Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Gladstone Camping Area

After leaving Red Bluff we headed back down to Carnarvon it was a school holiday for the queens birthday over here so we didn't know if anything would be open. Turns out the woolworths was, so we grabbed a few things & then filled our water tanks at the water tap at the information bay near town (there is limited drinking water south of here for a while) & kept going south as it was only lunchtime.

We had heard of a couple of free camps just south of carnarvon called Bush Bay & New Beach. We called into both, they were both okay for free spots & were right on the water. They were in areas where the water is really shallow though & amongst the salt flats & mangroves, nothing like our time at Red a Bluff so we decided to keep heading south. 

There was another campsite called Gladstone which is right on the beach on Yaringa Station. The cost was $5.50 per person per night & it had flushing toilets, but no other facilities. 


We drove in & found a nice little bay area with lots of spread out campsites. The area does have bollards & designated sites, but they were big & spread out. 
Campsite above & below

There is rock wall that leads to an old jetty that used to be used for wool & timber, but it's old & rickety now & you can't walk on it. The water goes a long way out here as well at low tide, but it still had lovely blues & green colours in the water. The water is very shallow though. 

Old jetty with lots of cormorants resting on the end

We set up camp, it was pretty windy. We ducked back out down the road to cut some firewood. We cooked up some marinated chicken wings & veggies in foil for dinner & had to eat in the tent as it was so windy our dinner would of been cold in 2 seconds. It got pretty chilly as well, so we tucked ourselves in bed & had an early night. 

Old jetty

The next morning the wind had died off & it was a lovely day. We went for a walk to explore the rock wall & jetty & around the shoreline. Mat went for a fish (no luck though) & I caught up on some blog posts & took some wildflower photos with the macro lens on my camera. 

The wind picked up again in the afternoon but not as bad as the day before. Dinner was sausages & roast veggies & we packed up a bit of gear to leave the next morning. 

Gladstone was a pleasant camping spot. Good for an overnighter or a couple of days, more if you had a boat. It was pretty quiet. The road in was okay but they have had some rain recently so the track was a bit cut up, I don't think you would want to get stuck in there if it rained. Might scare off a few caravaners though! 

We stayed on the 29-30th of September 2014. 

One of the locals

Choc Chip Damper

Ok this one is a little bit naughty, but damn tasty. I normally do this style of damper with dried fruit, but had a craving for chocolate. The kids will love this one....

Choc Chip Damper

I prepared this just before morning tea. We used the fire for breakfast, so a couple of hours later there was only a few coals & mostly hot ash left in the fire. As we were only wrapping it in foil & chucking it straight in the fire these cooler coals is what you want or it will burn. If you have hot coals & you want to make it, then just put it in the camp oven & cook instead. 

- 2 cups of self raising flour
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of milk powder
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup of choc chips (I used choc buttons broken into smaller pieces)
- 3/4 to 1 cup of water

- add all dry ingredients to a bowl & mix to combine 

- add the choc chips & mix

- add the water starting with 3/4 cup & mix together with a knife to get a soft dough, adding more water if needed

- do not over mix or it will be tough
- place a sheet of baking paper over a sheet of foil

- place the dough onto the baking paper & flatten out slightly till it's an even thickness
- wrap the dough in the baking paper & then foil

- the wrap the whole packet in another layer of foil
- place directly on the coals & hot ash

- turn every 7-8 minutes (more often if your coals are hotter)
- this took 30 minutes to cook, the only really way to check is to unwrap & have a look

- serve hot while the chocolate is gooey, with slatherings of butter 

This was yummy. If you don't have powdered milk you can substitute it & the water for real milk. You can also do this with dried fruit, even fresh fruit chopped up. If you want it more like scones than damper, add 2 tablespoons of butter to your dried ingredients & rub through before adding the water. Depending on how hot your coals are you might get a few burnt bits, just cut them off, the inside will still be fine, if you want it perfect cook it in a camp oven. 

Bacon wrapped mushrooms with grilled sirloin steak & asparagus

Grill night! If you like mushrooms you will love these bacon wrapped ones, perfect for camping. 

