Exmouth, Rain, Cape Range National Park, wind. Week 12

Saturday, Jul 13, 2013 at 16:26

Member-Heather MG NSW

Monday June 24th. Big 4 Exmouth Cape Holiday Park, almost $40 per night powered, before 10% discount for membership is deducted.

Not surprised to wake to persistent heavy showers after hearing the sound of rain on the roof, and gusts of wind, whenever I woke in the night, but somewhat relieved to discover that the van was watertight. I woke John around 2am when I checked outdoors as our long shade cloth awning had come unpegged and was flapping around, whipping up a frenzy! He wasn’t all that keen to get out of a warm bed and rectify the situation and I couldn’t blame him, felt bloody lucky that I was the female part of the relationship actually! We also thought about the people in the next site camping in tents, and felt sorry for them (only for a moment though, been there done that!)
John carried a tub of washing over to the laundry after breakfast for me as it is inconveniently located in the amenity block on the far side of the park, and there is only one laundry despite this being quite a large and busy place. With one dryer working and only about 5 washing machines there I felt lucky to find an empty one. After John brought it back, all washed, I hung what I could fit under the awning but with a load already hanging there from yesterday, most of it sat in the tub, and probably won’t be dry until the next sunny day when we are staying in the National Park.
The morning disappeared quickly, eaten up with the job of grocery shopping, then packing it all away, filling up with diesel and getting the gas bottle refilled at the Van Park office. ($40 approximately). We now have enough food for about a fortnight and by then I guess we will be in the Pilbara somewhere and the big mining centres where there should be large supermarkets.
I have whiled away the afternoon indoors, mostly on the laptop, updating blogs and communicating with friends and family. The showers have continued throughout the day and are too heavy to bother trying to do anything outdoors. There has been a suspicious death in the tiny community we live in, probably a murder, and it is the ‘talk of the town’!
We decided to give the air conditioner a few hours run on heat setting and it hummed away keeping us toasty warm and helped to dry a few of the lighter garments which have festooned the vans interior!
Enjoying having unlimited power and also water, prepared a lovely meal of indian meatball curry with peas, steamed rice, and cucumber raita, mango chutney, and used the microwave and induction cooktop. Yesterday afternoon I baked us a fruit cake and instead of us having to ration our washing up water, we slavishly ran big sinks full to wash dishes and felt so wasteful.
My showers in the van have been long and luxurious as well and it’s pretty nice not to have to go outside in the wet to the showers in weather such as this. John being a ‘trojan’ continues to walk to the amenities for his evening shower, and won’t be talked into having one unless we are staying somewhere where we are using our own limited supply of water.
Looking forward to packing up in the morning and heading out to Cape Range and have fingers crossed that the weather will be better!
Tuesday June 25th.
A cloudy morning for us to pack up in Exmouth today but no longer raining. As we drove towards Cape Range and our booked sites in Osprey bay campground, the sun emerged and the clouds dissipated. We took some time to set up the shade cloth awnings to try to block wind rather than rain,as the skies were by now bright clear blue. It is necessary to use the fridge shade awning because of the position of the van however the site is huge and all sites are generously spaced apart which is nice. With the distant sound of the ocean, any noise is muffled.
The generator is in place and will be used for my coffee during the day as the hours are 8am to 9 pm. I originally booked generator sites thinking we may need to run air conditioning to keep cool through the days but that hardly seems likely as the wind is very cool and persistently annoying.
Our first job after putting out the awning and shade cloth walls was to erect clotheslines and hang out the washing. It was dry within a few hours with such strong wind, and any thought of fishing was impossible, at least from the boat.

During the afternoon we explored the area a bit on foot, walking both south and north of the campground along the shore, rockhopping on the small points and plodding through soft sand on the sloping beaches and dunes behind. The ocean is a glorious clear turquoise and very picturesque making it very clear why this place is so popular. Otherwise we read and talked with Barb, and Darrel who has injured his knee and is hobbling about painfully.
There was talk about where we might go from here and how quickly we will be in Port Hedland and even Broome, as they have a service booked for their 4WD in Port Hedland only 5 days after we leave here and will probably not visit Karijini as they had planned. We however are likely to take our time going anywhere north of here and are intending visiting Millstream Chichester N Pk at least for three nights on our way further north. I will need to spend some time looking at the numerous books I have with me, also at the downloaded information on the laptop, and try to give them a rough idea of where we might be and when, if that is possible. Both John and I are adamant that the Kimberley should not be rushed as it is too far to come back here easily. We could however visit the N T on a future trip.
At 5pm we joined the other campers at the picnic area and spent a very convivial hour and a half with views of the sun setting over the ocean. I had prepared a meal of slow cooked lamb shanks which was a lovely warming dish to return to.
To conserve water, tonight we only had a wash. With so little exercise, we hadn’t managed to get dirty anyway. It was too early to bed for me and by 9pm I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Then through the night the awning and shade cloth woke us with its flapping when a strong gusty wind blew up around two am. After that, I dozed and slept fitfully, finally getting up before 5am feeling quite sleep deprived.
Wednesday June 26th.
With a strong wind still blowing, we decided to drive to Yardie creek and walk the gorge for a bit of exercise. We also walked across the 4WD sandy crossing of the creek and found it good hard sand whereas last time we were here a high tide saw it feet under water.

