A holiday with Jarrah, Karri, Marri and Tingle in South West WA, Easter 2021

Saturday
Here we go again, after a very busy week for both us. We are headed to the South West corner of Western Australia. We have a few days to enjoy it before the masses arrive for Easter on Friday. As usual we almost didn’t get started, thanks to clicky clutch. The Piper zip tied the problem fixed, a loose neutral switch, and we were on our way. For some reason we headed off the long way but it was a nice drive south east to Greenbushes, a place I’ve never been and was pleasantly surprised by. It is a mining town, with lithium coming out of the ground 24/7. There is a neat lookout over an old open cut mine with some information on interpretive boards. We picked up a geocache then went for a look at a campsite nearby before heading back onto the highway.

With everything going well, we were aiming for Shannon campground when Mambo Man asked how much further to Walpole. He was concerned that we needed diesel so we stopped and checked maps, with me declaring he should have filled UP in Manjimup (there was a sign saying “have you filled UP as we drove through the town). By our reckoning we wouldn’t make it to Walpole and I didn’t want to go backwards so we decided to detour to Northcliffe. Mambo Man drove like a lunatic to get there although just driving faster and getting there sooner won’t mean you don’t run out, and we filled up at the servo with 30 minutes to spare before they closed. We were now well off course and it was getting late so I suggested we stay at the Round tu it eco park. This story is sounding a lot like the story from last time I was down this way. Mambo Man agreed with this plan (I think he would have agreed with just about anything) and we headed there with fingers crossed someone would be there to greet us and a site would be available. No need to worry as it turned out, because the couple who own and run the park where happy to see us place was deserted. If we hadn’t arrived, no one would have stayed in a site that night. It didn’t take long to unload our gear, set up our chairs, pour a drink and start to feel relaxed. It must be this place. It seems to have that effect on me.

Sunday
Time to get this holiday started! The plan is to get to Banksia campground and setup, something we didn’t want to do yesterday afternoon because the road in is all sand and requires a bit of care. I have done it before, alone with the kids, in my old land cruiser towing my camper trailer. So I know it and hope it will be ok.

We scooted down the last of the South West Highway, getting to the turn off in good time. Having looked at the road and walked a fair section of it we decided to just get in with it. The initial part, while steep and soft was managed no problems in 4wd. Mambo Man and Maz were both handling it all very well. I was feeling less concerned the further we got and then, as Mambo Man says, it all went to shit. Big time. Maz got bogged in the sand, thanks I think to a large raised area between the wheel ruts. She was so bogged the bike rack and bike were at ground level and the under tray storage boxes were in sand too.

We were thankful at that point that we had purchased recovery tracks and after taking off the bikes and ditching them on the side of the road, we set about trying to use the tracks without success. We couldn’t achieve traction on the left and the right. We then set about deflating tyres and digging out sand, Mambo Man with the shovel end of the tracks and me with me hands. We were doing well although I doubt we would have been able to recover ourselves, when 2 knights in a FJ cruiser came head on to us and set about rescuing us. They were an amazing pair of men, a father and son combo, who used their own gear including a winch and a snatch strap to pull us out of a real mess, lead us back out the way we came, pump our tyres back up, while smiling and laughing the entire time. They didn’t once pass any judgement on us and our ability or our decision to attempt the track. Instead they had the attitude that you don’t leave someone in trouble and that folks is where karma kicked in for us. All the times we have assisted people in trouble anywhere around the world was repaid in that couple of hours and we will pay it forward again when we get the chance.

