Travels in The South West of Western Australia

Sunday, Apr 26, 2009 at 09:08

Member-Heather MG NSW

17th April
Cape Le Grand National Park - Lucky Bay campground.

The ocean rhythms lulled us to sleep last night after a long day mostly spent sitting in the car looking at the country between Kalgoorlie and here. We had seen the stretch between Kalgoorlie and Norseman only a week ago and the remainder was not so interesting, we decided.

On arrival in Esperance, we visited the Information Centre to enquire about vacancies in the two National Park camping areas and were told thatCape Le Grand Beach camp ground was full but there were a few vacancies at Lucky Bay, so we had no choice.

We drove the 70 kms or so East to Lucky Bay from Esperance and have set up in the area allocated to caravans which is pretty crowded and close! There was little choice of site as only one really fitted our van, and we are disappointed there isnt more privacy (screening of plants) between sites! It is more like a dusty caravan park but situated above the beach with glimpses over the whitest sand and bluest water - beautiful!. We have paid $13 per night for two nights and hope to climb Frenchman Peak (with no misshaps from me) this morning, and fit in another walk this afternoon somewhere closer to the caravan.

Neither of us feels comfortable here because of the proximity to other vehicles, many camper trailers, whose occupants retire to bed about 8 pm! We feel we cant run the water pump or make any other noise too late! Many others had generators running which surprised us as they are not permitted in NSW National Parks. (A good rule we think as even the quietest arent really quiet in the bush.)

I made the decision to stay two nights as we may as well see something of the place, enjoy the walks etc. Also there are flushing toilets and hot showers so....we will conserve our own water.


Well, I tried to climb to the top of Frenchman Peak however it was obviously too soon after my previous fall near Norseman. Got as far as a 'gently sloping slab of granite' and felt very insecure (more like .....bloody terrified!!!!) so sent John on with the phone and camera and instructions not to fall!!!
He took photos for me of the views and managed to phone his sister (mother of the boy who died in a car accident on Thursday) from the summit. I returned to the car and felt like an abject failure - this being the first walk I havent completed in some years.
We returned to the campground, and had a walk around the headlands enjoying the stunning scenery, with me taking photographs. Can't believe the aqua blue colour of the water and the white of the sand here - just so beautiful.
After lunch, we walked the beach marvelling at the fine smooth texture of the sand - almost like a slurry of creamy clay I used when doing ceramics with my high school students a few years ago.
This is certainly a spectacular part of the coast and we are glad we decided to visit.

22nd April
Millers Point reserve

At last we have found a great little place to stay a few days. We arrived here on Sunday having stayed Saturday night in Overshot Hill Nature Reserve a few kms along the Ravensthorpe - Lake King road. (No 150 WA in Camps 5). We found a private site well off the road which was shaded by trees and away from the other two occupants . It had a table and seats, also bins for rubbish, not much else but was great for overnight.
Our present camping place is about 14 kms along the road to Bremer Bay, 7 kms off the road along dirt which is a bit corrugated in places and the last km or so is rather steep downhill.

The point has public camping with pit toilets - one of which is almost new and the other two almost unusable they stink so badly! There is a charge of $5 night per vehicle, trees for shade and makeshift fireplaces, and a few fishing shacks, presently unoccupied, and beach around the estuary to launch and leave the boat. The ranger visits weekly so if we are still here when he next calls will pay for how ever many nights we have stayed - if he asks!

The water is shallow so we havent put the motor on and we have been using the paddles to row out to fish.

We set up with a great water view out towards the ocean however the wind came up so strongly during the afternoon from that direction so we soon moved to a more sheltered location on the other (western side) of the point.

On Monday morning John unloaded the boat and we went out to try for bream after breakfast- John caught three legal sized ones but I could not get any into the boat. I did hook some small ones plus one which John thinks was the biggest of the day but maybe he was only being kind!!! The wind came up again during the morning so we made a move for home before it became too difficult to row back and decided to be out on the water about daylight the following morning.
We enjoyed thai steamed fish with stir fried vegetables for dinner.

