So the new car was packed full of food and I was ready to hit the frog and toad and make the long road trip to the Pilbara in Western Australia. I was headed to Port Hedland — about 1600 kilometres north of Perth.
After staying at the in-law’s for a fortnight it was time to bid adios and be gone. After several “have you got everythings?” (and apparently I didn’t have everything) it was time to roll. So, I put the keys in the ignition and and off I went, heading north along the Western Australian coast.
My first planned stop was Geraldton, to catch up with some friends, who we have known for years and one we met while living in Cambodia and building houses.
So the first stop was to meet with Geoff and have a bit of a yarn. And he certainly has the gift of the Gaby (Gaby being his partner) then maybe a beer or two. Now, I really knew what day to pick when I visited as his dog (a great dane) was in the house for the first time as it had been to the vet for stitches after getting stuck under a fence. While the big sook was crawling around under everyone’s feet, Geoff’s partner arrived home with a slightly bent nose, courtesy of a Liverpool kiss from the dog at the vet while the staples were going in.
Geoff is a professional photographer and musician but above the mantelpiece at their place is an enlarged picture of him on the Volunteer Building Cambodia building site, taken by myself – which I am very proud of (geez, I take good pics). Now, the Journo is also a professional photographer and we nearly called the blog The Journo, photographer and the Joker, but that sounded like a threesome, so it didn’t get a shot.
The beer supply was running low so it was time to head off and catch up with Karen and Lyle. Karen is a friend of the Journo’s from BS (Before Steve) and it was nice to see her doing well after a long illness. For someone who couldn’t stand noise for a while, she really has embraced conversation again.
With a bed on offer (thanks very much) and the promise of alcohol to stimulate a rapidly tiring brain, my mind was soon in relax mode and the pleasant Geraldton sunset helped. There’s something special about Western Australian sunsets. After a few beers and perhaps some caramel schnapps, it was time to hit the sack.
I was off to an early start the next day and after saying my goodbyes I headed to Kalbarri, which is about a 120 kilometre diversion down to the Indian Ocean and back.
Geoff advised me it was well worth the visual stimulation to go out of the way and have a look and he was definitely correct. The rugged coast here is beautiful and I only wished I had more time to spend there. I think I would like to spend several days there Journo.
After Kalbarri I headed on north, past the 26th parallel at Shark Bay and on to Carnarvon, for a fuel-up and feed.
Then there was a long stretch of nothing. Having told everyone I met, who will travel this road, not to go past the turn-off to Coral Bay, I did just that. Much to my disgust I was running short on time. Coral Bay is a long way out of the way but if you need to swim at a pristine beach onto a beautiful coral reef, perhaps no further than 40 metres from the beach, this has your name written all over it. I think it was the whale shark season, so it really hurt to go past there.
On trips out this way, even though there are service stations with fuel and necessities, it’s important to take plenty of water with you and a decent supply of fly spray – or better still get a fly and mozzie mask to keep the pesky little angels from heaven out of your face (you won’t be sorry).
Down the road about 850km from Carnarvon is Karratha and just out the back is a place called Dampier, which is the scene of the great Aussie movie, Red Dog.
It’s loosely based on a true story about a (surprisingly) red dog that travels the Pilbara region during the 1970s or 80s. Patting Red Dog’s statue on the head was on my bucket list, so I wasn’t going past this one.
It’s a long road trip and the gentle fingers of sleep were caressing my eyelids and then ripped into me with a sharp upper cut, as I realised it was time for a snooze.
So I’m off to find a sleep area and hopefully I’ll awaken to a spectacular Pilbara sunrise and continue the long road trip to the Pilbara, destination: Port Hedland.