Once again here I am. Behind in the blogging. Not really caring, to be honest. Ha! It's busy being on holidays you know?
From Broome we headed south into the Pilbara, and it really did feel as though we were 'turning for home'. We stayed at the 80 Mile Beach caravan park between Broome and Port Hedland. Matt (of course, Mr Have-A-Chat) got talking to the fisherman on the beach whilst I took photos of crazy jellyfish, sponges, coral and turtle tracks up the beach. As luck would have it a school of salmon was 'on' that morning - the fisherman Matt was with hauled in two 21 pound whoopers! He gave some of the smaller, yet still a sizeable meal, to us which fed us for three nights. Delicious!
But then...disaster. Driving between 80 Mile Beach and Port Hedland we started hearing a funny clunking noise. Lots of stopping, driving, stopping, listening, driving, listening...until I finally admitted that it sounded just like when we did the wheel bearing on Cape York. In fact, exactly the same. Out came the jack, Matt felt for some movement in the wheel and almost 100% confirmed that we had done another wheel bearing, only 20,000km's after one being fitted. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!! Not only were we sick to death of things going wrong with the ute, but we were in the worst possible place in Australia for this to happen - we would have to be towed to Port Hedland, Australia's most expensive town. To put things into perspective a small 1 bedroom flat in Port Hedland costs more to rent than a 5 bedroom harbourside Sydney home. Uh-huh. Our mechanic at home costs about $60/hour...here they cost $180 upwards. We were screwed. After waiting on the side of the road for a few hours poor Luxie was put on the back of a tow truck and into Port Hedland, the next day he went to the dreaded mechanic (which was handy they could do it straight away) and they fixed the stupid wheel bearing while we sat and waited and waited and waited for five hours in the mechanic reception area with no air con.
Let's not dwell on it though. It's done, dusted, we moved on. Not much we could do about it. That afternoon we were on the road again heading inland towards Karijini National Park - some amazing sunsets and landscape as we traveled. The Pilbara is quite desolate, but definitely has a beauty to it that not many admire I think. You think Pilbara you think mining, big dump trucks, camps full of miners and lots of iron ore. Yes it is that, but you also get sights like these...
We got to Karijini and as expected being inland it was once again hot! Although after doing walks in 43 degrees, these 39-40 degree walks didn't seem so bad. We set up camp and walked from there to Fern Pool, a much needed swim, Matt being his usual reserved self in the water entry style.
From Fern Pool we walked down Dales Gorge about a kilometre, passing some European tourists who had turned back as it was 'too hot and not enough water' - we told them it really wasn't that hot (they thought we were mad) and also that we would just drink the water from the creek (where it is flowing obviously and filtered, again, they thought we were mad).
The gorge ends at Circular Pool, spectacular colour but at this time of year not flowing water obviously. Matt did some exploring along the rock ledges, the water was actually quite cold! Our first taste of cold!
A quick scramble back up the gorge cliffs and a walk back along the top to the campsite at dusk.
The next morning we went exploring further into Karijini, lookouts at Joffre Gorge and Knox Gorge. Matt decided he wanted to do the steep walk down into Knox Gorge, I put my foot down and declared I was 'all gorged out!' He did say it was quite an amazing gorge, gets extremely narrow and then only experienced abseilings/rock climbers can go further.
Next up was Hancock Gorge - an amazing walk first down steep ladders to actually enter the gorge, then along a rocky creek, at one point you could walk along a slippery narrow rock ledge or go into the water, which was quite muddy so I couldn't determine how deep it was. Basically I fell in clothes and all and decided that swimming was the best option whilst Matt inched along the rock ledge with the camera in hand praying he wouldn't fall in (the water was actually quite deep, I couldn't touch the bottom). The gorge opened out again into a natural ampitheatre before closing in to 'the spider walk' - a very narrow section with water flowing through it but no actually flat bottom, making it extremely slippery and steep sides. Very tricky navigating this section, but lots of fun too!
The walk ends at Kermit's Pool, again you can only go on further with an abseiling guide or as an experienced rock climber/caver. Whilst having a swim at Kermit's Pool (again quite cold and deep!) we met Joe and Kate and their three boys, Fenn, Ari and Elden, who were from Barwon Heads and traveling around Australia for six months. Of course Matt/Have-a-chat chewed Joe's ear off and we walked out again with them, more ear chewing in the car park about all things camper/trailer set up and life on the road before we headed off to do Handrail Gorge walk.
Now this was amazing! A very narrow gorge walk and then a slippery slope down and around a corner to open up into the waterhole, a big drop down as well so the handrail (hence the name) is really needed! Without the handrail you would have to jump the 5-6 metres down into the water...and not sure how you would get back up really. The water here was really cold, we can see why they say to wear wetsuits and there is a risk of hypothermia in winter! Matt did some further exploring up the creek whilst I did some serious sun worshiping on the rocks.
That night the flies were hideous! We ended up eating our chicken and mushroom risotto dinner in the ute to escape them! The sunset however made up for it I think. I am definitely going to miss this, just pulling up, setting up camp and living outdoors, flies and all...
Into Tom Price the next morning to get some supplies, see some giant dump trucks and head out to Hammersley Gorge. On the way we got a flat tyre. Cue sad face. The road was so hot Matt couldn't even touch it, I had to get our floor mat for him to kneel/lie on! Hot, hot, hot.
On the road again and headed to Hammersley Gorge. Another beautiful spot for a swim - but again cold water! Strange for us! After a swim and an explore we headed to Millstream National Park for the night, arriving in the dark to camp which is a bit unusual for us. Matt wanted to visit the historic towns of Roebourne and Cossack so in the following few days we explored that area, lots of old stone buildings and history. The Pilbara, another tick off our travel list!