Western Australia – July & August 2008

After hitting an unfortunate kangaroo near Hay and having to return to Canberra (see the previous post), we left the Pajero to be repaired and a few days later flew to Perth, where we hired a car, determined to have our Western Australian holiday anyway! And we are so glad we did! It is such a beautiful state, with so much variety of scenery and vegetation. We were lucky to have good weather just about everywhere.

We started our journey by heading up the Great Northern Highway through Mt. Magnet and Newman, watching the country quite quickly change from lush green fields to dry red-soiled plains, and regularly overtaking massive trucks with wide loads on their way to the mines. Our destination, Karijini National Park, is an absolute gem (at no. 1 on the map below), with stunning gorges cut deep into the plateau, featuring cool flowing creeks edged with gums, paperbarks and bright green grass beneath high red cliffs, narrowing into canyons with hidden pools. Some of these are quite a challenge to negotiate, others more accessible, but all beautiful and unique. We stayed here four days before reluctantly leaving for the coast, which we then followed south all the way to Perth and beyond, with a few deviations.

We enjoyed exploring Ningaloo National Park near Exmouth (2 on the map) with its fringing reef very close to the shore, bright white beaches and clear aqua sea, and a highlight was a whale-watching trip where we saw several pods of humpback whales, one of which even waved goodbye to our boat as we left. At Coral Bay we looked at the coral through a glass-bottomed boat. Further south at Shark Bay (3) we saw stromatolites (an extremely ancient but not terribly attractive life form) at Hamelin Pool, a vast beach consisting solely of tiny white shells, and dolphins being fed at Monkey Mia. From here on south we encountered patches of multi-coloured wildflowers by the road for several hundred kilometres- stunning!

We did our first long hike at Kalbarri (4), following a loop in the Murchison River along a colourful gorge. We saw many interesting flowering shrubs here and further on – the region is a “biodiversity hotspot”! After Geraldton we did a bit of meandering in our attempts to see as many wildflowers as possible. A highlight was Lesueur National Park (5), a botanist’s paradise. We also visited the Pinnacles (6) at sunset when the shadows make this interesting landscape even more photogenic.

South to Perth and Fremantle, where we stayed for four days, visiting the sights and spending a day exploring Rottnest Island on bikes. Perth is a beautiful city and Fremantle has a lot of historic buildings and great fish and chips! Leaving Perth, we headed toward the Southwest region (7) on a rather cool windy day, exploring the coastline at Cape Naturaliste, the majestic karri forests and passing many vineyards. Heading west through more of the tall forests we encountered more cool rainy weather which cleared by the time we got to Albany.

The coastline near Albany features smoothly rounded granite outcrops, white sandy beaches and deep turquoise water, with jutting headlands covered in interesting flowering shrubs, including the biggest banksia we have ever seen! Leaving Albany we visited the Porongorup Range (also granite) before continuing on to the Stirling Ranges (8) a short distance further north. Here we climbed Bluff Knoll (tallest mountain in the Southwest) and Mt Hassell, and admired the amazing range of colourful flowering shrubs as we climbed.

Finally we drove back north towards Perth, stopping to admire the Dryandra Woodland Reserve north of Narrogin and to visit Albert Facey’s house at Wickepin (his autobiography “A Fortunate Life” tells what life was like as this country was just being opened up, early last century.)

After a concerted effort to wash the remaining red dust off the car and give away some of our acquired camping gear, we flew back home, determined to come back again to WA, see the bits we missed and revisit some of our favourite spots again in the not-too-distant future!

