A Travellerspoint blog

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

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