Panigale Around Australia 2016: Day 12 – Coral Bay to Fortescue

Day 12: Live update – Odometer 52420km. The weather out here is fantastic for camping at just 24°C, currently 8:15pm Western Standard Time near Karratha WA. The stars also are out for us tonight. G’night!

Camping at Fortescue nearby a shallow creek.

First thing that I want get out of my chest: the hostel shower was full of salt. Not sure if the water is actually filtered and purified properly because the water tasted and smelt like as though it was piped up directly from the ocean. The shower probably made very little difference to my overall hygiene, because the humidity meant that I was moist and sweaty within 15 minutes, sand and dirt sticking to my skin like sprinkles of 100’s and 1000’s on top of a mud cake.

The town of Coral Bay is essentially surrounded by sand dunes, so vegetation cover and greenery is minimal. Of course, you have the usual palm tree lined streets and green lawns near shops and accommodation that you’d expect from a coastal resort town, but apart from that the coastline is very much akin to that of Denham and Monkey Mia, its isolation and aridness being characteristically similar.

One major difference between those two towns and Coral Bay is that this small tourist town serves as a year-round destination for scuba diving. In fact, its reefs, although being a smaller size than the great barrier reef of Queensland, are much closer to the shore and are just as beautiful. Even in winter, the temperatures soar above 30°C. As with many other outback tourist towns in Western Australia, although it caters to tourists, they are much less congested and generally seems to be less pretentious. The fact that many of these WA destinations are not as well known makes it very appealing for those wishing to have a quiet and relaxing holiday without battling against crowds.

Exmouth is a larger peninsula town that resides 150km to the north of Coral Bay. The main reason why i wanted to visit this place was for its seafood. More specifically, its prawns are its most important source for its fishing industry. To cut the not so long story short, I couldn’t manage to find a single fish ‘n chip shop anywhere in town. My next hope was to find a seafood market by the bay, but to no avail. Googling for any seafood shops also was a fruitless endeavour. I had been told by a local to check out an outlet within a marina, but it was closed.

Needless to say, I was so bummered because top-quality seafood was one thing that I was genuinely looking forward to with immense anticipation. My mouth was literally watering up at the thought of heavenly prawns dipped in Tabasco sauce, even more so because I haven’t had anything to eat for the day so far. To avoid wasting further time, I resumed my way back to the main highway to head north for my next destination of the day.

Only 3000km on it, and it’s almost reached its wear bar.

One thing that really took me by surprise was the rate of wear on the brand new rear tyre that I had fitted just under a week ago. What? I only had changed it just 3000km ago! The choice of the original Pirelli Scorpion Trail was turning out to be a disaster on the coarse outback highway.

Although the newer Trail II tyre has improved hugely on overall wear, which I have proven to last 12000km in mixed conditions, the original Scorpion Trail looked to have only up to 2000km left at this point in optimal conditions. I was fuming; that single tyre had costed me almost $500, and it was already due for a replacement!

Progressive changes in landscape ensured that my ride back to the North West Coastal Highway wasn’t completely monotonous. Though the road generally remained straight, subtle features such as vast plains of short shrubs, reddening dirt, small tablelands and thousands of termite nest mounds provided a reasonable dose of scenic variety.

Nanutarra Roadhouse is an important stop for motorists on this remote part of the North West Coastal Highway. Reaching Nanutarra Roadhouse was a significant point for me, because the road from here diverges in two directions and had to make a decision on which path to take. The northern route that follows the main highway proceeds towards the industrial port city of Karratha, and Nanutarra Road travels to the eastern direction that leads to Karijini National Park. My original plan was to make the detour to the inland national park and take advantage of a true Outback oasis, which is a haven of cliffs, waterfalls and deep, lush forests.

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My illness which blighted my travelling pace for the past few days had costed me time that I would have spent exploring Karijini. I was meant to be a night away from reaching Broome, but with 1100km to go, I was already running behind my schedule and the detour would have costed me another 200km. I had ridden this far to be so close to one of the most renown destinations of WA, but I couldn’t afford to risk both time and physical pressure that would have likely caused my body to relapse into a more serious health condition. Consequently, I made the regretful decision of cancelling my visit to Karijini. I’m very disappointed about the missed opportunity to this day, but sometimes a few things need to give way to achieve a greater goal. Ultimately, I still had the rest of Australia to explore.

It was at the roadhouse in Nanutarra that I had my first bite of food for the day; a single Chicko roll to break the dietary drought. I should be sent to culinary hell for the horrendous diet that I am inflicting on myself. Strangely, regardless of the type or quality of food that I consume when I am out riding massive distances, taste is brought down from the ranks of importance. Food was just a fuel, a necessary commodity to complete the equation of a tourer’s life on the open road.

Soaking up the remainder of the day’s sunlight.

Sunsets: A contradictory thing. One side of my inner being is filled with rejuvenation and a renewal of purpose. The realist in me, on the other hand, reminds myself that I am still on the road without a planned stop for the night, and that I am putting my life at risk by riding into the night. I had to leave, in search of a place to camp for the night.

A starry night.

Coincidently, I met up with two French backpackers who claimed to have seen me going past them at Exmouth. We were very much interested in sharing our travel experiences in Australia, and one of them were an avid motorcyclist, so we naturally just got along very well. In just a moment, I had found a safe social haven, and camping companions for the night.

Blessed with the clearest sky imaginable, it was a balmy night that was very accommodating for tent camping. At a very comfortable 24°C, sleeping bags were optional for the night. I had absolutely no food with me, but my new camping mates were more than willing to cook me some risotto for dinner; a lifesaver. Goes to show that, sometimes, the universe just tends to unfold as it should, no matter the scale of failure for preparation.


Basic Statistics for the day:

  • Route: Coral Bay, Exmouth, Nanutarra Roadhouse, Fortescue
  • Total distance: 590km
  • Range of temperature: 20°C to 33°C

Expenses for the day:

Day 12 - Expenses image.jpg

General map route:

Day 12 - Map - Coral Bay to Fortescue.jpg