A night at Overshot Hill NR & our first look at Hopetoun & Fitzgerald River National Park

Thursday, Oct 22, 2015 at 09:48

Member-Heather MG NSW

Sat 23rd May.

We traveled south from Hyden yesterday, through Lake King, and pulled into Overshot hill Nature Reserve, 11 kms north of Ravensthorpe mid afternoon.There is a large, close to level, gravel area facing a paddock and close to the bush and we parked as far back off the road as we could, as there were frequent road trains until dusk. We didn't hear any traffic noise through the night so it probably would have been fine closer to the road as it turned out. During the afternoon while John watched football on TV I escaped and went for a walk along the perimeter fence of the reserve, noting the birds and the sounds of cattle bellowing who must have been very recently separated from their calves. That sound is one which always takes me back to my childhood, growing up among Hereford cattle on a property in South Coast NSW.

The night temperature was considerably warmer than our last couple of camps.
This rest area has rubbish bins and a table and bench seats up close to the road, but no other facilities, so an onboard toilet is recommended if you stay here. I guess you could do a walk with a shovel and dig a hole up in the scrub but it might get interesting if there were others here. There is a 24 hour stay limit and we were happy to see that this seems to be respected by travelers. There was only a small vehicle with a few young people who looked like backpackers, who pulled in late and camped in a couple of tiny tents up close to the table.
Phone signal here was very poor unfortunately.
On the trip south from Hyden we lunched in a big blue metal surfaced rest area at Lake King alongside an interesting display of monster trucks. The scenery along the road was interesting too, with occasional salt lakes - always scenic - and each small settlement was marked by huge grain storage facilities, clearly visible long before we arrived. Some paddocks were very green with short grass poking through the soil, and the road surface surprisingly was much rougher than the dirt from Norseman to Hayden had been.
On our way to Hopetoun we had news from one of our twin daughters that they had received the results of DNA testing and the results prove their identical status. (99.9999999% chance) It is something I have always suspected although was told by the obstetrician who delivered them 32 years ago that they were fraternal and we would never have any problems telling them apart! How wrong he was!
It was only 9.30 am when we arrived in Hopetoun so we drove past the caravan park we are booked into, and down to the Jetty and a look at the harbour. On a whim we also decided to drive the 26 kms or so to Fitzgerald River National park and check out the camp ground at Hamersley Inlet which has pretty recently been refurbished.
It was a magnificently scenic drive along a fantastic bitumen winding road with prominent views of the majestic East Mount Barren which the road skirts, and along to the coast with some great lookout points. When we arrived at the campground we found it vacant, the sites ranging from those with for the biggest vehicles, such as ourselves, at the front and the smallest (tents) at the rear, on a series of one way tiered areas. With the Inlet and boat ramp just metres across the road, we decided we would only stay one night in town at the Caravan park and use it to get laundry done and the other necessary chores, and come out again for a few days with Judy and Barry who were due to join us later today.
Back in Hopetoun, we checked into Wavecrest Village Van Park situated on the road into town and a few kms from the IGA ($28.80 with a pensioner discount). I decided to use the only washing machine there which was operating, located a longish walk from our site, so spent a while walking back and forth checking and doing the washing which was a pain in the a...! My small one would have taken many loads as we had piled up a lot of dirty clothes.
Judy and Barry parked in the adjoining site and we caught up on news of their campsites and travels since we had left them at Cape Arid National Park a few days earlier.
After lunch the men decided to fish from the jetty but were unsuccessful and returned by 4pm. Judy and I checked out the new looking big IGA and found it to be well stocked.
Once again i found the water pressure to be disappointing although am certain now that we have a faulty pressure limiting valve as Judy is not having the same issues. It is something else we will need to have rectified by Jayco warranty.
I found a tiny beautifully patterned frog under the awning here. So lucky.
It was pretty nice to be able to use unlimited lights, run the laptop, TV etc and get everything charged up in readiness for a few days out in the National Park.
On the next morning (Sunday 24th May) we were packed up and left the park by 9am. The Public dump point in Hopetoun was conveniently located across the road from the caravan park so we pulled in there and did the necessary (when i say we, I mean 'he")!

We and Judy and Barry managed to park our vans in the biggest roomy sites at Hamersley Inlet and after setting up the essentials with the vans, the men got busy unloading the boat and putting it on the trailer. They did get out on the water but were back by 2 pm having not had a bite or any evidence that there were any fish in the water. It was pretty disappointing as it was such a beautiful place but John consoled himself with the Sunday afternoon football and a beer or two!
I paid for 3 nights but considering it is such a small amount ($10 per site per night) it won't matter if we don't stay that long. Although i did have a couple of walks I wanted to do before we left!
The campground has some very new looking composting toilets and a big undercover gas BBQ area with seating, where there is a water tap located. I assume it must be drinking quality as in not signed to the contrary. Just before the campground there is a steep downhill (25% gradient) and the road almost the entire distance is so visually appealing that I managed to click off 51 photos just getting there!

On the Monday morning, Judy and I set out to do the 7km return walk from the Hamersley Inlet day area car park to a lookout along the coastline (Tamala Karst), part of the 23 km Hakea Walk Trail. Much of it was trudging through the dunes along a narrow shaded track, across to the closed mouth of the Inlet and continuing along the shoreline around a couple of small pebbly bays and then up the hill a bit. Landscape was varied and interesting, although certainly warm enough.We discovered small pockets where there was a phone signal, such as at the lookout over the Inlet not all that far from the camp ground, although up quite a few steps. (good exercise)
John and Barry spent all morning fishing, and returned, declaring that there were no fish in the Inlet.After lunch John took me out for a quick look around on the water, before washing down the boat and gear, then re loading it all.
The following morning (Tuesday 26th May) John and I did the walk up to the summit of East Mt Barren, only 3 kms in total, although took us about 2 hours. It was a great walk,with fantastic views so we were certainly rewarded for our efforts. We managed to get close to some of the beautiful King Hakea plants flowering and there were many other wildflowers in bloom. At the summit there were expansive views across Culham Inlet and Hopetoun, as well as to the North West, the Eyre range, the West and Whoogarup Range, Hamersley Inlet, and in the distance Mid Mount Barren and Thumb Peak. Much of the walking was rough underfoot as well as steep and towards the summit, 'looked like a forbidding rock wall however a path leads through clefts in the rock' (to quote the N Pks information).
It is rated as Moderately difficult or Class 4 and climbs to 311 metres above sea level. The sandstone here was buried during movement and subjected to intense heat and pressure and has been transformed into hard, white to cream coloured quartzite which is quite distinctive.

Because we left so early, on the ascent the first climb was all in shade and very cold due to the icy wind, however the summit was protected and sheltered. We were surprised to see no one else on the walk as we had thought this would be very popular, and perhaps it was later in the day.

After returning to the car, we drove into Hopetoun to find a public water tap so we could fill our van tanks there on the way out tomorrow. We found a couple in the park close to the jetty. Once again the IGA tempted us to spend some money and we took the opportunity to get fuel without the van in tow.
Our afternoon was a quiet one around the camp. A few other rigs arrived and set up and we socialised with Judy and Barry and discussed our plans for the next couple of campsites and routes.

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. John Muir
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