Hopetoun, Bremer Bay, Porongorup Ranges and beyond

Here we come Dumbleyung on day one of this years Christmas holiday. But first a bagel and coffee from one of our locals, Harvest Espresso. On the road we journeyed along Albany Hwy all the way to our first stop at Arthur River. The town is half way or 125 miles from Perth to Albany and was an important stop on the journey. We enjoyed a little bit of the history and a wander through the old buildings before getting back in the car and turning off the Hwy towards Wagin and Dumbleyung. Along the way we pulled in at an old Methodist church for a cache (no luck) and finally made it to the lake.

We spent a couple of hours here enjoying the history of Sir Donald Campbell and the birds. Sir Donald broke the land speed record in 1964 and wanted to break the water speed record as well, in the same year, and be the only person to break both in the same year. He tried to get the water record somewhere in South Australia but the conditions didn’t suit. Then someone said Lake Dumbleyung. So he, his crew, a local cast of thousands and some hangers on, high tailed it here. He had a week to get the record in Bluebird, the craft designed for the job. But each day proved too windy, with some days producing waves on the lake! Just when it looked like it wouldn’t happen, on New Year’s Eve the conditions calmed and he started the beast, roared across the lake and broke the water speed record! What a story for a little place in the middle of nowhere. Of course the town revolves around the story now with a replica Bluebell, a statue of Sir Donald, a room in the pub full of memorabilia, and a mini museum of stuff.

The other great thing about the lake was the birds. We spent ages sitting in Maz watching the water and the swans. There must have literally been thousands of them, along with ducks, magpies, Willie wagtails, ring necks parrots and others. We had it to ourselves and thoroughly enjoyed it, parked up at the Yacht club, on the end of the boat ramp. Eventually we left though and headed here to town for a meal at the pub and a restful night in the camper.

20th December 2021.

Another day in the car travelling to Hopetoun today. After a very comfy night we had a typically lazy coffee and shower before leaving the CP just on 9 o’clock. We didn’t get far, just one block away, at the train station museum. Along with a bucket load of information about each little townsite in the shore, there is also a 20 minute video about the nutter who was Sir Donald Campbell, including footage of the record breaking zip across the lake. After watching the video we checked out the replica Bluebell and bagged our first cache for this trip. Over at the CRC we grabbed a coffee and brownie before heading for fuel.

Normally I wouldn’t write about buying fuel but in this case it was an interesting experience. Mr P was filling the tank so I sat on the seat outside the shop.

Shop owner: You’d be happy campers in that (nods head in the direction of Maz and Tas, as he rolls a smoke).

Me: Everyday camping is a great day.

Shop owner: I took a year off and traveled around Australia. Best year of my life.

Me: I took my son out of school for a term and travelled with him. That was 6 years ago and he still talks about it.

Shop owner: I want to do it again.

Me: I would recommend heading to Dumbleyung (wink).

Shop owner: I’ve lived here for years and I’m still discovering things. Have you been to Duggan Dam?

Me: No.

Shop owner: Cleanest government owned dam I’ve ever been to.

Me: (making mental note about Duggan Dam) What about orchids?

Shop owner: Orchids! This year I found the only Queen of Sheba ever found in Dumbleyung Shire

Me: What! Where. Tell me everything!

Turns out he did find one and committed to show me where next year, if he is still running the road house. If not, the guy across the road knows the secret coordinates. Dumbleyung, we will be back!
Eventually we left town along the road to Lake Grace, stopping to check out the salt lake and the Australian Inland Mission hospital. In town we stopped for a loaf of bread and left an hour later with tomato relish, peach and ginger jam, quandong syrup and the bread! We also had a look around a gallery of local art work featuring “Messing with the Masters” pieces.

Speaking of art, the gallery hosts recommended we check out the Silo Art at Newdegate, so off we went. Once there we found 4 silos being filled with grain but beautifully decorated with some gorgeous artwork of some cute critters. We also toasted some sandwiches full of Christmas ham, cheese and our new relish, before using the amusing amenities and heading out of town.

The long distances were made better with the intermittent broadcast of the 2nd test (good on you Telstra, some network coverage would be useful). Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi! Needless to say with us cheering them on, the Aussies whipped the poms as we raced through the stunning gold wheat fields, where the bumper harvest is still happening. Finally we rolled into Ravensthorpe, fuelled up, stocked up on tonic water and travelled the last 45kms to Hopetoun, our home for the next 3 nights. We are beautifully set up in a great site, tucked away on our own with beach access. We’ve sussed it out, planned our next couple of days, had a Moscow Mule or two and now we’re watching Outback Truckers. I love this lifestyle and could do it forever. Home is definitely where you are happiest and I am very happy right here.

