Day 7: Bremer Bay – Albany

It had been a clear night when we had gone to bed. The stars shone brightly in a sea of velvety black. However, sometime during the night the clouds rolled in and it rained quite heavily. It was still raining when we made the trek across the caravan park to the ablutions block for our morning shower.
We could have used the shower in the mobile home but it is very cramped and the water takes twenty minutes to heat. We had paid park fees so it made more sense to make use of the facilities provided.

After packing up to move on, we drove down to the beach. It was still raining heavily but we braved the weather to see the views. 20130602-212552.jpg
Then we drove into the main part of town which consists of a general store (that also sells fuel and liquor) and a community centre which houses the tourist information centre and library. Further up the road there is a medical centre and an op shop (thrift store). We drove around some of the streets, looking at the views and the houses.

The drive to Albany was done in pouring rain, much of it following a relatively slow moving road-train.
On arrival at the outskirts of Albany, we stopped for fuel and groceries. It was still cold and raining, so we bought something warm for lunch. Then we headed out for Middleton Bay Caravan Park. Again we decided to stay for two nights, but this time we got a big shock — the tariff for the second night was 33% more than the first night! Apparently it is the first night of a long weekend so the price goes up everywhere!

The bad weather got worse, with gale force winds that rocked the motorhome even in the comparative safety of the caravan park. But we decided to go out and explore the coast of Torndirrup National Park. Herself did her exploring from the cold but dry comfort of the van but Himself got out in the lashing, squally rain and winds to take photos. At 4pm it was nearly as dark as sunset and as cold as midwinter in western Sydney. Himself even put a jumper on (after a fair bit of nagging from Herself)! Not surprisingly, herself decided not to enjoy the “pleasure” of a walk out to the blowholes so Himself went alone while Herself sat in the van as it was buffeted by strong winds. The red plants in the photos below are “kangaroo paws”, a plant native to Western Australia and so-named because the shape of the flowers roughly resembles the front paws of a kangaroo!


Day 6: Esperance – Munglinup – Bremer Bay

Before breakfast, Himself went out to take some photos of the bay and surrounds.
He saw a small pod of dolphins but they weren’t very close. 20130602-193732.jpg
Stiles are not very common in NSW; Himself used this one to leave and re-enter the caravan park on different occasions.
After breakfast, we decided to take a walk along the 700m (765 yards) Tanker jetty, not far from the caravan park. Unfortunately, reconstruction of the foreshore is under way and we were unable to access the jetty.
Himself remembered to take a photo of the view from our campsite before we left.
The first thing we did after leaving the caravan park, was buy diesel. Himself noted that this was the first time he had ever paid $100 for fuel.
We then went to Rotary Lookout on Wireless Hill to take photos of the 360* view. It was very cloudy and misty but, fortunately, not raining while we were there.
Herself used the iPad to take a video of the 360* view.20130602-194233.jpg
Then it was time to begin the long drive (400+km/250 miles!) trip towards Albany.

Again, we stopped in Munglinup for lunch but this time the weather was much cooler and cloudier. The park was also more crowded, having three other people in it!

Along the way, Himself pulled over in a parking area (we call them rest areas in NSW) to take a photo of a grass tree with its flower spike, especially for our overseas friends. These plants are very expensive to buy in NSW. They used to be called “black boys” because of the black trunks and the fact that the flower spike resembles a spear; however, this is no longer politically correct and the common name was changed to be less offensive.
Can you see the very small yellow flowers on the flower spike?
We drove through Ravensthorpe, then turned off just before Jerramungup. At Gairdner, we turned off for the small township of Bremer Bay, where we had chosen to spend the night. The cloudy weather that had followed us for the last two days was gone,20130602-194442.jpg and a clear sky caused a drop in temperature. It was the coldest night we had experienced on our trip.

We had FaceTime with DD and the grandsons. Older Grandson was excited to see our mobile home and how we set up for the night. Then he showed us his new backpack, lunch bag and drink bottle. He was going on an adventure the following day: he and his brother were going to pre-school for the first time.

After dinner, we tried to catch up with our blog. Downloading photos from the camera, choosing which ones to use and editing them is a time-consuming process. Adding them to a pre-written blogpost then putting them in the correct position takes much longer than we anticipated. But it will be good to look back over our blog in the weeks and months ahead.

