27/09/16 Leaving Cape Range National Park, we refuelled at Exmouth and camped for the night an hour down the road at the rustic Bullara Station with its novel open-roofed shower and toilets that they call Lava Trees. You can star gaze while contemplating life, the universe and everything. We set up next to the cattle yards. Bullara is very much a working cattle property, with stock close around the homestead. We woke the following morning to the sounds of a station – grinder being used in the nearby shed; motorbikes and vehicles coming and going – and opened the door to be greeted by a couple of horses grazing beside the van. The down-to-earthness and lack of graces is what we like about farm stays.
South from there heading to the coastal town of Carnarvon, we once again crossed over the Tropic of Capricorn where, true to form, the temperature underwent an immediate change, cooling from the low 30s of the morning to mid-20s in the afternoon. We’ve wondered about this before, so this time I asked Mr Google – the Tropic of Capricorn is the southernmost latitude on Earth where the sun’s rays can be directly overhead at local noon and marks the southern boundary of the tropics. This means that south of the Tropic the sun is at a lower angle, travelling through more atmosphere and providing less heat. Makes sense, but we’ve always found the change at the Tropic as noticeable as if someone had flipped a switch.
In Carnarvon the next day, our shorts were put away and we were again back into long pants and pullovers.
While camped for a few days at Carnarvon, we wanted to have a look up the coast at possible camp sites to use in a few weeks’ time, so took a drive north from Carnarvon to Quobba. On the way we checked out Bibbawarra Bore that used to be the longest sheep trough in the southern hemisphere. It’s no longer in operation but in its day, steaming hot artesian water flowed out of the ground and used to cool along the 175m long trough so the sheep could drink it. The trough is now dry but the artesian water is still hot and flowing.
On the way to Point Quobba, I caught a quick glimpse of something on the road as we went by and had an idea what it might be. Turning back to check, we saw our first ever iconic Thorny Devil (Seventeenth Tick for Di’s “Animals in the Wild” List). We’d been hoping to see one since last year when travelling through the Northern Territory and South Australia, and now we finally have in Western Australia! It was standing very still on the road pretending as hard as it could to be invisible, maybe waiting to chase traffic, I don’t know, but it was definitely not a safe place for it to be. So passive and unmoving, it allowed me to pick it up to move it off to the side. Di got such a buzz out of finally seeing one and had a hold of it also. Seeing one of these little fellas was a real highlight of our travels. And if that wasn’t enough, a little later in the day on a sandy track in nearby Quobba Station, we came across another one! Again standing frozen on the track. And again needing a helping hand off the track. Two in one day – wow! We now know that Thorny Devils are quite cute, not nearly as prickly as they look and have absolutely no road sense.
At Point Quobba, we drove up the goat track access to take in the views from the lighthouse, checked out the nearby camp sites set among very rustic and ramshackle fishing huts, and were fortunate to be at the blowholes at the right time of tide to see the water spouts at their best.
A very interesting and educational couple of hours were spent at the Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum that displays the involvement of the local Carnarvon Tracking Station and the OTC Satellite Earth Station in NASA’s Gemini, Apollo and Skylab programs from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. The displays brought back teenage memories of eyes glued to the woodgrain television set, struggling to ring the most from grainy black and white images telecast from the Moon. We squeezed into a replica Apollo Command Module nose cone and blasted off on a journey into Earth orbit. Fortunately, the flight was fully automated as I obviously lack the Right Stuff after repeatedly crashing the Shuttle Landing Simulator, while Di bombed out on the manual dexterity test required to be an astronaut – no surprise there. NASA can sleep safe in the knowledge we are not on our way over there.
“10, 9, ignition sequence start, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, zero. All engines running. Liftoff! We have a liftoff! Thirty-two minutes past the hour. Liftoff on Apollo 11!'” Jack King, Nasa Chief of Public Information, commentates on the launch of the Apollo 11 over a live television broadcast on July 16, 1969