Thursday, 30 October 2014

Sandy Cape

We left Geraldton at 8am on the 22nd of October & headed south down the Coast road. We stopped briefly for some bread at Dongara & kept going down to a spot called Sandy Cape just north of Jurien Bay. This a shire run campsite with limited facilities & cost $15 a camp a night, this is one of the only camps like this available down this stretch of Coast, caravan parks are the only other option. So we expected it to be busy & it was, but luck was on our side for once & we managed to score campsite 1 the best site in the whole place. Right on the water & away from the other camps, whereas a lot of the others were right on top of each other. The previous occupants went out that morning & from the comments from other campers that we had scored the prime site there was some jealousy in the air, you have to get lucky occasionally!!

We set up under the trees, positioning ourselves so that if the wind did pick up we would be okay, but luckily it was pretty protected by dunes anyway. In the afternoon we went for a long walk on the beach & Mat went for a fish. We met a lovely bloke from Bundaberg who gave us all the gossip on the area & he said the fishing had gone bad & there were only toadfish around, which we found out to be true!  That night right on dark a rain shower blew in right when we wanted to cook dinner as is always the way. 

The next day the rain had cleared but it was still a little overcast. We decided to go for a drive down towards Jurien Bay. We arrived to find a lovely little coastal town, very touristy but it had everything you needed an IGA, bakery etc. We went down to the foreshore & found a fabulous jetty & playground & picnic area. We decided to have a fish off the jetty. While Mat got the gear ready I went to the nearby jetty cafe to grab a couple of excellent take away coffees. We were soon fishing & Mat got a bite straight away, he reeled in a pretty striped fish, not sure what maybe a rainbow runner? 

We chucked him back. I cast out on a smaller hook with a prawn & the next thing I know I had hooked something & it was taking drag, it got the blood pumping & as I got the fish close to the jetty we saw a big flash of silver, what the hell was it? As I got it in closer we realised it was a huge, huge toadfish/blowfish, we didn't know they grew that big. Great this was going to be fun to get it off the line, as we tried to pull him up to cut it off the line snapped, luckily as these things are very poisonous to touch or eat. 

As we were getting him off his mate came up to see what was going on & my next cast out I had caught his mate as well & this time 2 others followed him in as I reeled him in, not much point fishing here then! We chucked our lines in a couple more times & we could feel the bait getting picked away, if you dragged your bait in really slow there were thousands of little toadfish attacking the bait! One of the other guys fishing caught one of the big ones as well, they didn't seem to believe us that it was a toadfish, it broke off, but god knows how many people could potentially take one home, as the fish species knowledge just doesn't seem to be there for a lot of people. May be it's just us QLDers calling them the wrong name but they were definitely a not to be kept fish. 

After giving up on the fishing we made our way further south to a little town called Cervantes. Famous for its lobster industry. Touristy again but not as nice as Jurien Bay. We did find an awesome place called the Lobster Shack that has a cafe attached to a lobster processing plant so we splurged on lobster & chips for lunch. 

It wasn't cheap but was tasty. We can't believe the cost of seafood over here. They want $70 a kilo for lobster, prawns aren't to bad at $25-35 a kilo but there fish is ridiculous. $70 for red emperor, coral trout, dhufish etc. just crazy they even wanted $60 a kilo for squid in Geraldton. We complain when we have to pay more than $30 for red emperor at home in Rocky. Considering WA has the biggest coastline & less people the prices are ridiculous. Luckily we have managed to catch a decent amount of fish ourselves & still have some in the freezer. In the afternoon we were sitting in camp & Mat was talking to his parents on the phone when a 1.5m snake slithered under the trailer & then through our chairs, we only saw it as it came out & luckily it kept going. Well that was just the  start of our snake sightings, we think it was a Dugite. 

The next day we stayed at camp & did the walk up to the top of the lookout. It was a hard slog up the soft sand but worth it for the amazing views. The sand is extremely white at a Sandy Cape & there is a lime sand quarry on the way in. As usual on the WA Coast the water was beautiful blues & greens, this area is rocky & seaweed rather than coral like the ningaloo Coast. Just beautiful. 

