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Is it another country?

AUSTRALIA | Sunday, 2 September 2007 | Views [653]

On the ridge of the Loop

On the ridge of the Loop

I left Shark Bay late one afternoon, and driving at night is not such a good idea. I’ve seen enough dead Kangaroos on the side of the road to add my own. In such cases, one can easily sleep in some special rest area that can be found at regular intervals. And as usual, this one was quite booked too. Nevertheless, I managed to find a place where I could set up camp. The night was cold, my thermometer showing a mere 6 degrees in the Ambassador when I woke up. For the first time, I had to wear my socks and shoes for comfort reasons.

Last night, looking for a place to stop, I didn’t really pay attention to the scenery. So this morning, as I get on the road towards Kalbarri, I have the feeling that I’m in another country. To begin with, I can no longer see far in the distance: it’s no longer flat. The vegetation is higher than the van, and it looks like the forests I know. The smell of pine trees also reminds me of home, even if those one grow beautiful reddish kind of flowers, instead of cones. Everything is a lot greener, and after the turn-off to Kalbarri, the fields are even cultivated. No more endless bush, but fences around fields of cereals and other crops, and in the distance huge farms with towering water-pumping wind-mills. Most of the fields look tender green, having probably been recently sowed. If it wasn’t for the apparent red earth along the road, I could be somewhere in my country. After such a long time, it is a pleasant feeling, I must say.

The Murchison River runs through Kalbarri National Park. It has dug over the centuries a beautiful valley through the sandstone bedrock, and giving it sometimes a bit of a miniature Grand Canyon look. Nature seemed to have had a lot of fun carving the rock. There is one place called The Loop where the river makes a 10 km detour, a loop, to come back at the same place. There’s a very nice scenic walk to be done, starting and ending at the same place: a ridge a couple of meters wide from which you could almost jump in the river on either sides, if there was water, which is not the case at this time of the year. Near that ridge, wind played its own tricks, creating a natural arch that is now called Nature’s Window. The place is so famous that patience is a must if you want to take a picture. And then again, you’d better be quick!

After spending a couple of days in the small and quiet town of Kalbarri, I headed south again. Just out of town, the road follows the coast, along some mighty cliffs. The surf crashes noisily against them, leaving the sea white with foam. Two to three meters high breakers are normal, and if there were surfers near the town beach, nobody dares come down there. Well, not exactly. Some do and seem to have a lot of fun. As I was admiring the scenery from one of the view points, I saw a pack of dolphins surfing a wave. You could see them through the water in the wave, and then jumping ahead, racing. Just like surfers do, they would jump out of the wave when it starts to crumble, soaring meters up in the air, only to swim back out and catch the next big one. They seemed to enjoy it at least as much as humans do. I was so amazed, for I had only seen this on some wildlife documentary on TV. I remember at that time wondering how lucky had a cameraman to be, to be there at the right time at the right place. But there’s no luck involved. It’s all natural, and I witnessed it several time. Just another sight that I will not forget so soon.

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Tags: ambassador van, the great outdoors

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