Day 79 – 21 Sep 2012 – On roadside on the Nullabor

We left Kambalda around 9.45 and headed back on the same road we came from 2 days ago – to Norseman. We stopped at Norseman to buy some groceries before heading off to drive along the Nullabor and Ian also re-fuelled because we know the fuel price will be a bit dearer from now on.

Well, once again we have been surprised at what the countryside would be like. We had an idea that this drive along the Nullabor would be flat, and bare and desert-looking. Nothing like it !! The road was undulating, and the vegetation was quite thick where the mallee tree was most prolific and the rest of the country side was covered with smaller shrubs and ground covers. Saltbush was one of the plants and in some places it was all that could be seen, but just when we thought we had seen the last of trees, in a short while there they were again. Certainly, so far, you could not say it has been a boring drive. There were patches of just dirt, but it certainly did not look desert. It would still be a very tough country to surive in though.

We stopped at a parking bay just out of Balladonia and had lunch. Not long after we started back on the road we came upon the sign which said we were now driving along the longest straight stretch of road in Australia – 146.5 kms. It was amazing. We expected to see just a long flat road, but the road was undulating. We wondered if there would be double lines anywhere, but not once in the whole 146.5 kms was there any. Shows just how easy this road is for passing traffic.  It was a good drive.

Long straight road ahead

The straight road ended at a place called Caiguna which is a small petrol stop/caravan park/motel. We re-fuelled and then drove on for another 17kms to a road-side stop. There was no mobile reception at Caiguna so it was just as easy to free camp beside the road as we can cope quite well without power when we have to. There were 2 other vans pulled up when we drove in and another one pulled in while we were having tea. It has been quite warm today – over 30C  – and very, very windy. As the evening progressed the temperature did cool down which was good.

One of the things we have seen a few times on this trip has been a road sign which says ‘RFDS emergency landing strip’ and shortly after that are road markings for landing a plane and there is cleared land where traffic waits if and when this has to happen.

When we drove out of Caiguna there was a sign saying that we were now in Central Western Time and we had to put our clocks/watches forward 45 minutes. Never ever knew there was another time zone here. We will get across the S.A. border tomorrow and will have to alter our times once more. Hopefully we will be in Victoria before daylight saving begins otherwise we will be totally confused!!!

Love to all, Janese and Ian


Day 78 – Still at Kambalda – 20 Sept 2012

We quite enjoyed our evening meal last night over at the canteen, but did not meet any of the ‘locals’ – they were all too busy watching the TV.

Around 8.30am we drove just a short way in to the town of Kambalda to the top of their lookout tower overlooking a gigantic salt lake. We thought some of the lakes we saw yesterday were large – mere puddles compared to this one which is called Lake Lefroy. It is over 510 square kilometres in area. It was in 1945 when there was a shortage of supply of salt that this lake was harvested for its salt and as far as we know the W.A. Salt Supply Co. is still in production. Because of the extreme high salinity there is an abundance of salt bush, but there are many other plants which are salt tolerant and survive quite well.

Lake Lefroy (Salt)

This lake was HUGE – we could not find out how often it fills with water, but there is so much salt lying about it looks as though they have many, many years of harvest in front of them.

We then drove back on to the Highway and headed to Coolgardie. The drive along this road continued to amaze us. Mallee and other eucalytpus as well as lots of smaller shrubs and the odd wildflower every now and then. It was quite pretty. We both expected flat, dry and desolate country, but it was anything but. However, just before entering Coolgardie the countryside did begin to look a little like what we had expected for the whole trip. Coolgardie is a lot smaller and less populated than we thought it would be. It seems to be a town which has been forgotten – Kalgoorlie has taken everything. However, we enjoyed being able to read the various history plaques set up around the town. The main street is the widest street we have ever seen (sorry I completely forgot to take a picture). The advertisements for the streets boast that a camel train could still turn around in it – they would be right.

