Day 61 - Thursday 6th September (Karijini National Park)
Long bog lap around Karijini today. We drove east to the Great Northern Hwy, then north where the highway weaves through one of the gorges which was a rather scenic drive. At the Munjina, Auski Roadhouse we chucked a left and went west past the warning signs about blue asbestos in the Whittenoom area. Wasn't much left in Shittenoom, looked like another ghost town. We saw one dude there that we waved at but I think he didn't know which one of his three arms to wave back with. On towards Tom Price where on the way I saw a sign saying 'Hamersley Gorge ß 5km'. I figured a 10km detour was fine so we went and checked it out. Awesome! Again, heaps of water flowing... out in the middle of nowhere. We walked up the river a bit and found a body of water and a small enclosed 'pool' with a waterfall. Very nice. Instead of driving to Tom Price for lunch, we stayed there at Hamersley Gorge. Leaving our thongs and gear on the rocks, we swam over to the 'spa pool'.
We then walked up the river further... and further... and further. The unmarked track was only about 1.5km but it seemed a lot longer since a lot of scrambling without footwear was involved. It eventually led to a fern chasm which was debatably worth the walk and we soothed our aching feet in the water there. Not only were the rocks shark to walk on, they were also sizzling hot since it was the middle of the day. Our feet were hurting to the point where we started a Nike style sweat shop and quickly made our own shoes using paperbark and reeds! Very stylish footwear which lasted most of the way back.
At Tom Price we did a few chores and booked some proper accommodation for Snichy's last couple of nights (sat-sun). Accommodation in Tom Price was limited at short notice but we managed to score a budget room for Saturday and a swanky Chalet for Sunday, both at the Tom Price Tourist Park.
We went to the Tom Price hotel/motel restaurant for dinner where we pigged out on burgers, wedges and an impressive salad bar. Then off all the way back to Dales campground in Karijini.
Day 62 - Friday 7th September (Karijini National Park)
This would have been a better day if it wasn't for the crappy crap crap crap poopoo unsealed roads within Karijini. At a crawling pace this morning, we managed to drive to Kalamina Gorge with the Akervan ending up in only 100 pieces or so. Nice scenic stroll down the river which involved a bit of scaling walls which was fun. Another waterfall here so I took a cheeky shower while nobody was looking. Sweet!
Now off to the next gorge... or are we!? Doh! I had left the friggin lights on and the dual batteries were completely dead! Unlike last time where we had to get tow-jumped, I managed to get the Akervan going using a spare battery and the powerpak. There was water everywhere (I overfilled the water tank) and it was a bit tight to turn a big spanner in the battery enclosure so I managed to ride some lightening - jolting myself with 12 volts, not once but three times. Why did I have the lights on? Well, mainly so when a 4WD screams past us on the crappy roads, other traffic can see us through the cloud of red dust.
Was then off to Know Gorge for another walk, then Joffre Gorge, then we checked out the Eco Tents at the 'Eco Resort' which is at the Savannah campsite. We finally got to the Oxer Lookout which is supposed to be spectacular at sunset... thanks to the crappy roads, the sun had just set by the time we got there.
No chance I was gonna drive back the way we came. I went an extra 40km just to avoid the badly corrugated road by using one a lot less corrugated. Made it back to camp without falling asleep at the wheel.
Day 63 - Saturday 8th September (Karijini National Park, Tom Price)
Up at sparrows fart this morning, packed everything up and headed to Tom Price. We had a detour past the second highest peak in WA, Mt Bruce (#1, Mt Meharry is also in Karijini) where we had a quick walk to get the blood pumping. We had a picnic lunch at Kings Lake before heading to the tourist park to check into our budget room. Whoa! a bed! a fridge! a tv! a microwave!
Big night out on the town, we went to the local chinese restaurant and then to see D'railed play at the community hall. The local band was laughably crap so we left before the first set was even done.
Day 64 - Sunday 9th September (Tom Price)
We moved home again this morning, we've gone from a tent to a backpackers room to now, a very nice chalet. We spent most of the day in there or relaxing by the pool. Grabbed a couple of pizzas from the pub for dinner. Sweet.
Day 65 - Monday 10th September (Tom Price, Halfway Bridge)
My first of many nights alone. Just me and Patricia (the pillow) tonight. Have just dropped Snichy off at the Parabadoo airport where she's flown back to Perth for a few weeks before taking on Europe (have a blast Snich - carpe diem baby). Now that she's gone, the blog entries will likely dull down... I mean, what am I supposed to write about now? She's been a source of inspiration. Take today for example, besides nearly missing the plane, she friggin blew herself up this morning! I was reorganising the Akervan outside our Chalet when I head her shriek in terror. I thought perhaps she'd seen a cockroach the size of an elephant but no, she was cowering against a wall patting herself down and screaming 'am I on fire anywhere?'. She had lit the grill and been blown away by a backdraft style fireball. It was only yesterday when she was complementing herself on the light shade her sun bleached arm hairs had turned... well, she doesn't have many arm hairs anymore... nor eyelashes or fringe hair. The unmistakable scent of burnt hair lingered in the Chalet for hours. Onya Snichy! Don't worry cobber, even if you were on fire, you woulda been ok. I had a full bladder at the time.
