Karda for WA Day 2022 (and 2021)

Mt Lesueur National Park (2021)

Western Australia Day 2022

Another long weekend! It’s awesome being Australian and even better being Western Australian, when it’s WA Day! We are off to Karda, just east of Jurien Bay and slightly north west of Badgingarra. Mr P and I have been here before, last WA Day weekend in fact, but I haven’t shared a blog about it before. This time we are staying on a hard stand site, last year we were on a natural site, that was a little damp and cold. We are also going with some friends this year (Mr and Mrs Bee), and they are bringing friends (The Jays), so there will be a few of us. Should be great fun!

Because it is so close, we scooted up after work on Friday and arrived to find our friends set up, with the fire blazing. Our quick set up had us round the fire with a drink in hand before too long. What a great way to end the week. Our evening was briefly interrupted by a mouse in the house, or as Mr P says (and Mr Bee imitates), “A Moose in the Hoose”. Let’s hope that’s the first and last one we see. It did put the wind up one of the the Jays, but how many can there be here … ?

After a cold night all round, we were up to try to get warm in the cool morning air. A breaky fire at our site helped, as did the morning sun when it cleared the trees. After a piece of toast with avocado, we wandered down to the other site and decided amongst us to head out Stockyard Gully and Caves. We checked the information on Wiki Camps and decided on the southern entrance, in the interests of preserving tyres. Mr and Mrs B offered to drive us, to save a third car going, and we were pleased to ride along. Unfortunately and despite checking, the southern road into the caves was closed. The call was made not to walk in from where we were or drive in from the north, so we headed back to Mount Lesueur National Park, opting to walk to the top of the mount. It’s a lovely walk from the carpark to the top. There are different walks available, including one that loops around the Gairdner Trail, and another 2 day walk on a loop called the Yonga Trail. Back to our walk … it’s along a sandy trail, through some low growing and pretty plants, past a lookout over some gums, and eventually zig zags to the top of the mount. The view from the there is fabulous, west out to sea, south to the Pinnacles, and east to our campsite.

A walk like that demands a charcuterie and a cider by a fire, so that’s exactly what we had. We then spent a lovely afternoon around the campsite, briefly interrupted by a hot shower. We intended to walk to the homestead, but the distance proved too far by the time we tried, with the sun setting rapidly. Instead, we cut back across the paddock, dodging kangaroos on all sides.

Back at the campsite we spent the night around the fire, telling tall stories (including Mr B convincing me he walked to the homestead but it was too “spooky”), drinking mulled wine and eating chocolate. Is there anything better? I doubt it.

True to the plan we hatched last night, all cars were out of the campsite by 09.30, looking forward to brunch in Jurien. There are now 8 of us here, with Mr Bee Jnr and his GF, Hockey Girl, joining the fun late yesterday. Just like last year, Jurien was jammed and it looked like we needed to wait forever for our brunch. One of the cafes around the corner was quieter, so we headed there and waited in the freezing cold for massive serves of bacon, eggs, beans, sausages, mushrooms, hash browns and toast! Lordy Maudy, I may not need to eat again this year!
Time to get moving, we headed over to the markets, quickly finding Dawn and her cakes. Bless her, we bought the date loaf (same as last year) and bade her a fond farewell until next year. “If all goes well” was her reply. Mr P didn’t buy any garden statues this year, but we did get a gift for some other friends (who came to Koorda with us the 1st time), who get their new camper, Mark the Lark, next Saturday! Eventually all in the group were stocked with market goods, including Gin and Port, and we all head back to the cars. Still in need of some exercise, we decided to nip up to Dynamite Bay for a wander. We have been here many times, as it’s a perfect stop on the way north or south, but it was a first for The Bees and The Jays. A few of us wandered around, a few sun soaked and Mr Bee found a few photo worthy opportunities. Everyone was happy, and happier with a burger (The Jays,) a milkshake (me) and some ice creams (others). I think I must have been 16 the last time I paid $4 for a milkshake. My Aunty Bev always took us for them at the milk bar in West Ryde. Unlike mum, she didn’t mind if you made a heck of a noise sucking the last of the milk from the bottom of the big steel cup. Vanilla is my favourite flavour. What’s yours?

Milkshake flavours aren’t that philosophical but the conversation we had at the top of Grigson’s Lookout was. One of the group works in energy and somehow we ended up talking about the need for an alternative energy source to save our poor planet. Perhaps it was the inspiring view, of an unexpected wetland, beautiful mountains and the stunning sea. Mother Nature was none too subtle.

