Day 75 – 17 Sep 2012 – At Esperance

When we arrived at our Van Park yesterday we received a mud-map of a trip around the Ravensthorpe Range which detailed places to see the wildflowers so this morning, before leaving, we decided to do the 28 km round trip. Most of the trip needed a 4WD as the roads became quite steep and rough so we were pleased we have the Landcruiser. What can we say. What a lovely drive.

View from Ravensthorpe Range

First of all the view from the Range looking back over all the farmland and mountain ranges in the distances was just unbelievably beautiful. As for the wildflowers – well it was fantastic.

The little map had another printout which described what to see each kilometre or so. It was so easy to follow and each time a new plant was mentioned sure enough there is was not far from where we were driving. I took quite a few photos as you can imagine. We were glad we went to the wildflower/orchid show yesterday as we were then able to recognise a few of them.

There were flowers of all shapes and sizes and this is also the country of the most fantastic grevilleas and bottle brushes and banksias and hakeas and also a ecualyptus called the grey leaved mallee. Of course there were different types of wattle also. It was just amazing to see how all these colours just blended in with the bush. The only plant we failed to see was the Quandong. There were plenty of birds flying about and this is also the habitat of the mallee fowl, but we did not see any of them.

Some of the wildflowers on Ravensthorpe Range

Certainly it was a lovely trip and we were grateful that this caravan park provided this map.

It was almost 11.45am before we arrived back at the Park and hooked up the van and headed towards Esperance.

Large flywheel crankshaft and pistons

Before leaving the town we stopped at the Lions Park so Ian could have a look at the flywheel, crankshaft, and two pistons of a Crossley 8 cyclinder engine that was one of several imported from the U.K. to drive generators at mine sites and also, until the 1970’s, provided the town of Ravensthorpe with power. It was huge – the crankshaft alone weighing nearly 5 tonnes. Ian sure wishes he could have heard it running.

The countryside on today’s trip was so lovely. Of course, wildflowers all along the roadside but the farmland was very attractive with the wheat and barley crops so lovely and green – although they do look like they could do with a good drink! The canola was out in flower and because the paddocks are absolutely huge, the yellow color went for miles and miles and miles. Unfortunately, the other yellow of cape weed was around in paddocks which were lying fallow. We also saw more sheep and cattle than we have seen for ages, so it was a pleasant drive.

We passed a few quarries and open cut mines – the one near Ravensthorpe was for lithium, but we do not know what the others were for.

Even with the mining, it was evident that this biosphere hot spot has helped maintain a very protected countryside. We understand that 2/3rds of the Ravensthorpe Shire is natural bush. Very commendable.

We stopped at a small roadside stop (Munglinup) for lunch. The weather has been a bit windy today, but the temperature was around 25C so it was not unpleasant.

We then drove on to Esperance, choosing a caravan park which said it was right on the bay. They were right. The bay is just across the road from the Park. What a pretty place this is. We are amazed at the beauty of this part of Western Australia – once again beaches with such white sand, and the ocean which goes from the deepest blue to the palest of turquoise.

Before driving to all the lookouts on the ocean road, we first went to a local shopping centre and I booked in for a haircut tomorrow at 2pm. The last time I had my hair trimmed was in Darwin.

Our first tourist sight was what is called ‘Pink Lake’ – having seen the pink lake at Donald (Vic) we had an idea of what we would see. Well, if this lake was ‘pink’ then you could have fooled us. Maybe it is the wrong time of the year or so. Must check it on Google.

We then took the road which was called the Great Ocean Drive – absolutely stunning. Each beach had its own observation point and we stopped at them all. Each of them was so pretty. The amount of islands in the distance was great to see.

A view over Nine Mile Beach, Esperance

There is quite a history of this area right from the first sighting of this land by French seaman way back in the early 1700’s. The drive ended back into the town itself and we then drove up to the Rotary lookout which had a small spiral stairway to a 360 degree platform. It was amazing. The sun was setting behind the hills so the view did look lovely.

It has been quite a day of lovely views. We really did enjoy ourselves.

