Fitzgerald River NP to Home

Friday, Oct 16, 2009 at 15:52


Back to previous chapter - Albany to Fitzgerald River NP

The fine sunny weather was too good to last as the cold wind and showers returned. Undaunted, we ventured from our sheltered campsite to explore the park and wonder at the variety of wildflowers to be seen. The swamp daisies were putting on a lovely show along the roads. We watched a band of heavy rain and wind move up from the ocean while whales cruised along the coast, both dramatic sights. A walk over Point Ann revealed sections of the old rabbit-proof fence now rusting into oblivion.

Our plan to spend some time in the eastern end of the park came unstuck when we learned (too late) that all but one of the camping areas there were closed, having suffered fire damage. Still we explored around this striking area where East Mt. Barren provides a spectacular backdrop, and spent a night in Hopetoun.

Next morning we heard that there was a dead whale on the beach. A calf, but still over 4m long. It had a few abrasions but no real injuries. Sad to see, but a great opportunity for the kids who were eagerly checking it out, and for us. It must have been pretty fresh as thankfully there was no smell!

Another excellent bush camp just out of Ravensthorpe, and we were again heading east towards Esperance and Cape le Grand NP. The wind and showers persisted and another front was forecast. All that was forgotten though when flower fever struck again. Brilliant red Leschenaultias and six different orchids had the cameras running hot.

Our concern that Lucky Bay may have been full was unwarranted, thanks to the very ordinary weather and the end of the school holidays. What a beautiful place this is, especially when the sun is out. Below the massive granite domes the sand is sparkling white, the water brilliant turquoise. The visits of Matthew Flinders and other explorers are commemorated in various places. Campground amenities are great too with flushing loos and hot showers.

Although some of the walking tracks have been damaged by fire there are still great walks between the bays and headlands. The views around the rocks and out over the islands of the Recherche Archipelago are magnificent. And of course there are more flowers, more orchids, even right behind the beach. They just keep on getting better.

We were tempted to continue on to Cape Arid, but the persistent wind and rain has finally convinced us that its time to head for home. So back to bustling Esperance to stock up for the run east, then up to Norseman and onto the Eyre Highway.

We took 8 days to come home at a leisurely pace. Along the way we had a look at couple of the sinkholes that are scattered across the Nullarbor, sudden holes in the ground that must have claimed many unwary animals (and people?) over the years.

We also spent a few hours watching whales at the Head of the Bight. Being late in the season there were only 8 or 10 whales with calves there, but they were close inshore so we had a really good look at them. We were fortunate to see the white calf that we had heard about, very easy to see in the clear blue water.

Through the agricultural areas of SA the crops looked almost as good as they had in WA, but as we moved into western NSW it was very different. Many wheat crops had failed or been cut for hay. Dead vineyards and citrus orchards were a common sight, and the dead river red gums around the dry billabongs reminded us that the impact of this drought will last a very long time.

Our two final camps deserve a mention. We took a northerly loop from Renmark through some very dry country heading towards Wentworth. We stopped for the night at Fort Courage, a caravan park a few km west of Wentworth on the banks of the Murray River. This facility is owned and run by a fishing club, but is open to the public. The charge was only $14 and the facilities were excellent.

Our final camp was at Hay on the outskirts of the town at Sandy Point Reserve. Here the Council has provided very good facilities for day visitors and set aside an area for campers. There are even several signs welcoming campers. What a refreshing contrast to the many negative signs forbidding camping that we have seen, especially in WA.

It was wonderful to suddenly come into lush green paddocks as we came closer to home. Peter and Dolores, our house sitters had a delicious meal ready for us when we arrived. It was great, but a bit odd to be home under a roof and surrounded by four walls, after 4 months and nearly 20,000km of calling Troopy home.

Back to index - the very start!

J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein
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