The constituency of Durack is Australia’s biggest, so big that it has taken us over 5 weeks to drive across it. An area of 1,629,868 Sq Km with a population of just 177,000. It is about four and a half times the size of Germany. From Geraldton, the town where the electoral office is, to Wyndham its most remote polling station is 2,033km. It’s like an office in London trying to run a polling station in Kiev! The reasons our mind are on politics is that it has been Australia’s federal elections this week. To be honest we have seen little evidence of the election in Durack, it has appeared very low key, apart from the guy waving a “Vote for Gary the Goat” placard outside the Geraldton polling station.
Politics were also on our mind as we drove the long slog down south towards Perth. Coming into Internet phone coverage after being out in the wilds, we were set reeling about the Brexit vote in the Uk. Really? Is this the same country we are planning on moving back to after nearly 20 years of absence, it has made us think. Still in horrified shock we received another piece of bad news, Thailand was about to ban most foreign vehicles from passing through their country. Just 2 weeks from shipping to Singapore, our route out of South-east Asia is effectively blocked. As you can imagine this is a huge upset for us, we frantically tried to come up with an alternative plan. Should we ship at all? Or ship somewhere else? Or…..or…..or….. We already had plans a, b, c etc. etc. for Asia but this meant everything would have to be rethought. Asia is likely to be the hardest continent for us to travel through, there are so many vehicle restrictions; visas; paperwork issues and a blocked border we hope will reopen – it’s a nightmare. It might be a fascinating and beautiful nightmare but still a nightmare and now it had got a lot harder. In the end we have decided to continue with our shipping to Singapore and hope that the issue resolves itself. If not we have a few options but none of them look easy. Still compared to working, normal life, Brexit, other problems in the world etc. I know this is nothing.
Monkey Mia is known across Australia for its dolphins, it is on a peninsula sticking out into the Indian Ocean. It was a long haul up to Monkey Mia and to be honest we couldn’t get that excited about the morning feeding of the wild dolphins. It was all rather canned and busy.
What I could get excited about was my biological pilgrimage to see the stromatolites in the bay. The family kindly humoured me. Stromatolites may just look like lumps of slimy rocks in the sea but they have an amazing past. Their ancestors, over a billion years ago, produced the oxygen that animal life on this planet needs to exist – a very cool organism indeed. They are found in the modern word in very few places and I’ve always wanted to see them. The girls have been studying how the Earth and how life was formed, so at least they understood why I was so thrilled about seeing these seemingly uninspiring colonies of cyanobacteria.
Part of the girl’s project about how the life on Earth formed.
Even further south we spent 3 nights at the little seaside town of Kalbarri. Away from the sea are beautiful red gorges; there are dramatic cliffs; and white sandy beaches backed by dunes. Alisha and I took a morning ride from our farm campsite, the horses started with a gentle warmup down to the Murchison River. We then zigzagged across the river on the sandbanks, it was a gently flowing river but very wide. It was about a kilometre of riding through the river, all the way up to our feet in places. On the way back, the local boat cruise passed us midstream pointing us out as one of the sites. Both the horses and guide were quietly confident, very reassuring for the two of us as beginner riders. From there we went over the dunes and along the beach. It was just beautiful, birds and kangaroos just ignored our presence, so we were able to get really close. We were looking forward to a good hike to Nature’s Window in the national park but the road was closed due to the recent rain.
On the way south we have camped in a couple of lovely basic beachside camps. At Eagle Bluff, near Monkey Mia, up on the dunes for the night we had views out over the turquoise waters. A few days later further south at Seven Mile Beach, we were parked up right on the edge of the beach with just 3 other campers. Not bad for a free council rest stop.
Thankfully the truck doesn’t need to be spotlessly clean to be shipped out of Australia, unlike when we shipped it in and spent 8 days cleaning it. However it does need to be clean, we’ve been looking for a car wash big enough for the truck for the last month with no luck. So in the quiet fishing town of Cervantes, the caravan park let us wash the truck. Let’s hope they don’t notice the 50cm dirty strip at the top that none of us could reach, even with a ladder. Each day, a few more cupboards and lockers got cleaned out ready for the boat.
A few kilometres south were the Pinnacles, limestone pillars rising up from the sand. There are thousands of them standing up straight in dunes, we chose to wander around them rather than drive, to admire their unique forms. As we get closer to Perth the landscape has changed and there is much more farm land and we can feel we are returning to more populated Australia.