Hello again, dear readers, and welcome to Part 4 of my ongoing series of blogs recapping my holiday to Australia during March and April this year.
When last we spoke, I had ended my second full day in Australia with a belly full of Chinese food and the prospect of an early start the next day, as this holday had another holiday within it – we were heading 6 hours’ drive north to the holiday town of Kalbarri, and we had an early start.
The holiday wasn’t just myself, Gordon, Nancy and Rachael, in case you were wondering. For one thing, Rachael wasn’t coming. She was busy with her work and uni prep. Additionally, the three of us were just one portion of the crew that was going to Kalbarri – the whole party was 15 people – Me, Gordon and Nancy, the Strouds (Peter and Martina), the McGuinnesses (Joe and Caroline, Joe and Caroline’s son Calum, Calum’s partner Ellie and their daughter Ayla) and the D’Cruzes (Clive and Liz, their kids Phoebe and Alex and Phoebe’s friend Renee). A full team.
Naturally, this amount of folk needed a bit more gear than a couple of cheap tents and a disposable BBQ – we were definitely glamping rather than camping. We had to tow a big trailer behind my uncle’s Land Rover (a Discovery, very comfy and powerful – just the ticket for a 6+ hour trek in the Aussie sun) which contained all manner of equipment – gas BBQ stove things, three (!!) fridges, a microwave, pergolas, some camping chairs, tables, an espresso machine (!!!!!), water dispenser bottle things, cutlery, plates, basically all the comforts of home. Like I said, we definitely weren’t roughing it.
So, we were all up for about 5:30 AM, showered, coffee’d and a light breakfast, and we huckled the fully-loaded trailer out of my uncle’s garage (and this was a big trailer – you probably could’ve fit a small car in it, easily), hooked it up to the back of the Disco and set off just as the sun was beginning to peek out from the horizon.
The drive up was pretty hassle free – we met up with a couple of other members of the convoy north of Perth, and we were meeting Peter and Martina there, as they were driving six hours south from Exmouth, where Peter was doing his podiatrist thing as he does every so often up in that neck of the woods (his main practice is in Fremantle – http://www.fccpodiatry.com.au/ if you need your feet seen to in Freo). We made a pit stop in Jurien Bay for bacon rolls and coffee, then another one a few hours later in Northampton, one of the oldest settlements in Western Australia.
Soon enough, we were rolling into the Kalbarri Tudor Holiday Park. There was a bit of a kerfuffle about what campsite pitches we had we were supposed to have all of the pitches that were booked in one contiguous set, but due to it being the Easter holiday weekend, I guess things got a bit mixed up with how busy it was, and eventually a compromise was reached – the main multi-pergola setup where all the eating, drinking, entertaining and the majority of the tents would go would be one set of campsites, and Gordon, Nancy and I would have our tents on another pitch across the road from the main area, in a pitch that had a seperate private toilet/shower block. You can see a panoramic photo of the main ‘glamping’ bit in the photos below.
After a fair amount of work, we got the campsites set up and settled in for the first evening of merriment with a feast of curry. Apparently this is a bit of a tradition on these camping trips – every family group makes a curry in advance and it’s the first night’s meal to save a lot of prep after the graft involved in setting up the campsite. It, like all the food we had in Kalbarri, was lovely. Sitting in the warm Australian evening, munching a curry with family and a bunch of new friends, getting progressively drunker and talking all sorts of nonsense. Great way to kick things off.
The next day was a pretty lazy one – we visited Chinaman’s Beach, drove into the bush to attempt to find some fishing spot that some of the lads had heard about, but abandoned our search (but not before coming across a bit of a ‘shanty town’ type of arrangement, and getting directions off a woman driving a pink quad bike, with a small dog in a front basket and ‘COUGAR’ reg plates, I shit you not) and headed back to the campsite to indulge in more food and alcohol for the remainder of the evening.
The next day saw me do something that I’d had no plans to do, but I’m exceedingly glad I did it – I went on an aerial tour of the Murchison River Gorges and the Coastal Cliffs. Six of us, including the pilot, piled into a small Cessna single-prop aircraft and we set off into the air above the magnificent landscape of Kalbarri National Park. Well, we almost didn’t set off – during the takeoff roll, a bird flew into the path of the plane, but thankfully, the Kalbarri airfield has a runway capable of dealing with much larger aircraft, so after a dab of brakes, the bird cleared off out of the way, the pilot throttled up again and we were up with no further hassle. Naturally, I brought my camera with me, and some of my favourite pictures of the aerial tour accompany this post.
After this it was back to the campsite for more food, beer, wine and banter. This was the standard MO most nights.
This post is getting long, so I’ll cut it off here. Join me again soon, when I’ll wrap up my time in Kalbarri.