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Wildflowers and not so Wildlife, a West Australian road trip


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In September hubby and I set out on a camping trip from Perth, north to Karijini NP then across west to the coast to Exmouth and then south along the coast back to Perth. All up about three and a half thousand kilometers.We hired a “camper – trailer” which worked really well for the two of us.



It was comfortable to sleep in and had a”hard floor, big enough for us to sit in with our camp table and chairs, great to escape the flies and mozzies. We used our own SUV/city 4x4, she's getting on in age now and has clocked up some Ks, but ran a treat and no mechanical problems. For the long drives we entertained ourselves with a stock of audio-books, Tony Parks “Silent Predator”, all 15 hours of it, had us jumping back in the car in anticipation of the next chapter! We had just booked our S A trip before we left so mention of “Kruger” and “Timbavati” had us excited. The camper had a little flip-out kitchen bench (sink and two gas hotplates), we carried a fridge which ran off the car battery when we were driving. I was a bit lazy with the cooking though, one tires of tinned/packaged food pretty quickly.


Box of camping essentials



Our first day saw us leaving the city behind we had spent the night at a family property, the Kangaroos were out early



and soon we were getting into some quite nice wildflowers.













We stopped at the Paynes Find Roadhouse for lunch, not much going on there,



but surprisingly it was very windy and very chilly!



That night we “free” camped at Lake Nallan, rather than stay in town. All went well on our maiden night with the camper. We got it set up, it didn’t collapse in the strong wind overnight, got dinner cooked and we slept soundly.




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Wow you really did see the flowers. Very nice.

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@@elefromoz these photos are wonderful, what an eyecatching show of Australian wildlflowers. Looking forward to hearing more about your trip.

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It looks like the Atacama desert!!!! After huge rains such as the ones we got few months ago, the desert is covered with flowers here in Chile!

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Looking forward to more of your report. It is bringing back memories of our trip - we stayed the night at the Paynes Find Roadhouse after driving from Newman..

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@@PCNW @@Treepol, the Wildflowers were terrific and constantly changing throughout the trip, if I wasn't so lazy Id be identifying them all and I did carry a couple of excellent Wildflower guides for ID purposes. @@TonyQ, Vegemite, ha ha, never leave home without it! @@jeremie, so now I am going to go and do a search for Atacama desert, I love wildflowers and seek them out when travelling.@@KiwiGran, well what can you say about these isolated Roadhouses, most of them do a good lunch though.


After a quick breakfast, we took a stroll around the lake, Zebra Finch were prolific, noisy flocks sweeping through.





Back on the road and my hopes were high for a sighting of our biggest Eagle, the Wedgetail.Id never seen a Wedgetail Eagle at close range and I knew I had a real chance this leg of the trip. It wasn’t long before we began to see “Wedgies” everywhere, in half an hour I counted 30 roadside, the depressing thing is though, I also counted 5 dead ones, roadkill victims.














I must say, this Eagle was very tolerant of me skulking around taking photos.This is a main highway carrying a lot of heavy truck traffic. Wedgetails are attracted to the road because of the huge amount of dead kangaroos, themselves roadkill. The big birds feed off the dead animal on the road but unfortunately that cannot get enough lift quickly from their wings and end up being hit themselves. Absolute tragedy. What chance an Eagle against this travelling at 120km an hour!



As I was wandering around photographing the Birds, a council worker pulled up, got out and pulled a dead Kangaroo off the road into the scrub. I went over and had a chat to him, he said he does this on this stretch of road to try and limit Wedgie hits. What a great initiative but, only once a week, clearly needs doing every morning, guess its all down to budget constraints.

The flowers were changing here and purple became the colour of the day.





Lunch at Kumarina Roadhouse, not much happening here either.





Tonight we stayed at a caravan park in Newman.



Newman is where it all started, our mining industry, the town was built in the 60s after the discovery of huge deposits of iron-ore, then came Mt Whaleback mine, the worlds largest open-cut mine. It was 6pm in the Caravan Park when the big busses rolled in, about 10 of them and out poured the mine workers, finished their shift for the day, and housed here for the night. At 5 am the next morning the reverse happened, back on the busses and back to the mine site. These are FIFO (fly in fly out) workers on a 12 hourly roster, working maybe 2wks on 1wks off, flying in/out of Newman back to their home base. This is a common sight all over town, men in Hi-Viz gear and vehicles bearing household names like BHP, RIOTinto, etc everywhere.




