September 24 - September 30, 2001
(Week 1 Continued)
The next morning, I'm away early heading for Exmouth! This is partly due to a commitment I've made to my Savannah mate, Chuck Lehr to check out the Sub base towers he remembers from his previous "duty" here. On the way, it becomes clear that this is the beginning of the tropics, and big fruit growing country, particularly bananas. On the other hand, they've suffered incredible drought conditions, and in spite of the rain I drove through north of Perth, (this is really more mid-continent) the river beds are bone dry. The 200 yard wide Gascoyne River is a case in point, but it won't be long ---- when "The Wet" begins!
Floodway signs and meter sticks are the tip-off to what's ahead, and as much as I'm sure it's interesting, my hope is that I can stay ahead of it!
The drive out to Exmouth takes you across The Tropic of Capricorn, a point just about 100 km north of Carnarvon, and located between the 23rd and 24th parallels, and through areas of great contrast from the dusty pit stops -
to the more than spectacular beaches and reefs of Coral Bay!
-- meet Doug, from Port Douglas. I think we'd become good mates! A Bill Weir kind of bloke!
As Tony and I press on up through "The Scrubby Range", it becomes clear why it's named as it is --
-- and we soon encounter our first termite mounds -
-- and they get much bigger than this, and keep in mind that I'm down to a trim 21 stones!
Anyway - we finally head through Exmouth, and continue out to Jurabi Point which is at the end of the Exmouth Northwest Cape. (If you're still with me, Chuck, you're going to get to see your towers!) The Harold Holt Communications Center was named after the popular Prime Minister who drowned, somewhat mysteriously, while swimming solo off the Victoria coast several years ago. It's a low frequency station, consisting of 13 towers (Chuck - I thought you said 2?!), with the central tower of 1271 feet surrounded by a ring of towers, "each in excess of 300 meters" (975 feet), supporting the "antenna canopy". The base is now being maintained and managed by the Australian Navy, although serving the U.S. Submarine Fleet. Because of the current state of heightened security, the base is off limits to all but military personnel. A young Aussie Navy sentry, by the name of Mick, indicated that since it's for Chuck Lehr, he would allow a couple of pictures! (Everyone knows Chuck!) :)
I've had enough of this tower nonsense (although it's the least expensive suggestion for my trip that Chuck's made), and decide to celebrate the end of Week 1 by racking out at The Potshot Hotel & Resort, in Exmouth. Nice digs, and a nice place to crash!