Three Years on the Road
Brett Davis

88. Kalbarri

Camping in the Overlander rest area was noisy and dangerous, but it did have its good points. For a start, it was free. It was also flat, and because we were camped on gravel and bare earth, there was not much condensation on the tent when we surfaced at 6:30am. It was always nice to be able to pack away a dry tent.

We pushed the bikes back to the roadhouse to use its outside tables and chairs for brekkie. A petrol tanker driver struck up a conversation with us, talking about cyclists, recumbent bikes, and the penchant the Japanese seem to have for long distance cycle touring. The discussion moved on to the subject of walkers, with the truckie recounting tales of the strange sights he had seen during his regular run up and down the Western Australian coast. The oddest walker he had ever seen was a naked bloke walking along the highway a bit north of Perth a year or two ago. We soon brought him up to speed on what Victor had been doing since.

The countryside around the Overlander is flat, but once we had ridden a little way down the highway we encountered fairly substantial undulations over ancient sand dunes. The road was dead straight and south south-easterly, and so was the breeze. John and Lucille, our water droppers, stopped by for a chat as they passed us at fifteen kilometres, providing the only distraction in our three hour slog to the Billabong Roadhouse, forty seven kilometres down the road.

Over a very late morning tea we spoke to a couple from Perth who were fascinated by our metho stove and bike computers they had never seen anything like them before! By this stage of the trip Karen and I had spoken to hundreds of fellow tourists who almost always asked us the "Standard Twenty Questions," which are listed at the end of this book. The Perth couple rattled off the questions in rapid succession and our entire conversation was over in less than ten minutes. The first three Questions often prompted "the Jesus Reaction."

"Where have you ridden from?"
"Jesus! Where are you headed?"
"Around Australia".
"Jesus!! How many kilometres do you do a day?"
"Anything up to one hundred and forty".

Karen had no trouble getting drinking water from the roadhouse for our cuppas, which reminded us of the difficulty we had faced at the Overlander. It also made us realise that neither of us had suffered any ill effects from drinking the Overlander's bore water.

The road continued dead straight for another fifteen kilometres after the break, making the straight section about sixty two kilometres long. With the turns came more energy sapping undulations, and it was two tired cyclists who arrived at the Nerren Nerren rest area thirty kilometres later.

John and Lucille had dropped the eight litres of water perfectly, hiding the wine cask bladders in long grass and even camouflaging them with broken branches. Six caravans had already set up for the night in the rest area. Karen and I were invited over for a cup of tea and some iced vo-vo biscuits by a couple of caravanners. We accepted the offer gratefully. Frank and Rosalie also introduced their two little dogs, and their pet galah named Kenny. They were headed north, and gave us a map of Geraldton which they no longer needed, plus advice on the best places to stay. Their best advice they gave us, however, concerned Kenny. Despite the name, Kenny was actually a female we were told, her pink eyes being a dead give-away. The males have dark eyes. A useless bit of trivia to some people, but a valuable aid to recognition for birdwatchers like Karen and me.

The wind died sometime during the night, and the still morning promised a good day of riding. The stillness was short-lived, however, with another southerly wind starting at 8am. Some of our neighbours offered us water before we started riding, but we declined with a rain check after discovering that they would be spending the night at the Murchison River, our next overnight stop as well. We still had plenty of water from the eight litres we picked up the day before.

The road trended southwards over a variety of undulations through basically flat country, the flowers which had lined the road ever since Carnarvon giving way to the bare red gravel of the desert. Scattered amongst the wattles were actual trees, tall eucalypts that towered above their scrubby cousins. Grevilleas were on the increase as well, and small stands of conifers had begun to appear too.

Morning tea at thirty two kilometres was in a parking bay out of the wind. Karen and I spent quite a while tracking down a new bird - the white-fronted honeyeater. Between the fifty and sixty kilometre marks we began seeing water in shallow areas beside the road. This signalled our arrival at Eurardy Station. We glimpsed some areas of cultivation through trees, but this did not prepare us for what we found after sixty two kilometres. Our maps told us we were approaching the Murchison watershed. We expected a wide, dry, river meandering through the same scrub we had been seeing all day. Then we topped a rise and saw endless vistas of hill after rolling hill of green. We had hit the famous Western Australian wheat belt! Desert on one side of the fence, farmland on the other - just like that.