21st December 2021.

Finally a full holiday day, no travelling. Of course travelling was part of the holiday, after all they do say it’s about the journey, not the destination. Anyway our house is all set up and we can do what we like today. Well, after a lazy breakfast of toast with peach and ginger jam!
Our first stop today and in fact most of the day was spent at East Mount Barren. It is a “moderately difficult” climb up a quartz mountain, across the summit to the east to look out over the beach back to Hopetoun. The climb up was not too bad, although Mr P may not agree. The ascent is quick and Maz was very soon a tiny toy below us. We kept climbing all the way to the top before stopping for a few pictures. All the way up we were delighted by the Barrens reglia. It is a tall plant with vivid red flower balls. Along with them there were loads of banksia as well as some stunning hakea. At the top, although we didn’t realise it, we were only half way to the end. The next part of the walk took as along the temp in an easterly direction. The terrain was easier but the bush was quite thick in places, closing us in. After a fair walk we arrived at a spot where the rocks went straight up, so we clambered over them to what we thought was the top. Mr P tried to throw himself over the edge, while the lizards showed him how to be there safely. From up there we noticed the track continuing so on we went arriving at the edge of the world! What a view, what a walk, what a climb! Worthy of a lowly snake and a drink of water.

Having rested for a while we started our descent. As always I found the going down far harder than the going up but my walking poles were once again a great asset. What was a rocky walk up was a treacherous ball bearing style balancing act on the way down. But we did it, conquering East Mount Barren on a great day. At the bottom we spent a while admiring the banksia and congratulating ourselves on our achievement. The rest of our day was spent cruising along the coast to the west sussing out the beaches, Cave Point and Hamersley Inlet camp ground. Thanks to the overcast day we didn’t swim in the Southern Ocean but there is time enough for that.

22nd December 2021.

Today we headed east to explore the coast in the opposite direction. Surprisingly, nothing hurts too badly after our climb yesterday. Our first stop was coffee and a loaf of bread from the bakery before we rolled along the road towards the various beaches suggested by the CP owner. The coast here is as rugged as it comes as we found out at 5 Mile Beach. But for all it is rugged it is also stunning. At this spot we watched the waves smash into the beach and barrel up the sand. They are ice blue against the blue-green sea. The reef ensures they are huge as they hit the wall. Among the shells we found a couple of natures best bangles, one for a little girl on the beach and one for me. What a grand spot to drink a coffee!

Our next destination was 12 and 13 Mile Beaches, which are 14km from town. So who knows where they are measured from, but who cares. This spot is outstanding and kicked off a conversation between us about the Solo Avocado’s Top 10 Western Australian beaches. This is definitely on the list! As we came over the dune it was hard to believe a place could be so beautiful. There is a long reef out the back that stops all of the surf and swell, creating a calm, shallow, warm lagoon. After catching our breath we wandered west along past the headland to find a similar lagoon. The perfect spot to create a Cuttlefish Christmas Tree. Do you like the fairy on top? With pockets full of beach rubbish we went back the main lagoon to watch a Pacific Gull smash a crab to bits for its lunch by repeatedly flying into the sky with it and dropping it onto the sand.

Back in the car we left the bitumen for a gravel road bound for Mason’s Beach and Starvation Bay. The wicked corrugations got the better of Maz, thanks to no onboard load and the hard tyres needed for having Tas on, so we went to Mason’s Point instead.

A lucky change of plans as we spent a good couple of hours having a lovely cheese and crackers with tomato relish and Christmas ham, before we explored the rock pools, watching the crab antics. Mr P almost got hammered by a wave, which could have ended badly but looked funny. Silly bloke got wet shoes and cold feet so we jumped back in the car and headed home via the wheat fields. A very lovely, relaxing day at the beach before we move on tomorrow …

23rd December 2021

Moving day. So this trip is a number of trips within a trip and we are off today to our next destination. But first a big pack up, followed by coffee and cake, a food shop and a fond farewell to Hopetoun. We would definitely recommend a stay here over a few days, with some trips from town in either direction. The caravan park on the coastal edge is quite old but it’s certainly functional and our site could not have been better.This afternoon we have landed in Qualinup, near Bremer Bay, via Ravensthorpe and Jerramungup. The road trip was easy but for some reason the day just slipped away. We got here around about 3.30 and set up fairly quickly, before enjoying some homemade pizzas in the Weber. We are on a private property, listed through HipCamp. We are lake front, with the sun setting in front of us, the cricket on, a fire ready to start and a cocktail on the go. Do not disturb.