The afternoon was spent having a walk around the water line and to a lookout (Moore's Lookout) over the estuary - signposted in hand made signs from the camping area. Someone who loves the place has cut down small trees along the way to keep the track clear and carried a wooden bench seat to sit and enjoy the views. Along the way we detoured to the yellow ochre coloured 'Crocodile Rock' which does look very much like one - jutting out over the water!
The rocks around this point are very interesting - some yellow ochre and red in colour with a pale grey-cream flow of smoother consistency running through and over them like lava. Also many of the rock formations are draped with some drying vegetation and there are mounds of a crunchy dried plant too.

Birdlife is abundant - flocks of pelicans and egrets, sea gulls some juvenile, butcher birds, beautiful blue green parrots - ringnecks?, smaller wrens and finches and a pair of sea eagles.

We were out about daylight yesterday and it was cool on the water, also very foggy. I had a great time - landed bream both small, which we threw back, as well as some quite good sized legal ones. It was an enjoyable feeling to reel them in - took me back to childhood days when we used to throw a line in the creek which formed one boundary to our beef property on the south coast NSW at Coila.
I am now hooked!!

We caught eleven 'keepers' between us and returned to the shore about 10am for breakfast. John went out again later in the morning with another camper and they only caught two. After lunch we took a drive into Bremer Bay as we needed fresh water and found a tap in the little park at the end of the road opposite public toilets where we filled containers. Now we have enough for the next five or six days. We also bought a few essential grocery items at the General Store and had a look around the town. We have decided that we wont go in to stay at either of the caravan parks there as we will have had enough fishing by the time we leave here on Sunday.

Last nights dinner was crumbed fillets of bream with steamed vegetables - delicious! I have frozen two packs of fillets for future meals.

This morning we were out early again however there was already a slight breeze blowing. This increased in intensity during the couple of hours we were out and John only hooked one good sized bream. I somehow managed to get a tiny little one which luckily we were able to take off the hook with no ill effects and we threw him back. The pelicans and gulls decided they were going to congregate on the shoreline and watch us which we should have taken as beng a sign that there werent any fish about! We managed to get back to shore with little effort due to the wind direction now blowing from the SW. Since or return they have reached gale force. The awning is in and there are showers of rain blowing across almost horizontally - very unpleasant!
We are set up so the rain and wind blows into the awning side of the van whereas our original site would have been far more comfortable! How typical!!

The remainder of the day will be a cozy one spent inside, reading, watching DVDs, maybe writing emails etc, cooking... Plenty to do!
There is intermittent internet and phone signal here which seems dependant on cloud cover. We managed to make a few calls the other evening but havent received calls here. Have accessed email at least once a day too which is great!

26th April 2009

We are packing up and moving on this morning as we have caught enough fish to last a couple of weeks and the campground is busier due to long weekend here in WA. The fishing shacks now have occupants plus other campers around and theres a really noisy old generator chugging along to provide power for them. Also the weather has been very windy - strong to gale force at times, showery and unpleasant to be outside for much of the time. Wouldn't you know it - today has dawned still and clear!!

Have spent the days walking around the headlands and bush, taking photos and enjoying the area. I also used my postcard printer and have made cards to send to friends at home by plugging the power cord into the little inverter.

John continued to fish every day until he loaded the boat yesterday but I preferred not to go out and get wet and cold.
I have baked bread, cake and other comfort foods, including lasagne for dinner. Would love to have a campfire but we have observed the signs and wont light one until the 1st May. Many others (West Australians) here ignored this and have had roaring fires, so maybe we are being a bit too careful.

We will take the Borden Rd and have a look inland. I want to go to the Stirling Ranges and do some bushwalking for the next few days but we will wait out the long weekend tonight and not attempt to get into the campground until tomorrow.

27th April.
Mt Trio Bushcamping and Caravan Park

We arrived at Mt Trio Bushcamping and Caravan Park ($10 unpowered per person per night) on the northern boundary of the Stirling Ranges before lunch today, having free camped in a rest area about 4 kms north of Borden overnight at Loui's Lookout.

It has great views of the Ranges which rise majestically above the rest of the landscape and tables, seats and garbage bins, and is a little off the road. A couple of other vehicles pulled in around dark but it was very quiet.

We filled up our water containers, and tanks, from a tap at the amenities block opposite the general store in Borden yesterday, and then again this morning when we noticed a sign stating 'stock water only, so we are glad we were using the water filter. Hopefully it works and we wont come down with a 'dreaded lurgy' or 'Delhi belly'. Had intended staying in the National Park campground however on arrival found it really only suitable for tents and mostly occupied, being a very small area. We were disappointed so took the drive out here instead and are very glad we did.

