Outback adventure WA

This trip took place many years back, but still gives us pleasant memories. We took the most unconventional trip for us back in 2001, when we jumped onto a 4-day group road trip along the northern coast of Western Australia. To be honest we cannot recall what prompted us to do this. Even to this day Suan marvels at subjecting herself to 4 full days of no hot-water bath and skincare treatment…

While it was supposed to be a long and arduous trip (yeah exaggerated we know), meaning hundreds of kilometers of driving per day, the rewards were the absolutely great. Places we visited, you would not see any other people other than your own group! It’s that remote. Well, perhaps that why they call this the outback.

The drive was in a mini-van just enough to carry us and a small luggage each. Here in the great outdoors, we had to help with the cooking, washing and packing and it seemed more like a backpacking trip! Sure was not glamping. Hey this was 2001!

Our motley crew was like a little United Nations fact finding mission. We were 10:

  • 1 American (guy who apparently made a lot of money b4 the dot com bust)
  • 2 Japanese ladies (one visiting a friend living and working in Singapore)
  • 3 Singaporeans (us and a solo female traveller)
  • 4 British (a husband and wife with their two daughters)

See how it counts from 1 to 4? Led by an athletic Australian lady, we had spent the first day driving all the way towards the town of Denham. Thus a curious night was spent at Denham, preparing pasta and eating well into the wee hours of the night. You see, when there is no television or internet, you talked – a lot!

Beautiful coasts and beaches

Monkey Mia 01
This is like Florida!

Actually our destination was Monkey Mia. It is a jump-off point for cruise boats and catamarans to go photo hunting for dolphins and whales. Unfortunately we did not sight any… but the windy cruise was enjoyable. We spent a couple of hours sailing and enjoying the sea breeze…

Monkey Mia 19
Oh how romantic this was!

The other highlight, which would be interesting for those with kids would be the chance to see dolphins come up close to shore. At the Monkey Mia beach, a pod of dolphins swim up to the shore each morning. Over the years, they have grown accustom with people. There is a practice of feeding only the females in the pod and they seem to form a bond with the handlers. You may be selected to feed the dolphin!

Don’t worry, the dolphins do not get fed sufficiently to depend on human hand outs. The feeding is but a token and they will still need to go hunting to fend for themselves. And if you are not selected, don’t fret. Just walk along the shore and mingle with the pelicans.

That’s not all we enjoyed. You see, all along the coasts are gorgeous looking beaches of sand – and shells! Yes you heard right. From afar it looked like a sand beach, but it actually is a huge deposit of bleached shells!

Shell Beach
Shells, not sand!

Shell Beach it’s called and this is the result of calm waters in the inlet and the building up of dead shell-based marine creatures. Over time, the shell sediment has accumulated to form a “Beach”. We actually took some time to sunbathe here, though a thick towel will be really useful – if you intend to lie down…

Eagle's Bluff 6
Gorgeous water but potentially deadly

Now you’d be wondering. All these stops and we did not go swimming in the waters. Why hah? Well for one when we arrived at Eagle’s bluff, the water looked so alluring.

Eagle's Bluff 2
Never know what those dark patches are

The shallow water is only waist deep according to Carol, our driver cum guide. But these dark patches in the water was not easy to differentiate if they were nursing bull and tiger sharks! In any event our travel does not insure this, so we kept clear of the water.

Kalbarri national park

Actually there is no real boundary for the national park. Afterall much of the region / state has desert-like outback conditions. Emus (not native) can be see wandering about! Why? Because some bloke brought them in. Somehow they have adapted to the harsh conditions.

On the way to Kalbarri3
They actually serve Emu meat

Our time here in the national park is to ‘hike’ the Murchison gorge and river. This river system runs towards the sea in a westerly direction. It may seem surprising, but when we flew into Perth from the north along the coast of Western Australia, all we could see was the brown earth. Here on the ground, we found lush grounds around the rivers that drain into the sea.

The early bird gets its worm right? So we hiked through the early morning in order to see the sun rise. The 3-hour hike into the gorge and back again was enough to push most of the members to the brink. Some of best places to take photos are quite dangerous – slippery in fact. For example at Nature’s window, one may see the whole of the park, but it has a steep cliff off!

Since we are walking along the river, it mean descending down to it… The Murchison river is not only a hiking experience. It is also educational. One can see the sediment layers on the rocks as we pass them on our way to the Z Bend. This tells of the geological history of the island continent. Who knows? You might find fossils here too…if only you were not too tired to look!

Down the Gorge 14
Now that’s not something you do everyday

We, on the other hand – had an optional activity up our sleeves. We had signed up for abseiling and actually did the descent 3 times! So we ran ahead of the rest, up to an flatter section of the gorge where the abseiling instructors were giving a lesson.

Each time we abseiled, we had to climb to the top of the gorge to make the trip back down with only ropes to support our weight – because there are no lifts here…Mel finally did his dream abseil – ie to go head down first! The so-called “Australian rappel” in military speak. In the end, the rest of our mates caught up with us and we eventually made it back to “civilization” with a final push up back up the gorge.

Horse Riding 2
Still must pose…

One of the things we also did while out here was to ride ex-race horses. Set on a ranch in seemingly nowhere, the horses are housed here instead of being put to sleep. Thus supporting the ranch is one way to ensure that these horses continue to have a home. If you really ride them, one word of advice – they like to gallop!

Our drive in the outback was indeed fascinating, in that we had a number of discoveries – such as the Thorny devil and an echidna. They were found crossing the road. How Carol spotted them while driving at breakneck speed is something we cannot fathom…but we thoroughly enjoyed this 850km+ journey. If we can be back, it will definitely be Ningaloo with its famed reefs.

We would continue on back towards Perth and partake in yet more adventurous activities. What were they? Read on here!

This 4D3N journey took place in May 2001

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