Bacon wrapped mushrooms

- button mushrooms
- bacon strips ( I used the end pieces of some middle bacon)

- cut the bacon into lengths that will go around the mushrooms with some overlap

- wrap a strip of bacon around each mushroom & place on a skewer, I cut some toothpicks in half to help secure the ends of the bacon into the mushrooms

- fill up your skewer with as many mushrooms as you would like, I did 3 per person

- we cooked these on a hot plate over the fire, you could easily do them on the BBQ at home 

- preheat the hot plate until hot, place the skewers on bacon side down

- turn skewers often so the bacon gets crispy & the mushroom cooks through

- we served ours with a piece of sirloin steak & also some grilled asparagus

- start the mushrooms first & give them about 3-4 minutes, then add the steak & asparagus & cook for a further 6-8 minutes depending on how you like your steak. Only turn your steak once, but keep turning the mushrooms & asparagus during the cooking time. 
- serve

These were pretty tasty & perfect with the steak. Getting a bite of the steak, bacon & mushroom all at once was yummy. Something different & a fairly healthy meal overall. Give it a go next time you go camping or have a BBQ. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Warroora Station

Well we probably had our worst day of our trip so far. It started out okay as we left a week of bliss behind at Ningaloo station knowing we would definitely be back, it was fantastic. 

We hoped to continue the good run & stay at the next station further south called Warroora (pronounced Warra).  From the turn off into the station, it pretty much went pear shaped. We saw the sign for 14 Mile camp on the way in but it said it was for any 2WD vehicles & caravans, figuring it would be busy & we had heard there was other camping at the station we ventured further in. We arrived at the station to a office that had various information & a mud map of camping areas. It said if no one was at the office to try to call them on the UHF radio for permission to enter, if you got no answer to fill in the receipt book, pay your money in the box & write down what area you are going to. Ok, there was a bit of information on the walls about each camp, not particularly extensive though. We tried the UHF & finally after about 10 calls we got someone, he told us to go to a camp called Stevens. So off we went. They had a few signs up, but it was a bit confusing but we found the camping area. To say we were disappointed was an understatement. The coastline was beautiful but the camp was a long way from the beach. We wandered around trying to figure out if any of the sites were ok, we had just paid $100 to stay for a week, so wanted something decent. 

We both didn't like it so decided to try one of the other camps. We had our mud map but all the actual information on each camp is only at the office. Some weren't suitable for camper trailers but we couldn't really remember which was which. There was another camp not far from us which I decided we should look at before going back to the office. Well it turns out that after the initial sign post it wasn't actually signed & we ended up on a no trailers track that was super sandy & soft & had no room to turn around, we also had a car of surfers behind us, great. What ensued was us trying to turn around in soft sand & onto a grassy hill while yelling at each other about how we shouldn't even be on this track, to make it worse we then ripped both rear mud guards off the car when we finally managed to turn the trailer around. It was pretty heated!

We then went back to the office to try to find out some more info about the other camps. I was all up for leaving completely, blow the $100!! In the end we decided to go to a place called Black Moon cliffs. Again badly sign posted, but we found it along with a caretaker for the area. 

The caretaker was lovely & showed us a campsite closer to the water that wasn't normally available, it was a good one so we took it. We knew there was a change in the weather coming so we just set up a basic camp. Pretty much as soon as we set up the clouds came rolling in & it got really really windy. The tent was flapping like crazy despite it being well set up. Mat decided to check out the beach but I decided to stay near camp because those clouds looked ominous. Luckily I did because the rain soon stared with me running around trying to get everything sorted. We both jumped in the tent to wait it out. This was about 3pm & it drizzled & was really windy all afternoon. We even had to cook dinner in the tent. We haven't had to do that ever before. It was a simple steak & packet pasta but it was warm in our bellies in the freezing weather. What a downer, we went to bed early, not that we got much sleep as the canvas was flapping all night. What a day. 

We woke up to sort of sunny skies but it was still very windy. It was to windy for a campfire & boiling the billy was a nightmare on the gas. We tried to make the most of a bit of sunshine & I went for a walk on the beach & Mat went for a fish. It really was a lovely coastline but completely different from the sheltered bay at Ningaloo, it was rocky with huge waves so no swimming or snorkelling & the caretaker had told us to watch out for sharks as they were common along the beach. It was so windy Mat couldn't keep his bait in the water so no fish. We gave up on that & headed back to camp to try to fix the mudflaps. A couple of hours later we had them reattached without to many problems, not good though as they attach to the fibreglass flares on Ruby & these are damaged & will need replacing when we get home & aren't cheap. 

