A Travellerspoint blog

20 Eyre Peninsular - Ceduna/Streaky Bay/Port Lincoln

semi-overcast 18 °C

7th September
Ceduna
Mary was up and getting the washing done by 0630 as we had not been able to wash any clothes for the previous several days. It was windy and cold with a heavy overcast so drying would be a problem. However, the town’s Visitor Information Centre proved extremely helpful in signing off on my Nullarbor Links golf saga, printing out some urgently needed documents and some photocopying, all with a smile – and very inexpensive too!

As we enjoyed a warming coffee in town we all decided on taking the 3.6Km ‘coastal walk’ but, as soon as we started Mary and Maureen could not resist the temptation to collect more seashells. The sealed walkway made for an easy stroll down towards Pinky Point, however, when we almost there, Brian became unwell so we headed towards the local IGA store for some fluids to drink. In reaching the Thevenard IGA we passed a set of very large grain silos. Our slow stroll back to the CP was made more interesting, if sad, when we encountered a man in his forties in his front yard raging against the way the present Federal Government came about!
After lunch we managed to complete a few chores that needed doing – Mary updated her emails while I read a novel.

8th September
Ceduna
We started slowly today, and while I sorted out a range of issues related to mum’s estate with my brother, Noel, Mary managed to finally get the van floors cleaned up after all the mud and water from the Nullarbor experience. Those chores completed we all had much needed morning coffee and tea in the camp kitchen, where we decided on visiting the local historic museum after lunch.

Sadly, we couldn’t find this museum, so we decided to visit the local meteorological station for a free view of the 1500 weather balloon release. We were warmly greeted by Mark, the officer in charge, who entertained us with as much detail about his met work at Ceduna as we wanted. He showed us how the Australian weather mapping system worked and we learned a lot about how complex this is. Weather maps around the world are basically compiled only in Melbourne (for the Southern Hemisphere) and Washington and Moscow for the Northern. Having started all his computerised gear working to obtain the data we all moved outside the brand-new building complex to see the weather balloon being set free.

Mark asked for a volunteer to activate the balloon release, and Mary was very quick to do that. A simple operation and Mary had released the balloon while Mark quickly ‘shot’ laser beams at the balloon to ‘lock on’ so that all the data could be automatically sent back to the weather station for collation. Apparently most of the weather data is collected and made available, in real time, to airlines and moving aircraft. This point was highlighted by Mark when he told us that on the odd occasion the tracking device at the weather station ‘accidently’ changed its target to a passing jet aircraft resulting in impossibly high speeds for the balloon – especially if it tracked an RAAF aircraft on a training flight! A most informative experience for the group that day.

We then wandered around town in the lovely sunshine taking a few photos of various structures and the jetty. As I walked out along the jetty I chatted with an erstwhile squid fisherman. As we chatted we saw a large seal moving in towards the baits, much to the annoyance of those fishing there.
As we enjoyed dinner we were surprised by a loud clap of thunder, however, it was only one of those early season storms – all bang and no rain. We managed, eventually to get off to sleep in spite of the new and very noisy neighbours who arrived late.

9th September
Ceduna to Streaky Bay
A later start than planned however we enjoyed the lovely sunshine on our fairly short stage to Streaky Bay. (Called Streaky Bay because of the oily substance from kelp that surfaces in the bay and in certain weather conditions.) We made a brief side-trip to Smoky Bay for morning tea and what a very pleasant little village it turned out to be. Very photogenic.
We passed many large grain silos along the way, which was not surprising in view of the many thousands of hectares in wheat plantings this season.

When arrived at Streaky Bay CP we were greeted by that day’s weather forecast of 50Km winds. They were right – it blew mightily for hours, and we had no protection either as the van door was on the inward side, so no awning here. However, there was no real rain so we headed into the village to check the place out. Quite a lot of old stone buildings, some still in use as house or workplace. We took photos of a very large shark (model) that was caught locally some years ago. As we strolled back to the CP the next storm arrived and we just made it back to shelter. Enough, we all cried, and decided to take up the offer of King George Whiting ( a local delicacy) and chips for only $8. A bargain as they were absolutely delicious. Mary and Brian also decided on a serve of local fresh oysters. A pleasant evening for us all.

10th September
In the morning we all headed out on a 3 hour drive around the ‘Westall Loop’ roads. A gravel road in good condition took us to some great ocean views with wildflowers as a bonus. A most beautiful day to enjoy some of the wonderful creation here.

After lunch we boarded our car again and did the ‘Cape Bauer Loop’ of about 2 hours. A rough dirt road that was not very promising, however, when we visited Hally’s Beach to see the massive surf beating upon the rocky cliffs, and further along, we stopped at the aptly named Whistling Rocks and Blowholes, we were almost literally blown away, both by the wind (!) but also the blowholes and pounding surf. This was a trip highlight, even after seeing so many beautiful surf and cliff sights around the coastline. The ‘authorities’ had a brand new toilet facility there, but had not managed to build the bottom few steps – and we wondered how appropriate that they should do this immediately adjacent to the Whistling Blow Holes! (Well, we thought that it was funny at the time – unless you desperately needed a function facility!!!). We arrived home in beautifully fine and sunny weather to see why so many Queenslanders, in particular, love this spot.

