|The radio is running hot with news of impending Cyclone Floyd, which is currently category 3 and heading right towards us in Exmouth. So many different stories are running around town on what to expect, but hanging around here doesn't seem the best bet, so we plan head from the coast and into the Pilbara.
Stu spends a couple of hours diving off the Navy Jetty at Exmouth, reputed to be one of Australia's top dives and allegedly given a big "tres bien" from Jacques Costeau. I'm jealous as hell when Stu tells me about the massive bull ray, a pack of reef sharks, barracuda, loads of lion fish, old wives, nudibranchs and a host of other marine life. Sometimes snorkelling just doesn't cut it and I swear I'm coming back here in a less delicate condition to dive. The other bummer is that we're a bit too early to go snorkelling with the famous Whale Sharks. We don't have the time to stay and wait, which is hugely disappointing. The impending cyclone also means that there's little chance boats will be going out till later in the week.
The drive from Exmouth back to the highway is flat and featureless once you're away from the gorges of Cape Range National Park, but we eventually hit the North West Coastal Highway to head north towards the Pilbara about 160km later.
The last stop for fuel is the Nanutarra Roadhouse before turning east towards Tom Price and Karijini National Park. It's just on dusk and we have a great chat to the manager of the roadhouse who gives us the lowdown on the surrounding lands -- all the mining and rural details as well as history, which is really fascinating. I've always associated the Pilbara with big mines, but it is really beautiful. I think we're lucky to see it now after so much rain. The red dirt is dusted in green and it's just picturesque. Just hoping that the rains stay away from the Pilbara, which are prone to flooding.
We watch the sunset over the Ashburton River which runs right by the roadhouse - colours are spectacular.
It's a very dark night - no moon and a lot of cloud cover, so we ditch the idea of reaching Tom Price for the night and pull off by House Creek, around 60km from the roadhouse, to camp. It's a great spot, but the BUGS! I have never seen so many bugs - hundreds of kinds of grasshoppers, midges, millipedes and that old perennial, the mozzie. Because it's so dark we light a fire and the gas lamp and watch the bugs kamikaze to their deaths. Feel like we're the carnival rolled into town ... figuring these bugs don't get a big night with the lights very often. Dinner is an exercise in swatting the buggers before they land on your fork. Driven to an early bed to escape them, but even in the tent the smaller midges are so determined to get to the headlights we're using to read by that they burrow through the mozzie nets on the window. No lights then. I do love this outdoor living, but sometimes it's just a little testing!