Having been rescued we paid our rescuers in beer and headed to a quiet place to recover! The beach at Mandalay gave us the chance to settle the heart rate and adrenaline, debrief, nearly lose the drone out to sea, spot the wreck of the rarely exposed Mandalay and start to feel better. We then had to work out how to recover the two bikes sitting on the side of the track! The point on the road at which we were bogged intersected with the Bibbulmun Track so I had moved the bikes about 15m down along the walking path so they would be less obvious from the road. The plan to recover them was to walk the short section of the Bibbulmun to them and ride them out. As we set off on the walk it soon became apparent that riding them back out, up and down the stairs, would be really hard. If they were still there! Part way along the track we also realised we had no accommodation for the night. Fortunately the stairs meant we reached a high point where we had phone reception so we dealt with the accommodation issue by booking into Peaceful Bay caravan park for 5 nights, through to Good Friday. First problem solved albeit in a way that we don’t necessarily favour. But at this stage, 2.30 in the afternoon, we were ready to take whatever we could get. And this is meant to be a holiday! So far it’s been one disaster after another. We will make it work despite being a caravan park.

As for the bikes, they were right where we left them. Pushing them back out along the road seemed like the most sensible and easier option so we started off back down the sandy track. It was possibly the hardest hour of 2021. Between the sand, the depth of the wheel tracks, the heat of the afternoon sun, the post adrenaline slump, the lack of coffee and food, and the hilly terrain I was ready to re-abandon them all over again. At that point I was regretting declining our knights’ offer to go back and get the bikes after they had recovered us. Eventually we got out to the road and rode the bikes along the gravel to the waiting Maz and Tas. Dear God how did we get into and back out of such a mess? I really hope it’s peaceful at Peaceful Bay!

Monday
I think we will reset the holiday start date to today and from this point forward be “on holidays”. So, it’s time for some lovely site seeing, cafe coffee, outstanding lunch destinations and some awesome photos. To kick it off, our first stop today was the lovely town of Denmark (not the country in Europe that always springs to mind when people saying they are going to Denmark in their holidays).

It’s been a couple of days since we had our last good cafe coffee at Venn in East Victoria Park on Saturday. So we headed straight for the first cafe we found and enjoyed a great brew with a lovely salted caramel slice. The coffee was that good I even let the barista know! Was it good or would anything have tasted good after the last couple of days? After our lovely coffee we headed off to walk the riverbank. The bees or flies followed us there and back, a constant hum above our heads but not visible or annoying. Similarly the unseen things rustling in the bushes seemed to be constantly at my feet! We crossed the river after checking out the inlet and the awesome looking pedal boats / slides. Some fun is about to be had on those this Easter weekend.

Back in town we enjoyed a lovely wander through shops and galleries with Mambo Man purchasing a really interesting and creative door chime. Finally we picked up some lunch from the IGA and headed out along Ocean Beach Rd to find a great spot to enjoy our meal. And find it we did! The view was stunning and the ute was the perfect platform to enjoy it from. We were the envy of others coming and going from the beach and the car park. This is a nice part of the region surrounding Denmark as is the area along Lights Road, back to the highway. I especially loved the gravel road lined with Karri trees.

We didn’t climb Monkey Rock but we headed instead to Elephant Rocks. This is place I somehow missed the last time I was down this way. I bought at book that time, as we were leaving, that features pictures of the rocks and Greens Pool. Ever since I have wanted to come back to see it for myself and many people have assured me I should. We got lucky here too and the place was relatively quiet. Our first walk was to Elephant Rocks, through the thin gap into the bay where the elephants are standing, some in the water, others on the edge. I also spotted a hippopotamus and a snake. Actually I nearly stood on the snake (a real, live one) in my bare feet! I am not sure who was more surprised and scared, me or it? Mambo Man was unperturbed, continuing with his panoramic picture despite my shrill cries of “snake, snake! Did you hear me? I said f#$&ing SNAKE!” Turns out the bloke heading in the direction I came from, who I warned, was more interested than Mambo Man. I could have died.

Having renamed Elephant Rocks to Snake Bay, we wandered out and around to Greens Pool. It was much busier that the smaller, harder to access Snake Bay but just as nice. We were both sorry we hadn’t put our swimmers on and taken a dip. The water certainly looked inviting enough, calm and clear, compared to the open water on the other side of the protective rocks, creating lagoons. According to geocaching there weretwo other spots worth checking out, Madfish Bay and Waterfall Beach. I would have to agree. Waterfall Beach is a little gem of a place, quite and pretty, with a fresh water stream falling to the sand, creating a rivulet flowing into the ocean.