11th September
Streaky Bay to Port Lincoln
A very pleasant trip through wheat fields and trees. Mary & I stopped for a pit stop at Port Kelly, and I noted the following plaque on the wall adjacent to our stopping place.

“In memory of all the beautiful plants that died here at the hands of my husband”.
Moving on to Elliston for morning tea we enjoyed a cold breeze and beautiful sea scenes. Mary noticed that many of the buildings had beautiful murals pained on their walls, so hopped out and kept snapping away.

Just before lunch we stopped at the old Lake Hamilton Eating House, a relic from the Cobb and Co days. A lovely little stone cottage, partly restored and with great lake views across the road. Our lunch stop was at Cummins Lookout, a memorial to a drowning from a sinking fishing boat some years ago. The sea views from the very dangerous cliff top took your breath away. We enjoyed lunch, especially as the walk up to the monument was rather steep. Travelled through tree-lined fields of golden canola and wheat until reaching Port Lincoln. Sadly, this part of the highway contained a number of galah and Port Lincoln parrot roadkill. Not nice. The hills all appeared to be glaciated limestone with some fields mostly rock with a few blades of edible green stuff for sheep. Our camp site was rather damp, reflecting the current weather in this region, however, all was managed in good time.

12th September
Port Lincoln
We awoke (were awoken by seagulls) to a sunny day and the fabulous sea view from the van door. We all drove into town to attend the local Baptist Church which dates from about 150 years ago.
A number of parishioners were away at a camp so the numbers were small but the welcome was warm. All visitors invited to share a lunch with the locals, which was also enjoyable.
We checked out the Visitor Centre and headed off to sightsee. Some spectacular shots from the Winter Hill Lookout on a perfect sunny day.

Posted by psstevo 22:15 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

19 The Nullarbor Experience

overcast 16 °C

30th August
Kalgoorlie-Boulder to Fraser Range Station
The overnight showers did not help us to sleep, however, we managed an early start to Kambalda for the next golf hole. The road was wet on a number of road stretches with several large mud patches caused by road trains entering the highway from off-road location causing potential traffic hazards.

We noticed the tree height reducing as we travelled south and small hills added to the variety. After completing the golf hole we drove through to Norseman to complete the next two holes then lunch with Maureen and Brian in a small park. Very pleasant.
After getting petrol and checking the tyre pressures we then had an easy drive on the Eyre Highway towards Fraser Range Station for our overnight stopover. We set up quickly, however several insisted on coming to watch the golf hole that I had to play there. Quite a few enjoyed the watching, perhaps due to lack of knowledge of golf! Saw a lot of emus on this very large station (over 400,000 acres for the statistically aged). From the homestead to the farthest fence-line is 160 kilometres. In other words it is a large property. The van park catered for over twenty vans plus the cabins. At only $25 per night per van site it was a bargain.

After the golf event all the campers settled in around a roaring fire and enjoyed a lot of yarns, jokes, and travel intelligence material. A jolly good time was had by all, and at dinner time we trouped off to enjoy that too. The power supply was two large generators however, they often did not manage to provide sufficient power for all the campers to use all their electrical appliances so we had blackouts. Too dangerous to fire up the laptop in case of this problem, however, a few hardy souls braved to cold breeze and got together around the fire again.
Overnight it began to rain, however, we slept well.

31st August
Fraser Range Station
We awoke to a steady rain falling so we did not venture out other than toilet breaks. Mary & I read for most of the morning, and after lunch we were invited next door to Brian and Maureen’s van for afternoon tea. Maureen had generously gone to the trouble of baking a large batch of pikelets – a most enjoyable time for all.
The rain eased in the early evening but then gusty winds grew in intensity all through the night.

1st September
The first day of spring? Not here it wasn’t!

Increasing rain and wind so we reluctantly agreed to stay another day to keep of the wet roads and avoiding possible van damage. We pulled our van awning down to minimise the impact of the wind that was now buffeting the van quite often. However, that meant that we also had rain at the van door so things started to get rather damp.
The staff recommended that we visit their kitchen block as a place to spend a warm day. “We’ll light up the log fire for you”, they said, and boy was it lovely and warm. We all spent most of the day in the comfort of this lovely old stone cookhouse reading or playing games.
After chatting with later arrivals we headed off to our respective vans about 1600 to prepare for dinner. At Fraser Range Station there was no TV reception, newspapers, and the radio reception was very poor – just like in the old days that I recall on various farms on which we then lived.

