As the Big Things tour of Australia hits its fifth leg in the north western part of Western Australia we encounter more big expanses of space than actual ‘big things’ but fortunately we also pass through many beautiful towns and past stunning scenery.
Day 15 – Perth to Geraldton
(4 hours 30 minutes)
The Big Things are few and far between in Western Australia but there are still enough to keep the tour rolling.
Day 16 – Geraldton to Carnarvon
The Big Banana in the historic coastal town of Carnarvon is one of at least three big bananas in Australia, but what originally made this one stand out from the crowd was its unique vertical position teamed with its bright yellow paint job, and it was hard to miss. It has since been relocated and is now in the standard horizontal position and is used to promote the local Carnarvon banana plantations.
Day 17 – Carnarvon to Exmouth
Further north up the Western Australian coast is Australia’s largest fringing coral reef, Ningaloo Reef, and the seasonal home to a large population of Whale Sharks – the biggest sharks in the world!
A stop at Exmouth to swim with the Whale Sharks is a must as these gentle giants are one of Australia’s most impressive ‘Big Things’ and a close encounter with these majestic ocean giants is almost a spiritual experience. Exmouth is also home to the Big Prawn, a gift from a local fisherman who originally erected the giant shellfish at the front of his (now disused) prawn refrigeration factory.
Day 18 – Exmouth to Karratha
The trip from Exmouth to Karratha is mostly single lane desert highway intermittently broken up by an oncoming road train which can be anywhere up to 50 metres in length. These road trains are so impressive in size that I think they should be noted as an official part of the ‘Big Things’ tour. The town of Karratha is the gateway to an area with a rich Aboriginal culture and is home to the ‘biggest’ rock art site in the world with over 40,000 rock engravings in the region. The Comfort Inn & Suites Karratha is located within walking distance of a tavern and selection of excellent local restaurants, or the Econo Lodge Karratha which is located in the heart of nature, right near the beautiful beaches.
Day 19 – Karratha to Port Hedland
(2 hours 30 minutes)
A relatively short trip north brings us to the Big Wheelbarrow –a giant yellow wheelbarrow, erected by volunteers as a welcome sign to the small town of Wedgefield in the hope that its presence would put Wedgefield on the map. The area is a mining region and its barren landscape is scarred by huge open cut mines.
The Big Wheelbarrow stands alone surrounded by nothing but a mostly empty car park. Head ten kilometers towards the coast and you’ll find yourself in Port Hedland, which boasts a 60 metre high navigational tower also known as The Tower of Dreams. The tower’s impressive height and the fact that it is by far the tallest building in Port Hedland make it stand out for miles around.
Day 20 – Port Hedland to Derby
(8 hours 15 minutes)
Just south of the small town of Derby is the historic Big Boab Prison Tree. The huge ancient Boab tree is hollow and has what looks like an entrance, roughly one metre wide by two metres wide. It is reputed to have been used as a lock up for Aboriginal prisoners in the 1890s holding several prisoners at a time on their way to sentencing at Derby. The tree now attracts a steady flow of tourists. Derby is an interesting town with plenty to see and do, and the last stop in this leg of the ‘Big Things’ tour of Australia.
Next month we hit the road again and head towards the Northern Territory and the city of Darwin seeing some amazing parts of Australia and visit some more ‘Big Things’ along the way.