Tools of the trade, these Haulpaks have a 1 year life! $$$



The road-trains are big up heregallery_49445_1379_109360.jpg


Sturt Peas are one of my favourite Wildflowers, with their startling red and black-eyed foliage.



We pulled out of Newman to head onto Karijini National Park.

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outstanding @@elefromoz

A friend of mine was guiding a trip through the same areas you visited and I was disappointed that I could not go with him. Now I'm even more miffed.

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We left Newman in the morning for the short, about 100km, drive into Karijini National Park. The Park is some 6,000 sq kms and has some lovely gorges, waterfalls and rock-pools, for swimming. We are also into “red dirt” country now, as our friends said, it gets into and onto everything.The Wild flowers though, look lovely against the red background.gallery_49445_1379_965419.jpg













Once we had checked in and setup camp at Dales campground, no water, electricity but good “drop” toilets, it was time to walk down for a swim/shower





Fern Pool was this arvos destination, at the end of the pool, Fruit Bats were roosting in the trees.gallery_49445_1379_3136169.jpg






The water in Fern Pool was a nice temperature, this pool sees a lot more sun than some of the others. Its very tropical and lush, the complete opposite from above the gorge.


Heading back along the path to Fortescue Falls, little pink Trigger plants had made a home in the cracks off the rocks.





Back up the steps to the top, the colours of the red rock gorge shone in the sun



Im not a “rock” person, but these gorge layers date waaayyy back, some two and a half million years



Fortescue Falls , in the evening after everyone had left, looked pretty nice.



Back at the top, looking up Dales Gorge as we wandered back to camp, G and T time in the Aussie bush.


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That must have been the best swim ever - what a gorgeous pool, what a wonderful landscape!

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A Trip Report with flowers as main subject ... what a treat! Australia is nicely covered, between yours and Zubbie15 TRs. One day I shall return Down Under ... in the meantime, looking forward to read more.

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@@xelas I'm glad you're enjoying the "Spring bouquet" offering, guess it's cooling off a bit your way now.

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Beautiful flowers throughout - and great shots of the eagles (shame about so many of them being killed on the roads)

The pools look very inviting!

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The next two days were spent hiking up, down and through Dales Gorge.

Some interesting “bugs”, Im going to call this a Dragonfly but I know it is probably the “other” one which name escapes me.





A ratty tatty Butterfly





We did quite a bit of this today



There was a lot of Butterflies in the gorgegallery_49445_1379_818179.jpg






The gorge terminates at Circular Pool where we stopped for lunch and a swim, it was quite hot by now and the cool pools were just beautiful, although somewhat bracing.





It’s a perfect, cool, damp environment for the delicate Maiden Hair ferns







Back at the top, the opposite





Looking down into the gorge we had just walked through



After the clamber up the gorge wall, time to go back down for another swim in Fern Pool


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Each morning this Rufous Whistler was our alarm, he was calling at the break of dawn, seemed to like his own reflection in the cars mirrors



Common small lizards in the spinifex





This Sand Monitor on the path was getting mercilessly harassed by a bird and ducked for cover as we approached, he was about a metre in length





A flock of Budgerigars swept through, but they were so quick they were gone in a flash







This Red capped Robin just would not sit still for 2 seconds to allow me to photograph him





Each evening we would see this lonely Cormorant down at the pool, I wondered why he was alone?




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@@elefromoz Dales Gorge looks beautiful, and you saw quite a few lizard and birds. Lovely photos.


How beautiful and interesting Australia is - I enjoyed our trip to north Queensland much more than I expected and look forward to seeing a bit more of "home." Wildflowers in the west will be high on my list!

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We left Dales today and moved over to the Savannah Campground.



