Meandering North around WA (Guilderton to Greenough/Geraldton) 2009

Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 22:57

Member-Heather MG NSW

13th May
Guilderton Caravan Park

We arrived in this little seaside town around mid afternoon after searching for a suitable overnight stay in a free camp. Of the two we looked at, one no longer allows camping (362 WA Camps 5) and the other (363 WA Camps 5) is very close to the road. So... by chance we drove the 7 kms off the road and found this picturesque little place set on an estuary. The van park is $27 per night, only has powered sites and more rules than any other we have ever come across! Must be busy during holiday periods we think!

Anyway we paid for two nights and will look around up the coast to Lancelin tomorrow, maybe put the boat into the water too. John tried to fish earlier and lost his beloved very ancient lure when a tailor bit his line off. Apparently there aren't many legal sized bream around so he isn't all that keen to try again.

When we were setting up and connected the mains water we discovered that I had left the pump on. There was a moment or two when we thought I may have stuffed it! Couldn't get water to run using mains after I turned off the pump for a while however all seems to be in order again thank goodness. We are so unused to having power and water, and after our lunch stop on the road, it was easy to forget to flick the switch however I will remember it in future I bet.

Today we drove quite a long way again, having left Kokerbin rock this morning. We took the minor road from the rock to the north to Kellerberrin where we filled up with diesel. Continuing west to Northam, we re-stocked the groceries and then turned NW through Toodyay and across to GinGin. We had to stop on the roadside and take pics of one another pointing to the GinGin sign so we could email a copy home to Ginny of the same nickname! Passing traffic no doubt wondered just what the hell the old couple was doing but we have no shame!

14th May

Up and off toward Lancelin this morning, we called in at the other little seaside towns on the way - Seabird and Ledge Point. It is quite a picturesque coastline but we are glad we didn't tow the van any further yesterday.
We returned to the van for lunch and spent a leisurely afternoon. Also took a short walk around the town, up to the lookout and across to the beach to take photographs.
We will move on tomorrow but it has been a pleasant enough place to stay despite the rules. Amenities are excellent. Not sure what this means but the water is 'scheme' water! Must be drinkable though.

15th May
Sandy Point Recreation Area (428 WA Camps 5)

Our mission today was to see the Pinnacles desert. We left Guilderton a little after 8.30 and drove back along the road to GinGin chiefly to buy honey at the place 3kms from the town. Despite being advertised as being open Mon to Fri between 9 and 4 it was not and the gate was padlocked so...we kept driving and saved money no doubt.
Arrived in Cervantes and unhitched the van in a flat area near the van park, had lunch and drove out the 17 kms or so to the Park Entrance. Our National Parks Pass entitled us to free entry, normally $10 per vehicle. We took the short walk around the place through these quite amazing pillars rising like sculptural forms in an "Installation'. More amazing to us is the fact that we were able to touch, sit on and otherwise manhandle them and we spent time photographing one another for postcards and Christmas card photos. I set the delay timer and took a couple of quite good ones with the camera balanced on one of the direction pointer posts. It was a hot walk during the middle of the day and I tried to imagine how it would look on a moonlight night - now that really would be spectacular.
We returned to the new Interpretation centre and wandered around reading information and enjoying the stunning photographs before taking the 4km drive around and through the Pinnacles. This gave us a different view of the place and I had to stop and take yet more photos. The light and colour seems to differ so much throughout the area. It was well worth spending time there.

By 3 pm we were back in Cervantes, hitched up the van and decided to check out our current overnight stay. It is north of Jurien Bay, along about 6 kms of dirt road. We were a little surprised to see a charge of $15 which seems rather a lot per night for a camp with no showers but it was too late to look for anywhere else. Picked up a Pay envelope, drove in, found a place. There are a number of other vans and huge old buses here and all have generators going which rather negates the ambience of bush camping we reckon! They also seem to own at least two dogs per rig and despite a sign stating that dogs are to be on leashes they all seem to be unrestrained and I have seen a number of them running wild since dark arrived! We don't dislike dogs, just have a problem with owners who assume that everyone else likes their dog as much as they do! If we wanted dogs all over us then we would bring one with us!!!

16th MayMingenew Caravan Park

Arrived inMingenew around mid afternoon and took ourselves straight to the park so we haven't had a look around yet. Will stay two nights though. This park is the opposite of our last - no rules - and we were directed by a sign to find our own site and the caretakers would call in later to collect the fee. It is shaded by large trees and a good way off the road at the back of the park where we have set up.

