I had read about Kalbarri and its national park in our Lonely Planet Australia guide way back in Brisbane earlier in the year. It sounded fantastically scenic and became a must-see on my list. It was only a hop, skip and a jump from Galena Bridge campsite the next day, so we had much of the day to explore if we wanted.
This is the hardship we faced though: we have been to so many interesting and beautiful places on our trip so far that the two lookouts we visited were really rather lost on us. Hmm, not a bad problem to have! They were certainly picturesque and showed off the area, but a bit overshadowed in our minds by places like Karijini and Cape Range national parks. Added to this, the z-loop and Natural Window sites in the park (the more photographed in our tourism brochures) were closed due to road works. The place was so lost on Alice that when she reached the first lookout, she immediately set about doing a set of push-ups, star jumps and leg lifts, completely ignoring everything else! Will joined her soon after and then Pip. Well at least she's picking great places to exercise...
The township of Kalbarri is sited on the coastline where the Murchison River meets the Indian Ocean. We missed out on finding a campsite at Big River Ranch, a horsey place, but scored a waterfront spot at the cheapest of the rest of the caravan parks.
After setting up, we explored the Main Street as far as a fish'n'chip shop - eating out for lunch, hurrah! We miss Mary's Seafood shop in Blackwood St, Mitchelton, back at home. It has been the source of many deliciously fresh, salty and oily goodness!! The place we stopped at however, turned out to be dreadful. Ben and I couldn't even eat one bite of our pieces of fish and we had to abandon our potato scallops after just a nibble. Alice showed the most steely stomach out of all of us and almost finished hers. We were pretty worried that we may all have food poisoning later. On seeing the proprietor stroll out to the front of the shop a few times for ciggies, our fears were further strengthened. You can't judge a book by its cover but he had long unkempt hair, a few remaining teeth, and an unshaven, rough face, above a dirty set of clothes and old sneakers. Added to the chain smoking, this was not the type of guy you'd want to handle your food! Chips were alright though! We abandoned our $55 worth of food to the bin and on our way out, I really wanted to warn the entering grey nomads of the danger they were in but the shop guy was right there. Hope they are alright... Is it necessary to write a whole paragraph on this experience? Yes, it's therapeutic.
We had a restful afternoon reading, watching a movie on the ipad, kids swimming and me enjoying the company of 8 pelicans by the river. I sat for an hour with these super groovy birds and they were quite accommodating of my presence. I learnt a lot in that short space of time about how they interact with each other, wash themselves, move about and rest. Fascinating and definite soul food for me!
Did you know that Kalbarri held the ZestFest over the weekend? No? Well, we landed at just the right time to enjoy their markets, kids rides, local dance school performances and pat a horse or two. The festival is held in recognition of the arrival of South African and Indian early settlers to the area. As was often the case, local aborigines were pushed off their land. It was good to hear acknowledgement of the whole picture at that time and some respect given now. The evening beach performance was pretty spectacular. The host was a charismatic aboriginal woman from fitzroy crossing way who must have lived and worked in Kalbarri for quite some time as she was clearly a crowd favourite. She narrated a sort of drama/dance/musical performance featuring South African drum and bell
players, rope/ribbon aerial dancers, an opera singer and some local kids. This was topped off with the lighting of a massive teepee of logs next to us (health and safety were clearly not a consideration!). All in all, a very interesting evening. Did I mention that we took our dinner along? It was fish'n'chips! From another store. We had to try again to enjoy some longed for takeaway and we did.
The breeze picked up somewhat as the evening wore on. In fact, it became much stronger throughout the night. Ben, Pip and I couldn't sleep with the rocking of the van and the noise of the wind and flapping tarps etc. The wind was amazingly strong and we were seriously concerned that Old Bess might not survive the night (or us!). We ended up transferring Will and Alice into our car onto reclined front seats while we spent the wee hours of the morning putting down the van and shifting gear about. Ben joined the kids in the car whilst Pip and I shared a rather too cosy space on the floor of the wound-down van for the rest of the night. A snooze may have been caught at some point, but our aim became more about surviving the weather than getting sleep. Ben reminded me the next morning that he had read the night's forecast earlier in the day and it had said something about strong and destructive winds! Poor Ben had joined the fun bus, as apparently Will and Alice had a rollicking good time in the car and didn't go back to sleep at all. Needless to say, we were all a little edgy today with tiredness... But we just have to put it down as another of our many and varied challenges, experiences and adventures on this trip.
I am becoming increasingly aware of and enjoying the fact that we as a family are somewhat resilient. I love that no matter how tired, stressed, hungry, hot/cold, silly, raucous, fun or friendly we are at any given time, we move on through it and stay together. This may happen a day at a time or a number of times each day! I feel more secure and a valuable and accepted member of the crew these days. This may sound a bit strange, but my insecurities have often risen and fallen in these areas. I hope this resilience stays with us all when we head home and step back into more routine and separate lives.