From view to view
Exmouth - Hut River, 5th -7th November
Well, today it is no longer the third of November anywhere around the world and it is time to cool down the excitement. We’ve had enough laziness and entertainment during the last few days so we start today a bit more traditionally - folding the sheets, packing away the tent and saying “Goodbye!” to the campsite emu. It welcomed us so politely upon arrival, it deserves our polite farewell too.
We aren’t in a rush to set off on the roads, however. Nothing cools down the excitement better than a computer on the lap in the local cafe and some work - each of us with their own tasks. We order chocolate milkshakes and go deep into the clicking of the keyboards. And we stay like that for three hours when the breakfast energy weakens and it is time for lunch.
We have some leftover dinner from last night and Nic wants to finish it up with a view. We park once again on Exmouth’s town beach where I expected birthday wishes from the local sharks. There are sheltered picnic benches everywhere, it is Australia after all, so we arrange our lunch on the closest one. Last looks away to the horizon and we are ready to set off. Recharged for new adventures.
The first stop to explore - Coral Bay Beach. The parking is behind sand dunes and we can’t yet see the ocean. But after a few steps up the hill (why didn’t I take off my trainers?) the view opens up in front of us. The beach is long and white, the ocean - as we are used to now - turquoise and endless. A few kite surfers attract the eye - tossing around, led by the water and air elements. You feel like everything is happening by magic but there is actually a great deal of control and skill in each and every move.
If you, however, manage to take your eyes off the surfers, you might also see the natural attributes of this place. The beach is endless and on this day Mother Nature is also welcoming us with a different spectacle - little crabs. In one part of the beach, we are suddenly surrounded by them - all bright yellow with two black eyes sticking out in front. If this is not the crab species that all illustrations and caricatures are based on, I don't know which one it would be. They are walking up and down the sand. Some purposefully digging a hole, while others seem to not have a purpose in life at all - we all need days off. Some of the sea creatures have Arabic numbers written on top - 11, 23, 8. Others have managed to avoid the humans with a sharpie.
One of the crabs gets our attention so we decide to not just pass by - we stop to follow its activities. As it is walking (sideways) the yellow guy starts spasming which it can obviously not control. These short but constant bursts turn it on its back. We've heard that some crabs can shed their shell, perhaps that’s what is happening to this one. But as its legs twitch in the air, all of sudden, all movement stops and from its little body starts oozing little bubbles. We expect that any minute the shell will crack and the crab will get out. Any minute!
And so … this crab just died right in front of our eyes. Yep! Quite brutal, right? I have never expected I would see something like this in my life. I don’t think I have before witnessed the moment in which a creature naturally goes from a living to a dead state. With the exception of flies, mosquitoes, snails and a lizard or two that a cat had caught. Even the hamster that used to live next to my bed died during the night. Wow!
With humility and respect we decide that this beach could hardly outdo itself and offer us anything better from now on. We turn around and head back. On the way we collect shells, bleached corals, turquoise pictures and sunshine. Getting closer to the surfers we take another opportunity to admire their skill and then climb back into Bertie.
From Coral Bay Beach we go to Coral Bay Marina. The place isn’t overtaken by luxurious yachts and rich people on the beaches. On the contrary! There is hardly a soul around and the marina itself is meant for no more than 2-3 boats. The views from high up are once again unbelievable and down by the pier the water is so clear that we can easily admire the quick fish. Swallows are soaring above us. I even manage to get Nic to pose for a picture or two. It is a daily battle and the result is successful today.
There is nothing more to be done here other than to observe and soak in. But actually, should there be something more? With such natural beauty, a “something” would only ruin it. We will just witness and attempt to remember this blue forever.
A reader probably can’t notice the way I describe our days, but our time flies uncontrollably, especially with the distances we need to travel to get from one point to the other. And now the day is transitioning into the late afternoon. That means saying goodbye to the beaches and views and setting up the tent at the first suitable location.