Entry into Coolgardie

We then travelled 39kms to Kalgoorlie and the first thing we did was visit the Information Centre to get a map of the town to make sure we knew where Ian had to go to get on on his 1.30pm bus trip. While I was getting the map Ian rang his second cousin Bev. Clarke who lives in Kalgoorlie. She kindly invited us around to their place and so we had morning tea and lunch with her and her husband Hector. We had a great time. Bev. is related to Ian on the Thomas side and this is the first time thay have met so they had a good chat about some of the family history research they have been doing. They invited us to pull our van up at their place if we are ever in Kalgoorlie again,but dont think that we would fit.

We left there in time for Ian to catch his bus. He only just made it as we had a bit of a walk from where the car was parked.  There were 26 people on the tour. While Ian did the 2.5 hour tour I took the opportunity to just wander around the shops. Kalgoorlie has a population of 30,000 people but much to my surprise they do not have a shopping centre complex – just separate shops along the main streets. I quite enjoyed as we have commented a few times that whenever you enter a shoppiing complex you could be in Townsville, or Brisbane, or Melbourne, or Bendigo or Broome – they all look the same. I managed to fill in my time quite well.

I will let Ian write about the tour to the Superpit here in Kalgoorlie.

Superpit at Kalgoorlie

While I have certainly looked forward to seeing the superpit for a good while, actually booking a seat over the internet was not all that easy, however as we said yesterday, we did manage to get the last seat on the bus for this afternoon’s tour. Sometimes I wonder whether these web site designers actually ever try to use their creations as would a client, or whether they just look at their design from a purely IT view. Anyway, at least I got a ticket! The superpit is not very far from the centre of town. Compared to the open pit at Mt Tom Price it is not as big nor is it a regular shape but nevertheless it is a huge hole in the ground. Dotted all over the mining area are old mine sites, shafts etc and in the superpit itself you can see plenty of shafts and drives that were sunk when all operations were underground many, many years ago. At the turn of the 20th century there were over 100 mine companies operating on the so called “Golden Mile”  and in those days they were not all that fussed about documenting where their shafts and drives were located. In one particular area any ore material that is contaminated with old steel or wooden supports is dumped and all this foreign material is hand picked out and dumped in a heap for later burial. Although some of the timber pulled out is over 100 years old it cannot be reused even though it is in relatively good condition because in those early days it was treated with arsenic for preservation purposes, so is still highly toxic. The mine itself produces over 800,000 ounces of gold each year. Seven out of eight dump truck loads are waste or overburden the other one contains an amount of gold in the ore equivalent to the size of a golf ball! Seems a lot of work for little reward! The mine has enough reserves left to operate through to 2021 and after that operations will have to be underground as by that stage the open pit would need to start encroaching on the town. Currently the depth of the pit is 450 metres and planning for the future will take it down to 600 metres.When you consider that some of the early mines went down to a depth of 1600 metres, I think they will be mining gold here in Kalgoorlie for many more years yet. Besides the KCGM Mine (Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mining) there are numerous other smaller mines dotted all around the place. There are quite a few New Zealanders working here at the mines and the tour guide said the acronymn of KCGM really means ‘Kiwis Can Get Money’! 

Large loaded dump truck at Kalgoorlie

We drove back to Kambalda via the Goldfields Highway (called the Historic Golden Mile on the outskirts of Kalgoorlie). Kambalda is 60 kms out of Kalgoorlie and we were surprised just how busy the road was. Mining is certainly a big-time employer!

I was able to get a good detailed map/brochure on the Nullabor so we will have a good look at that tonight because we will be heading east — towards S.A. eventually —- tomorrow.  Must mention that it is possible we will be out of mobile/internet range on and off for some time now so if you cannot see a blog that will be the reason why. I will always catch up when I can.

Love to all, Janese and Ian

Day 77 – 19 Sep 2012 – at Kambalda

Today’s blog will be rather short as we did not do any ‘touristy’ things today – just travelled.

We left Esperance around 10.00am. Esperance was certainly a lovely spot to visit. We re-fuelled at a service station on the way out of the town and Ian took the opportunity to check the tyre pressures of both the Landcruiser and the caravan because in a few days time we will be crossing the Nullabor. He was pleased to find they were all as they should have been – considering some of the rough roads we have travelled on it is a very good outcome.

