Ningaloo Trip Report - Part 2: Day 1 - Day 3 (Perth to Ningaloo)

Saturday, Jun 28, 2008 at 15:16

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

Saturday 28th June
Day 1:
Left Perth 9amish in convoy with Kuipers family towing CT whilst we towed our 6m boat – fully loaded with provisions for 4 weeks remote camping. The load included 12 bags of firewood, and all the equipment we wouldn’t need until we arrived in 3 days times. For the 2 ½ day drive to Ningaloo, we packed just simple provisions to keep the car interior clear of clutter. We didn’t even pack our camp chairs within reach – just the kids plastic table/chair picnic combo set. And the swags and tent in easy reach at the back of the boat for a quick camp setup.

Harry, our 7 month old puppy (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) joined us for his first camping trip – strapped into his seatbelt between the two kids – Chardae and Leah. As I’m writing this journal in retrospect, I can tell you that from the moment we left home to the moment we returned 1 month later, that pup was a joy to have with us. We hardly knew he was in the vehicle – mostly sleeping, never fidgeting, or fussing about. And no accidents! We were all thinking the worst, so this was a very pleasant surprise. The kids don't need much now to keep them occuppied, and they travel very welll. They each have a Nintendo and at least 5 games each. They each had a small bag of books, pens and one cuddly toy each. We still haven't offered a DVD player and they haven't asked. We all just chat and look out at the passing scenery and Harry was a bit of a novelty this trip too. The kids ask questions about the moving map screen and are often interested in the trucks and large loads on the road.


We headed north of Perth on the Brand Highway, stopping firstly at the first servo to put extra air in the boat trailer tyres (but we could not find one with a working air pump! – vandals apparently keep destroying them). So we had to use our air compressor (time consuming!). Rather than be a simple job, our air compressor which is fixed in the engine bay didn’t quite have a long enough hose to reach the back trailer tyres (ummm, something we neglected to consider), and so we used the Kuipers portable air compressor but it blew a fuse so that took more time to sort out but finally with dog and children toileted we were off again. We went as far as Eneabba (our lunch stop from our 2006 trip to Ningaloo) and we were all travelling well so only had a quick stop. Dog loved it – we let him off the lead and he did come back! We took pics of the kids on the trees as we did 2 years previously – great to see the difference in their ages looking back.


And so the day's drive continued – pushing the turbo to its maximum EGT numerous times hauling the heavy boat load and encountering numerous enormous wide/long/oversized loads. It’s these situations where the UHF radio is so useful – it is almost impossible to pass around these big loads without some assistance – and they pilot drivers up front will confirm if there is any oncoming traffic between the big load and them so you feel a lot more confident in your overtaking. We had a max speed of around 95km/hr so we had no reserves to push harder if something was coming! At one point north of Geraldton near the Northampton hills, David got the vehicle up to 110km/hr going downhill and he got flashed by a police car as the area had just been rezoned to 100km/hr. We all thought it was such a joke – and thankfully the police presence was nothing more than a flash, no pullover, fine or love letter in the mail.
Another stop at 440 near Geraldton and we had all anticipated camping at Coronation Beach but we missed it and realised too late as we all sailed past the turnoff! No dramas, we knew the next camp Galena Bridge was more than within our range today as we had travelled in good time and so pulled into camp around 4.30pm.
The kids (and dog) were thrilled to be out of the car – but the ground was very muddy and of course they couldn’t help themselves but make a real mess going down to the edge of the river and ruining shoes. To top it off Harry became covered in orange, globby, mud stains and he was going to sleep in the swag with us!?
For dinner I wanted something quick but healthy so I planned on soup. I had put a packet of frozen Chinese wontons (dim sims) into the Engel so by the time we got to camp they were slightly defrosted and fine to use. Then I just put a small carton of liquid chicken stock, soy sauce, udon noodles, and lots of fresh Asian vegies/herbs into the big billy on the gas cooker and within 5 minutes we had steaming hot bowls of fresh soup. Yumm! Our evening ritual with the “Smello King” started tonight – and continued for the next month with David taking the role of allocating who got marshmallows next and how many and coordinating toasting over the fire.
We really like this camp along the Murchison River but it was much busier with campers than I’ve seen it before and you have to put up with the road noise, which only lets up between midnight – 4am.



Sunday 29th June
Day 2
We weren’t the first to pull out in the morning (after losing Harry to an over-friendly caravanner who had him inside) but we did ok. I think we hit the road around 8.30am. Not bad for a camp with kids, dog and mud. First stop early lunch at Wooramel Roadhouse. You are compelled to buy food to use their toilet facilities – fair enough and the foods was of good quality so the stop was well appreciated by all.
David was keen to push on to reach Ningaloo today, but he was outvoted by the other 3 adults, myself included. We anticipated potential delays and complications in the last stretch and didn’t like the prospect of arriving at dark with hungry tired kids and making a mess of the camp setup when we had a whole month ahead of us to get it right if we gave ourselves more time. So, with that decision final, and our destination for tonight being the Lyndon River roadside camp we pulled into Carnarvon in the early afternoon. Rather than simply fuel up, we took time to go into the IGA and stock up on fresh local produce. We took a few moments to take in the view at the jetty too.


We rolled into Lyndon River just as the last of the afternoon tea breakers were heading out so jagged a spot to shelter (from possible rain) under the only site with a big cover and table.
We have camped here before – and we really do like it. Although it’s located beside the road, this is the Minilya – Exmouth Rd so it sees a lot less traffic than the North West Coastal Highway. As it was only early, we took the kids down to the river (more mud!).

We didn’t let Harry off the lead here, but he was happy tethered to the support post.
We cooked up chicken sausages over the oven fire pit and toasted a few marshmallows!
I never thought I’d share a swag with both my husband AND the dog, but the dog is small and seems to know he’s on a good thing so he doesn’t dare move a muscle.



Monday 30th June
Day 3
Everyone was excited with the knowledge of what lay ahead for today we would finally make it to Ningaloo and be able to start our beach holiday.
Our memories of perfect beaches, crystal clear turquoise coloured water, great fishing, open campfires and the desire to try new adventures kept us all very motivated throughout the packing up and final driving leg today. Even the kids had their own memories and plans for what they’d do when they got there. For everyone, it would probably start with a swim as we had finally past beyond the reach of temperate climate winter chills and rains and entered the tropical North West with average daytime temps of 26 degrees.
We left the bitumen 12km north of Coral Bay at the Ningaloo Road turnoff and here we had to travel very cautiously with the heavily laden boat trailer. The 32km dirt road from the highway to the Ningaloo Station homestead is slow going with a boat trailer and we used a full 2 hours from the turnoff to when we actually set camp (about 43km total), including time to check-in at the station, collect a fire drum and drive north along the station tracks to South Lefroy Bay.
It would have been around 10.30am when we selected our camp site and the kids bolted out of the car and down to the water and left us to it – a huge job of unloading the boat (a seemingly bottom-less pit).
I don’t believe that any of the 4 adults actually got a chance to get into the water that day – but it proved to be one of the few perfect weather days we were to have over the month’s stay!



Dinner – we have packed our larder with the expectation that the majority of our meals will be fish. With no chance of fishing today, we cooked one of our few meat meals packaged in cryovac - beef calzones. These were pan fried over the open fire and served with rice. (Kids ate 2 minute noodles and toasted marshmallows).
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
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Always working not enough travelling!
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