Well, the location turns out to be very unsuitable, but there is no better one around. The campsite is free, by the road, surrounded by an endless plane. There is not a single tree in sight to stop the wind - and wind there is. A lot of it! There are plenty of crazy people around us so I am not worried from the point of view. But because of the strong element, we need to now choose between the tent and the bed in the car; between the bending but airy or the secure but stuffy structure. No flies will go into one, but it is loud, and in the other, we will have to open the window so as not to suffocate. You get the dilemma …
I ask again: Where are our romantic ocean views from the bed? Where is our endless nomadic security? Where are our sunsets with a hot cup of coffee? Where is everything that we see on Instagram? Is it our fault that we can’t find it or? Did we not research enough or? Can we not find the wanderer’s reality or? Things are either too much or never enough. I am buzzing with anticipation for our arrival in Perth - life between brick walls and under tiled roof!
We sit down for dinner as these feelings are raging inside me. All of a sudden, underneath the starry sky I start to feel something completely different. Just a few minutes ago I was dreaming of getting rid of Bertie and this crazy life, and now I can’t bear the hole that will open up when these times end. It came unexpected and now I can’t see our days without Bertie, without the freedom we’ve been having these past few months.
Without the opportunity of Being!
On some days the plans aren’t special and yet the day ends up being filled with experiences. On others you have so many wishes and the schedule is full and everything crumbles down and gets taken to the absolute minimum. Today was the second kind …
Quobba Blow Holes is a place where its name speaks for its features. But nevertheless: In the region of Quobba, there is a territory where holes in the horizontal rock blow out the ocean vertically. In high tide, when the level of the water is high to the cliffs, the waves break powerfully against them. Such activity can be observed everywhere. Even on the Bulgarian coast, we have taken photos with a white wall of foam behind us (find the non-Australian pictures). But through the centuries the ocean has dug out openings and instead of walls, it pushes out geysers.
The holes are everywhere - the further you are from the cliff edge, the smaller and weaker they are. The water power hasn’t dug with such strength there. We are going to the big ones. If you stand on the wrong side of these natural fountains, you are suddenly covered in the ocean sprays carried by the wind. If you stand on the correct one, however, the light disperses into a 180-degree rainbow in all its seven colours. And all of this with the background of the vivid blue ocean which we can’t and don’t want to tear ourselves away from. I didn’t imagine this could be a true natural phenomenon either, but here it's in front of me. Striking!
There are a few more stops planned for the rest of the day but it would be best to get ourselves checked into the campsite first and then go and see them. One of them is only a few meters from it, so we shall visit it right away. Oh, what a mistake! I didn’t even understand what was meant to be observed here. I didn’t have the physical opportunity to see through the millions of flying creatures around me.
The flies have clearly not got the memo, they can only live in Northern Territory and attack undisturbed. We lost our nets in the waters of Kathrine gorge. We have no protection and the only salvation is to immediately return inside the car. But these pests are three times more stubborn which means that the usual tactics of getting inside Bertie are useless - we bring in at least 20 with us. Well, guess how easy driving is like this, even if it is for 50 meters to the campsite.
All tourism plans are officially cancelled for the day. We try to take advantage of the pool but even the water can’t save us from this plague. We carefully squeeze ourselves into the tent - the smaller the gaps are, the fewer flies will come in with us. We spend the rest of the day in this sanctuary - we read, watch, talk, drink beers and even bring the dinner up here too. At least the tent is wide and semi ventilated by the breeze.
Today marks the end of our second month under the Australian sky. Our time here is now halved although there is still so much to see… For example, all the stops we had to skip yesterday due to unforeseen circumstances. We invest once more in head nets and dive into the impossible swarm. The fly situation is at least double what we lived through at Uluru - and I think you remember what the horror was like there. Here, we can’t even keep them outside the car - our otherwise wonderful escape.
But let's see what the natural sight that we missed yesterday is. Have you heard of stromatolites?
