WA's Beautiful South West- Kumarl Siding, Esperance, Stokes Inlet Nl Pk. & Millers Point.(Week 4)

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 07:55

Member-Heather MG NSW

Monday 29th April.
With our companions deciding to head to Kalgoorlie for a few days, John and I had a lovely day enjoying our last few hundred kms of the Nullarbor. Before the phone signal disappeared near Caiguna Roadhouse, I managed to book us into a van Park in Esperance from tomorrow, and to bring the appointment for caravan repairs forward from Friday to Wednesday morning.
We pulled in to a rest area with a dump point and emptied our toilet, not a pleasant experience when there was no tap to rinse anything. This was no surprise in such an arid area but it looked as though someone had just opened the top and thrown the contents of their cassette vaguely in the direction of the hole. Yuk! We had a precious 20 litre container of water spare in the back of the Pajero and it was very useful not only for us, but also to rinse the dump point and make it more pleasant for the next person to use.

Other than one short stop to use a toilet at Fraser range rest area, we didn’t pull up again until 5kms east of Norseman at Mt Jimberlana, a small rocky outcrop with a small rest area, where we lunched, before setting out to do the short walk to the top. On our last trip, we did the same but on the way back down, I took a fall and it broke my nerve when walking for months afterwards. I was determined that there would be no such outcome today and was correct!

In Norseman we bought diesel and then turned South towards Esperance. We decided to overnight in a rest area at Kumarl Siding about 25kms north of Salmon Gums, which we had lunched in 4 years ago. When we arrived we found it deserted and selected a perfect level place to park out of view of the road, down one of the winding dirt tracks, and on a hard blue metal surface. There was very little to do other than make a coffee and sit outside alone and enjoy a rare afternoon of solitude.
Being our 5th night since Streaky Bay, we knew our water should be getting low however the control panel showed one tank on ½ and the other on ¾ so we foolishly thought we still had adequate for one last night. While I was showering, the stream sputtered and dwindled to a trickle and the pump tried desperately to force the dregs from the bottom of the tank. We switched it and the gas hot water off and I managed to hand pump enough for a morning pot of coffee and a glass of water for overnight. With our spare 20 litre from the car having been squandered on the dump point earlier in the day, we had only a litre of water in a bottle and a litre of water in my yogurt maker. It was put to good use this morning and re heated to wash faces and hands, rinse breakfast dishes etc.
It was such fortunate timing with us being booked into a van park in Esperance however could have been a real problem had we decided to spend one more might on the Nullarbor. Taught us a valuable lesson which we should already have known as well….not to trust the control panel implicitly! (And also not to tip all our water down a dump point on the Nullarbor!)
We watched an episode of 'Wallender' a series I gave John for Christmas and we've brought with us to fill in the hours occasionally when we don't feel like reading and there's no TV reception.
Although we heard a couple of trains close by early in the evening, we had a quiet night and enjoyed our camp very much.

Tuesday 30th April. Esperance Seafront Caravan Park. (approx. $40 pn powered site)
With only about 120 kms to travel, we arrived in Esperance before 10am. Troy at the Caravan repair place had asked us to call in on our way to the park so he could assess the time required to repair our van. Then, because it was too early to book into the park, we parked the van in a level space along the waterfront, turned the fridge to gas, and went for a short walk around the town. A little café advertised real fruit ice cream so we bought tubs of raspberry (for me) and assorted berry (for John) and sat outside on a wooden bench while we enjoyed them, before walking back along the waterfront to the van.
Locating the van park was easy and we were delighted to find that the water is just across the road out the front. We put the van on the site but didn’t bother going too much setting up as we will have to take it out in the morning for the repairs, although John has filled the water tanks and we have made sure the pump is working correctly again. Our site is close to amenities so I lugged the dirty laundry over and soon had both washing machines working. The weather was grey and not at all conducive to drying clothes however I pegged it all out and after lunch we set out to do a few chores.
First on our list was a new set of Cooper AT3 tyres and we ended up getting one of the local, independent businesses to fit them while we waited. Then 45 minutes later and $1700.00 poorer, we visited Woolworths and bought the first fresh fruit and vegetables for almost a week plus a few other groceries. They have since been packed away in the van and I used a dryer to get all of the clothes dry as were just sitting on the line doing nothing in the still cloudy day. It was a bargain at only $1 per hour.
Tonight the microwave was put to use steaming vegetables to accompany our fillet steaks. With the washing up done, I had a lovely longish hot shower and then cleaned the ensuite before sitting down to enjoy some time online. John is being entertained by the TV which is still a novelty after so many days without.

