writing from beautiful Coral Bay, which is at the southern end of Ningaloo Reef.
We had a great time in Broome where we spent just over three weeks. One thing you can't help but notice in this part of the country, is the red dirt, it is just so red and gets into everything.
While there we were joined by friends Elaine & Kevin Barnes who flew in from Sydney for a week.
There is so much to see and do around Broome and we did our best to take in as much as possible while still taking time out in the hammocks with a good book, after all, we are on holidays!
We played golf, went fishing, swam in the ocean and the pool, rode our bikes, walked along the beach and took the Prados for a drive on Cable Beach.
Camels on Cable
We watched the sunset on Cable Beach, (Happy Hour).watched a couple of movies at the outdoor cinema, watched the Staircase to The Moon from the Mangrove Resort Hotel and watched the rugby at the Divers Tavern.
Elaine, Kevin, Jo and I took a sunset camel ride, which was great fun.
We visited the Pearl Luggers museum and drove out to Willie Creek Pearl farm, both of which were very informative and we learned a lot about the history of the early days of pearl diving and how cultured pearls are grown today.
After Elaine and Kevin returned to Sydney, we were preparing to move on but were talked in to doing the Horizontal Falls trip. What an experience! And to think we nearly missed out.
We opted for an over night trip out of Derby, with Xtreme adventures, which was only $50 dearer than the day trip and still cheaper than the day trip out of Broome.
So at 7am we piled into one car for the 2 hour drive to Derby airport to meet our pilot and eight fellow adventurers.
The plane was a great little amphibian and with our pilot Drew at the controls, we took off for the first stage, which was to Cape Leveque, were we landed on the red dirt runway. We had an hour here, which was plenty of time for a swim and a walk on the beautiful white sandy beaches.
Then back on to the plane for our rendezvous with adventure in Talbot Bay. The flight took us over the Buccaneer Archipelago which is a collection of some 1,000 islands and the views were amazing as the great tidal surges make for some spectacular views.
The pilot must have been related to Biggles as he took us low over the water and in between some of the islands.
He even took the plane into a steep banking turn to go back and look for a crocodile that somebody spotted.
Then it was onto the Horizontal Falls and our home for the night. After a couple of low passes over the falls, that were at full power, (we picked a day with 10 metre tidal difference), we landed on Talbot Bay.
There we transferred to our ride, a zodiac with twin 200hp outboards and off we went for the ride of our life! The tide was coming in which is the best time and we did several thrilling passes through the first of the falls. Our operator, Ian, does not go through the second falls as it is too narrow and very dangerous.. ..a woman was killed there recently.
We did however stop at the entrance and marvel at the amount of water rushing through. From there it was onto our accommodation for the night, Starsand a 65ft ketch operated by our skipper Simon and the cook Leonie.
Our home for the night
After a light lunch the bar `is opened and we take time to meet our fellow adventurers, a great bunch of people and before long we are all chatting away and enjoying a sunset sail through the bay.
After returning to our mooring Bill and I are nominated BBQ chefs and with beer in hand we excel in our culinary skills and only lose one sausage, while Leonie prepares the salads and keeps the drinks flowing.
A dusky shark and a sea snake circle the yacht as we cook but are disappointed as we keep all the food on board.
An early night, (9:15), follows and we awake at dawn for a continental breakfast and coffee and wait for our seaplane at 7:15am. Alas, the airport at Broome is fogged in and we have to stay on board until 10:30am for our pick up.
So after another round of coffees Ian starts up the zodiac and off we go for another ride through the falls, this time as the tide was going out. Ian also takes us for a tour of the surrounding bays. In the Meantime Leonie is baking some hot muffins to tide us over until the plane arrives.
Reluctantly we bid farewell to the team and board our seaplane for the flight back to Derby, which includes buzzing a helicopter that had landed on an island nearby.
Sunset Cruise Talbot Bay
Garth we nearly didn't do this trip ,but it was, undoubtedly the highlight of our journey so far and the value of the extra $50 for the overnight stay was probably something around $500 for a similar thing on Sydney harbour.
Next day we reluctantly packed up and left Broome, the weather was getting warmer and stickier and it was time to move on.
We chose Eighty Mile beach as our next destination and the 10 kms of dirt road into the park gave the Geist a bit of a workout. Although we took it easy the corrugations were a bit rough and a few screws came loose. Shower screen and kitchen window frame falling off during the short trip.
We caught up with fellow travellers Chris and Libby Proctor, who we originally met at El Questro, and with Chris's assistance and some glue managed to put every thing back in place and it has stayed there so far.