So anyway... we left our burnt out Chalet and headed back to Hamersley Gorge for lunch. Once we'd rotated the swimming and sun baking for a while, I suggested we have one last quick dip and then get the hell outa there so she's in time for her flight. She lived up to her nickname of 'Slow Motion Snichy'... and left us having to rush to the Parabadoo airport which was 2 hours away. Meh. We were there with at least 3 minutes to spare.
I have just nipped into Parabadoo to steal some Next G signal and am now at Halfway Bridge feeling weirdly lonely. Not in 30 years had I ever spent so much time with someone. Although typically a contented loner, being solo after 10 weeks of Snichyness has now left me a bit hollow. Thankfully, I have Patricia. Mmmmmm... Patty Baby, let's go hit some hay hey? huh? Willlsssoooonnnnn!!!!!
Day 66 - Tuesday 11th September (Halfway Bridge, Tom Price, RIP Lookout)
Slept like a log last night... best nights sleep I've had on the road. Somehow slept right through from about 10:30 to bird chirp o'clock without any distraction. Thanks Patty Baby!
Have had a boring, lonely day (as planned). I had been putting off a million things until Snichy left and today involved sitting at the laptop for most of it. It's about 4pm at the moment and I've made my way back into Tom Price to get an internet signal. Will stay around the area tonight and then head back to Karijini in the morning, this time staying at the Savannah campsite. Will get some work out of the way there and make some much needed repairs to the Akervan. Back to Pom Trice on Friday to watch the footy. Carn Weagles! Then I'll probably move on slow to Onslow.
Day 67 - Wednesday 12th September (RIP Lookout, Tom Price, elsewhere)
10am - I rested in peace last night at the RIP lookout. A campsite with a theme! The idea is to write on a rock the name of a loved one who has passed away and add it to the existing pile. Oh, actually, although I rested in peace for most of it, I did wake up once in the middle of the night when a friggin dingo came up to the lookout to weirdly howl/bark. We heard them howling from the Dales campsite but this one was right along side the van so it was very loud and freaky. It was crossed between the sound I imagine a wolf would make with the sound of a dog, which I guess is what a dingo is anyway. I fondled around trying to get the camera so I could at least record the sounds but nah, sorry, I was too slow yet again. Instead I hugged Patricia to make sure a Dingo didn't steal my baby.
Anyway, the reason for the early blog is that I've changed my plans again. Turns out all three Akersiblings, my Akerfolks and Akernan will all be converging in Brisvegas from the 20th - 27th Sept. It's been a very long time since we've all been together anywhere so I've decided to join them. I will basically be having a break from my holiday so I can go on holidays! After much toying with different itineraries, I've decided to use this week to get to Broome where I will fly to Perth airport and then straight to Brisbane. I'll then fly back to Broome to continue the Akerventure later this month.
So I better hit the road, lots to see between here and Broome.
7pm - I've made my way to Onslow at the Ashburton River Mouth but as it turns out, they actually moved the whole town north about 100 years ago (need to update my GPS) so there isn't much to see here. I went to the police station which was the only building still standing but as with modern day police stations, there was nobody available to assist. The whole of Onslow was a ghost town, especially the cemetary which was pretty dead. There is dirt roads winding every which way but no street signs, only small signs in the ground near where buildings of interest used to stand. I tried navigating the maze down to the ocean but had no luck and eventually backtracked to 5 mile creek which is 4kms south. I read in the local rag the other day that there was several recent croc sightings near here so to be safe, I haven't set foot outside the Akervan (yet).
Dinner was interesting. I can get a bit more experimental with my cooking now that Snichy has departed
(I'm not really a fussy eater and Patricia hardly eats a thing). Tonight, I kinda accidentally cooked a quiche. Was attempting a zucchini flavoured damper but it turned out to be a rather tasty quiche style dish. Meh.
Off to the real Onslow in the morning, then maybe Millsteam Chichester NP and/or Karratha.
Day 68 - Thursday 13th September (5 Mile Pool, Onslow, Pannawonica, 40 Mile Beach, Miaree Pool, Karratha)
I had a dream last night that I ate a giant marshmallow and when I woke up, Patricia was gone!
No, just kidding, we are both safe and sound in Karratha. We left 5 Mile Pool at sunrise and left for Onslow. On the way out, I saw that the sign I zoomed past the evening before, did actually say beware of crocs. Although I had parked right near the water, I didn't actually leave the Akervan at all (if you were wondering... yes, I pee'd out the window, ok).