This evening, with a drink in hand, to cap off the day we took a night wander to the bay. Peaceful bay. And it was. Peaceful. And dark. We have been very fortunate to secure a great little pozzie here. The location is superb for coming and going. Very central, as they say. And a beautiful place to come back after a day of exploring. Looking forward to tomorrow’s adventures.

Tuesday
So today we decided to head back towards Walpole and explore the area. Our first stop was going to be for coffee in Nornalup but the cafe was closed! It’s a thing here in WA that place close on Mondays and Tuesdays. We did have a look at the DPAW installed canoe landing area that may be great for us to launch kayaks another time. Still looking for coffee we headed to Walpole and picked up good coffee at the bakery. Love a bakery!

We then took the one way road to the giant Tingle tree. I have been here before so I knew what to expect, but it’s the first time for Mambo Man, to be known from his point onwards as Mr Perspective. At the first lookout while we were quietly staring into the distance I spotted a “mouse” hopping around at our feet. We were standing on a retained wall, about a meter high, but he / she was right underneath us. I grabbed the binoculars to see if I could get a better look. As soon as I found it in the binoculars it turned and made a bee line for me. Through the lenses he looked huge and scary, so I screamed! Mr Perspective thought it was very funny. I eventually managed to get a picture of the mouse and I actually think it is a little Antechinus.

After watching the little creature skip around for quite a while, we headed on to the giant Eucalyptus jacksonii (tingle tree). Because it is the week leading up to Easter and the school holidays it seems to be very quiet everywhere, including at this awesome place. We managed to have the tree and the paths to and from the tree all to ourselves. Even though I have been here before it is still awe inspiring. The trees are phenomenally huge and having them to ourselves made them seem even bigger! Mr Perspective was keen for us to do the timer photos, but that’s really hard because you have to get a fair way back from the trees to fit them into the viewfinder. Makes for some fast running to get into the picture within 10 seconds!

After our perfect wander among the trees Mr Perspective decided to ride down to the highway on his MTB. The trees to either side of the road make for a pretty trip in the car and I imagine an even prettier trip on a bike. I wonder if Mr Perspective was singing to himself like The Piper used to do when he rode along while I followed in the car? After lunch in Walpole we drove out to the Nornalup inlet for a look around. The beach and inlet where also deserted and despite being an overcast day, very pretty. Onwards we headed for Conspicuous Cliff, a huge landmark visible for the lookout this morning and the road to Peaceful Bay. The person who named it chose very well. The size of the cliff is huge! And there is a great lookout to view it and the expansive beach from.

As it turns out there is a very traversable gravel road from Conspicuous Cliff straight back to Peaceful Bay so we used that to get back to the camper. With some sunlight left in the day we took the opportunity to jump on the bikes and pedal around the peaceful settlement of Peaceful Bay to procure a couple of the more accessible geocaches. What a fabulous way to end a great day in a perfect part of the world.

Wednesday
This morning we decided to do some boring housework. The camper is tiny so it doesn’t take long and we also did a load of washing. As I was heading to the laundry I passed another camper heading back from the bathroom. We exchanged the pleasantries and went own our way, with me thinking that he looked very familiar. Knelling down in front of the washing machine the penny dropped and I realised that the fellow camper was a neighbour of ours at Osprey Campground back in November last year! Back at the camper the conversation between Mr Perspective and I went like this:
Me: you will never believe who I just saw
MP: who
Me: you will NEVER believe me
MP: ok, who?
Me: RR from Osprey
MP: you are kidding
It is such a small world but no real surprise, given they are permanently on the road and we are often on the road. So the next half hour of our day was spent catching up with RR and his lovely wife. We concocted a plan to reignite “6 o’clock” drinks and back I went to hang out the washing!