Two nights at Eighty Mile beach and with some determination saw Bill, Carol and Chris catch some dinner. I had decided that standing in knee depth water with a howling onshore in 38C temperature is not my idea of a relaxing days fishing and after 30 minutes took my little K mart rod and went back to camp.
From there it was on to Port Hedland where the TV reception was good and we could watch the Rugby quarter-finals. It was with some despair that I watched the All Blacks go down against the French and Bill was very pleased to see England beat Australia.
In case the readers are unaware Bill was born in England and I am from NZ, both came here along time ago and married Aussie girls... lucky them.
Team Geist and support crew
While at Port Hedland I had a slow leak in one of the vans tyres repaired. It turned out to be a cut in the sidewall of the tyre and they, K-Mart,had to put a tube in it.
Also had an oil change first thing Monday morning before turning inland for Karijini National park. It is quite a drive with very little in between, quite typical in the west.
After a lunch break at Auski roadhouse, (sounds like it should be in the Snowy Mountains), we arrive at Dales campground and select a site where we can test out our Kipor generators, that we bought in Melbourne and have dragged halfway around the country without so much as a start up.
Four to five pulls and away they go... with one pull being sufficient in subsequent start ups.
That afternoon we walk to Fortescue Falls for a refreshing swim. On our return we meet up with Mick Elsie, who we had met previously at Broome and so another happy hour reunion.
Next day it is off to view the gorges along the 40 odd kms of good dirt road....or so I thought. We stopped for lunch at the four gorges lookout when I notice my rear tyre deflating. Bill and I set out and replace it with the spare and after viewing all the gorges head back to Dales gorge for another walk and swim in Circular Pool.
Next morning it is on to Tom Price to get the puncture repaired and only a few kms back on the main road and I notice smoke coming from a van tyre. On pulling over it turns out that the repaired tyre has blown out and completely shredded! Lesson learnt.. don't repair tyres with sidewall damage.
After replacing the tyre with the assistance of a very helpful local, Pat, who had a trolley jack, we take off again with the Team Geist Support Crew, (Bill Carol), following behind.
Tyrepower at Tom Price and more bad news.. the Cooper,(new on in Sydney), is damaged beyond repair, obviously due to a large rock on what we thought was a good road and they have no replacement for the van tyre. We replace the Cooper as the price was reasonable and a phone call to Exmouth, brings better news so we push on the 630 kms, with an overnight rest stop at House Creek Bridge.
Cape Leveque bathing beauties
It is a nervous drive without a spare for the van and Bills Avan has a different wheel and tyre profile. With only a minor scare we make it to Exmouth.
The van got the wobbles on and we realised we hadn't checked the pressure in the spare and it required a bit off air. My compressor decided not to work at this time and Bill's kept blowing fuses. Luckily I had spare fuses and we got the air in.
Exmouth was a welcome site after many kms of nothing and we checked into the Big4 where Chris and Libby had been for a day or two.
This day was Jo and my 21st wedding anniversary and after a bottle of champagne at happy hour we toddled off to a lovely restaurant called Whalers. The meal was excellent and we managed three courses and coffee with a couple of glasses of wine from our cellar under the bed.
Next day drove to Turquoise Bay in Cape Range National Park for a snorkel, where the Ningaloo Reef comes right into the shore. That night was another night out for dinner at the local with Carol, Bill, Chris and Libby. Another pleasant meal in good company.
Saturday Jo and I take a walk along the town beach before breakfast and later drive to Lakeside in the Park for another snorkel. Bill and Carol go fishing with some success before visiting Lakeside with Chris and Libby. That night we all get together for a lamb roast in the camp kitchen.... the other campers were drooling as we enjoyed an excellent homecooked meal.
Sunday with Chris and Libby about an hour ahead and Carol and Bill an hour behind we drive to the beautiful Coral Bay.
The weather now is noticeably cooler with a fresh seabreeze making a pleasant change from the hot desert winds.
Sunset on Cable Beach with Elaine and Kevin
Yesterday we took a two hour glass bottom boat trip out to the reef for the best snorkelling we have encountered so far.
During this lap we always seem to be in town for festivals or celebrations of some kind and Coral Bay was no exception.
Last night was Bazza's Big Bash, a fundraiser with two bands, sausage sizzle, raffles and prizes. Jo won the prize for best dancer although she should have got a second for the best hat contest as well. Anyway after a great night, we went off this morning to breakfast at Ningaloo Reef Resort to spend our $50 voucher.
Well Garth, that is as up to date as I can get, Chris and Libby have moved on to Carnarvon and we will follow tomorrow, before Monkey Mia, Kalbarri and on towards Perth.
Regards from the team, Ross, Jo , Bill and Carol.
PS a happy Bill now that the Poms have made the Rugby World Cup final.
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