Christmas Eve 2021

As Perth and Peel head into mask wearing and venue restrictions we are headed to climb West Mount Barren. I am so grateful that we are not stuck with that and so sorry for family and friends that they are, after getting away with minimal to no restrictions all year.
After a lovely breakfast looking over the lake we jumped in the car and headed towards the pointy topped mountain. We were forewarned about the corrugations from the online reviews and for the section within the National Park, they were gone rattling. So, in the interest of our safety and the protection of Maz we rumbled along very slowly, eventually arriving in the carpark at the foot of the climb. There were 2 other cars there, with one family setting off in front of us and a couple returning as we started the ascent. The first part of the climb is rocky but the gradient is quite reasonable. That doesn’t last long though. Most of the walk is straight up! Thank goodness for my poles. It took us about 40 minutes to climb up, partly because there were so many flowers and plants to admire. We saw fringed lilies, triggers, banksia galore, hakea, flowering eucalyptus and so many others I don’t know the names of. My favourites from today are the yellow thistle-like flowers and the yellow eucalyptus flowers that come from a bizarre red fingery pod.

Anyway, the distraction of the plants helped with keeping us ploughing onwards and we reached the very top, very puffed out but very chuffed too. The view is something else and the breeze helped to cool us down. In the distance we could see beautiful bays of stunning blue water and pristine white sand. The butterflies were having a fun time chasing each other around the peak rock. I loved this climb and it got me thinking about creating a list of Solo Avocado’s Christmas Walks, a bit like a list of Christmas Carols but without the singing (valderi valdera).

2016 Abel Tasman, South Island, New Zealand

2017 The Nut, Tasmania

2018 Hoi An, Vietnam (we were actually on cycles)

2019 Eternal Flame, Taiwan

Of course, what goes up, must come down and we headed off to Maz sitting alone in the carpark. The descent was technically tricky but from an exertion perspective, much easier. We got safely to the bottom by about 13.30 so all up I think it took us about an hour and 20 minutes. So compare to its sister mount, East Mount Barren this is a shorter but far steeper climb with a peak rather than a flat top. It has a wonderful array of plants just like Easty, with fewer lizards though. Now there is a Mid Mount Barren but it appears to be inaccessible, so it doesn’t seem likely we will ever climb that.

Back in Maz we rumbled along at snails pace to the tarmac and down to Bremer Bay, hoping for a coffee and sandwich. We got a coffee and did a beach reccie for Christmas lunch tomorrow, inspecting Blossoms, Little Boat Harbour and Fisheries. I think it will be based on the quietest which may mean none of them. At least having seen them, we can tick them off the must see list as described by Perth is OK. Starving hungry we headed back to our lovely campsite for dinner around the fire. There’s no place like (a quiet) home.

Merry Christmas Day 2021

Goodness it’s nice here and it’s an awesome place to wake up on Christmas Day. Not long after waking up there was a plan change thanks to an invite from our hosts to have lunch with them. How could we resist? We quickly threw a bottle of bubbles into the fridge and then spent the morning enjoying coffee, catching up on socials and generally relaxing. What a place to do it!
At midday we wandered up the the house with our sparkling gesture and found our hosts had set up a beautiful Christmas lunch table on the veranda. The other couple staying on the property joined us, so the table was set for six. Our meal comprised food almost entirely from the property. We had a Christmas goose, slaughtered and plucked in the morning, potatoes and beans grown in the veggie patch, and home grown mulberries with fresh cream. Now before you all email me about animal cruelty, I can tell you a few things about the people on this property and the goose itself. Miki and Geoff provide amazing care to their animals. Miki walks 22kms a day just to check on their goat herd! They have automated water and food set ups for the free ranging chooks and the other animals, so they are never without fresh provisions. Miki is currently hand rearing 2 goat kids and they bait for feral foxes to protect the stock. Now for Christmas goose. Turns out he was a nasty fellow, killing three goslings for no apparent reason. For that reason he needed to be slaughtered, so why not for our dinner? I can tell you it was very tasty and looked no different to a big chook. The other thing I can tell you is that a supermarket can’t tell you about the chook you eat, this old goose was well looked after during his life, by people who care for their animals. If you are going to eat meat, as we do, it’s great to eat meat you know has been lovingly reared.

