Dowerin to Exmouth

Tuesday 15 May 2007

We got underway today from Dowerin and had a leisurely drive through Wongan Hills, Dallwallinu, Carnamah, Three Springs and Mingenew. We camped over-night at Ellendale Pool. The Greenough River is flowing quite well, despite the lack of rain. During the night the temperature dropped to around 2 or 3 so the motivation to get further North is strong.

Wednesday 16 May

Today we explored the small settlements of Horrocks and Port Gregory, both places I had been promising to visit for many years. I was quite impressed with both and may well come back for a stay at Gregory some time. We stopped in Kalbarri for lunch and watched a couple of boat make near-suicidal crossings of the bar in a heavy swell. As we travel North, the flies seem to be getting worse, to the point where we drove until 5 o’clock to try to avoid them. It didn’t help though. As soon as we pulled up in a road-side gravel pit near Overlander, the flies descended in their hordes. We put up the camper and zipped ourselves in until nightfall. They didn’t really go until we lit a campfire.

Thursday 17 May

It was up early to breakfast before the flies and got on the road to Carnarvon. We had planned to camp at Miaboolya Beach, 30kms out of Carnarvon but two things stopped us. One was a very high tide that spilled over the sand dunes and turned the road into a river. The other was a sign that said “No Camping”. Pushing on to Quobba, we marvelled at the huge waves being created by an enormous swell on top of the extreme tide. We stopped at the Blowholes car park to watch but were forced to move the car as one particularly large wave swept right through the car park, under the car and trailer. We set up camp down the beach a bit and even managed our first “afternoon nap”.

Friday 18 May

A day of bike riding, reading, TV, etc. Fishing isn’t really an option because the swell is still up. It’s good to do nothing.

Saturday 19 May

Today we moved location to Exmouth and set up in the Ningaloo Holiday and Caravan Resort. It sounds very flash but it is a basic park with an expensive restaurant and very nice pool thrown in. We used the bikes to ride in to the shops for a paper and a couple of basics. Then we spent a fruitless hour or so trying (and failing) to tune in the satellite TV dish. There was talk of turning it into a BBQ plate.

Sunday 20 May

This was Whale Shark Day. The trip it self was OK, with a 60′ boat taking off from Tantabiddi, stopping for a snorkel on some lovely corals with lots of fish in residence before wandering outside the reef to meander up and down waiting for a whale shark to appear. It actually took from 10am to 2:30pm to conjure up the right beast and when we came across it we had to wait our turn as four other boats loaded with divers annoyed, harassed and befuddled the poor creature. It was only a small shark at around 3.5metres (they grow to 17 metres) but it was worth seeing. Once the shark is found, all the passengers don fins and mask (having spent most of the day in wetsuits in anticipation) while the boat races into position alongside but slightly in front of the whale shark.

On command, everyone jumps in and immediately struggles to keep up with the “Dive Master” who races off pointing to the shark. Everyone is very mindful of the briefing commands about not touching the animal or getting in front of it. Unfortunately, the whale shark was not present for the briefing and it frequently changes direction, causing the poor swimmers to scatter before it.

Despite the chaos, everyone got a great view of this magnificent creature, surrounded by an attendant army of remoras, pilot fish and small trevally. We managed four swims with the shark before it finally sounded for good. All in all, an experience worth having.