Ningaloo Station

One week at Ningaloo Station, our most isolated independant camping experience thus far. Accessing this pocket of paradise is no small feat: a 50km dirt road so corrugated it takes us four hours - FOUR hours! - to drive down, dodging sheep and goats the whole way. The other (long termer) campers stick to themselves and it feels like the place is ours alone, a great stretch of private Ninagloo reef filled with fish that jump, turtles, stingrays, dolphins... but alas, still no whales.
Seven straight days of intense Bihary bonding has its moments and for the most part, they are marvellous.
* Rikki composing songs whilst accompanied by Budge on guitar.
* Jack creating 3D face masks using scrap paper and pipecleaners.
* Jack giving Benji a wedgie so high that his bathers scrape his chin. Sadly they never snap back into shape and he wears them rolled down over around his waist after that.
* Sam discovering a love of Roald Dahl and an astonishing repertoire of voices to use during "Everyone All Together On The Bed" storytime. (Accents notwithstanding, Benji still manages to fall asleep during "Matilda", mid chapter, mid afternoon, seated in the middle.)
* Retrieving and recycling every last board game, card game, craft project, outdoor games set and comic book in our collection, yet still never quite silencing the perpetual sound of the multi-syllable "da-aaa-aaa-aad, what can we dooooooo?"
* Catching the big toothed, long snouted Longtoms on our lines (not enough flesh to keep for eating, however)... then watching "Finding Nemo" one night and realising that Nemo's mum and siblings had been eaten at the start of the movie by one and the same.
* Stripping down to undies for a (self conscious at the start but not for long) swim one late afternoon after a soccar ball retrieval goes wrong... (the kids that is). Though none of us ever quite get the courage to take a full-on skinny dip, despite the beach being deserted bar ourselves the whole time we are here.
* Budge giving new meaning to the words "naive" and "optimism" when he attempts to institute an afternoon Siesta ritual (anyone not wanting to sleep to play in silence). Day 1 siesta lasts 25 minutes. Day 2 siesta lasts 15 minutes. There is no Day 3 siesta.
In Ningaloo there is a neverending swing between silence and noise, solitude and togetherness, stillness and chaos. We leave older. We leave younger.

Quote of the stay: Jack asks Sam if he can be served lunch before everyone else returns from the beach, to which she responds "Why would I do that - are you part of the royal family? Should I call you "Your Majesty"? "Your Highness"? To which Jack replies: "Yep. Your Hungry-ness"

Spotting sealife at the end of the day on what we called, from the outset, BIHARY BEACH.
The gang ready to do some fish filleting. Jack holds the giant snapper, a gift from our camping neighbours, who caught it whilst out on their boat. Benji holds the mulloway still on ice from Carnarvon. (Benji and Rikki were back at the caravan when the snapper gift was brought over to us on the beach whilst we were fishing, so when they returned we told them Jack had just caught it himself... Benji's response "Oh Moi Gawd". Rikki's response"Where's my rod? What bait did you use? Can you cast my line out? I want to fish - NOW!" It was only when Rikki started to get impatient after 2 minutes of not landing a huge bite herself that we broke it to them both gently. There was nothing gentle about either of the looks they shot us back.)
Rikki in her tent creation, which is a far more complicated balancing act than first impressions would suggest, the result of much hard work, and a source of great pride.
Man. In a hat. At peace.