are and then tell stories of their grand kids etc. Then there’s the ones who stare at us like ‘get your kids outta here we are trying to drink wine and eat cheese and do our cross word puzzle’.

The National Park was a great place and I am glad we visited. The sites were clean and the beach was lovely. It was very special to be somewhere that you could walk along the beach and the only footprints in the sand were your own. It is such a secluded spot and at $22 a night for an unpowered site I can see why some of the oldies stay for weeks on end.

Yardie Creek beach at sunrise

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Coral Bay

I have never been to Coral Bay before but have heard good things about the place. On arriving it was quick to see it certainly lives up to its reputation.

A very small, relaxed beach town situated on the shore of one of the most beautiful beaches. When I say town, there really is not much there so it is important to bring in supplies if you are staying here. A very small supermarket that is out of this world expensive, a restaurant, a bakery and a few little shops that sell and hire diving gear and souvenirs.

Kids at the swimming pool

Coral Bay on sunrise

The beach 

Charlotte and Abigail about to get in the water with me

There are two large caravan parks. We were booked into the Bayview.  Even though we were out of school holidays it was still completely full and some vans were even turned away as there were no sites left.  Funny because some people have said to me that I was ‘too organised’ when it came to this trip. And yes I will admit I am a little bit anal when it comes to knowing where we will be and where we will stay. But when we arrived in Coral Bay I was thankful for the booking I had made (and paid for) way back in January. It has really helped us keep in our budget when we stop at the parks I have already booked and paid for months ago.

The campsites were small and we were camped VERY closely to the people behind us, lucky for us they turned out to be really lovely people. They gave us fresh fish that they caught on their boat and we had many chats. When were were packing up they came to comment how well behaved our girls were for our stay. Which was nice to hear!

The caravan park had a huge playground and jumping pillow, which was a hit with the kids. We were camped right across from it and the kids could come and go as they pleased, as long as they only stayed in the playground. There were so many kids all hanging out together. My three even caught up with some children they had met in Kalbarri so it was like seeing long lost friends!  There is also a swimming pool I the caravan park that we spent our afternoons.

We were about 50 metres walk to the beach and we spent our first morning in Coral Bay down there. The kids paddled in the water and played in the sand and we all ate salt and vinegar chips. The water is so crystal clear and protected by the reef so it was basically like a big swimming pool.

Every morning during our stay I would go for an hour walk on the beach as the sun was rising and then Craig would tag team me and go for an hour on his own. I loved that time in the morning to just walk and look and have some time to myself.

On our third day in Coral Bay we went on a glass bottom boat tour. I was rather nervous about this, after I booked it I actually felt a bit sick! Number one I get sea sick and I wasn’t looking forward to that bit. Also the tour offered two snorkeling spots and I was worried about trying to get in the water and having the kids on the boat etc.

It turned out to be great, with the exception of me wanting to throw up for the last half an hour! I was so proud of the kids because all of them actually got in the water with us. The boat offered swimming vests and pool noodles and the kids got to cling onto a bit of rope off the end of the boat so they wouldn’t drift away. I was surprised at how strong the current was and even though I am a reasonable swimmer I was still thrown around a fair bit trying to hold the go pro, the kids and my own snorkel gear.

Our last day in Coral Bay saw us doing a bit of four wheel driving in the morning, then hanging around the caravan park in the afternoon to catch up on school work, washing and to start packing up for our drive to Exmouth the following day.

We all loved Coral Bay and since it is only 12 hours from Perth it will definitely be on the list of places to visit again.

Sunday 19 April 2015

Blow Holes and Canarvon

We left Kalbarri and headed up to Carnarvon. Our plan was to re stock on food, water and fuel then head out to a camping spot at the Blow Holes, 35 Km out of Carnarvon.

So the day started out well. We packed up the camper and Craig only said 'fuck' once. Which was a HUGE improvement from the previous pack up. Good times. I could feel the positive vibes surrounding us. 

We had an uneventful 4 hour drive to Carnarvon, stopping for lunch at the overlander road house. By lunch I mean we stopped at the road house and I got out a BBQ chicken, bread and mayo from the fridge and made sandwiches on my lap as we drove, a process I like to call 'avoiding the trillion fucking flies when eating at a picnic bench'. Oh I love the wilderness. 

