Archive | April, 2013
28 April 2013

Its now tomorrow

We must have been busy because tomorrow has become Sunday and we’re winding up our time in Bunbury. Moving on tomorrow.

I said I would post some bits on what we have done since Albany and whilst I’ve touched on Margaret River there have been a few other wonderful experiences before and since not the least of which has been the company over two nights here in Bunbury of Maree and Colin. The caravan park put on a fundraising sausage sizzle on Friday night along with a singer of songs. We met up with Colin & Maree over a snag and it turned out that Colin could sing so he joined a few numbers with the singer of the night. The park management decided he was an entertainer in his own right so they engaged him for Saturday night and we all sat around to a 3.5 hour repertoire. They’ve even booked him for New Years Eve. Two great nights entertainment with a lovely couple who happen to be around our age and are from Perth. We’ll keep in touch.IMGP2097

 

 

 

 

 

 

Princess Royal Fort at Albany was an afternoons adventure. A really great record of Australias participation in the various wars presented in a facility that dates back to the late 1800’s and in a setting that lets you get up close and personal with the various artifacts even to the extent of getting into and sitting in different guns.

 

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The fort itself was established to overlook and protect the Princess Royal Harbour which was and still is a major shipping port. Its also the loaction from which 36 ships embarked 30,000 or so Australian soldiers heading to war in 1914. It seems that the largest single contingent of Australias troops left from here. Several ships can be seen at anchor in the harbour prior to loading at any time…

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although none to be seen in this shot but what an outlook. There is one though thats goin’ nowhere…….PICT0701

IMGP1930…you be the judge of which. 

 

 

 

Whale World was an education. A genuine whaling station albeit just a 1952 iteration it operated until 1978. In its time it was responsible for harvesting 11500 sperm and humpback whales the latter becoming protected in about 1963 and the sperms by 1978. An interesting fact is most large whales of 50 – 70 tonnes mass will yield just 5 – 7 tonnes of oil. It must be very expensive oil to justify the infrastructure cost – at one time there were four whale chaser ships attached to this station operating 7  days a week and about 9 months of the year. By the way the ship above that has been scuttled is one of the chasers (Cheyne II as I recall).

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Then also around Albany were the natural features…….PICT0729 PICT0710 PICT0725

 

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These are respectively The Bridge, The Gap and The Blowholes and of course the access (all 800 meters of it)

 

 Albany is quite a city with all of the suburban sprawl common to other major cities. Population is somewhat north of 30,ooo but it appears much larger whilst still retaining a lot of its sea-port, beachside and historical origins  IMGP1919 IMGP1926

 

 

 

 

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Church classified as the oldest in WA circa 1848, town hall circa 1860’s, governors residence around 1880 and a local version of a rock garden. Large granite rocks jut out everywhere and in many cases have been beautifully integrated into the built environment. 

Albany seems weeks ago. We’ve now been away 3 months and it seems like weeks. This country gets better all the way but we have fallen in love with WA. Only problem is we can’t afford it –IMGP2088 IMGP2090 IMGP2091

 

 

 

 

 

Full stop.

25 April 2013

Another week passes

 IMGP2024 IMGP2036 IMGP2030 IMGP2029 IMGP2027Another week with no phone no internet and no TV,  just wine, wine, wine. Margaret River WA. Some of the most beautiful country yet. Would happily live here and indeed have found the place to buy. Only problem is a slight financial deficiency but I’m hoping to get vendors terms. Haven’t asked yet but you be the judge – should we?…………….

 

 

This is probably the pick of the local estates but there are a few others that I’d have to consider if the owners don’t like my offer.

I’m not sure where we had been when we ran out of interwebby thingy but I think it was before doing the tree top walk at Walpole around ten days ago.  A rare Tingle eucalypt forest this was something very special. The walk perhaps shorter than the Otway Fly it rises to twice the height. These trees reach 90 metres and up to 24 meters in girth at the base. A terrifically interesting guide took us on a forest walk after the tree top walk and we learnt some new things of which I hope the photos will provide a reminder……IMGP1939 IMGP1942 IMGP1945 IMGP1947 IMGP1950

Nope!

 

 

 

Followed  a sign to a free camp down one of the worst dirt roads we’ve yet traversed only to find they meant campers only. Any way we were too far in to turn around and make the highway again before dark so I repaired the exhaust that had rattled free and we settled into a roadside lay-by for the night. Talk about dark – and quiet and not even a camper in sight. Anyway out again in the morning and on to Margaret River with no further damage but where we continued  to have no reception.

We do have a satellite phone now so all emergencies can be accommodated. Only when we learn how yo use it though but it doesn’t get the interwebby thingy.