We were surprised just how undulating this country side is and it was a good trip today. In the first 50 or so kms out of Esperance there was some lovely country. There were a quite a few large flocks of sheep in some of the paddocks. However, after that some areas were quite dry and the few crops there did look like they were doing it tough. Quite a lot of this area seems to be salf affected and there were many dry, but extremely large, salt lakes.

One of the large dry ‘salt’ lakes

The wildflowers were still out, but mostly the same type – a whitish/blue covered bush which looked a little like a melaleuca. It was quite pretty though. Some areas we drove through were just low scrub and not so pretty, but this is also mallee country and we certainly saw large areas of mallee scrub. It was not hard to imagine we were in Victoria when we drove through this country.

Magnificent gum tree

We also passed through some areas where there were some magnificent gum trees so it was a diversified countryside during today’s trip.

We pulled in at Norseman for lunch. So did lots of other travellers. This town is on the junction of the Eyre Highway and is the only road to the east (Nullabor) and the main road to the west (Perth) so naturally it would be busy with tourists. We had originally thought we would be heading east today, but found out at the caravan park in Esperance that there is a reasonable caravan park at Kambalda which is only 60kms south of Kalgoorlie so we decided we would travel there and just go and visit Kalgoorlie as a day drive – because we knew we could not get into a caravan park in Kalgoorlie which is heavily booked out with its Race Meeting. While we were at Norseman the lady in the Info. Centre gave us details of the tour through the mine at Kalgoorlie and we saw that it was advised to book in advance. Shows how modern eveything is now – we could not book by phone – only over the internet. So we went back to the Van and did exactly that. We were able to get the one and only ticket remaining on the tour tomorrow afternoon. Whew. So we booked that ticket for Ian as he has always talked about doing this tour of the Super Mine. It is a 2.5hour tour so he should certainly enjoy it. As Kalgoorlie has a population of 30,000 I think I can fill in that time looking at the shops and just relaxing in a coffee shop (or two).

Much to our surprise all this area is part of what is called Great Western Woodlands – the largest temperate woodland left in the world of 16 million hectares (larger than England). It has over 3,000 species of flowering plants as well being an area which has large numbers of animals, frogs, snakes, insects etc. We had no idea. There was a brochure explaining that because this area is also such a strategic area for mining and exploration as well as active pastoral leases, the State Government and other organisations have worked hard to provide a framework to manage all these different demands on this land.

Roadside vegetation

We then drove the extra 110kms to Kambala. This is a town which survives because of the mining boom. Much to our surprise the reception at the Caravan Park was something you would expect in a much flasher area – and we were told by the girl in the reception that this complex is run by ‘The Mac’ – an organisation which supplies accommodation for mining staff, mostly in Queensland, but have a couple of sites here in W.A. She mentioned the caravan side of the complex was a little less looked after. She was right – it is just a park – no lawns mown, no definite parking spots and a few power/water outlets which do not work. However, the toilets/showers are clean, although we do not need to use these. She said they have a buffet dinner each night for $15 a head so we think we will go over and see if we can meet some of the ‘locals’. Even in the caravan side of this complex most of the vans are ‘permanents’  – people working in the mine. It may seem a rather rash criticism but why do most permanent caravan sites look so untidy. The converted bus next to our spot could easily look quite good in a slum area!! However, in our case we only have to look at it for a couple of nights! I should have taken a photo of it, but it is too dark now. Maybe tomorrow.

It is places like this where I am so thankful to have a washing machine in the Van so I don’t have to traipse across the dirt and long grass to the laundry. I did a couple of loads of washing and although a short shower of rain just fell I am hopeful that the weather will stay fine and warm overnight. Temp at the moment is a lovely 26C.

POSTSCRIPT – re the Pink Lake at Esperance. Found out that it has not been pink for over 20 years. The reason given is typical of ‘greenies’ who cannot accept things change naturally – they are blaming the farming community for allowing their different farm chemicals to pollute the lake.

Love to all, Janese and Ian

Day 76 – 18 Sep 2012 – Still at Esperance

The strong wind of yesterday was still blowing when we went to bed and continued on through the night. However, when we woke around 7.00am the wind had died down completely, but the sun was not shining – it was raining.

