14 – A gnome memorial and a wrong turn

 

Lorna's gnome memorial

Lorna’s gnome memorial

North of Kalbarri the land is basically well-disguised desert, with no permanent water anywhere before Carnarvon. At this time of year, it’s quite pretty, though, because of the wildflowers carpeting the ground between the scrub. But that’s all you can say. I went through there once, to the place on the Zuytdorp Cliffs where the Zuytdorp went down. It’s not a long way, but it seemed endless, the four-wheel drive churning up one sandy slope, down again, then up again, then over a limestone ridge, then more sand. It’s hard to imagine a group of Dutchmen stuck in this desolate land. Even the aboriginal people didn’t frequent this area.

Back in 2016, after some time, the road wound its way between some low hills and we spotted a lookout, so we went up to take a look. We found a strange little memorial, a collection of gnomes of various types. It seemed they were originally dedicated to Lorna, who died a few years ago. But we thought the collection had been added to since then. Lorna, it seemed, would have looked from here over what is probably marshy ground at high tide, to Hamelin Pool on the horizon. It’s an interesting place, one of the few places in the world where stromatolites, one of the earliest known forms of life, still grow. I went there before they were protected. I can honestly say I’ve swum with stromatolites.

The highway from the hilltop

The highway from the hilltop

Hamelin Pool in the distance

Hamelin Pool in the distance

The world's most expensive coleslaw

The world’s most expensive coleslaw

Finding accommodation in Carnarvon wasn’t easy, but we eventually booked into a very nice cabin which was part of a caravan park, within walking distance of town. The proprietor had marked a couple of hotels where meals were served, so we went looking. One was too far to bother, and looked closed anyway, and the other offered spag bol at $23.50. Nothing much else was open. A takeaway looked like the go, so we stopped at Chicken Treat on the way back to our accommodation. There wasn’t much choice, so we ordered a quarter chicken and chips each, and a small coleslaw to add some veg. It was pretty ordinary. The chips were soggy, the stuffing wasn’t there, and the tiny coleslaw cost $4.19 – worth its weight in gold. Knowledgeable friends told us later that Carnarvon’s another one of those town where wandering around at night isn’t wise. So maybe that was the silver lining.

img_5806Next day we drove in drizzly weather down to the coast to see the blowholes. The road was bitumen, but our GPS didn’t know much about it. After about 80km we reached a crossroads at the coast and this big sign. It seemed the Sydney memorial was off to the right, and they were past the blowholes so we went right along a chalky unmade road, the sea on one side, what used to be the sand dunes on the other. Once we reached the Sydney memorial we knew we’d made a mistake. We had also reached Quobba homestead, which has a caravan park. Pete drove in and asked someone where the blowholes were. Seems we should have turned left at that sign. They’re four hundred metres up the road. Sigh. That was 40km we’d driven for nothing.

Maybe we should himg_58061ave read the sign more closely, or the leaflet that said the road was bitumen all the way to the blowholes. That little sign on the right has two red arrows right at the bottom. The one on the left says ‘BLOWHOLES 400M’.

 

The sea sucks back from the cliff

The sea sucks back from the cliff

Then slams back in

Then slams back in

The sound is incredible, like someone sucking in a breath then exhaling

The water surges under the reef and blasts up through the blow hole. The sound is incredible, like someone sucking in a breath then exhaling

This will give you some idea of the height of the blow

This will give you some idea of the height of the blow