Have chosen a site well away from the powered sites and amenities and paid for three nights to start with. It is a big area and we are the only occupants in the unpowered section.
There are hot showers, toilets (1 of each for men and women) a washtub, well equipped camp kitchen, and a table tennis room and it is so unlike a caravan park.
Payment is by self registration and the very friendly young owner, John, dropped in to meet us this evening just before dark with his little daughter tagging along.

After lunch I did the washing (not sheets) by hand which took a good hour or more as we haven't been near a machine for nearly a fortnight.

About 2 pm we set off to Mt Trio determined to walk to the summit. We parked in the carpark and took what we thought was the track up. It soon disintegrated into a very narrow, overgrown trail basically straight up the side of the mountain getting steeper as we climbed. I was literally on all fours scrambling up rocky scree and using the small tree branches and trunks within reach to help pull me up. I started panicking about how I would survive the return journey without slipping, when John stated he thought we were not on the track and we should start back down. This took a while and I was not all that happy or confident that I could do it however we managed it slowly with him holding my hand and by sliding our boots horizontally down, one boot to meet the other, without any mishaps . On returning to the carpark, we discovered the track head leading off in a different direction!

We are going to attempt it again tomorrow morning and then drive to the Bluff Knoll after lunch and hope to do it too.

Met two friendly Victorian couples sitting around the campfire for happy hour and swapped stories while they cooked a lamb roast in the camp oven. I did the same in our oven in the van but will cook over the fire tomorrow night.

28th April

Spent the morning climbing to the summit of Mt Trio which took around two and a half hours. It was a steep climb, with the track overgrown with vegetation in places making the walking a bit too close to the edge for my liking. The surface was loose and rocky, slippery underfoot so I took it slowly. There were great views as we climbed, across the plains towards the Park we were staying in and beyond and of the neighbouring mountain side. Once towards the ridge line the walk became less strenuous, and it was relatively gentle to reach the summit. The higher mountains were topped in cloud but there were very good views in all diirections. We stayed a while, had some morning tea and took photos before starting the descent which I took slowly and carefully.
My feet were feeling the walk and we took a drive towards Bluff Knoll, stopping at the information boards at the entrance to the road to read. Decided to leave the climb until tomorrow but lunched in the picnic area nearby at a table under the shady trees.
Returned to the camping area, made coffee and sat around before deciding to do more washing - this time the sheets and a few other items - as it was such a sunny warm day. This took a while and some energy but I felt quite fit and energetic after the walk.
I also did the short bushwalk signposted at the park through the dry dusty scrub and along the dry creek which it crossed before doubling back along the other side and back to the park - probably not much more than a km. The edges were lined with dry tree branches which I have since found out is a task undertaken by the owners Mum when she comes to stay. It was a nice gentle shaded stroll.
John had the fire going by 4pm and we carried across the ingredients to make a beef and lentil stew - all in one meal using a combination of 'fresh,' dried, and canned vegetables and topped with a scone damper.Delicious!!!
A family with one 10 yr old daughter are staying tonight in the powered section and they joined us around the fire and for dinner eaten in the camp kitchen where we were accosted by a couple of overly friendly possums. We dont think the family had seen camp oven cooking before and they were curious to know what we were doing. Afterwards we carried the washing up and a bucket of hot water back to the van to do the dishes.

29th April

Up early as usual enjoying the campground noises, I sat outside for breakfast, We took the drive to Bluff Knoll carpark and were walking by 9.30. It was a fantastic walk/climb with many frequent views. The track was well formed, wide in most parts with vegetation trimmed. I paused frequently to take photos and to rest as it was a steady climb, enjoying the vistas. We were overtaken by a fit young Englishman who was doing the walk for exercise - he made it to the summit in under an hour and it took us over two! The plants along the way were variable and changed from tall trees below to quite low, prickly shrubs up on top. There were magnificent views to reward us as we reached the summit and we stayed a while to have morning tea - fruit and nuts - and talk to the few other walkers there.
The descent took about half the time and we were back to the carpark in four hours feeling quite fresh really. I was surprised but may be sore tomorrow as we havent done any strenuous walks for ages.