photo Photos

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View of Perth, from King's Park, 25/7/08 Spot the visual joke! Mt Magnet, 27 July 08. Just one of many wide loads on the road north. 27 July 08 Oxers Lookout, Karijini National Park, late in the day, 28 July 08 View south from Weano Gorge Road,  Karijini National Park, 28 July 08 Weano Gorge walk, Karijini National Park, 29 July 08 Getting narrower! Returning the way we came, Weano Gorge. Regan's Pool beyond Kermit's Pool, Hancock Gorge. Knox Gorge, 30 July 08 Gorgeous green pool, Knox Gorge, 30 July 08 Joffre Gorge from above,  30 July 08 Walking downstream, Kalamina Gorge, 30 July 2008 A cloudy day - at the campsite, 31 July 2008 Circular Pool, Dales Gorge, 31 July 2008 Heading back down from Circular Pool, Dales Gorge, 31 July 2008 Heading towards Fortescue Falls, Dales Gorge, 31 July 2008 View from the top of Fortescue Falls, Dales Gorge, 31 July 2008 Fortescue Falls, Dales Gorge, 31 July 2008 Dales Gorge, 31 July 2008 Stunning floral array by the roadside, near Karratha, 2/8/08 Pristine Beach at Ningaloo National Park, 3/8/08 Random flower patch, Cape Range National Park, 4/8/08 Whale checking us out near Exmouth Naval Base, 4/8/08 Sunset over the Indian Ocean! 4/8/08 Coral thru' glass-bottomed boat, Coral Bay, 5/8/2008. Stromatolites at Hamelin Pool, Shark Bay, 6/8/08, Dolphin at Monkey Mia, 7/8/08. Flowers by the roadside between Hamelin Pool turnoff and the main highway - wow! 8/8/08. More roadside flowers, 8/8/08. The Murchison River at Z Bend Lookout, Kalbarri National Park. 9/8/08. Start of Loop walk, Kalbarri National Park, 9/8/08. Cliffs above the river, Loop walk. 9/8/08. Scarlet chested parrot at Rainbow Jungle (bird breeding centre), Kalbarri, 10/8/08. Sea cliffs and natural arch, south of Kalbarri, 10/8/08. Blue Leschenaultia (lechenaultia biloba), Lesueur National Park, 12/8/08. Lovely flowers in sandy soil (yellow ones are conostylus sp.), Lesueur National Park, 12/8/08. The Pinnacles, Nambung National Park. 12/8/08. Near sunset at the Pinnacles, 12/8/08. Koala trying to back down a tree branch, Yanchep National Park, 13/8/08. Inside a submarine (The "Ovens") at the WA Maritime Museum, Fremantle, 14/8/08. Australia II, WA Maritime Museum, Fremantle, 14/8/08. "Rotto" - Rottnest Island, 15/8/08. Splendid wren, Cape Naturaliste, 19/8/08. View south, Cape Naturaliste, 19/8/08. View north from a windswept Cape Leeuwin, 19/8/08. Karri forest near Pemberton, 20/8/08. Lichen- encrusted granite near Green's Pool, 21/8/08. Cut-leaf Banksia (Banksia praemorsa) , 22/8/08. Salmon Holes beach, Torndirrup National Park near Albany, 22/8/08. Swamp near Ledge Point to the west of Albany, 22/8/08. Scarlet banksia, near Ledge Point, 22/8/08 (Banksia coccinea). Albany Harbour entrance and Torndirrup National Park beyond, 23/8/08. View down from the Devil's Slide, Porongorup National Park, 23/8/08. Bluff Knoll, Stirling Ranges National Park, 24/8/08. Nearing the summit, Bluff Knoll, 24/8/08. View east along the ridgeline, Bluff Knoll, 24/8/08. View down to the car park! 24/8/08. View west, 24/8/08. Bluff Knoll across a field of canola, 24//8/08. View from Mt Hassell to Tollbrunup. 25/8/08. Flowering shrubs near Mt Magog, 25/8/08. More colourful flowering shrubs, 25/8/08. Red Leschenaultia,  Dryandra Woodland, 26/8/08.

Posted on September 29th, 2008, tagged with travel

One response to “Western Australia – July & August 2008”

  1. Sue Hewett says:

    stunning scenery, stunning photographs!