We say goodbye to Hopetoun and make a final stop in town to wash the car and van. Our next stop is a free camp area at Condingup which is only 20kms from our destination but we’re not booked in at The Duke until tomorrow.
The rather regally named Duke of Orleans Caravan Park is nothing flash on the surface but it has a warm friendly vibe. The park has big sites, a well stocked kiosk (with great fish and chips) and a communal verandah with Wifi to keep in touch with the outside world. The best bit is it’s location.
Wharton Beach is just down the road and it’s the gem on this quiet coastal wilderness. It’s like a highway, four kilometres of hard, smooth white sand that’s like talc and that squeaks when you walk on it. It’s shared by four wheel drivers, surfers and even bike riders dinking their dogs along its sandy shores. We fall in love with the place and extend our stay from three nights to six.
Exploring the Area
When we’re not on the beach we’re out exploring. Well, a freelance writer’s gotta do her research! Close by the Cape Arid National Park is a four wheel drivers heaven with a smorgasbord of tracks ranging from easy to ridiculously hard.
We venture down a few easy tracks and lookouts. We find a table with a great view and enjoy Doug’s home made herb jalapeño bread and then we drive onto Yokinup Bay for a few exhilarating kilometres. There’s a bit of a river crossing to access the beach and from there you can continue around the point to reach Cape Arid. The tide’s rising so we decide to turn back. Though it would make an exciting story, I have no desire to get bogged and/or stranded.
Do I know you?
On the first night at The Duke I’m at the kiosk area, the only spot in the park where there’s reliable Wifi. My laptop’s out and I’ve just emailed my latest column for the next edition of On the Road Magazine. Then I hear my name from the table next door and I look up in surprise. “Do I know you?” I ask, feeling that I obviously should.
It doesn’t take long to realise who it is and after a few surreal seconds I find myself hugging Chris, from Life of Riley, a fellow blogger from WA. We’ve been trying to catch up for months and here finally, unexpectedly, in this out of the way beach camp we meet. I’m thrilled and we chat like old friends. We reminisce about our travels, I meet Paul and Mr Tilly and feel as though I’ve known her for ages. You can read her account of our meeting here.
We say goodbye the next day as they head back to Esperance and we agree to keep in touch. What a small world it is.
“I know you” – Kalbarri Revisited
One of our favourite and frequent drives whilst at Orleans was the invigorating stretch of sand, all the way up Wharton Beach, through the access track and then onto Victoria Harbour. The last hundred metres or so is really deep soft sand. You have to keep your foot down otherwise there’s a chance you’ll get bogged.
One time we see a few cars pulled over to the side and, sure enough, a car is bogged. We stop to see what’s happening and to offer help but a winch is already underway. One of the guys looks familiar and I do a double take. “I know you” I say. Sure enough it’s the couple we met on our lobster cruise in Kalbarri on Christmas Eve.
We catch up, talk about where we’ve been and his partner Rachel shares some footage she’s just captured from her drone off Wharton Beach. It’s a pod of 40 dolphins. So amazing.
On our last day before we’re due to leave, new neighbours arrive next door, Harry and Toni are from the Netherlands. They booked the site at the Duke a year ago along with family but life has a way of changing in a year. Their daughter is due to give birth and can’t come so they’re alone. We’re on the site their family would have been on and end up having lunch time drinks together. They’re in an RV and unable to get out to see Wharton Beach which is a few kilometres away. They don’t even realise what’s on their doorstep.
Doug and I both come to the same conclusion. We want to take them down to the beach before we leave tomorrow. When we offer later that afternoon they’re absolutely thrilled.
So we all head back down to Wharton Beach and Victoria Harbour, both of them in the back with Sasha their much loved dog in the middle. Their smiles say it all.
Later that night Doug and I enjoy our last meal down on Wharton Beach. We cook chicken kievs and roast veggies in our camp oven, load up the car and head back down to the beach. Dinner is served under a colourful sky with the waves crashing in the background. It’s the ultimate alfresco restaurant and I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be.
This trip continues to unfold with an array of beautiful sights and souls, synchronicities and spectacular gifts from nature. I’m so grateful for it all.
Wishing you all much love, light and joy as we continue this journey of life.