Day 93 – Thursday, 25 August 2022

We had a lovely sleep in the dark and quiet of the Rest Area. When we left at 8:45am the temperature was 22 degrees. We emptied the toilet cassette at the dump point and were then on our way again.

We had no phone or internet service at all overnight so we both put our phones into Aeroplane Mode so it would not drain the battery, and the phone would not use power to keep searching for a signal that didn’t exist.

We began the day heading in a south-westerly direction and in rolling hill countryside. The road cut through red sand dunes which are lying north-south. Up Mildura way the sand dunes always lie east-west.

Most of the countryside was bushland and there are some dense patches, while the birdlife was amazing.

We stopped to stretch our legs at a Parking Area 100 kilometres southwest of Lyndon River about 10:00am. We were amazed at the amount of traffic that zoomed past while we were taking our ten minute break.

Yesterday was very hazy, but today is much clearer. My nose is enjoying the improved experience.

Russ uses Ozi Explorer Maps on his tablet while we travel, and the mapping app has indicated that we have now switched over to Southern WA.

We passed by an old well – called Yoondoo Well – which could be seen from the road. It looks to be in good condition still.

At 11:00am it was 27 degrees and we have now officially moved from iron ore country to limestone. We arrived safely at Carnarvon at 11:25am. The ladies in the office (and I know I keep saying this) were delightful, and at the Wintersun Caravan Park you are greeted at your site by an experienced guide to ease you onto the site. It was a hassle-free experience.

The gentleman we had actually complimented Russ on his skill at following directions. They had the van parked within about three minutes. The guy told us that he had had a small, single axle van to guide in yesterday, and it took the driver fifteen minutes to finally get onto his site.

The caravan park is quite large but is well set out. Each site has a concrete pad for the annex area, and a car space on the other side of the van. They even have their own bowling green on site.

It didn’t take us very long to be set up and I immediately put some washing in the machines and swept the floor while waiting for them to finish so I could hand it all on the line. Conveniently, the laundry and clotheslines are directly behind our van.

Russ sat down and uploaded the photos and the blog, and we finally got to print out the next episode of the journal for mum and Trish. We are only a day or so later than usual, but it is a big print and I had to use two stamps on each envelope.

We are staying in Carnarvon for four days and there are a lot of places we wish to visit. The journey today was mostly downhill. We left Lyndon River at 55.2 metres above sea level and Carnarvon is at 19.2 metres.

Photograph wise we passed many wildflowers, even some I haven’t photographed before, but we didn’t stop today to smell the flowers.

I think a record has been made though as I only took 21 photos for the whole journey and the majority of them were showing the road and vegetation we passed through.

Carnarvon is a coastal town situated approximately 900 kilometres north of Perth. It lies at the mouth of the Gascoyne River on the Indian Ocean. At the 2021 census, Carnarvon had a population of 4,879.

The popular Shark Bay World Heritage Area, and the Ningaloo Reef, lies to the south of the town while the popular tourist town of Exmouth lie to the north.

Within Carnarvon is the Mungullah Aboriginal Community. Inland, Carnarvon has strong links with the town of Gascoyne Junction and the Burringurrah Community.

The Inggarda people are the traditional owners of the region around Carnarvon. Before European settlement the place now called Carnarvon, was known as Kuwinywardu which means “neck of water”.

The town was founded in 1883, initially as a port and supply centre for the surrounding region and is the administrative centre for the Shire of Carnarvon. The town site was officially gazetted on 4 June 1891, named after Henry Herbert, 4th Earl of Carnarvon, a past Secretary of State for the Colonies.

Carnarvon has had three tramways.

The first, shown on a Public Works Department map of 1884, ran from a landing site on the river, across Olivia Terrace to a shed on the other side of the road – A very short tramway indeed. The trolley used on this tramway was supposed to be hand powered, using a lever attached to a crank on two of the wheels. However, there is a reference to the use of wind-power.

The second tramway, constructed between 1886 and 1887, ran west from Olivia Terrace in a straight line to the jetty, which was halfway between Mangrove Point and Conspicuous Clump. It was horse drawn.

The third, and partially remaining, tramway was completed on 9 November 1900. It runs from the townsite, across Babbage Island to the deep-sea jetty. It was constructed with a rail gauge of 2 feet (610 mm) and was 2 miles 5 chains (3.3 km) long.