We drove the 17kms back to the van and lunched on hot leftovers, heated in the camp kitchen microwave.

Spent the afternoon relaxing and enjoying our camping site although a wind has increased in intensity all afternoon and made having a fire impossible tonight. We cooked and ate inside and have decided to leave in the morning to explore Albany and beyond. John has run out of beer so this has influenced his decision I think!!!

30th April
Torbey Inlet free camp

Staying in a free camp at Torbey Inlet in a small area with two other couples. It has a pit toilet and bins. We had a bit of trouble getting into our site but are parked so we just have to drive out tomorrow morning. The fire ban ends tomorrow but one of the men here has built an enormous fire using a stump and it is blazing as I write. John and the others are sitting around yarning but I felt like a night in so am being unsociable. Have had all kinds of trouble connecting to Bigpond tonight, maybe because of low signal. Think it is something to do with settings or accounts but too annoyed to look more at sorting it tonight and will leave it till tomorrow.

Today we stopped in Albany at a Woolworths shopping complex on the way into town and I spent over $500 on groceries!! Put the fridge on gas while we were stopped and packed the cold food straight into it, left the other bags under the bed until tonight when we pulled up. It took a while to get it all re packed and sorted but is done now.

We drove out to Frenchman Bay which is very pretty and lunched near Whale World then drove to a lookout over the bay, the salmon holes- very picturesque - and the disappointing blowhole. It was nowhere near as impressive as the one at Kiama near home but then the ocean wasnt really pounding either so I guess it was timing really. Albany looked to be a big port on the bay - a picturesque setting.

This will be an overnight stop only.

1st May
Shannon National Park

We continued west to Denmark today where we stopped to stroll around the town and buy a paper. What a pretty little place this is with interesting shops and a riverside park!
Not far west of the town we pulled into a Meadery where we hought karri honey, and an ice cream each despite the early hour. John's choice of honey and ginger was delicious and my chocolate and honey almost as good. Continued through to the turn to the 'Valley of the Giants' and did the treetops walk through the giant tingle trees as well as another short one which identified some of the tree types. These certainly are huge trees and we are glad we took the time to have a look. Bought little Oli a T-shirt to send home at the shop there. There was a good sized space for caravans so we didnt have any trouble parking.

We arrived in Walpole and had our lunch in the van near the Information centre, took a stroll around town, and were back on the road looking for a place for the night. The roadside rest areas we checked out were close to the highway and not suitable so we headed for Shannon National Park campground which has a tick in Camps 5. It proved to be a great choice and we found an excellent site which is flat, big and in partial sun, with fireplace and table and seats. We paid the fee for overnight camping, chatted to the ranger and received information and pamphlets about the area and set up.
The amentities are quite new, about 50 metres from our site, and have flushing toilets and showers heated by a wood fire in the bottom which needs to be lit about an hour before we need to use it.
We had a campfire meal tonight and sat around afterwards staring into the flames, and enjoying the stars - just wonderful.

4th May.

We are leaving Shannon Campground this morning regretfully, after a really great weekend. We paid for the two additional nights as we set out for the walk up to the Shannon Dam and the Rocks walk (5.5km return) on Saturday morning. It was a lovely walk and took us over interesting places such as Mokares Rock, before winding through forrest of karri, marri and jarrah then crossing the Dam and returning to the picnic area. There were information boards at regular intervals but we still havent seen any drawings or photos of the 'snotty gobble' trees which sound fascinating - named because the fruit they bear drops off and turns to a soft squishy blob on the ground apparently. There was a quokka viewing platform too but they were in hiding when we were there!
The remainder of the day was spent around the camp, lunching, reading, relaxing... It was easy to while away the hours until an early shower (no lights in the amenities) then dinner, once again on the camp fire.

Yesterday (Sunday) we packed lunch and set out for Windy Harbour in D'Entrecasteaux National Park. On the way we passed through the town of Northcliffe and stopped there to check emails and phone calls as theres no signal back in the campground. We also stopped at Mt Chudalup between Northcliffe and Windy Harbour and climbed to the top of this large granite rock for views over the surrounding country. There is a lot of smoke around so the views weren't very clear but is was a nice little walk - around 1 to 1.5 kms return and easy to do.

