Day 11. 10th May

Exmouth

Today we setoff to see the Cape Range National Park. As we drove to Exmouth we passed the Learmonth Air Force Base. This has the only airstrip close enough to Perth to be able to land the bigger jets when Perth Airport is closed as we experienced last year when we returned from Hong Kong. Perth was closed due to fog so we were diverted to Learmonth (an hour and a half out of Perth) and sat on the plane on the tarmac for 5 hours while a new crew were flown in from Perth which was now open. Driving on past the Air Force base there is a row of hills to the west, they don’t look very exciting but they form part of the Cape Range National Park. You travel along Charles Knife Road towards the hills on a sealed road and it starts to climb along the ridge line with views into the gullies. The views take on a Grand Canyon style vista

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Canyon from Charles Knife Road

In the early 1950s West Australian Petroleum Pty Ltd (WAPET) drilled for oil on this range. Four wells were drilled but no commercial hydrocarbons were found. In 1953 WAPET had more success when they drilled Australia’s first flowing oil well, Rough Range No.1 southeast of the range. However, we are left with the legacy of a road along the top of the gorges in a National Park and thanks to Charles Knife for determining the route.

Back on the main road we took the next track into the park, Shothole Canyon Road, so called because of the shotholes drilled for blasting for seismic surveys. This track is 4WD only track and runs along the canyon floor for about 13Kms crisscrossing a dry river bed. It would be a spectacular sight during the wet season as trees have flood debris up to about 6 feet up their trunks.

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Shothole Canyon

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Looking down Shothole

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Anyone for a picnic?

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On the Canyon floor.

Seafood is on everyone’s mind up here whether you’re an angler or a tourist. Across the road from the caravan park is a pub so we decided to check it out for a meal. Their specialty was a seafood dinner for two. We opted for that. It consisted of an entrée of oysters and scallops. This was followed by a platter of garlic prawns, soft shelled crabs, fish fillets and bug mornay with salad and potato rosti. The only problem for Pam was the country music that was playing adding to the pub’s western theme.

Seafood Platter

Seafood Platter

In the pub

Bring on the seafood.

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