It was the holiday that was constantly in danger of being remembered as ‘that holiday’… Exmouth 2016… probably the last time we venture there in July. Rain, wind and jam packed caravan parks made for an unpleasant 10 days so it may be time to consider other options.

By day 3 I found myself saying to Danelle, ‘maybe we aren’t caravanners any more?’ Driving rain and obnoxious neighbours (yes the people I was trying to think the best of in a previous post…) were taking their toll and I was becoming a little grumpy. Maybe more than a little…

I like to remember the holidays we have had so this is nothing more than a collection of random reflections – read on if you are up for a brain dump.


Friday lunch time we hit the road – new van yet again and towed by the Colorado and ready for some fun. We rolled into Dongara mid afternoon and had barely unhitched before Sam and I hit the water for some good waves. A warm sunny afternoon and glassy conditions were a great way to start. The Wesleys were on their way but wouldn’t get there till 7 so we kicked back and relaxed. We had checked Exmouth weather but couldn’t really believe what we were reading – heavy rain for 3 days at least – one day up to 270ml they were predicting.


We had a fun first night in Dongara and hit the road for Carnarvon. Well, when I say hit the road… we made it to the S bend for fuel, then stopped in Geraldton for coffee and shortly after for a wee break, so it was a while before we were rolling at full tilt.

Neither Stu nor I like to do the grey nomad thing of sitting on 85kph to save fuel, so we hit cruise control and drove and drove at 100kph for most of the way. The fuel economy took a hit, but when we worked it out, it seems we may have paid an extra $15 for fuel and saved 3 hours of travel time. No brainer really… And driving in cruise control in so much easier than trying to keep the pedal to the floor.

Carnarvon was chilly and wet. We got there in time for a run and some late dinner before hitting the sack. The next day we drove to Exmouth and by the Minilya turn off the clouds were forming. By Waroora turn off the rain was smashing down and we were wondering what was happening. Not what you hope for…


We arrived and set up the van in the rain. Even with a minimal set up I got soaked. Stu & Carolyn had a nightmare set up with the power, gas and water not working on their hire van initially. The gas and water were an easy fix but there was no power until the next day. Still not sure what went wrong, but it righted itself and was good.

And it rained… and rained… and rained… We now know for sure our van is watertight.


On day two we decided to put the annexe up. I’m not an annexe fan, but every time we opened the door we got wet and cold so this gave us some shelter and a place to gather. I almost left it at home, but so glad we brought it.

And it rained…

Then our neighbours arrived on day 2. Sadly they weren’t warm friendly people, like most of the rest of the campsite. They had booked 3 adjacent sites – sites we needed to walk thru to get to the ablutions, but early in the piece it became clear they weren’t happy about that. The kids got told off several times and then as I walked across for a shower I heard them comment, ‘there they go again… walking across our site’. I walked another few steps and then stopped, turned around and decided to ‘hear’ the passing comment. In the end the reason they didn’t want us walking on their site was because it was ‘theirs’… hmmm… I couldn’t argue with that so I left. We met as families and agreed that it wasn’t worth causing a fight over and we’d walk 30m up the road a bit to cross thru someone else’s site.

Unfortunately that set the tone for the rest of the week as they yelled and screamed at one another descending into full frontal arguments at times and making the whole vibe pretty unpleasant for anyone who happened to be around. I could go on, but I won’t…


We got out of camp as much as we could to escape their yelling, but with the weather what it was there were only so many things to do. We had a couple of lame surfs, went fishing to no avail a few times and splashed the cars around in the mud, not remembering how difficult it would be to clean them later.

I had started ‘running’ again, well, ‘intervals’ is what we were calling it – walking and slow jogging, which felt so pathetic, but even with that low impact work my knees were arcing up. I pressed on hoping they would get better. They didn’t, so I began popping anti inflammatories instead!


After 7 days in camping purgatory we escaped and went to the National Park where we had 3 nights booked at Osprey campground – well we thought we had three nights, but in reality it was two, as I had stuffed up the booking. Even in a busy campground it felt peaceful as we weren’t listening to people bicker all day. The rain had stopped, but in its place were strong winds for most of the day. Osprey is a beautiful area and the campground is great, but on the 3rd day when the campground host came to ask why we hadn’t packed up I think we weren’t that bothered because the winds were forecast to get stronger and we were ready for a change. So in the space of half an hour we cleared out and began the trip back to Carnarvon for the night before planning to land in Dongara for 3 nights. (We had heard our previous neighbours plans to go to Kalbarri so we ruled that out as an option.)

We headed south and into a strong headwind. At 100kph the Colorado got 23l/100 with the van in tow – not pretty at all, but we weren’t going to sit on 80 to save a few $$. With a tailwind a few days later it got 15-16 at 100kph, but usually its around 18l/100. I guess you spend time or money and we will choose money.

We enjoyed another cool night in Carnarvon, people had showers and then in the morning headed for Dongara. Along the way the coffee machine had died and the chemical toilet opening mechanism had failed. No coffee wasn’t an option so we picked up a new machine in Geraldton and also got the toilet part. Sanity restored.


It was a really nice few days in Dongara, relaxing, surfing, reading, and chatting. The surf was still pretty average, the fishing was lousy but we had fun as two families together. As a holiday it could well enter the realms of the forgettable, if not for friends.

With lousy weather, bad surf, no fish, wacky neighbours and a collection of breakdowns you could lose your cool. Or, as we did, you could just be glad to be in another space for a period free of responsibility and work.

We cruised back into home on Saturday morning hoping the rain that was predicted would soften the mud on the car prior to washing. But for once the rain didn’t come and we drove home dry. The only event of the drive home was watching the caravan window cartwheel back up the road near Wedge Island. We were fortunate it didn’t hit anyone or even get damaged in the dust up. It had wiggled open as we drove and then the force of the side wind had snapped the rivets and dislodged it. I fixed it this morning and its all good – which is nice because as I reviewed online prices for parts and repair it was ugly.

So here we are back in Perth in mid-July… all thanks to our kids now having a regular edukation. I haven’t spent this much of a winter in Perth for quite a while so it will be an interesting change. Normally I come back from holidays and hit the ground running as the retic season kicks off, but being mid winter I’m not sure what to expect. It seems I already have nearly 3 weeks of work booked up and I’m not sure how that happened. But maybe its a good thing as we need to generate a bit of income again.

Next year’s mid year break won’t be in Exmouth though…






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