Pardon the typo, grammar and sentence structures, it ain’t easy driving, absorbing the scenery and writing about it at the same time. I will edit much later.
It was tough getting off the bed this morning but we finally did. Our shack has no en-suite so a couple of times over the night, we had to get out of the room and make a short journey to the restroom. By the time we stepped out of the room, the other lodgers were gone however there were a couple of campers packing up on the camp ground. The facility has no grid supplied power and the humming of the diesel generator could be heard. A couple of travellers, all pulling different sizes of boats behind them could be seen at the front of the roadhouse. They were congregated in a group, probably reviewing their fishing plans. Some were filling up their vehicles with diesel which is at a premium price here in the middle of nowhere.
I took a walk to the banks of the Minilya River and it was stark dry, not a drop of water anywhere. In fact, the river bed looked more like a road was more suited for vehicular traffic than carrying water, a possibility that was not lost on the owners of the surrounding lands who had run an a metal chain line across the river held by a tree on each bank to prevent vehicular access. I learnt that the river do get flooded even when it doesn’t rain in the area like one that took place six weeks ago.
As we load up the Explorer, we thought of taking some water with us and discussed this with one of the staff of the roadhouse. We were advised that the water here was bore water and not of good quality and is corrosive. Water, is a precious commodity here. The lady who runs the roadhouse came to say Hello to us and informed that they just took over the management of the property less than six weeks ago. She is from Margaret River, a very important wine growing and holiday resort south of Perth. I asked her what Minilya meant, she didn’t know but promised to find out.
We drove off from Minilya, and just a little ahead we turned left unto the Exmouth road. We are in the World Heritage Area Baby, the Ningaloo Reefs. all traffic to and from Exmouth were pulling something, majorly boats and caravans. Well, that will not be truthful totally, a careful observer would have seen the dotting of the landscape with huge conical shaped brown objects. These are termite mounds. Everywhere we looked, they were there and are of different sizes but the shape are almost the same, round based and taping off to a near conic top. Yet they are different, ingenious pieces of architectural works by these creatures. They are also called termitariums and can sometimes also be found on rock faces or engulfing parts of trees and stumps.
The further we drove northwards, into the tropics, the more I got reminded of my last road trip to Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. The termite mounds reminds me of the huts of the Nupe (Tapa) people that have a similar brownish colour and are found predominantly in Niger and Kogi states. The semi-arid land here in the North West region of Australia however differs a little bit in terms of vegetation. Here one finds the spinifex grasses and low shrubs unlike the tall grasses of the sudan savannah in Nigeria. The plain landscape is a similarity.
We branched off the Exmouth road to the left and 10km thereon, we arrived at the little outpost, Coral Bay. We could see three wind turbines from a distance and they are odd and different from what we have seen of wind turbines. These have two blades, rather than the three we are used to. Additionally, these ones are tethered to the ground with long steel ropes while all others we have seen are free standing. We were later to learn that the design was such as to make it easy for these turbines to be lowered to the ground during extreme weather conditions. The whole settlement is powered by these turbines and the diesel generators managed by Synergy.
Everything here shouts tourism, the buildings are a mix of wooden structures and portacabins all located within walking distances from the beach. As we drove into town, the direction of the foot traffic was all towards the beach. Different body sizes and shapes, in matching swimming underwears and with towels tossed on their shoulders. We have a few ATVs on our right, waiting for the adventure enthusiasts to rent and have some fun on the white sandy shores and dunes.
At the Bayview resort, we couldn’t get a room to pass the night, it was fully booked up. We were directed to check the backpackers across the road, perhaps they’ll have a room to spare. It turned out to be a futile effort so we were back at the Bayview to seek for a camp spot. The expressions on the lady’s face was one that kept us praying silently, that was until she told us that they had only one spot available and we can only book for one night as the whole camp has been fully booked for the next day as well. We paid a handsome price for this spot and thereafter was given the ground map pointing out where our spot is. It was as if the entire West Australians were here, the camp ground was full to the brim, except that by the time we got to our spot, it had two empty spaces on each of its side. So, why did the lady lie to us?
It was too early in the day to camp, more so we were famished. Lunch was at the little café, Fin’s next door to Bayview. Here, we started again our perennial war with the flies. Every brochure and travel sites worth its salt invites you to come to Australia. I don’t know who invited the flies but they are ever there, looking for the orifices on your head to crawl in. If one is not careful, one will land himself some serious slaps on the face, in the vain attempt to get one of these flies who have mastered the art of dodging it. Thereafter, we visited the beach area. While Saf made for the waters of Bill’s bay, I went to explore the lookout. Snorkelling, kayaking, standing paddling and all sorts of activities were ongoing at the beach. In a corner, some were engrossed in throwing a ball around, the generality of the human presence at the beach were relaxed, devoid of any care in the world. The least thought on anyone’s mind was Covid19 and its increasing numbers in the state of Victoria, after all WA borders remain closed to other states.
Having explored the few streets in the bay, we drove on Banksia drive towards paradise beach and took a turnoff to the right meant only for 4wd. It took us to a little escarpment from where we had a private view of the bay and the surrounding lands. A bit further from us, we could see a couple of 4WDs right next to the ocean, it seemed driving that close to be perilous but we all have different appreciation of risks. Kangaroos dungs littered all the areas where we stood and we had to ask whether this was a sacred site for where Kangaroos meet. A couple of jet skis were engaged in a race in the waters below us. Looking down from where we stood, there was a sharp incline to the surrounding waters and the continual waves of the ocean hammering the land has shaped it in various places leaving jagged heads and various land formations that will be good for a geography class to explore.
Back to the camp and finally got busy with the art of setting up our tent. The Explorer was well equipped for camping. I unfolded its awnings and got the stilts down, pegged to the ground. I threw the canvas double swag on the floor and opened it up. Saf took the time to go and freshen up, she frowns at the idea of camping but, in this case, there was no option. After all, Jesus was born in a manger. Our experience made us to understand the story of his birth better. Were we not told, just like us, that Mary and Joseph could not find a space in the inn in Jerusalem as at the time of Jesus’ birth and had to make do with a manger? If the saviour could endure the humility of spending his early hours in a manger where cattle are kept, who am I to complain of a precious spot in a camp full of hundreds of vacationers?
As we were getting done with setting up, the other two spots were taken up. On our left were a couple of teenage kids and on the right was a mid-age couple with their Landrover. Rummaging in the car for what to eat, we discovered the fish that had been given to us by Clinton at Denham. At the camp kitchen we tossed this on the grill along with the remaining lamb chops that we had gotten as well. The aroma was lovely. Back at our spot, I set up the camping table and chairs and placed a bottle of wine atop. Dinner was ready and with lettuce, it was a sumptuous meal we had for the night.
Anyone who lives with an exercise freak will know that sleeping off after a meal is a no no. Saf wouldn’t allow me to do the same so we had to go on a walk. The Trail took us from the camp gates to French street unto Banksia Drive where we came close to the wind turbines and ending at Paradise Beach. We took a closer route back but avoiding the drive and walking on a bush path closer to the beach. It was here that we came across a family of Kangaroos. One ran across our path and it was that singular action that drew our attention to the other family members that were within the surrounding bushes. Like an Ostritch burying her head in the sands, the Kangaroos maintained a frozen posture, an attempt at disguising themselves from being noticed by us. No movement, no sound, but ready to skip away at the slightest approach by us.
The light drizzle has stopped by the time we got to the camp. We entered our swag, said our prayers, cuddled together and it was sweet dreams all through for the night.