12—15 July 2002
We spent two nights at Carnarvon. Unfortunately we didn’t see much of the town and surrounds. The second day was spent completing schoolwork. I drove into town to get a haircut, but all the hairdressers and barbers were closed. I got the gas bottle filled and brought some glue for minor repairs, including Ruby’s boots.
That night, Susie and I sat down to plan our itinerary. We decided to head for a bush camp about 140 km south of Carnarvon at an abandoned shipping jetty on Shark Bay at a place called Gladstone. This would place us within striking distance of Hamelin Pool and Shell Beach.
The next morning we packed up and purchased some last minute supplies. We also made sure all water containers were filled: there is no water to be found on the stretch south of Carnarvon, for a distance of about 420 km.
Before leaving Carnarvon, we went on a tour of Monroe’s banana plantations, 10 km out of town. This was great fun, and quite informative. We had some scones after the tour, and some wicked treats as well. Ruby had banana pancakes, I had a chocolate-covered frozen banana, and Clare had a frozen mango ice-block covered with chocolate. Having feasted on these treats, and about a kilo of nice fresh bananas, we headed south. We stopped three times to collect wood. The reason for the repeated stops was the scrappy and meagre timber: there were simply no trees. We got lucky when we hit a dry river however, and got some nice solid, bone-dry sections of fallen tree.
After stopping for petrol at a lonely roadhouse, we searched for the turnoff to Gladstone. When we found it, there was an ominous sign on the gate advertising vehicle recovery services. The road in was dry and firm however, if a bit corrugated. But we had only about 7 km to travel.
When we arrived there were other campers, but not many considering it was still the school holidays. We drove along a bumpy track north along the bay, and found a campsite amongst the scrub. The spot is the most ideal bush camp we’ve had so far, and we decided to stay on another night, weather permitting. The firewood was a welcome comfort, especially since our gas light seems to have become totally useless.
The first night I made a beef stew. I thought it was my finest to date until Susie complained about the rosemary being too strong. The second day we had a lazy day in the sun. The morning was still and clear and we were forced to seek shade beneath the canvas flap of the tent, but the breeze picked up in the afternoon. Ruby did some schoolwork by choice. I had a violin lesson with Clare, and then Clare and I went for a walk to the jetty in the afternoon. Susie did some videoing and read her book, Kings in Grass Castles by Mary Durack. Both nights we had a lovely sing-along around the campfire.
At the moment it’s late and the others have gone to bed. I’m writing by candlelight under the stars. The night is still and cool, the coals of the campfire are glowing beside me, and a bright crescent moon is hanging over Shark Bay. Even though it’s only a quarter moon, it sheds enough light to see by. It is so quiet you could hear a pin drop. There’s something moving around on the shore a few tens of metres away – I have no idea what.
Clare had a bout of homesickness this evening, poor kiddo. Ruby is okay however. Susie thinks her endometriosis is back with a vengeance, causing her some abdominal pain.
One of the highlights of this stop has been the curious chiming song of a bird. At first I thought it was some kind of electronic device or a weird squeak that the trailer had developed. The bird looks pretty ordinary, but it sounds outlandish.
I’m falling asleep on my chair now. The silence here is deafening. Tomorrow, we’re off to Hamelin Pool, which I have dreamed of visiting for a very long time.