White beaches

Esperance here we come! Through the Stirling Ranges national park. Lots of flat land then suddenly, huge mountains appear in front of you. Started down a gravel road that was labelled a tourist drive but as it started to get a bit bumpy and we were only in a little Barina, we went back to the main road. Lots of stops for beautiful wildflowers then up to Bluff Knoll. You see lots of changes in flowers and soil types in very small areas. Bits of this road were steep but sealed, so easy to drive on.

Next stop was Ravensthorpe where we ate a small meal at the BP station and also filled up to make sure we had enough fuel to get to Esperance.  Lots of dry type lake beds on the way down and a great variety of eucalypts. Miss W is amazed at how much dead wood there is on the side of the roads. Apparently these particular trees drop lots of limbs after it has been windy.

Into Esperance past the Pink Lake that was more white and sandy looking than pink. Not sure of finding our motel in Esperance but knew it was on the Esplanade so we headed towards the foreshore. Lovely meal of Samson fish, which is a locally caught species. Also had four prawns on top and some salad and chips. We had no sleep the first night as young girls in late teens or early twenties stayed up all night talking outside their unit, then about 4pm a young man joined them with music coming out of his car. They weren’t loud, loud, but enough continuous murmur to keep people awake. Of course, no one rang management, but many complained the next day.

Off next to Cape Arid and Cape Le Grande national parks. Cape Arid is about 120 km east of Esperance – a long drive but very few things to see once you get there, unless you are in a 4WD. We headed down to Thomas River to look at the white sandy beach then back on the road back to Esperance.  Stopped off at a tavern/Service station/shop to get some lunch and a cold drink. The owner recommended going down to Duke of Orleans Bay. What a great little place – Wharton Beach was lovely sand and warm water. Miss W even dipped her toes in here. Many of the little beaches have had seaweed on them but this one didn’t.

We stayed on a gravel road that ran parallel to the main sealed road but about 10km between them. Saw lots of little blue tongue lizards along the road and other wildflowers we hadn’t seen elsewhere. Glad we are trying to find them on our own. Gives me a chance to get out of the car and stretch my legs.

Miss W had been told by someone on Twitter to make sure she visited Lucky Beach in the Cape Le Grande national park. WOW! Very, very white sand very shallow water. Another place to dip the toes. Lots of lovely bays and short little drives in this national park and only a short drive from Esperance. No need for 4WD here. Last day of the school holidays so lots of families having picnics and barbecues near the beaches. Back home to the unit to another lovely meal of King fish which is the better known name for Samson fish. Booked our accommodation in Hyden for Wave Rock. No immediate reply so hope we get an email before we leave in two days.

Our last day in Esperance was quiet, time to do the washing, catch up on some blogging and write the post for the student blogging challenge. Chatted to my new neighbours. Poor woman had got out of their car to take a photo of a wildflower, twisted her ankle she thought, but had to call into a hospital the next day where she found she had a broken bone in her leg instead. Couldn’t put a full cast on it as it was so swollen, instead lots of bandages and keep feet off the ground.

Albany and the whales

Just checked the Pemberton train timetable 10.45 leave the station was going to be too late for us to get to Albany, instead we went to the Cascades and did a small walk there. As we were going to visit many national parks on our trip round the south coast, Miss W. decided to buy a one month pass for $40. Our first major stop was the Tree Tops walk near Walpole. This is in the area known as the Valley of the Giants. The walk is about 40 metres up in the canopy of the tingle trees. It is about 400 metres long and the bridge spans sway nicely as people walk along them. There are certain restrictions on each span and at each platform area. At the end of the walk, you can also go along the Ancient Empire walk where you see lots of tingle trees with their huge empty trunks.

A café shop owner in Pemberton had said to go via the Lower Denmark road instead of following the main Albany Highway. This was a lovely drive past the West Cape Howe national park where I couldn’t find any pitcher plants despite the brochures saying they were there. Drove through the main part of Albany to find the motel which was very nice, particularly the evening meal of sweet and sour pork with noodles and vegetables.

A full day around Albany, by first heading to the whaling station. This has improved since Miss W was last here. The huge whale oil tanks are now film show auditoriums. There are tour guides taking you around explaining everything, but then you can wander on your own if you want. Not sure if it was worth nearly $30 though. Lots of kids loved looking over the ship Cheyne IV but I preferred looking at the skeletons of the whales. It reminded me of the whale museum we saw near Cape Cod in America last year.

Back through Torndirrup national park where we saw the blowholes not blowing and the natural bridge rock formation. I was amazed at the number of humans walking out to the edge despite all the warning signs.  We then headed east to the main beach called Middleton – bit like Seven Mile – went up to the top of Mt Clarence through Apex Drive where trees have been planted for each soldier dying in Gallipoli. Another great meal, ready for an early start tomorrow which will be a long drive to Esperance.

Entering the forest

Another great day today and we spent it in the land of the Karri and Jarrah trees. But I missed out on the first half of the day. I fell asleep in the car and forgot to jump in Miss W’s backpack. She took off for a river cruise on the Donnelly River down to the mouth on the south coast of W.A. Apparently it was a small group; a couple from Germany, a couple from U.K., a couple from Perth with their aboriginal foster daughters and then Miss W. Lots of chances to hear stories about men and their beer, women and their bathing beach and large basalt rocks from the very informative tour guide, Shaun. Morning tea out at the beach area where Miss W nearly got caught by two waves coming from different directions while she was taking photos. On the way back in the bus, Shaun stopped so the photographers could take some snaps of orchids and other typical W.A. plants.

