We were on the road again early the next morning, the benefits of sleeping in our own transport becoming obvious. We drove to the pinnacles and again had them mostly to ourselves, being joined for a short while by a British man taking similar photos. The flies also largely kept away, at least until the sun started rising into the sky.
On the return to the caravan park (we needed to have breakfast and showers) we stopped so I could take a photo of a road sign warning motorists to beware of animals on the road. Some enterprising New Zealander with a stencil had obviously passed this way and left their mark. Once we were feed and cleaned we left the caravan park and took a diversion down to a nearby beach where we had a short walk to a viewpoint. We also checked out Lake Thetis and the stromatolites, ancient life forms found in only a few places around the world. The stromatolites here weren’t much to look at, I’ll write more about them in the next encounter.
Driving up the coast we stopped at a number of places to have a little walk. At Jurien Bay we walked out onto the still under construction jetty and watched people fishing. Walking along the white sand beach we checked out the old wooden pier and the birds using it as a daytime roost. We lunched at Leeman and took another short walk along the shoreline and up a hill to get another view.
In between we took a diversion inland to find some caves but had to turn back. This was where the lack of instruction on the 4WD use would have come in handy. We had been driving along a wide, corrugated dirt road leaving a trail of red dust in the air behind us when the road narrowed and became very sandy. Getting a little nervous about the thought of getting stuck in the sand we pulled of and had a go at engaging 4WD. There was one lever that seemed to have three settings but the label on the top of the lever was gone so it was pretty much guesswork and combinations of taking the vehicle out of gear and putting the lever into different positions. None of the combinations tried enabled 4WD on the little picture on the dashboard so rather than risk a sand trap we turned around. I stopped on the dirt road to get a few photos of isolated vegetation so it wasn’t a completely wasted diversion.
The late afternoon was spent at Geraldton. After investigating the local information centre we drove around checking out a few local highlights. The loss of the HMAS Sydney and all 645 crew on the 19th November 1941 is remembered with a number of memorials along the Coral Coast and the Geraldton memorial is particuly striking. There are a number of elements, from wikipedia: “The permanent memorial included four major elements: a stele of the same size and shape of the ship’s prow, a granite wall listing the ship’s company, a bronze statue of a woman looking out to sea and waiting in vain for the cruiser to come home, and a dome (dubbed the “dome of souls”) onto which 645 stainless steel seagulls were welded”. A fifth element was under construction when we visited, a marble pool to commemorate the discovery of the wreck in 2008. The memorial was designed by Joan Walsh-Smith and Charles Smith, I read an article about them and their creations in one of the in flight magazines on the trip home to NZ. They have created some wonderful artwork.
Next we visited the coast and a prominent landmark, the Moore Point Lighthouse. I took photos while Keryn headed to the beach and noticed a couple of birds perched on the railings at the top of the tower. Changing to a zoom lens I got some nice photos of a pair of osprey keeping watch from their lofty viewpoint. On the beach I joined Keryn and we watched an experience kite surfer carve his way over the waves, making it look so easy to zip along and over the water. It was very windy and there were a number of wind surfers and kite surfers visible along the coast.
Evening was approaching so we departed south. In our talks with Michelle and Mike we had looked at some of their photos from a trip they had done this way and one nice camp site they had stayed at was nearby, Ellendale Pool. We had found it on the map and decided a night in the country was a good idea so with food from the supermarket and a few drinks keeping cool with the help of some ice we set off. About six weeks before we reached Western Australia there had been storms lashing the area and the evidence of flooding was still apparent as we approached the camp site. The road crossed a stream and there was still detritus lining the banks and the road was covered in a layer of red dirt. Thankfully the camp site was OK, a clean-up must have been undertaken at some point.
As the name suggested there is a pool at the camp site, actually more of a swimming hole formed as the stream gently curves around the base of a rocky hill. The sun was setting as we arrived and lit the red and yellow stone with warm golden tones, it was beautiful. There were only a couple of other vehicles in attendance so we parked in a quiet spot and I jumped out with camera and tripod to get some photos. Later as the light disappeared we prepared dinner in the back of the vehicle using the small gas cooker that had been provided. It was a clear night and we went to sleep staring up at the stars of the milky way through the windows in the vehicles roof, crickets and the wind in the trees the only noise. If it had just been a little cooler it would have been the perfect night, as it was we had to have the front windows open as well as the sliding door to get a breeze.