We left Sandy Point Recreation Park around 9 am this morning after spending just the one night there.The caretakers' bus next to us seemed to have one of the noisiest gennies and he ran it until 10 pm as did many others around. We also discovered that the composting toilets, while quite new looking and clean, were very stinky this morning! Neither of us are too fussy when it comes to having a toilet at our campsites and would gladly put our best friend 'Dug' to use instead of using a smelly long drop however not when we are camping with many others around! At $15 per night we decided to move on.
Had a short walk around the camping area, up to the beach and lookout after breakfast and back to the van to pack up.

A few kms after we turned back onto the highway we came to a lookout so took the short drive up to the car park for views over the countryside. We also kept a lookout for a camp site for our next couple of nights and drove some 16 kms east to Lake Indoon (432 WA Camps 5) (on the Eneabba Rd) for a look. It did have showers and toilets, bbq etc however there was no water in the lake as it is extremely dry and there were many flies. Could have been ok overnight but we wanted somewhere we could do a walk or two and stay a bit longer so.... we turned around, returned to the Brand Highway and toward Dongara. Checked out Little freshwater Point (435 WA Camps 5) however camping overnight is no longer permitted so we continued and had a look at Cliff Head North (436 WA Camps 5) but decided it wasn't for us either. Had lunch in the van near the park shaded by trees in Dongara and discussed our moves.... thought we needed to head inland a bit and ended up here in Mingenew.

We spotted a rocky hill on the left as we drove into town and have decided we can climb it tomorrow for a start. Not sure what else there is to do here but we can take a walk around the town too. It seems to be very small and the park is basic but amenities are clean enough and the site we have chosen is OK. John is happy as there is TV reception and he can watch his beloved ARL tomorrow afternoon - a rare event here in WA where everyone seems to follow that crazy AFL game which goes on and on and on and.....

Very few other people staying here although there are a few old looking vans on site. The cost $18 per night for a powered site seems to be very reasonable compared to what we had last night for $15 too, although I would really rather pay for a national park site any time over a caravan park.

17th May Mingenew CP

It was a quiet Saturday night for one spent in town and we slept very well. had a bit of a late start but were out to walk up to the Hill and the lookout by 9 or so. It was such a short easy walk to the top but there were good views over the surrounding countryside. Mingenews claim to fame is that it has the biggest grain receiving bins of any inland town in the Southern hemisphere. It also has a number of murals painted on building walls and looks to be a neat, well maintained place with nice gardens in public areas, and an interesting memorial to stockmen/drovers who moved cattle along such routes as the Canning in earlier days.
John was keen to try a pie from the local Bakery however it isn't open on Sunday so he will have to wait until tomorrow.

After walking the few blocks around the town we returned to the CP and have spent the remainder of the day reading, and being lazy. I have also baked a fruit cake and made a choc dessert, printed off postcards from our excursion to the Pinnacles and spoken to the family back home. And done a load of washing. I guess it hasn't been all that lazy after all.

It seems we will be grandparents for a second time around January or February next year if all goes well, although it is very early days yet. This is great timing as it wont impinge on our travelling plans!! How thoughtful is my daughter, eh?!!! We will still be able to mind our adorable Oli who may not be so cute then as he will be two in January, and we can be around for the birth and early months to enjoy this special time with Lou, Duds and the new baby too.

18th May Coalseam Conservation Park

This morning we had to call at Mingenew bakery before we left town. I am not a pie lover however the one we bought was quite delicious - the pastry wasn't at all fatty and it was full of beef, just like a home baked one and I had to do a taste test. We also bought hot fresh bread some of which was eaten at morning tea.

Coalseam Park is only 34 kms from Mingenew, to the north, and we were here by 10.30 or before. Found the camping area (Miners Camp) to be deserted and very roomy. We selected a site well up the back, away from the picnic area, and overlooking a bend in the (almost dry) river. There are very new clean toilets, a BBQ and a couple of tables in the picnic area and the sites here are well spaced from one another. We took the very short walk across the river to the mines which were briefly operating until the quantity and quality of coal was found to be too low for mining to be viable. Continued along the river bed for some distance walking on white salt crystals which crunched beneath our boots until the annoying flies forced us back to the van. Liberal quantities of aeroguard did little to dissuade them and I resorted to wearing a fly veil!
After a leisurely lunch, some reading time and then a short nap, we put the boots back on and headed off to climb up the cliffs to look over the surrounding country, following animal tracks. When we arrived on top found it fenced off and flat paddocks stretching off into the distance. There were good views along the river and over the mesa type flat topped landforms which border it. It reminds me of our drive through west Qld last year to the west of Winton although the colours of the soils and rocks aren't as vibrant and the spinifex and saltbush are missing.