We thoroughly enjoyed our very Aussie Christmas with our new found friends. Their hospitality was amazing and their company enjoyable.
In the late afternoon we buzzed into Bremer for a quick trip to the beach. We chose Native Dog beach which was perfect. We had it to ourselves and loved the colour, the waves and the pristine sand. And unlike the others we saw yesterday, you can’t drive on this one so there were no tyre tracks. Just footprints …

Boxing Day 2021

Unfortunately we have to leave Qualinup today. Qualinup means “place of emus” and we were fortunate to see a flock of about 33 or 34! We couldn’t count them, but Geoff and Miki have tried and think there are 29 or 30 chicks. We saw 2 full grown, 2 medium grown and then the chicks. I think they are all safe here, away from the road, enjoying the oat crop, with more water than they need. Good luck to them and the kangaroos and the birds that live here. And all the very best to our hosts. If you want more information about the place and what is has to offer or how to inquire about booking, feel free to ask me. We would highly recommend a stay here.

Having said our goodbyes, we headed west to the Porongorup Ranges. The decision was made to use the afternoon to walk up Castle Rock to the Granite Skywalk. The car park was very full so we headed to the very bottom, found a shady possie and munched through what was supposed to have been yesterday’s lunch, wraps with turkey, Camembert and salad. Yummo! We certainly needed the sustenance for the walk up the trail to the top. It’s a solid and steady climb, not as straight up as the Mount Barren pair, but at least as tiring. At the top there is a huge balancing rock that we of course tried to push over. From there the rock scramble takes walkers to the base of a very tall ladder. Have a mentioned my fear of heights? Do you recall my fear of the ladder in the caves at the Margs? Far out! I have done this before but I was still literally shaking in my boots climbing up this ladder today. The pushing, jostling crowd didn’t help. But I made it up there, only to be scared of the wrap around platform, with glass sides. Silly idea to go up there really, but it’s an attraction in WA and Mr P hadn’t attempted it.

After shaking on the platform for a few minutes, snapping some pictures and pointing out the sights, we had to go down. I think it’s worse than going up, and going up was scary. I just kept going and with many deep breaths and slow steps I made it to the bottom, sat down and nearly peed myself. The rest of the descent was easy peasy and lovely and cool. With the promise of a cool drink back at the car we were quick as possible and got the bottom ahead of most who had walked up around us. What a great walk. Definitely one to add to the Christmas walk list. Our home for the next 4 nights is just a couple of minutes from Castle Rock and we where there soon after our descent, checked in, set up and watching both the cricket and the Porongorups. A great spot to spend a few days.

27th December 2021

I think it’s Monday but I saw a meme today about not quite knowing the day of the week between Christmas and New Year. So true! Anyway we had a good day. After doing some more washing and hanging it out, we headed off in the car to Mt Barker. Neither of us have stopped there before, and I’m not sure if I’ve even been through it, so we didn’t know what to expect. It’s a pretty typical WA highway town. We had breakfast in a little cafe that is part of a gift shop and nursery. After that we headed to the information centre to get the low down on where to go, as well as well as some homemade jam and a thank you card for Geoff and Miki. Oh and I got myself a book about the orchids of South West Australia, complete with mud maps showing where the author has found the various flowers.
Anyway, the lady in the centre recommended the bakery, the lookout, the chapel and the police museum. So off we went to tick them all off. The bakery is very popular, doing a roaring trade thanks to holiday makers heading down the highway. We grabbed our sourdough and a walnut with date loaf before heading to the lookout. From here we had a great view of the other side of the Nancy’s Peak and Devil’s Slide, as well as the Stirling Ranges. There is a huge TV/ telecommunications tower up there and a new walkway to lookout towards Albany.

Our next stop was Saint Werburgh’s Chapel. It’s a small church well out of town, on a private property but the public are welcome to visit. As it turns out we have this very vague connection to the chapel. More about that in a minute. As we were driving there we were trying to work out how to pronounce Werburgh and also who St Werburgh was. We have decided it rhymes with Edinburgh and once inside we found out all about the Saint. Saint Werburgh was a woman! She was a princess in the England during the 7th Century. There is a link between the city of Warburton in the UK and St Werburgh. This explains why this little chapel is name after this obscure Saint. The gent who built the chapel on his property was George Edward Egerton-Warburton. There is a cemetery alongside the chapel where he and others from the family are buried or remembered. So what is our connection? Well, The Piper bought a car about a year ago from a direct descendant of George’s. The young man’s name is on a plaque in the cemetery, “and grandfather to …”

