Leaving Gladstone Bay, Saturday 15/8, it was a leisurely 300km drive, made even more leisurely by the stupid number of caravans and motorhomes heading in both directions. We got stuck behind a cavalcade of five vans, so decided ‘when in Rome’ and sat on the end of the 90kph procession.
As we came into the Kalbarri National Park we could see dark rain clouds setting up over the ocean, so we checked into the Murchison House Station and quickly set the van up. As the raindrops arrived, so did Barry and Linda so we helped them setup and then settled into a wet and somewhat windy night in the van (not that we got wet or anything).
Sunday dawned pretty bleak with intermittent showers interspersed with heavier falls but unperturbed, Jules and I set off to explore Kalbarri, first following a 4wd track up the Murchison River through the park and varied wildflowers on display.
All that wildflower spotting and 4wd’ing makes a person hungry so we looped back into town and scoffed down a fabulous homemade sausage roll and good coffee, whilst overlooking the rough swell smashing the river mouth.
We then proceeded South, down the coast checking out the various beach accesses and lookouts, ending up about 70kms South at Port Gregory. Coming into Port Gregory you pass the Hutt Lagoon and the famous Pink Lake which is made pink by the carotenoid-producing algae Dunaliella salina. Unfortunately, the wind and overcast day made viewing the Pink Lake a little underwhelming but we did manage to get a shot which showed the colours.
By the time we’d made it back to camp in Kalbarri, BJ and Rod had arrived and setup, so we spent the rest of the arvo and evening catching up, exchanging tales and laughing.
Monday 15/8 and we had hoped to explore the many 4wd tracks North of the Murchison River which are still within the boundaries of the Murchison House Station. However, the 20mm of rain overnight put a stop to that as most of the tracks were boggy or closed due to the risk of getting stuck out there. So, plans flipped to a kayaking day and BJ, Barry, Rod, Jules and I kayaked from the homestead, literally starting out front of our van, the 19kms downriver to the townsite of Kalbarri. At the homestead the river is muddy and silty from all the recent rains and runoff but as we approached Castle Rock, the water cleaned up with the tidal influence and the boys managed to rustle up, and release, a few Black Bream. The paddle down the river was lovely, alternating between rocky sections in the gorge walls, through to open farmland and tree lined banks. We saw plenty of birds on the paddle down including Variegated Fairywren, Ospreys, Spoonbills and others. Unfortunately, as we were kayaking I didn’t risk taking my camera, so we don’t have any pics from our paddle down the river.
Jules and I spent Tuesday visiting the Kalbarri National Park, doing the new Skywalk which was fantastic and worth every cent of the $15 per vehicle park entry fee, followed by Natures Window and the Z-Bend. We then decided to skip the Hawks Head lookout and opted instead to head into Kalbarri where we had a pizza and pint at the pub whilst looking out over the river mouth.
Wednesday opened relatively sunny and so we decided it was 4wd day. Jules, Rod, BJ and I jumped in Gwavin our Ranger and headed North over the Murchison River at the Homestead bridge and spent the day exploring the many tracks, sometimes goat trails, that covered the station. Our first route followed the Murchison River upriver to the Wilgiamia Pool, a lovely spot on the river with some fantastic sandstone rock features. Interestingly Jules noted that we were only about 2kms as the crow flies from Natures Window, further upstream and within the national park.
From Wilgiamia Pool, we then headed West towards the coast before eventually finding ourselves on a track that ultimately lead to the infamous ‘jump up’ which we were warned was steep and very slippery and that we should not attempt it… Unfortunately, the track we followed in didn’t have any alternative routes, but fortunately we were doing it as a descent rather than an ascent, so we engaged low range and hill descent mode and slowly trundled down with no issues.
The boys decided to chase Black Bream early on Thursday morning, but Jules and I opted for a sleep in and then spent a couple of hours exploring the river downstream of the Homestead, finding plenty of bees and birds to photograph. As Thursday was our last full day at the Homestead we finished it off in style with a roaring campfire.
The day finally came, Friday the day we all started heading home, that is except BJ who as a bloody retiree was going to spend another few days with other friends in Port Gregory. Baz, Linda and Rod all decided to shoot straight home, however, Jules and I wanted to make the most of our last couple days of leave and we headed South to Northampton, through to Nabawa, up to Yuna and finally through to Canna where we camped at a freecamp amongst the Everlastings and Orchids. We’re heading home to civilisation, the kids, dog and work on Monday tomorrow, Saturday 21/8. ☹