Carnarvon, Quobba Station and Kennedy Range Camping (Week 9)

Saturday, Jun 15, 2013 at 07:34

Member-Heather MG NSW

Three nights in Carnarvon in the Top Tourist park ($32.50 p n) was more than enough for me but we had to stay that long so that John could watch his beloved Rugby League…State of origin Game 1…match Wednesday night. We used the opportunity to do laundry, buy diesel and fill water tanks as well as shop for groceries at the Woolworths supermarket in town. It was also an opportunity to get in touch with family and friends, so some on line researching and emailing.
We visited a number of the local Plantation stalls and bought some fresh herbs, vegetables and fruits before we went to Woolworths. And one morning we walked the three and a half kilometre walk (one way) into the shops and on the return journey called in at the Aboriginal cultural centre. I spent some time wandering through exhibitions there but thought the indigenous art very highly priced and doubt whether they sell very much. The walk was pretty flat, hot and uninteresting, along footpaths edging the main road but I guess it was a way to get some exercise and see a part of the town close up.
Then Thursday morning we packed up and headed out to Quobba station to stay for two nights. We arrived to find the Office closed and we assume the person we spoke to was an employee of the Station, who told us to find a site and go back around lunch time to pay. He gave us vague directions about where to park. The cost there at $13.50 pp unpowered was high, we thought, given that we did not need power, water or the amenities really. However I guess they do offer unique experience in the area and it has to be enough to be viable for them to run.

The campground was very dry, dusty and quite ugly with parched, dead looking scrub on the sand dunes between the campground and the coast, and I was a little disappointed with first appearances. We had intended staying maybe four nights but decided to pay for two and see what it was like.
With strong winds blowing, John decided to put the awning in and we had no shade throughout the afternoon and nowhere to shelter from the wind. We walked to the top of the sandhills to have a look at the coast, and found a lovely sandy stretch of beach with low rock platforms at each of the small points to the north and south. At low tide the sand turned to rocks and we discovered that the Station didn’t allow fishing from here anyway. John’s hopes of fishing faded when we walked to one of the rock platforms and he searched for somewhere to fish without having to drive but he did have one short attempt, losing a new lure on the first cast!
It was hot and tiring walking along the sloping beach sand and up and over the dunes but there was a wonderful display of shells, many of them large clams, but also sea anemone shells and others, bits of broken coral. I picked up a few small items to photograph and use as for drawings, also to take home to show our small grandchildren, hoping it was permitted but not seeing any signs advising differently.
The wind made us abandon plans for a campfire, although we were close by a BBQ stocked with wood. I hoped for a better afternoon tomorrow. Later in the afternoon a group of three vehicles arrived and set up a camp pretty close to us, I guess because it was flat and there was a fireplace there. For us, it was just a little close but I guess seeing they were already travelling as a group it made no difference.