2nd September
Fraser Range Station to Cocklebiddy Road House
Although we were up quite early we were a bit late in actually leaving. The weather was overcast and breezy and cold! We took a few more photos and headed back to the Eyre Highway nearby enroute to the Cocklebiddy Roadhouse quite some distance away and where I had the next golf hole to play.

The main road to our first stop, Balladonia, was very good and time went quite quickly.
At Balladonia Road House we obtained petrol, coffee and a few trinkets in their shop. Balladonia enjoyed a brief moment of world-wide fame in 1979 (?) the Skylab landed in many pieces from inland Australia, across Balladonia, the Great Australian Bight, the coastal town of Esperance, and then into the Indian Ocean. A sizable chunk of the Skylab skin is held in the museum there. Suitable refreshed we hit the road for our next stop at Caiguna Road House for my next golf hole. The golf was less than exciting as it was wet and muddy and absolutely unlike any other golf complex in the world!

As we left Caiguna we hit the longest stretch of straight road in the world, at 147 Klms long. After about 20 Km Mary took over the driving on this excellent piece of road and managed about 90 Km. It was decided to head on to Cocklebiddy Road House for the night as Caiguna was very wet indeed. Through light showers of rain we managed the additional 66 Kms and arrived there pretty tired. There were lots of Road Trains on the highway (that is, articulated trucks with (usually) three large trailers attached) however, they are generally courteous and excellent drivers and so nor problems with them at all except to make us cautious when being passed by one because of the snaking behaviour of the last trailer.
On checking in we found that the wet weather had arrived before us and the CP had many very large and muddy puddles. A light dinner and then read for a while accompanied by the incessant wind outside.

3rd September
Cocklebiddy Road House to Eucla
Blustery wind and rain through the night ensured that we did not sleep well. However, all this rain did not manage to cause us any problems in our food cupboard, so the morning in Esperance spent fixing the probable problem area was well spent indeed.
When we awoke about 0615 we saw that the puddles had been greatly enlarged in area overnight and we almost awash in a sea of muddy water. A quick breakfast and then, dressed in my swimming trunks, a sweater and a plastic mac, and wearing my pseudo croc footwear, I headed off to play that golf hole in freezing wind and driving rain. I am surprised that I managed to hold onto the club, let alone manage to get the ball to safely to its destination. On my return Mary tried to insist that I have a very hot shower to thaw out but I decided that the probable outcome for me would be too serious to contemplate, so I rubbed down and got dressed ready for travel!

In freezing cold winds and light rain we headed out at about 0840 heading to Madura Pass (sadly, we bypassed the Lookout vantage point above the village as it was hidden in low cloud when we arrived) for the next golf hole. We arrived for morning tea and decided to buy a warm coffee instead of our usual thermos flask one. The golf hole actually passed over a service road to the Road House, much to the amusement of the couple who parked their van very close to the trajectory line and stood around enjoying their morning tea. Amazingly, I managed a really good shot to the green and the chap told me he had videoed it! Finished that job and rejoined the others for my cuppa before hitting the road again.

We lunched beside the Mundrabilla Road House which was surrounded by even more water than previous stops had experienced. The golf tee point was isolated by water and so we drove the car and van into the former Caravan Park site and parked there so that I could attempt this hole too. However, the weather conditions were so bad and the ground so muddy that it became quite dangerous to finish the hole, so, when I managed to lose two golf balls in the mini-jungle, I called it quits.

We then drove through the rain to Eucla village near to the West Australian/South Australian border for the night. Although we enjoyed a fairly brief period of fine weather we managed to arrive as the rain did. However, we set up in the Eucla Caravan Park, atop a range of hills that followed the coastline. A long time ago (but not millions of years) the present hill/cliff had been the shoreline of the Southern Ocean prior to the ocean floor being raised. Of course it was windy up on top of that ridge, however, we managed to get ourselves surrounded by a number of other vans so we enjoyed some shelter from the elements.
As we expected to meet the South Australian quarantine station the next morning where we expected vegetables and fruit to be confiscated to eradicate the possibility of bring the dreaded fruit fly into SA, Mary set about cooking up all vegetables and fruit to avoid this possibility.

4th September
Eucla to Nullarbor Roadhouse
We decided to move on as early as possible as everywhere seemed significantly affected by the rain. No flooding as such, but very wet along roads and side-roads making things unpleasant. Golf was therefore not possible here at the WA/SA Border, especially at the Border hole with a massive lake of water around the tee in which the tee appeared to be floating on top.

For once we actually had a tail-wind for most of the trip as we passed through increasingly smaller tress until there was only low scrub, or heather as far as the eye could see. Strangely, we did not find that boring as there always seemed to be some point of interest along the highway.
Just after leaving the border we were stopped by the local cops doing a licence and RBT check. When asked if I had had any alcohol to drink (before 1000???) I told him the last drop was in 1987. Not impressed.

