West coast trip 2015

Whenever Miss W and I go on a trip, as long as we visit a new town or do a new interesting activity, then the trip is worthwhile. This weekend was all about going on the ABT railway at Strahan and then staying at Cradle Mountain Lodge where Miss W hasn’t been for many years.

Best way to show what we saw is to look at the photos. Miss W also met one of her Smith cousins in Tullah where she got the photo of whales teeth and a captains work box belonging to their relative Captain William Smith.




These were some of the plants and animals seen that weekend on the west coast and at Cradle Mountain area.

Fraser coast and whale watching

After leaving Canberra, we headed north to Fraser Island and Hervey Bay.

A 4WD bus tour on Fraser Island which is the largest sand island in the world. Certainly changed since the last time I had visited. Fantastic when travelling along the beach on the eastern side of the island, but oh the bumps and bruises when on the sandy roads inland.


But the most important part of this trip with the Wilson’s coach tours from Oatlands Tasmania was going to Hervey Bay and whalewatching.

Would we see some whales?

Would we see them blowing?

  • Breaching?
  • Tail slapping?
  • Spy hopping?

Here are some of the photos Miss W took with her iPad. Aren’t they fantastic! Can you work out what the whale is doing? Check the link above to give you some clues. Did you work out what type of whale we saw?


Canberra, our capital city

I noticed Miss W had an activity in the student blogging challenge about places to visit in your country’s capital city, so this is going to be my post as part of the challenge.

Canberra is the capital city of Australia. Miss W and I have just been there for four nights and we visited some great places.

Canberra Floriade Festival showing off tulips and other special things to make the garden you always wanted. Check out the link to Miss W. flickr album at the bottom of this post to see lots of images.

We then went to Cockington Green – this is a miniature town from England but they also have an international section. Miss W is going to create a slideshow of many of these buildings but you will have to work out what the name of the building is from the country clue we give you.

Tulip Tops was our next stop – personally I liked this more than Floriade – two people have created these beautiful gardens which are only open for one month each year – lots of tulips and trees in blossom but I loved the entertainment – think the vocalist was Annie and the Armadilloes – very toe tapping music.

That mace is too heavyOld Parliament House is now known as the Museum of Australian Democracy. In the House of Representatives chamber, I checked out the speaker’s chair and tried to lift the mace without success.

New Parliament House is high on a hill looking down to the old house and across the lake to the War Memorial. Apparently Miss W owns $70 worth of this building because it was built for the people out of the people’s money. Now which part does she own? – The marble foyer area, inside one of the chambers or the outside of the building.

National Museum including the Uluru line like a huge ribbon outside the building, QR codes on the outside of the building and of course typical Australian things like Holden cars, rusty windmills, Phar Lap’s heart are just a few of the items we saw.

We travelled around the Embassy Row where the most impressive was from China, taking up a few blocks. Miss W also like the one from Papua New Guinea built like a longhouse.

The War Memorial is a do not miss sight. We timed it for the last post ceremony and 4 of the Tasmanians laid wreaths at the foot of the Remembrance Pool. Make sure you see the sight and sound show in the ANZAC Hall area. If you have a relative who died in one of the wars, or was injured then died within 6 months of arrival home, then you should be able to find their names on the wall.

Royal Australian Mint – see where and how are coins are made – trace the history of money in Australia from the use of rum and the holey dollars through to the holograms on our notes. You can even make your own $1 coin – but it will cost $3 – rate of inflation there!

For a calm, stress free tour, go for a boat cruise on Lake Burley Griffin – listen to the carillon, watch the birds, see the tourist places from a different vantage point.

Finally head to Mount Ainslie to see an overall view of Canberra and its expanding suburbs.

Hope this helps if ever you visit our capital city, Canberra. Make sure you check all the links in the post and check out our Flickr album here.

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!