Monthly Archives: October 2016
We have been at Albany now for 2 days having come down from Walpole through Denmark. We are at a Big 4 camp ground behind the sand dunes at Middleton Beach.
Along the way we stopped for some morning tea at The Lake House. This was a mistake. The Lake House nestles in a valley up behind Denmark beside a lake (it’s really a big farm dam) surrounded by a vineyard, some rolling grass gardens and wildflowers/shrubs. All very nice. As was the rocky road cheese cake Allthego had to have, along with a coffee. Homealone settled for a carrot cake. Both were drizzled with sauces made on the property. There were also some wines to taste. It was difficult to leave as it was coming up to lunch time, but we had to make tracks for Albany.
In Albany we have had some quiet days around the town. Visited the National Anzac Centre and the associated historical precinct. Albany was the departure point for the first convoys that took troops to Gallipoli. All up 30,000 left in the first convoy. The Centre tells the story of the departure, something which we haven’t really heard much about in the past. Quite a logistical feat in getting all the ships organised and away. Some great views at the Centre over Albany and the harbour.
There are some native plant gardens in the grounds of the Anzac Centre and lo and behold there was some great patches of red and yellow Kangaroo Paws. We have not seen these in bloom yet in the bush land so it was a surprise to see them here.
Also off into Torridirrup National Park to see the Gap and Natural Bridge sea cliff features. A cantilever viewing platform out into space above the Gap is quite impressive. Homealone stayed away from this one as well. Waves crashing in the chasm below were very powerful, sending up spouts of water and endless spray. The Natural Bridge feature was equally impressive. There was an info board telling the story of a tourist back in the 1970s wanting to get a photo from down on a ledge getting sucked out when a big wave came in. He was rescued many hours later from the seas by the crew of a whale chaser boat (this was before the end of whaling in Albany).
The weather has not been wonderful here in Albany. Windy and chilly with a bit of rain. It has hampered the tripping around somewhat and there has been more to do than we allowed time for. Must come back again sometime! We now head off for Esperance with a stopover for the night at Ravensthorpe, about two-thirds of the way.
We are now settled in at Albany on Middleton Beach. The weather is not great, chilly, very windy and rainy bits here and there during the day. Have the occasional splash of sunshine. On the way here we stopped for 2 nights at Walpole, about a 100 km from Albany. It is the heart of Big Tree country, The Valley of the Giants is nearby. These Tingle forests are something to see. Great big trees that can grow to 75-80 m tall and 20-25 m round at the base. Upwards of 350 to 400 years old.
Many of them get hollowed out at the bottom by fungi and the like, fire then burns this dead wood. It leaves big hollows, a while back one particular tree had cars driving through it. But they keep growing somehow supporting themselves until the time comes to come down. Must be a spectacular sight to see and hear one coming down.
There is one particular tree near Wapole still standing that was drawn/painted by a British artist in 1880. Her work along with another 800 is in the Kew Gardens in London. We didn’t see the tree but maybe the drawing is something to see if we ever get to London again!
Allthego went for a tree top walk, highest point was 40 m above the forest floor. The spans swayed a fair bit, Allthego was trying to take photos so this swaying was a bit frustrating. It wasn’t helped by a group of 40 or so senior citzs on a trip hurriedly passing by, seemingly more interested in getting back to the bus than looking down and around. Homealone passed up this whole experience and did her cross words/ puzzles instead.
A bit later we both went for a short walk down on the forest floor, looking up instead of looking down. The Tingle trees are amazing which ever way you look at them! There is also the forest wild flowers, including orchids of various types to attract attention. We saw no orchids! Despite looking! Many of them are small and blend in with the other plants on the forest floor.
The journey continues to Albany via the Lake House on the next blog.
Margaret River or vines, olive oil, chocolate, cheese, lamb,surf and other wonderful things
Here we are at Margaret River staying at Taunton Farm near Cowaramup about 1o minutes from the Margaret River township. It’s a great little camp ground overlooking farm grounds. The animals are fed each day at 5 pm and attract all the kids to feed the sheep, goat, big cow, little cows and two rather large pigs, one named George.