Time to head back to the campsite, plant some spuds in the fire and head off for a dusk cycle to the homestead while they cook. We have wanted to have a look at the site since we first came here last year. In my head it was a “homestead”. I imagined something rustic, old, inviting and charming. So off we went, cycling over hill and dale, passing emus and kangaroos. Mr P struggled on his almost decrepit bike, having tried to engineer it to be something it was never intended to be (think 12 volts and pedal assistance). I think it may be time we got some better-quality bikes for gravel roads. Although as the crow flies from the campsite the homestead is close, the tracks take you around a big loop, which is what we did. Once there, the site was uninspiring, certainly not the stuff that would stir Dorothea Mackellar or Banjo Paterson to write amazing poems! After a quick look around, we decided to re-trace our steps back to camp, as the sun was setting again. It looks like there might be a loop we could have done, but not in fading light. Maybe next time.
Back home and after a quick shower, our spuds were Ah-Maze-Ing! Apparently Mount Potato at the other site also cooked up some awesome spuds, so there were full tummies all round! Nothing beats a spud, and my technique is tried and tested, never failing to deliver a delicacy fit for a true staple of the magnitude of the Spud. Tonight, we topped ours with Mex Mince, resplendent with beans, salsa and cheese. And we had 2 each. Heaven in a bowl.
Our after-dinner drink tonight was decaf espresso, salted caramel vodka martinis. Mr P’s 12 volt coffee maker got a work out, zipping though 24 capsules. The drinks appeared to go down well, even if the bases of the martini glasses were omitted from the pack! Mr Bee Jnr’s trivia also went down well, once an appropriate set of Aussie questions was found. Do you know what year the Sydney Harbour Bridge opened or what the 2 animals on the Australian coat of arms are? One question was about Crux, the Southern Cross which spent the weekend above our heads in clear skies, keeping company with Scorpio. We sure got lucky with the weather this weekend.

The pack up was in full swing by 8.30am and we were all off our sites just after 10am. The campsite was a great place for a group of people to spend a fun time and I am sure we will be back again soon (maybe next WA Day long weekend). But our day was far from over and our first stop was for coffee in Jurien. We then drove in convoy the short distance down the coast to the Lobster Shack. Perhaps it’s because I don’t eat seafood, but I had no idea this place existed or the sheer size of it, and I have been to Cervantes before. There is room here for most of the WA population and it seemed like they were all there. If you are planning on coming here, and you should, make sure you avoid the peak lunch time. The queue was out the door. Arriving just before midday seemed perfect and by the time we ordered and received our food, it was lunchtime. Our friends indulged in lobster and other seafood, while I was happy to enjoy a burger and the awesome view. From our front row seat, perfectly procured by Mr Bee, we could see the jetty, the fishing boats and the beautiful clean ocean. Despite not being a fish eater, I think I will go back here, possible with interstate and overseas visitors. They would love it.

Our last stop for this weekend was the fabulous Pinnacles that we have also been to before. I just can’t pass up an opportunity to drive and wander among the rock formations. It was a perfect afternoon for it too, with no wind, just the right amount of warm sunshine and not too many tourists. I think they were all still eating lobster in Cervantes.

Well that was another wonderful weekend of fun things to do, spent with fun people, in fun places. Although we have been to Karda before, we did do some new things this time, Grigson’s Lookout and the Lobster Shack. Next time we will do a different walk at Mount Lesueur NP, we will get to the caves and if we come in spring time we will look for the orchids. It’s a great part of the world and we would highly recommend a few days exploring.

Dynamite Bay (2021)

October 2022.

Lucky, lucky, lucky us we live in such a great part of the world. As the east coast floods again, we decided to sneak in a quick weekend to check out Mount Leseuer in spring, and get in one more weekend with campfires. Unlike the lead up to the last few trips, Mr P is back in the workforce, so Tas was put onto Maz on Wednesday evening so we could make a getaway on Friday after work. Nothing like joining the peak hour traffic on Tonkin Hwy northbound. We still made good time, even with a pit stop to buy Super Gran some travels insurance for her trip. Side bar, Super Gran is my mum, currently 85 years old, who is off to Lord Howe Island for 5 nights organised by the local leagues club. She is our inspiration, still playing tennis, doing yoga, competing in bridge and travelling. We joked that there is $25k in the travel insurance for the return of her “mortal remains” should she die on the trip. I suspect she would rather die on a trip than in a hospital bed. I know I would.

Back to our trip, we arrived at Karda just before 8, got Tas off Maz and a fire going. We secured a “hard stand” site, then because the fire pit and table were on the grass, we decided to camp down on the grass. Good decision. Some lovely soup kept us warm as the fire hotted up, then we settled in for an evening of gin and s’mores. Eventually, and very late, we headed off to bed, very comfortable in Tas.

