On day 11 we had to back track just a little to go see the Quobba Blow Holes since we came through too late the day before to see them on the way. It’s about 70km’s or 50 minutes drive from the Wintersun Tourist Park back up to the blow holes, making it a two hour round trip by the time we got out, looked around and took some photos.
It is a sealed road all the way out there. However, the car park is dirt.
Quobba Blow Holes
I’m glad we did it though, the blow holes are only part of what there is to see, you do have to be pretty careful though, especially with children.
It’s a bit of a walk from the car park out to where the blow holes are most visible, I’d say about 40 metres.
However, it’s very rough as you are crossing wind and ocean worn rocks that are bumpy and jagged with dips and grooves everywhere. Add to that wind and water, and these rocks become very slippery.
The blowholes are located in lower sections of the cliffs that line the ocean here, so you want to keep your eyes open and make sure you don’t accidentally step off the edge.
That said, every second or third wave while we were there was big enough to see the blow hole spray over the tops of the cliffs, so the waves will guide you in the right direction. Just watch your step.
The Quobba Blow Holes are actually a series of smaller ones around a larger one so it can be quite a sight to see them go off in a series.
Depending on the direction of the wave, they go off differently, but you don’t have to wait for long to see them.
The cliffs around the blow holes are quite stunning, but as the signs warn, king waves aren’t unheard of here, and people have lost their lives after king waves have hit.
There is a council-operated camp site at the blow holes. However, it is down a dirt road, and the facilities are pretty much non-existent. You have to have your own chemical toilet, there is no water, and there are no rubbish services. So if you plan on staying, be prepared. According to the sign at the entrance, as of July 2014, the fees are $10.00 per person per night with children under 16 free.
The Gascoyne Food Trail
On the way back to Carnarvon we went through the Gascoyne Food Trail. It runs down both the North and South sides of the Gascoyne River with fresh fruit and vegetables available seasonally direct from the growers. It’s easy to find, just follow North River Road on the north side and South River Road on the south shore. There is a convenient bridge over the river at each end, and you will pass both roads on the way into Carnarvon from the North on the North West Coastal Highway.
We did a circuit around North and South sides before stopping in at an organic farm near the start of the North River Road.
The fresh produce looked beautiful, such vibrant colours, but we didn’t really need much, so we just picked up some snacks, chocolate coated frozen mango and chocolate covered frozen banana. YUM!
One Mile Jetty
We made our way back into Carnarvon and went to One Mile Jetty again.
This time, during the day so we could head out to the end.
We paid the $10 each for the jetty train just so we could say we had done it.
A part of this goes towards jetty maintenance which is great, and to be honest, it does need some restoration as the last section is starting to collapse.
The train is not significantly faster than walking as it only chugs along at a walking pace anyway, but given that it’s a little under 2 miles return if you aren’t up for the walk it’s a relaxed option that gives you about 10 minutes at the end of the jetty.
It’s about a 10-minute ride each way so with the time there you can expect it to take about half an hour all up.
The jetty has an old elegance about it, but as I said, it really needs some work on it.
There is a cafe near the start of the jetty with an assortment of typical cafe fare, and nearby you will also find the old water tower lookout which gives you 360-degree views and lets you see all the way out the end of the jetty.
It feels a bit precarious climbing up there, particularly when the wind is blowing hard, and you realise the water tank itself is rusting through. Fortunately, there is a new platform inside, and it is pretty sturdy.
Behind the water tower is the train and shearing museum which has a couple of small steam locomotives and other old rolling stock and associated rail equipment.
Around the walls, it also shares the shearing history of the region with lots of articles used over the years for shearing.
You can even feel some real wool straight off a sheep, in case you’ve never done that before.
Interestingly, there is also some pearling history associated with Carnarvon, and the museum contains an assortment of shells and pearl carvings.
Outside the museum on some of the old rail segments are more historic train carriages including one that has been converted into a coffee shop.
We spent about an hour here in total, including the train ride to the end of the jetty.
Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum
As we headed out of Carnarvon, we stopped at the Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum where we had lunch in the back of our van before going exploring.
At the space station, from outside, you can check out the huge dishes and the NASA MobLAS-5, a mobile laser.
Otherwise, everything is inside, and an admission fee applies.
When we were there, it was as below:
- Adults: $10
- Seniors: $8
- Children (6-16 years old): $6
- Family (2 adults, 2 children): $25
And as a bonus, admission includes a free cup of instant coffee or tea.
