Week 5: Cape Arid National Park

Farewell Esperance …Hello Cape Arid National Park

We absolutely enjoyed ourselves at Esperance for 3 weeks and both came to the conclusion it will be frequented more often during school holidays when we get back to Perth. Having been here for so long, 3 weeks, we had the pleasure of meeting some really great people and turning over every rock. Even the locals started knowing us on a first name bases. Geoff and I both said the people in Esperance are sooo very nice and hospitable. We carried on as if we knew each other for years. It’s as if the whole town is living 30 years ago with just pure and simple lifestyles. Very little clutter in their lives. What bliss! Farewell Esperance. Thanks Esperance for such a wonderful experience to our first stop of our journey;you’ve set the bar high!

Well, Hello Cape Arid National Park. When I arrive to a new town, people often ask …”where to next?” I frequently ask them, “where is your favourite place to go?” We try to incorporate local feedback into our journey as much as possible. If 4 or more people say…”you gotta go here.” Then it definitely makes the cut. If one person says “you gotta go here”… we then inquire as to why it is their favourite spot. If it’s remote, unspoiled territory and they think it’s just beautiful, it too makes the cut on our journey. Plus Geoff reads a lot from his favourite books about exploring Australia. With all this research and inquiring, we surely should have a fabulous journey ahead.

We had a quick sleepover at The Duke of Orleans. We met a nice Austrian (not Australian 😉 fella named Oliver who had just spent 4 days in the outback and saw not a person in sight the entire 4 days. I asked if he was up for conversation, he’s certainly welcomed the idea and joined us for drinks around the fire after dinner. We swapped stories, and it turns out Geoff and Oliver have a lot in common. They hit it off well!

Oliver was heading in the same direction, and he also wanted the “road less traveled experience.” We exchanged SAT phone numbers and were planning to meet up again at Isralelite Bay some 3 or 4 hrs. away driving on remote roads. Oliver left a couple hours ahead of us and once he got there he said the bay was full of seaweed. He was turning around and advised us not to come. He saved our bacon as we quickly turned around to head for Thomas River for the night. We checked it out and decided to follow a trek at Bellinup Beach for the night.
Cape Arid was definitely worth the trek out. As Stella says “it’s a 4 wheel drive caravan park.” It actually is a spectacular National Park made for both cars and 4 wheel drives, but if you have a 4X4 the Park it allows you to go to such unspoilt, very remote territory. Geoff spoke with the ranger about beach camping and he pointed us into the right direction and said, “just go 10K’s or more on the beach and it’s free camping anywhere.” Sounds like a great adventure for us Hibbles!

We drove 10K’s and the beach looks like it ends as there are mounds of dinosaur rocks right in front. However, as soon as we get close to the rocks there’s a hidden sneaky path to go around the rocks. This happens time and time again…..the beach looks like it ends and then there is a sneaky switchback to follow on. Searching for higher ground to camp for the night, we press on as G doesn’t want to sleep right on the beach as we don’t know the tide levels. Deep into the national park, we find the perfect spot nestled between two bays up high at the base of large rock for fishing! Wow…we can’t believe our luck.

Oliver sends a SAT message and he is at Thomas River. We explain to him how to get onto the beach and coordinates raving it’s the most beautiful spot on earth. Feel free to join. It was dusk, so we weren’t sure if Oliver was coming or not. Hoping not as it is a bit hairy to do at night, but we are learning Oliver….he does a lot on his own and presses forward. Fear is his friend.

We have a small ? before heading to bed at 8:30pm. It’s unbelievable how 8:30pm strikes, and I’m like a young child who longs for her bed and wakes up at 5:30am ready to roll. This is totally not the norm for this night ?. What a shift! At 5:30am we wake up before the sun. Crawling out of our tent, we pinch ourselves at such a spectacular sight. Like the Aussie’s would say, How’s the serenity?! =) Geoff and I decide to go fishing ? leaving Stella to snooze a bit longer.

Leaving Geoff to fish, I go back to be near Stella and get some tea brewing and breakfast made. Geoff comes running back in sheer excitement “Robin, come see…a pod of dolphins going bye.” I never grow tired of seeing dolphins ?…such grace.
Sipping our tea…his hot…mine cold-ish watching the world pass us by. Not many words need to be said as we both think the same thing….sheer,natural, raw beauty right before our eyes.