Love to all, Janese and Ian

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Day 74 – 16 Sep 2012 – at Ravensthorpe

After another lovely quiet night we left the park around 9.30am and drove into the town of Bremer Beach to have a look. Again – lots of subdivisions opening up, so the town must be going ahead. It is quite a way from another major town so we guess these blocks are for retirement or for holiday houses, not people still working. These blocks were in a lovely area – it would be a very easy little town to move into.

Bremer Beach – sandbar and white sand

We drove to the Bremer Beach itself which is on an estuary across which is quite a large sand bar. The water had only a narrow channel past this sand bar. We walked down to this sand bar – the sand was so white it was unbelievable. We were glad it was overcast as it would have been too bright to look at. We have seen so few people on these beaches, but we have been told that in a few weeks time when the weather warms up a bit and the school holidays begin, it will get very busy indeed. The weather here is quite mild most of the year so it is quite popular even in the summer when other parts of southern W.A. and most of central and northern W.A. are very hot indeed. We can understand why people come here. It is beautiful country.

We then drove a few kms back out of the town to a local museum and vintage car/machinery showroom. It was a very well presented museum. Most of the farm memorabilia actually belonged to the one family (the Wellsteads) who were the first settlers in the area, and one of the descendants of the original settlers still lives on the property. He had a good chat with Ian. It was amazing the amount of equipment that they have kept from the early days. Of course other people have also restored cars, trucks, motor bikes, machinery etc and have displayed it in the musuem. The musuem also included all the farm buildings such as stables, blacksmith’s workshop, shearing shed etc. We were most impressed with how everything was set out and it was a good morning’s walk around to try to get to see everything on display. The lawn outside one of the properties was just covered in wildflowers. It did look pretty.

Wildflowers on lawn at Wellstead Museum

We then left Bremer Beach and headed back on the same road that we came in on yesterday, for 48 Km’s, and then cut across country to Gairdner on the the South Western Highway – heading towards Jerramungup. The country was mostly cropping and all the crops looked to be in good heart and the sides of the road had a good covering of wildflowers. Once again we did not intend to travel that far today, as it was around 12.00 noon when we finished looking at the museum. We stopped at a small spot called Jerramungup and had our lunch. It was a lovely little town just in the middle of nowhere, but very tidy and well presented. After leaving Jerramungup the country was much lighter type soil with large areas still in natural bush. Most of the crops have a good deal of growing to do yet and we are sure a good fall of rain would certainly help.

100kms further east was Ravensthorpe and we had decided that this was where we would stop for the night. It is a small town of around 400 people and another quite tidy town. For the past week or so and until the 22nd of this month, this town is holding its annual Wildflower/Orchid festival and we wondered if we would get a site at the caravan park. We did, but we were the last to find a spot at this park although there is another one in the town, and they do have ‘0verflow facilities’ if needed.

After we unhooked the van we took a drive into the town and went to the wildflower/orchid display. It was quite well set up.

Unfortunately the wildflowers and orchids do not really like just sitting in a vase with water for so long and they were not looking as fresh as they would have on the first day of the display, but they still looked very pretty indeed. Once again today we saw so many wildflowers on the roadsides so it was good to be able to see them up close and get some names for them – although we have forgotten the names already. Some of the orchids are amazingly small – no wonder you need time and a good knowledge of them to be able to spot them and identify them when walking through the bush. We have met many people on this trip who have spent hours and hours in the bush endeavouring to photograph these beautiful little orchids in the wild – we now know why they need to be persistent. We were able to talk to some of the women in the local group who arranged the display and they gave us some very interesting facts.

One of the many orchids on display

We came back to the Van in time to skype Andrew, Lisa and Will in Geelong. It was lovely to see them. It is only a few weeks now and we will be back in Victoria.

The weather was nice today – around 20C, although it was overcast on and off all day. The weather in this part of the W.A. is classed as mild and it is one of the reasons it is so popular once spring arrives and the area also stays popular right through summer because it does not seem to get the extreme heat which other parts of W.A. get. We are only 50kms fron the Southern Ocean so our trip along the coast continues for another day. We could not see the ocean of course but the scenery is quite coastal and it was a lovely drive.