This little fellow was crossing the road, so we hurried him along



Spinifex Pigeon were all around the campground



and of course, flocks of Galahs


Savannah is attached to the Eco Retreat. The Eco Retreat has permanent tents set up , this is to cater to tour groups or to those who don’t wish to camp with their own gear. They are comfortable, spacious with attached en-suite and a deck, they looked quite nice when we checked them out. There is also a bar/café on site, which is a real treat out here and we made use of it. Batteries could be charged here also. Our campground had the luxury of solar showers, which we didn’t have at Dales. The terrain here is very harsh, gravelly, stony. Luckily we scored a site under a tree to provide us some afternoon shade, temperatures were starting to soar by the day now




We hiked across to Joffre Gorge, a fire had been through less than 12 months ago and everything had been razed, already though the vegetation was springing back, overall though it was quite desolate.


After the fires..









The clamber down to the bottom of Joffre was a steep 150m drop, not for the feint hearted. That’s me at the bottom after the climb down



The Amphitheatre



After all that climbing a cold beer and a platter at the cafe was a very welcome way to wind up the day, apologies to the vegans/vegetarians




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The next couple of days were spent exploring the gorges and a hike up Mt Bruce. We tackled “Handrail pool”, which was a scramble through narrow slots



which then opened out to a sheer drop to the pool at the bottom, and the said “handrail” to help you down.



You can see the handrail going down the rock face



Then Weano Gorge, its not just people who enjoy the cool waters



A little frog dashed behind me in the shallows, swimming flat out as though his life depended on it



So I thought Id join him



Then onto Kalimna Gorge



This little guy had the longest tail, disproportionate to the rest of him



His much larger brother lurked further along the path



And then onto what is a lot of peoples favourite, Kermits Pool





Mt Bruce is 1235m (I know, that isn’t a mountain!), the trail is about 9kms and should take about 5hrs return trip. We didn’t do the whole hike, the heat beat us even though we left very early.

Driving in just after sunrise



The early part of the walk takes you past the Rio Tinto owned Marandoo mine site. The huge train in the foreground is lugging out the ore, those trains run constantly. The resource industry may have slowed dramatically, but it would appear that they are still digging plenty out of the ground if the number of trains is anything to go by.gallery_49445_1379_3871424.jpg


Little finches hopped around as we set off





Looking back down the trail





On the way back to camp, we took some time out to enjoy the roadside Wildflowers.








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It was time to leave Karijini NP and drive toward the coast, we decided to spread the drive over two days. Probably the most disappointing omission for me was the Dingo. This mammal, plagued by controversy and differing opinions has been resident in Australia now for some 4000yrs, but is still seen as a pest by landowners particularly. There are resident packs in Karijini, sighted fairly regularly, but not for us unfortunately, even though staff kept insisting they often were sighted. We did hear them howling at night just behind our campsite though, so we know they’re there. Oh well, maybe another time.





And a last quick walk



I thought his scales and colours were beautiful on the rocks









And then we were on the road again.




My surprise of the morning came later as we almost missed this Australian Bustard as he ducked into the scrub. Funnily enough, I didn’t even realize we had Bustards in Australia until I read the report by @Zubbie, where he posted a couple of photos. Until then I had only seen them in Africa.



Spinifex country



And did I mention red dirt…




We “free” camped again tonight. I was woken in the morning by a heck of a ruckus. The Galahs screeching madly, so I went out and had a look and pretty quickly saw the culprit and cause of their distress



This Falcon was sitting on a high perch and then he would suddenly swoop down through the flock and they screeched and scattered in all directions. Clearly he was an unwelcome visitor.

A couple of windblown Butcherbirds



I believe their name comes from their habit of hanging their prey form a tree branch or twig, like meat in a butchers shop. I personally fell out of love with them, no matter how melodious, after they killed two pet canaries on two separate occasions by spearing them with their beaks through the cage. Nasty

Another little chirping caught my attention near our camper and we spotted a Budgie feeding another, its partner I guess, in a tree hollow. This little couple had better have their wits about them with both the Falcon and the Butcherbirds nearby.





I wasted half an hour trying to get close enough to these Wrens for a photo, so small and fast



As we got closer to Cape Range NP, we spotted our first Emu, which are common in the area.



And Sturt Peas lined the roadsides



Kangaroos coming out at sunset at the campground. Now we are on the coast.


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Lovely pics @@elefromoz, seems like another part of the country I'd enjoy. Out of curiosity, what are those objects sticking straight up in the background of the kangaroo pic?

