Kalbarri WA

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 at 00:00

Mick O

Tuesday 16th May, 2006
Kalbarri W.A.
(overcast again)

The game plan was to be up at seven this morning to ensure we were early to the fisherman’s wharf and therefore secure our spot on the tour of the lobster processing facilities. Everything went according to plan and we were at the building at 9.00 a.m. and were the first there. Tour started at 9.00 a.m. and numbers were right on the 30 limit. The facility was impressive with over 90 tonnes of live crays being held in tanks awaiting orders. Apparently over 150 of the local cray boats deliver direct to the co-op. Lobster from the Abrolhos is transported into Geraldton by special co-op boats. On arrival, the catch is sorted and graded by hand into groups designated by weight, colour and damage ie; how many legs or feelers are present or missing. They are then held in live tanks for up to three weeks and “purged” which simply means they are not fed and allowed to clean themselves out naturally. Eventually they are processed to meet o/s orders for either live or cooked crays. The guide gave some amazing figures in that live crays to china bought up to $250 per kilo for the big ones. It was a very interesting tour and the sight of all those antennae (feelers) sticking out of the tanks was quite an eerie sight. The pumps moving the seawater through the holding tanks were capable of filling a 50,000 litre swimming pool in 40 seconds!

The tour took an hour or so to complete and we then headed into town for a bit of brunch at a local café. The weather was still crappy with rain falling intermittently. At least it was warmish. Before leaving town we went up to the Sydney memorial that overlooks the town. It’s a lovely setting with a circular memorial bordered by a semicircular wall of large granite panels inscribed with the names of the 600 plus crew of the Sydney. The circular cenotaph has a bronze propeller in it’s middle and is covered by a stainless steel dome emblazoned with seagulls, one bird for each crewmember. Within the memorial surrounds are also a representation of the bow of the ship and a bronze statue of a woman, peering out to sea as if waiting for her loved one to return from the ocean. Very moving.

We were on the open road again around midday and heading out to Northampton and then left along the scenic route (Port Gregory Road) to Kalbarri. The farmland was showing the true extent of the lack of rain being quite dry and barren. The local sheep were scuffing up dust with their noses trying to find anything to eat. We called into Port Gregory on the way and were greatly unimpressed. Mind you the large salt lake known as Hutt Lagoon, and its pink hues that bordered the road into town was quite impressive. On the way into Kalbarri we took in the coastal cliffs and points of interest such as Island rock (a small apostle), Natural bridge, Pot Alley and Red Gorge.

There was a sign indicating the old Hutt River Province. I hadn’t realised that good old Prince Len was still in business not having heard much of him and his family since the 1980’s. We pulled into Kalbarri a little after three. Situated on the mouth of the _Kalbarri.aspx seems to be undergoing the same amazing amount of development as many other seaside towns we’ve encountered in W.A. The main difference is that the climate is warmer here and there is an abundance of palms in gardens. Having no trouble with fresh water thanks to the Murchison, the lawns are very green too. I managed to choose the least appealing caravan park to settle into and we soon found ourselves in the midst of a Christian group rehearsing songs (and recording them) in the camp kitchen. We were out for a drive as soon as the camp was set up. Spent a pleasant hour looking around the town and strolling along the beaches exploring rock pools and watching the local surfers while being pestered by persistent showers. Amanda cooked her famous devilled snags & mash for dinner.
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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