Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The beauty that sprouts from the ground

(30 October – 2 November)

The wildflowers of Kalbarri NP are one of the features of the region, a perpetual kaleidoscope of colours throughout the year, so whenever you visit, there are always some plants in bloom – and we weren’t disappointed. Spotting the blooms are easy as there is the ‘dry’ green background and in contrast, any other colour shines like a beacon – I’ve uploaded some examples throughout this blog entry.

The stark dryness of the park should not be underestimated as the walk to Nature’s Window attested – the day’s temperature was around the mid-30s, but out in the park it was reaching the mid to upper 40s. The walk to Nature’s Window was not particularly long however the heat sure makes itself felt as we guzzled the water like it was going out of style.

The National Park also extends south along the coast where there are some great surf spots as well as rugged cliffs and stacks similar to those found along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. The vegetation is very different to that of the NP to the north and inland due to soil and proximity to the sea – due to winds and salt spray. We were however, fortunate to spot the odd wallaby or roo here, whereas we only saw crows in the north.

The tribe had another experience of feeding the local natives, this time it was pelicans – where the feeding has been a daily ritual for the past 40-odd years – ‘Mr Percival’ was the greedy one forever hassling the lady with the bucket of fish as four other feathered comrades and a gaggle of seagulls waited patiently. Of course, the trick with these greedy creatures is to give them some food after everyone else has some of the feed.

Kalbarri is also renowned for Flynn’s Fish BBQ Restaurant – set in a former fisheries shed, with seating rambling outdoors and under pergolas, the venue is one of those ‘must visit’ places, with bric-a-brac and semi-antique-like collectables scattered about decorating the walls, pillars, display cabinets, and toilets. The menu is based upon what Mr Flynn buys that day. The featured fish for our dinner was red emperor – a robust and firm fish that is well suited to the BBQ hotplate. Also, there is the opportunity for you to sing for your supper, however, none of the tribe was inclined to sing despite them practising ABBA and the national anthem on the drive to the restaurant. Also, no other diner offered to exercise their lungs.

Pushing on down the coast, we viewed the Pink Lake (aka Hutt Lagoon) which is an iridescent pink due to high levels of beta carotene in the water. Quite a bizarre sight in itself, although I don’t recommend drinking the water to boost your daily intake of beta-carotene.

We paused in Geraldton for groceries, post and a spot of lunch, and then carried on with our drive as we aimed to reach the Pinnacles for sunset. Setting in at the caravan park in Cervantes, we quickly set-up before heading to the Pinnacles – another one of those odd geological formations where countless limestone ‘fingers’ sprout from the sandy desert over the landscape.

The tribe loved playing around the ‘fingers’ as it provided the perfect place to play hide-and-seek, as well as chasings. It truly is a magical place though eerie in the respect that it is a very alien looking landscape. The funny thing is, whenever you see images of it whether in books, magazines or on TV, the impression is that it is out in the desert, a million miles from civilisation – yet the reality is that it is barely 200km from Perth, a mere day trip away.

Mesmerising sites on the drive from Cervantes to Perth include the occasional brilliant white sand dunes on the ‘wrong’ side of the road – that is on the eastern side away from the beach – dunes which would not look out of place if you were on camel-back in the Sahara. Also along the way were the occasional grass tree forests – unusual for our east coast eyes as these were forests of only grass trees, whereas on the east coast, grass trees generally exist amongst plenty other vegetation, usually amongst eucalypts.

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