Panigale Around Australia 2016: Day 11 – Denham to Coral Bay

Day 11: Live update – Odometer 51574km. It’s a dastardly long road ahead of me. No such thing as a day off in the life of a traveller.


It felt like quite a while since I had last sat down to have a proper meal. Headed to the local bakery at Denham for a simple tuna sandwich, and a bottle of lemon juice to get my morning going, and churn my digestive system from all those muesli bars that I had been eating as a not-so-healthy substitute to the usual daily three main meals.

Keeping in mind that I still felt like crap from the prolonged flu, my time on the road had not been overly enjoyable so far. Home was several thousand kilometres away, and everything that I was doing was being done at half the pace, whether it be riding, getting myself prepared for the day or even a few happy snaps. I just did not feel 100%. No amount of sleep would have made me feel instantly better when hundreds of kilometres of riding were to be done for another 2 weeks.  However, I was way beyond the point of no return. As much as I have experienced plenty of new things over the past week and a half, I had much more to see ahead. There was no choice but to soldier on and continue.

Denham is a very small tourist town with a permanent population of just around 600 people, but also hosts over 100000 visitors annually as a base for those exploring the national park areas bound within the peninsula. It is part of the most sparsely populated region in Western Australia, the Gascoyne region. Despite its climate, its major industry is tourism and, surprisingly, agriculture. Denham is the easternmost town of this region, and also the most isolated coastal town in this side of the country. Its isolation is perhaps a great benefit to the lack of major urban developments and the way that the local council governs the area. The purity and cleanliness of the town are the exemplification of all those factors.

Monkey Mia is a resort venue that is another 30-minute ride from Denham. The most significant tourist attraction by far are the dolphin tours, in which visitors can participate in feeding and interactions. It’s a bummer, then, that I had totally missed out on the available schedules for the day, which ends at noon, and I wasn’t going to wait around another day for one. Plus, it was damn hot; trees are at a premium here, so there’s barely any shade to hide from under that ball of heat. Despite this, it was a really insightful experience to witness the flawless setting of the resort complex, integrating the natural beauty of the coast and the dryness of the desert-like surroundings with the conveniences of a tourist trap.

An inland lake between Denham and Monkey Mia.

Returning to the heat issue,  it was definitely time that I got used to the temperatures. Reaching around 31°C, the Winter season of the Gascoyne region and beyond is not the sort of Winter that you’d expect at all if you’re coming from a more temperate sort of climate. If you decide to visit these warmer destinations, you’d need to decide on which one you prefer: Steaming Summer or Scorching Summer? It was only going to get hotter from here onwards. If you’re familiar with my past blogs, you’d also know that I’m not really a fan of beaches. If there was a particular positive from this, I’d say that it makes for a pleasantly warm overnight camping experience.

The dreaded part of the Denham-Monkey Mia leg was when I had to ride back down to the main highway to Hamelin Pool to continue on with my journey to the north which, in itself, is a 2-hour ride. My next major stop was set to be Carnarvon, which is geographically just across the shore from Monkey Mia. Essentially, I was doing a massive U-turn to get to the town, which costed me half a day.


Just another few hundred kilometres of the arid landscape as I proceed on the outback highway. Another massive journey until I could rest my head indoors for the night.

By the time I got to Carnarvon, the sun was setting. There was absolutely no opportunity to explore any further than the local servo. I only had a few minutes to spend on refuelling because I really had to catch up on the distance that I had not covered the previous day.

There were many many kangaroos at dusk along the highway past Carnarvon. In fact, it was the most I’ve ever seen so far in this trip! The Minilya-Exmouth Road that leads to Coral Bay took me through some country-grade roads that was a hot spot for wild life. The hostel operator’s advice was absolutely right about avoiding night travels. I’ve always told myself that I should really not be riding at night. It just keeps happening, though. I feel that it’s both from a mild sort of insanity that comes from being on the road for so long with insufficient sleep, as well as my sickness.

A sky full of stars, at the Minilya Roadhouse.

Both my illness and tiredness had reduced me to a very volatile, very malleable state. Judgement continually dwindling, I could really have done without the flu. I just felt that it was letting me down so much, because the mind was strong and willing, but the body just weak and stubborn. Many things to do, so little energy to exploit.

I decided against a camp night this time, and stayed at the backpackers hostel at Coral Bay. I just needed a warm shower and a bed, away from the elements. As I walked into my room, I was greeted by almost a dozen people crammed into a stuffy dorm. Maybe I should have just camped out.


Basic Statistics for the day:

  • Route: Denham, Monkey Mia, Carnarvon, Coral Bay
  • Total distance: 682km
  • Range of temperature: 18°C to 31°C

Expenses for the day:

Day 11 - Expenses image.jpg

General map route:

Day 11 - Map - Denham to Coral Bay.jpg