The weather was still crappy & the clouds started to roll in again, but no rain this time. We had a chat about what to do the next day. In the end we decided to leave. Yes it was a huge waste of our $100 but we both felt Warroora couldn't redeem itself. Probably an unfair statement but we just couldn't get past our couple of crappy days. 

The cost to stay at Warroora is $10 per person per night or $50 per person for a week. You must have a chemical toilet. You can get bore water & a shower at the homestead. There are lots of different camping areas, not that we saw any others than Stevens & Black Moon Cliffs. 

Maybe we would of had more luck at Warroora if we had of been able to talk to someone on arrival to work out a suitable camp area. No one can control the weather, but we were extremely disappointed with our time at Warroora, it's not often we would spend that money & just leave. We have read many good things about Warroora & there seems to be an online rivalry between if it or Ningaloo are better. We are definitely team Ningaloo. Let's hope we have better luck & weather at our next campsite because this is a beautiful area of WA. 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Ningaloo Station

We left Cape Range National Park just before 8am & made our way back into Exmouth for a top up of fuel & to top up our water supplies. There are free water taps at the visitor centre in town & as we planned to stay at Ningaloo Station for a week, where there is no water, we wanted to be completely full. We have a 60L tank under our camper trailer & we also carry 2 x 15L & 2 x 20L drums, plus smaller drink bottles in the car, so just over 130L total.  

We were soon on our way on the bitumen for a while, but then were on the dirt road on the Ningaloo road that cuts back to the west coast. As you get on the road it advises that it is only a 4WD track & expect to have to recover yourselves, as the sand dunes are encroaching on the road, more & more each year. We took some air out of the tyres & set off. It was just over 30km to the homestead itself. The road was rough, the sandy bits were actually the best as they were less corrugated, but overall it was okay, about a 50-60km an hour road. 

Ningaloo Road

The landscape is totally different to anything we have seen before, huge rolling sand dunes, covered in spinifex & other grasses & the occasional small shrub, not a tree in site. 

As you get closer to the homestead, the track is pretty rough with lots of washouts & holes, you crest a hill that is very very rough at the top & you are greeted by amazing expanses of green water & the homestead. We arrived at the homestead, it was nothing like I imagined. Ningaloo has this amazing prestige, I expected a grand homestead sitting on green lawns overlooking the ocean, but instead it was pretty basic & showed the harshness of the environment that they live in. 

Approaching the homestead

An older lady came out & took us through all the information & drew us a mud map of how to get to our site. It was all way less formal than we expected. We set off with our key to our camping area, which was South Lefroy Bay. There are 4 different camping areas at Ningaloo station, but you are only granted access to yours, as they are all locked by gates. The cost was $35 per person per week & we had to pay a $100 key deposit. On the wall it also said they had shorter term camping for $20 per person for either 1-4 nights, kids were half price.  

Clutching our mud map we jumped back in the car & set off. It was about 20km to our campsite from the homestead. The roads were pretty basic & slow going with lots of pot holes. The landscapes got even harsher with larger sand dunes, less vegetation & lots of dead smaller trees. There were goats & sheep everywhere as we made our way. It's funny, it really felt like we were really somewhere remote, I guess we are, but in reality you are less than 100km from Exmouth or Coral Bay, it just had that feel. 

Heading towards our campsite

Do you ever feel like you are being watched???

I can only imagine what it felt for the first explorers in this area, stunningly beautiful beaches, but so dry, arid & harsh, no water at all. Definitely an eye opener, when looking at it from a farming background as well. We found the locked gate for our camping area & made our way down to the campsite, the signs warned to drop your tyre pressures down to 20 PSI as it was going to get soft. We didn't, but they were already down at about 24-28. Our campsite was right on the beach tucked in behind a small sand dune, it was on soft sand & didn't have a turn around, so Mat had to back in around a corner on the soft sand, it took a few goes, but we finally got the trailer in the right spot without getting bogged, but it was touch & go. 