Saturday, the flies joined us for breakfast on an otherwise lovely morning. It was very warm, with Mr P doing his best impression of “grandpa at the beach”, wandering around with the legs of his long pants pulled up to his knees! As we sat enjoying breakfast, I spotted the resident emus wander by. Fortunately they took their time, allowing me to count them. Initially one, then two, four, six, eight and finally ten. No wait, make that eleven. No, twelve, thirteen and fourteen! The stragglers got spooked by something and turned back to where they came from. No doubt they will catch up later. Meanwhile, in the very nearby tree there were some apartment wars between the residents, with the western corellas screeching in protest against the carnaby cocky that flew into the tree and descended into a large hollow. Initially I interpreted that the carnaby must be nest raiding, but when it didn’t re-emerge I realised the corellas have a nest higher up and don’t want the carnaby nesting lower down. Obviously the carnaby doesn’t give a hoot what the corellas want. As a bird lover, these were great things to witness.

Our first activity for today was a lovely walk at Mount Leseuer along the Gardener Trail. We have climbed Leseuer on two occasions, hence our decision to change track. The walk itself was nice, scenic and had some lovely, colourful flowering shrubs along it. We saw 2 purple enamel orchids, but the highlights were scaly critters, one a little gecko and the other a leg less lizard. On the road out of the park we also spotted a lovely lizard who was very happy to pose for photos in the shade of the road sign.

It was hotter than either of us anticipated so we were pleased to head to the cooler coast and grab a coffee in Jurien and take a walk out on the jetty. We decided it would be prudent to head up to Green Head for fish and chips at Dynamite Bay, one of our very favourite spots on the coast. Of course we weren’t disappointed, with the bay offering a lovely vista from which to enjoy our lunch. Fully fed and walked, we headed back towards Karda, stopping at Wandoo Nature Reserve, a free camping spot, for a look. We weren’t overly optimistic so we were very happy to find a new-to-us spider orchid, Daddy Long-Legs in the long grass. We were lucky to see a few good specimens, among a few more that were past their best. Our last stop was Smokebush Reserve, another free camping spot, but we didn’t find anything fabulous, possibly due to lack of trying in the windy cool evening. Time to go home.

Back at Tas, we got the fire restarted. Mr P decided to move Maz to the side of Tas, next to the apartment tree, with Mrs Carnaby coming out of her roost squawking in anger. She sat in a tree nearby, calling out repeatedly, perhaps for Mr Carnaby who hasn’t been seen all day. If her squawks are anything to go by, he is in loads of trouble. Eventually she moved trees, perhaps for a better vantage from which to see her missing man return, before flying away. Today was actually an eBird “Big Day” so I logged and submitted a list of the birds we saw here at Karda. They are the carnabys and corellas, ringnecks, magpies, magpie larks, emus, Willie wagtails, galahs, black faced cuckoo shrikes, pied butcher birds, kookaburras and crows. What a tally!

Time for dinner and no surprise, we decided to have a couple of jacket potatoes, cooked in the fire, with some cream cheese. Thanks to a bag of firewood, we had a fabulous coal bed that cooked the potatoes to perfection in 50 minutes. A few gins later I was ready for my lovely comfy bed and didn’t hear a thing once my head hit the pillow. Oh how I love camping.

Sunday morning was not quite as bright as Saturday and the flies were even friendlier, so we decided to eat breakfast inside. It’s at this point that we always congratulate ourselves on having a unit with an indoor kitchen, away from the elements and the insects. If only we could pack up without flies up the nose and in the ear! At least friendly flies get you cracking along, and we got packed up in good time and off down the road to Badgingarra. We decided to take the Dandaragan Way, a tourist drive, stopping at Ian Wilson Reserve then in Dandaragan itself. No orchids in the reserve, but there was water in the Hill River. In Dandaragan we were impressed with the campsite that offers power and water hook up, as well as toilets and showers in a neat park setting. We also enjoyed a wander around St Anne’s church, admiring one of the most branching trees we have ever seen. It would be a ripper for a tree house!

Back in the car, we decided to head for Yanchep for lunch. We haven’t been there this year, but last year we found quite a few orchids there. The National Park was full of families enjoying the last day of the school holidays, so we headed for a quite spot by the 9 hole golf course, within the park. To passers by we must have looked like a pair of crazies, reclined in our chairs, at the first hole, eating bagels and drinking coffee. As lunch spots go, not one of the best, but not one of the worst either. After lunch we retraced last years steps, walking part of the Yaberoo Budjara Trail, finding 3 bright yellow cowslips and one lone spider orchid. We did see a cute bright red breasted robin and a black faced cuckoo shrike, but for the most part, despite being a nice walk, it was not nearly as exciting as last year. Never mind, we had a lovely weekend nonetheless and travelled a couple of new roads. As always it was lovely to get away and relax, walk a few kilometres and sit around the fire. When are we off again?

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