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@@Zubbie15, I think just fencing, took this photo beside the caravan park which has some lawn, the Euros/Kangaroos would make short work of that, not that they have much respect for fences, if you can't go under, you can always go over. Oh and thanks for the compliment, Im no photographer, my photos really just show whats out there and don't do it justice. Ill leave that to those of you who know their way around a real camera.


Exmouth is the gateway town to the World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef Marine Park, 5,000+ square kilometres of ocean, home to one of the worlds largest fringing Reefs. Whale Sharks congregate here from March til August, we missed out this year, but have decided to fly back next year to do a dive/swim with them. Ningaloo Reef adjoins the Cape Range NP, 50,000ha, a rugged, ancient landscape. This diverse terrain offers a little bit of everything.


Looking across Cape Range NP toward the ocean from Mandu Mandu Gorge walk



We decided to start the morning with a snorkel. The sea-breezes up this way can be ferocious, its best to get to the beach early while the waters are calm. The Visitors Centre offers advice on the best place and tide times for snorkelling, a dangerous “rip” can set in at some spots so you do need to be careful. We chose Oyster Stacks, this is a spot where you just walk in from the beach into the surrounding coral. Now I should mention here that this not the place for the worlds best snorkelling experience. Anywhere that the “crowds” can just wade in and snorkel unchecked, cop a lot of damage, and this is no exception. Having said that, we saw some nice fish and were only in 6 foot of water, 20 or so metres off the beach. Oh, and the water was very warm.There were people of all ages here, from the very young to the very old enjoying the warm, safe waters. The coral was quite damaged, as expected, the good thing is though, the damage is limited to the small easily accessable areas. Tour boats run snorkelling trips out to the pristine waters beyond, we have done that in the past here and many other spots, so passed on this trip.











The beaches are pretty nice too, and without the crowds, Turquoise Bay



A bird-hide is setup along the coast at Mangrove Bay, won't try and identify the waders and embarrass myself.









A White Bellied Sea-Eagle seemed permanently in the area





We turned into a track to see this in the scrub on the corner, a Parenti, and he was huge, so much so that I was not getting out of the car to photograph him. He skulked behind a nearby bush, phew, what a beast! His colouring was amazing. Parentis seem to eat anything that moves, including the odd medium sized dog!






Emus were frequently spotted driving along, often rushing onto the road in front of you whilst you brake frantically to avoid impact, silly things




In the evening we walked around Yardie Creek, this an “estuarine” Gorge with permanent water from the ocean.



and caught a "glimpse" of a rare Black Footed Rock Wallaby. These animals, like so many, have fallen victim to foxes and other Feral animals



We also watched a pair of Osprey which had a nest on the Gorge wall, you can see it middle of photo, a grey pile of sticks



I decided that if we wanted to get a good look and get information of the Gorges resident wildlife, we should do the boat tour which runs daily. I figured the Guide would know all the secrets and stories, as they often do. We took the little boat the next morning. This turned out to be a good decision.

This Stingray hangs in this bit of water each day. Not a good photo, but if you use your imagination,you can just make him out in the shallowsgallery_49445_1379_823337.jpg



The guide knew where to look for the Wallabys, seems a precarious place to call home, but offers food, shade and protection from predators, see the two on top of the rock



and middle of photo, look for the round "blob"



Resting in the shade



Mother and joey



Our guide told us the Osprey had a second nest just to the right, behind a rock shelf, but it didn’t give them good vision up and down the Gorge, so they built another with uninterrupted views both ways. Handy when they came under attack by a Wedgetail Eagle one day, it was unable to use any stealth attack and was seen off by the Osprey long before it could get to the nest. The Female sat patiently whilst the Male flew out regularly for fish



The Male flew in with a fish, so fresh it flapped its tail whilst being eaten alive






We would have missed this Reef Heron nest and the two rather startled looking chicks on a ledge, without a guide







Back on the road, very commom sights





And the not so common, its a Lizard eat Lizard World



This Monitor just snuck behind a crowd of beach-goers, he may have tricked them, but not me



I nearly yelped with delight when this pair appeared roadside, after my fleeting glimpse days earlier. They were pretty shy and distanced themselves pretty quickly. “Bush Turkey”, what an un-flattering name for such an attractive, impressive bird, Australian Bustard, if you don’t mind. The one in front is just disappearing into the scrub out of view





It wouldn't be complete without a splash of colour




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  • 2 weeks later...

