Long Days… Big K’s

20180903_202710-5651000149.jpg

The Nullabor Plains. I have been talking up how much fun driving the “Nulla-boring” Plains is. The rest of the family are “Nulla-virgins”. What a treat they have coming!

Many childhood memories of multiple crossings have made me wish I could maybe tele-port across. Lets face it… 146.6kms of “the straightest road in Australia” is going to be hard to blog!

Well, how wrong was I. We have had a great time! After our luxury stay at Esperence it was so nice to get away from civilisation again. The change in terrain as we headed north-east from the coast reminded us of our adventures in the NT.

20180901_1648301077940126.jpg

Our first stop was a “free-camp” about half way along the straight. It turned out to be a little gem. Lots of space, lots of good wood and not lots of wind. This made for a nice nights sleep.

WikiCamps had a sinkhole marked in the area so out came the GPS and off Chloe and I wandered for a look. It was quite deep, we enjoyed dropping a rock or two down.

20180901_172323157945933.jpg
I offered to “throw her down” but she said I needed a rope 🤔

The next day was Fathers Day and the next spot was a mere 530-odd kms away. Bunda Cliffs, right on the edge of the Great Australian Bight. We had read this spot was nice but can be windy so we were praying the weather might cut us a break.

We rolled in quite late and to our surprise found no-one else there. The wind was tame and we were hungry so we deployed Myrtle, set the fire, and settled in. Noah built a corker with wood he collected from the previous camp. It was very welcome in the cool breeze.

Kaz got some great photos of the sunset over the sheer cliffs. Chloe got too close to the cliffs and freaked us out a bit. The next day was a run back over the border for stobie poles and Golden North again!

20180903_2121582017370019.jpg

 

The ‘Other’ South Coast – Walpole, Albany & Esperance

20180828_1338101839427201.jpgWe’ve just had a week on the WA south coast and wish we had more time to explore. Do you think our health employers will extend our leave? Probably not, so it will have to go on the list for our next adventure. We certainly have been pining for the warmer weather again, especially watching our new friends Olivia and Matt who are still working in Kununurra, the Perry’s and Dust Off The Grind – they are still frolicking in the north west of the state. Buggers. Darren and I have surprised ourselves with the warm weather craving, we never wished for summer before, but now…..

After leaving Margaret River, we went to Walpole, or ‘Valley of the Giants’. First stop was the Gloucester Tree at Pemberton. A 53m tall tree that was used in 1947 to climb and look for bushfires. So the steel rungs sticking out had been there a while. Noah was super keen, but our health knowledge kicked in – no nets, no safety and the whole tree swayed. No way.

However the Treetops walk through the red and yellow tingle trees was – not as scary and far safer. The walking platform was elevated 40m in the air. Yes, the walkway did sway, especially when Noah jumped up and down on it.

Albany. Home of the National Anzac Memorial. As with most of the war history we have learnt along this trip, there are so many facts we never knew. Albany was the last piece of Australia that over 40,000 ANZACs saw as this was the harbour they departed from.

The memorial was beautiful and personalised as you were given a card with some details, and you learnt more about them as you went around the displays. We also visited the church where Padre White did the first dawn service, St Johns.

20180828_143455473511994.jpg

Our last night in Albany was wet and windy thanks to the Great Australian Bight This convinced us to splash out on a cabin in Esperance. The weather continued to be questionable, but there were a few patches of sun so we could see this spectacular coastline.

20180831_1117571237663069.jpg

Next is the Nullarbor. Having never done this stretch of road I’m looking forward to it. Darren keeps laughing at me…..

Magnificent Camping @ Margaret River

Myrtle had a little slice of heaven this week in MR, at Glenbrook. Thanks again to Wikicamps, we had 20 acres to ourselves 5 min from town.

But before MR, we made a stop at Busselton Jetty. The longest jetty in the world as its a 3.6km return journey. Even though it looked a bit stormy, we risked it. There was an option to catch a tram out, but the walk with our rain jackets was easy. We were a walking ad for Kathmandu.

20180822_150823.jpg

Glenbrook was also a magical spot for a birthday! This was our fourth birthday cake on the trip, having celebrated Jacks in Perth. Darren chose all the adventures for the day……

 


Great base to explore the capes. Who knew that there was more than grapes here? Darren and I were here many years ago, for the food and wine. OK, it was mostly wine (no judging here, it was 15 years ago).