We arrived in Carnarvon about 2.30pm and headed straight to Woolworths to do a big shop. Everyone got a 99 cent chocolate bar because, well that's what you do when you go to Carnarvon. 

We filled up with fuel, grabbed some ice, and with kitkat melting on our fingers we hit the road to head to the blow holes camp area.  

And then we arrived.

Blow holes, Carnarvon western australia

Blow Holes? I would like to call them shit holes. 

Let me explain my negativity.

First of all the actual site for the blow holes is scary. The sign as we enter says that king waves kill. Apparently they need a three metre sign to let us know that the sea is dangerous.

We then come across a memorial plaque for poor old Leslie James who drowned in 2005. A life ring had been erected in his honour. a bit fucking late. but anyway.

As for the camping ground well, I was living on the false belief of the lying fucker of a travel book. It said that the camp area was WONDERFUL and it was by a BEAUTIFUL lagoon. blah blah.

Anyway it turns out the camp area was actually more like the municipal tip. We pulled in and tried to find a spot to see up amongst broken glass, bits of tin and the occasional tyre. Trying to remain positive Craig said 'lets walk over the sand dunes and look at the beach before we set up'. So he and I got out of the car and were met by not a trillion but ten trillion flies. They fast got under our fly nets and into our eyes. Trying to get up our nose and even between our toes. We take a look at the beach and it is a swamp of seaweed. To our left is a sand hole dug by a fellow camper full of toilet paper and SHIT.

 I look at Craig and Craig looks at me. And we telepathically say "GET US THE FUCK OUTTA HERE'.

We run to the car. We get in and we hoon off. Well as honing as we can while towing 1.6 tonnes. 

We then realise it is getting late in the afternoon, Coral bay to our north is at least two hours away. Or we could turn and make our way the 45 minutes back to Carnarvon. We opt for the latter.

Road tripping across the universe

So at 5pm we rolled back into Carnarvon town. And it started to fucking rain, Of course.

We hit the caravan park and we get a powered site. We then do a basic set up then hike it to the campers kitchen to avoid the flies and rain, and cook a simple dinner of chicken on the BBQ and a bag of pre cut salad (I am on holidays). 

By this stage it is dark. The flies have gone and we have a lovely chat to a man who tells us he is in an arranged marriage, he is travelling with his dog, a whippet called Penny, while his 'arranged' wife is back in Italy working for her father. He hopes to meet up with her in nine months. he is eating a huge frypan full of curried rice and sausages and my kids spend the dinner staring at him. 

The toilet blocks close to our camp, a bonus, and has speakers in the roof playing hits from the 70s and 80s. I take a 2am wee and listen to a john Farnham track 'it seemed like a good idea at the time'. 

And I laugh. 

Then I go and crawl back into my bed and go fast asleep. 


 Our first stop on our six month journey was five nights in Kalbarri. It’s a lovely little town, about 6 hours drive north from Perth and is situated where the Murchison River meets the ocean.  We visit every year or so and it is one of our favourite holiday spots. I booked us these few nights at the start of our trip so we could sit back and unwind and get ourselves used to camping life in a familiar environment.

We stayed at the Murchison River Caravan Park. Our visit was during a busy period (school holidays), however, the park and facilities were clean. One of the benefits about this park is the unisex toilets/showers meaning Craig can take the girls if needed. They are a block of little rooms consisting of toilet, basin and shower, rather than the traditional mens/womens toilet blocks. Another benefit of the Murchison park is that they have a natural 'aqua fed' which services the park, meaning the water that came from the taps was crystal clear and perfect for drinking. This saved us a lot on buying bottled water.

Everything in town is in a close proximity, you could holiday here and not have to even start the car! There are two supermarkets however they were VERY expensive so it is advisable to stock up on food and supplies in Perth. For example, broccoli was $12.99 a kilo. On saying that on our last day, and the first day of non school holiday period, some of the prices dropped at least 50% so I guess food prices will depend on peak seasons.

There are some lovely beaches a short drive out of town. Our family visited Red Bluff which was a little ‘choppy’ for the kids to swim in but is a popular beach for surfing and playing on the sand. In the town itself there are plenty of spots by the river to paddle and play with the sandpit toys.  