Day 5 (Part 2): Ocean Drive, Esperance

You can read about Day 5 (Part 1) in our previous post.

After lunch at Cape Le Grande Beach, we headed back to Esperance. We tried to visit Duke of Orleans beach but it was on a dirt road and Maui had asked us not to drive on unsealed roads.

Once in Esperance, we decided to take the 40km (25 mile) Ocean Drive circuit and look at the views. Unfortunately, the rain had set in but there are some spectacular views of the coastline along the drive.
One accidental art shot taken using the iPad which focused on the rain on the window rather than the view outside.
And one arty shot taken by Himself.
We also saw our first wind farm; it had at least six turbines. Pink Lake was disappointing because it is only pink in high saline, night temperature and high light situations. Given that it is late autumn and it was raining, there was no way that situation was going to happen.
However, Himself took a photo of the reflection of a rainbow on the lake, which turned out okay.

After dinner, we talked to DD for about an hour, then went to bed.

Day 5 (Part 1): Cape Le Grande National Park

After breakfast and the usual “moving the mobile home” chores (stowing everything, disconnecting the water hose and electricity cable, locking all cupboards, etc.), we headed east to Cape Le Grande National Park, about 60km (37 miles) from Esperance. As we drove, we saw “Stonehenge”, supposedly a replica of the one in England (which we have seen) — this one seemed much smaller to us and being set near buildings seemed a little weird.

On arrival at the National Park, we were told that the road to Lucky Bay was closed which was disappointing because that’s where we were headed. Only the road to Cape Le Grande beach was open. The good news was that there were no park fees payable that day. The fire that we had see the night before was apparently the reason for the road closure. They were doing controlled burning.

This photo was taken as we entered the park towards Frenchman’s Peak (the pointy hill on the left).
As we approached the beach and came around the last bend into the carpark, the stunning view caused us both to inhale and exclaim “wow”! The colour of the water was magnificent. This photo was taken a little later as the clouds covered the sun.
Unfortunately, a few minutes later, it began to rain. We had come so far that we decided to brave the rain anyway. After Herself changed her clothes, we went out onto the beach and started walking. The rain soon stopped.
We watched a 4WD coming down the beach towards us. We didn’t think Britz/Maui would be impressed if we took the mobile home for a drive on the beach! 😉

We walked until we came to a creek that flowed into the sea.
We turned around and walked back towards the carpark but instead of going to the van, we climbed the stairs up the side of Mt Le Grande 20130601-204257.jpg
to the lookout where more photos were taken.

To His surprise, Herself (who is not known for liking heights or being adventurous) began climbing further, beyond the lookout. There were no more stairs just a steep rocky path marked at intervals so walkers don’t lose their way.
This is what our van in the carpark looked like when we were partway up.
This is the trail we had been following looking back towards the beach.
We walked quite a way before Herself realised that the trail didn’t lead to the top of the headland but in another direction entirely. Because we were not carrying water, we decided to turn around and go back to the carpark where our 7m motorhome now looked smaller than a Matchbox car.20130601-201316.jpg
This is what a close up of Frenchman’s Peak looks like from the height we climbed.
At the bottom of the trail, we found a sign which showed that the trail led to Hellfire Bay, a hard 3.5 hour walk away. Lucky we didn’t keep following the trail!

We had lunch overlooking the beach. We had to sit inside because it was too cool to sit outside.
This was our view out the window.

Day 4: Wave Rock – Esperance

After breakfast, we made a final visit to Wave Rock (more photos) before heading off for the long drive to Esperance.

We passed by the township of Lake King and drove through Ravensthorpe then stopped for lunch at Munglinup (yes, that really is a place name). The park was directly across the road from this garage:
We ate our lunch in the park, enjoying the late-autumn sunshine. The breeze was cool but it was pleasant enough to be sitting outside.

Along the road to Esperance we passed a mining operation. WA has a huge mining industry — it is a state rich in natural resources.
We arrived in Esperance at about 3pm and stopped at the first caravan park we came to. We decided to stay for two nights as it was really too late to do anything, and we had another long drive when we moved on.

The most immediate need was for some groceries, so we went shopping at the local IGA and pharmacy. Putting the groceries away at home is always a chore but in a mobile home it is essential that everything is stowed away carefully so in some ways it’s a game but it also takes longer than it ordinarily would as we climb over each other in the small space.

