Mad Dash for the Turquoise Coast

I hear her voice in the morning hour, she calls me, the radio reminds me of my home far away
And driving down the road I get a feeling that I should have been home yesterday, yesterday

by Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert and John Denver

We weren’t quite being called home but it became obvious that we needed to find a place where we would be happy to bunk down for a period. All the news is that travel will be restricted and we were also keen to be somewhere warm if this thing lasted through winter. The Western Australian government were talking about closing borders and were rebuking the Grey Nomads who traditionally travel in their hundreds to Exmouth, Broome and other northern parts of the state for the cold season. It seemed that horse may have bolted because we were meeting dozens of caravaners from Perth and nearby who were already making tracks north before restrictions came into place. After consultation with friends who knew the area we decided on Kalbarri, just north of Geraldton. We booked a campsite for a week ahead and headed for Margaret River.

The Jurien Bay Jetty. Plenty of fish caught off here.

The Turquoise Coast has its feet just north of Perth where it becomes Indian Ocean Drive. It finishes just south of Geraldton at Dongara Port Denison. You can work out why it is so named. Within its shire it offers visitors and locals alike a Mediterranean climate, clean white beaches for swimming, snorkelling, diving and fishing and beautiful national parks with bush walks, unique Australian wildflowers in season and native flora and fauna. But first we had to get there. We stopped a night in Margaret River which was closed. This trip had originally been planned around spending a month in the Margaret River region winetasting, enjoying the unique food (think truffles and chocolate) and visiting the stunning beaches. We had planned on spending time in Bunbury and Busselton, Manjinup and the apparently loveliest beach in Oz at Yallingup. And of course the Margaret River wineries. We had planned a week in Perth and Freemantle. This is of course not now possible as the W.A. government start closing borders and restricting movement. We hightailed it for Kalbarri some 500 kms up the coast from Perth. We got as far as Jurien Bay as it became increasingly obvious that travellers were not welcome in Kalbarri. Backpackers were being turned away and caravaners told to go home. Being from out of state we were exempt from the complete non-travel rules but even so. It has become very difficult to return to Queensland as state borders are now closed. Thousands of West Australians in cars and caravans were pictured stretched out along a five kilometre queue at the S.A./W.A. border trying to get home before the April 5 midnight closure.

Camping at Jurien Bay. Three of the eight couples in the campground. Mr Gato is positioned for the prevailing south easterly.

We kept hearing stories of the hostile reception awaiting north of Jurien Bay. So we stayed here in the Summer Star Campground. And thank goodness we did. The camp commanders, Bert and Dawn are so accommodating. They have dropped the weekly tariff. They have kept open and continue to maintain the toilet and shower facilities. We are 100 metres from a spectacular beach. IGA, BWS, a pharmacy and pretty much anything else we need is a 2 minute walk. The rules are a little relaxed here as people gather for their coffee near the takeaway only cafes and swim and fish. But not a bad word has been spoken by the locals.

Sunset over old jetty at Jurien Bay

There are eight couples in the campground. We come from various states and backgrounds. Some are four years into their tour of the country. Some, like us, are only a few months along on their trip. We are all retired other than one couple from Brisbane who have taken a year off. We are diverse in background, occupations and character. But we have all learned to live alongside each other. We chat. Some fish together. We have a quiet drink and sometimes a camp BBQ meal together. Pete is in the early throes of motor neuron but determined to finish his trip. Michelle’s brother in law came off the Ruby Princess and was struck by the virus and is now in a coma in a Sydney hospital. Graeme supplies us with trevally and herring, freshly caught. Each day seems to be a bonus though the news doesn’t get better. I suppose we are a lucky microcosm of the world and in a sunny spot. As I watch Jacinda and Scomo seemingly thriving and Trump trying to fool everyone including himself I wonder, like you all, where it will end. It makes you think.

5 thoughts on “Mad Dash for the Turquoise Coast

  1. We love your stories Margaret and Mike. All the best to you both on your travels. Stay safe.
    Cheers, Judy & Alan


    1. Thanks guys
      hope you are both well and weathering the storm. We are in as good a place as could be so are happy. Guess you are stuck in Auckland
      Regards Mike and Margaret


  2. What a sticky situation: forced to stay on vacation, right by the indian ocean, and to eat what you have caught..I sincerely hope you like trevally and herring…
    Ah these damn french 😉


  3. Such unexpected decisions you had to make with the epidemic, but nice to know you are in a safe place and hope you get back to the Margaret River and surrounds one day. We do enjoy your travels, please keep up the emails and photos. Cheers. Thea and Andrew.


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