The appearance of the wheat belt coincided with the disappearance of the road shoulder and an increase in the number of hills and corners. For hundreds of kilometres of straight, flat highway we had ridden on good roads with wide shoulders, but through the hills we took our lives in our hands on narrow, winding roads. We battled on into the wind, almost reaching a nineteen kilometres per hour average until a tough final ten kilometres pegged us back to eighteen, spread over four hours of riding.

We reached the Murchison a little after one o'clock, and found a nice campsite with table and chairs near Bill and Stella, the couple who had offered us the water in the morning. After setting up the tent and having lunch, Karen and I walked to the ruin of an old school building along the river, then scouted the entire area looking for birds but finding nothing new. The rest of the afternoon was devoted to maintenance - sewing up a hole in our cutlery bag and a rip in my inner sheet, oiling both bike chains, and taping up one of Karen's water-bottles which had a pin-hole about a centimetre from the bottom.

Karen created a wonderful Mussaman curry and rice for dinner which we took over to the fire of Bill and Stella. Steve someone joined us for a nice, quiet evening of conversation by the fire. The southerly breeze was still going so I had pegged out the guy strings to keep it taut. During a quick return to the tent to fetch a sloppy-joe, I tripped over a guy wire in the dark and ripped it completely off the tent. I cursed my own stupidity, which was compounded soon after when the wind died and the guy strings were not needed anyhow. Such is life.

In the morning we packed up quickly, filled five water-bottles courtesy of Bill and Stella and hit the road by 8:15am. The wind had again woken up, in our faces for the first twelve kilometres of the day until we turned off towards Kalbarri when it suddenly became our friend. Another eighteen kilometres of hilly farmland were pretty tough on the ups and the road was narrower too, but then we reached the boundary of the Kalbarri National Park, high atop a heath-covered plateau. Once on the flat we flew, the tailwind pushing our average speed from seventeen up to twenty.

The road was lined by wattles, banksias, grevilleas, kangaroo paws and a strange looking plant we later discovered had the unfortunate but apt name of smelly socks. We diverted two kilometres down a gravel road to the Ross Graham lookout for morning tea at forty five kilometres. The descent was large, and the view not as spectacular as we would have liked, but we took a photo anyhow. The ride back up the hill was a bugger, but we were not to know. It was better to have gone and been disappointed, than not to go and find out later that we had missed something wonderful.

Riding through wattles on the way to Kalbarri

We powered into Kalbarri, stopping a couple of times for photos along the way. The last downhill was excellent until we hit the bottom and the seabreeze almost stopped us in our tracks. With a choice of caravan parks on offer, Karen became her usual choosy self, rejecting the first park we tried because of the site and the service. The Tudor Caravan Park was found more to Karen's liking, so we paid for three days with an option for another four. Like a lot of parks, the Tudor has a "pay for six night, get the seventh night free" plan. It also has a good campers kitchen and a large television room. I was keen to make use of the latter.

While I set up the tent, Karen gathered our dirty clothes together and put on a load of washing. Then came lunch, reading all the Kalbarri tour brochures, an Aussie Rules game on the tube, bringing the diary up to date, and showers for the both of us. After three days on the road, the showers were very necessary.

In the evening we walked down to the main shops in town and phoned home. For dinner we bought the three best things that civilisation has to offer - wine, a barbecue chicken, and a bag of hot chips. Yum. We enjoyed our feast in the television room back at the caravan park. Halfway through our meal, Bill of Bill and Betty fame rocked in. We had last seen him just north of Nanga when he had been heading south - presumably out of our lives. When he had reached the highway, however, Bill's car had developed radiator problems. He had been towed from the Billabong roadhouse to Geraldton, where he and Betty had spent a week while the car was being fixed. They had then driven back to Billabong to pick up their caravan and were now continuing their trip, with Kalbarri the first stop on their new agenda.

Our first day in Kalbarri was spent around town, shopping for books, sightseeing at the river mouth, and visiting the beach, headland and Information Centre. A forecast of showers for tomorrow saw us delay making any tour bookings. There were two standout trips available which we were keen to do, one a bus trip out to the national park, and the other a boat trip for whale watching and viewing the spectacular coastal scenery south of Kalbarri.

