After a half decent sleep, it is never the greatest sleep when you are not in your own bed, we awoke early and went for a quick scenic drive around Geraldton before breakfast and hitting the road to Shark Bay.
Geraldton is one of WA’s water sports hotspots, particularly for yachting, windsurfing, surfing, diving and fishing. With consistent summer winds Geraldton has earned its title as Australia’s windsurfing capital.
Standing 34 metres high Point Moore Lighthouse was the first all steel tower built on the mainland of Australia, back in 1878.
The memorial of HMAS Sydney II in Geraldton has become the country’s premier site for honouring the 645 Australian sailors who were lost off the Western Australian coast during a World War II battle with a German raider in November 1941.
The memorial features five elements steeped in symbolism:
A silver dome of 645 seagulls to represent each of the lost Sydney sailors.
The wall of remembrance shows photographs of the ship and the names of the Sydney crew.
A bronze statue of a woman gazes desperately out to sea as she awaits news of the ill-fated Sydney.
The stele – a single, dramatic shape representing the bow of the ship.
The pool of remembrance ‘Closing the Circle’. 644 Seagulls are lining the base of the pool, the 645th, standing 2 metres tall above the pool, its wing indicating the spot where the wreck lies together with longitude and latitude coordinates.
The combination of these five elements results in an extremely moving and fitting memorial. I have to admit, I have never been so moved by a memorial as I was here.
Heading north towards Kalbarri National Park, with me in the drivers seat, I took the turn off to Horrocks. Bad mistake, beautiful little town and bay but no road out except the one we came in on. Looking down the hill at Horrocks, we were surprised to see luxury homes built on the sand dunes. From this viewpoint, it looked like there was nothing in front of the houses except the ocean. With retirement in mind, I couldn’t think of a better location.
We were now on the North West Coastal highway which is the main link between regional centres at Geraldton, Carnarvon, Karratha and Port Hedland. There are no towns along the highway however several roadhouses are available for re-fuelling, refreshments and taking a break. To visit the coastal towns there are turnoff’s along the highway. It makes for a very long trip when the towns can be anything from 5kms to 150kms off the beaten track and then you have to drive back the same way to get back on the highway.
Diverting of the highway onto the coastal road to Kalbarri, there was another turn off to Port Gregory. At the time, the name rang a bell but I couldn’t remember why. 5kms up the road I remembered, “The Pink Lake” and yes it is truly pink. It is however best seen at sundown. The pink hue is created by bacteria which becomes trapped in the salt granules. It provides a rich source of Beta Carotene, which is harvested from small ponds.
From the other side of the lake the bush was so thick, that I didn’t think we would find a place to stop and take a look from this angle. I would get glimpses of pink through the bush and then it would be gone. I got one opportunity to take this photo before we lost it from view. It is worth seeing the Pink lake but I would recommend timing your visit for sundown and as far as Port Gregory goes, it is simply a very quiet coastal town with nothing to do but fish, swim and lay in the sun.
Renowned for stunning rugged scenery, Kalbarri is a fishing, surfing, kayaking and diving hotspot.
The rugged coast of Kalbarri.
Driving inland through the Kalbarri National Park the road seemed to go forever. I never realised when I took this photo that there is a dead kangaroo and a scavenging crow on the left side of the road. Maybe I didn’t notice it because it is such a common sight on these roads.
I had wanted to visit Kalbarri National park as there is a couple of lookouts that are really quite spectacular. Unfortunately, the park had a number of road closures, so I didn’t get to see either of the lookouts that I had wanted to see. It was a real disappointment.
For one who can’t sit and do nothing, most people would wonder how I kept myself busy for the many endless hours we spent in the car. When I wasn’t driving I would take photos through the window. The endless roads had me captivated.
Then there was the general landscape as we drove along. People have asked what did you see, my answer is simple, a lot of nothing. Red earth and bush with lots’ of dead kangaroos, crows and eagles.
The Overlander roadhouse is positioned well, at the turnoff to Shark Bay. With another 130 kms to go before another fuelling stop at Denham in Shark Bay, it is for most the perfect place to do just that, re-fuel. We didn’t and with warning lights flashing at us 30km’s from Denham, Tony was amusing himself working out how long it was going to take me to run into Denham for fuel.
I am not 100% sure what is covering the bush in the next photos, that were shot from the car window, as we sped past doing 120kph however, in New Zealand there is a noxious weed called Old Man’s Beard, which is not a noxious weed in Australia and I am stabbing at a guess, this is exactly what is covering a lot of the bush in this region.
then all of a sudden Tony stopped the car. He tried to tell me we had run out of fuel, but I am not that silly. He told me to turn around and look on the road, there was an Echidna tucked up in a ball, very aware of the car that had nearly run it over (us). I got out to photograph it, thanks Tony for stopping, but the little bugger wouldn’t pull his head out.
There in front of us is an Emu crossing the road. All I could do, as it was happening so fast, was try and capture the shot through the windscreen.
Note the road sign of a Bilby on the left of the road. I have never seen a sign of that kind before.
As the Emu ran into the bush very aware of our car stopped and me trying to take a half decent photo, this was all I managed to capture.
To give you some idea of where I am in Shark Bay. In the next entry we will drive to Money Mia to see the dolphins.