Once Miss W was back in Pemberton, we headed to Windy Harbour. This was very similar to Trial Harbour or even Catamaran in Tasmania. A coastal beach and behind the dunes were all these shacks with a single lane road winding between them. Out to Point DÉntrecasteaux which is a very tall cliff and then taking snaps of Salmon Beach – where at the right time of year, you can see the salmon running.

All the way back to Pemberton, we pulled over by the side of the road to take more photos of plants – met a couple who were in the same spot as when we went out to Windy Harbour. They had found some great little orchids so we tried to find some as well. Heading off to Walpole tomorrow to see the tree tops walk. Will do the Pemberton train first though, as we were too late for that today after the river cruise.

Climbing trees

Pemberton is our destination today but of course we don’t drive straight there. Oh no, first we head back up the coast to Australind where there is a fantastic little museum and wood gallery. The owner was very talkative and woodturning has been in his family for many years even centuries. A great display of Western Australian wood turned into clocks, coasters, picture frames etc. The museum showcased history including Gallipoli, Bunbury Jetty, local Aboriginal tribes, American Civil War, Indian tribes, Ned Kelly and the Ablett family of wood turners – not sure if they are related to the football player.

I was being pretty observant as we were driving along and said, “Hang a right here” onto a road leading to Wellington Dam. I wonder why so many things are named Wellington like the mountain behind Hobart and the city in New Zealand. The dam was created during the Depression years but still works well. Off the quarry, where the stone was gathered for the dam, you can go abseiling. We didn’t try this.

Next to Collie where coal was found back in the 1800’s. A lot of coal is needed for electricity but the fellow who found the coal didn’t get the reward offered by the government. Instead the owner of the land claimed it.  In the visitor’s centre, they had a beautiful display of native flowers, but Miss W is determined we will find them growing in the wild so we didn’t take any photos.

On through Boyup Brook, Bridgetown and Manjimup and finally heading down the road to Pemberton. But one more stop was the Diamond Tree. I did try to climb up to the fire watch tower on top but it was too tall and the hand holds were too far apart. Miss W did take a photo of me though. Finally in Pemberton and what is it doing – raining!

The two Capes

Next day after finding accommodation in Bunbury we headed off to Busselton where we caught a train out on the jetty which is nearly two kilometres long. At the end of the jetty is an underwater observatory where you can go down three levels. It was fascinating to see such a variety of fish and the colours of those animals clinging to the old jetty pylons.

We then headed to Cape Naturaliste where we walked out onto the headland near the lighthouse. Looking out to sea we could see whales playing but they were too far away to take photos. Miss W is thinking we might go on a whale watch boat in Albany later this week.

Down past Yallingup to see all the wineries near Margaret River. No, Miss W is driving so we didn’t do any tasting! We went out to the coast at Prevelly  to see the mouth of the river. It was great to watch the surfers on the swell at the rocks but they were all using paraglides instead of normal surfing. The actual mouth of the river was about the size of the creek at Seven Mile Beach – very small indeed.

On to Augusta, where we headed out to Cape Leeuwin which is where two oceans meet – the Southern and the Indian. Took a photo there – wonder if anyone could give me the latitude and longitude of the lighthouse there? We were warned about staying on the paths in the area as they had recently seen tiger snakes hanging around. I stayed in Miss W’s pack – I don’t want to be eaten by a snake.

Heading back to Bunbury we went via Nannup which was advertised as a very floral type town, but when we got there, we couldn’t see much of a display in the streets at all. Just a normal every day town. We took a photo of a road named after Miss W and Sue Waters – yes it was called Sues Road!!

Have you ever been paragliding or surfing on big swells? Leave a comment about your experience.

Long time no chat

Well, it’s a long time since you have heard from me. I have been relaxing in Hobart with Miss W, going on an occasional outing and visiting some of my relatives. But since the beginning of October, we have been travelling again. We are in that beautiful state of Western Australia.

We spent the first five days staying at the Edublogs mansion (house of Sue Waters.) Miss W attended the #ACEC2012 conference all to do with computers in education. Also staying at the mansion were @murcha, @marragem, @ developit and, of course, @suewaters. Each day we would pile into the cars and head to Wesley College in South Perth ready to take part in workshops and sessions relating to computers. Those people just wanting to chat to each other or write their blog posts headed to the Space Bar – no alcoholic drinks but lots of coffee, iced water and iced orange juice. Check out who was also at the conference.

Now Miss W and I are on our own again after a fantastic time with like-minded people at the mansion. We headed south of Perth down to Bunbury the first day. Lots of lovely wildflowers out and we are trying to take lots of pictures to put a floral slideshow together. Naturally we don’t always follow the main highways but branch off onto smaller roads.

It was at Harvey where we had a great stopover. We missed the Big Orange somehow but found the Visitor’s Centre. Guess who used to live in this area? She probably got lots of ideas for her books about little gumnut babies while she lived in Harvey.

That’s right!! May Gibbs and her stories of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. The cottage she used to live in has gone, but a replica has been built and is the new Stirling Cottage where you can have afternoon teas. In the visitor’s centre is a display about May’s stories and in the area near the cottage is a secret garden to find.

Please leave a comment about which of May Gibbs’characters you most enjoy in her books. If you haven’t read one of her books, find one in the library. They are so well illustrated.