In the afternoon again the snakes came out. One right near our camp that a girl almost stood on & another 2 up near the toilets, the place was teaming with them. Mat had to help move on a couple near campers with dogs & kids that didn't know what to do. Luckily they are not aggressive but are poisonous. Would be a bit of a worry if you had little kids with you camping. 

Sandy Cape was a great find, minus the snakes! We got extremely lucky with the best campsite. We stayed for 3 nights at $15 a night, there are good pit toilets at both ends of the campgrounds. There are about 30-40 camp sites. On our last night there (Friday) it was full & they put a sign out on the road. Guessing it is always busy on weekends. There is a caretaker on site. 

Monday, 27 October 2014


After Horrocks Beach we headed to Geraldton, we desperately needed to resupply as we we haven't seen a decent shop since Carnarvon. As soon as we hit the edges of Geraldton you could tell we were back in a bigger town. The traffic was hectic & the drivers terrible. I had this sinking feeling of just getting out of there fast, could we get all we needed done in just an overnighter?? I soon calmed down when we found a carvan park out near the port, that was huge, but in a quiet area & looked nice. We got given a large grassy site, the first time we have camped on lush green grass for the whole trip. It was really nice, we were near the amenities but not on top of them & the park was only about half full if that.

Geraldton harbour 

Green grass

We set up quickly as it was about to rain & it started to mist just as we were finishing. We decided to head down the street & grab a few things as they don't have Sunday trading & we arrived on a Saturday lunch time. We even managed to find a pub with awesome $12 lunch specials & the town seemed ok. We initially booked in for 2 nights at the Belair Gardens Caravan park at $34 a night. As it was Mats birthday on the Monday we didn't really want to pack up & move on that day, so we ended up staying for 4 nights. 

We used Geraldton as a base & went for a drive down to Greenough, Port Denison & Dongara, cut back inland to Mingenew & called into the Coalseam National Park that had amazing views & some cool old relics of the mining era including mine shafts you can look at. We then continued to Mullewa & back to Geraldton, a good day out & a nice drive. 

Flat Rocks

Port Denison

Coalseam national park

Old mine shaft

The next day was Mats birthday, so we decided to head back towards Northhampton way via the Chapman Valley & some wineries, but as it was a Monday everything was closed, we wanted to go to the pub in Northhampton for lunch, but the good one was closed & the other 2 were very dodgy! So we ended up back in Geraldton after all that. To make up for it I took him out to a fancy place in town for dinner called Skeetas, the food was pretty good & we ate too much, but had a nice night. 

What did you wish for, for your birthday????

The next day we did all of our resupply shopping, washed everything as it was the first time we have had decent washing machines since Katherine, so all of the linen & sleeping bags got a freshen up. And of course we had to have fish & chips on the beach before we left, yum. All in all Geraldton was a good spot to resupply it had all the shops we needed, there was a bit to see around town & a trip down to Dongara/Port Denison is well worth it. 

Geraldton local

Friday, 24 October 2014

Horrocks Beach

We left Murchison House Station at 8am on the 16th of October & stopped in at Kalbarri for a loaf of bread & continued South. There were a few options but we decided to have a look at Horrocks Beach on the coast west of Northampton. It is a quiet little fishing village that only really has a caravan park, general store & a mixture of really old fishing shacks & really new flash houses, seemingly divided halfway along the beach from old to new. Built right on the water it has the classic white beach & blue waters we have been seeing, but lots of seaweed. 

The caravan park was just back from the water & was old, but old isn't always bad as it had amazing established trees for shade. The toilet blocks were old, but clean & the park looked pretty quiet. We decided to give it a go. We stayed for 2 nights, the cost was $33 a night, but for some reason after we had left we discovered they had only charged us for 1 night on our card, so it was a pretty cheap stay. 

