Trip Leader: Chris Smith
When: Saturday 24th April 2004
Location: Steep Point
Our trip began on Sat 24th April, the weather was great.
With everyone in good spirits, our convoy of 8 vehicles, (none Mitsubishi’s he, he) met at the Gull service station on Great Nth Hwy known as ‘Ginger’s’ at 7am. After quick coffee & breakfast, formalities were conducted and our convoy was under way. Our first stop was Cataby for morning tea. This was a quick coffee at the service station where we again met & greeted.
Our next pit stop was at Dongora/Port Dennison where Chris Smith our trip leader went down a one way road the wrong way and missed the bakery… first boo boo for the trip!
We then continued and our drive led us through the Greenough heritage trail and over the oldest bridge in W.A built by convicts, very interesting…
Our next stop was at the Greenough Historical Hamlet. This was an old town where the buildings have been preserved and restored to original conditions dating back to the 1800’s. Some really interesting buildings included the old jail and courthouse, the school and two churches, the visit was enjoyed by all, a little history reminding us of how easy life is now and how tough it was back then.
We then had a pleasant lunch at the Greenough river mouth.
It was then time to get on the road again. During the drive John was confused with Geoff’s name thinking it was Les, and Des thinking John was calling him Les! It was all sorted and correct names revealed. Unfortunately John was still getting names wrong all week…
During the drive, Des lost a winch handle from the back trailer which was spotted falling out by Geoff, and found by eagle eye John, all’s well and the convoy resumes. We arrived at the Murchison River for camp at around 4.30 pm and all found our spots and set up. We congregated for drinks where an impromptu throw fishing net competition happened, with Peter winning by far.
After dinner our first happy hour and camp fire began, one of many and a great way to get introduced and friendly. The first day was great but much more was in store…..
Andrea & John
Day 2 Sunday 25th April 2004
We left Murchison at 8.04am after a couple of jump starts due to flat batteries. It was a pleasure to leave the flies behind. A few drops of rain along with strong winds overnight had us holding our breath for today’s travel. However, the morning has turned out cloudy, calm and cool, great for travel. After a couple of near misses with kangaroos, everyone had to stay alert.
10am we stopped at the Overlander for fuel and comfort stop. Off again within 15 minutes.
The trip was rather quiet until Maxine introduced a nine-letter word game, which created some interest between the ladies.
Hamelin Pool Caravan Park was next, where we saw a shell quarry and stromatolites. We enjoyed morning tea with the flies then said goodbye to Jeff and Maxine who had decided to stay the night and travel out the next day. By this time, it was 12 noon and we stopped to gather firewood for our campfires at Steep Point.
After an hours travel on the Useless Loop road, Des discovered he had lost a wheel off his trailer, which we were unable to find. Shortly before this mishap, Des had lost his winch handle and pin, but he found them. After a quick wheel replacement, we were off again. Another 45 minutes of extremely rough road, we arrived at the area where you must deflate your tyres to 20 PSI or face a fine. Des and trailer still not travelling too good.
After deflating out tyres we re arranged our convoy positions and set off in pairs over some very rough and hungry sand dunes. Over the first two hills Des still struggling with his trailer. Off again and Des strikes trouble again, this time his trailers towing bar was breaking. Next, a very hungry sand dune, John & Andrea over, Ivan was next and trouble struck. Ivan had to back all the way down again. Deflating his car tyres to 15 PSI he gunned it and made it. With some quick instructions to Terry to gun it or he wouldn’t make it. Everyone was over except Des who was really in trouble now with the tow bar dragging in the sand. His two companions riding on the back of the boat to try and lift the front to no avail. After a quick discussion, it was decided the rest of the group would push on, set up camp, unload a trailer and go back and unload Des.
The main group arrived at our campsite at 6.15pm. Shane & Brant quickly unloaded and went back about 15 klms to Des. Reloading his trailer and some excellent make do repair work, they took off again arriving boat, trailer and all on board at 9.15pm to the cheers of everyone.
What an eventful day.
Ivan & Clare
Day 3 Monday 26th April, 2004
Today everyone woke up to million dollar views as we were camped right on the beach with Dirk Hartog Island in the distance. We had a leisurely morning with a bit more setting up to do. The guys started banging tent pegs in at 6.55am for the communal tent, so there was no chance of a sleep in.
After lunch, the fishermen all went out to do a bit of hunting and gathering. It was a beautiful 30°c day, so the women and children spent the afternoon relaxing and swimming. We had to keep an eye out for sharks, but at least we were away from the flies. By late afternoon, the boats started returning with fish for dinner. Shane and Brant had the best catch of the day with a Pink Schnapper measuring 70cm and another one slightly smaller.
That night with happy hour and dinner over with, we had a Neil Diamond night. As we sat around the campfire, we all had many laughs with Terry’s rendition of Neil Diamond’s Hot August Night’s opening number, guitar (axe) and all.