Geoff goes back to fishing and I go back to getting things sorted in the camp kitchen. By now Stella wakes up and joins her Daddy fishing off the rocks. Bouncing back and forth between him and I with the numbers…”12 fish mom. He’s throwing some back as he doesn’t want to clean them.” I respond with a big “fantastic…fish for lunch!”

Shortly after fishing Geoff asks if we’ve heard from Oliver? Nope. I can see a bit of deflation from Geoff. Oliver is on a shorter time frame then we are, so we think perhaps he had to head East towards Victoria as he flies out on April 14th back to Austria.

Meanwhile, back to life at one of the most beautiful spots on earth…the beach at Bellinup in the Cape. Stella is always craving the ocean, if no time to find a suit, (we can not find anything in the Troopy when travelling), no problem…she’ll go for a quick dip in her panties or in fact, nudie-rudie! She doesn’t care anymore as long as she gets to go in! Such a changed girl. Even she is feeling the freedom we have at the moment!

Geoff is cleaning the fish and Stella is boarding. Then I hear a big yell on top of the hill with Geoff running over waving his arms frantically shouting “Robin…Robin…Robin” I immediately think “what’s wrong…what’s wrong?!” He said…”Oliver’s here…he found us!” Shaaa wooo…..let me just be thankful there’s nothing wrong from all that shouting and switch gears to elation with him. Oliver sees Geoff on the hill top and meanders his way to where we are camping. Excitement is had by all. We all revel in the beauty. Oliver asks “how in the world did we hear about this spot?” “Word-of-mouth…It’s one of our best beacons…”

Excitement is abound…. a big fish dish for lunch is definitely in order!


The Hidden Rainforest

Another word-of-mouth place was a remote rainforest in Cape Arid. Geoff and I really wanted to try and find this barely discovered rainforest. I’m not certain if it’s a ghost hunt or a real treasure island kinda adventure, but we’re up for the challenge. We asked Oliver if he wanted to go with us, but he said nope…he’s going to stay behind at camp and soak up some blue-lagoon beauty, sunshine and crop a spot to lose himself in his book.

Geoff noticed for 2 days while fishing in the early morning, before sunrise, clouds were lingering in one spot behind a mountain. It’s his best guess as to where this mystery rainforest can be. It’s a long ways from camp, and it will take most of the day to get there, but we’re down for an adventure within an adventure! Cape Arid has so many 4×4 paths to venture through, so remote with not a sole around. I actually felt a sense of security having Oliver’s SAT number and him back at camp just incase something happened.

We drove deep off-road and into the dry shrubs, and we think we found a hiking trail that would take you over the mountain. Unfortunately, it was no less than a 3 hr. hike to and fro and it was getting pretty late. We certainly didn’t want to traverse anything and find any challenges in the night. We also wanted to stop and get some dead wood for a fire on the beach. ?

We stopped off at a dead banksia tree and Geoff got his saw-zaw out and started chopping up wood. He has every tool and gadget known to man on this trip. We tossed a huge bunch of wood on top of the Troopy and strapped it down. Good Ol’ Oliver was back at camp and had gathered a few twigs for a fire too, but then he saw us pulling up. He laughed at our pile of wood on top. We all had a good chuckle at the comparisons.


Bogged Down

We parted ways once again with Oliver and left him to enjoy our beautiful secret spot. We exchanged “real” cell numbers this time as we are crossing the Nullarbor over the next few days making 2 word-of-mouth pit stops.

You can’t have this trip go completely smooth without a bit of scary stuff happening in the mix. We learned from the ranger in Lucky Bay more about 4×4 driving. We certainly are new to all of it and open for any suggestions. We learned driving down by the ocean just off the “glassy” edge is harder sand than the soft sand at the top. The ocean compacts it making it a smoother, nicer ride. True enough, we’ve driven two days on the beach along the glassy ocean’s edge and, sure enough, it was a far smoother drive.

