Diary—July 2006




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02 to 08 July

Cape Leveque–Middle Lagoon–Broome

If you have come to this page by clicking on Latest or the map you have missed the last week of June. You can find that on the bottom of the June page :)

We went to church with our Broome family on Sunday morning. Most didn't recognise Robin after her visit to the hairdresser and had wondered who Hutch was bringing to church :) We enjoyed a family service and got to catch up with some of the Cable Beach caravan park friends, in particular Melva and John. It was a challenging message telling us, from Romans 1 that God is showing his anger with us by allowing us to live our lives the way we want to. This comes with all the pain we choose to inflict on each other as we live only for ourselves.

After church we shopped for groceries and then headed up the coast. We drove the 200km to Cape Leveque on a road that was on par with the most difficult we have covered so far. It took us 3.5 hours. And Yoda started to show signs that all was not well. Our target was Kooljamon resort at the tip of the peninsular—basic but very nice. We continued our Broome tradition by watching the sun set over the ocean sipping a glass of champers.

The next day we explored the point a bit further. We enjoyed walks on the beach and a swim, and brief snorkel, in clear not quite cold waters. The blue seas lap gently against the pure white beaches which give way to bright red cliffs and lush green bush. It is a very beautiful place.

From Kooljamon we moved about 80 kms down the coast to Middle Lagoon. Our spot here is like a private camp in a sandy clearing overlooking the lagoon. So instead of one night we chose to stay for 2. This choice was further justified by enjoying a late afternoon swim and laze on the pure white beach, sigh! And then we had dinner cooked over an open fire.

Yoda is still playing up so we have booked in to Broome Toyota again and have extended our stay here to 4 days—essentially for as long as we can. It is lovely here. Our days have taken on a lovely relaxing pattern. A walk, some reading out of the very warm sun then a swim and a bit of a snorkel followed by a laze on the beach and a camp fire dinner.

We have walked round the edge of the lagoon to rocks exposed at low tide. These rocks also hold many rock pools each like a little aquarium with small shells and quite a few sea cucumbers. On our snorkels we have not seen much life but did disturb a large (1m) stingray in the shallows and found a lion fish near some of the rocks. Our meals have included Hutch's delicious camp oven pork roast and Robin's attempt at damper—it was successful this time!.

We took Yoda for a recharge drive down to Beagle Bay where the community has built a lovely Catholic church decorated with local shells including lots of mother of pearl. The church was opened in 1918. The community seems to be thriving and is one of the few places in the area to have a shop and CDMA access. Those camping at Middle Lagoon come here for supplies.

All good things must come to an end so we have to leave here. It is peak season and camp spots are hard to get so we head back to Broome.

Week 14

Cape Leveque swimming beach

Cape Leveque sunset

Cape Leveque lighthouse and shop/restaurant

Cape Leveque cliffs over swimming beach

Middle Lagoon at low tide

Middle Lagoon camp

Middle Lagoon at higher tide

Beagle Bay church—opened 1918

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09 to 15 July 2006

Broome–Eighty Mile Beach

We haven't moved very far or fast at the moment.

We surprised every one at church and got lots more hugs :) And we heard the next sermon in the series from Romans, a hard reminder that we cannot earn favour with God. No one can. The only way to restore that relationship is through Jesus.

We managed to update one week of our very out of date web site. And Hutch continued to put his electronic knowledge to good use for a couple of fellow travellers, Howard and Verli Shephard. These travellers have links to our church in Canberra through the Tredeniks who are their niece and nephew-in-law (?).

And were able to spend a few days doing odd jobs around the church and rectory. Around this we worked on filling in further gaps on our web site and reliving some beautiful places by going through the photos. Be grateful—you see less than 1% of them on these pages :-) We also got to watch another magnificent sunset over Cable Beach.

This time we were in town when the tides were low enough and were able to walk out over some rocks to look at dinosaur footprints. Low tide has to be less than 1m! And then we indulged by going to the movies to see Pirates of the Caribbean (Dead Man's Chest)—loved it. When we came out of the picture theatre, as it so often does, it felt different—threatening. We got back to Tim to hear on the radio, and in the ladies toilets, that it was going to rain. You get a lot of extremely useful information in the toilets! And it did rain—heavily for short bursts. That is the first rain we have had in three and a half months!

Yoda visited the doctor and we visited the nearest winery—mango wines. The doctor gave Yoda a clean bill of health and we took it back, skeptic of their understanding of the problem. We'll watch it carefully over the next week or so. We were also in town in time to see the 'staircase to the moon'—the moon rises full over the waters of Roebuck Bay creating a staircase of light across the rippling water and the mud flats. Because of the rain there was some doubt if we would be able to see the moon rise but we did and it was spectacular.

We also got to go to bible study with Lachlan and Bec—it was so good to be part of the family :) And yet we had to leave them. :( There are still things we would like to do in Broome so perhaps we will go back :)

For now we are trying once more to escape Broome and (somewhat foolishly given the falling temperatures) we are heading south. First stop, the beach—Eighty Mile Beach. Here we watched yet another sunset over the water. We sat with our chairs about 300m out on the mud flats and the water at low tide a further 400m away! And vicariously we got to hear the West Coast Eagles defeat the Sydney Swans—that's what they tell me the screaming, cheering and clapping, through the whole campground, was about.

Week 15

The Broome church

Dinosaur footprint

Hutch's new toy from the Broome museum

Walking along Eighty Mile beach

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16 to 22 July 2006

Marble Bar–Newman–Karijini National Park–Exmouth

I know it has been two weeks but internet access hasn't been available!