Lots of soft sand to negotiate

Ningaloo camp

There is no shade at all, so we set the big awning up as well, as we planned to stay for a week. By the time we were completely set up it was really hot & about 3pm. The rest of the afternoon was spent looking at our incredible views & checking out our own patch of beach. 

View from camp

Our beach above & below
Our snorkelling paradise 

The next day was probably one of the most relaxing we have had on our trip so far. We swam & snorkelled directly out from our camp, only 20 meters to the beach, read a book & relaxed. Ningaloo is definitely a great spot to relax. There are heaps of campsites all along the beach, but luckily it isn't very busy & they have put 2-3 campsites gap between each group of campers, so it was really quiet. 

During the morning Mat went for a fish & I went for a swim right in front of camp. It was beautiful in the water, I came back to the shore & just sat in the water. Right where I was just swimming a large school of fish jumped out of the water with a couple of dolphins hot on their tails. The dolphins continued to hunt for about 30 minutes in the bay, pretty cool. 

View to the north

The next day we decided to go for a drive within our camping area. To the north we couldn't really get very far but to the south we found a quiet area with no campsites that looked like a good fishing spot. The sand dunes were really high & the beach pretty steep with rocks & the reef not very far out. Mat was soon catching a lot of smaller emperor that were under size. He got a huge bite & hauled a fish right into his feet when it dropped off, we have no idea what it was. Back to camp for more swimming & relaxing, what a great place. 

Fishing spot

The next day we decided to do a day trip into Coral Bay along the 4WD coast road. It was an amazing drive with wonderful views. The road itself was pretty rough, but you could tow a trailer through, it would be slow though. It took us 3 hours to get from our camp at Ningaloo to Coral Bay but that was with 5 or so stops for photos, it was probably 65-70km of driving, but really worth doing. 

Coast road to Coral bay above & 2 below

We arrived in Coral Bay to find a lovely little town with a fantastic swimming beach. It is a very touristy resort town & was packed with holiday makers. There is no fresh drinking water in town & you have to pay for it at the caravan park at $1 per 10L, so we filled our drums up. We also paid for a shower while we were there, at $3 each it was a bargain, but the water was so salty it felt like you were showering in sea water, but it was nice to be clean. We then took advantage of the phone reception & made a couple of calls & checked emails. The town has a couple of supermarkets that are expensive but pretty well stocked as well as a bakery. We went to a cafe for lunch & had excellent local fish & chips. It was then time to head back to Ningaloo this time around the bitumen. It was a nice day out. 

Coral Bay

Our next few days were much the same, full of relaxing, swimming, snorkelling & fishing. It seemed to get even quieter with even less campers, which was nice. The wind dropped of on our last couple of days & the weather was glorious. There was a picture of a fish on the wall on the office at the Ningaloo homestead that said "at Ningaloo everyone's happy" that was completely true for us, we had a really wonderful relaxing time. Mat managed to catch us a feed of fish & 2 lots for the freezer, so we have a nice supply of emperor.  

Yes we will be getting the sand out of everything for a long time to come, but it was so worth it. We seriously considered staying for another week, but our supplies were getting low & we had itchy feet to discover what the rest of the Ningaloo coast would be like. 

Important things to note, you must be fully self sufficient. There is no drinking or other water available, you must have a chemical toilet, take all your rubbish out, you can have a fire but it must be off the ground & you can't collect wood at the station (there is not much around on the way in either, we didn't bother with a fire as it was to windy). We stayed at South Lefroy Bay in campsite 16, a great site with excellent water acres, but we had to back the trailer in as there was no turn around, site 14 near us looked really good to & had a turn around area. 

Erosion on the dunes

It was really quiet on our visit in mid September with lots of gaps between camps. If it was busy I am not sure it would of been as enjoyable as the camps are pretty close together & some sites aren't even on the waterfront, so I would be really disappointed if we got one of those if it was as busy. As you don't get access to the other camping areas as they are locked with different keys I can't comment on what the others were like. 

In summary we loved Ningaloo & wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. If you are looking for that peace of paradise it can be found at Ningaloo. We just hope you get to see it like we did with hardly any people to share it with.