Cruising happily along back on the beach drive we know there’s a hairy, narrow bit. We took the “hard” beach choice rather than the fluffy sand choice to cross. The fluffy sand choice was eroding, so it didn’t look like a great option. We travelled fine through the ocean compacted option, but then we quickly found it to be soft sand. We found ourselves bogged! Not only are we bogged, but before we knew it, a big wave came and lapped up on our tires. We could see this could end-up not so positively in our favour, so we quickly sprung into action. Stella started crying because she was scared. I pretty much looked her straight in the eyes and said, “I know you’re scared but if you need a crying wall go straight to that hill over there and ball your little eyeballs out bye yourself. I can’t comfort you right now; I have to help Daddy dig us out.” She marched straight over to hill, and we heard her doing the ugly-quiver-cry as we were trying our hardest to get the emergency gear off the roof. It was strapped down with cable ties. It only took minutes to get down but that was wwway too long for my comfort zone when the ocean is lapping at your feet. Note to self: Have emergency gear more accessible.

We quickly think, OLIVER! He can pull us out with our winch! Let’s send him an S.O.S off the sat phone incase it takes awhile for him to get the message. I send him a quick S.O.S and then start helping Geoff dig us out. Stella pulls herself together, stops crying and just comes over and starts digging the sand out around the Troopy with her hands. I have to time say…Wow! Good work Stell! It is sheer panic stage now. We have no time to dig anymore as another big wave crashes and the water laps around our feet. We decide to give it our best shot now instead of continuing to dig. We know we have one shot or we could really be in the ocean sinking. Geoff eases onto the tracks and then floors it! Yippy….Troopy doesnt’ stop until well and truly away from the ocean! Stella and I grab the shovel and tracks and follow behind with a big fat ….emphatic ..YES!

We get to end of the bay with a sigh of relief. While we didn’t want our first “bog” pressed against time and the ocean, we certainly learned heaps: 1) We need all safety gears very accessible. 2) We want 4 tracks not just 2 and Stella and I request “pink tracks” since us girls put on some mighty girl power when push comes to shove! Geoff laughed and didn’t necessarily agree to pink tracks, but we’ve got time to work on him. 😉 While Geoff is pumping the tires back up, guess who pops around the corner…..Oliver! His first response…hey…”why are you guys still here?” Uhhh…did you get any of my messages? No, I didn’t have my SAT phone. He was busily doing a rudie nudie in the beach. We explain what happened and laugh together as we part ways yet again. …Lol


Crossing the Nullarbor

We’re about a day’s drive from crossing the Nullabor. Since we can’t go to Isralelite Bay’s route on the beach due to too much seaweed, we decide on the 4×4 Paramango trek towards Balladonia. This is a dirt, rocky road. We cruise along be-bopping to our play list we play over and over again that Stella knows the lyrics to all songs….And I do mean all songs. We get out and notice our tire is leaking air. Beggar! We pump it up and check it in 20 min. ….it needs air again. We stop every 20 min. To fill up the tire. Uhh ohhh…this could be a long journey. Except…miraculously…the tire stops leaking and fixes itself!?? We are now bewildered but don’t even give it a second thought as to how or why. After this morning’s episode of being bogged…we need a gift! ?

Crossing the Nullabor is the artery between the East and West of Australia. It’s at the south end of the country. The elements are not the harshest elements that Australia has to throw at you, but it’s still harsh. It is beholden to stinkn’ hot breezes rolling in from the centre of the outback, mozzies, spiders, snakes a full range of pesky flies that try and find moisture in your eyes or nose, or blow flies that leave larvae behind if they land on your food, biting March flies (aka horseflies) that bite you through clothes. I’m not certain why they are called March flies as we are sinking well into April by now. 😉 After 20+ bites on my legs, I decide to combat the flies by wearing my wetsuit all day or having jeans on. Problem solved. Yes, I’m hot, and quite frankly look dorky, but I really can’t stand the March flies munching at my legs.

On the brighter side the Nullarbor, at night, when the air cools and pesky insects go to sleep, unleashes some of the best night sky views. The stars are bright and amazing followed by perfect glimpses of planets, satellites, the Milkyway and shooting stars galore. We never grow tired of sleeping under the stars.

There’s a section of Eyre Hwy that is the longest, straightest road in Australia-90 miles (127 K’s). Crossing the Nullabor requires carrying extra of everything as there are no mechanics, stores, or shops during this crossing. Just roadhouses strategically placed to fill up and serve cold beer, fries, pies and sandwiches and a 1960 hotel if you wish to stay the night. We just drive until we’ve had enough and then pullover in the bush-preferably attached to a dirt road.