The plan for the rest of the day was to walk another few kms of the Bibbulman Track, this time by choice, to pick up a geocache at Point Irwin. We packed the drone, some nuts and an apple each, along with some water and off we went. Heading past the cafe, we grabbed a take away coffee. We may have well put signs on our foreheads “not serious walkers, just dawdlers at best”.

The first part along the beach gave me a chance to launch the drone over Peaceful Bay itself. This section is the easy part and we realised this quickly as we rounded the corner onto Soft Beach. Gee whizz, walking on sand is hard enough but this stuff is so soft each step feels impossible! We didn’t want to moan though, as a couple passed us clearly having walked many days or weeks of the track, commenting on how much they were looking forward to a coffee! The walk was actually awesome and I loved almost every minute. In the second bay we encountered a huge catfish filtering sand at the very edge of the beach. Around the next bay we came across some white faced herons and a whale bone, standing upright, sun bleached and without a story. We left the beach not long after this, through head-high plants, creating a tunnel for about 50m. Above the bay we were treated to a 180° cliff edge view of the ocean. To our west I notice black fins or flippers or sea grass on the surface of the water. We flipped and flopped between thinking it was sea grass, dolphins or sharks before I realised we were watching seals! The perfect opportunity to launch the drone. If only the battery was charged – “Battery low! Return drone to home within 30 seconds”. You are kidding me!

Eventually we surmounted Point Irwin, with a 360° view west towards Albany, east to Conspicuous Cliff and beyond, as well as north to the forests and south to the pole! We found the cache and had a sit down on the rock before turning around and reversing the walk. The seals were still there, the thing on the road we could see from afar turned out to be plants (not a person), the kangaroos kept a steady watch over us and the big one stayed away (thankfully), while the little crab with the purple claws tried hard to cling to the rock as the wave washed over him relentlessly. On the beach it was awesome to take our shoes off and indulge in nature’s own foot spa, the fresh salt water and coarse sand doing a great exfoliation.

Finally and with loads of time to get the dry washing off the line, we made it back to our little camper on the hill and enjoyed a delicious, late lunch of cheese and crackers. Six o’clock drinks were bought forward to 4.30 and we caught up with our neighbours and their capers and ours over the last 5 months. A couple of drinks quickly goes to your head when you’ve walked a long way and eaten very little, but it didn’t stop us taking a sunset ride to Flag Hill to pick up another cache and enjoy the view. Another fabulous day, spent doing fabulous new things. Lucky we did the big walk today; the forecast is for rain overnight and tomorrow.

Thursday
As predicted, the weather is less pleasant today than yesterday but not horrible. Not even bad enough to have breaky inside! The plan is a day trip to Albany.
The drive over the 100kms was largely uneventful, back through Denmark and beyond. We arrived in Albany in time for a morning cuppa which we took as a TA, so we could head out to Whale World. I have been here before too but each time you go to a place you notice different things and each time I have been to this place the carnage has really been horrifying. The sheer numbers of whales killed and the suffering of the whales is difficult to comprehend, and yet the history is told in such a way that there is empathy for the men doing a job. History is not always kind and we may find ourselves in a similar position of disdain regarding the extent to which we currently mine mother earth. So, those in glass houses should be cautious when throwing stones.

One if the videos we watched included 3 former whalers telling their stories. After the video we continued our wander and were approached by a volunteer asking us did we need any guidance. He is one of the men from the video and was very pleased when I recognised him and more than happy to stand and chat. In fact he told us all about the ship he had worked on, the Cheynes II. He had photos of the ship and whales tied to the side and being towed. He spoke fondly of the ship, personalising and humanising it. He is very distressed by the fact that after being sold by the whaling company and fitted out as restaurant, it broke its moorings in a storm in 1992 and ran aground on a sandbank in the harbour, mostly well above the water and still sits there today progressively deteriorating. He drives past it every day and describes his distress and concern that one day he will round the corner and “the mast will have fallen”.

