Part 1 – Perth to the North West

Day 1 Perth to Drummond Cove

We left Perth in my 2003 Nissan GU Patrol towing a camper trailer and headed for Yanchep National Park.

Yanchep National Park is 50 kilometres north of Perth.

Kangaroos are in virtual plague proportions at the golf course and in the open spaces of the National Park.

North along the Brand Highway to Geraldton and then to our overnight stop at Drummond Cove.

The day’s travel took us sufficiently far north of Perth for the ‘adventure’ to start. We stayed in a cabin at Drummond Cove Holiday Park, 13 kilometres north of Geraldton.

Day 2 Drummond Cove to Nanga Bay

First stop was at the remains of the Lynton Convict Hiring Depot. It was established to supply labour to the Geraldine Lead Mine, 60 kilometres north on the Murchison River, and to local settlers. Five hundred metres from the depot is the house, stables and mill of the superintendent of the depot, Captain Sandford. These standard of these buildings provides a marked contrast to how the convicts and their pensioner guards had to live at the convict depot just out of sight around the hill.

The drive from Lynton takes one past Hutt Lagoon to the magnificent coastal cliffs and gorges just south of Kalbarri.

From Red Bluff at Kalbarri we watched fishermen trying their luck from the shore and off rocks, and boaties tackle the infamous ‘washing machine’ conditions at the mouth of the Murchison. This tricky  and dangerous combination of currents and waves has upset many a boat trying to get past the bar into the open ocean. It was very calm the day we were there.

The journey north continued.

The run from the Murchison River to Overlander Roadhouse is a particularly boring stretch of North West Coastal Highway.

Shark Bay is the most westerly part of the Australia continent. Three of the reasons it achieved world heritage listing are its rich seagrass beds (which at 4800 kmare the largest in world), its dugong population; and its stromatolites – the oldest forms of life on earth.

We were still in the influence of the winter conditions of southern Western Australia and it was a cool and windy night.

Day 3 Nanga Bay to Carnarvon

From Nanga we drove over to Monkey Mia, a small tourist resort where the main attraction is the opportunity to see a family of bottlenose dolphins that have been interacting with humans since the 1960s.

Dolphins have been visiting Monkey Mia since before European settlement. Each morning since the 1980s tourists have flocked to the beach to see wild bottlenose dolphins swim to the shore to be hand fed.

The dolphin interaction at Monkey Mia is one of the most reliable meeting places in the world. It is one of the only places in the world where the dolphins come of their own accord, almost 365 days of the year. It is the only place in Australia where dolphins visit daily, not seasonally, and is one of the reasons researchers from across the world come to Monkey Mia to study dolphins.

From Monkey Mia we returned to Denham and stopped at Shell Beach on the way to Hamelin Pool.

From Shell Beach it is only a short drive to spectacular Hamelin Pool and its world famous stromatolites.

Hamelin Pool is home to the most diverse and abundant examples of living stromatolites in the world. These ‘living fossils’ are monuments to life on Earth over 3500 million years ago – a time when no other complex creatures were present on the planet. Stromatolites are built by microbes (single-celled cyanobacteria) which were the first life forms to appear on Earth. The cyanobacteria trap sediments with mucous to form enormous rock-like structures that, at first glance don’t appear to be living. Each stromatolite is actually a very slow growing microbial colony that may grow less than 1mm per year.

From Hamelin Pool we returned to the North West Coastal Highway and continued our journey north.

We finally reached Carnarvon, 930 km north of Perth. The town promotes itself as a ‘winter sun’ destination.

We caught up with a number of my friends at the Carnarvon Hotel and had dinner overlooking The Fascine.

Go to Part 2 – North West to the Pilbara