Canola paddocks

What land is under agriculture is sown down – mostly to canola – although we did see some vetch and lupins. Much of our drive today was just west and then north of the very large Fitzgerald River National Park – famous for its wildflowers and wildlife. We think we will put this park on our ‘bucket list’ for our next trip to W.A. This park is part of a ‘Biosphere Reserve Hot Spot’  i.e. land where researchers, communities, local landholders and scientists all work together to find ways to benefit from the land without degrading it. This program is sponsored by the United Nations and this area here is the only area designated as such in Australia. The National park was established way back in 1947 and covers an area of 330,000 Sq Km and it was quite plain to see the amount of natural land left untouched amongst all the farmland. Something this area can certainly be very proud of.

The roads yesterday and today are not as good as what we have driven on ever since we started our holiday – probably because these are no longer roads used by ‘mining’ traffic. They do not have potholes or anything like that, it is just that they are not smooth and I find that I cannot take a photo from moving car any more as the camera shakes too much. Been spoilt we think – the roads up till now have been absolutely fantastic. So, if some of the photos are slightly blurred – this is my excuse.

Love to all, Janese and Ian

Day 72 – 14 Sep 2012 – Still at Rest Point (W.A.)

Absolutely quiet night – the only noise we heard was the sound of frogs croaking nearby. Lovely.

We had a busy day today. First on our list was a walk through the bush right here at our Van Park. This walk went all around the small inlet on which this Park sits. The water was just a few metres away all the time and the view was fantastic.

View on our morning walk near our Van Park

There were bell birds singing and at one stage we were screeched at by six white-tailed black cockatoos (never even knew they existed until today). They sure were rowdy. At one stage I almost stood on a small snake – about 2ft long. It was a brown snake. I do not know who got the bigger fright – but I think it was me! At the end of this walk we then did a short walk along a road which led to a ‘saw pit’. This saw pit is exactly that – a large pit in which one man stood while another stood above and between them was a huge log – the 2 men would then saw this log in half/quarters etc. A most physically demanding job that’s for sure. Very interesting. While on this walk we saw a large darkish coloured kangaroo bound by. Lovely.

We then walked back to the Park and had a quick lunch before heading off to a self-drive tour of all the interesting tourist venues here in this area.

First was a drive to Coalmine Beach (no coal- an early settler found some coal on the banks of the Nornalup Inlet but it was not suitable for mining). There is a lovely safe beach/swimming area here. Next was the Knoll Scenic Drive – There were 2 lookouts on this circular drive which gave lovely views of both inlets and forest.

Straight from this Drive we turned  into the next drive to Hilltop Lookout. Now this drive was absolutely amazing – it was a one-way road and wound through a forest of gigantic Red Tingle and Karri trees. These trees are amazing. We were the only people on this drive so it was lovely to stop for a while and just listen to the sound of the birds in the trees. Took lots and lots of photos.

Inside a Tingle Tree

The Tingle tree is an extremely tall eucalyptus tree and is well known for its buttress shaped base which helps support its great height. It is also known for its ability to survive almost total destruction by bushfire which burns out the insides of the tree, and yet it stays alive and continues to grow.

There was a lookout here overlooking the Frankland River and Nornalup Inlet. Because we were quite high the view was great.

Next venue was the Giant Tingle Tree. It was a 800m walk from the car park to this tree and the walk took us past some unbelievably large trees- made us wonder just how big is this Giant Tingle Tree? We soon found out. They have erected a boardwalk around this tree to protect it. Its girth is 24 metres around. It  is believed to be the oldest living eucalypt in the world. This is a tree which is almost fully hollow inside and yet it continues to grow. It was massive!

The GIANT Tingle Tree

Not far from this large tree was another scenic spot call ‘Circular Pool’. This is small pool into which the Frankland River flows over some rocks etc. and the water coming down causes masses of froth – the pool is called ‘Nature’s Cappuccino’, because with all the tannin staining the water, the froth looks like chocolate topping on a cappuccino.

The drive through this forest to see these venues was really magnificent.

We then drove through Walpole and Nornalup (only 20 kms or so) to what is called ‘The Valley of the Giants Tourist Drive’. This drive meanders through another forest of Tingle Trees and Marri and Karri Oak trees. Again, very lovely. The Drive leads into the famous Tree Top Walk.

This is a 420 metre long steel truss walkway. It is built on the side of a natural  valley so the climb above the treetops of the giant tingle trees is gradual. At its highest point we were 40 metres above ground level. The walkway is accessible by wheelchair so it is very safe. It does rock a bit, but nothing like a swing bridge. We met some people who could not wait to get off the platform, but it really was nothing to worry about.