Back on track we completed a loop of outer Mount Barker landing up at the police precinct museum. Unfortunately it was closed but we did get to admire the Vera Egerton Warburton garden. The family clearly had a big influence locally. Another time we will have a look around the buildings when they are open. Time to get the shopping sorted and restock the pantry.
Back at the camper after unpacking the shopping and stocking the fridge, we decided to do the loop drive around the Porongorup Ranges. It was the perfect time to do it too. Our first stop was the Tree in a Rock, which is exactly what it sounds like. A very tall Karri tree is growing in the rock, leaving us wondering what is stronger? Will the tree be contained by the rock or will it burst it open? Only time will tell but I’m cheering for the tree.

Back in Maz we continued the loop getting some great views out to the Stirling Ranges as well as close ups of the Porongorups, including the reverse view of Nancy’s Peak and Devil’s Slide.

At almost the end we spotted the Skywalk on top of Castle Rock, with some late afternoon adventurers enjoying the views.

In what could easily become a daily ritual, we headed home to watch the sunset between Nancy’s Peak and Devil’s Slide, excited about the prospect of walking to the top of one or both of them tomorrow, weather and conditions dependent.

28th December 2021

The Porongorups are proving to be an awesome place to stay. This morning after a relatively quick breakfast we jumped in the car and drove the couple of kilometres to the start of the Nancy’s Peak and Devil’s Slide walk. It’s the same place as the Tree in a Rock, very near to the CP. The plan was to tackle one and see if we could add the other at the end. We chose Nancy’s Peak and slowly but surely walked our way to the top of Hayward Peak. The walk is through divine forest, Karri, Marri and Jarrah trees towering above, and maiden hair fern and bracken below. I imagine the wildflowers are awesome here in spring. At the top we emerged into full sun, on a granite outcrop with a fabulous view of the Stirling Ranges in the distance. The sleeping lady looks so peaceful from here.

The next part of the walk was across the top of the range to Nancy’s Peak. The view here includes being able to see the CP. We couldn’t quite make out little Tas, but she is down there behind the plastic wrapped bales. Further across the range we arrived at Morgan’s View, named for Alfred Edward Morgan who was Premier of Western Australia for a month in 1901. From here you can see Devil’s Slide and the walkways and bridges that ascend / descend the granite. From here we realised that we had to descend this part of the walk to ascend the next part. At this point we decided to complete the loop back to Maz without ascending the Devil’s Peak. Another time …

Back to our walk, the descent from Morgan’s View was really steep, far more so than the ascent, so we took our time, being overtaken by others. At the bottom we beat a fast pace back to the car along the Wansbrough Walk. The day was certainly warming up by the time we got back to Maz, so it was just as well we didn’t attempt the other trail. We were both very pleased with ourselves though, walk / climb number 4 for this holiday. In comparison to Castle Rock and the Barrens, Nancy’s Peak was easier to ascend, has a great view like the others, was way quieter than Castle Rock but as quiet as West Mount Barren. We will be back to beat the Devil in the future.

The rest of the day was spent at home trying to stay cool, showering, doing the housework, watching the cricket, blogging and resting. The Scorchers lost their first game this year which was a big downer but the spaghetti bolognese I cooked was very nice! The evening sunset was perfect, especially as it was accompanied by a cheeky cocktail. Eventually it was time for a lovely night’s sleep in our tiny home, under the Marri tree. Tomorrow is our last day here before we start the journey homeward. The forecast is for a hot day. Perhaps a trip to the beach is required.

29th December 2021

We are completely enamoured with this area. Perhaps it’s the great site we have, with a fabulous view of the ranges. Perhaps it’s the vibe of the area. Perhaps it’s being in week 2 of holidays. Perhaps it’s all of the above mixed in together. Whatever it is, we aren’t ready to leave tomorrow so we have decided to extend our stay for an extra night and leave here on New Year’s Eve to go straight to Quindanning for the show. So today is our second last day and we are off to Albany to refill the empty gas bottle, have a nice lunch somewhere and maybe even a swim in the ocean.