We arrived back after 4pm to find another couple occupying the camp, set up some distance away but not far enough for our liking when music on a keyboard began to waft across in our direction. Maybe the player was practising however it was very loud and intrusive, and not too competently played, and as well not to our musical taste at all! We put up with it for a while - maybe 3/4 hour and then I decided to retaliate by opening the car doors and windows and putting on the CD player at high volume with plenty of bass. We enjoyed our country/rock music - Dixie Chicks and others - for a short time but turned it off as we really came here to enjoy the sounds of nature and watch the animals come down to the water as the sun set. Unfortunately the 'music' from the other camp continued and I retreated indoors not long before dark so we will have to wait until tomorrow evening and hope we don't have the same situation.It really spoils the ambience of such a quiet place as well as invades others camping space.

We would love to have a camp fire however they are prohibited and we aren't ones to break the rules. The stars are magnificent and I spent some time enjoying them after dinner, another reason we like to stay in these places. The evening is cooling down and still but today was very warm and quite windy.

23rd May Greenough Rivermouth Caravan Park.

We have had an interesting few days since my last entry.
Firstly, much of our second day spent in Coalseam was spoiled somewhat by the same man with keyboard plus generator running presumably to power it! Maybe he has to find a place like this to play the bloody thing as nowhere more inhabited would allow it to go on and on and on for hours! We took a drive to the lookout and other rest and picnic areas within the park in the morning and also did a walk upstream a couple of kms from where our van was parked which was very enjoyable. This would be a lovely place during wild flower season. We didn't see any fossils despite some intensive searching, deciding that maybe we just didn't recognise them.
Flies kept us inside for much of the day although I did try to sit out to read and have coffee on a number of occasions, but before the sunset we enjoyed maybe an hour drinking in the scenery and birds.
The following morning (Wednesday 20th) we packed up and drove towards the coast, calling in to Ellendale Pool for a look and possible place to stay overnight. It was just beautiful and reminded us somewhat of Lawn Hill in West Qld on a smaller scale. We loved the camping area which only had a couple of campers, flushing toilets and other facilities foe $5 per night however I had no phone (and therefore internet) signal and we really did require somewhere which had this after having had a few days with none, voice mails to respond to etc. Took a couple of photos and decided to call into the van park where we are currently residing, approximately 10 kms south of Geraldton.

The park is quite shaded by large overhanging trees of different varieties and we chose our site before booking in as branches would prevent us from getting into many. Its $25 per night powered, amenities are quite good but is an ugly place really as so many are! The sand dunes protect us from the full brunt of the gale force winds but the awning hasn't been out since our first afternoon. Hoping the wind will drop a bit today and we will see more sunshine.
This little village is on the banks of the river and there is a walk to do which we haven't attempted as yet. Have had a look across to the river mouth and ocean which is wild and big seas are pounding the shore.
Sleep has been interrupted by howling winds and heavy showers of rain although this morning looks more promising at last and the sky appears to be more blue than grey, at least for the moment.

We have had a few drives into Geraldton, mainly to shop for food and other items we haven't been able to locate in smaller centres, but also for a look around. It is a big, thriving place with good shopping and a major port, marina and huge storage shiny silos.

Yesterday we dropped the Navara into the Nissan service place at 9am, fought our way across to the Museum dressed in waterproof jackets and hiking boots with heads bent against the wind, and were let in 15 minutes early by staff who took pity on us waiting outside in the unpleasant conditions. It was an interesting place with good exhibits about the history, fauna and flora of the area, the HMAS Sydney (the wreck of which was discovered off the coast of here finally only last year) and other ships which have been wrecked off the 'Batavia coast' and around the Abrolhos Islands and reef to the west of here. We spent a couple of hours there, then dropped into the visitor centre for directions and to the Aboriginal Art centre next door. There were some excellent paintings on display, mostly lying on tables and the floor in stacks, unstretched or framed. I spent some time chatting to the person in charge and looking through the work but resisted buying any. The temptation was great but we don't really have anywhere to hang more art on the walls at home.