After wandering the rest of the whaling station and admiring the whale skeletons we eventually headed into the café for a late lunch with an awesome harbour view, before setting off in search of the Cheynes II (I bet you saw that coming). First we tried Goode Beach lookout. No joy there but a lovely beach all the same. Next we tried Vancouver Peninsular, as far the road would allow us to go (apparently). It must be very close there, but again we couldn’t see the wreck. So we thought we head back to Albany and try to spot it from the other side. On the way around we called in and admired the beauty and sanctuary of Jimmy Newells listened to the sound of power through the blowholes and watched the mesmerising turbines at the wind farm. Jimmy Newells is a great spot and that bloke must have thought all his Christmases had come at once when he found it and was saved from the open ocean in all its fury.

Back in town we could clearly see Cheynes II, bow pointed at Albany in defiance. We headed up Mount Clarence to the lookout and could still see the boat through the trees. We also took the opportunity to drive to the very top (no one was there to stop us) and pay our respects as the sun set on the day. We barely scratched the surface of Albany and the surrounds, even missing out on having a look at Cosy Corner. But that means we have a good destination to head to in the future, a place to base ourselves for a similar holiday to this one. I should mention that on the way out of town we stopped for ice cream. What’s a holiday, without ice cream?

Good Friday
Time to pack up and move to another new place today. On Wednesday we jumped online and booked a spot at Shannon, the place we were going to stay at last Saturday. Given that it’s Easter now I was surprised there were any spots left. We got one of the last 3 so I hope it’s not too busy when we get there. The pack up went smoothly and we headed into Walpole for supplies of food, alcohol and water. Filling the tank was an experience, both in being able to get close enough to the tap and meeting an eccentric but helpful man who is riding around everywhere. He claims to have ridden across Australia, up and down the east coast, all around the south west and beyond. He doesn’t rush, after all “what am I going to do when I get there?” Impressive dreadlocks old mate.

Our trip from Walpole to Shannon was slow, thanks to being stuck behind a huge 5th wheeler, but we weren’t really in a hurry so it didn’t matter. After checking in with the campsite host we headed over to our spot and offloaded the camper, set up the tent, had some lunch and the headed out to get some shower water in the drums. But first we stopped for a look at Snake Gully (didn’t see any) and Big tree grove (definitely saw some). Given that we were on the road we decided to head for the Boorara tree. It looked relatively easy on our 2019 map, but proved harder than it looked. Eventually we found it though and I have to say it’s impressive and a favourite so far. It’s not safe to climb anymore (not that I think it was ever “safe”) but there is some good history and you can still see the climbing spikes. There was once a cabin at the top and fire spotters climbed the spikes to keep watch from the top, alerting the authorities if and when they spotted smoke! One poor man stayed up there as bush fire swept through the bush beneath him and watched as his house burned down. While he worked in that job his wife had a couple of babies. When she went into labour she hung a white sheet on the washing line. When he saw the sheet from the cabin in the tree he descended and took her to hospital. Amazing. Now the authorities would just launch a drone. I wonder if they will become redundant in the same way as tall trees, cabins, maps and binoculars?

I also wonder if the observer would have seen the hanging under tray lock box on our ute before before we did? Is it any wonder, after being dragged through axle deep sand, rattled along dirt roads and bearing heavy weight (compressor) while hanging down? The bolts were still in place with the box just pulling straight through three of them! Thankfully it didn’t fall off together and here’s hoping the one in front of the wheel doesn’t fall off while we are driving …