Wednesday 1st May
We had the van to the Caravan Repair place well before 9am, discussing the warranty items which required repairs with Troy and his helper. I had packed our lunch and some snacks for the morning and we left for a drive along the scenic coastline to the Wind Farm, pausing every now and then for me to jump out and take photographs. It is a beautiful part of Australia with the clearest aqua blue water and white sands with huge rounded rocky outcrops some of which disappear into the water.

We visited a couple of lookouts for better vantage points and although the weather wasn’t perfect, the photos I took still show the beauty of the place.
On our return to the Town centre, we bought a paper and parked down near the waterfront to sit and read until the phone call to tell us the van was ready for pick up. This came around 11.30 which was great as it meant we didn’t have to waste all day hanging around. We, and they, are not sure whether the water leak has been fixed and probably won’t until we experience the same weather conditions as when it originally occurred, but at least they have tried. The front left hand gas burner has been fixed and will now stay lit!
We found the Esperance Caravan Repair place in Norseman Road very good to deal with and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them.
By 12.30 we had parked the van back in its site and John erected the shade-cloth walls and set about getting us all protected from further rain and wind, as there is more forecast for the next couple of days. .
Our afternoon was busy with shopping for meats and other perishable items then packing it all away. Afterwards we went for a walk along the waterfront and found the humidity and warmth quite uncomfortable. The rain held off for now.

Thursday 2nd May

It rained throughout the night but undaunted, I did a load of washing and hung it under the awning! After packing us morning tea and lunch, we set out to visit Cape Le Grand National Park (approximately 60 kms one way from Esperance) in the hope that the weather there would be clear enough for us to at least do one of the walks around the shore if the Frenchmans Peak summit walk appeared to be a no no! It rained steadily and worsened the nearer we went however the photographs I took are still quite beautiful and it really is a breathtakingly lovely park with white sands and blue water and huge sloping weathered rocks plunging into the water.
John kindly pulled over whenever I wanted to photograph anything and I was able to put down the window and click away without having to leave the warmth and comfort of my seat, ecept for one location.We gazed in wonder at the peak and I wasn’t surprised that last time we were here I had chickened out of getting further than around half way up those steeply sloping granite slabs! I was thankful it was raining and I wouldn’t have to challenge myself again!!

We were back at the van to eat our lunch and by now the temperature had dropped considerably. The afternoon was miserable so we retreated to the comfort of the van. I put the washing through the dryer and then cooked a batch of oat pancakes which were just ready by the time Barb and Darrel parked their van beside us. They were very appreciative! And also full of stories of their few days in Kalgoorlie which they enjoyed.
By dark, the skies were clear again and we were hopeful of a better day tomorrow. We sat together in the shelter of our shadecloth walls and discussed the next proposed campsite. Then it was indoors for dinner and TV and a wonderfully cool night to sleep.

Friday 3rd May Stokes Inlet National Park – Benwenerup campground. $5 pp per night
What a lovely place this is after a town caravan park! We pulled in before 10.30 after a scenic drive through very green pastures alongside the Highway and found two sites side by side which would fit our vans. The group sites are occupied by one van each which seems to be a bit rude to us however maybe there were many more people here and they have since left.
There are campground hosts and we had forgotten how well they look after the toilets, camp kitchens and other facilities in WA. It is a pleasure to use the toilets here, unlike many in NSW National Parks and they could learn a lot. At $5 per person a night (pensioner rates) it is a bargain we think to have such great facilities.
Although we set up in showers the weather today has been a vast improvement on yesterday and there have been long periods of sunshine and blue sky. The men were delighted to discover that there are many black bream to be caught and demanded that I get online and buy them each a fishing licence so they could put the boat in the water and be gone! Thank goodness there is phone and internet signal here and I could do it or I reckon there would have been tantrums!
I was impatient to have a walk so after lunch I put on hat, grabbed the camera and was off on the track at the back of the campsites. I was as startled as the two tiger snakes sunning themselves beside the track but managed to photograph one curled up who didn’t want to move. There were so many beautiful plants and views of the paperbark lined Inlet from along the way but because I didn’t take water I turned back when I reached the car park at the half way mark. Will set out more prepared tomorrow provided the weather is ok and do the whole walk which is 2.8kms one way, for a bit of gentle exercise.

Dinner was a rack of lamb and roast veg cooked to perfection in the oven in the van.

