9/10/16 After Hamelin Station, our next stopover was Northbrook Farmstay, 250kms south on the Coastal Highway and not far from the small town of Northampton.
Travelling there, we called in to the Principality of Hutt River, the 75 square kilometre independent sovereign state that seceded from Australia in 1970. The 93 year old sovereign head, H.R.H. Prince Leonard, took the two of us on a personal guided tour of his capital and its museum, which included letters of congratulations to him on the anniversary of his principality from the Queen and the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. One of his sons, Prince Graeme, Minister of State and Education, Chancellor of the Royal Court, Chancellor of the Royal College of Heraldry, and Chancellor of the Royal College of Advanced Research welcomed us in the principality Post Office and sold us some local souvenirs from the gift shop.
Before heading off on this year’s overlanding travels in late April, we had at long last arranged to be issued with passports, and have been carrying them with us in case we chose to take a trip to another country. That was a fortuitous move as it turns out because the very first stamps in our new virgin passports acknowledge our entry to and exit from the independent sovereign Principality of Hutt River, personally stamped by Prince Graeme, Duke of Gilboa and Earl of Canan. Not many people can attest to having their passport stamped by a member of State royalty! Have a read of the background to Hutt River’s separation. It makes for a very interesting story.
The drive from Shark Bay to Northampton took us into cultivated wheat belt country – quite a transformation after being in arid red soils for the past three months. So much green everywhere and a lot more bug splatters on the windscreen.
The campsite at Northbrook Farmstay was on a very pleasant open grassy area with views across a creek to hay paddocks in the process of being mown and baled. It was like lawn camping, great to walk barefoot on a carpet of grass without the certain fear of stepping on a goats-head burr or some other evil bindy derivative. Soft green was good after so much dusty red. The Kruiser was feeling the love too. A plentiful water supply at hand meant that the van had a much overdue bubble bath to soak away the coating of outback red. The sassy twinkle was back in its tail lights!
Showers and overcast skies were forecast for the next few days and we’d hooked up to power on the farm in case the solar struggled. We couldn’t remember when it last rained.
We took the Landy to Whyatt’s Land Rover, 50kms south in the coastal city of Geraldton, for its scheduled service. While it was getting the day spa treatment, we took in points of interest around the town in a loan vehicle, and also visited the nearby heritage listed town of Greenough to see the well-preserved stone buildings dating from the mid-1800s and had an ale in the historic pub.
We took a day drive up to Kalbarri National Park to see the gorges along the winding Murchison River and were blown away by the profusion of wildflowers. The park was an absolute carpet of flowers – Bottlebrush, Geraldton Wax, Murchison Rose, small ground orchids and tall blooms of Smelly Socks everywhere.
Lunch was at the nearby town of Kalbarri, where the calm waters of the Murchison River flow out to battle mighty waves of the Indian Ocean. We returned to camp via the coastal Balline Road, with a few stops along the shoreline at the impressive cliff formations including Natural Bridge and Island Rock.
“The nicest thing about the rain is that it always stops. Eventually.” ― A.A. Milne