This year was the first since we have had the kids that we went to the National Park. There are several short and long bush walks to do along the gorges and the sights are spectacular.

We certainly left Kalbarri in holiday mode, although it was a hard concept to realize I wasn’t going ‘home’ this time!

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Leaving home!!!!

We have planned and prepared for this trip for the last 9 months now. We have sold our family home, lived in our small rental property, given my dog to someone else to care for, sold and given away stuff, lugged my furniture all over the countryside to store it, saved every cent we could, and more. Just so we could make this happen. Knowing now just how hard it is to make it a reality I can see why most people have the dream but don't actually manage to achieve it. Because seriously if I had known at the start how hard the 'before' stage was I would have had second thoughts. I have stepped so far out of my comfort zone. So far from my normal. 

We had been staying at my parents place for two weeks before we left. So it was my Mum's house that was our leaving point.

We left my Mum’s house on Monday morning. It was a stressful day for a few reasons. I guess I knew it was going to be a hard day. 

We had to have the car to Nissan by 7.30am for the driver seat to be fixed. So we took it there and dropped it off and then an hour later got a call that it was all ready, but in actual fact they hadn’t fixed it because they hadn’t ordered the right parts. So annoying, but its non urgent so it will be fixed in six months when we return home.

After the car it was time to start packing up the camper. This is the part that really sucked. Craig got angry and shit started to get shoved in and there was some yelling (Craig) and some emotional eating of an easter egg (me).

It took us wwwaaaaaaaaaayy (notice the extension of the word) longer than anticipated. Hope it gets better! We were very lucky as my mum watched the kids for the whole morning and into the afternoon as we packed. She made us ham and salad rolls for lunch and remained calm for us both when we were stressing out. Thanks Mum.
So once we were all packed and hooked on, it was hard saying goodbye to my mum and my sister, especially hard to say goodbye to my little niece who is only five months old and is just too cute. I was doing ok till I cuddled her before I got in the car. Then I silently cried behind my sunglasses for about twenty minutes down the road as we left the known and entered into the big wide world of travelling....

All packed up, ready to leave my Mum's house

As we passed each street and suburb that was familiar to us I kept thinking, wow we are really doing this. We are really going for 6 months. We are doing what we said we were going to do.  I thought I would be happy that we were leaving, but I wasn't happy. I wasn't sad. I was in a weird kind of disbelief. Craig said he felt like we were just doing a weeks holiday.  He too couldn't believe were were doing such a big trip.

The kids were quiet and a little teary as they were so heartbroken leaving nana. Which led for a silent start to our car ride.

Our first stop was supposed to be Kalbarri, but due to our late departure we decided to overnight camp at lake Indoon, about three hours north of Perth. We were the only ones there and it had an eerie feel to it. The clouds were low and it was near on dark as we pulled in. We set up a simple camp and cooked some dinner on the BBQ there. The facilities were basic, but pretty good for free. There were flushing toilets, cold showers and a water tank for drinking water. Plus rubbish bins and BBQs. And a bonus, everything was clean (ish)!!

Lake Indoon, overnight camp
Three little girls on their first night away
The next morning we packed up and head for Kalbarri, stopping on the way in Dongara and Port Gregory. I was the driver for the day as Craig started out with a headache which then became a migraine.

Pulled up in Kalbarri and he turned into a bit of a mess. Possibly the worse I have seen him. Swearing and angry at the camper, short tempered with us, looked like he was going to pass out, and sweating profusely, dispite it not really being that hot. We set up camp and had some dinner and the kids had a play on the playground. We then all went to bed for an early night. Around midnight Craig woke me to say he was having his heart problems again. He has an irregular heart beat on occasion and unfortunately I think the stress of leaving, the lack of water and the migrane all led to an episode.  Poor Craig.

Anyways onwards and upwards. Today is another day and he seems ok. Although I am slightly nervous if it happens again, and its somewhere with no medical facilities.

I went for a walk this morning and I have done two loads of washing. The kids are back on the playground and Craig is having a rest so fingers crossed all will be well.

Looking out over the ocean

Now to sit back and enjoy the next 5 days here before we head further north.