The drive to Albany is simple, less than 50kms. Albany itself was really busy but we got our gas, other supplies including a top up of local relishes and sauces, checked out Emu Point which was heaving with people, had a coffee at Middleton Beach and then settled on a burger at one of the cafes on the terrace. It seems impossible to get a good burger, even when they look good they are increasingly very average. I am not ordering a burger ever again! As for chips, how hard can it be? I won’t name and shame the cafe but as you can tell, I was unimpressed.
After that crappy meal we filled up our drinking water jerry and headed for the beach. Our first stop was Nanarup Inlet but it was jammed with wall to wall 4 wheel drives. We did walk down to the water and have a play with a Labrador before getting back in the car and heading for Two Peoples Bay. I can confirm there were a tad more than two people there but we headed down with our swimmers anyway. As it turned out, we were going against the tide with people leaving Little Bay as we chose a spot and got in the water. It was bracing initially but lovely once we were in. The water was crystal clear and although it was wavy, we had a good dip, body surfed a few waves and generally had a good time. Saved the day! We didn’t leave until it was almost empty but will need to go back to have a look at Waterfall Beach, which it turns out is just around the corner! Another one ticked off the top 50 anyway.

Back home we caught another sunset and enjoyed a delicious Charcuterie board, dripping in our purchases from today and previous days. No TV tonight, just a candle, food, wine and chatter. All at the foothills of the Porongorups, under the watchful eye of Venus.

The 2nd last day of 2021

The reasons we decided to stay the extra day were to climb Devil’s Peak and to have a lovely lunch at the Ironwood Winery. Just like 2 days ago, we got up, had coffee and set off across the road and up to the start of the walk in Maz. The first 1.6km of this walk is the last 1.6km of the last walk, so we were retracing our steps. In fact this is a there-and-back walk so this first section is ultimately well trodden. Anyway, after that easy 1.6km we set off almost straight up! The steps were many and as steep as any of the other 4 walks this holiday, but steep walks reap quick rewards. Pretty soon we had an awesome view to the south west that we took our time admiring (a chance to catch our breath). Because of the overcast day, complete with a cloud covered peak, it was very humid but we weren’t in full sun. Sweaty Betty. We didn’t cross paths with any other walkers as we made our way up. At each stop we had the view to ourselves, along with the flowers and the bees. Eventually we made it to the clouds and the top of the world. It was so amazing having the wind roar past us in the form of wispy clouds. But, it was too cold for the Scotsman (yes, you read that correctly), so there was no hanging around at the top.

On the way down we stopped to admire the rock formations on this walk that are stunning, giving hints to their origins. It was obvious many had split apart, with the halves going their separate ways. As always, the descent was almost as hard as the climb but thankfully the sun didn’t fully come out at all as we walked. I’m fact, it was great to experience these last two walks in essentially the same place, through entirely different weather conditions. I am glad we decided to stay and tick that climb off. Our next holiday in this area will be to the Stirling Ranges to attempt Bluff Knoll and a few other over there.
After a short recovery and a nice shower we headed out to Ironwood Winery, advertising “coffee and lunch”. With no information on their website to suggest otherwise, we assumed we would get something from the menu. We arrived at 2.10pm to be told there was no food available due to many visitors throughout the day. What the heck? You didn’t expect many visitors here? We were offered a wine tasting and subsequently felt obliged to buy some wine, making me even crankier. Very disappointed we jumped in the car and went for a long drive that looped back past the western side of the range. The day had completely cleared so we were able to see the point at which we had stood earlier, complimenting ourselves heartily!

And now our time here is almost up. We would thoroughly recommend a week in this area. There is more than enough to do and venues to go to (most were closed while we were here). The ranges are obviously what it’s all about but Albany is so close, as is Mt Barker. A future holiday for us will be to The Stirling Ranges. I think we will try to do that one in spring so we can check out the orchids and other wildflowers. We are so lucky to have this all so close to home.

The last day of 2021

Goodness me, where did this year go? It’s hard to believe it’s New Year’s Eve already. We have jammed so much into this year, including many a WA trip, as well as our trip to Central Australia. The Piper turned 18 this year and we welcomed a new baby to the family, as well as losing a cousin. I wonder what we will be doing this time next year? Will we see the end of the pandemic, as we all hope? Maybe we can get back to international travel.
Today we have left the Porongorup Range Tourist Park. It is the only real place to camp / caravan around here but it’s a good option. We had the pick of the sites, with a perfect daily view of the sunset. The couple that run it are very nice and do their best to make guests feel welcome and comfortable. The facilities are excellent and as a nice touch, all the money paid to wash clothes is donated to the local rural fire brigade. It is busy so we would strongly recommend you book ahead and don’t underestimate who long you might want to stay.
On the way out of the Ranges we called into the general store and tearooms for breakfast. There’s no smashed avo on the menu but the is delicious, simple food available. Eggs, bacon, beans and good coffee, as well as some interesting resources to flick through while you wait. Interestingly, the owner of the Ironwood winery (that turned us away yesterday) was briefly in the shop, about the time we were paying for our meal and diesel. She complained about how busy her business was yesterday and hoped that “people would stay away today because of the poor weather”. Times must be good, to hope for less customers buying your produce.