Windy Harbour was interesting too - basically a caravan park and cabins set in the sand dunes with narrow windy sandy tracks. Looks like a fisherman's haven! We drove to the boat ramp and decided you would have to know the waterway very well to negotiate the channel between the rocks to get out to the harbour to fish. There were huge piles of kelp metres high in places on the beach. Continued driving to the Point and took photos from the top, did the short walk and had lunch overlooking the ocean. It was very pretty and the water is a deeper blue than we have seen anywhere along the WA coast to date. Also, the surf wasnt as big and pounding as we expected, and broke in all kinds of varied and unusual places due to 'bommies'. Very treacherous waters for boating we think.

Drove back to Northcliffe, filled up with diesel and bought the 'Weekend Australian' to catch up on the weeks news! Turned around and did the drive along mostly dirt roads to The Boorara tree and Lane Poole Falls. The tree is one of the original fire spotting trees with the metal spikes spiralling around the trunk and used as a staircase to reach the small platform and 'hut' at the top which was manned every day to look out for fires. Very interesting. There is a replica of the hut (enlarged) nearby. We decided the person who climbed the tree would have to have a good head for heights!

The walk to Lane Poole falls (5.5km return) was a gentle one through very impressive forest with some huge specimens providing shade. Many small birds flittered around and we could hear lot of different calls. It was a lovely walk, the last couple of hundred metres had hand rails as it descended to the creek at the foot of the falls. We knew they wouldn't be running - wrong season - but enjoyed the walk and could imagine the power of the water which comes over the rocks when we saw some of the huge trees lying across the base which have been washed down in previous wet seasons.
I used my 'Tracks and Maps of WA' to help us navigate our way through to the bitumen road back to the highway however think the names of some of the dirt roads have changed since it was published. We travelled along Bannister Road, a wide good dirt road for much of it but it isnt mentioned in the book. Had to rely on our compass as we were heading south and had to turn around at one point! We didnt want to end up back down near Windy Harbour!

Arrived back at the camp around 3.30 pm and organised the fire, used the compresser to inflate the car tyres which John reduced to drive on the dirt, and did the chores.
Enjoyed a second night with a meal topped with damper (we will look like teletubbies if we continue down this track) which I separated from the food by placing greased baking paper in between. Ate a couple of pieces with the delicious WA honey. Yum!!

We will stay in a powered site for the next couple of nights while John tests our gas lines for a suspected leak. He can smell gas somewhere which I guess is just a little dangerous! We have had to run the fridge on gas while unpowered for the past nearly three weeks and had best get this attended to before moving to another location. We are expecting mail which we have had two of our children address to Manjimup so will use the place as a base for the next few days while we wait for it to arrive and have a look around. It is only 50 kms from here so only a short drive today.

May 5th
On our way north yesterday we stopped at the Diamond Tree lookout tower and were amazed to find that we could have climbed it if we were silly enough to. This would be impossible back in NSW where the tree and surrounds would be barricaded off (and probably alarmed ) to prevent such crazy behaviour due to insurance regulations! It was very impressive.

We are staying in Manjimup in the Warren Way Caravan Park which has to be one of the friendliest we have ever been in. The Hosts arrived with a plate of fresh hot scones, jam and cream for our afternoon tea a couple of hours after we arrived - a lovely gesture. We will recommend this as a place to stay in to other travellers. It is small, the amenities are clean and sites are quite roomy compared to some. Unfortunately it is on the highway and can be noisy however it didnt keep either of us awake last night so cant be too bad.

The gas leak has been found - the cylinder we were given at one of the 'swap and go' places was a very old one and was leaking around the connection so we have a replacement one (at $36) and it is solved. Not sure how much gas would have remained in it - probably still half full but not worth the risk of continuing to use it - and John said the young boy tried to give him a similar looking one which he declined. If we are paying for it we will select the one we want in future! He did say that the same young man put the half empty gas bottle back in the cage with the full ones, despite it leaking, so maybe we had best all be a bit more careful in selecting bottles from these places.

John has also replaced the anode in the HW system as it was quite eaten away and over 12 months old. It probably could have lasted another few months but it is done now so we wont bother checking again until around this time next year.