Margaret River is on the south west coast and fronts the Indian Ocean. Whilst not Australias furthest west point it is certainly out there and I thought maybe the sunsets would be special . Well I missed them all. The nearest I got was this………                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are some interesting geological features in this part of the world, amongst them some caves. As the cost to visit is high, as are costs of everything in WA, we had to choose carefully. We chose a guded tour of the Lake Cave and I think in hindsight it was propbably the wisest although perhaps the most difficult – 360 steps down and worse, 360 up. But stunning and a great guide – IMGP1965 IMGP1969 IMGP1975 IMGP1978 IMGP1983     

 

 

 

 

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We’re in Bunbury now but more on the lead up to here tomorrow.

18 April 2013

Another week, another winner

I could start with breakfast but I think thats for Twitter so if you want to know desperately what it was go there.

We’ve actually been stationery for a whole 8 days in ‘Owlbany’. Lots to see and do although we’ve tended to do just one main thing each day. Day one was lousy weather, not particularly good for sight seeing but we used it to orient ourselves as we were staying a fair way out of town at Emu Beach. Albany is a surprisingly large village, with all of the big name retailers and traders so we did use some time for stocking up on a few items either lost or misplaced along the way or forgotten initially and some considerable time on the phone to Centrelink trying to sort out why they tell us one thing and do something entirely different. Ahh the mysteries of bureaucracy.

We shared happy hour over a couple of nights with Ian and Maureen, two individuals travelling together each in  their own mobile homes and I can safely say that there is hope for us all yet. Ian admits to being 81, his mobile home is home and has been for some years and Maureen bemoans the fact that she left purchasing her first mobile home until she was 77 and is now on her second. Great fun, very entertaining. He peeled off to head back to Sydney for his annual licence renewal test.

Albany I think lays claim to being WA’s first settlement, dating back to 1826 with the arrival of the Amity a two masted brig carrying 61 souls, including 20 odd prisoners. I mention this because there is a replica of this ship in the historic precinct and it really is an education. It sits in the same precinct as the new Albany Entertainment centre which is an impressively modern piece of architecture as a countrerpoint to the historic bits. Further on in the same area are the docks dealing with some very heavy duty shipping.

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The interwebby thingy is overly slow tonight and I’m having difficulty uploading photos so its a verbal only now.

Some photos to follow will include Whale World, Princess Royal Fort, the Gap and Bridge and blowhole etc

We’re now in Walpole and will take a tree top walk tomorrow.

11 April 2013

I think we are in Owlbany

Stopped overnight Sunday between Hopetoun and Ravensthorpe after leaving Esperance and took in theFitzgerald River National Park on Monday. Point Ann was the highlight, again with beautiful white beach and lunch with the local fauna……….PICT0557 PICT0574 PICT0577

 

 

 

although the Ravensthorpe nickel mine blotted the landscape along the way somewhat. Apparently our very own big miner couldn’t make a go of it but sold it to the frogs for 1.7 billion and they’re making a go of it.

Some very interesting flora also in the park  – love to know what they are……PICT0571 PICT0583 PICT0578

 

 

 

 

 

 

The park takes in some grandiose scenery……….PICT0574 PICT0590 PICT0592

 

 

 

 

Arrived in Bremer Bay about 6.00pm on Monday without a booking in the local caravan park ( no phone reception all day). Rocked up to a closed office and couldn’t get anyone to answer the bell. Upon closer inspection found the portico to the park would not allow us to pass under anyway so we moved on to a park further through town. Same story – office shut but at least a phone number to call on the door. Did and we were directed to a site to sort out payment next day. Quite nice older park with over 200 sites.

Bremer Bay is a small fishing port and a holiday destination judging by the permanent caravan/shacks  in the park. Very attractive beach but it’s a single windmill town…

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and the museum wasn’t even open.

 

6 April 2013

For Gary & Linda (Phoenix)

Hi Gary & Linda,

Thought  I’d add to Barry’s last post.  We took these photos specially for you.  Check out the colour and clarity of the water……to Die for.  Also the sand is incredibly white.  Have spooned some into a zip lock bag to take home to show the children,  it looks like baker’s flour.

Driving on the beach is terrific as well. 

The Bay of Isles is the body of water on which Esperence is located.  There seems to be hundreds of small islands.

Going on the coast drive was  terrific.   Looking out on the ocean one feels nothing surpasses this  scene………..until around the next corner and it’s even more spectacular.

There are many more snaps which Barry still has to put on the ‘photo’ page on the side bar.  Might be a little while.

Cheers

 

6 April 2013

Esperance

We arrived in Esperance WA Tuesday, spent Wednesday cleaning and restocking the house after being cleaned out at the border and spending 4 or 5 nights free camping across the Nullarbor. Whilst the road across was good we did seem to attract a lot of dust and dirt from our various sorties off highway. Also had a bit of a rest day. The view through the Norfolk Pines from our front porch was worth the sit.

