Our original plan was to spend a few days visiting the mine towns on the Great Northern Highway on our way from Karijini back to Perth. Unfortunately, Vitus crashed and hurt his front tooth in the skate park in Meekatharra and with the nearest dentist being in Geraldton (+500 km away) we had to make a quick change of plans.
From Karijini to Meekatharra
Let’s be honest. There is not much to see along the Great Northern Highway. Endless stretches of empty outback with an occasional camel (yes there are thousands of wild camels in Australia), cow or kangaroo roadkill lying next to the road. Oversized loads also take on a whole new meaning 🙂
We made a stopover at a roadside rest area and reached Meekatharra late afternoon.
While Jesper went for a run the boys had fun in the local skate park. A spine was the major attraction, and everything went well the first 50 times until Vitus’ rear wheel caught the ramp at a weird angel and he face planted on the concrete. A bit of his right front tooth had chipped off but more alarmingly there was a horizontal crack all the way across the tooth.
Not knowing if it was a superficial crack or if most of his front tooth was about to fall off, we decided he needed to go to a dentist – unfortunately the nearest one turned out to be in Geraldton – more than 500 km. away.
We spend the night free camping at the beautiful lookout over Mekatharra and headed south after spending a few hours exploring the walking and cycling trails around Meekatharra. We had planned to visit the mining towns of Cue and Mt. Magnet but had to skip them to reach our appointment at the dentist. Fortunately, it turned out that it was a superficial crack and the tooth was OK.
Geraldton offers free RV parking (self contained – toilets nearby close at 9pm) on the Parking lot close to Town Beach, so we spent the night there before heading on to do the 17 km. river trail just south of Geraldton. It was a beautiful hike but also a bit monotone. At the end the trail became flooded in several places, and we spend an extra 30 min. trying to navigate around the flooded sections.
From there we drove on to Dongara where we once again free camped at the parking lot near the surf club. This time a ranger stopped by in the morning and politely led us know that he would collect our vehicle details and we would get a fine should we do it another time. Not a plan as we needed to hurry towards Jurian Bay to go snorkeling with sea lions at 10.
Snorkeling with Sea Lions in Jurian Bay Marine Park
From the harbor in Jurian Bay it was only a 20 min. boat ride to the small island that about 30 sea lions call home. We were told we would be in the water about 1.5 hours and a water temperature of about 19 degrees wetsuits were required. Normally it does not take long for the sea lions to enter the water and have a look at the human visitors but on this occasion most of them had been away hunting for more than 2 days and only 2 of them had energy enough left to want to check us out. Normally you have to stay quite to get a chance to observe wild animals but with sea lions you basically have to make as much noise as possible for them to find you interesting enough to play with.
Despite the fact that we did not have 10 sea lions around us it was still a great experience to see them close up underwater and watch them play. Back on the boat hot chocolate and Tim Tam were waiting for us and despite being a bit cold we had had a great morning.
Jurian Bay also turned out to have one of the best skate parks so far. Brand new, huge area and right by the beach.
Dwellingup – all about mountain biking
After our sea lion encounter and a quick stopover on the campground in Yanshep national park we drove to Dwellingup to hike and ride mountain bikes. We stayed at the Baden Powel campground but despite a great location it felt a bit creepy as we were pretty much the only ones there (must be because it was still winter). The boys really enjoyed the campfires at night and especially roasting “snobrød” and Marshmallows.
Line had overworked her foot on our 17 km. river hike and unfortunately it was still too painful for her to walk and let alone hike, so she spend the day with Vitus in the Dwellingup skate park while Noah and Jesper went to explore the many trails in the area. It was amazing to see what you can do if you truly prioritize mountain bike trail building in an area. At the visitor center we were given a map and much like a ski resort you could see the green blue and black trails – even with a description of each trail and what to expect. Jesper and Noah had a fantastic couple of days riding + 80 km and close to 2.000 meters of elevation in about 36 hours.
Driving towards the campground we were lucky enough to see to huge male kangaroos fighting just 30 meters from the road. Quite a rare thing and we spoke to many Australians who had never seen it despite living in Australia their whole lives.
Fremantle and Perth – time for city life
From Dwellingup we drove North again to Fremantle. We made a stop at Rockingham on the way to walk along the beach and the short hiking trail around Point Peron
In Fremantle we went to the local market, the shipwreck museum, had incredible ice cream at Swan River Gelato and obviously had to check out the local skate park and parkour “playground”.
The next day we went to play minigolf at Wembley golf course. Line was in the lead for most of the time but the victory was Jesper’s after she made double and triple boogeys on the last 4 holes.
Our time in Western Australia was coming to an end and we spent the last full day in Perth visiting the famous King’s Park and Elisabeth Quay.
After returning the camper on the morning of our flight we just had time to visit a final skate park visit.
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