The trip was otherwise uneventful but quite interesting and got a good park at the Nullarbor CP. After setting up I managed to get the long par 5 hole completed in spite of the long grass fairways and the many massive rabbit warrens in which you could easily lose the ball.
We all enjoyed a great sunset over the large rain puddles.

5th September
Nullarbor to a Free Stop near Penong
We were all ready for an 0830 departure, however, as we reached the Eyre Highway from the CP we were all stopped by the police with a road-block. There was a B Double semi trailer that they were trying to retrieve from the bog on the side of the highway about 400 meters on our exit from town. It had somehow gone slightly off onto the edge of the roadway the night previous and had bogged seriously with a serious lean that indicated a complete rollover may be imminent. However, after about 40 minutes they reopened the highway as we were all allowed through.

A pleasant and quite sunny drive down the highway about 20 minutes to the Head of the Bight turnoff. There was a nice new Interpretative Centre there covering the local wildlife, especially the Southern Right Whales that spent the winter in the Great Australian Bight giving birth and nurturing their calves. We saw over a dozen whales and calves right at our feet below the Bunda Cliffs on which an excellent walkway had been built. Many tourists flock here as the whales are so close and observable without impeding their life in any way. A must for anyone passing through in the winter months.

Morning tea and we hit the road again with Brian and Maureen heading on through to Ceduna direct as we trundled along to Nundroo and Penong for the next golf holes. At our lunch stop we had a an interesting chat with a couple in a Merc about the parlous state resulting from the indeterminate Australian election. While chatting over lunch an old Ford Falcon, with two females came racing through the stopping point, dragged around on the gravel and then, without even looking charged back onto to the highway – right in front of a large semi-trailer with great big EXPLOSIVES plastered across the front of the truck. Needless to say the truckie gave them a real blast!

I played the Nundroo golf hole and we then drove quietly through the rolling hills until we found a free overnight site near to Penong. A pleasant afternoon tea in the very welcome warm sunshine adjacent to massive wheat fields and peace and quiet, apart from the passing trucks on the highway. Another couple also pulled in to enjoy the stopover and came over for a chat. They had been on the road for about nine years! Later, as the four of us chatted we heard a scrunching of tires on the gravel and a raucous group of youngish women noisily piled out and greeted us, beer bottles in hand! Apparently they had been celebrating a clean-sweep in their end of year sports and had been celebrating at a nearby coastal village all weekend. They soon left us in peace and raced off to complete the weekend nearer home!
We had a peaceful night, with no electricity but the camp lanterns worked fine.

6th September
Free stop to Ceduna
We awoke to a beautiful sunny morning and, as not much packing up was required we were soon on the road to Ceduna and the end of our Nullarbor experience. We stopped at Penong, a very small road-side village, and I completed that golf hole while Mary caught up on her reading. This hole was quite short, almost dry and a nice hole to enjoy.

Ceduna soon appeared on Tomtom and we arrived at the very pleasant Big 4 Ceduna CP and quickly got settled in. The washing had accumulated so Mary got the first lot completed. Although somewhat windy this is a very pleasant small coastal town with a new IGA store at which we managed to get some shopping up to date. No TV reception on our laptop so enjoyed a quiet read before a welcome sleep.

Posted by psstevo 15:51 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

18 The Goldfields of W.A.

sunny 19 °C

24th August
We got up early planning to drive the 40Km Great Ocean Drive around Esperance, however, we were very cross that we again had a leak in the food cupboard so we invested the morning in getting some technical advice then some better equipment with which to seal off the whole area adjacent to the leakage. Hopefully that will take care of this issue once and for all. At least we retrieved all the food in time to ensure that we can still use it.

After lunch we headed off into a windy afternoon (nothing new about that in this area of WA) and managed to get some photos of new wildflowers, followed by spectacular windy seascapes along several Kms of cliff and beach. We visited the so-called Pink Lake on the return portion of the trip. It is called Pink because, in certain climatic conditions the particular algae in the lake turns pink! Elementary my dear Watson – I guess.

On our return we found more chatty neighbours had arrived and so shared useful travel intelligence with them. We managed to get some order into Mary’s hundreds of photos so that she could get her hard-copy photo album under way.

25th August
I was awoken early by the most severe leg cramps that I can recall. They were so painful on ongoing that I felt nauseous, however, I finally managed to get rid of them so that we could start the day.

Mary managed to get all our washing done in threatening windy and overcast weather while I cleaned up some problems with the van’s rear lighting. After lunch we headed off into town to take a few photos and to get more of Mary’s photos developed for her album, however, some did not look too great from those machines resulting in looking to get better copies made in Kalgoorlie.
After getting petrol we had an evening of TV.

26th August
Under threatening skies we packed up and headed out just after 0800 heading for our planned stopover at Norseman. The road was generally quite good, but with a few bumpy patches. The rolling hills and changing flora made for a pleasant journey to Salmon Gums (small village by that name) where we stopped for morning tea. What a pleasant surprise greeted us for there were brand new toilets adjacent to a small historical park with small shelter for setting out the cuppa. Inside this shelter were a range of stories and photos of the pioneering families who had come into virgin territory as Government backed settlers many years ago.