Dropped into the supermarket and then back to sit and wait for the car. Around 1.30 I asked when we could expect it to be ready and the 'boss' came out to speak with us. He suspects that we have a major problem and that the motor was about to blow up. Talked us into leaving it there for further investigation on Monday and will let us know whether is is to require major repairs in the afternoon. As it was only there for the normal 60,000 km service and is just two years old and under warranty we expect that Nissan will pay for the repairs. This requires authorisation from head office of course and will take time - maybe almost another a week spent here so we will just have to be patient I guess. Luckily we have been lent a car at no cost - a Honda jazz which looks rather incongruous parked beside the van and boat. John is waiting for someone to call in and ask how it handles towing the van!!!

I paid for three more nights in the park on our return yesterday so we are here at least until Tuesday morning now. Luckily there seems to be plenty of touristy things to do and John is keen to try for a fish in the river if the wind drops a little today. We can walk and we have great TV reception, 3 whole series of 'The Soprano's' to watch on DVD and plenty to keep us occupied really. It could have been so much worse... a break down in a remote area and vehicle towing to somewhere..... Glad we have had the Navara serviced every 5000 kms at Nissan places now and decided on a major centre to have this one done. The manager/boss seemed to be a very decent person and told us that the previous service place had noted a noise in the engine. They didnt tell us any more at the time than to 'the next time you have it serviced mention it if it gets any worse' and didnt tell us that this might mean a major problem.

Tuesday 26th May
Greenough River mouth Caravan Park

Update on the Navara is not at all good. The problem is in the vacuum pump sprocket - a chip off the timing chain - not that this means very much to me apart from a long wait until the vehiclle is back on the road. The (small) replacement part has to come from Spain. This will take 3 to 4 weeks minimum, maybe as much as 7 according to the mechanic, as there are none in Australia.( I asked whether it was being sent via backpacker if it is to take this long! )
It is a rare problem we were told - rather akin to being the 1 patient in 100,000 who has a complication following surgery! Currently the Nissan service centre is faxing a Hire vehicle form to Melbourne where it will be reviewed, and according to Nissan Customer service, faxed back within the hour. We should know whether they will fund a replacement (hire) vehicle until ours is driveable again - later today, or early tomorrow due to 2 hour time difference in the east.

I Have paid for a fortnight at the van park and been given a hefty discount - long term rates. Theres no problem with us staying here for months if we have to (not that we want to) and the office staff are friendly. It isnt a bad place to stay at all and because our site ajoins the BBQ area we only only have neighbours on one side and rarely behind.

We did the river walk the other morning which took a couple of hours return and there's much to explore on the other side which can be accessed via the sand at the mouth as it is currently not open to the ocean. The weather is glorious today but we have had to waste it so far waiting around for phone calls etc.

27th May
Woken by the sound of rain on the roof and thunder but joyfully no wind so the awning can stay out and we have dry outside area. No phone call yesterday so we are still none the wiser re the car. Have to return the courtesy vehicle to Nissan today though as they use it for customers having car service and it isnt ever used overnight so we have been well looked after so far.

31 st May
Still in Greenough
We have a hire car - a Camry - which Nissan Australia is picking up the tab for although they will not pay for insurance on it and at a hefty $24 per day we havent done it either. We were told that once we started paying for it, we couldnt stop and as we dont know how long we will be unable to have the Navara back it could run into thousands of dollars.
Also we resent having to pay insurance on a hire car when our own fully insured one is sitting idle in the garage, through no fault of our own!!

Unfortunately we cant go places that we could in the Navara, cant use the boat which is locked to the van A-frame because the motor and other safety gear is locked in the ute and anyway it is too heavy for us to get to the water.

We can do 100kms per day before we have to pay for excess kms but so far arent too inclined to go anywhere without the van!
Also it seems someone has bumped one of the doors and scratched paint off - must have been the first day we had it so we will have damage to pay for now through no fault of our own! Not happy about this at all. We think now it must have been while we were parked in the service place when we went back to ask why Nissan wont pay our insurance - just a little ironic.
And even more ironic is ... John is so worried about parking our own vehicle he always parks well away from other vehicles - as far away as possible from the shops and avoids supermarket car parks like the plague.

On a positive note the NRMA is paying up to $700 worth of caravan park site fees. I am now very glad we have kept up the premium care Roadside assist membership. We are staying at the 'point of vehicle breakdown' so eligible for this. They will also pay for other items should we need it - up to 7 days car hire, even 'repatriation of car and van' if required.
Glad I thought of giving them a call now. They have been so kind and helpful - Telstra could take a lesson from them to improve its PR I think.