We were not going to let a little bit of rain stop us so after breakfast we drove around the town to have a look at the suburbs. This town is right on the waterfront, so of course there were the beautiful mansions with a view to die for. The rest of the town is lovely and tidy and we were quite impressed. Again – new subdivisions opening up everywhere. Where are all these people coming from to live in these new houses????

The rain was easing off around 10.15am, and we had planned to visit the local museum which was supposed to be marked with a ‘V’ on the local tourist guide map and was to open between 10.30am and 4.30pm but we could not see it on the map so drove to the Information Centre. “Ah”, said the girl behind the counter, “They made a couple of mistakes. It is coded ‘CC’ on the map and only opens between 1.30pm and 4.30pm.” We cannot believe the amount of spelling, grammar and descriptive mistakes these very well printed, glossy tourist brochures and information plaques have in them. I could get a full time job just correcting them!!

Anyway, the rain had stopped so we decided it was time for our daily walk so we walked a couple of kilometres to the nearby jetty and then walked the 800m or so of the jetty. There was a small island out to sea and some rain was falling on just half of it so I couldn’t resist taking a photo.

Rain falling on part of an island

Seal on town beach

There was a seal lying down on the beach just at the start of the jetty. It didn’t seem to worry about some young foreign tourists who were standing beside it. We presume it is well used to being photographed. There were a few people fishing off the jetty. It started to rain again as we headed back to the car so we got a little bit wet because it was quite a distance. We then decided to drive to the wind turbine display just out of the town – back along the Great Ocean Drive which we did yesterday, but from the opposite direction so we pulled in at a couple of the parking spots to have another look. Even with the cloudy skies and the occasional shower of rain these beaches and ocean views were absolutely STUNNING. You really have to see them to believe the beauty of the different shades of blue. There were a couple of stalwarts out surfing. We hoped we might see a whale but unfortunately we did not. They have been sighted in the ocean near Esperance over the past week or so, but not today.

We then drove up to the wind turbine display area. Turbines have been in use in this area since 1987,(the first wind farm in Australia) the first 3 turbines were decommissioned in 1993  upon the installation of 9 newer turbines and  further 6  newer and more powerful turbines were installed in 2003. All up the turbines provide 20% of Esperance’s power needs and work in parallel with a gas turbine power station which is privately owned and operated. In 2010 one of the blades of a turbine was struck by lightning and  caught fire. There were photos of this at the museum. Very dramatic! We could not get over the size of these turbines. The earlier ones were 31.5 metres high and the later versions were 46 metres high. The blades on the earlier ones are 13.5 metres long and the newer blades are 22 metres long. If you look really closely at the photo of the turbine you will see some people at the base – this is one of the smaller ones! All up there are 15 turbines in this area. They do make a noise and we can sort of understand why some people do not approve of them, but here on a coast which is so windy, and here in a town which has always had to generate its own power, it makes a lot of sense.

Wind turbine – people at the base demonstrate just how tall this is

An old bale loader outside the museum

We drove back to the Van for lunch and then at 2pm I had my hair cut. She did a good job. Meanwhile, Ian just browsed around the shops a bit. We then went to the local museum. There was quite a display of  memorabilia of whaling and sealing off this coast as well as lots of information on the agriculture development of this area. There were the usual old restored machinery and of course lots of household goods from a bygone era. Well, not so bygone – it is a sign of getting old isn’t it when some of the things on display you can remember as a child! Out the front of this museum was a Sunshine Mackay bale loader of the 1950’s. Ian’s uncle Elvin once had one of these and it was falling from one like this on Elvin’s farm when Ian was 14 that he broke his arm, and also his sister Jeannine lost the tip of her index finger whilst hooking up the loader to a hay trailer, so he wanted a photo of it ‘for old time’s sake’.

While I was getting my hair cut the hairdresser asked where we were going next and I mentioned Kalgoorlie. Just as well I did – seems there is a large race meeting which goes for over a week and it is all booked out until next week at least. We do not intend to hang around for that so Kalgoorlie will have to go on to our ‘bucket list’ for another trip. So we now have to re-appraise our trip and decide where to for tomorrow.