The whole complex shows what a difference a few dedicated and resourceful people can make to travellers and locals alike! Met an older couple who were returning to their orchard in NSW and we shared a nice chat-time with them as they headed back for knee and hip surgery in the near future – to be followed by an even more adventurous trip next year.

Arrived in Norseman (named after a horse of that name that apparently located a large gold deposit!) and got some information sheets from the Visitor Information Centre, then had lunch in the adjacent park. We were soon joined by about 30+ other caravaners who arrived from various other points and intending to go to the four corners of the globe after eating!

We decided that as we were feeling quite fresh that we should drive the extra 180 Km to Kalgoorlie Boulder City and arrive a day early. Booked the Park and headed north through increasingly desolate territory, reminiscent of the Pilbara region. Stopped at the Widgiemooltha Road House for a break, and because of some very intriguing photo opportunities!! A statute commemorating a 16 year old lad finding a gold nugget. Nothing particularly interesting about that except, this nugget weighed 32Kgs!! Valued at 11,000 pounds in 1931, but worth millions nowadays.
We arrived at the Top Tourist CP a few moments after Brian and Maureen had arrived from Coolgardie, and they were very surprised to see us.
Checked in and found a very nice park with lots of room and good facilities.

27 August
Kalgoorlie Boulder City
We went to the Visitor Information centre in Kalgoorlie to get updated information on the area, then headed to Boulder to check out the various sights. Sadly a 5+ earthquake had caused serious damage a few of the historical buildings in the CBD. Scaffolding on many properties, however, the repairs were rather slow as the Heritage people, insurers, council and the property owners all haggled over who would pay for what and so on. Very sad.

The rail museum we found to be closed off and repairs to various parts were obvious. Mary found the local international lolly shop and managed to stock up on her choice lollies! They did serve very large icecreams though!
Brian phoned from the Visitor Centre to advise that there was a free concert there in 20 minutes, so, we jumped in the car and headed back to enjoy a concert by various local artists, including an excellent poet. We returned to Boulder to complete our tour of the area then headed home for a quick shower before we all went back to Kalgoorlie to celebrate Maureen’s birthday at the local Dome restaurant. We arrived just after 1800 to see the staff locking up! Brian was not happy as he had asked about dining there that evening and wasn’t told of the Friday closing time.
We soon tracked down Paddy’s Pale Ale restaurant at a nearby pub. Sadly, for an Irish pub/restaurant, they couldn’t spell potatoes correctly!! Never mind, we enjoyed and excellent buffet and finally headed home for a sleep.

28th August
Brian, Mary and I started the day with a Kokoda Track walk that was nearby. An excellent concept, however, the information on where to start, how long the walk was in time and distance, and the heaps of broken bottles and other litter along the track, plus the graffiti on many displays. Otherwise it was an excellent time on a pleasant morning, with sad stories of heroism and disaster.
After lunch Mary, Maureen and Brian went on the Super Pit Tour, and they enjoyed it very much. I went shopping until I was accosted several times by three local drunks, so I sat in the car reading the paper until the others returned.
After the dinner of the previous night we decided on a light tea and then caught up on some of the paperwork before heading to bed.

29th August
Cooked pancakes for breakfast and then got ready for church.
Attended Kalgoorlie Baptist Church had a sizeable group of young people there, and the ‘music’ appeared to reflect their taste! However, the message from Pastor Allan was excellent as he based the message on relationships ancient and modern and touched on the Ten Commandments and the need to honour not only our parents but each other today, and for our children tomorrow. Actually, quite a brave message in this day of permissiveness and the ‘me’ generation! More power to him if this tone continues.

Mary & I then visited the West Australian Museum. It was very interesting because Kalgoorlie Boulder is, after more than a hundred years, still based on their gold mines. In contrast to the prices in the Visitor Information office the items here were very reasonably priced although we resisted the temptation to buy up on gold at US$1320 at today’s prices!

We drove up Mt Charlotte Lookout on the edge of town, the site of the end of the 600+ Kms of pipeline carrying fresh water all the way from Perth to Kalgoorlie, Boulder, Coolgardie and other centres in the Goldfields region. The story of the Engineer-in-Charge, C Y O’Connor, who made history around 1900 when this massive project was completed successfully, is a tribute to his skill as an engineer, and his persuasive powers and vision. Sadly, at the official opening by Mr Forrest, Premier of WA, O’Connor had died just months before that momentous event. For its time it was the world’s longest piped water project in the world. See internet for full details).
Mary & I then experienced the full force of the local economy when we went to buy up fresh bread and some other foodstuffs for the journey across the Nullarbor! Even I could notice the massive differences between capital city supermarkets and here.