Onwards to Northcliffe (again) we procured some water for showers. Before heading to Windy Harbour and another of natures windows. Gee whizz, they were packed into the tiny caravan parking down there! We didn’t get to climb Mt Chudalup this time but I have done it before and can definitely recommend it. An awesome view for relatively little effort. Next stop, home to our little house on the hill. For dinner tonight we had a couple of very tasty rissoles from the Walpole butcher. On the door and on a poster outside the shop there is a sign saying that 80,000 beef and veggie rissoles have been sold by the butcher, in a town with a population of just 400 people. It says “what are you waiting for?” So we thought we should try these famous rissoles and see what all the fuss was about. We almost didn’t get any though, as the butcher said they were sold out! I was disappointed and was just going to get some homemade relish when he remembered he did have 4 left after all. Joy! So now he can change the sign to 80,004 rissoles sold. They were very tasty, living up to the claim that 400 people can’t be wrong. Make that 402. I hope we didn’t eat the butchers own dinner …

Saturday

Our plan for today was to have a look at a few places on the eastern side of the highway. First stop was Fernhook Falls, including the campsite. The site would suit us, they are all small and secluded but the cabins are the best. The must be great for Munda Biddi trail riders. They have fireplaces, bunks (BYO mattress), a verandah with a table, great windows and a stable door. Cool in summer and warm in winter. I flew the drone over the lake area before we headed off to Mt Frankland. Knowing how great the view is I was happy to climb the mountain again. I clearly forgot how hard it is, although it’s not far. But I was right, it is worth the effort! We could see 360° to the coast, the mountains and the forest treetops. Remember, it’s all about the trees.

Back at the car park we decided drive up the long gravel road, through the forests, past Muir Lake to Muir highway. More slipping and sliding in the ute. Eventually we made it to the highway and headed into Manjimup for fuel and lunch. We also had a wander around the Heritage Park, which looks AMAZING for kids. There is also a pioneer village with historic buildings set up as houses, a school room, a doctors surgery, a blacksmith and a police station with cells. A nice place to wander. We didn’t go into the Electricity Museum, just because of the time.

Our next stop was the cute chainsaw art before we stopped in to pay our respects to the King Jarrah tree. Mr Perspective did he thing, in the name of photography. Although I didn’t get a picture of it, we also saw an amazing blue, almost fluorescent wren. What a treat! From there we headed to the Diamond Tree, which can no longer be climbed, due to the start of its decline. The place to climb now is either the Bicentennial Tree or the Gloucester Tree, not that I will be climbing either!

Our day in the car meant we did loads of kms but today we were home earlier than yesterday so we had time to heat some water with our new aqua cube. We had left water in the sun, in the solar bags, but it didn’t help much so we were starting with quite cool water. We took 25Ls and ran it through the heater and back through again, ending up with water hitting 50°! In moments! Awesome. We then used the separate 12v shower (the kind where you drop the pump into the water) and I had a nice, hot shower, before repeating the process for Mr Perspective. I admit, I was sceptic, but if the cube keeps working like that, I will be a convert. Certainly much better than our last water heater. The rest of our evening was spent star gazing, determining there is a real dearth of satellites in the sky in this part of the world.

Sunday

First up this morning we spent sometime reading over the information boards that describe the old Shannon Town. Seems it was a thriving place that centred around the mill (of course) and was comprised of people, mostly from Europe, displaced after world war 2. The campground we were in was the old town. It comprised two roads, shaped in horseshoes, the outer, lower one (the one we are on) and the inner higher one. The inside of the inner one housed the school, town hall and shops. There was an oval for sports, that is now used for camping with horses and of course the mill, on the eastern side of what is now the South Western Highway. The single men’s quarters were near the mill and the mill offices were at the southern end of the town, where the road enters the campground now.

The old town site and the campsites that occupy them now are very exposed, thanks to a bushfire, but there at least as many sites in the forest at the southern end. We heard the flies were bad in the forested part, but there are none here. The sites there are small, more in keeping with a well established, older DPAW site. Our entire campsite in the new section, number 6, must occupy the same amount of space as 6 of the old home sites. We all have the luxury of hot showers in the new amenities, if we light the donkey boiler. Wood and an axe are provided for this purpose. There are also communal fire pits in the new section and site fire pits in the old section. Overall, a really good campsite, with some inspiring history, that is a perfect base from which to explore in all directions.