We spent yesterday afternoon having a look at the Timber and Heritage Park and Museum which we found very interesting. John's dad worked in the timber industry around the Coffs Harbour district in NSW for much of his life and much of the old gear they used was familiar to him, also the mill house.

Manjimup seems to be quite a big town with good shopping facilities for its size, I guess it is the service centre for the area.

Today was spent driving around the local area - North to Bridgetown where we walked around the town, visited the Jigsaw gallery, and had a delicious lunch in one of the many little cafes. It is such a pretty town built on the hillside and alongside a river, with much character. From there we continued on to Balingup then turned West driving the 50kms or so of hilly and winding road through burnt out forest and past vineyards and a cheese factory to Nannup. This is another small very picturesque town set on a river with some fantastic sculptured wooden totem poles and an innovative garden seat - fashioned from tools and finished in a metallic silver. We are very glad we took the time to do the drive and wish we had more time to just meander around, especially while the weather continues to be fine.

I bought some fresh fruit and vegetables from a roadside stall and they look and taste delicious.
We returned to Manjimup via Granite Road, past the Four Aces - 4 very large karri trees in a row, and One Tree bridge.

Only one item of our mail has arrived so we will check again tomorrow morning just after 9 am and I guess we will be here another night if the other letter is still missing.

On our return this evening we have managed to give one another the usual haircut - a No 6 for me and a No 3 for John - and make a number of phone calls back to family and friends in the Eastern states as we do most nights when we have phone service. The 'my hour' offered through Telstra is great value if the mobile phone is virtually only used during this time - in our case 5 to 6 pm - and we rarely pay more than our $30 monthly plan when travelling.

8th May
Big Valley Camp

Currently spending three nights about 10 kms SE of margaret River township - at Big Valley campground. It is on a sheep property only a couple of kms off the bitumen and has all facilities found in a caravan park however is only $20 p night (powered or unpowered) and is very quiet and peaceful at night. Most occupants are seasonal workers living in tents and there are only three other vans here. Amenities and camp kitchen are in a big corrugated iron shed and are clean and basic, owners are very friendly. I would recommend it to anyone who prefers to stay out of caravan parks and there are sites to suit all manner of rigs - even huge buses. It isnt exactly bush camping though and my one complaint about the place is that we werent able to choose the site. On our last night there we had other campers lined up either side of us although I guess they werent a close to us as in some van parks.
The lovely part of staying in a place like that is being able to listen to the sheep and other farm sounds and to be visited by the owner (Shelley) along with friendly sheep dog pup most days. And to not have bright lights around the campground.

We had intended trying to find a site in the National Park further south however upon investigation found they were small and would have been difficult to get into. Also overhanging trees would have prevented the solar panels from doing their job effectively.
On the way across from Manjimup on Wednesday we stopped at the Gloucester Tree about 3 kms from town and took pics of one another pretending to climb the tree - so we could send postcards back to the family.
We only climbed a few metres up the tree however it looks impressive!!!

Yesterday we took a drive to the north as far as the lighthouse at Cape Naturaliste. We were disappointed to find that the walks there were closed due to fire damage and the lighthouse could only be viewed via tours - wish it had been signposted a long way back down the track as it would have saved us quite a drive. On the way we detoured to various places - the surfing break place near the mouth of Margaret River and the towns on the west coast where we caught our first views of the Indian Ocean.
We also stopped at the Venison farm, an Olive farm, Cheese factory, and the chocolate factory, tasting and buying products from all! Products are very pricey as usual in these trendy places but because we didnt go to any of the wineries we didnt spent the fortune I once would have in my drinking days. By lunch time we found ourselves at Simmo's ice creamery and had a double cone each, giggling about what our kids would have to say about the nutrition content!!!
Back in the campground,we sat around with another couple and swapped experiences, nibbled on cheeses and other savouries until after dark. Dinner was a very light one after snacking all day.

Today we decided to have a look around to the South and started with a self guided tour of one of the caves in the area which was very interesting. We have done numerous guided tours in the past but never one like this. We handed over the fee and were given a hard hat, head light and hand held torch. It was great to be able to wander through the cave by ourselves, switching our lights on and off when we chose to and experiencing the total darkness. The light thrown by the headlight highlighted the moisture on the roof of the cave giving it the appearance of myriads of sparkling crystals - very pretty.