Our time here has been too short! 4 days really does not allow you too get around the region, so it’s a case of see what you can see and leave the rest to next time! We have traversed the length of the coast from Cape Leeuwin in the southwest (at Augusta) to Cape Naturaliste in the north (near Dunsborough). Both places are sign posted by lighthouses built around 1900. The one at Cape Leeuwin at 40 m is the third tallest in Australia and makes a great mark on the coastline.
We have also had some attraction to the vineyards, visiting 2 or 3 to taste their wares. Vineyards are at every turn, many with accompanying eateries. It’s big business, the eateries seeming to be sometimes more important than the wine business. The region also has its little add ons. Plenty of dairy cattle to fuel the Margaret River Cheese Company….camemberts, bries, cheddars, yogurts etc.
And the Chocolate Factory with a vast array of chocolates. Not to mention the Berry Farm where we had a great meat pie and salad one day. Could not resist some of their berry produce either, including a plum port to wash down the MR brie.
Also managed to fit a trip or two out to the beaches. Particularly, Prevelly Beach and where the Margaret River enters the sea. The surf was quite wild but did not deter a number of board riders testing skills off the Margaret River estuary.
The region is also blessed with a number of caves up and down the coast. We descended into Lake Cave, down about 60 metres and then about 80 metres into the Cave. It was quite spectacular down there, 330 steps down and steep in places. Allthego had negotiated the tour at senior rates. Prior to going down the guide questioned whether we could/should do it, go and have a look from the viewing platform and see if you still want to go she said. We did this. It only made Allthego more determined to do it, so we did it. Bit tiring on the way back up, but we made it. The ‘table’ suspended a foot or so over the lake by two stalagmites was quite a stunning sight.
So we have come to the end of our time here at Margaret River and now head down to Albany. After a bit over 2 months we have turned the ‘final corner’ and are now on the way back to Brisbane.
Along the Granite and Woodlands Trail to Hyden and then Margaret River
Leaving Norseman we set off down the G & W T down to Hyden. The Trail passes through the Great Western Woodlands. This is a unique landscape and vegetation region. The gravel road goes 300 km through various vegetation types. From tall Salmon and Gimlet gums in mature growth phases to areas where the forest is being renewed and is literally packed with junior versions of these trees. The Salmon gums in particular have an amazing pink hue to their trunk which glows in the sunlight. The Gimlet gums have a bronze trunk and similarly glow in the sunlight, particularly in the late afternoon. Underneath are relatively open areas with low shrubs. It is almost a park like appearance in places.
The rocks around these parts are old granite outcrops rising up a couple of hundred metres from the surrounding plains. Just demanding to be climbed up! Along the trail we stopped off at Disappointment Rock for a couple of hours to walk to the top. Well we got to the top but got lost on the way down! Took a wrong turn and wandered around for quite a while trying to find the way down, at least the right route to take us on the full walk around the rock. Any way we actually went backwards and ultimately got back to the van, a bit late though and a bit disappointed.
This slight holdup cost us a bit of time and we had to stay overnight at the next rock, McDermid Rock. The weather was getting pretty ragged, very windy and rain on the way. We found a good spot in the lee of the rock reasonably sheltered. Went for a stroll up the rock. Main objective was to see a wave-like formation. A junior ‘wave rock’ compared to the iconic one at Hyden. Didn’t find it and because of the approaching rain storm we headed back to camp. Couldn’t have our usual campfire as the rain and wind came down.
All gone in the morning and we had blue skies to take us onto the Breakaways. Prior to leaving we did see the ‘wave’. It wasn’t far from the camp site. We had originally planned to camp at the Breakaways. A beautiful spot, with the multi coloured cliffs, salmon gums and wildflowers blanketing the ground. We stopped here for a while before heading off along the trail into Hyden.
Hyden is a small country town surrounded by grain fields. Hyden Rock towers over it a couple of kilometres away. The ‘wave rock’ we hear about is really just one of the flanks of Hyden Rock. We camped for two nights at the Wave Rock Caravan Park a mere 100 metres or so from its base. The Rock has been significantly ‘used’ by us European settlers. We have built a dam in a valley between two humps of the rock and have built a mini wall (from slabs of rock quarried from the Rock) around the lip of the rock to funnel water into the dam. The dam was used to supply Hyden with its water up until 1963, it now supplies the water for stock watering. There are also steel ladders and steps on the rock to help us climb it. At the bottom of the steel steps there is a sign that tells us not to take ‘sample’ rock away as it harms the environment and offends the local indigenous people. Quite perverse! Anyway we had a climb up it and took some photos at sunset. Some great views and the ‘wave’ is a quite amazing land form. All the tourists love having their picture taken under the ‘wave’.
