Holidays, part 2 – Lancelin to Kalbarri

We left Lancelin early, as frankly the hotel accommodation left everything to be desired and we couldn’t stand being there any more.  That and we had a huge drive to Kalbarri to do before the end of the day.

Before last week, there was no road north from Lancelin, you had to go east inland 30km or so and hop on the main highway, which didn’t really come back to the coast again until Geraldton, 3 hours or so up the coast.  But the highways agency in Western Australia have been busy and have pushed a new road straight through the bush, joining up with the small coast road at Cervantes 100km or so away.

The new road is awesome and goes through utterly deserted bushland.  Deserted as its is part of a military firing range!  There are hardly any cars and nothing but huge wide expanses of virgin bush as far as the eye can see – perfect!

We stopped off at the Pinnacles, a national park with strange limestone rock formations that just stick straight out of the bright yellow sandy desert.  The Aboriginals who once lived in the area avoided the place and in stories said that the rocks were the fingernails of those who ventured there and got sucked into the sinking sands.

There were spectacular views across the bush to the Indian Ocean, 10km or so away.

The Pinnacles has to be one of the most accessible national parks areas in Australia, as they have actually laid out a track right through the desert that you can drive on, right through the rocks and emu.  No need (if you are spectactularly lazy) to even get out of the car.  I’d recommend having a look in the discovery centre  and actually walking about though – it’s an amazing place.

The girls got told off for this – apparently you’re not supposed to climb on the ancient and unique monuments… 😉

After an hour of exploring and driving round the little stone edged desert track, we headed off to get some lunch and petrol in Jurien Bay, a little town an hour or so up the road.  Refreshed and loaded up, we headed on up to Kalbarri – which was still 6 hours, or 400km or so away.

The old Indian Ocean Drive snaked its way through deserted and sometimes scorched bushland, the road half the width of the new sections earlier on and only affording small glimpses of the turquoise ocean as it headed towards the Brand Highway at Dongara.

We popped in for coffee in Geraldton and realised we still had a lot of driving to go, so we cracked on, heading for the pink lake at Port Gregory – its a huge lake, right on the edge of the ocean, that is totally pink.  Sadly, we just didn’t get there before the sun went down, and without the right light, the colours just weren’t there.  The scenery on the way was gorgeous though, fields and farms and rolling hills, lit with soft and dreamy light.  Light that shone right into my eyes for nearly an hour of driving, meaning my view was a light washed bug splattered windscreen with occasional views of the road!

Another couple of hours of driving along deserted roads in the dark, and we arrived in Kalbarri and to the Tudor Holiday Park, where we had a little cabin for the night.  What a difference from Lancelin – this place was very cool – clean, quiet with lots of restaurants only a short walk away.

We got a really good night’s sleep before heading off early for the next leg..

Next post, “off roading” to Kalbarri Murcheson River gorge and the drive to Shark Bay..

Holidays, part 1 – Perth to Lancelin

The drive to Shark Bay is, in theory, too far to do in a day, plus there are lots of interesting things to see along the way.  Ok, so not lots, there are vaaaaaaast stretches of nothing much at all, but there are some worthwhile places to see, so we planned to break it down into 3 stops.

The first being Lancelin.

We packed the trusty Kia up early and headed off to Lancelin, our first port of call on the Shark Bay trip.

Lancelin is a little way for us southerners to get to – a little over 2 hours drive north from where we live and way beyond the limits of the northern reaches of suburban Perth.  Its quite a pretty drive once you get out of the city – national parks, pine plantations, natural bushland (lots of that) and fruit farms.  In no time at all, we were there and pulling up for lunch.  I did wonder if we’d gone the wrong way, as there was pretty much nothing there, a few shops and a couple of takeaway places and that was kind of it, but no, that’s really all there is to Lancelin town.

What we came here for were the sand dunes.  Lancelin is famous for having enormous dunes just behind the town and people come here with dirt bikes, quad bikes, modified 4×4’s etc to bash up and and down the huge lunar like sand hills.

The dunes really are amazing, almost pure white sand (that gets everywhere) – combined with clear blue skies (and a polarising filter) – the resultant look could really be from another planet.

On of the other things you can do is to hire boards and go sandboarding.

Oh yes 🙂

I had to have a go too!!

Ok, I fell off within a few seconds of this shot – I should have hired the ones with the foot straps if I wanted to stand up!

We had a great time but it was so hard to climb back up the dunes that we could only manage an hour before we had to take our burning thighs and return the boards and go find ice creams.

The hotel was, erm, how can I put this..  crap.  The little unit we stayed in was small, old, smelly and I was really glad we were only overnighting.  The restaurant was very good though, if a little expensive.

We set off the next day for part 2 of our journey up – The Pinnacles and Kalbarri.

Back from the North

Sorry for the hiatus, we’ve been on holiday, far beyond the reach of internets and mobile phones and such modern conveniences. No, seriously, there’s no phone signal anywhere near where we went.

Australia – its a big place and it doesn’t take much travelling to leave civilisation far behind.

So, 2300km (1430 miles for the imperially minded) later, we’re back and I can tell you all about it 🙂

We went to Shark Bay – a World Heritage Area (as they are fond of reminding you at every turn) due to its unspoiled, diverse and unique flora and fauna, both land and marine. It’s also quite a long way from where we live (but not really that far, given the enormous trans-continental distances that Australia has to offer if you really are determined to ‘go walkabout’)

We drove to Lancelin first, then on to Kalbarri and then finally to Denham in Shark Bay. I’ll have some stories and pictures for you this week 🙂