We are always looking for new places to go, especially places that aren’t to far away. We thought about heading back to Rockingham and staying the weekend, but there were no sites available, so we widened the search and looked around the Mandurah area. There isn’t much to choose from, but I remembered that the Murray River area is somewhere I’ve thought of going. So we had a look, made some calls and found a possie at Tathams Caravan Park.
We headed down after work, fighting the Friday afternoon traffic and arrived at about 6pm, just in time to catch the sunset with our fellow campers along the river. For dinner we had a burger and chips from the little shop at the entrance to the park and enjoyed them with a few lovely drinks, the news and Gardening Australia. We are camped up along the fence, in preference to a slab site between the permanents. Its very quiet here now, but I suspect come Christmas when all the perms are in, the atmosphere will be great.
Saturday 29th November 2021
Surprisingly we were up and coffeeing by 8am, and then pushing the trailer and kayaks down to the River about 9 o’clock. That’s early for us. We paddled up River admiring the waterfront homes with their jetties. Way up in the trees tops there were loads of nests too. In one we could see some fluff ball chicks and in another a mumma spoonbill with her big babies. I am not sure how they all fit in there, all long legs and big wings! I have been hoping to see a spoonbill and then without trying, there they were. Then we spotted the Cafe just in time for a coffee and some eggs on toast. The coffee was very good but the kayak parking could definitely improve. It was a bit of a clamber but we managed. Back in the water we decided to head back where we came from and around the island. Having looked at the map (albeit a cursory look) I thought it would be reasonably quick, not that we had plans. So off we went.
Within a very short distance the river narrowed down, the boats disappeared, the homes were less frequent and we had the place to ourselves. Well almost. Way up in a tree I spotted a lovely big osprey, right as I also spotted two dolphins making a bee line straight for us!! My heart was beating so hard I thought it might land in the water and I couldn’t operate the camera to get a picture of anything. Of course Mr P didn’t have the go pro with him either! Not sure why we bothered getting that head band fitting or the hard case. I hope we see them again …
Eventually I started to wonder if we were indeed going around the little island or if perhaps we’d taken a wrong turn. We seemed to have been paddling forever. So Mr P checked the map and sure enough we weren’t quite where we meant to be, but we weren’t far off it either. Instead of heading around the back of the little island, we turned in to soon and were around the back of the second, larger island. A lucky mistake really, as we came out into the estuary at Cooper’s mill. Initially it seems an odd place to have placed a mill, bought out piece by piece by ship from the UK. But the tip of the island is also at the mouth of both the Murray and Serpentine rivers, down which the grain came back in the day. After inspecting the site we were forced to walk, dragging the kayaks around the point, thanks to extremely shallow water. Mr P got bailed up by a crab but finally caught me up.
The estuary is so open, quite windy and jammed with boats, some of which sent soaking ripples across the river. My dry bum rapidly became soaked, as I was buffeted back to the shallow shoreline, laughing the whole way. Nothing for it but to paddle home wet, grateful for the dry cell keeping my camera safe. In fact we had a lovely paddle / drift back to the beach, this time between the little and big island, passed again by the dolphins, who this time went under when we saw them and surfaced past us. What a great way to spend a day in the sun. Certainly worth a big vanilla milkshake as a refreshing reward.
After a little rest we headed out in Maz to see the the bird hide (no nests on the beach at the moment) and to see the big eagles nest. No one home there either. Looking for a swim we drove around to Halls Head, where the protected beach was perfect to cool down at, before a drive to Falcon. The beach there was packed with swimmers and people playing on the grass, enjoying the evening warmth. Thank you summer, it’s great to have you here at last.
Home for a shower we decided to try the acclaimed Indian restaurant in Pinjarra. Unlucky for us we weren’t the only ones wanting to eat the delicious smelling food and missed out thanks to a private function! Nothing for it but to head for the Ravenswood hotel for pizza. The experience didn’t match the hype and I am not sure I would recommend it or go back there. But apparently it’s a bit of an icon, so maybe try it for yourself. Lucky there is gin at the camper …
After packing up and securing Tas we left the welcoming Tathams CP hoping for a lovely day around Point Peron. As it turns out we should have stayed where we were. As soon as we got to the coast it was obvious the wind was going to be our enemy, with the forecast only worsening through the day! We did have a nice breaky at the beach in Waikiki, before doing a u turn to try (unsuccessfully) to find a place to paddle along the Serpentine. Back to Rockingham we decided just to go to the beach anyway and try out the SUP. The super wind didn’t help us novices to master the balancing act, but we will be back to try again! To top off our lovely weekend we enjoyed a lovely ice cream in town, before heading home to the big smoke to walk the first part of the Christmas lights trail.
After a shocker of a week trying to reconcile life and death, the break was exactly what I needed. I never forget how important it is to have balance, because I know that time is precious, my number may come up anytime and I may not be here to enjoy it all. When that inevitably happens, scatter my ashes under a jacaranda tree by the beach, save a few for a locket, then take me on a some more trips. RIP Carol (1965 – 2021).