Man vs Wild @ Ningaloo - Part 1

Friday, Jul 03, 2015 at 10:00

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

Fri 3rd - left home (Perth) @6:45 am. Had hoped to leave at 3am but was still packing at 2am so that wasn't going to happen. David went to bed at midnight and I don't drive towing this enormous heavy rig so ok for me to be tired but not him. Morning was foggy on the road and we had some light rain but hoping we'll get through the rain belt before we have to camp.

We ticked off the locations we passed that had caused delays last trip to Ningaloo with the Walfords - Jurion Bay tick... then just when we thought we could tick Geraldton we heard a crack and David looked in his mirror and saw something black fly up in the air as another vehicle went past and we thought they'd dropped something off the side of their vehicle that had clipped the side of our trailer. Stopped to investigate and found the wheel guard over the right side trailer wheel had broken off but not sure why. Drove a few hundred metres on and it felt like we just drove over a cattle grid but it was an open highway. Stopped to investigate again and this time found we'd blown a trailer tyre (tyre was 9 years old!). It would appear chunks of tyre had torn off and that's what broke the wheel guard - not the passing vehicle! Changed to a spare but as it was also old and now we had no spare. So 30k on and made it to Geraldton Bridgestone - almost exactly across the road from Natrad where we spent hours last time and bought 2 new tyres and had them fitted.

The delay set us back a bit but by the end of the day we had reached our target and were happy to find the Gladstone Bay access road open and dry. Less than 100km back we came through water across the North West Coastal Highway, which we hoped would not give us further delay. Very relieved to finally pull into camp just on sunset at Gladstone Bay - 7km off the highway so no noise and a very peaceful stopover.

This stopover is our best on-track plan for reaching Ningaloo the next day as there are not many good camps in the area. Kids and dog are such good travellers - never hear a peep and would travel all day/all night with no complaints. This year we agreed to let Leah sleep in the car for the stopover camp as this saves us taking an extra swag and simplifies pack up. But we realised we were short 1 pillow (add it to the little list of things to buy as we pass through Carnarvon tomorrow). We had just 2 swags to setup and the gas cooker out to make a simple dinner of rissoles with salad and bread, washed down with a Gin and Tonic.

Sat 4th - awoke pre-dawn after the longest sleep in history, and took photos of jetty. Waited for sun to dry off canvas swags a bit. Breakfast is easy - Weetbix for Chardae, nothing for Leah, and muesli with home made kefir for David and I. Leah is 14 and hardly eats breakfast unless it's a hot meal presented in-front of her and I'm not in the mood for that today. Left 8:45am.

Stopped for fuel, pillow and tomato sauce (how dare I not pack the tomato sauce!) in Carnarvon. Lunch was prepared from the back of the vehicle while airing down at Ningaloo Rd. Drove very slow over the rough track to minimise changes of trailer suspension damage and arrived unscathed at the homestead about 3pm and on track for getting camp setup before dark, but encountered a long delay checking in (standard). A horde of vehicles had rushed to get ahead of us and we were at the back of the line. Chatted to a family - spoke to wife and kids at length but husband Hamish introduced himself just as they were leaving, so we assumed he was a fan of ExplorOz but wife didn't know. She had just flown in from Melb - Perth - Learmonth (with kids) but husband had driven across Simpson etc with a mate in another vehicle - sounds a good plan but they were only staying on Ningaloo Station for a few days and then all driving to Perth and flying home (putting vehicle and camper on road freight). Also met Jan from whaleshark tours who wanted to chat about advertising - too hard just now! Had to rush off as only got to campsite on dusk and had to make a very basic camp setup and leave the rest for the next day. Whilst we try to get the same site each year, you never know what condition the site will be in, in terms of where to layout the tents, swags, gazebos, where to park the vehicle, where to park the trailer, how to keep access available for ourselves and others, and how/where to setup the boat mooring. We managed to get it sorted using floodlights and had finished dinner by 9pm (liquid packet minestrone soup with added fresh meatballs cooked in a large billy on the gas cooker). We are all just so relived to have got here with relatively low drama and on track with just 1 overnight camp. Tick!
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
Travelling fulltime in 2024
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