Termites, Wrecks and Whales at the tip of the West

The 140km drive from Coral Bay to Exmouth, a town at the tip of that little finger jutting out at the top of the WA coast, led us into proper termite hill country. Termite hills crop up as soon as you cross into the Tropics at the Tropic of Capricorn and today we drove past a veritable termite field so we stopped at a parking place to take a look. Unfortunately, the stop is used regularly by irresponsible free campers and what spoiled the view were swathes of toilet paper. Why would you do that? Unperturbed I set off past the toilet garlands into the desert and managed to take a few shots.

IMG_8530IMG_8531What I noticed then were the many tiny plants trying to carve a life out for themselves. A bush fire had gone through here during the last 6 months and burned off all plants, which is also why there were no birds (I know all this from a very small Italian man who set up camp and who comes here every year). The bush was therefore a desert. I took photos of these plants because they are wee heroes. To the unlikely tough nuts of nature, I salute you!

We also wondered about the wee Italian man – he was about 5 foot tall. He pulled a caravan and had a bike with him. He told me his wife was at home in Perth because she had her hobbies and he had his. Roddy and I imagined the inside of his caravan being decorated with Gina Lollobrigida posters. We certainly regard our gecko as our home now so we assume others do too and they will decorate it to create the cosy feeling. Stereotype much?

As we approached Exmouth the landscape took on this beachy look but there is also a distinctly military feel about the place. Learmonth is a military airport ca. 30 km away from Exmouth with a 3km long runway. It is sometimes used to redirect flights from Perth if Perth is foggy which doesn’t happen very often. This is just as well as Learmonth is over 1000 km north of Perth so a bus won’t do. In Exmouth itself there is a huge VLF radio station which generates very low frequency radio waves that can penetrate seawater, allowing communications with submerged nuclear submarines. The station communicates with subs half way around the globe. Roddy is my source for all this info as you can imagine and I will not decorate myself with his feathers (wee German metaphor there). The 12 radio masts are almost 400 metres tall, cover a site 10 square km and can be seen from far far away.IMG_8548

For me though, nature is what’s important and I wanted to see the ocean on this splendid little tip of the west coast. At this time of the year you can often see whales spouting and breaching – and we did! It was quite far away but a woman had fancy binoculars and she let me have a look. I could clearly see a humpback whale emerging from the water! Tomorrow we will take a drive along the coast and will hopefully see some more. Maybe I will even manage a photo… These are also the beaches where David Attenborough has watched and filmed baby turtles break free from their eggs in the sand and make their precarious way towards the ocean but, alas, it is not turtle season just now.

Around this coastline there are numerous shipwrecks from the early days. Many are submerged and you can only dive to see them or see them from the air but here we saw the wrecked SS Mildura just off the tip of this peninsula, a haunting ghost of itself.

Fishing is big here in Exmouth. The Kailis brothers are fishmongers from Perth and operate in Dongara and here in Exmouth. Rock lobster is big and so they had a big prawn commissioned and later on donated it to the town here. Needless to say I had a photo taken with another Big thing.

The campsite here is very nice. Years ago we stayed here with Tina and Jane – remember? The emus are quite cheeky here and Roddy had to do his manly emu-chasing – you stand tall and stick one arm up as far as possible while going grrrrr. Get the picture? Well, it worked and I was very proud of him.IMG_8576

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