We headed back inland on a dirt road through Shay Gap. It was a good test for Yoda who is behaving well and the road was very good. Our goal was Marble Bar an excellent little town with a couple of good local swimming holes and an old mine and museum. The bar the town was named after is actually Jasper but still fabulously colourful in shades of blue and red and white—I thought someone had painted union jacks all over the rocks but no, that is the natural effect. On the roads around here we have also been dazzled by flashes of brilliant colour from Sturts Desert Peas.

On to Newman to meet up with our BCA contacts, Mat and Naomi. Unfortunately, due to previous Yoda problems, we lost the week we were going to spend here, but we were able to do some gardening and plumbing. On Tuesday night we shared in their Bible Study group—Romans again so clearly there is something we have to learn.

Everyone told us to visit Karijini National Park and we weren't disappointed. The gorges were spectacular (an abused word on this trip). We camped in the Dales Gorge camp ground at 'Dingo Loop' and were greeted by a dingo waltzing through our campsite, as well as the usual 'dingo-karaoke' at night. Some of the gorges required swimming and rock climbing to get through but were worth the effort (Robin did a little rock walking, Hutch climbed and forded and swam his way through). Hutch walked along the edges of this to get to the Handrail Pool, Karijini National Park

Fortunately some of the pools were spring fed and so a few degrees above zero. From the lookouts in the park, we could appreciate the nature of the gorges—unexpected red slashes in the rolling spinifex hills.

Having a distinctive vehicle proves a boon as at every second camp we are greeted by someone who has seen us on the road in the past few months. We have also had a bit of interest in the modifications to Yoda, especially the tyres, from individuals and mining fleet managers who want to update their vehicles.

Our neighbours in the camp were a lovely couple, Russell and Karen from Bridgetown. We kept meeting on walks and chatting as we cooked dinner and really enjoyed their company. And then, at one of the lookouts, they also met Mat and Naomi :).

On the road from Karijini to Exmouth we were able to play good samaritan twice to vehicles in trouble. I hope that we receive the same if/when necessary. We have also been keeping an eye out for wild flowers—they are supposed to start exceptional shows from now on. In Exmouth we have settled in, had the first shower in a few days and booked a couple of dives for the following few days.

Week 16

The road to Marble Bar

The Jasper of Marble Bar

Sturt Desert Peas on the side of the road

Mining truck in Newman

Hutch standing under the warmer water of a waterfall in Circular Pool in Dales Gorge, Karijini National Park

View from Knox Lookout in Karijini National Park

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23 to 29 July 2006

Exmouth–Coral Bay–Bush Bay–Denham–Nanga Bay–Geraldton

After lugging our dive gear across the deserts for 3 months, we finally got to dive. One dive on the 'Navy Wharf' and a couple of dives on Ningaloo Reef. The dives were fantastic, although we were glad we brought the drysuits (the other divers were in two 3mm suits).

The Navy Wharf deserves its rating as one of the top ten wharf dives in the world, the number and variety of sea life is amazing. In fact, as the dive was timed correctly with the turn of the tide Robin found it more enjoyable than last time we did it—there was less current.

On one of the reef dives we got to dive with Manta Rays (Bellie's 'bullshit fish') and saw a whale doing tale slaps! The dive was on a reef called the 'Cleaning Station' and as we hung around, up to five huge Mantas swam up and over and around us.

This was a mind-blowing experience as these ~3-4m fish performed aerobatics (aquabatics?) around us. One huge Manta eyeballed Hutch from less than a meter before gliding over him. Still shots do no justice, but here are a few.

We were told the rays were skittish and so we should drop to the bottom when we saw them. The hardest part of the dive was trying not to breathe too much so you didn't scare them but breathing hard because you were so excited!

Manta rays in formation over the cleaning station on Ningaloo Reef

Manta ray low flying over the sand

At the boat launch for the Ningaloo Reef dives, we reached our furthest point from Canberra on the Australian mainland at 3,726 Km. I suppose that now we really are travelling back home (sigh)!

We mixed bush camping with caravan parks as we wound down the coast. At one point we camped on the shore less than 10 steps from the ocean. (Then we learnt that last week's tsunami in Indonesia also swept along this coast and washed a few campers away!) The ocean was very shallow here. Hutch walked out for some sunset shots and got over a kilometre from the camp and was still only in calf deep water before the sun set and he had to return.

From Denham we caught a boat out to see the Dugongs, as well as seeing the western-most point of Australia—Steep Point. Beyond the point, in the open ocean, the seas were running at ~4-5m so it was quite an exciting ride in our small boat. We were going to head further out to sea and look for whales but some of the passengers panicked at the size of the seas and we had to head back in. (Hutch was disappointed as he was hoping to see the undersides of the whales as they were thrown about.)

Keep watching '4 corners' for a report on resort development in the west. If we make the cut, there will be shots of us at a cafe in Denham as well as a shot of Yoda and Tim driving through town.

We spoiled ourselves with a stop at Nanga Bay resort on the way south. An hour long soak in a thermal artesian spa followed by a warm dinner and a long chat round the communal fire pit made this night very restorative after the cold of the boat trip.

Week 17

Robin under water at the Exmouth Navy wharf

A butterfly fish under the Exmouth Navy wharf

An eel and friends under the Exmouth Navy wharf

Spot the stone fish—the grumpy one under the Exmouth Navy wharf

One of the many Lion fish under the Exmouth Navy wharf

Two manta rays on Ningaloo reef

Our camp on the edge of the bay