Afterwards we drove down to Augusta then to the lighthouse at Cape Leeuwin! There is a charge of $5 to get into the grounds to walk around but we baulked at $12 each to climb the lighthouse. We drove back along the road a bit and took photos, also had lunch in the van and then stopped in Augusta to look around. It was a very scenic place set on the mouth of the river. I did try to suggest to the other half that we should stay in the area so he could fish however he didn't seem keen as we still have a meal or two of fish in the freezer.

Tomorrow we will move on. We are going to back track a bit and head east toward wave Rock and Hyden - more than 400 kms from here however that distance is not so much in relation to the whole trip! We were much closer when we stayed near Ravensthorpe and even back in Kalgoorlie but there were other interesting things to see then.

10th May Mothers day.
Free camp on Hyden Rd

Last night was spent in Conjelin camping ground north of Williams about 24 kms which is maintained by WA National Parks. It had good new toilets, gas BBQs and lovely big sites set in the woodland. It was quite busy in both the caravan and group areas but a lovely place to stay, with a short walk, We probably should have spent a couple of nights there and visited the other parts of the Dryandra woodland. Possums decided to dance on the roof of the van in the night and sounded like they were rehearsing for a show until John went outside with the torch and scared them off.
I was pleasantly surprised when we were packing up and a man aproached and asked whether I was 'the lady with the blog on ExplorOz' and intorduced himself. I dont really think too much about other people reading what I write as it is just another way of me keeping a diary and has replaced my usual one written in a notebook. Anyway thank you for saying hello, Ross? John has been teasing me all day about being a celebrity!!!

Tonight we are overnighting in a quarry used for road building materials, about 30 kms west of Hyden - off the main road and up a dirt road a few kms. We are all alone which isnt a surprise as we had to search before we found somewhere suitable. The planned camp for tonight was at Jilakin Rock (in Camps 5), to the east of Kulkin however when we arrived there we found the roads into the rest area were overhung with low branches and there was no way we could get in with our van. It seemed to be a busy place too with many cars so we turned around when we found a suitable place and stopped nearby in a flat area for lunch.

The trip wasnt a waste of time even though we had already seen other similar rocks near Kalgoorlie and it was close to 20kms off our track along the Lake Grace road. There were many enteraining tin horse sculptures along the road side which were humorous and clever art works and I spent quite some time walking along and photographing most of them while John followed me in the car.

So.... we continued and had resigned ourselves to having to try to get into a caravan park as there arent any camps mentioned in 'the book' close to Hyden, bought fuel in Kondinin and about 15 kms to the east saw a dirt track leading off into woodland. We turned in but John had to hold branches out of the way of the van while I edged my way through and then we found we had to try to turn the rig around as there wasnt anywhere suitable to camp which was far enough off the road. Luckily the fence into the adjoining property was down and we managed to drive through, onto the paddock and turn around there. Back on the road we began to look for proper dirt roads leading off which had trees around and managed to find this place which is great really providing it doesnt rain much. There are clouds around tonight and showeres forecast for tomorrow however hopefully it will hold off until after we leave or we could be stuck like we were in Queensland near Winton last Winter.

Another pleasant surprise tonight is for me to be able to have good phone and internet signal. I am pretty happy to date with the coverage of the Next G network on this trip so far.

12th May
Gorge Rock Pool Picnic area

Our visit to Hyden yesterday was quick, interesting and enjoyable. We arrived in the town by 9am, unhitched the van at the day rest area opposite the pub and continued the 4km to Wave Rock. Here we found a resort (of course!!!!) complete with caravan park and all the trimmings. We paid the $7 fee to park the car (3 hrs) put on the boots and headed off to the Rock which is about 50 metres from the carpark! Our first views were unspoilt by other humans or by shadows. I took photographs then we strolled along the 'waves' length stopping to read the information signs about the geological features, formation, local Aboriginal cultural significance and history since the arrival of Europeans before making the short easy ascent to the top of the rock. There are steps and a chain to assist.
Its use as a water catchment and storage facility was a surprise to us but I guess in such a dry landscape it was (and probably still is) a necessity and certainly inventive. It does rather spoil the appearance of it though!!
(Maybe Uluru could be put to similar use. Have just had an idea for next April 1st and a 'photoshopped' image of the rock complete with low wall all around the top and shiny pipes down one side to channel water to a water theme park like 'Wet and Wild ' on the Gold Coast in Qld!! What a furore that would cause.I guess it has already been done.)