Late morning we joined Barb and Darrel at their van and spent a couple of hours talking, then after lunch John and I walked around the point to Sandy Bay, north of here, so he could find a place to beach fish. The weather is perfect, apart from the wind which seems to blow every time we go near the coast.
Otherwise it was a lazy afternoon with more reading and then at 5pm another meeting with some familiar faces and other new ones, to swap yarns and enjoy the last hour of daylight. Darrel chose to fish instead and for the second afternoon, we couldn’t convince Barb to join us.
John put the awning in and we hope tonight to both get a better sleep.
Thursday June 27th.
John was out of bed before daylight to try for a fish from the beach and when I walked to find him about 8am Darrel was beside him with a threadfin salmon in his bag. Unfortunately Johns count was nil!
With less wind the men decided to put the boat in the water, so after breakfast there was action. While I was watching him unload the boat, a fellow camper hooked a big spotted trevally and I managed to get a few shots of him reeling it in and then proudly holding it. Afterwards I printed off a few of the photos and gave them to him, as his wife had gone for a walk along the beach and missed the whole exciting episode.
John and Darrel disappeared with lunch and fishing gear and I went for a walk to the road and back, stopping to talk to some of the other campers who we met last night. It is always so interesting to find out where people have been and are going to, the road conditions, what rig they are travelling in etc. It was 11a.m. before I returned to the van and fired up the genny for my first decaf coffee of the day however I had had two pots of strong black real coffee brewed on my stovetop espresso maker early this morning.
It is another glorious sunny day however the wind has once again blown up and is quite strong so I hope the men are safe in the tinny. I also hope there are fish caught, and impressive sized ones at that! It is the first time the boat has been in the water since Sandy Cape more than a month ago.
We heard tonight at the happy hour gathering that Kevin Rudd is, for the second time, Prime Minister, and also that Queensland won the second State of origin footy match….the first bit of news far more surprising than the second!
Friday June 28th.
Apparently there were many small fish caught yesterday and John brought back one sizeable one which was later identified as a bonefish. He gave it away and it was used for bait, being tasty food for a number of edible fish which were landed.
By the time they returned the water was pretty rough and Darrel was given a complete dunking while trying to beach the boat. Unfortunately I wasn’t there to see or photograph it! John decided not to even leave it anchored on the sand and the remaining hours of daylight were mostly used in cleaning all the gear and the boat and then reloading it onto the roof and into the back of the Paj.
This left today free to do a walk so we decided after breakfast to make the best of our last day here, packed morning tea and headed for Mandu Mandu Gorge to the short walk which we had done on our previous visit but had largely forgotten any details of. It’s about 3 kms in length, a loop walk which starts up the gorge floor, meandering over the smooth pebbles before climbing steeply up for good views back down, and to the Ocean in the distance. The track then dips down and up a few times and follows the edge of the gorge before finally following a gentle path back to the car park. We had forgotten the steepest parts down and up and wondered how Barb and Darrel would manage it when we saw them far below making their way slowly along the pebbles. When they returned some time after us to the campground, Barb said she was pretty worried about the first big climb but they had done it and then used a gentler track for some of the other steep sections which is great considering their general fitness levels.
On our way back to Osprey, we called into Bloodwood creek for a quick look and a very short walk.
Because we also had an extra 20 litres of water and the opportunity to refill all our tanks and containers in Exmouth tomorrow, I decided to wash most of our dirty clothes and they dried in only a few hours in the strong warm winds which blew continually.
It was an afternoon of reading and later John fished (unsuccessfuly) while I wandered the shoreline and marvelled at the stunning composition of the rocks which are packed full of shells and coral fossil, all the while hoping for the opportunity to photograph a giant fish! It was not to be, so just before dark I joined the other campers at the picnic table and enjoyed a last evening of yarns and laughter.
Saturday June 29th.
On our way out of the camp, John and I pulled over to thank our Hosts, Kerry and Steve, who do a wonderful job of making everyone feel welcome and keep the place running smoothly. We caught up to Barb and Darrel in Exmouth when filling our water tanks at the taps provided at the Visitor centre, and then again when dumping the toilet waste in the sportsground point next door. There were a few last minute groceries to buy and with full tanks of diesel, plus extra in case of head winds, we set out to join the North West Coastal Highway some 80 kms south and then another 80 kms east.
We pulled up for lunch in a small rest area and then for the night at Barradale 24 hour rest area, a lovely big space with ample room to find a spot well away from other campers. Although it was only mid afternoon there were quite a few others there already, Barb and Darrel included, but we decided to park as far down the back, as we could with only boggy looking patches of ground between us and the dry river bed, so we could at least feel we were the only people there when we looked out of our door side!
John and I foraged for firewood in the river bed and set about making a fireplace, complete with a rustic guard we found which was a great aid to getting the flames started in the very strong wind. We invited the others to join us for damper and enjoyed it warm with butter and golden syrup, enjoying the sun setting and the calming of the wind finally. Barb really seemed to relish the chance to have a fire and we were glad we had made the effort.
Sunday June 30th.
Keen to avoid travelling for too long in a strong wind, John and I were on the road before 8am, a time when most of the camp, including Barb and Darrel, seemed to be still asleep. We hoped they would call in when they saw us pulled up somewhere later in the day.
Within fifteen minutes the awful wind was back and it made towing the van hazardous, especially whenever we were overtaken or passed by the huge vehicles transporting enormous pieces of equipment. By the time we reached Robe river 24 hour rest area, well before lunch time, we decided to stay the night and found a place up the top alongside the fence with the wind on the drivers’ side of the van.
I was very happy to discover that there was a signal for phone and internet and spent ages during the afternoon online and on the phone catching up on the last five days. Barb and Darrel faied to appear but the rest area filled up rapidly and by the time the sun set we felt more constricted than we do in most van parks, with the noise of others playing music and other sounds all around. When we finally had a message to tell us the others had driven all the way to Point Sampson we phoned them and they told us about one unfortunate couple, who had stayed at Barradale with us the previous night, had managed to turn their van over. We were so glad we had stopped early.
During the evening I did my hard drive back up for the laptop and we had a lovely hot shower after dinner. How quickly Sunday night and the end of another week on the road comes to an end.

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