Yes? - then you know where the evolution lessons start and that some of the oldest surviving representatives in the world are right here - Western Australia, Shark Bay, Hamelin Pool.
No? - the stromatolites are some of the oldest surviving living organisms on the planet and are also called living fossils. The oldest discovered ones (yes, on this coast) are 3.5 billion years old. On the outside, they simply look like dark grey rocks, but according to biologists, these are organisms that have been living here since the beginning of evolution as they love the salty waters. If you need more scientific information, ask Google... or anyone that answered Yes to this question.
So, 50 meters from our campsite you can find this stromatolites reserve. It is carefully signed to take care where you walk as these are truly not rocks and the organism is easily harmed - on some you can see the human lack of knowledge as the shapes are crushed or the surface cracked. There is a bridge so you can observe closer these proterozoic seaweeds amongst liquid turquoise. Well, even with the flies, it was worth coming back. Even if we aren’t classified as biologists or evolutionaries.
The next stop is Eagle Bluff Lookout with a view from high up towards the endless crystal clear waters. The main activity here is the observation of sharks, rays and turtles. It would have been a great waste if we had come to Shark Bay without seeing any sharks. We identified a few. From this height you can’t be sure whether you are looking at a shark or a turtle - their size is too difficult to determine. But when the other tourist groups are convinced the thing swimming down there is certainly a shark, you have got to also nod in agreement. (I shall circle the supposed individuals on the pictures. )
Our road following, leads us towards Shell Beach. You are probably thinking that every beach is a shell one as that is what the composition of sand is worldwide. Or maybe you are thinking of the wilder beaches, covered in colourful broken shells. And you would be right. But yet, after seeing this Shell Beach, I can't imagine any other having the name. Yes, they are still shells but they are all exactly the same - small and white with pinkish-yellowish tints. And that makes the view surreal - you almost lose the sense of perspective and depth. The high salt levels of the water in the region, other than stromatolites, also attracts the creatures that live in these white fine houses. That is why the waters are so clear and blue here - nature itself has made them unwelcoming to the dark colours. We sit under the hot sun and look.
After the craziness of the flies at Hamelin Pool, we decided we had been saved as we didn’t see any at the next two stops. But our lunch stop proves the scarier option. Preparing the salad was a sadistic and masochistic activity. Just by taking out the ingredients, we let in countless flies in the car and after that, with horror we attempt to protect both every exposed food item, as well as our sanity. I feel like Ramses won’t let His people go and I am paying for the Pharaoh’s stubbornness (Exodus 10:1-29). Three hours later we continue to banish and squash the pests in the car. One by one, yet the process never ends. So incredibly horrific, disgusting, unbearable, unfair, invasive, annoying and frustrating. And just to think we don’t like the flies in Europe. Granddad, turns out you are blessed to only be living with the Bulgarian ones!
In another few hundred kilometres, we pass through the gates of the campsite. It isn’t like the standard ones as it is an old telegraph station which today offers its huge grounds to traveling adventurers. The place is full of huge old trees which will finally give us the needed shade tomorrow morning. The big building with the toilets is also closeby. However! There are once again signs to beware of snakes. If it was just like in any other place and we didn’t see any it would have been fine. But as we look to find somebody to check us in, I see one - curled under a bush. When the person comes to check, my question “is it poisonous?” is answered by an unambiguous smirk. As if to say - but of course it is poisonous. What else could an Australian snake be?
So therefore, tonight I shall hide in the tent once again. Though this time not from flies but from snakes. Oh well - that is what Australian nomadic life is.
The guests of Australia usually prefer to visit the east coast as it is more populated, more developed and more popular. But now that I have seen both I can honestly say that the western one offers so many more real views. Such that you don’t see on every picture and aren’t that full of thirsty tourists. I understand why in their limited time people would rather see the famous places, but personally, I think I would recommend these ones. They fit me better.
Vassya (and Nic)