In the evening we visited Bill and Betty in their caravan and had a pleasant hour of conversation. Like us, they planned an extended stay in Kalbarri. Karen and I adjourned to the campers kitchen for dinner, drinks, and the cacophony of two bus-loads of kids camping nearby. Evening showers forced them into the shelter of the campers kitchen and television room. Karen and I could not hear ourselves think, but luckily their curfew soon arrived. Alone at last, I turned on the television and watched the last three quarters of the Adelaide Crows beating Collingwood.

Sixty little eleven year-old alarm clocks woke us from our slumbers sometime after 6am the next morning, a Tuesday. With the weather looking okay, Karen and I walked down to the tourist bureau and tried for a whale watching tour, but they had all been cancelled until Thursday. We decided to challenge the weather and booked the trip anyhow, also deciding on a canoe safari to the national park for Wednesday as well.

With a day to kill, we walked to the Wildflower Centre which we had passed on the way into town, and did a walk amongst the flowers. The flora was okay - Karen likes it more than I do - but spotting a new bird was even better - a blue-breasted fairy wren. On the way back to the caravan park we saw another new bird - a slender-billed thornbill, so the day turned out better than I had thought it would.

Our decision to challenge the weather gods and book the Kalbarri National Park tour anyhow seemed ill-advised when a succession of showers fell during the night. We rose at 6:30am to find an overcast sky still in the process of choosing whether or not to rain again. Our tour bus arrived shortly before 8am. After a few more pick-ups, Driver Doug had his full complement of fifteen tourists and drove us out to the national park. Our first stop was the Loop.

As its name implies, the Loop is a large meander in the Murchison, with each side of the loop separated by a low ridge which sweeps up to a lookout high above the river. It is quite a spectacular view from the lookout, but the concept of the geography below is even more spectacular. A person could start from a point on the low ridge, walk down to the river, follow it downstream for eight kilometres around the loop, climb up to the nearest high point and find themselves at the same point at which they started!

Nature's Window

Another feature, Nature's Window, is just a short walk away from the lookout. A hole large enough to climb through has been eroded through a small, thin, rocky outcrop, forming a window through which a scene of the Murchison river valley can be framed. Both the rock formation and the scene beyond are quite impressive.

The scene through Nature's Window

We drove to a point on the road adjacent to the Z-Bend, another aptly named section of river, where we were led on a walk down a shallow, dry gully. By the time we neared the river, the gully had developed into a substantial gorge. A short break for some biscuits and cake gave us time to check out the group, a mix of Australian tourists and foreign backpackers, some old, some not so old, and not a child to be seen. A half kilometre walk along the bank took us to an overhang where a dozen canoes were waiting for us to take them down the river. Life jackets were issued from a metal box under the overhang, then we were all off for a short paddle downstream to a grassy bank where we ate the lunches we had brought with us.

Lunch by the Murchison

If the weather had been warmer we would have swum, but we could not complain. We had had no rain and the sun was breaking through the cloud cover quite regularly. After lunch we paddled back to the overhang then exited the gorge via a more direct gully which involved a couple of scrambles. Karen and I thought nothing of it, but some of the older people in the group regarded the climb out of the valley as their own personal Everest. We were back at the bus by 3pm, and back in town by 4pm, having experienced the highlights of the Murchison River in one pleasant day, rather than the three it would have taken for Karen and I to ride and camp.

At the caravan park we paid for another three nights' accommodation and got the free extra night. A cool night and morning kept us in the tent until late, but we were in no hurry as the whale watching tour was not due to leave until 10am. The weather was a bit like the day before, with some heavy cloud and showers in the area, but plenty of sunny patches as well.

Karen and I walked down to the wharf and boarded a boat called the Icon. The wharf at Kalbarri is on the Murchison River. To reach open ocean we had to negotiate the shallow, sandy and winding river mouth which took us to a rocky bar. Karen and I had seen this at low tide, and it looked dangerous, so it was with some relief that we saw the tide was high. Even so, the exit of the Icon to the ocean was rather disconcerting.

As we made our way out to sea, the captain of the boat gave us a brief run-down on the boat. It had been purpose built as a lobster boat, and was used for this purpose every lobster season. Until whale numbers began to increase with the cessation of whaling, and the subsequent increase of interest in whale watching amongst the tourist population, the boat would have lain idle for much of the year, but now it was making money for its owners all year round.