He just can’t believe some people!

The destination for today is Quindanning, to bring in the new year at the pub. We took the Horse Power Highway from The Stirling Ranges to Broomehill. If you want to know what and where the heck the Horse Power Highway is, have a look here. As a taster, the first attraction is a tractor that has ski blades on it, placed in its spot by the Bluff Knoll Ski Club! If you are heading to our from Albany or surrounding areas, strongly consider going via the HPH. It is a great distraction on a big journey, you can break up in Gnowangerup. In town, make sure you take some time to admire the mural artworks and marvel at the mineral spring.

While you are on this alternative route to Albany, take a break at the all-ages park in Katanning. If you initially miss it, like we did, just loop the roundabout. It’s worth it. There are two huge rocking horses, some enormous slides whose ladders put the one at the skywalk to shame, a hugely fun seesaw, a flying fox and a make-you-vomit hamster wheel. As 2 adults, with no kids, who had a hoot, we can only imagine how kids must feel when they arrive here. Well done Katanning. Full marks for building and maintaining such an exciting and fun park!

Finally we arrived in Quindanning, 330kms from our start point, over 8 hours after leaving. We must have made more than 20 stops and taken 50+ photos. Our site for the night was in a slashed paddock, among the cow poop. There were at least 100 other caravans, campers, tents, swags and awnings, but no other slide ons like Tas! The event was the “Pinked” show, a tribute to P!nk and Lady Gaga. The support band was Rag Doll, a covers band that mostly played what I would call rock, including AC/DC, Bon Jovi and the like. Both shows were excellent and we danced our way to midnight with somewhere in the vicinity of 200 other people. The pub did a great job and the entertainers where outstanding. We had a great time and would happily go back to the pub for a future event. But you don’t need to wait for an event. You can go there anytime, buy a drink and or a meal, camp there and the provide toilets and a shower. We would highly recommend it! So, here’s to a very happy 2022. It’s been a silly year and we finished it today in silly style. Hopefully things improve for all of us, but it is unlikely we will stop being silly.

Day 1 of 2022

Here we go 2022. There’s not much you can throw at us that we haven’t seen or experienced in the last 2 years. Is there? This time last year I was recovering from a shocker of a cold, two years ago we were on the way to Hong Kong, three years ago we were pillion on motorbikes, four years ago we were wandering Launceston, five years ago we were walking Abel Tasman, six years ago we were making snow people in Japan and seven years ago we saw in the new year in Lancelin. What will we be doing 364 days from today, and how normal will our lives be?

Anyway, rather than wish away the year, we have a holiday to finish. After a slow start we left the hotel paddock and headed for our next stop. But first, coffee in Collie. Then we headed back the way we came, about 10kms out of town, followed by about 8kms of dirt road. The farm stay gets 4 stars (out of 5) and great reviews. We arrived to find our host, Ruben, had “just gone to town”. So we parked up and had a bit of a look around. The dam was part full and had a flying fox into it. There was a “bar”, but you need to byo. Still no sign of Ruben, so we looked for the bathroom. No sign of that either. We wandered into the camping area, a dry and dusty paddock and chose a spot to claim later. Then we wandered back to Maz in the main area. The person who told us that Ruben was in town then turned on a bit of AC/DC, shattering the peace. Not long after that a car pulled up and a bloke got out carrying a box of beer. By now I was thinking we had made a mistake, but Mr P was apparently keen on staying (or so I thought). I think the smell of marijuana changed his mind. Almost simultaneously we looked at each and said “are you sure you want to stay here?” Trying to look inconspicuous in our conspicuous car and camper, we drove away. I thought we could get out to town without retracing our steps, but 5kms up the road we needed to do a u turn and drive straight back past Ruben’s place! Not that they would notice us in our inconspicuous set up!

So, we found ourselves back in Collie, needing to get online and try to find somewhere to stay, in peak holiday time, when everyone is home in WA thanks to covid. Mr P eventually found us a site at Myalup Beach. So we headed along the road and here we are, comfortably set up on our little site. This place gets 2 stars on WikiCamps but we are very happy. We are wondering what that says about us, but at the moment beggars can’t be choosers! This afternoon we did manage to fit in a walk to the beach and the lookout, before a quiet evening. For a while there, it looked like 2022 was biting us from day 1, but Mr P saved the holiday. I am always happy at the beach, so yahoo 2022! From now on when something seems worse than it is we are going to say “well, we could be at Ruben’s place”. Or when something is truly amazing we will say “just think, we could have been at Ruben’s place”.