On the platform of the Treetop Walk

The view from above the trees was certainly spectacular but both Ian and I thought our drive earlier through the other forest was much better.

We then drove back to Walpole to go to the local IGA to buy milk, and the drove around the town too have a look. What a lovely little town. A best-kept secret – but not for long as there was a sign for a subdivision being opened. This little town is right on the inlet – absolutely picturesque. Many of the homes were holiday shacks, but there were some lovely homes there as well. Most people here have a boat as it is a good fishing area.

Arrived back at the Van around 4.00pm. Got my washing off the line before the evening chill set in.

We are both a bit tired now – we did quite a bit of walking today. Also Ian’s legs are a bit sore after yesterday’s climb of that large tree. Probably all the walking has done him some good.

This is certainly lovely country and we are glad we took the time to have a good look around.

Love to all, Janese and Ian

Day 71 – 13 Sep 2012 – at Rest Point (Walpole)

Left West Busselton around 9.30 and headed slightly south-east to the Vasse Highway. The country side is just so green and lush. We passed a few dairy farms but they are few and far between here in Western Australia now. Many of the ex-dairy farms seem to have some beef cattle on them, but a lot of the paddocks were bare of animals. We presume that all these green grass will become hay in time – hope so. It is very hilly country so some of the houses were placed in beautiful positions to give the best views. We realise we are probably seeing this land at its best, but it is the sort of country we could easily live in. We only saw a couple of paddocks which were sown down to crop.

It wasn’t too long before we began to drive through the karri forest areas.

Road through Karri Forest

What magnificent trees. Occasionally the scenery was not unlike travelling over the Black Spur (over the Great Dividing Range north of Healesville), but the trees were certainly much taller. And so straight!! Absolutely fantastic to drive so close to them. This is serious bush fire country and we can only imagine how frightening that would be amongst these gigantic trees. Every now and then we left the forest areas and drove through cleared farm lands with open paddocks, and then just as quick we were back amongst the forest once more. This occurred throughout our whole trip today.

We called in at Pemberton and looked through the display on the early settlement of this saw-milling area. Some of the photos showing the way these large trees were cut down with just man-power and very basic tools were amazing.

The Gloucester Tree- Ian just starting his climb

Just outside the town is the Gloucester Tree – this is a giant karri tree on which a fire-spotting viewing platform was built in 1947. The platform is 61 metres from the ground and is accessible by climbing 153 spikes which have been embedded in the tree and spiral around the tree. Anyone who wishes to can climb up these spikes. The platform up the top gives a 360 degree view of the old growth karri forest all around.  Needless to say that I decided to give this opportunity a miss, but not Ian. He was more than eager to give it a go.

Ian climbing the Gloucester Tree

Only 6 people at a time are supposed to climb it at any given time, but there was only one other person willing to climbwhile we were there – a young English tourist. She had no trouble getting up, although her friend with her only did about 15 spikes and froze and had to come back down. It is still used for fire-spotting. We both think that in time OH&S will stop people from climbing as it could be dangerous. There was a form of protection, but it was sheep wire- this hardly keeps sheep under control, let alone a human body which might lose grip and fall against it!  However, despite the possible danger, Ian thought it was fantastic.

We had lunch at this spot. It was lovely. This is the country of the ‘Splendid Blue Wren’, and although we did see a couple of them they were too fast for me to get a photo. They are absolutely beautiful. There were bellbirds calling throughout the forest and also the odd kookaburra laughing. It was really lovely just sitting in the van listening to all these sounds in the forest.

We then drove out to the South Western Highway, heading southwards towards Albany, although we won’t reach there for a couple of days. Again we occasionally left the forest areas, but instead of pastures there were national parks with gums, wattles etc. There were patches of lovely white heath in flower and also all the melalucas were flowering with a small white flower. So it was quite an attractive drive today.

We want to do the Walk among the Giant Trees tomorrow which is between Walpole and Denmark, so pulled into a small caravan park on the outskirts of Walpole.