Our original intention was to cruise down the coast for about ten miles to view the cliffs and rock formations south of Kalbarri, then head out to sea to look for whales. After a couple of miles we spotted a large group of bottlenose dolphins near the cliffs and went in for a closer look. Within minutes one of the crew had spotted a tell-tale spout way out to sea, so our plan went overboard and out we went.

A few of our fellow passengers must have thought that Karen and I were demented, for rather than training our binoculars on the whales, we had them pointed skywards, looking for birds. There are about seven hundred and fifty species of birds listed in the field guides, but about a fifth of these are oceanic. Birds like albatrosses, penguins, shearwaters, storm petrels, jaegers and skuas are hardly ever visible from the mainland. Apart from nesting, some spend their entire life at sea. Karen and I were hoping to add a couple of good ticks to our bird list, and we did! The sightings were fairly distant so the birds had to be pretty distinctive, and they were - the wedge-tailed shearwater and the yellow-nosed albatross.

The Icon was probably a very good lobster boat, but for whale watching it was not ideal. Under power it was fine, but when we neared the whales and throttled back, the heavy ocean swells had the boat rocking markedly from side to side. This was fine for simple observation - we just held on for dear life and watched the whales - but for photography the movement of the boat was diabolical. We had to brace ourselves against the side of the boat, throw an arm around anything that could be used as a support, and try to aim, focus and shoot when the image in the viewfinder was ocean one moment and sky the next. And of course, as soon as we looked through the camera, the motion of the boat caused the first suggestions of sea-sickness.

Karen watching the whales

Both of us managed to click off a few pictures, but most of the time we were too busy looking to worry about photography! The photographs, the rocking and the sea-sickness were soon all forgotten as the whales got closer and closer. For forty five minutes we had two large humpbacks and a smaller calf frolicking all around the boat. We were close enough to make eye contact with the massive creatures. It was wonderful. There was even a lone seal out there with the whales, a sight we would normally have been pretty gaga about, but one we largely ignored due to the presence of his more impressive distant cousins.

Whale tail

Eventually it was the Icon and not the whales which left the area. We still had the coastal tour to complete, so we headed back towards the land. A small group of common dolphins raced in with us, playing in the bow wave for a few seconds and then moving rapidly away. Some were jumping totally clear of water - awesome.

We powered down the coast to some features called Natural Bridge, Castle Cove and Island Rock, which were pretty impressive but a bit of an anti-climax after the excitement with the whales. The tide was lower by the time we reached the mouth of the Murchison at Kalbarri, and the entrance looked dangerous, but the captain knew what he was doing and made the entire manoeuvre look easy. We arrived back at the jetty at 12:30pm after a truly memorable and totally worthwhile cruise.

The showers which had threatened all morning struck with a vengeance shortly after Karen and I arrived back at the caravan park. A couple of sudden downpours hit while we ate lunch in the shelter of the campers kitchen. We were thankful that they had not arrived when we were on the boat, and congratulated ourselves for once again challenging the weather, and winning!

Everybody we spoke with who had been to Kalbarri told us of a restaurant called Finlay's, and had recommended it without exception. Karen and I decided to see for ourselves if its reputation was deserved. It would also get us out of the caravan park for the evening too, so we would not have to contend with the hordes of school kids who were still in residence. We walked to the restaurant just on dusk, and a couple of hours later walked home completely in agreement with the general consensus. Finlay's is not your average restaurant. It is a building of rough bush timber and corrugated iron, more like a big shed than an actual building, and more like a glorified fish shop than a restaurant. It has a fairly conventional undercover area, with plastic tables and chairs, and it also has open air seating at wooden bench tables as well. The open area has a few open fires scattered through it for the benefit of patrons, who place their order and pay for it at the counter, then grab their own cutlery, butter, pepper, salt and toilet paper napkins and find a table. When their number is called, they collect their dinner from the counter. The manager - for want of a better word - is loud, tells a lot of awful jokes, and occasionally singles out people for unkind comments or downright abuse, much to the amusement of everyone. With the food plentiful, cheap and excellent, Karen and I walked home happily after a good night out.

The following day was my birthday. Yesterday, at age forty three, I had been in my prime. Today, at forty four, I am a magnum. Next year, at forty five, I will be a colt. At least, that is what I told everybody. In the morning I received one of the best birthday presents I could have hoped for - the two bus-loads of school kids departed. I did not even mind them waking us up before they left.

