“You doing the full lap ?”, we’re often asked when folks see our vehicle and realize it was shipped over from Canada. I’d not heard the term before but it’s “Grey Nomad” slang for one whose travel plans involve a full circumnavigation of the Australian continent. Essentially, some variation of Highway 1 all the way around, starting and ending in the same city. I suppose the answer is a qualified “yes” since we do hope to do that eventually but with a multitude of diversions along the way. One with less time might satisfy themselves with a “half lap” ( either the western or eastern half of Oz ) !

Highway 1, right around the country. Known as a “full lap” !
Our route this past week – starting the trek north.

Speaking of Grey Nomads we’ve been astounded by how many we see – and it’s not even  high season on the Western Australia coast yet. Western Australia in general is “hot” ( as in, popular) right now, especially the northwest and we are certainly excited to begin exploring that region, but first the “Coral Coast” beckons – the bit that starts in Perth and ends near Exmouth. 

When you have too many surfboards and not enough material for a fence ! Town of Lancelin.

Heading north from Perth we noted how much the city had sprawled north over the years, certainly seems to be the area getting developed. Rather than taking the more direct inland route (Highway 1), we chose the slower, but more scenic option known as Indian Ocean Drive, passing though many small coastal communities – Yanchep, Cervantes, and Jurien Bay, among them, before the roads join up again just south of Geraldton with Highway 1. Sandy Cape, just north  of Jurien Bay was a firm favourite- hard to beat a beachside spot at one of the area’s most popular campgrounds. Swimmable water ( as in not too cold ), a long, white sandy beach and classic West coast sunsets kept us anchored there for several days. Delightful.

Beautiful sunset, Sandy Cape
Sandy Cape – our neighbours were 5 young Argentines on Working Holidays in Australia. Quite amazed that we had travelled extensively in their homeland ( and thrilled that we rated it the best part of South America ! ).
Sandy Cape – enjoying Happy Hour with neighbours, Wayne and Michelle.
Beach camping, Sandy Cape.
Sandy Cape, sunset drink.
Emus, sand dunes, Sandy Cape.
Sandy Cape.
Getting out of the sand dunes – one of the few times we’ve needed to use 4×4.

Geraldton is the last bigger city until Broome ( still a long way north ! ) so we explored its sights and nearby beaches – the HMAS Sydney memorial was especially moving, reminding us all of the gallant service of the young men who paid the ultimate price in defending the freedom we all enjoy today. Tragically 645 lives lost in the sinking of that famous ship back in 1941.

Geraldton’s downtown, city-provided, free camping area – all 9 spots are gone by the early hours of the morning. Snagged the last one ! A very “RV Friendly” city.
Sydney II Memorial, Geraldton. In remembrance of the 645 brave sailors who paid the ultimate price, November, 1941. Both the Sydney and its adversary, the German raider, Kormoran, sunk after the battle, although there were no survivors from the Sydney II.
Statue of a sailor’s mother , looking out to sea, for the son who would never return. We’ve seen many war memorials, this one was particularly poignant, commemorating the greatest single tragedy in Australian naval history.

Coronation Beach, just north of Geraldton – a favoured location for kite surfers and wind surfers. It was windy !
Sunset, Coronation Beach.
Port Gregory. A quiet seaside village en route to Kalbarri whose main claim to fame was to have been shelled ( with no damage ) by a Japanese submarine in WW2
…..and to have an unusual “Pink Lake” nearby. Pink Lake, Port Gregory.

As we planned out this trip around Oz, many place names were thrown around as “must do’s” – Kalbarri National Park, while not top of that list, was nonetheless one of those that came up often so we were keen to spend some time exploring the area.  An impressive park for sure ( and very nice coastal town as well ), the hikes we did were inspiring but heavy rain cut short our final day preventing us doing the longer one ( note to self – don’t always “save the best for last” ! ). Rain, and – I should add – a moment of absolute panic when we briefly lost ALL power in the camper ( both AC and DC ). Seems one of those earlier corrugated roads had worked a major connection loose – fortunately the local Kalbarri auto electrician was able to identify and reconnect it ( sees the very same problem almost weekly, he said ).

Coastal cliffs, Kalbarri.
Kalbarri cliffs.
Coastal cliffs, Kalbarri.
Marker, just outside Kalbarri, acknowledging the very first arrival of Europeans in Australia – 141 years before Captain Cook.
Skywalk, Kalbarri.
“Natures Window”, Kalbarri NP.
Flies were brutal – a real challenge entering and exiting the van !
Kalbarri NP – flies were brutal in places.
Kalbarri NP.
Kalbarri NP.
Kalbarri N P.
Emu, Kalbarri N P.
Vegetation, Kalbarri N P.
Tim, the only auto electrician we could find in Kalbarri, correctly identified our electrical issue – a bolt on our shunt had worked loose, taking out all power in the camper. Relieved the issue was simply fixed – thanks also to my Victron supplier for his tips !

Sadly, rain cut short our time in beautiful Kalbarri.

Our time in Kalbarri cut slightly short, it gave us an opportunity to pick up some time and do one of our periodic serious clean ups and “repacks” – the latter involving stacking the storage crates in the van garage so as to ensure we always had what we wanted at our finger tips while the rarely used stuff was pushed further forward. Pulled in early to the legendary Billabong Roadhouse to do same. Not so easy – seems we can never agree on what needs to be at our finger tips !

Famous Billabong Roadhouse, WA.

Next week we travel to beautiful Shark Bay and beyond.

Till then….