Inlet near our Van – right on dusk

It is called Rest Point Caravan Park and is right on the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets. All the sites are well grassed and just a short walk away from the waters of this inlet, which is surrounded by bush, so pretty and nice and quiet. There is a small platform out into the inlet for fishing or just sitting and watching the local wildlife. Pelicans are everywhere and this is an area for stingrays and their brochure says there is one which swims by most days so hope we can see it. It is absolutely peaceful and very picturesque. We walked to the pier and got talking – one chap had relatives in Kyabram (called it ‘Ky’ so we knew he had to have some knowledge of the area), and the other couple were wheat/sheep farmers from Nullawil  (near Swan Hill) so Ian enjoyed having a good chat with them.

Love to all, Ian & Janese

Day 70 – 12 Sep 2012 – Still at West Busselton

Cool morning – around 15C. First tourist venue for the day was the Busselton Jetty – 1,841 metres long (the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere). At the end of this pier is an underwater Observatory. However, owing to ‘poor visability’ this was closed today, so we headed back to the car and drove to the next venue – the lighthouse at Cape Naturtaliste about 20kms away. It was a lovely drive in – bushes and shrubs all in flower – very pretty. One thing we have noticed in the past few days is the amount of arum lillies growing wild everywhere. Some of the paddocks on some of the farms are almost all arum lillies. Very pretty, but they are certainly taking over and they are now considered to be a noxious weed.

arum lillies in paddock

The lighthouse at Cape Naturaliste is one of the 209 still in operation in Australia. This lighthouse was built in the early 1900’s after there had been 16 shipwrecks on this point. There were 3 houses for the keepers and in the early days their shifts were 4 hourly every day of the year. The guide explained how much work they had to do in that 4 hours.  Because they had to handle mercury on a regular basis their life expectancy was not very good. It was an arduous life. Part of the tour included entry into the lighthouse and a climb up the spiral stairwell up to the actual lamp. Another interesting fact explained to us was that the light revolves around 24 hours a day- the reason being that if it was stopped and if the angle of the sun was correct the prism is capable of starting a bushfire up to 18 km away- similar effect to what we can do with a magnifying glass.

Lighthouse at Cape Naturaliste

These lighthouses were certainly quite cramped. After explaining all about the lamp we were then allowed out on to the outer railed platform which circled the lamp. The view was amazing. While we were watching the guide saw a couple of whales breeching in the distance so we were all able to see that. We had our binoculars so it was great to see them.

We left Cape Naturaliste and then drove a few kms. to Sugarloaf Rock. This was a scenic spot where the spectacular ocean view could be watched from a couple of viewing platforms.  We walked to the first viewing area and there was a chap there (travelling this area on a push bike actually) taking photos of the beautiful flowers and plants and birds between the platform and the ocean. He told us that there was a pod of dolphins swimming just below us in the surf. Sure enough we saw them. There must have been 20 or more. When a large wave started to break we could see them in the curling wave which was transparent. Absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately my dear little camera which usually does such a good job does not have a great telephoto lens so it was impossible to take a photo. We then walked to the highest platform a short distance away and sat and watched for a short while and as well as still being able to still see the dolphins we could also see a couple of whales in the distance. On our walk back to the car Ian saw a 4ft long brown snake on our path – it just watched us as we carefully walked by – did not move at all. If he had been on the farm this snake would have received a different reaction.

We then drove along a scenic coastal route to Eagle Bay and Meelup. We sat in the car in a park right on the beach at Meelup and had our lunch. The scene was lovely. There was no-one on the beach or on the water, but no doubt in the summer this area teems with people. The water was quite calm and it was very peaceful.

View from platform at Yallingup

After lunch we then did another scenic coastal road via Yallingup to Margaret River. Yallingup was a smaller version of a seaside town in Victoria – lots of houses built into the hill sides- all endeavouring to get the best view of the ocean. And WHAT A VIEW! Amazing. Once again we managed to see a couple of whales out to sea.

We then continued on until this road turned east towards Margaret River. We knew this area is famous for its wine – but it should be more famous for its wineries. There must have been dozens and dozens of them on this small stretch of road. The scenery was lovely – sometimes open paddocks, sometimes corridors of really tall trees, and sometimes bushland. The only grazing there was one deer farm.. We were told that most of these wineries are situated on what were once dairy farms but over time they have all changed from dairy to vineyards.

