Sunday 3rd August - New Norcia & Cervantes
Starting Car Kilometres: 168,251
Cervantes Car Kilometres: 168,606
Distance Travelled : 355km
After a lovely, and in the Aussie style, very drunken, send off from our respective workplaces on Friday, a recovery day at Mia and Anthony's on Saturday, and too many goodbyes; we head off on Sunday 3rd August out into the great unknown of Western Australia.
Our Falcon is stuffed with aforementioned carefully purchased camping gear, filled with petrol, serviced and ready to go.We hand over the keys for Steve's house to his friend Sandra, as he's jetted off to Arizona for a couple of months, and we're on our way.
We are both nervous but excited, and feel as prepared as we can be - we've hired a satellite phone, have Australia-wide RAC cover, a full warranty on the car, a jerry can of spare fuel, two big tanks of water, sat nav, maps and of course, the Lonely Planet.
Our first stop is inland at New Norcia, a small Spanish-style town full of monastery and convent buildings, established in 1846 by Spanish Benedictine monks as an aboriginal mission.The town is quiet and peaceful, so we have a stroll around the grounds of the various buildings before we stop for lunch, having a drink in the huge and very ornate New Norcia Hotel but skipping the expensive museum.
We manage to dodge a womble coach tour (ask Dave), and get back on the road up north to Cervantes, our first overnight stop.We experience our first dirt road since Margaret River - it's a bit of a bone-jolter, but we survive intact [imagine a 40km long cattle grid and you will just about have it - Dave ] - and arrive in Cervantes at about 4pm to set up camp.The tent goes up easily enough, and we're feeling good - our campsite is just over the dune from a beach, and while we're setting up we spot an echidna nonchalantly wandering along the path next to us (looks like a cross between a porcupine and a hedgehog).
There's not a lot going on in Cervantes itself apart from crayfishing, but the reason we've stopped here is that its 17km away from the Pinnacles desert.We had planned to visit at dawn the next day, but since we're here we decide to visit at sunset instead.We arrive at 5.30pm and are rewarded with the kind of pre-sunset light that makes all photos look amazing - not that the scenery needs any assistance.The desert is full of thousands of limestone pillars, some as high as 5 metres, but most at waist to head height.They are formed as a consequence of rain erosion, and they contrast with the rich gold colour of the sandy desert floor.We drive and walk around until sunset, although while Dave is setting up a particularly tricky photo stitch, we are surprised by a 6ft emu who comes striding into frame.Dave does a billy-whizz straight back to the car, while I follow it along for a bit... although when we look it up in Dave's 'dangerous creatures' book later, it turns out that they can apparently deliver a powerful kick.Not that that stopped me laughing at Dave's sharp exit!
We drive back slowly to the campsite, on roo watch, and arrive safely back at base.Our meal for this evening is a sumptuous feast of two-minute noodles, before we fall asleep at 7pm, exhausted.