After brekkie we rode down the coast to check out the cliffs and gorges from the land. The weather was mainly fine, with broad bands of cloud to the south and north but clear skies overhead. The airport road, a birdwatching paradise according to the local tourist information sheets, was covered in noisy, earthmoving equipment. A new rural development was under construction, so we continued on down the coast.

We rode to the furthest features first - Island Rock and Natural Arch - where we had cuppas and cake for morning tea. On the way back to Kalbarri we stopped in at almost every coastal feature along the way, including a return to Island Rock after we spotted the spume of a whale out to sea. We also stopped at Pot Alley, Mushroom Rock, Eagle Gorge and Red Bluff, all worth a visit, but not so spectacular that you'd die heartbroken if you missed them.

Island Rock and the Kalbarri coastline

By the time we stopped for lunch at a shelter on the beach below Red Bluff, we had seen whales, kangaroos, emus, a snake, a blue tongue lizard, a spotted harrier and a fox - quite a collection. With the wind rising and rainclouds moving in, we ate lunch quickly and bolted for the caravan park, arriving only slightly damp. We had run into Bill and Betty at the Red Bluff car park, where they told us they would be leaving Kalbarri later in the day. They dropped in to see us and say goodbye at the campers kitchen. We wished them well, took their picture, had ours taken as well, and Karen and I said we would visit them in Frankston when we were passing through. The rest of my birthday consisted of dinner and drinks, and Karen letting me watch the West Coast Eagles beat Brisbane - another good birthday present.

Karen and I went looking for birds at the local spring the next morning. We spotted one new bird - a Western Gerygone. Most of our bird watching expertise had been picked up in the field, or through the reading of field guides and bird books. We had spoken to very few other birders, and as a result had no idea we were mispronouncing some bird words. "Gerygone" is the classic example. We were saying "jerry gone" - with the emphasis on "gone" - but it was not until much later that we would find out it is actually pronounced "je-rig-gone-knee" - with the emphasis on "rig". Such are the perils of book learning.

The walk-in aviary at the Parrot Breeding Centre

After lunch I watched Melbourne beating Freo, then Karen and I rode to the Rainbow Jungle Parrot Breeding Centre, just south of town. We each paid our five dollar entry fee, which seemed a bit steep until we saw just how good the place was. Karen and I are not normally fans of those who keep caged birds, but the ends probably justified the means at the Breeding Centre. Rare birds are bred to replenish lost numbers in the wild, and sick or injured birds are tended until well. They had a great collection of birds, with large cages, nicely landscaped grounds and an excellent walk-in aviary of parrots. Karen and I were fascinated by their pair of Eclectus Parrots, one of a growing list of birds whose territories we had passed through without a sighting. It would have been nice to be able to tick off the Eclectus, but sightings in aviaries and zoos are hardly fair.

Male and female Gang-gang Cockatoos

Because my birthday had passed unheralded, and because Karen's birthday was only two days away, we decided to celebrate with a dinner and a movie. We had walked past the Palm Resort, next door to the caravan park, many times and Karen, always on the lookout for a bargain, had noticed a sign offering a movie and smorgasbord for fifteen dollars a head. It would blow an entire day's budget, but it was our birthdays after all, so we showered, shaved, dressed in our finest and trotted next door. The decor was far from lavish, but the food was hot, varied and plentiful, especially as we helped ourselves to extra servings. The only movie playing during our week in Kalbarri was Mr Bean, entertaining enough but no Academy Award winner. Afterwards, with our hunger for food and entertainment sated, but our appetite whetted for other things, Karen and I walked hand in hand back to the caravan park where I, ever the romantic, stayed up to watch the Swans lose to Geelong in the last round of the season while Karen went to bed.

The morning of our last day in Kalbarri was spent birdwatching. We rode out to Wittecarra Creek near Red Bluff, but after a couple of hours of searching we only had one new bird to report - a single Western Yellow Robin. There did not seem to be too many birds around, though we did spend a good deal of time tracking a plaintive trill to its source - a previously sighted Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo. We even ran the gauntlet of the developers up the airport road, ignoring a "Do Not Enter" sign in our never ending quest for a new tick. A leaflet put out by the RAOU (Royal Australian Ornithological Union) mentioned an area called the Gravel Pit, but Karen and I never found it. At one stage we hid our bikes in a clearing near the track and walked to a dry, wet-weather creek, but our searches proved fruitless so we returned home empty handed.

