Trip 37, part 1 – Heading North

After spending the recent WA Day long weekend camping at Dryandra where the overnight temperature dropped to 2C, a week later and we’re heading North, to warmer climes.

With three weeks to spend, our itinerary was a week at Gladstone Bay, followed by a week each at Exmouth and then Giralia Station respectively.

Leaving at sparrows on a Saturday morning, Jules and I had a nice reminisce of previous Exmouth trips with the girls some 15yrs ago.

An early morning start to the drive up (Jules’ iPhone pic)

At the start of this trip, we were joined by our usual camping villains, BJ and Rod and we managed the 750km trek to Gladstone Bay without any dramas. A great feature of the Gladstone Bay Campground is you can literally camp anywhere! Just pay your modest camping fees as you pull in and then drive up, or down, the coast to find your perfect possie.

We found ours to the East, with all three vans parked together, within 3metres of the high tide mark. Luckily we didn’t have a super tide or storm surge so most days were spent traversing the couple metres of sand from the van door to the water’s edge, where we generally parked our chairs and sat, gazing out at the calm waters of Gladstone Bay, commenting ‘this is living’.

Goldy our van and Gwavin our car, parked on the beachfront
Jules posing for the camera, probably her best angle
Awesome sunset on our 1st night
Awesome sunset on our 1st night
Awesome sunset on our 1st night
Awesome sunset on our 1st night
Taken from the van door at 3:30 am. Moonlit bay (Jules’ iPhone pic)
Sunrise at Gladstone Bay (Jules’ iPhone pic)
Our campsite and ocean view
Tides out

This was BJ and Rod’s first visit to Gladstone and they were impressed with how open the space was, and how you got to own your own patch of beach frontage for a couple of days. Rod even managed to lay claim to his own tidal sand island, which he claimed and named “Rocket Island”.

Rod on Rocket Island, surveying his domain
Rod on Rocket Island, surveying his domain

With no specific plans for our time at Gladstone, our days started with a lazy sleep-in and late breakfast, before joining the boys on the beach where we spent a couple of hours talking about what we could do, but were unlikely to do, for the rest of the day. This discussion was normally held over a couple of coffees and normally ended with me wandering off for a walk with my camera, Rod going out on the yak to chase fish, BJ either yakking or snoozing, and Jules reading her book in the sun. Before all coming back together in the afternoon, this time with a beverage rather than coffee, where we proceeded to talk shit, eat dinner, spot satellites and eat chocolate, or BJ’s grandpa lolly mix, around the jug of fire.

Jules with her Gin Sour on World Gin Day
The Gladstone Bay gang (Jules’ iPhone pic)
Me (Jules’ iPhone pic)
Lovebirds (Jules’ iPhone pic)
A section of a beautiful rainbow running over the south of the bay
The full moon over the bay

Highlights of our Gladstone Bay jaunt included:

  • Rod crashing his expensive drone into BJ’s even more expensive caravan roof. Rod swears he was ‘off the controls’ at the time when his drone decided of its own accord, to do a 180O flip and fly straight down. This resulted in two little holes in the roof of BJ’s van. Good one Rod.
Rod’s drone before he crashed it into BJ’s van
  • A game of put-put golf on the short, but tough camp course.
Nothing like a game of one-handed put-put. Rules are ‘must hold a beer at all times’ (Jules’ iPhone pic)
  • Spotting the wildlife, mainly different birds but also many skinks, a cool gecko, jumping spiders and a mouse that wandered in one night to warm his arse by the fire.
White Browed Babbler – these guys sound pretty cool, a bit like Donald Duck
A female or immature male White Winged Fairywren
Australasian Pipit
A Chiming Wedgebill singing his guts out – these guys have a fantastic, almost metallic sounding decrementing three-tone trill
A close-up of a Chiming Wedgebill
A posse of Crested Pigeons warming up in the morning sunlight
A Singing Honeyeater
Another Crested Pigeon
The best of many crap pics of a male White Winged Fairy Wren. Bloody things, despite walking over 6kms looking for them, I got back from one of my hikes, literally put my camera down, only to hear one trill behind me. Slowly turning, there he was, not more the 5metres from the van door! But of course, by the time I’d grabbed my camera, he’d flown off and I chased him up and down the beach, never quite catching him for a good pic.
A Western Spiny Tailed Gecko I found in one of the many, weird ant or bird nest thingies in the shrubs. His eye detail (when the pic is zoomed up) is really cool.
A little weevil
A caterpillar train, heading to only they know where
  • Despite looking very fishy, it took Rod a couple of days to ‘work out the lay of the land’ and on Tuesday we all headed out on the beautifully glassed-off bay. Rod managed to pull up a size Estuarine Cod and a Mangrove Jack, plus an undersized cod and pinky. And, I managed to catch and release another small cod and three under-size pinkies, with poor old BJ ‘fishing for the future’ – aka, not catching anything. Poor old Jeff.
Rod out finding the spots (Jules’ iPhone pic)
Jules on a perfect day for the yak (Jules’ iPhone pic)
Me, waiting for the big one (Jules’ iPhone pic)
And here it is, what a horse! (Jules’ iPhone pic)
A cod and three pinkies, all returned to the water (Jules’ iPhone pic)
  • Me spotting and harassing some tiny, 3mm long, jumping spiders that lived on the beachfront. I was hoping they were peacock spiders and all colourful, but instead, the male was brown-patterned and rather plain. However, when zoomed up with a macro lens I noted their hairs glistened the full spectrum of colours in sunlight which was pretty cool.

On Wednesday, Rod and BJ headed South again, back to Monkey Mia to meet up with P&T for a couple of days, spending exorbitant amounts of money to view a dolphin. Jules and I had planned on staying an extra night at Gladstone but with 9mm of rain on Tuesday night and another 10 to 20mm forecast, the camp host recommended we might be better off leaving, rather than risking getting locked in for a couple of days if they close the access road due to the rain turning the road into mud. We followed his recommendation and it was a good call. The road out was already pretty muddy and very slippy from the overnight rain and with plenty of rain falling as we continued North the road was closed a few hours after we left. We were hoping to do a free camp North of Carnarvon but the rain kept falling so we erred on the side of caution and pulled into Wintersun Caravan Park for the night. After a quick lunch at Chicken Treat and some shopping, we settled into the packed Wintersun Caravan Park for the evening.

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