Saturday, November 5, 2011

Driving Along the Coral Coast

As usual, I got a late start. Constant reorganizing hasn't helped my natural inclination to putter in the mornings.

But there's breakfast to make and camp to break down. I caught on to get just-add-hot-water breakfasts for camping as there's always a camping kitchen at the caravan parks I'm frequenting, and I have my cheap IKEA pot for heating up water. I have instant oatmeal, a coffee press, banana bread, and strawberries. And then I get to take apart my house after doing my dishes and showering. I remember Turbo used to get frustrated with how long I took when we'd break down camp. Maybe that's why he made my coffee every morning though he didn't drink it himself, because he was bored while waiting for me.

The campground staff was already doing their daily cleaning by the time I left, sweeping off the nice green mats that we camp on and taking out the trash. I pulled out and stopped by the town information center to buy my Australia national parks pass. For $40, I got one good for a month. Would I be visiting four national parks in my little blue Hyundai? Maybe.

I headed up the coast and turned right, out of Kalbarri the town and into Kalbarri National Park. This is known for scenic river gorges—I'd just left the cliff gorges of the coast. I'd pull down little access roads and stop, follow a trail while being hounded by evil Aussie persistent flies, take in the view, then go back to the car and drive to the next cool panorama.

After an hour, I slowed down to pull onto the main north-south highway that goes along what they call the "Coral Coast." This is seriously unpopulated damn-hot Australia here, brutal and beautiful.

I had to laugh. The T-junction to the main highway dumped me out onto a two-lane road. This was the main highway.

Australia, you know I love you. Please don't take my snickering personally. 

A huge American-cheese color sign alongside the road warned me to keep an eye out for stray animals. A dead kangaroo lay in front of the sign.

I pushed on the air-con button. Man, this Aussie sun is brutal. Red the blue dog and the Hyundai and the songs on my iPhone zoomed north, into the void—well, into the gray ribbon of asphalt surrounded by desert wildflowers.

We continued for hours.

Towns on the map turned out to be single service stations. Rest stops were empty sand lots with a few trees and some drop-toilets.

This is remote. Mad Max territory. Nothing but me, some "Wicked" brand camper-vans driven by young German tourists (bearing ridiculous spray-painted murals), and the road trains, massive trucks hauling two or three trailers.

Just as I was getting tired, I got to Overlander Roadhouse. I thought it would be a bit more legendary, but it was a BP station with a fried food section and some toilets. I bought a flat white at the request of Marci who has been reading since 2002—this is like a latte or cappuccino without that wasted space taken up by foam—and turned west to head out to Shark Bay and Monkey Mia (pronounced my-uh, not me-uh).

And then I stopped again. First, to see something called stromtolites. I suppose these are like stalagmites under the water. They're mushroom-shaped bacteria-rocks. I hiked 1.5 kilometers to see them, snapped a few photos while uncharitably thinking "that's all" before heading out to see a beach made out of sea shells (and then I really thought "that's all") and then to a stunning view point over the ocean (no "that's all" here, as I could see all the way to the bottom and even saw fish or dolphins swimming along down below.

I headed east before the town of Denham and passed a wind farm, two emus or ostriches or some type of large bird, and headed to Monkey Mia.

Monkey Mia is home to dolphins. That's what I had driven all the way up here for.

I paid my $8 admission fee, my $15 tent-camping fee, set up camp on a grassy field, and headed straight to the laundry.

I needed it.

And then, after a quick look at the fried fixings on the menu at the bar, forked over the $28 for a chicken and vegetable meal at the fancy-pants restaurant in the restort. Australian food prices and petrol prices were killing me.

What didn't make any sense was how cheap the housewares and camping goods were in comparison to food and gas.

But a gal's gotta eat and I'd had greasy food last night in Kalbarri. Fine, chicken breast it was.

And tomorrow, I'd see dolphins.

1 comment:

  1. Catching up! And hey I'm mentioned!! I'm honoured! :)