Friday June 7th. Quobba station.
I would have loved to have taken a drive to Gnarloo and Red Bluff however John was reluctant to travel on the corrugated tracks so we decided to drive to Quobba Point, the Blowholes and the light house, and to have a look at the Council run campground which seemed busy. And why not at $5.5 per vehicle.
On the way out from the Station we pulled in at the HMAS Sydney memorial and saw a group of fishermen balloon fishing. By chance John saw something come out of the water and when we realised that one of them had hooked a big fish, we made our way across the rough rocks to watch him get it to the top of the cliffs. We found it fascinating to watch and discovered it was a family group, mum Dad and two adult sons.
One of these boys pulled in a big mackerel and proudly posed with fish while he was photographed. Apparently they had been trying for a week to land one however the sharks had taken anything they hooked. He looked very happy and we felt pretty special to have timed our visit so well.
We were sobered by the frequent sight of memorials to men who have lost their lives on this treacherous stretch of coastline, and indeed on our way back to the caravan, John visited the same fisherman and arrived just after one of the king waves had hit them. The rocks we had stood on earlier had been inundated by maybe a half metre of water, and a lot of the gear had been washed away, people wet to the waist. They were making a hasty exit and said in 35 years of fishing this coast, it was their first such experience….very lucky to escape with all lives intact by the sounds of things. John helped them retrieve some of their gear but we couldn’t believe how high this wave must have been compared with the ones we had seen pounding the coastal cliffs.
The remainder of the day was spent lazily, reading and trying to shelter from wind and sun. We decided to return to Carnarvon the next day to restock and then head for Gascoyne Junction and the Kennedy Range National Park campground, changing our original plans a little.
Saturday 8th June.
John was up earlier than usual, obviously keen to be leaving the coast now we had a new plan.
We were in Carnarvon by 9.30, bought diesel, then dumped the toilet and filled our tanks with water, also filling two 20 litre containers. I shopped for last minute groceries and we phoned Lou, our daughter, to tell her of our plans, as well as Darrel and barb who are planning on meeting us on Monday. Originally we were to arrive in Gascoyne Junction on Monday to buy fuel, however we have now decided to return to there after three or four nights in Temple Gorge campground at Kennedy range, and continue to Mt Augustus via Carnarvon Mullewa and Dairy Creek/Cobra roads, a slightly longer trip but convenient for us.
As soon as we turned off the Highway, the traffic all but disappeared. The scenery turned to red dunes and mallee country…glorious! Close to Gascoyne Junction we found a Parking area shaded by a tree, and pulled over to have lunch. In the town, we did a quick drive around to locate the fuel bowser and Community resource centre and then took the signposted road across the Gascoyne River, on the uneven crossing. There seemed to be a lot of water in this big wide river, although when flowing and in flood it must be an awesome sight.
Just a few kms out of town, the road turned to dirt and we felt we could breathe again… By now we had decided not to find a bush camp and to continue to the campground. If it was full then we would park somewhere flat overnight and find a place in the morning. We had forgotten that we had to cross a couple of large, now dry, riverbeds and found also that the road largely seemed to be in better condition than last time we came here, four years ago.
On arriving at the campground, we found the Hosts and were surprised pleasantly to see only two other sites occupied so had our pick of places, choosing to set up at the end closest to the escarpment, and well away from the others. It is one of the most scenic settings we have stayed in with the red rocky walls of the plateau so close and I looked forward to photographic opportunities once again. We paid for four nights (total of $40) and spent some time in hot conditions getting our site well set up…shadecloth to protect against sun for the fridge and for us on the awning side, the gas cooker and 12v light, chairs, tables and more…. Four nights is one of the longest stays of the trip so we may as well be comfortable.
It was too hot to go for a walk so we visited the other campers and introduced ourselves, sitting with them until almost dark. As they had just arrived from Mt Augustus we gleaned some information about the resort, and the roads, from them.
The evening was probably our hottest in months and cooking the vegetables inside didn’t help. John did a fantastic job of cooking the fillet steaks outside on the gas and then after washing up, we decided to try one of the H2O towels I bought for just such times as this when water is so precious. I guess it did the job but it didn’t replace a shower, although I am sure we were clean enough.
I had difficulty sleeping after our nightly dose of ‘The Wire’ and had to read for a while, although John had no such trouble and was asleep in no time, not even waking when blustery wind gusts shook the awning later in the night. The silence and dark starry night were wonderful but it was warm enough to sleep without having to pull the doona up early in the morning.
Sunday June 9th.

Keen to see the first rays of sun on the Ranges, I was out of bed before sunrise and had made coffee outdoors on the gas to avoid heating up the interior of the van at all. The morning was beautifully cool and I wandered around taking photographs before anyone else was up and about.
John slept in a bit but I finally woke him, concerned that the day would soon be too hot to have a walk. By the time we set out on the Escarpment walk it was already that way but we had plenty of water with us and some sections were still shaded so every now and then we paused to rest and for me to take photos.

It’s not a difficult walk but requires care not to trip or slip on the rocks and loose gravel and the views from the top make it more than worthwhile. We did it last time we were here and will probably repeat it on Tuesday if Barb and Darrel want to do it, or even if they don’t.
We have spent the hottest part of the day sheltering from the sun, reading and doing cross words…just enjoying the place. Both other rigs packed up and left after only one night here but this afternoon a camper has arrived and no doubt someone else will be here before dark too. It is a fantastic place to be spending the last night of Week 9 of our travels.

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