Upon our arrival back at the caravan park we heard that Princess Di had died in a car accident in Paris. Karen was shocked and saddened, but my reaction to the news was a fear that it would interfere with the football telecasts and replays. After all, the rescue of Stuart Diver had taken precedence over an AFL game when we had been in Exmouth, so who knew what would happen after the death of a royal.

During the afternoon Karen wrote postcards to some of our friends while I did some reading and tried to avoid all the Di reports on the tube. This was virtually impossible as Kalbarri is only a two channel town. We walked to town at dusk to call some friends in Sydney, then Karen phoned her mum and spoke for ages, mostly about Princess Di and what a tragedy it was. I stood outside the phone box wondering why her car had been speeding, why she had not told the driver to slow down, why she was not wearing a seat-belt, and why the media was focussing on the death of this one person when they ignored the deaths, through famine, war and genocide, of thousands of other people every day. Then again, I would not have wanted reports of the deaths of those thousands to interrupt the football either.

A guy called Rod, from a tour company called Action Safaris, had said he might be able to give us a lift back to the highway, but when he did not show, Karen and I resigned ourselves to the long climb out of Kalbarri. While we had waited for our potential transport, we had spoken to another caravan park guest, discovering that like Karen, his parents too had a holiday house at St Georges Basin. It was just another of the coincidences, albeit a small one, that had happened to us during our travels around Australia.

We hit the road at 8:30am. The climb to the plateau was not too bad, especially as we divided it into two by stopping halfway up to take a photo. With Elle and Mel propped against each other on the shoulder of the road, and with the Murchison River and the Indian Ocean in the distant background, I strategically placed Karen in front of a sign which pointed to "Meanarra Hill." With her legs covering the "arra" part of the name, the photo shows the sign now reading "Mean Hill".

Mean-arra Hill

Last night's weather forecast, which had been squeezed in amongst the Di reports, had warned of an approaching front and a confused weather pattern. We rode under a blue sky dotted with light, fluffy clouds, with the wind swinging from the south-east to the north-east before settling in to a steady north-west tailwind. We flew once we reached the plateau but by the time we arrived at the highway the wind had swung around to the south-west and would be into or across us for the remainder of the day.

We stopped a few times to takes pictures of wildflowers, particularly a smelly socks which had just begun blooming. Eleven kilometres after we had turned onto the highway, we reached a dot on the map called Binnu. Karen had pre-selected this spot as our most likely overnight camping spot, but every tent site she suggested was unsuitable in my eyes, mostly because we would be visible from the road, so we lunched and discussed our options.

Kalbarri was seventy nine kilometres behind us, with the town of Northampton a further thirty seven kilometres down the road. A series of brilliant arguments from me convinced Karen that moving on was our best option. The clincher - which I had used once before near Alice Springs - was "I am riding on so you can stay here and sleep in the open or come with me and sleep in the tent!" The extra distance would extend the day's ride to one hundred and sixteen kilometres. Karen was already tired and not enjoying the headwind at all, but in the end she really had no option. She probably hated me right at that moment, but I really had a bad feeling about staying at Binnu. I would have kicked myself if I had relented, we had stayed, and something untoward had happened.

The final thirty seven kilometres were not too bad, a series of big hills, mostly down. We arrived in Northampton just before five o'clock and quickly shopped for grog. Today was Karen's birthday, and although I am a heartless bastard, as my comments on Princess Di obviously prove, I insisted we buy a good bottle of chardonnay, Karen's favourite wine, so we could celebrate the day in style. It would complement superbly the baked beans we would have for dinner.

A short ride took us to the council caravan park, where a still peeved Karen disappeared for a long, hot shower while I quickly set up the tent before the approaching front arrived. While the grounds of the caravan park were spartan and quite exposed, its facilities were superb. We adjourned to a large room in the amenities block when the rain hit. The room was completely open on one side, but with a good roof over our heads we were quite content. We made good use of its sink, table, bench seat and lights.

After dinner we wrote a couple of letters to some of our friends back home. We told them of the delights of the past week in Kalbarri - the whale watching, the Parrot Breeding Centre, the National Park and the coastal scenery - but our thoughts were also focussed on the future. The next big town down the coast was Geraldton, and Karen and I had been looking forward to getting there for a long, long time - ever since Darwin in fact.

Geraldton would be the first town in almost five thousand kilometres which had a Pizza Hut and a McDonalds!

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