We drove through the township of Margaret River- a typical busy tourist destination – shops and restaurants and cafes and clothing stores everywhere and for a weekday it seemed to be very busy. We then drove out of Margaret River and headed back to Busselton. We had seen an advertisement for a local dairy farm which had its own icecream shop so we detoured down that road. We passed the dairy and it was good to see friesian cows again. The countryside looked fantastic. Obviously good dairy country because in this part there was no irrigation. The shop had a display of about 14 different icecream flavours. Ian chose the ‘wildberry’ and I chose ‘caramel’. They were absolutely delicious. We sat outside on a verandah which was fortunately out of the wind as it was quite cool. We got chatting to other travellers there and really enjoyed the detour. There were 2 imitation cows on the lawn outside the shop with pretend udders (made of the black rubber teats used in calf feeders) and there was a milking stool placed near the cow, and a bucket under the udder. Anyone could sit on the stool and pull on the’teats’ and a milky substance would flow into the bucket. Quite innovative and we did see a few people get a photo taken whilst doing this.

On the way back to Busselton we passed through the tiny township of Cowaramup. This town has made the most of the first three letters of its name and throughout the main street there are fibreglass friesian cows and calves. Each shop helped in the purchase and placement of these models (the cows are actually ear-tagged with the names of the various shop owners) and they have proven to be quite a tourist drawcard. Unlike the fibreglass cows in Shepparton which are painted all types of colours and designs, these are all friesian, and the artist who painted them went to great lengths to paint them in an authentic pattern, by photographing hundreds of cows and using these photographs as models for his painting the cows. We were told that the economy of the town really lifted once these cows were placed along the main street.

Fibreglass cow in Cowaramup

We then returned via Busselton where Ian refuelled for tomorrow’s trip.When we returned to our Van we got talking to our ‘neighbours’ who are in a cabin next to ours. We had a good long chat. Certainly meeting new people is one of the benefits of travel.

We have pulled the heater out and are using it every evening now as the weather gets quite cool. The temp today never rose about 17C but it was sunny and pleasant. Seems this is going to be the type of weather we can expect while we are in this part of W.A. We have noticed that the names of many towns and districts here in the south west end with the two letters ‘up’ and have found out it is from the local aboriginal dialect and the U-P means ‘place of’. Interesting.

Love to all, Janese and Ian

Day 69 -11Sep 2012- At West Busselton

Just as we climbed into bed last night it began to rain and although it did not rain for too long, it was quite heavy at times.

We left Serpentine around 9.00am and headed along the South Western Highway. In our typical fashion we chose not to drive along HWY 1. We were told that this other Highway (20) was the more scenic and it certainly was a lovely drive as we headed towards Bunbury. Must mention that here in W.A. they do not have creeks- all small streams are called ‘brooks’.

Beautiful scenery on South West Hwy

A lot of the land just out of Serpentine is horse stud country. There were some magnificent properties – beautifully laid out with black fencing (not the usual white). They were so well laid out with fantastic pastures and were so picturesque with trees everywhere. Some of them were huge – their boundary fence along the highway went for 2 or 3 kms. Today we saw our first dairy farm for a long while. Once again the paddocks were very lush. There were plenty of young heifer calves out in the paddocks. Didn’t make us wish we were still dairying though! We passed through a town called Harvey. A lot of the milk for sale here in Western Australia has the brand ‘Harvey Milk’ and it seems it is manufactured somewhere here. We also passed the first real orchards since leaving the Goulburn Valley. (I know the Carnarvon area was a citrus production area but we never saw the orchards as such). All the trees were coming out in blossom and it was very pretty.We saw an alternative tourist drive to Bunbury via Collie so we turned off on that road- it was called the Coalfields Highway. It was a lovely drive through unbelievably lush farm land.

Once we reached Collie we realised the only way to Bunbury was either back the same way we drove in (almost anathema to Ian!!) or a longer route via Donnybrook which then turned northwards back to Bunbury – so we chose that route.

Alternate tourist drive

It was also a lovely drive. We passed all kinds of agriculture – dairy/beef/sheep/goats/vineyards/cropping/fruit as well as timber sawmills. This is the area where Alcoa has aluminim smelters. Mineral Sands are also mined here. Very diversified area.