We set up camp in a block of 6 campsites with no other neighbours, by the afternoon another 2 camps had come in, but they spread us out & it was really nice & quiet. We spent the afternoon exploring the beach & the jetty. The jetty looked like it would be good for a night fish so we decided to go back down that night. We watched the sunset over the water & headed down towards the jetty only to find it packed full of people, there was no way we could fit as well, so we chucked the fishing lines in on the beach, but there was just to much seaweed, so we gave up & headed back to camp. 

The next day was spent at the beach, exploring & having a look around, which didn't take long as it is really a tiny place. If you are after a quiet fishing village then this is the place for you. It has one of the best foreshore developments we have seen, with great picnic tables, BBQs, playgrounds, toilets & the jetty itself. Great for a couple of days. 

That afternoon as we came back to camp we hads been surrounded by a couple of families in tents with loads of young kids, a young couple in camper trailer & a huge caravan. Let's just say that night wasn't as enjoyable as the one before. We had great pleasure in saying how we were going to get up early the next day & pack up very loudly!! But the next day we were up at 5.30am but so were the kids & they were using their new walkie talkies one of them had got for their birthday. I am all for kids working out how to use things themselves, but some parental instruction would of been helpful, as it seems the only way the walkie talkies would work is if you stand close enough to the other person & yell as loud as you can so they can hear you! 

We are glad we hadn't decided to stay for the weekend, so it was with pleasure as we drove out of that park waving happily to the kiddies & giving our commiserations to the other campers staying. Horrocks beach was a lovely little find. Great for a night or two. 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Cottage Pie

Well sadly fire restrictions are putting an end to a lot of our camp oven cooking but luckily while at Murchison House Station we got a few more days in. So here is a very yummy cottage pie. Great on a cold night. 

Cottage Pie
Serves 4

- 1 tablespoon of oil 
- 800g of beef mince
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 carrot chopped
- 1/2 a zucchini chopped
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon of curry powder
- 1 teaspoon of all purpose seasoning
- 3 tablespoons of gravy powder
- 1 beef stock cube
- 3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce 
- water
- 3/4 cup of frozen peas & corn
- dehydrated potato, prepared according to packet directions
- 1 cup of grated cheese
- salt & pepper to taste

- preheat a pot or frying pan over the campfire

- heat a tablespoon of oil & add the vegetables to fry off

- once softened l, add in the beef mince & fry until browned

- add the spices & stock cube & fry off for 2 minutes stirring well
- add the sauce & gravy powder & enough water to almost cover the meat

- bring to the boil & simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring often. 
- when almost ready add the frozen peas & corn to the mince mixture & also prepare your dehydrated potato according to packet directions, you need enough to cover the top of the pie 

- also preheat your camp oven & dig a hole to put it in if you are somewhere that is windy. 
- remove your meat mix from the heat & carefully pour into a baking dish (I used a cake tin, you could also use a disposable foil tray)
- spread the meat mix until it is in an even layer 

- top with spoons of the potato mixture
- finally top with the grated cheese

- place into the preheated camp oven

- use 2 shovels of coals on the bottom, place the oven on top & a further 2 shovels of coals on the top of the camp oven

- bake for about 30 minutes until cheese is browned & everything heated through

- remove from camp oven & serve

Of course you can use real mashed potatoes for the topping, we had none left & the dehydrated potato is a good camping option. You can also add in any other veggies you like, sweet potato or pumpkin would work as well. We had ours just as it is, but you could serve it with extra veggies, a bread roll or slice of bread & a squirt of tomato sauce. 

I can also say the left overs were delicious made into savoury mince & cheese toasties!! 

Monday, 20 October 2014

Murchison House Station & Kalbarri

We had to head back to the east to get out of Denham & back onto the North West Coastal highway & we started to head south towards Kalbarri. We had heard of a station stay on the Murchison River called Murchison House Station just out of Kalbarri. When we arrived we were greeted by the owner & given 2 options. We could either stay near the homestead on the river with full access to showers & toilets for $11 per person per night or we could pay an extra $50 vehicle access fee & pretty much have access to the whole property with camping options both upstream or downstream on the river or a beach camp. As we planned on staying a few days we decided to spend the extra money & try & find a quiet camp out on the property. We were given a great set of written map instructions & a topo map to find our way. 