Thursday we started exploring – this place is  a gem. The Great Ocean Road in Vic is ‘good’ – this coastline is ‘spectacular’. It seems to be a ‘best kept secret’. Town itself is attractive, the port is bustling and there are ships waiting at anchor to load with grain, there is clearly money about and the place is busy. We took the ‘Ocean Road’ out of town to Twilight Cove, stopping at each bay along the way- they just got better. Sweeping white sands, safe beaches, beautiful vistas.

Then it got better still.  We took in Cape Le Grand on Friday. We even went swimming (well one of us went swimming the other just saved his own life in the water). You could see your own feet in 1.5 metres of water, it is so clear. Driving along the beach to your own private spot is just the bees knees. Cape Le Grand is a National Park managed by the Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) and it’s an example the rest of the country could follow – road acces is terrific, signage is good, access to the beaches is exemplary and it is just a lovely place to be and see. About 56 km out of Esperance it’s an easy drive through some of the most picturesque farm lands we’ve yet seen and all of it is GREEN.

Esperance from Rotary Lookout

 

 

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Jude was heard to say that if it wasn’t for the water this would be a great place to live – fair praise indeed.                                                           

 

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I’ll put up more photos in the side panel in due course.

Today is unfortunately cold and damp. It’s the first day since we left home thats not been conducive to getting out, so I sit here writing up the blog. Ohhh the poor bastard I hear you say – well we have had great weather and every day has brought some new experience so I’ll just have to find something we can do indoors.

3 April 2013

WA’eve made it

Aaaah Esperence! Got in last night just 6 days after leaving Ceduna.

Without referring to notes I think the last entry startled some avid readers because the pitcha didn’t align with the prose. The robbery I’m talkin’ about was the price showing on the pump, 1.99.9. Mind you it didn’t get a lot better – 198.9 at Border Village 192.9 at Eucla, 186.9 at Balladonia (where I must add a token B & E sanger was 6.50) but surprisingly “only” 1.56.9 in Norseman, actually cheaper than petrol.

The Nullarbor or more particularly the Eyre Highway was a breeze. Good sealed road all the way, temperature around 24 most of the way and a gentle zephyr occasionally – only did around 250 – 350km per day. Whilst I had anticipated taking many more days to cross with much venturing off road there really wasn’t that much out of the way to see. Had anticipated the longest “off” would be a trip to Cook, 100km or so north of the Highway to see the budgerigars I remember seeing as a kid from the train in 1958, but some close research revealed the town to be mostly deserted and no birds hanging around anymore.

Never-the-less we did “off” several times, parking up the truck and offloading Suzi ( one time being the visit to the Murrawaijinie Caves already reported). We were able to take the whole rig  into the viewing site for the Bunda Cliffs……..PICT0053 PICT0064

Our welcome to WA was a pantry raid – whilst we had devoured all of our fruit and veg or Jude had pre-cooked some we lost the honey at border controlPICT0078

 

 

 

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Having filled the tank at Border Village at 1.98.9 I was more than a bit pee’d off to discover that 12 km down the road Eucla offered it at the bargain basement rate of just 1.92.9 and then had the temerity to offer up a prayer to the traveller….PICT0083 PICT0084

 

 

 

 

 

 

We offloaded at Cocklebiddy to trek off to the Eyre Bird Observatory. Judes first experience of offroading (and Suzi’s). Quite exciting really……..

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but the 32km  trek was worth it for the destination – a restored Telegraph Station with historical exhibits, now used as a bird observatory and weather station. It’s also manned by volunteers, in this instance Peter and Meg, who guided us through the place and sat for a cuppa with us later. Mad greenies but luverly couple.

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Backwards we ventured and reloaded to head for next stop at free camp with toilets near Caiguna – a long drop it was. But there were Barry and Suzy, drinks in hand to welcome the weary bushwackers. Another lost night (well at least for one of us) and on to Fraser Range Station for the next nights stop. We’d been told of the hospitality at Fraser Range and it was a delight after some of the other paid parks we’ve experienced. An old farm (400000 hectares) with a bit on the side. Campfire but no sing song (although that was probably a good thing when looking at the ages of the participants) but a good chin wag in very homely accommodation. All the amenities although still 30 bucks for the privilege of using. PICT0127 PICT0119 IMGP1808 IMGP1804 PICT0135 PICT0133 PICT0128

 

 

 

 

 

(the 27 Chrysler and the 47 International are just there to provide some dated ambience and for Johns benefit))

On to Norseman to mark the end of the Eyre…PICT0142 PICT0143 PICT0144 PICT0161

 

 

 

 

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where there seems to be a bit of a localised problem. There are though some beautiful views  and some great history, slag heaps and closed and shuttered shop fronts not withstanding. The information centre was a revelation and we obtained our ‘Nullarbor Crossing Certificate’ there.

Esperance for a few days whilst  exploring the area.