After learning the interesting history and trying to imagine what it would have been like we headed off on our MTBs to have a look at the dam. The ride there is easy and goes past an information centre with a 3D map of the area (a geoscape) in a glass case. The dam is within the first couple of kms of the Great Forest Trees Drive. After checking out the dam we head further into the forest, finding a great spot that has a Jarrah, a Karri and a Marri and information boards on who to recognise them and differentiate them. We also came across a small dip in the road where there seemed to be excessive bird song. We stopped there for a while to listen to the songs and see who we could spot. Hard to see, lovely to listen to. We made it to Strachan Rd, 7kms along the drive and stopped for our apples and to consider our options. Mr Perspective was advocating for retreading or path while I though we would manage the remaining 16kms to the South West Hwy. What else did we have to do today anyway? Convinced, Mr Perspective agreed and off we set to complete the loop. Along the way we crossed paths with kangaroos, traversed hills, avoided running over clusters of caterpillars, traversed hills, saw more birds including the fantail wrens, traversed hills, stopped for a look at Curtin Tank, traversed hills, passed many towering trees, traversed hills and eventually made it to the highway. There was possibly as much walking as riding, given the hills. In all that time, one car passed us, hopefully not running over the caterpillar cluster.

That was huge and perhaps I made the wrong call to complete the loop! But back on the highway, after traversing a final hill and waving to the police escorted Gypsy Jokers, we bombed down the highway making the whole ride worth it! What a blast! After setting out at 10.45 to have a look at the dam, we rode back into the campsite at 2.45, tired, with burning legs and a wee bit hungry! Thank goodness for the 2 minute noodles that went down a treat, before my afternoon nap and hot shower to ease my aching muscles. That aqua cube is going to be very good! Another great day, topped off with a rainbow over Tas, blazing orange skies over Maz and under the millions of stars that flood the sky after dark. Still no satellites.

Monday

Another pack up day, but also the opportunity to go somewhere new. First stop, the cafe in Northcliffe before a wander around the pioneer museum. These museums are the same all over Australia but this one offers people looking for family history the opportunity to check out some records they hold. There was everything in that museum from household stuff to gems, marine history to scouting. The man on duty was very laid back, doing a bit of gardening, while the guard dog was easily managed with a belly rub!

In time for lunch, we rolled into Pemberton and offloaded the camper, after being allocated a lovely site under the shade of a huge Karri tree and on the bank of a running stream. The park is busy with families and loads of kids, no surprised given its school holidays. It does look like it’s been crazy busy over Easter! For lunch we had a holiday pie, mine a butter chicken one. Mr Perspective chose not to try the Jack Daniels and coke one despite my suggesting it.

This afternoon we visited the bicentennial tree. This is the alternative tree that was chosen for climbing when the Diamond Tree became unstable. Knowing people where up there made me quite anxious and I couldn’t look! I did manage a quick peek in the car park, hoping I didn’t look right as someone came falling out of it! I can’t image climbing any of these trees and the thought that someone might get hurt makes my pelvic floor contract! More interesting than the bicentennial tree is the Marianne North tree. This tree was painted by Marianne in 1880. It was already a big tree and it is now huge. It has a wrap around bulbous outgrowth, making it distinctive. It’s quite hard to get your head around the fact you are standing in front of a living tree that was painted by someone 140 years ago! It’s a magnificent tree and a magnificent thing that Marianne and I both were able to see it. Further along we turned onto the Warren River Loop to check out the various campsites along the river. They all look great but we thought Draftys looks particularly suitable for us in the future. We could easily launch our kayaks into the river and meander along against the current until we couldn’t be bothered and then float back. Perhaps we should have come here instead of the caravan park but then we wanted to be in town to enjoy a pub dinner and the cafes.