We were up early, packed up the camper and on the road for the 680km drive south to our next stop, the Shark Bay World Heritage area





This was termite mound central, they stretched as far as the eye could see



It wasn’t too long before we came to an all too familiar, worrying sight, a Wedgie feeding of roadkill... in the middle of the road.




My Good Samaritan husband put on the gloves and dragged the Roo off the road into the scrub, all the while being watched by the Eagle, sitting on a nearby branch. I hope he appreciated the gesture.







And on we went






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  • 4 weeks later...

The volume of flowers is astounding. Like the lizard eat lizard shot, great capture. What did you use for underwater photos? Looks like you and Zubbie photographed the same Zebra Finches. The kangaroo in the rocks is not what I expected.


The weather cooperated with you. Lots of sunshine.

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@@Atravelynn, Hi, this is the camera we used for underwater shots. We purchased it a couple of years ago for a trip to Lord Howe island, where we did a lot of snorkelling and ocean-based stuff. We were extremely pleased with the quality of the under-water shots we got that trip, add to that the flexibility of being able to just drop into the water from a kayak with the camera in your hand, and its great value at "a few hundred dollars". The photos from this current trip don't really show just what a great little camera it is for snorkelling, kayaking etc.



A lot of times I looked at @zubbies photos and could see the similarities in terrain and species, all remote, red, outback type stuff, even though we were a few thousand kilometres apart. Kangaroos are all-terrain species. "Lots of sunshine", yes thats a given here, quite the opposite of Churchill! You've prompted me to carry on and get this finished before 2016...

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Shark Bay covers some 25,000sq kms, it is the most Western point of Australia, it encompasses both land and sea, it is a wildlife refuge. This, along with its Stromatolites, Sea-grasses and pristine environment are the reason for its World Heritage listing. It is, in my opinion, also the windiest place on the planet! The wind was relentless in Denham where we camped. Our little camper-trailer seemed to be on a 45 degree angle, in bed at night the canvas was flattened down almost onto our bed, that’s when it wasn’t being buffeted around by the wind gusts.

We spent the first day around the Denham area just enjoying the sea-scapes, luckily the wind died during the morning









This was my first sighting of this little White winged Wren





The next day we went over the peninsula to Monkey Mia, in the hope of escaping the wind. I had initially been apprehensive about this spot because of words such as “spoilt”, “zoo-like” etc etc. Well, we had a great day in a beautiful spot. Monkey Mia is most famous for its Dolphins. There are many resident Dolphins in the bay and the Parks and Wildlife do daily feeding. Sounds horrible, but actually, no. Prior to them taking control of this area, the Dolphins weren’t doing so well. There was a high mortality rate amongst Dolphin calves as a result of mothers being over-fed by enthusiastic tourists/fishermen. Well fed mothers weren’t looking after their calves, teaching them to hunt, and as a result calves were starving to death. The feeding programme that runs now is rigid in its rules. The Dolphins are wild, free to come and go within the bay as they wish, only female Dolphins are fed so as not to encourage any aggression amongst males, only a few Dolphins a day are selected for feeding and less than a third of their daily fish requirement is given to any one Dolphin, and no physical contact is allowed. The whole session lasts about 20 mins with the staff explaining everything as they go. These Dolphins are so closely monitored now, their family trees well documented back generations. The good news is calf mortality has reduced dramatically and human contact with both people and boats is kept to a minimum. I thought it was great and a win/win for both Dolphins and tourism.We arrived on the beach early, this Cormorant was still asleep



But the Dolphins were cruising along the shore-line.















And its not just Dolphins hanging out in the shallows







We had booked a catamaran tour out into the bay later in the morning



Dolphin watching dog



10,000 plus Dugong live in this area and feed off the extensive seagrass meadows.Photographing Dugong is extremely difficult. They weigh up to 450kgs, only rise to the surface every several minutes to beathe,showing only their snout, then quickly sink again.





Back on dry land





All this fresh sea air makes you hungry….and thirsty, perfect for Salt and Pepper Calamari and a cold beer



Todays bouquet




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