We have been filling in our days quite easily - a walk after breakfast or lunch or both, chatting to other park occupants, reading and of course the few household chores when absolutely necessary. The weather has been glorious - much warmer than our winters would be back home.
Starting to feel like a local already!
Having mail from home forwarded too.

John has tried fishing from the rocks and beach so far without any real success. He hooked something very big the other afternoon - he suspects a mulloway - but it took all his gear. All the keener to try again now but he is waiting until the long weekend is over. There are many 4WD vehicles on the sand and tracks also bikes which seem to be travelling far too quickly, as well as many fishermen around.

June 7th
Greenough, but not for much longer..
On Friday when we had to go back to Nissan to find out about getting the hire car extended, we found out that the part for the Navara had just arrived and it would soon be back on the road. We told them not to rush it and we would be happy to have it Monday as we want them to ensure all is in order before we collect it, including them taking it for a drive. We will do the same. We also didnt want to leave this area over the weekend just in case we do need to return it for some reason and, as well, we are paid up until Tuesday so are planning on making that our day to resume the trip.

We think now the 3 to 7 week delay in waiting for the part that we were told may have been the 'worst case scenerio' if there were no parts in Australia. I had been drafting a letter to send Nissan Head Office but havent finished it yet, hopefully I will be able to write some positive comments nor complaints after tomorrow now.
Whatever... the local Nissan place have been good to us and we dont have complaints about them. We will just be so pleased to have our Navara back.

We have had a really lazy week, only venturing further than Geraldton on one day when we took a drive north as far as Northhampton and then Horrocks. It looks like a great llittle place to stay and fish as the reef is close to the shore and the waters are calm. Beaches to walk and fish from, and a short wharf which a few people were fishing from, lobster boats were out checking pots.The little caravan park looked quiet and peaceful too. If we hadnt been stuck here for so long, it would have been on our list as a place to stay for a few days. One of the couples we became friendly with here moved to there and took delight in phoning us three nights to tell us about the big mulloway they had caught in the Beau river just south of there.

On the return trip we called into Coronation Beach - a popular place with travellers like ourselves. We could see why - sheltered campsites, good clean toilets and only $10 per vehicle, with calm waters to fish just a few metres away. There were a few rigs there but plenty of vacant sites. We climbed the steps to a wooden lookout platform for views over the camping area and the beach and wished we were staying here! At only around 30 kms north of Geraldton, we had though of staying there initially instead of here while having the car service. There may have been a problem had we done that as we would have had water and other problems had we had to stay for three weeks!

On the other days we have tried to do a walk somewhere from the park - along the river either on the north or south bank, up and down the beaches and headlands, along the sandy bike and 4WD tracks - just for the exercise. We have also read quite a few novels and enjoyed getting to know some of the other people staying here near us. It has been quite relaxing really and the fuel bills have been almost nil for the past fortnight - maybe $50.

John has fished from the rocks and the river without too much success, and is now determined to catch a big mulloway from the beach before we leave. He got the inside information from one of the 'locals' yesterday and was out of bed at 6.30 this morning, despite the chill in the air. And this was after watching a Rugby Union match on TV between 1 and 3 am!

He arrived home mid morning empty handed and has returned this afternoon to try for one last time. I went with him to the beach and returned along it taking my life into my hands.
This lovely little place is spoilt on weekends by many crazy 4WD drivers on bikes and other vehicles of all kinds who scream along the sand and through the dunes. Some of the drivers are children, far too young to have licences. Many of the vehicles arent registered either - I wonder if accidents ever occur and if so whether anyone is ever prosecuted.
These people either have no knowledge or no concerns as to the damage they are doing to the foreshore and beach and ignore the signage erected. Havent seen any Rangers around so it must be too hard to police I guess!
Apart from that I was almost knocked from my feet by two big overly friendly dogs who were enjoying the water and a run on the sand. They were on leashes however not being held by their owners. It was a bit of a worry as I had my camera in my hands. taking some last photos of the beach.

June 8th

We are happy campers tonight as we have our Navara back and all is ready for take off tomorrow morning. We paid for our 60,000km service as well as transmission fluid which we asked to be checked and which had to be replaced, and all the other repairs were at no charge as we expected, due to warranty. The stories we have heard about not having it honoured thankfully didnt apply to us. Hoping this will be the last mechanical problem we have for a long time.

This afternoon the boat was loaded and we have started packing up the gear.
It is so good to be thinking about being back on the road tomorrow with new places to visit and explore in store for us. We will sleep well tonight.

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