Cape Range National Park, Giralia Station and camping next to the Rio Tinto Iron Ore railway

Link to a few pictures here:

After our last adventure in the “unusual weather event” that blew our tent down at Warroora Station, it was no real surprise to leave Exmouth in the rain ☹.

We headed towards Cape Range National Park, famed for its pristine beaches right next to the Ningaloo Reef. On our last trip in 2016 we had failed to get into Cape Range at all so we were happy to secure a campsite and even the rain stopped by the time we arrived and were ready to set up.

Our first site was at Kurrajong for just one night, followed by two more at Mesa just 20kms further north. The camping is so popular in Cape Range, people book months ahead and stay for weeks at a time, so finding a spot when you are traveling, and not sure of your dates, becomes a bit of a challenge and like us, many people end up with a few odd days here and there.

I had a quick fish in the late afternoon, the rain had returned with a steady English drizzle, and Helen and the girls wisely stayed in the tent. I caught a few small fish, nothing worth keeping and vowed to be back at dawn, the fishing would obviously be better then. Nope. Not a thing, although it didn’t really matter because we had to pack and go by 10am anyway.

We stopped off at Mandu Gorge for a great little walk up a dry river bed and around the gorge, as we climbed up to the rim we were finally able to see a bit of the Ningaloo Reef in the sunshine, the waters looking blue and inviting.

Our next camp site at Mesa was next to a gorgeous beach and with the sun shining in clear blue skies we finally started to enjoy Cape Range National Park. We fished the beach a fair bit, obviously others had had the same idea because there were no fish to be found but it was a great way to spend an afternoon, especially as the sunset was spectacular.

And unfortunately, there is not much else for us to say about Cape Range from our short stay. The weather closed in again covering the place in drab grey cloud, the fishing was hard work for little results and we decided not to hang around. So, we packed up and headed out through Exmouth and made our way to a quick overnight stop at Giralia Station on the way to Karratha and then Millstream National Park.

Well we stayed 4 nights at Giralia, the place just felt relaxed and comfortable. There was a good camp kitchen, where the girls were able to do some schoolwork; a daily communal camp fire for people to gather and share stories tall and true, and after the small disappointment of Cape Range National Park we were back in the groove with our travels.

There was a 4WD station track down to the coast with a creek and small patch of beach for fishing, so we packed some lunch and headed off for the day. The wind had come up a little but was blowing offshore so fishing was OK although the girls spent most of the time in the car out of the wind reading books 😊.

The fishing gods were smiling on us and everyone caught a few fish, mostly Yellow Tail Grunters (great name and good-looking fish), some bream and best of all some decent flathead. The girls were thrilled as Helen and I both snagged a good fish for dinner. We also fished down at small creek mouth and nearby mangroves but to no avail so headed back in triumph to our campsite and to cook flathead for dinner – delicious.

As all fishermen know, where you have caught fish one day, there are bound to be more fish there the next, so like lemmings we again drove the 35kms down the station track to the fishing spot confident in our abilities, only to be reminded fishing is a fickle past-time and we caught almost nothing this time round. I did manage one good flathead, it became the centerpiece in a charming little fish curry 😊.

Leaving Giralia Station the next day took a while, we stopped and chatted to everyone we had met there, the girls said a fond farewell to the small dogs and ponies before we finally hit the road on the way to Karratha.

Karratha was a 400km hop up the coastal highway, we were only there for a couple of hours for fuel, water and food and so we were on our way to Millstream at about 4:30pm, not ideal timing but we thought we would be able to find a spot to wild camp for the night along the way.

And so, with the light fading we finally found a spot to turn off the road and camp for the night, we had just passed a rail crossing and should have thought a little more about the number of iron ore trains coming through from the Pilbara mines overnight, anyway how many could it be? We were in pretty remote country, these iron ore trains are 3kms long, powered by up to 4 diesel locomotives, quite noisy and quite frequent as it turns out.

And in the words of Lionel Ritchie, “All Night Long” - they came by every 30 or 40 minutes, so not the most restful nights sleep. The view in the morning though was spectacular, and possibly made up for the misfortune of camping too close to the rail line 😊.

After a quick breakfast we were off to our real destination, Millstream National Park, armed with our permit to travel on the Rio Tinto Rail Access roads taking us further into the Pilbara and Karijini National Park.

But I will leave that for a a further update, coming all too soon to a small screen wherever you happen to be.

Regards Roy, Helen, Sophie and Zoe

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