Before that though we went for a look at the Cascade where we spotted some freshwater fish and marron. We watched the marron as they walked along the bottom of the waterway, looking as though they may take each other on in a fight. For those that don’t know, marron are a freshwater crayfish, like a small lobster. Over east we call them yabbies and The Drummer once had a pet one, Gabby the Yabbie. We may have to go back sometime so we can look for the Georgia australis. “The Lefroy Brook is home to a population of pouched lampreys (Geotria australis). These eel like creatures sound like something from a horror movie – they attack their prey with suction mouth and a tongue like a round chainsaw. Luckily lampreys are harmless to humans and leave their vicious dietary habits behind in the ocean when they migrate from the sea into the rivers to breed. During winter, hundreds of lampreys enter the Lefroy Brook and swim upstream to breed. They can be seen congregated at obstacles such as weirs or rapids as they use their sucking mouthparts to scale the slippery rocks”. Thanks for the information DPAW. And now we are off to set up our house and head out for some pub grub.

Tuesday

Last day for this holiday. A shame for sure, but we have had a good time. We also spent about an hour this morning booking the next one, flying to Alice Springs, hiring a camper, driving to Uluru and possibly Watarrka, before spending a couple of nights back in Alice. Nine nights altogether, in August. Of course before then we have a couple of local trips organised, one to Wellie Dam for ANZAC weekend and one to Karda Campground for WA Day weekend.  But we still have one day and night to enjoy on this trip.

And what a great day it was. Our first stop in the car was Big Brook dam, that looks very nice, but I think the Pemberton Pool is a better option for a swim. There is a campground on the Big Brook as well as an arboretum, where they planted some varieties of trees many years ago to see how they grew. I can confirm, they grew well. We then called in and said hi to Big Karri. She is big! We got a selfie with her too.

In the interests of a nice lunch we drove to Nannup and enjoyed an all day breaky, a favourite of ours. By this time much of the day was gone, but it turned out the best was yet to come. On the road to Manjimup we passed a paddock full of emus and kangaroos, so good you couldn’t script a more Australian scene. There were close to 15 emus and far far too many kangaroos to count. Our first stop though was a place called The 4 Aces. Like so many places on this trip, we had it to ourselves. It’s an awesome place for sure. The attraction is 4 trees but the story behind them is amazing. Over 250 years ago four seeds fell into a crack on a fallen tree, after a bush fire. The ash and the rotting tree created the perfect growing environment. The trees also didn’t out compete each other for light. These four trees are in a straight line. One photos show just the front tree, the others hidden, perfectly lined up behind. The others reveal all four, with a tiny Mr Perspective in the very bottom right of the last picture. Truly a magical spot. We also had the pleasure of seeing some delightful birds, including a red breasted robin! Very cool.

Our last stop of the day was One Tree Bridge which was exactly what it sounds like. A Karri tree of huge proportions was felled across the river and a bridge built on it. It’s almost all gone, washed away in a series of floods but there is an appropriately signed section preserved for tourists and others to admire. With all those sights seen we did a big loop back to the dam, at one stage being tail gated by a huge logging truck hooning along the gravel road. Finally, and what better way to end a holiday among the trees, we called in to say hi to the Gloucester tree, just as the sun was dipping casting a beautiful glow through a mild smoke haze. Did Mr Perspective climb it?

And just like that we are contemplating tomorrow’s pack up and drive home. It has been an adventure over 12 days and 11 nights. My favourite things have been our bike ride, our Point Irwin walk and the endless trees. Mr Perspectives favourite things were the walk to Point Irwin especially spotting the seals, driving through the Karri trees, achieving 25kms of cycling without any pedal assistance, Elephant Rocks, Denmark and the rissoles! All up our trip cost $1677, of which we spent $385 in diesel, $446 in accommodation and $69 in attractions (including the $5 donation in the Northcliffe museum). So there you have it, a thoroughly enjoyable trip just a hop, skip and a jump from Perth but it felt like we were a million miles from home and work. Here’s to the next one …


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