It had clouded over but seemed extraordinarily dark by 4:30pm. A check of the weather site for the local area revealed that sunset was at 4:46pm. That’s a little earlier than at home. We decided to take a stroll on the beach in the twilight and left the beach as darkness began to fall. Himself took some photos of the port area from the beach before we left.
In the twilight, we could see the smoke from a large fire across the bay.
We wandered back to the caravan park and had dinner. After dinner, Himself went out to take some more photos of the fire somewhere across the bay which looked even more spectacular in the dark. The lights to the right of the next photo are from the tanker shown in the extreme right of the photo above.
We had driven over 400km and were both pretty tired so we soon went to bed.

Day 3 (Part 2): Wave Rock

You can read about the first part of Day 3 on our previous post.

After breakfast we headed off — first into town (Pingelly) to the craft shop (the “office” for the caravan park) to pay for our overnight stay then on the road again for what should have been our overnight stop yesterday: Wave Rock.

We travelled via Bullaring to Corregin, where the Tourist Information Office was closed but they did have take-away packs outside with information on the local area. All we needed was a map to get us out of town on the right road. Once we found that we were on our way again.

We arrived in Hyden, bought some fuel and headed out to Wave Rock. We first visited Hippo Yawn, a big hole in a rock shaped like the head of a hippopotamus.
We ate lunch then drove around to Wave Rock carpark. We paid the entrance fee, bought some postcards and a book of maps (if we got lost from now on it would be Herself at fault!) then headed around to see Wave Rock itself.

It was smaller in length than we had imagined but more spectacular.
We slowly walked the full length of it — about 100 metres — and found a set of stairs leading up to the top. Curious about a strange-looking concrete barrier on the top, I willingly climbed the stairs. Beside the stairs, behind a barbed-wire-topped fence, was the reservoir for Hyden’s water supply.
This photo shows the strange concrete barrier — we’re still not sure what its purpose was!
The next two photos show some of the view from the top, the other four show sights from the top of the rock itself. Himself says the red flower is a small carnivorous plant (it’s less than 10cm –4″– across in reality). The last of this group of photos shows some of the small green “oases” that live in depressions in the rock surface where water collects.
Wave Rock is just part of a larger rock called Hyden Rock (of which Hippo’s Yawn is also part) and we had the choice to walk in one of three directions — back down the stairs, the short route (300m — 328 yards) back to the carpark via a very steep descent, or the long scenic route (800m — 875 yards) which overlooked a nearby lake. We started walking along the 300m route, with some deviations while Himself took photos, but then I lost track of the markers. We looked and looked but couldn’t see the next one so decided to retrace our steps and come back down the stairs! When I saw how steep the descent that we would have taken was, I’m glad we took the other option!

After a cool drink, we decided to take a walk along part of the scenic walkway. It was very interesting. We saw the effect of salination on farming land and began to understand how it had occurred. It is a sad sight and we’re glad farmers now understand how it is caused and what they need to do to stop further salination.

As we spent so much time exploring the sights around the area and our next planned stop was nearly 400km away we decided to stay the night in the caravan park at Wave Rock. The provision of a free electric barbecue and a sink with hot running water made cooking and cleaning up after dinner very easy!

With our body clocks still on Sydney time, we were ready for bed early — but not as early as the night before!

Day 3 (Part 1): Pingelly

We woke early; perhaps because we had been to bed so early.
After a shower, we went for a walk through the Main Street of town. It is a little town, population about 800, but had some very interesting shops. Unfortunately, being Sunday, most of them, including the supermarket, were closed for the day.
At the end of the Main Street we saw the old railway station and, while walking towards that, found an information board that told of other sights in the area. On our next trip to WA, we plan to visit the area again and stay much longer.
Near the railway station, we found the service station/motel/restaurant/take-away shop and we were finally able to buy some milk. As we were walking back to the caravan park along a different road, we came to a cross intersection where the roads didn’t meet at right angles. On one corner was a building which first caught our attention because it had a beautiful rock wall foundation topped by a common brick building which, some time ago, had been painted an ochre-red.
It was while the building was being photographed that we realised that it had been built on the same angle as the intersection so, while the two long sides ran parallel, the roadside ran at an acute angle! That’s one way to maximise floor space on an odd shaped boundary! The old hotel on the opposite corner solved the problem by putting the front door in at an angle so the odd shape wasn’t so noticeable.