Dongara – Billy Goat Bay – New Norcia (Western Australia)

19/10/16  Our next planned stopover was supposed to be the free camp at Seven Mile Beach but, on arrival, we both agreed that it was too hot and windy to stay, and had way too many flies. Furthermore, our water was running low and needed to be topped up very soon. So after a quick scan of WikiCamps, the Tourist Park at Dongara, 30kms south, looked pretty good and we headed there to hook up to the power and water facilities. Generally, mains power is no great treat for us as we do very well with the on-board solar panels but, ah, those lazy hot showers that aren’t coming from our water tank are just terrific. And aircon during the hot days is always an added blessing. A very cold swim in the Indian Ocean at nearby South Beach cooled us down and the Beach Belle was very happy to be in surf again after such a long time.

We ended up staying there five days, taking time to look around the town and its heritage buildings and used Dongara as a base to see the surrounding district, especially the fascinating 300 metre long Stockyard Gully Cave and the Monet palette of wildflowers in Lesueur National Park.

The definite highlight for both of us was the desert landscape of the Nambung National Park where the weathered rock spires of the Pinnacles sit among the yellow sand dunes like a host of terracotta warriors. We were fortunate to be there in the late afternoon when the light brought out the colours of the spires and cast long shadows on the sand. In the distance beyond the Pinnacles, pure white dunes of the White Desert provided a picturesque contrast with the yellow dunes of the Pinnacle Desert.

Perth was only a few hours to the south and, despite having a list of things to be attended to when we got there, we were in no real hurry to be back in a major city after being in the bush for so long. Consequently, we were taking our time getting there.

Our next stop, where we stayed two days, was a nice little free camp at Billy Goat Bay near the small town of Green Head and on the edge of Lesueur National Park. The beach was only a few steps from the van and the outlook was great across the pretty little bay with its turquoise waters and sweep of white sand. We’d have loved to have stayed longer at Billy Goat Bay but unfortunately had reached the 48 hour maximum allowable stay.

We headed inland, 200kms south-east, to the Benedictine community of New Norcia. The group of Roman Catholic monks have built, owned and operated the small town, Australia’s only monastic town, since 1847. The town is now registered with the National Estate and many of the majestic buildings are listed with the National Trust. Anyone wanting to live in the town would go through a process whereby each of the monks would vote using either a white marble for “Yes” or black marble for “No”. I’d much prefer white or black smoke out the chimney if it was us. We camped near the oval and did a self-guided tour of the many buildings and interesting displays around the town. Some of the local Benedictine Shiraz and Olive Oil made their way into our van, which we’ll share with friends back home who’d particularly appreciate them.

In closing, I’d just like to say that there is little that surpasses the excellence of an Anzac Biscuit or two for morning and afternoon smokos, particularly those that are not too hard or too soft but are just the correct chewy texture. They are a food group unto themselves and fully deserve their iconic status.

“A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.”

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