So off we went, we decided to try for an upstream camp. Just near the homestead you cross the river causeway & turn right up the river. Straight away we had to negotiate a pretty decent jump up section of rough rocks. Slow & steady in 1st gear low range & Ruby walked up it, with the trailer tracking nicely behind. We had about 6km of tracks ranging from jump ups, to sand, to tracks right along the river edge. There were heaps of awesome campsites all the way along, but we decided to stop at a place called Booli Pool East that had a permanent waterhole & let us camp right on the river. 

A great spot. We found a suitable place amongst the trees that allowed us to have some shade but also a clear patch so the solar panels would work. After we were set up Mat collected & cut some firewood, as we were allowed a fire which was a surprise as we thought we had hit the fire season, but it didn't start until November here. Yes!!!! More camp oven cooking & a fire to stare into at night, we were happy. 

That night we slept as well as we have since the Kimberley, as it was so quiet & peaceful. We reckon there wasn't another camp near us for at least 6km back to the homestead the whole time we were camped. Heaven!

The next day we decided to do the drive downstream & out to the coast at Kalbarri. It was a fantastic drive & we stopped off at Castle Rock for spectacular views of the Murchison River, Kalbarri & the ocean. The drive is about 20km long from the homestead & well worth it. I would suggest you would struggle to find anything similar anywhere else in the area. The $50 access fee is worth it. We had a fish on the way home in the river but couldn't hook up despite lots of bites. By the time we got back to camp that afternoon it was getting late. It was a great day out. 

View from Castle Rock

The next day we stayed in camp & had a quiet day. I even baked myself a chocolate mud cake in the camp oven for my birthday, yum!

Birthday cake, a little burnt, but cut the top off & cover with more chocolate delish!

The next day being my 30th birthday there was much to celebrate ha ha! We ventured into Kalbarri for a look around & walked to the top of the magnificent Red Bluff for amazing views. We also ventured to the pub for a birthday lunch overlooking the water. A few takeaway drinks from the bottlo & it was back to camp for a quiet afternoon. 

The next day we went to the Kalbarri National Park. There is no camping here so being based at Murchison House Station which is right next door is very convienent. We walked to the part of the river called the Z Bend, for spectacular views. 

Z Bend

We then went to the famous Natures Window which is a hole in the stone formation with a view over the river. It was really busy with people but we did manage to get a couple of photos. 
Natures Window

On the way out we had a look at the West Loop Lookout. Overall the national park was lovely & there were some wild flowers out which was nice, definitely worth a look. On the way back into the station we went up to their lookout above the hay paddock with amazing views back over the station & towards Kalbarri, another great experience. 

The next day we stayed at camp again & explored the river in front of our campsite. We walked upstream towards a huge flock of ducks, black swans & Pelicans. As we got closer an island formed in the river & as we walked along this a kangaroo came flying back past us, we had obviously scared it. We kept walking but soon discovered there was another kangaroo, this one wasn't game to go past us & got spooked & bounded towards the water itself. The water was covered in weed & we think it thought it could hop across, but in seconds it was completely submerged in the water, we held our breath as it scrambled & swam across & finally made it to the other side. The poor thing won't need a bath for a while that is for sure. I did have my camera & managed to snap a few photos even though it was on the wrong settings, it makes a pretty good sequence I think!

Birds on the river

What's that in the water?????

Is it gone????
Nope still swimming!!

Getting closer 

Almost there


That ended up being our last day at Murchison House Station. We stayed for a total of 6 nights. We loved our stay & would definitely recommend it. If you are after a quiet all to yourselves camp it is definitely worth a look. Their camping on the river at the homestead was pretty good to if you just want to use it as a base for a trip to Kalbarri. But the best bits are definitely in that extra $50 vehicle access fee.