Then the clouds thickened and light rain started to fall. Not a good omen for tomorrow’s long journey down to Norseman and on to Fraser Range Station at the edge of the famous Nullarbor. Along the way I have the next three golf holes to play in what may be unpleasant weather – but that is another chapter!

Posted by psstevo 01:20 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

17 The Great Southern Region of W.A. Part 2

rain 16 °C

17th August
Sadly, we had to depart peaceful Pemberton and the lovely CP as we headed for Walpole, WA. The road was good and an enjoyable journey made a change as we travelled through pleasant forests with some farms.

Our arrival into Walpole was accompanied by another rain period, which made our setup rather hectic and unpleasant, especially as our site was a little difficult to back into. That was achieved and we thought that we should take advantage of a lull in the rain and headed off to the nearby Tingle Tree site. The large Tingle trees are an important part of the ecosystem in South Western forests, and make a very pleasant sight to visit. We had hoped to also travel on to Circular Lake, but found the road was closed, so headed back to camp to listen to the rain!

18the August
We were not surprised that it rained this morning, however, in view of our limited time here, we decided to travel the 17 Kms to see the Valley of the Giants – a reference to the giant Tingle and Karri trees in the National Park. Light rain was falling as we arrived but, we paid our entrance fee and headed up the Tree-Top Walkway that takes one 40 meters above ground on a ‘walk’ through the treetops. As the walkway swayed somewhat I was not too happy, but Mary went around twice. Sadly, because of the rain we decided not to attempt the ground walk and headed back to camp. A visit to the local Visitor Information Office yielded more information, however, time was running out so we made a brief circular drive around the foreshore adjacent to camp and then decided to call it a day.

As an aside, we have been overwhelmed by the very high standard of Visitor Information Offices throughout WA. They have been sizable, even in small towns, very well presented, and always helpful with information, not only local but throughout the rest of WA.

19th August
Walpole to Albany today.
A beautiful blue sky today, but the roads were quite wet from the rain. This was a pleasant trip via Denmark on a good road to Albany. Denmark was a very pleasant small town famous because of Dr Bolle’s world famous 13 meter high (?) barometer. Very interesting exhibit to see. Lots of forests along the roadside but enjoyable to have the variety after the hundreds of kilometres on boring straight roads further north!

We arrived in Albany about noon and got set up very quickly as we had a system problem with the car. We managed to get it booked in at the local garage for the Friday for the necessary investigation while we walked the short distance into town to get some of Mary’s photos printed and a coffee.

Walked home again and settled in for the evening with an pre-dinner shower as taking showers in the morning meant coping with the cold weather and the possibility of a cold shower to go with it. Too old for that stuff now I fear!

20th August
We took the car to the garage and then walked around the CBD taking a few photos of the old (1800’s) buildings that remained. Albany is an older community, in Australian terms, and was settled around 1800 by sealers, whalers and a range of misfits. Later it became a site for criminal exports from England, then it was settled by English settlers.

The Old Gaol, the brig Amity, Anzac Peace Park, the Old railway Station, Dog Rock and the Historical Museum all contributed to a most interesting morning. The Anzac Peace Park was recently inaugurated to commemorate the sailing from Albany of very large numbers of Australian and New Zealand troops to WWI.

The Museum housed a quite small but absolutely brilliant series of photos of a German photographer whose name eludes me. He had published a book that really deserves to sell very well because of his artistic endeavours.

Mary was excited to get her first 50 photos and immediately decided to get another 50 later photos to add to her album (which she still hasn’t bought). We then returned for the remaining 50 photos and then walked back to collect the car. However, the mechanic (who had generously agreed to take us as an overbooking) was only just starting work on it. Mary walked back to the Park and I waited for some time until Dr Mechanic told me that all was now well, and if I paid some money I could drive away in my car with new oil sensors that worked! Problem resolved.

21st August
We were up quite early and drove into town to obtain fresh vegetables at the Saturday Farmer’s Markets.

Mary and I then headed out on the tourist road to see the Natural Arch, Blow Holes, The Gap, Frenchman’s Bay and Middleton Bay sights. The seascape was spectacular, especially with a strong Indian Ocean wind behind it. The giant waves and showers of spray would have scared even the most determined mariner. The rock formations, etched and changed over the years by ocean and wind were well worth the visit.

When we arrived at Middleton Bay, on the other side of the city, we saw a whale doing ‘headstands’ just off the beautiful sandy beach. We jumped in the car and drove back up to the Lookout and saw at least five whales nearby, just resting for a time, then a few spectacular moves. Then the rain persuaded us to return home. A most fascinating time.

22nd August
Albany to Ravensthorpe
A wet start to the day with showers intermittently made this a rather less pleasant journey. The highway (?) was rather substandard and when I said to Mary that I was driving much slower than desired she told me that she had placed tonight’s dinner (in the slow-cooker) in a bucket on the van floor. On checking at a rest stop she found that we now had a Curried Caravan. Curry was all over the floor and it took quite some time, with the help of Jif, to get cleaned up and then catch up with Maureen and Brian along the road.