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

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 73 – 15 Sep 2012 – at Bremer Beach

We took our time to leave the Park at Rest Point this morning. This is one of the good things about not having a deadline to meet – we don’t have to rush if we don’t want to. We spent some time talking to people in the Van near ours. This is also one of the good things about not being in a hurry – being able to take the time to have a good long chat with ‘strangers’. We both agree this is one of the better parks we have been in for its view, its quietness and the room offered each van. Cost was just $22 per night which is one of the cheapest we have ever paid for a powered site.

Couldn’t resist taking a photo of the local pelicans all asleep on the little jetty here at Rest Point.

Pelicans all sitting down on the pier

The road out from Walpole to Denmark was quite lovely – lots of paddocks with lovely green lush grass; although once again very little livestock on these paddocks.

But the road from Denmark to Albany was a lot less attractive. Very little farmland and lots of tree plantations, which are quite ugly anyway. We arrived in Albany around 12.00 and re-fuelled. We then drove into the CBD to check out what we could do there. However, the Info. Centre was almost impossible for us to reach with our big-rig so we just turned back up the main street, and drove out of town. It is a city of over 30,000 people but we did not think it was a very nice looking town. It is right on a bay and there is quite a large port there and we did drive down there because it was at the end of the main street and we needed to drive there to be able to turn around back up the main street.

Port at Albany

We turned off towards Esperance (although we knew we would not go that far today) and quite enjoyed the scenery on this road – more farmland again, and this time quite a few farms with beef cattle, and sheep on the cropping land. The cropping properties were huge – canola is the main crop here and with it all in flower it does look rather spectacular. Talking about the ‘yellow’ colour of the canola, I forgot to mention the other day that we are now unfortuntely beginning to see lots of ‘yellow’ for other reasons — capeweed. In some places the paddocks are covered with them. Today is the first day we have noticed thistles in paddocks  – it has surprised us that we have not seen them before.

We stopped outside of a small town called Many Peaks and had lunch at a roadside pull-off parking area. It was nice and quiet.

Not long after getting back on to the road we noticed that the wildflowers were everywhere. They were all shades of pink, red, purple, orange, yellow and even white. Some were ground covers with the tiniest of flowers, some were in trees with huge blossoms and then anything in between those 2 sizes. It was absolutely lovely. We travel too fast for my little camera to pick these flowers up well, and it is hard to stop quickly on a main highway. But they were absolultely beautiful. Did manage to get a lovely photo of a bottlebrush when we did stop.

yellow bottlebrush

We turned off the Highway towards Bremer Beach – you will have to check it out on a map if you do not know where it is. It is situated in a sheltered estuary on Bremer Bay – right on the Southern Ocean, and adjoins Fitzgerald River National Park. The caravan park is right near one of the eight beaches on this bay. It is a lovely caravan park – lovely green grass everywhere, beautiful shady trees for every site and lots of room around each site. The manager told us that when the school holidays begin they are fully booked out so we are glad we are just before that as it is a lovely spot. After setting up we drove to a few of the picturesque spots in the area.

The first was called Fishery Beach. This is a lovely area with a big jetty and boat ramp and the view was magic. It is a very safe beach for children so is rather popular with families. It is a 1.5km walk from the caravan park. The beaches here are pure white and the sea is once again turquoise blue. So lovely.

Next drive was to Short Beach. The sea here was a little rougher than the first beach, but still a swimming beach, as all the beaches here are within the bay area so are sheltered from the Southern Ocean somewhat. There was not a soul on either beach but we can just imagine how busy it would be in the summer.

Fishery Beach at Bremer Bay

Next stop was a short drive to Tooleburrup Hill Lookout. This gave a 360 degrees view of the area. Unfortunately there was a bit of haze owing to sea spray, although there was not much surf that we could see in the areas which were closer to the Southern Ocean, but the view was good nonetheless.

It was getting quite cool by this time so we drove back to the Van and Ian is watching the Eagles vs the Magpies while I finish tonight’s blog.