I had breaky at some lookout in Onslow, then went and did the boardwalk thingo there which goes for just over 1km. On return, I found a ranger peering into the Akervan trying to decipher whether I'd stayed there last night. No, I hadn't illegally camped there... I had illegally camped somewhere else, thank you very much. As I approached, some lady walking her dog came up to him and started chatting away so I just jumped in and took off. Meh.
Didn't encounter any cyclonic activity in Onslow but there was a few big willy willys around. Stopped at Termite Town briefly to read about the termite mounds after seeing thousands of them on this trip already.
I miscalculated the petrol situation a bit... or perhaps I calculated it perfectly? I couldn't be bothered filling up in Onslow when I left this morning and by the time I got back to the main highway, I was surprised to find I was on empty! Oopsy daisies! Managed to do 70kms on empty and then I ran out and had to pull over. No fear, I got the reserves out for the first time and chucked half of it in. I figured she'll be right, that'll get me to Pannawonica (another 70kms away), no worries. Ummm.... nope, after another 30kms, I putt putt putted to a halt again. Arghhh! I had over 30kms still to go and only about half a 10L gerry cans worth of petrol! I figured I was definitely going to spend part of the day walking to Pannawonica, was just a matter of how far. I counted down the kms, thinking sweet... only have to walk 15kms... only 10kms... only 5kms... only... woohoo, I made it! Rolled into the Pannawonica Petrol Station and conked out. Another piece of Akermagic! As an added bonus, I got to fill up with the cheapest petrol I'd seen in months ($1.31). Cheap because apparently because the mining company owns the whole town and yada yada yada.
Pannawonica seemed like a cool little isolated town where everybody knows everybody. They had their own drive in cinema and other stuff, all presumably funded by the mining company. I was planning to drive from there through to Millstream Chichester National Park but the road sign was currently labelled '4WD Only'. Not willing to risk it, I backtracked the 45kms or so to the main highway and headed towards Karratha instead.
Stopped at 40 Mile Beach to have a quick look. Costs $135 to stay there... for a month! $7 a night or $40 for a week. Not bad rates huh? Here I am at Pilbara Holiday Resort Park in Karratha paying $38 a night just for a slab of concrete, electricity and showers. I was actually planning on staying at another campsite, Miaree Pool (Maitland River), which is free but I couldn't get any internet reception and was thinking I was probably due for a shower so I've come all the way to Karratha. Drove around for a while trying to find my cousins workplace thinking I'd go surprise him but nah, couldn't find it as Karratha is a tad bigger than I thought. It's big enough for me to get stuck in peak hour traffic which was something I hadn't experienced for a while. Will try find my cousin tomorrow and see if he can squeeze in a beer or something. Will stay here to watch the footy tomorrow night and then go to Millstream Chichester on Saturday (or at least, that's the current plan).
Day 69 - Friday 14th September (Dampier, Karratha)
Went looking for my cousin's work again this morning and somehow ended up in Dampier where I stayed for lunch. Eventually gave up trying to find Cuz's office and so gave him a buzz.
After sleeping on the side of roads for a while with no entertainment whatsoever, I was now faced with a bit of a conundrum. There was an AC/DC tribute show (Thunderstruck) playing here tonight at the Walkington Theatre starting at 7:30... I checked the TV guide and it said the footy final started at 7:30. Argh! Ended up going to my cousins house and then out for dinner at the pub with him and his family which was sweet. We watched the Collingwood/Eagles game from there. What a game huh!? Looks like I won't be in Melbourne on the last Saturday in September this year (lucky me has been to both previous Grand Finals).
Day 70 - Saturday 15th September (Karratha, Burup Peninsulua, Roebourne, Millstream Chichester NP)
Woke up early this morning to find myself not at the Holiday Park that I'd paid for but in the Akervan outside my cousins house. We had a few drinky poos last night and wise old Akerz didn't drive. Once up, I went back to the holiday park to abuse their ablutions and check out etc. Spent the morning driving around the Burrup Peninsula area looking at aboriginal rock art and other boring stuff. I finally cracked the shits at my thongs constantly falling apart so I've now superglued them back together. I probably should have let them dry for longer before putting them back on. I may need them surgically removed.
Had lunch at the 'TV Lookout' *yawn*, then went back to my cuz's house to say cherio.
I'm now at Snake Creek near Millstream, all on my ownsome, not a sole around for probably a 30km radius. I had a quick look around the National Park and decided I had probably just wasted half a tank of petrol, there isn't really anything too spetacular here this time of year. Saw another snake on the road, just down from here (Snake Creek) funnily enough. Lucky for him, he was in the middle of the road and all my akertyres missed him (I went back to check and he had already slithered away). Millstream has it's own 88fm tourist radio broadcast thingo which is pretty cool. No advertising, just heaps of information about the park which you can listen to as you drive around, rather than reading through brochures.