Passing hundreds of hectares of yellow-flowering canola made for a different trip to normal. At the morning tea stop we found even more wildflowers to photograph.

We lunched in the freezing wind at Jeeramungup and later arrived at Ravensthorpe as the rain arrived also. The Park was only a two-star affair, so we made the most of what was there.

23rd August
Ravensthorpe to Esperance
Brian and Maureen were headed north to Hyden and Wave Rock while Mary and I headed for Esperance, on the south coast.

It was a beautiful clear day, but very cold, as we headed through lovely rolling hills, plenty of natural bush and forestry, along with sheep, cattle and more canola. Again, the road was rather rough but didn’t slow us too much.
More wildflowers along the way that begged us to stop and photograph.

Arriving at Esperance at lunchtime we managed to get set-up before the wind and rain caught up with us again. Very windy generally but our Top Tourist CP was quite well sheltered from the worst weather. We walked into town and viewed a few of the central sights before heading home to a wamr shower and some decent TV reception.

Posted by psstevo 04:37 Archived in Australia Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

16 The Great Southern Region of W.A. Part 1

storm 12 °C

9th August
To Bunbury. An early and very cold start to the Monday morning – only 3 degrees! However, we managed a quick hook-up for the van and headed off to the RAC garage at Balcatta for the van brake-light repairs. Brian & Maureen remained in Perth to spend more time with Brian’s Perth relatives, as they planned to join us in Busselton.
The very helpful lady mechanic quickly found that the initial installation of the towing electrical cable had low quality clamps to connect the wiring rather than the professional solder and tape method. She soon had us back on the road again with a full set of rear lighting at last!

We navigated the various southbound freeways as far as Mandurah where we turned off for a cuppa to warm us up. Sadly, the W.A. roadside stopping points are generally inferior to the N.T. ones that had a sheltered table and seats and usually toilets as well. The cold winds ensured that the stopover was brief and then headed south to Bunbury.
We arrived in Bunbury about noon and found the van repair place to get the water inlet connection fixed, and then found the Top Tourist CP just outside the main town area. A rather older Park but kept well so no problems with plenty of hot shower water as there were not too many other travellers there.

After setting up and having lunch we headed into town to see some of the sights, however, apart from a lighthouse with no access there was very little to do there. Mary had some time looking for shells on a nice beach then we drove back into the CBD area only to find that even the shopping mall car parks (such as they were) were under the vigilant control of the local council rangers who were in evidence everywhere it seemed. Left it all behind and returned to camp.

10th August
After a chat with some of our ‘neighbours’ we headed out to find the Tuart Tree walk, which we accidently found with no help from the local map. A pleasant walk among tall trees, with some wildflowers, but not overly exciting at all. We then ran across the advertised Maidens Forest Walk with a nice park attached. Apparently the name came from passing sailors who claimed that some of the low hills had certain features that were obviously female! Anyway, we enjoyed our packed lunch then set off foe walk that took us to the high sand dunes adjacent to the sea. A pleasant walk with more wildflowers. Then we headed back in to the CBD and took a few photos of the limited older buildings that we saw. Included was a former church (either Anglican or Presbyterian) that was now a ‘cultural’ centre – and painted in vibrant pink. I wonder what the church founders from the 1800’s would think of it now!

11th August
To Busselton. The short journey took us through some interesting rolling low hills with more trees and paddocks than we had seen for many weeks. Eventually we found the Kookaburra CP after we found that the navigator had loaded the Bussell Highway into Tom Tom instead of the actual street address. We set up camp quickly as the light rain started falling, however, the rain soon turned into strong wind gusts with heavier rain.

During a rain break we headed into the centre of town nearby to look at the shops. However, upon seeing an Australian Electoral Polling Booth open we decided to vote early if not often. I managed to get a haircut from a former resident of the Persian Gulf who cheerfully told me that the previous two weeks had been wind and rain free. We returned to camp to find that Brian & Maureen with Brian’s brother from Perth, Mervyn, had arrived and got settled in among the raindrops, and in the maximum shelter behind other campers.

We took down the van awning due to the increasingly bad weather, however, late at night the wind had become much stronger so we dropped to pop-top to reduce wind resistance. The CP was adjacent to the sea and there was little to provide a windbreak for protection. This CP was a nice one with a couple who had built it up over twenty years and had now sold it so that they could have more family time.

12th August
Margaret River. Today I drove all five of us down to Margaret River to see the sights, meanwhile passing many sheep and cattle farms and large vineyards. And what sights they have there! We stopped at two cheese factories to road-test their cheese, and were impressed enough to buy some (probably at above city prices – but, hey, it was delicious!).