Due to the heavy loads of wool being carried on what was a very light railway, it was decided to convert the tramway to 3 feet 6 inches (1,070 mm) gauge in 1908–09. This tramway was worked with a steam locomotive. The tramway ceased operation in December 1965.

The Carnarvon Light Railway Association operated trains along restored tracks on the jetty; however, due to unsafe conditions the jetty was closed to the public. In 2021, it was destroyed by Cyclone Seroja.

From 1964 to 1965, 12 sounding rockets were launched from Carnarvon to a maximum altitude of 120 km (75 mi).

During the 1960s, NASA set up a tracking station nearby to support the Gemini and Apollo space programs. The tracking station was closed in the mid-1970s. Only the foundations of the historical site remain. The site is adjacent to the OTC Satellite Earth Station Carnarvon.

In 2010 the Gascoyne River flooded, and this was regarded as the most severe flood to take place along the Gascoyne River in Western Australia on record.

Triggered by record-breaking rainfall, amounting to over 6,000 percent of the monthly mean, 313.6 mm (12.35 in) and 5 mm (0.20 in) respectively, in just four days, the floods caused widespread damage in the region.

By 17 December, the river began to rise in response to the heavy rains, eventually exceeding its banks within two days. Water levels reached record values at three stations along the river, cresting at 15.53 m (51.0 ft) near Fishy Pool.

Evacuation orders were issued for several towns affected by rising waters, but the most substantial impact was felt in Carnarvon where entire homes were washed away.

Following the disaster, emergency supplies and funds were distributed to affected residents to aid them in restoring their livelihoods. Though

no people died in the event, an estimated two thousand head of cattle perished, and damage was estimated at A$100 million.

Climatologically, the region affected by the floods is a dry area, with annual rainfall in most areas averaging between 200 and 300 mm (7.9 and 11.8 in).

December is regarded as the third-driest month of the year, with a mean rainfall of just 5 mm. Prior to the event, much of the Gascoyne River catchment was suffering from a drought and many places abruptly shifted from drought conditions to record floods in less than 24 hours. Additionally, the river had no water flow before the floods, being a dry riverbed.

Between 16 and 20 December, a low over the area produced heavy rains over much of the Shark Bay area. These rains reached record amounts in numerous locations and greatly surpassed the monthly mean December rainfall. During a 24-hour span on 17 December, a record-shattering 247.6 mm (9.75 in) of rain fell in Carnarvon.

This value greatly exceeded both the previous record of 119.4 mm (4.70 in), set in 1923, and the city’s annual average of 228.8 mm (9.01 in). Several other locations recorded similar rainfall in the region, also surpassing their annual rainfall totals in under two days.

During the five-day span in which there was rainfall, a maximum of 313.6 mm (12.35 in) was measured in Carnarvon. A total of 23 stations and towns recorded record 24-hour rainfall for the month of December in relation to the storm.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, Carnarvon Airport measured its wettest month on record, with 255 mm (10.0 in) of rain falling in just four days. The previous record was set in June 1895 at 219.7 mm (8.65 in).

The most severe losses took place in the horticultural plantations which flank both sides of the Gascoyne River in Carnarvon, and in small communities and stations upriver. Several homesteads near Gascoyne Junction were washed away in the floods. and the centre of the Gascoyne Junction township was referred to as an “obliterated ghost town.

Power restoration, especially in Gascoyne Junction, was unusually sluggish. Dozens of residents were without power for eight weeks, as electricity was finally restored between 12 and 13 February. This coincided with the arrival of replacement furniture from Paraburdoo; however, heavy rains renewed flooding and prevented most residents from picking up the supplies.

Main economic activities of the Gascoyne region include:

mining, at a salt mine on nearby Lake Macleod and at inland mines; fishing (major focus is a prawn fishery); tourism; agriculture, including cattle, goats, sheep and wool, and horticulture, the major industry of the area.

A range of products are grown along the Gascoyne River, particularly bananas (mainly Cavendish bananas) and tomatoes, as well as grapefruit, mangoes and table grapes. Climatic advantages enable the growers to meet out of season demand both locally and in export markets.

Radio Australia had a shortwave relay station (built during the 1970s) that used to relay programming to Europe, South Asia and Southeast Asia.