The Gascoyne, off grid camping and upside-down rivers
We had one night in Carnarvon at the Capricorn Caravan Park. This was a nice family run park with good amenities. It was Pizza night with live music by Lucien Lowe of the Pleasant Puckers and a great time. was had by all. I met a nice family from Switzerland and played with the kids. The next morning, at the local farmer’s market, the folks picked up supplies for our planned few days off grid. There is a space museum, a big satellite dish and a few other things to see in Carnarvon, but the folks were keen to head off for a bit of wilderness time. Just out of town we crossed the Gascoyne River, a giant upside-down river with a sand bed and a huge underground aquifer that supplies most of the water for the local market gardens and farms.
Point Quobba is about 90k north of Carnarvon. It has a large sheltered lagoon known as The Aquarium. It is Protected Fish Habitat Area, so no fishing. It’s a very popular snorkelling area. There’s a series of historic beach shacks, relics from a simpler time before council regulations. The folks spent a bit of time taking photos of them. It’s a Council Camping Spot in the Dry Season and a ranger comes around to collect fees. We arrived just after the season ended when it had become a free camping spot. Total self-sufficiency is required, though there were some bush toilets. We had hit a spell of very windy weather and only spent one night. The folks filed it away as a spot to come back for snorkelling another time. About one km North of Point Quobba were the Blowholes.
We decided to head inland to get away from the coastal wind. ‘It’s a campsite on a river’ the Silverback said. ‘Nice’ I thought. I hadn’t swum in a river for ages. All the rivers further north had crocs in them! Though I did notice he was using his tricky voice when he said it!
Wooramel River Retreat
Wooramel River Retreat is a camping ground on a big station that runs cattle, sheep and goats. Coincidentally the Sparrow had bought some goat at the local farmer’s market for a pot roast. Checking the packaging revealed it had come from the neighbouring station. We were bringing it home in a slow cooker! The camp-ground had artesian-bore showers and flushing toilets but self-sufficiency was required in all other regards. There were four large Hot Tubs fed by a warm artesian water. The folks had a soak while I guarded their gear over by the fence.
On our second night we went around to the communal campfire. The station manager gave the Sparrow a lesson on cooking damper in a camp oven. A travelling muso called Phil Royle played classic rock hits. It was a great night; I even got some damper from a friendly kid. The river turned out to be another upside-down river! Most of the year it’s dry sand with water flowing underground. The station had bores for most of their water. The river only flows above ground after heavy rain, perhaps 3-4 weeks, a couple of times per year. With no water in the river, and dogs not being allowed in the hot tubs, it was clear that my next swim would be when we got back to the sea. Though, we are going to a place called Shark Bay, so I might need some research done on the Sparrow phone before I take a dip!