Then we found the fudge factory in town, so a lengthy tasting session later we emerged from that shop with some very nice samples and a lovely taste in our mouths. On the way back to camp we found a chocolate factory that specialised in gourmet (read ‘expensive’) chocolates, which we had to sample and get sucked into buying some delicious chocolates also.

Eventually we arrived back at camp, suitably weary in body, mind and wallet!

13th August (Friday 13th – but who cares!)
Cape Naturaliste. Gathering the clan together in our car I drove down to the nearby Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse. The journey was pleasant and not too long so we arrived in short time to be greeted by a strong wind – what’s new, after all this is Western Australia subject to the Indian Ocean weather.

The very pleasant Margaret was in charge of the office and soon took us on a conducted tour of the still-working Lighthouse. Now it is powered electrically but when it was constructed in 1903 the power for the light was from kerosene power and everything took three permanent staff all day and night to keep it working. You can read the fascinating statistics on the appropriate WA website if interested. We clambered up the staircase on the original Jarrah hardwood slats that had been installed over 100 years ago. We were then invited to step outside onto the platform to ‘enjoy’ the view. Even though the wind had moderated somewhat, it was very strong and, as we edged round the top into the full blast it was really difficult to maintain one’s balance, hold onto any belongings, and move round the circle platform, without suffering serious damage. My vertigo managed the interesting ordeal so we were all happy to be back inside the protection of the dome as we descended.

While there, Margaret advised us that just two nights prior the wind had reached 100 Kph, the same night that we dropped to van top.

After a late morning tea we headed off out into the cold wind to take in two of the various fairly short walks. We saw numerous wildflowers species and some unknown (to us) birds. The walks were really enjoyable as we observed the powerful Indian Ocean waves pounding the cliffs and rocks. On the Whale-watch walk we did not see any whales but did see a number of seals (sea lions?) on the rocks below us. This location is very close to the site where a young man was taken by a shark this week.
We enjoyed a very late lunch at nearby Bunker Bay before driving through the small village of Dunsborough and back to camp.

14th August
To Pemberton. Today a short journey from lovely Busselton to Pemberton.
The journey was pleasant as we travelled south, through Margaret River (without stops!) to the Voyager Vineyard Estate. What a magnificent scene as we approached this large white set of buildings in the style of the up-market South African vineyards. Very expensive too, even the non-alcoholic wine that I bought. Still, an eye-opener as to how some live in Australia today.

We arrived at the lovely small village of Pemberton and were given a very friendly welcome by the staff at the caravan park. Set among giant trees, with flocks of parrots and a few ducks we immediately set up camp. A bit of a stroll around to check out the sights and decided on the Tram (Train) ride through the forest for the next morning. A cold night.

15th August
We arose to a very cool morning and got ready for the tram ride which turned out to be on old style trams from Fremantle at the turn of the 19th century. That means that they were fully air-conditioned- the drive cam round each carriage and folded up the plastic windows so that we could really enjoy both the scenery and the cold bush air. Our driver certainly kept up a torrent of information as we travelled along a tram/train track that had been built prior to the 1930’s recession, but never fully completed.

After our return Mary & I had lunch and then drove out to the nearby Beedalup Falls to check the place out. We had an interesting walk around the very well-maintained walkway approach to the falls. Then we headed off into the forest, enjoying the magnificent creation around us of trees, ferns and birds. We visited the ‘walk-through’ tree which a bit of a disappointment as it was nearly as difficult to get through as the manholes on the submarine in Fremantle. However, with no rain and a cool day, it was an enjoyable workout that we both needed.

16th August
This morning, for something to do, Brian, Mervyn and I headed out of town to the King Trout farm for a bit of rainbow trout fishing. We spent about two hours enjoying the peaceful surrounds of the large lake, disrupted only by the persistent rainbow trout interrupting our reverie by getting caught! Briand & I ended up with five trout each (but Brian took the honours with a much larger one than I managed) and Mervyn took two. We paid the man for the privilege of de-stocking his lake and cleaning the fish, and then enjoyed a very nice coffee at their cafe.

Mary & Maureen appeared suitably impressed when the hunters returned with their prey! A BBQ was arranged for that evening and fish was the main item on the menu.

After lunch Mary & I drove out of town to the famous Gloucester Tree and watched a few hare-brained people attempt to climb the 61 meters up to the lookout atop the tree. We had more enjoyment seeing beautiful little blue wrens and other birdlife than at the tree itself. We then embarked on a walk through the forest and arrived back at the car park suitably ready for our next stop – the Lavender Farm that sold lavender ice-creams just along the road. We actually decided on a more suitable berry ice-cream instead, and then returned to camp in readiness for the BBQ.

We managed to have the fish cooked and ready just before dark so that we could eat safely without the threat of choking on the bones. The fish were absolutely delicious and so we spent the next couple of hours with overcoats, beanies and a very hot fire just having a nice chat time.

Posted by psstevo 00:04 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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