January 2nd 2022

So, making sure we make the most of the reprieve we were given, we headed out today to Bunbury. We made the most of the day, enjoying anything and everything related to the beach. Stop one was the foreshore, where we sat in the shade of one of the beach side sails, drinking coffee and watching the world go by. Eventually we were too hot, so we grabbed our swimmers and in we went. Although I had spotted a couple of dolphins earlier, none came along for a swim with me unfortunately. Swimming makes you hungry right? Time for lunch. No, I didn’t have a burger, but I can vouch for the Thai beef salad from the Hello Summer Beach Kiosk. Is it any wonder I liked it. Hello summer! The last thing we did in Koombana Bay was take some pictures of the great sculpture that towers over the grassed area. We will be back Koombana Bay, with all the toys. I can see us parking up at the van park across the road and SUPing, kayaking, cycling and scooting for days on end. Note to self, book Koombana Bay.

After lunch we headed around to the lookout and then Back Beach for a look. I got lucky because there were Nankeen Kestrels floating in the sky in a couple of spots. A good chance to practice what I’ve learned. You see, a couple of weeks before Christmas I bought myself a new camera. It’s a Nikon P900. Mr P bought me lessons on “how to get off auto mode” for my birthday and so I have been practicing all holiday. I find holding it still the hardest thing to do, so you think I would remember my tripod right? Wrong. Despite this, I did manage to get a good picture of one of the gorgeous kestrels. Happy me! That deserves ice cream!

Now, I think I have mentioned before that Bunbury has an ice cream shop with some dairy free options. This time though, every dairy option was also available as dairy-free. Mr P was at a loss as to what to get. He generally has the choice of lemon sorbet or lemon sorbet. Today he ended up with a scoop of blueberry and a scoop of salted caramel. Note Mr P, it is too far to drive to Bunbury just for ice cream!

To finish off our day we decided to head for our secret, never fails to satisfy, dolphin spot. It didn’t fail to satisfy and my new camera meant I got some of the best ever dolphin pictures, despite them being quite some distance from us. What a super day, spent doing super things, topped off with super dolphins. Bunbury you deserve your own holiday. You are definitely more than a stop on other trips and we promise to visit you and you only, real soon. But now, time for cricket and cheese. Scorchers!

Public Holiday Monday 3rd January

It’s the last day of our summer holiday but we will try to fit in a bit more fun before we go home. After breaky and loading Tas on to Maz we headed down to the beach, just a short distance from the CP. The water was lovely and we enjoyed a great swim, before the wind came up and drove us back to the car. We thought that perhaps Preston Beach would be ok, but it was a windy as Myalup. So we kept heading north and ended up at Rockingham, along the foreshore, swimming in beautiful calm water. Never fails to deliver!

Pretty quickly the day was done and we decided to head home and spend some time rewarding Tas with a clean. The truth is we are a bit slack at that, so it took a while to get all the sand out of the inside and bugs off the outside. Now Tas looks like new and she is ready for the next big trip. But first, as the WAFLer asked, what were our favourite things about the holiday? For me, it would be our Christmas lunch and the Horse Power Highway, but everything was awesome. For Mr P it was surfing at Little Beach and Hogmanay at Quindanning, but he also enjoyed Devils Slide, the corrugations at West Mount Barren, the crazy crab antics at Mason’s Point and the 25 emu babies running across the paddock! Safe to say he loved it all.

As usual there is a cost breakdown, for 16 days and 15 nights. Most of the costs were diesel, which isn’t a surprise based in how far we travelled. We cooked a lot, so there wasn’t much cost associated with eating out, unlike other holidays. We did consume a fair bit of local produce though, leaving money in many places for tomato relishes and delicious cheeses, creamy sauces and fruity loaves. We hardly spent any money on attractions, based simply on the fact we walked, climbed and swam our way around the places we went. As for accommodation, we got lucky everywhere we went, with (pre-booked) availability at prices much lower than most pay in popular spots, during peak season. So what does that mean, the holiday was one of our cheaper ones without compromising on fun.

So there you have it. A couple of fun weeks within a stone’s throw of home. We are back at work now, dreaming of the next trip and sussing out post-covid options for a new camper. It could be worse though, we could be at Ruben’s place!

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