10—11 July 2002
The next morning we took leave of our neighbours and drove to Coral Bay, which was absolutely bursting at the seams with holiday-makers. It was all we could do to find a parking space. Once we secured one, we made our way down to the main snorkelling spot. Luckily we arrived at the peak of high tide. I went in first to check the current, and once again it was quite manageable, despite dire warnings. The water was deeper and the fish fewer compared to Cape Range, but the coral formations were large and impressive. I returned to shore and went out with Susie, Clare, and Ruby in turn. It was a bit unnerving due to the fact that we had to contend with a lot of boat traffic. The main route for boats passed right over the top of the most easily accessible coral formations for snorkelers, which was an unsatisfactory state of affairs. I wondered how many snorkelers have been blended into burley by fishing boats.
Our swim-and-run policy on Coral Bay was a wise one: it would have been an awful stay there, it was so crowded. So we had a nice picnic lunch overlooking the bay, and then pulled out of there in good time to make a bush camp on the road to Carnarvon.
Just north of the bush camp we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, and stopped to take a snapshot of Ruby against a dramatic cloudscape.
The bush camp was a roadside stop on a river near Minilya Roadhouse – not a bad spot for a rest area. We had stopped along the way to collect some wood, which was no easy task. The land was very flat with low scrub near the water courses, but not a tree to be seen. We got enough wood for a modest fire, and once we had set up camp, I ventured down to the riverbed and found some fallen branches of a red gum. It took some time to hack a section off with a camp axe, but when the job was done we had a lovely piece of firewood. Susie and I sat up late playing guitar and chatting next to the fire. The kids played with the last two signal flares that Peter and Maureen had given them, and managed to lure some other kids out to play. We ate prawns with white wine before dinner, and had jaffles cooked in the fire. It all went to demonstrate the superiority of bush camps over caravan parks.
The next morning we packed up and pushed on to Carnarvon. We actually lost our way, thanks to some road works on the river just to the north of town, and found ourselves driving amongst banana plantations. We got some directions off a road worker, and found our way into town. Our first task was to get an auto-electrician to fix the indicator lights on our trailer. Luckily this was a quick and inexpensive job. We had called him from Exmouth, and he rather reluctantly agreed to look at it. I watched him fix it so that I’d know how to do it next time.
Having sorted out that little problem, we picked up our mail at the post office. This consisted entirely of packages of school work for the kids. We then tried to get into a caravan park near to town, but they could offer us only a cramped space right next to the toilet block, so we got them to call a van park up the road, where we settled into a much nicer and more generous site. The rest of the day was spent doing schoolwork, washing clothes and cleaning out the trailer. I made chilli con carne for dinner. As the evening wore on, the camp filled up around us.
It’s chilly at night here, and the gas is running out as I write. It’s time to have a shower and de-encrust myself.