Leaving Hyden we now head for Margaret River. Along the way we passed through the small town of Kulin, famous for its Bush Picnic Race meeting. It was on the weekend we passed through and lots of people were coming into town. They come along what is known as the Tin Horse Highway. The road is lined with tin horses in all sorts of poses. There are about 70 of them and new ones get added each year as part of the race meeting promotions. Quite an attraction and something to see.
Next was Wagin were we stayed overnight. This is a wool town and they have Baart, the biggest ram known. It is big.
Not much time to look around and the weather was not great, a bit of wind and rain. So we hurried off down the road to Margaret River. Which is where we are now!
It’s time for a golf report. Allthego has played 5 holes on the Nullarbor Golf Links course which stretches from Kalgoorlie to Ceduna. It’s thought to be and claims to be the longest course in the world. Well it starts off with 2 par 5s and 3 par 4s, just to get you in the swing. The first 2 holes are at the Kalgoorlie Golf, a par 4 (356 m) and then a par 5 (502 m). The 3rd hold is at Kambalda, half way down to Norseman. It’s a par 4 (392 m). The next two holes are at Norseman a par 5 (463 m) and a par 4 (385 m). Norseman is a nice country golf club, nice fairways fringed with red sand and gravel. Kambalda is a bit rugged, sand tees and oiled sand greens, the rough is tough but easy if you miss the small thick shrubs. Norseman has wide open fairways under trees with artificial grass tees and greens. That’s the setting.
Well, Allthego is 20 over par after 5 holes. A disastrous 12 at the par 4 in Kambalda responsible for a lot of the damage. Lodged in a shrub in the rough and then 4 putted on the oily green.
It’s been a pleasant walk around so far. Homealone has ably assisted as caddie. The long par 4s and 5s are a bit of a struggle with a 3 iron. Allthego only brought 3 clubs on the trip; a 3, a 6,and a putter.
Not a lot more to be said.
At this stage Allthego is performing as a mere shadow of his former self (which wasn’t that much anyway!) and looks forward with trepidation to the remaining holes across the Nullarbor in 2 weeks time.
We moved on from Kalgoorlie and headed to Norseman a bit further south. Norseman is the starting point for the trip back across the Nullarbor to the eastern states. But we are not going that way yet, although Homealone is a little bit tempted! We need to go back west to the southwest coast and Margaret River. In between we have had a couple of nights here in Norseman. Allthego played 2 holes of golf here at the Norseman Golf Club. On the way down from Kalgoorlie we stopped in briefly at Kambalda to play the 3rd hole. So far have played 5 holes and will report separately on the state of play.
Norseman got its name from a horse called Norseman. Norseman the horse is acknowledged as the finder of gold here in 1892. He was pawing at the ground and a quartz rock with gold lodged in his hoof. That was that and the rush to Norseman started. He has a bronze statue in his memory, another attraction are the tin camels that adorn the town’s main roundabout. Something for everybody in Norseman.
The big waste dump from the old gold mine looms large over the town, almost threatening in its size. Looks a bit like ‘the Wall’ in the Game of Thrones!
It was a quiet day in Norseman as it was a public holiday and most places were closed (not that there is a lot to close). The pub though was open for dinner and we had a pleasant meal there in front of their fire. The weather continues to be cold at nights and we have broken out the hot water bottles to keep the toes warm.
The map next leads us down the Granite & Woodlands Discovery Trail for 300 km to Hyden and Wave Rock. The road traverses the Great Western Woodlands and initially crosses Lake Cowan a large salt lake, mostly dry. It lies just outside of town and we have already had a look at it at sunset. Salt lakes are common in this part of WA, every town seems to have one handy to send tourists out to.
We will be out of range for a few days and will next blog in when we reach Margaret River.