Monday 31 March 2014

Exmouth to Broome and leisure time

We had a great tour in Exmouth as we were watching and swimming with Whale Sharks. They are the biggest fish in the ocean but they are not dangerous since they feed only on plankton and small fish, but nevertheless, they reach 10 meters and more! The first stop of the tour was a reef for doing some snorkelling to check if the equipment is fitting or not. After this, the big party starts with looking for whale sharks. The plane spotted 2 of them and we raced to get there. Since they are not afraid of swimmers, we could jump into the water and just wait until the shark was passing by..... and incredible experience! Such a huge fish passing by! After several stops, we had to head back to the reef were we could do some more snorkelling there until we got picked up by bus. It was actually worth to spend the money on this trip! 
Kangaroo on the way
Next morning, we prepared our stuff and prepared for a long ride through West Australia. We left Exmouth for the about 600 km away town called Tom Price. This town exists because of the mines in this area and the Karijini National Park. The way to it is not the most beautiful one, it's actually pretty boring drive although we had an unexpected visitor: rain! We passed through a thunderstorm (so our car got washed) which was a bit of a surprise for us since it hadn't rained for the whole time in Australia so far. Once we arrived in Tom Price, we set up our roof top tent for the night to be ready for next morning.

A termit's nest

The Karijini National Park consists of several gorges (valleys) where you are allowed to swim and explore them. It's basically a big adventure ground with water and rock; perfect, when the temperatures reach 35 degrees or more on the top since the gorges are narrow and therefore pretty cool. Furthermore, it is a very colourful park with bright white trees (snappy gum trees) and red earth for a great contrast. Sometimes, it's a bit difficult to get to the pools for swimming since you have to climb over rocks, wade through water or even swim some parts of the way, but it's definitely worth it! The water is not too cold and in the gorges, the temperature is comfortable.
Gorge in Karijini park
Snappy gum tree
Fern Pool falls

We spent two nights in the park to explore all of it before we decided to head north, through another National Park and heading back to the coast for some snorkelling. The Milstream-Chichester Park is nice, but it can not be compared with the Karijini. Unfortunately, the small camp ground we planned to stay was closed, so we had to stay on the bigger one without swimming options, but with the visit of some Kangaroos in the evening and next morning :-) There is a short walk (which you do early in the morning due to the heat) an then we drove the missing kilometres to Point Samson. Unfortunately, the reef they had is being destroyed by Rio Tinto (the big mining company) which build a large jetty for their ships to transport the iron ore. Instead of swimming, we just had a look at the enormous machines the have and we also visited a "ghost town" which was abandoned about 50 years ago.... what a disappointment! not a single ghost in the whole town :-)
Milstream Pool (no swimming)

Milstream Chichester Lookout

Big machines @ work

What a train!
Since West Australia is large, between Point Samson and Broome it's about 1'000 km, so we had to do some more driving. From Point Samson, we passed the other mining city (Port Headland) and we continued driving on the highway up the 80 Mile beach for our stop at the beach caravan park. A very shady and nice stop in the middle between Broome and Port Hedland, with good access to the 80-Mile beach and good facilities! Definitely worth a stop. The other day, we did another 3-4 hour drive to Port Smith for our last stop before Broome. We arrived Broome at the 23. March in the afternoon and checked our options in the Visitor Centre. Unfortunately, the Gibb River Road is closed due to the rain of the wet season so we needed to check some other options. But firstly, we did check into a motel for some nights not in our tent but with an air conditioning :-) . Broome is a small town with some very nice spots. Besides relaxing from all the driving, we went to the crocodile feeding in the park nearby. It's very impressive when you see those 4-5 m crocodiles snapping for food. The seem to be slow, but they are very fast if they want to and they have perfect sensors to locate their food. Since they inhabit the waters from now on, we'll just swim in official places :-)
Croc holding time
Croc waiting for food

The other tour we did was the compulsory "Camel sunset tour" where you sit on a camel, riding along the beach of Broome with some other tourists and watching the sunset (which is pretty nice up here) for one hour.
Camel riding
The whole tour group

Sunset in Broome

Our next stops will be the north peninsula of Broom with Cape Leveque and it's red cliffs before we do a last stop in Broome for checking the situation with the national parks along the Gibb River Road. If they are still closed, we may take a side trip to the "red centre" with Ayres Rock and the Olgas before we head back north. The way to Ayers Rock would be interesting since it's about 1'000 km gravel road with very few facilities in between (it's a desert we'll be crossing). More updates either from Alice Springs or somewhere else.

Some more pictures of the tour:

Creek close to Exmouth
Sting Ray at the beach in the morning

Walk through gorge in Karijini
Hammersley Gorge from above
Gorge in Karijini National Park
Evening visitor at Milstream Chichester Park
Big machine from Rio Tinto
Sunset at Port Smith lagoon
Fortesque Falls
Hammersley Gorge
Handrail Pool (best pool for swimming)
Karijini National Park - Knox Lookout
Karijini National Park
Karijini National Park - Knox Lookout
Milstream Chichester Panorama
Python Pool in Milstream Chichester
Sandy Point beach

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