Saturday May 4th
During the night we had persistent heavy showers and I woke to find the bathroom floor wet in the same place the van had leaked when we were staying in Iron Knob a couple of weeks ago. Obviously the problem was not fixed in Esperance. Of course being Saturday there is little which can be done until Monday although over the weekend I will try to phone the warranty number on my Jayco card again for repairers in Albany and closer to Perth. This time we may have to insist that the van is kept until they have done extensive investigation and are more certain the source of the water ingress is found, instead of guessing. It will be problematic if we have to move out for a few days but maybe Jayco can pay for alternative accommodation.
The men left early to fish, with lunch packed and wet weather gear, telling me they wouldn’t be back until mid-afternoon. I decided to risk the weather and donned my jacket and waterproof pack and set off for my walk around 8.30 despite threatening skies and intermittent showers. This time I also had my walking pole in case of snake sightings! It rained for probably 20 minutes and by the time it eased I had worked up quire a sweat and was glad to be able to tie the jacket around my waist and cool off a little.
Having already explored to the half way mark, I put my head down and walked at a fast pace, determined to get some exercise. There was little chance of snakes in such miserable weather and no need to take photos here. The second half of the walk led uphill and to two lookout platforms just 50 or so metres off the track from where there were good vantage points of the water and surrounding country. I read and photographed the Information boards about local history, fishing, geology and more before continuing to the staircases which led down to the Day Area and the Inlet. Facilities here are identical to the campground and include new long drop toilets which are odour free, also new camp kitchen with free gas BBQ, sinks etc. There is a similar boat launching place too and a couple of small tinnies tied up there and with a rare window of fine weather, I took some photos before re tracing my steps back to the Campground. Half way home it showered heavily and continued until well after and I was glad I had worn the wet weather gear. All in all it took around 2 hours.
For much of the day, the showers persisted, interspersed with small periods of fine and even sunshine. I didn’t do much except read and do odd jobs around the van. The van didn’t leak again which is weird.
Men returned with a good catch of bream and king George whiting and we have enough for a meal each. They had to clean all the gear and the boat well before loading it on the roof of our Pajero. We were resourceful and caught maybe 60 litres of clean water off our awning overnight for just this purpose and much of it was put to good use.
We together decided to leave here tomorrow and return to a small campground near Bremer bay where John and I caught many black bream in the nearby estuary last time we were in WA. If it is as we remember, we will stay a few days there.

Sunday May 5th
After a night with, thankfully, no rain, we packed up and left Stokes Inlet before 9a.m. The road, although wet, was not a problem although Darrel apparently put his car into 4WD and ended up getting considerably more mud on both his vehicles than we did. We think our Stone stomper may have helped us however sometime in the future when there is spare water, we will have to get around to giving the van and Pajero a clean as there is a bit of red dirt stuck to them.
Our journey was for the most part in sunshine, a rare sight during the past few days, and we pulled into Ravensthorpe for diesel, then Jerramungup where we lunched in the rest area. We arrived at our destination sometime early afternoon and found the dirt road a bit slippery in places however for the most part, better than we had remembered it. A car towing a pop top pulled up just behind us and we let them through to find a place for the night and then managed to get our two vans parked and level, close to the water, where the boat can be tied up on the beach overnight.

Had we women been permitted more time to select a place, we would be somewhere different, however the men were, as usual, so keen to get out on the water, they became quite irrational and wouldn’t listen to our suggestions!! It would have been very entertaining had there been any onlookers!
Barb and I breathed a big sigh of relief when we were alone and the men were out fishing, and set about getting our ‘houses’ in order! I was keen for a walk around and to see whether there had been any changes since our last visit four years ago, also to take photographs while there was still blue sky, and had a wander around.
Late in the afternoon a small campervan with a family arrived and stayed for the night, otherwise it was just us and the pop top out of sight and hearing. John kindly got the generator out and set it up so I can make coffee here, the first time it’s been used on this trip, and it has been lovely to have it.
Barb and I pulled the chairs into a prime position overlooking the water and watched as the sun sank and the men returned (empty handed for once). Apparently the inlet is netted commercially so that must diminish the chance of catching anything, a great shame as the waterway is usually closed to the ocean. We had prepared much of our evening meal in advance and it was a lovely place to just take in the scenery. Just on dark hordes of mosquitoes arrived and forced us to grab the Aerogard and long pants. I cooked our meal of crumbed bream and whiting on the small gas cooker outdoors and the veg inside on the gas and we had a lovely meal inside in the warmth of the van.
Then after a short, hot shower we went to bed to read for a while. It was a very peaceful place to end the fourth week of our trip.
Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. John Muir
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