Day 4 Tuesday 27th April 2004
The day dawned warm but slightly overcast with a gently breeze blowing. Des, Kevin and Craig headed out in their boat around 8 am while the others enjoyed a leisurely breakfast around the campfire and headed out mid-morning.
Jan and Claire went for a long beach walk out to the spit while Kelly and Teresa explored the rock pools in the opposite direction. Andrea and John took a drive further along the coast for a spot of fishing. A most pleasant and relaxing morning was enjoyed by all…
The boats returned from their expeditions at different times of the afternoon, with Des’s crew heading out for yet another fishing session. Beaut catches of Pink Snapper, Mackerel and some Cobia.
Later that afternoon everyone was busy preparing their meal for the evening’s banquet. The marquee looked very festive, complete with balloons and streamers for the special occasion. Thanks again to Jan and Chris from Kelly and Liam for the surprise toys! The quality and variety of the meals was most impressive, particularly when you consider we were bush camping!
Terry was first cab off the rank to try his hand at baking a carrot cake in the camp oven which, despite the minor problem of ‘breakage’ was declared quite flavoursome by some. Not to be outdone, Des, Kevin and Craig baked a beautifully presented chocolate cake, remembering to save a piece for each of the sleeping children. The judges (all female) remained tight-lipped about their opinions despite persistent ‘probing’ by some of the contestants!
To top off a great day we finished with a Quiz Night, kindly organized by Chris and Jan also. After a tie-breaker Andrea, John, Peter and Jim were declared the winning team. Well done guys.
And so to bed weary but satisfied with the day’s activities.
Day 5 Wednesday 28th April 2004
Not such an early rise this morning as the tide change not due till 1.30pm, that of course didn’t apply to the secret men’s business meeting around the campfire.
After breakfast the Ranger did his usual rubbish run, and while chatting with Des about remedial work to the Boat Trailer the subject of catch limits came up. This brought on a healthy debate about fish cleaning rules between Jim Redman and the Ranger, I’m not sure who won but it was certainly entertaining.
Geoff and Maxine bid their farewells and departed the group for a leisurely trip down the coast.
Mid morning Peter Baker called the group together to start the Steep Point Olympics. Splitting into two teams the Snickers and the Crunchies where we matched against each other in a variety of tasks requiring skill, balance, poise, ingenuity and a loud voice non of which the Crunchies had, subsequently the Snickers were handed the deserving Gold Medals. Well organise Pete it was great fun.
After lunch the fishermen headed out for some hunting and gathering, while the Ladies entertained the themselves playing scrabble. All back for dinner and after a few light refreshments Des introduced us to a couple of camp fire games which was entertaining and I’m sure will be repeated with other members who didn’t join us.
Another day in paradise.
Shane & Brant
Day 6 Thursday 29th April
The morning ritual of secret men’s business was carried out after which breakfast was eaten and then everyone prepared for a 3 hour tour of the area. We departed approx 9-30am proceeding out to Steep Point proper which is the Western most point of Australia. We first visited the light house and then went down to the point where photographs were taken around the sign saying we were at Steep Point.
After leaving there we proceeded down along the coast towards Crayfish bay. The track follows along the edge of the cliffs which are known as the Zuytdorp Cliffs which are very treacherous .The track is mainly hard sand with some soft patches, one vehicle, no names, had to back up and have another go in a couple of places. There are some rocky stretches but all in all not too bad.
As it was getting late we didn’t get to Crayfish Bay so we stopped at some blowholes at the cliff face which would be at least 50 meters high. There were no waves to force the water up but you could feel the wind and hear it gushing up so in rough weather the water would be blowing up through the funnels down through the cliff face. After leaving there we returned to the camp where the men had a bite to eat and then went out fishing.
Day 8 Saturday 1st May 2004
Our last day and everyone was up early packing for the trip home.
Des and crew with the Queen Mary, set off at 7.30am.
After 10 rounds with their shower tent, John and Andrea also left to assist Des if needed. The other 5 vehicles were ready to tackle the 25 klms of sand dunes by 7.50am. It didn’t take long to catch up to Des & John’s vehicles and three snatches later we were over the worst and ready to tackle the corrugation.
At the end of the corrugation, we stopped to inflate our tyres and were literally attacked by millions of flies. We thought Steep Point was bad, but nothing like this.
Once on the bitumen and after a couple of fuel & refreshment stops we were in Geraldton where we said goodbye to Angela & John. That afternoon the Dockers/Eagles Derby was on the radio, so that created a fair bit of interest and entertainment between everyone with a competition to see which team would win and by how many points. The Eagles supporters outweighed the Dockers, but that didn’t matter because at the final siren, Ivan was the winner with the closest points when the Dockers won by 10 points.
The trip home which took about 12 and a half hours was trouble free apart from screws rattling loose on trailers and tail lights not working.
Overall, I think a great week was had by all..