Eyre Bird Observatory

Our next stop is the Eyre Bird Observatory. We travel 18 K’s off the main highway and then another 14K down a 4×4 track only. We have no idea what to expect. That’s the greatest thing about word-of-mouth…the mystery of seeing beauty from another’s point of view. We drive further and further down the trail literally feeling like our side mirror will scrape the ground at some points. This bird observatory is back there… all the while labelling a place to park and observe. Section 4 was the recommendation. After section 4 Geoff decides to go the entire way to the end. We can’t just come this far and not see the end. As I was traveling I was hoping I wasn’t going to an Avery where birds are captured and people are charging money like a zoo. However, knowing the source of the recommendation, I felt certain it wasn’t going to be like that. Geoff thought we’d find a sit down breakfast at the observatory. As we travel back more and more remote we think otherwise. We then pop out the other side and find an old 1927 telegraph station that has been turned into a bird observatory. A young lad, Will, us in the parking lot…shows us around. He then introduces us to Molly, his girl, and we share some tea on his porch swapping stories. He and Molly are doing their 3 month country stint counting birds at the observatory and sending weather reports forward for neighbouring towns. He gives us the history and the hiking trails. We find ourselves climbing the dunes and flying our family kite on top the dunes all the while taking in an unbelievable view.

After finishing the bird sanctuary, tucked around the corner is the beach. We decide since we are so far from the main highway, we should duck off to the beach to let Stella have a quick swim while Geoff and I work. We’re deep into our work tucked away in the middle of nowhere some 30+ K’s off the main trek and guess who pulls up rrrright beside us???? Ollliver!! Both Geoff and I are amazed and dumbfounded how we crossed paths again. After happy greetings, Oliver notices our completely flat tire. I suppose it didn’t miraculously fix itself. Oliver arrived jjjjjust in time for this little hiccup and not after like before. The boys get the tire changed, and we part ways again. Somehow I don’t think it’s the last time we cross paths with Oliver….fingers crossed we cross over one more time before he leaves for Austria.


(Videos to follow)

{Thank you Andrew and Tash for hosting us dinner and chatting about your favourite “spots.” It is our favourite spot now too! Your secret is always safe with me as I’ll never post exact locations of people’s remote “favourite spots” to continue to keep it “the road less traveled.” 😉 Thank you to the Miller’s for sharing the trek to the Bird Observatory.  It was real treat! Thank you for the friendship Oliver. It was brilliant “bumping” into you. =)



12 thoughts on “Week 5: Cape Arid National Park

  1. Thank you so much !!!!!! We have been to the spot and instead of see whales we saw dolphins !!!! Amazing moment thanks to you. And thanks for our fridge, thanks to you we can eat meat tonight ahahha ! Nice to meet you, all good for you you are the best. Tania and jeremy

    • Thanks Giff. We are having fun and getting through the challenges….picking up a second spare tire in Adelaide. =)Your recommendations were spot on and as you called it…the only real problem will be your tires! Troopy is a beautiful, reliable beast! Thanks for following! XoXo ~r

    • Thanks Gerardi…Great to see you’re still here. Sorry, I got behind. Just caught up on some videos. Flip back to the previous weeks and they should be there. Enjoy! =)

  2. Wow. Hibbles. I have just read your blog at the dinner table. We are with you in spirit. You guys are so inspirational and the places you’ve been to and the experiences you’ve had are wonderful.
    Love and miss you guys.

    • Aweee… We made dinner table conversation…Yay! Thanks for the lovely comments. Glad you’re still enjoying and following. Hugs and love to you. Hugs to the Hood. ?? ~r

  3. I love a sunburnt country,
    A land of sweeping plains,
    Of ragged mountain ranges,
    Of droughts and flooding rains.
    I love her far horizons,
    I love her jewel-sea,
    Her beauty and her terror –
    The wide brown land for me!
    Dorothea Mackellar

    • Well Dorothea Mackellar has a spot on description of Australia, thanks Annette. Geoff just told me that was like the National Anthem here for Australia ??…well done. Thanks for sharing. `?

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