The views from on top were excellent in all directions and we mostly followed the markers and kept to the track where information boards at regular intervals pointed out different features regarding surface, plant and animal life. As we made our way back tothe carpark we met a man who consented to taking our photo together withwave rock as the setting and afterwards I clicked off a few more photos with the sun shining on the surface.

We did another short loop walk of approximately 1.5kms to Hippo's Yawn - a rock formation which really does resemble a hippo's open jaws.

Back at the car it was only around 11am so we drove 18 kms out to The Humps and Mulka's cave to view aboriginal artwork - mainly hand stencils. This was advertised as being the biggest art site of this type in Southern WA or somewhere however as we had no torches it was a great disappointment with only a few hand prints were visible. Not at all like the photos in my art textbooks I have on the bookshelves at home, a legacy of my High School art teaching days. However I guess such art is lucky to survive given the arrival of tourists, and its extremely delicate and temporary ingredient of water soluble ochre We dropped back in at the visitor centre to look around the 'Wildflower display' and other advertised exhibitions however which was a waste of time we realised.... about 60 seconds after we entered the door! It was full of old smelly souvenirs, mostly absolute crap!!!

So....lunch was early and eaten in the van. John found a newspaper in the town and we viewed the sculptures made from found objects which detail the history of white man in the area and which form an impressive display running parallel to the road. We had intended staying at least one night in a caravan park in the town but changed our minds, hitched up the van and were out of Hyden by 1 pm. It was too early to stay back in our previous nights camp although it was very tempting as it was such a quiet undisturbed night.

At Kondinen we turned toward Corrigin and Gorge Rock Pool (No 161 WA Camps 5) for a look. It is not far off the road and traffic noise is easily heard however the picnic area was level and looks to be newly renovated with little signage erected as yet.Two new tables and firepits, a small shelter and water tank, no toilets, lots of trees. We decided to stay the night and there was no one else there.

We did the short walk to the rock which like Wave rock has been used as a water catchment and reservoir. Climbed to the top, took photos over the surrounding wheat/sheep properties and had to retreat to the van on our return due to swarms of very annoying tiny flies. The Aeroguard didnt seem to bother them too much! I tried to get onto the internet with no success however maybe didn't persist enough as we managed to make a phone call with no difficulties.

We decided against a fire and I cooked a delicious chicken lentil vegetable curry for dinner, after which we showered and watched a couple of episodes of 'The Office' which is a great English series we are enjoying since our 'Sopranoes' DVDs finished.
During the night John woke me with 'what's that noise'? I hadnt heard anything but thought I saw a loght outside as I opened my eyes. It must have been imagination as John investigated outside armed with his headlight torch and camouflaged in his PJ shorts - enough to scare off any intruders to the camp! It must have been nothing however unnerved both of us a bit and we took some time to get back to sleep. Very glad we havent watched 'Wolfe Creek' though.

13th May
Kokerbin Rock

Another overnight rest area at another rock. This is becoming a regular occurrence for us!

Yesterday we drove through to Corrigin, a small town about 20 kms from Gorge Rock, stopped to buy a paper and bread and have a look around the place. (Couldnt get an' Australian' Newspaper - they only order 1 copy of the 'Weekend Australian' the Newsagent told me - so we had to be content with The West Australian. Continued to the town of George Rock then turned west and towards Kokerbin Rock reputedly the third biggest monolith in Australia. It is a bit off the road and we are camped some 30 metres from the base of the rock which is quite an imposing lump of granite(I think). It may take a while to get out this morning as we manoeuvred our van into a pretty tight space between trees yesterday. Could be interesting!!!
Part of the afternoon was spent walking around the base and finding a track up to the summit. It wasnt a hard climb but near the top we came across a track which is probably accessible by vehicle, with white arrows pointing the way. There were good views over the paddocks from the top. We discovered a shorter track back to the base and continued the walk back to the camping area.
There are two other vehicles here which appear to be camping longer term and a 4WD which came in later in the afternoon. Bonus features of the camp area which is pretty rough and rustic are flushing toilets and a water tap. There are also a couple of tables.

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. John Muir
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