Admission also includes the Apollo Launch Simulator. However, you do have to register for it and get a beeper so you can be called back when it is your turn.
The Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum is separated into Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 segments where Phase 1 and 2 are housed in the original building and Phase 3 is a new addition that was completed more recently. The Apollo Simulator is right at the entrance to Phase 1, just after you pay your admission fees.
The Apollo Simulator doesn’t have any motion to be concerned about, just flashing lights, but it is a bit awkward getting in if you have mobility problems. You need to be able to take one step up and then lie on your back with your feet up in a sitting position after cozying through a small doorway. The doorway is big enough for the vast majority of people, but it is low, the top of the door is only about 1 metre above the step level. There are hand rails to help you get in and out, but it does require some flexibility.
Inside the simulator, above where you are sitting/laying are two screens, mimicking the windows and a printed instrument panel. There are some thin cushions for you to lie on, and speakers. That is about it.
The experience revolves primarily around the window/screen display and audio while being in the laid back position as you experience a launch and travel into space.
Elsewhere around Phases 1 and 2 you will find a space shuttle replica that you can sit in, various photo opportunities, and some space inspired activities like a game of Alien Invaders and controlling the Mars Rover.
There are also concrete hand prints from astronauts like Buzz Aldrin and Wally Schirra from their time in Australia at the opening of the space station.
You will also find a lot of historical information about the role Carnarvon Space Station has played in space exploration, including old equipment and debris from crashes. You can also watch a short film.
Once you’ve learned everything you need to know about space, Phase 3 is all about getting hands on. This section is full of simulators and space puzzles. Among the activities, you can have a go at landing a space shuttle, timing a slingshot maneuver, and controlling an astronaut’s jet pack in space.
I personally found Phases 1 and 2 most interesting, and there is a lot more there. However, some of the simulators in Phase 3 are really cool. I just couldn’t land my space shuttle correctly, no matter how many times I tried. I’ll note though that on about my third attempt I realised that the controls are actually not very responsive at all, and to pull up slightly, you have to pull up really hard. I don’t know if this is intentional, or if it’s just a sign of wear on the simulator, but that does make it a real challenge to get right!
There is a lot here for the price of admission, and it was fascinating. We spent about one hour here, but it would be easy to spend two hours or more if you watch all the short film and read all the historical information.
On the road to Monkey Mia
Heading onwards towards Monkey Mia, we came across a lookout at a survey marker which we stopped at.
There honestly was not much to see there, but there was this kind of dual shrine at the top of the hill.
In one section, there were gnomes, gnomes, and more gnomes with messages for people who have passed away.
In the other section, there is a mound of rocks with names and dates of people who had been there.
It turned out that the Browns had been there before us in the same year, so we didn’t leave our own stone.
I don’t know for sure where it was, or what it was called, but it was really unusual.
In the same place, we found some beautiful wild flowers, reds, purples, and yellows, before continuing on.
Soon we passed the 26th Parallel and officially departed from the North West of Australia.
The turn off to Denham and subsequently Monkey Mia is easy to spot as there is a road house on one side of the road and a big stone sign on the other that reads “Shark Bay World Heritage Area”.
We fuelled up in Denham before continuing out to Monkey Mia.
It’s worth noting here that while there is one place you can stay in Monkey Mia, the RAC Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort, it is a national park, so there are fees for entering.
The Department of Parks and Wildlife levies fees at the entrance to Monkey Mia with a variable day or holiday cost. While they are not cheap for a day, the holiday rate does work out well if you are going to be there for a while as it is valid for up to 4 weeks. To stay overnight as we did, you just need a day pass as they are valid for 24 hours from your time of arrival.
While the fees are high for a national park, they do go towards the costs of managing the dolphin experience and protecting the dolphins, so that is great.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to book in advance for camping or caravan sites at the RAC Dolphin Resort so that is inconvenient and if the place is full you have to go back to Denham. For us, we weren’t able to get a powered site, but we could get an unpowered site, which was fine and was not a bad price really. If you can’t get a site or don’t want to camp, there are also a range of chalets available, many with beach views.
It was sunset when we arrived, so we parked the van and went down to the beach to take a few sunset photos before the sun was completely down.
It really is a beautiful, peaceful spot, even though it was absolutely packed with people!