We arrived in Bunbury around lunchtime. We visited the local Info centre to see what we could do in a few hours and then went to the supermarket and bought fresh fruit for lunch. The weather was overcast and there was a strong breeze blowing.

Bunbury is situated right on the coast so we did a long tourist walk over to a bridge which led to the popular local beach.

Mangrove swamp on inlet at Bunbury

From here we went to a small inlet and looked at a mangrove swamp which is the southernmost mangrove in Australia. It is a protected area naturally, but there was a 200 metre boardwalk built through the swamp which were we able to walk. Very interesting. This side of Bunbury is quite calm – the ocean side has all the surf. While we were heading over the bridge we saw 2 dolphins feeding nearby. I was able to just get a photo as the tail came out of  the water.

Dolphin in inlet at Bunbury

We walked back to our Van and then headed south to Busselton. We planned to stay at a Van Park just out of town on Geographe Bay and arrived there around 3.30pm. This would be the most plush Park we have ever stayed at. It is rated 5 stars.  Cost is $39 per night.We have booked for 2 nights to start with as we were told it is much easier to see the Margaret River area without having to pull a caravan behind. From the brochures we have it sure looks like there will be a lot to keep us occupied. Have heard it is possible to see whales now so we may look into doing one of those trips. We’ll see tomorrow.

Love to all, Janese and Ian

Day 67 – 9 Sep 2012 – at Serpentine (south of Perth)

Left Cervantes around 8.30am. The wind had picked up again so it was quite blustery. We drove along the newly 0pened Indian Ocean Road. As I said before this road is as good, if not better than, the Great Ocean Road because there are so many views of the ocean as you drive by.

Sand Dunes beside Indian Ocean Road

The sand dunes right beside the road were amazing. The foliage on the sides of the road was also amazing. Still lots of the wattle, but this time there were large patches of wild flowers as well as bigger shrubs than the ground cover of the past few days. We also drove for a few kilometres where the main foliage which we could see were the grass tree black boy plants (yucca tree plant). There must have been thousands and thousands of them.

We decided last night that we really did not wish to go to a City so would give Perth a miss. Fortunately there are 2 major freeways from north to south of the City which we were able to drive on. Gosh they were both so busy.

The first Freeway is the Mitchell Freeway and it started in one of the beachside towns north of Perth, although once we entered this area we realised this township is now no more than a distant outer suburb of Perth, as the houses never stopped from thereon in – and it was certainly busy. We remembered that the West Coast Eagles were playing an elimination final today in Perth so we presumed the traffic was heading to the city for that reason because for a Sunday it was bumper to bumper for most of the way.

Railway Station in middle of Freeway Carriageways

This Freeway was a little different to any we had been on before because a railway line ran in between the two carriageways. Every now and then a Train Station appeared – again right in the middle of the Freeway. Access to the Stations was via an overhead bridge. Each of the Stations looked very modern, but none was the same design. Most unusual. They seemed to be quite well patronised too. Every now and then a train went by which was so unexpected whilst driving along a Freeway. Very interesting!

We drove over the Swan River and certainly the aspect of this River through the city is most attractive, but it is still a CITY – a place where we would rather not be. Too busy and too loud for us.

Crossing over the Swan River

Our caravan park is at a small township called Serpentine. It is right on the base of the Darling Range and is quite picturesque. There is a national park right next to the Park and some of the photos we have seen in the advertising brochures certainly do look nice. We may drive in there – depends whether we stay for another night.

After we parked the Van I did some washing while Ian took the opportunity to visit a small, close by, Machinery and Tractor museum,which was originally a personal collection of one man over many years,and it was his wish the collection be maintained in its entirety. With the help of sponsorship from Alcoa Australia,the local council and a willing band of volunteers it is now housed in a purpose built shed.He certainly had collected a great many tractors and stationery engines together with other machinery over his lifetime, and most of them are in working order,even if they have not been restored completely. Today’s weather is a warm, pleasant, 27C so the washing dried in just a few hours so that was good. We have heard that the weather will be a bit cooler later in the week though.

We will be visiting friends (Clarendon,s) for dinner tonight so I am posting this Blog a little earlier than usual.

Love to all, Janese and Ian