First off, a little drive down to Cape Leeuwin to climb and cave. Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse only became fully automated in 1992, the last keeper leaving in 1996.

Its the tallest one in WA, so if course we had to climb it. Amazing views of treacherous coast. Its also where the Southern Ocean meets the Indian Ocean.

There is a 100km stretch of limestone from cape to cape in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste national park so after going up, we went down.

Jewel Cave was huge. 500 steps (on top of the lighthouse steps!) But worth it. Richard, our tour guide had a great take home message:

1 – this cave took a million years to decorate,  let’s keep it that way for future generations and

2 – MR is special,  no planes or trains.  Take the time to listen to all the other sounds around you.

As well as tasting a little bit of wine, we also tasted chocolate and chorizo. Daz tasted some beer! Onto the Valley of the Giants……

Dazza’s Perth Ponderings

picsart_08-23-081630262908.jpg

We have just packed up and headed out of Perth after 9 days of big-city mayhem. As Chloe shed a quiet tear on the freeway she whimpered, “I love Perth, there is so much to do!”. We all felt the same. Such a great city!

20180815_1549561837485231.jpg
While I was viewing the bottom of a Little Creatures pint… Kaz was viewing this!

We have managed no blog posts as we have just not stopped. Here is a run down of what I can remember…

  • Freemantle
  • The “cappuccino strip”
  • Ginos coffee shop
  • Fremantle Prison Tour
  • Little Creatures Brewery
  • Ginos coffee shop
  • The Nostalga Box
  • Kings Park
  • Botanic Gardens
  • Ginos Coffee Shop
  • The arrival of Jack
  • Maritime Museum
  • “Ovens” Submarine tour
  • Ginos Coffee Shop
  • Shipwrecks Museum
  • Monk Bar birthday dinner
  • Aquarium WA
  • WA Art Gallery
  • Ginos Coffee Shop
  • Fremantle Markets
  • SciTech
  • Swan Valley
  • Ginos Coffee
  • Ginos Coffee
  • Ginos Coffee

So you can see we were pretty busy! There were two things that were a standout for me… Ginos Coffee and Jack coming to stay for a long weekend.

We have managed to continue our coffee habit all over the country with the judicious use of our Areopress syringe but, that first hit of quality espresso sent us into a caffiene induced psychosis! We even had the lovely bus driver dropping us off outside the shop (not a designated set-down!) by the end of the week.

Continue reading “Dazza’s Perth Ponderings”

Lobsters & Limestone…

20180815_220237193739730.jpg

We have been edging closer and closer to Perth. It is like a magnet to us. It is a mixed bag of feelings I think. On the one hand we know there is so much to see and do there but on the other it will mean we will be turning “east ” and heading home.

We decided to spend a night in Cervantes to break up the last 400km into the big smoke. Well, arent we glad we did!

20180815_220636846588264.jpg

Cervantes = lobsters! Home to the famous WA crayfish. We managed to do a tour of the processing plant run by the now 3rd generation Thompson family.

We know how much a lobster costs over on the east coast. We now also know just how much of a money spinner this ugly but tasty crustacean is!

Japan, China and Dubai are buying up 90% of the businesses product. They love ’em! This was also evidenced by the mutiple tourist buses out the front full of our overseas guests.

We really enjoyed the factory tour. We got to meet one of the dead-crays-walking before he was put on ice for the long flight O/S.

Continue reading “Lobsters & Limestone…”

The Great Western Jaffle Discovery

20180810_102853.jpgApparently Ron Smith (Grandpa) had a round jaffle iron, that had quite an effect on Darren. So basically, we have been traveling Australia searching for a round jaffle iron. We go into every camping store, second hand shop and randomly ask people at camp sites.

Things came to a head in Kalbarri, we had our first rainy day of the trip and the desperation for a warm jaffle lunch escalated. We enjoyed Kalbarri, we checked out the NP, loved ‘nature’s window’ and learnt all about Zuytdorp shipwreck, a Dutch East India ship from early 1600’s.

The drive from Kalbarri to Geraldton took us a while – the coastal cliffs were spectacular. No wonder the Dutch ships ran aground on the surrounding reefs. (We learnt more about these ships in Geraldton.)

We also passed a pink lake! WA has three of these lakes, an algae turns it pink, weird but wonderful.

Anyway, back to jaffles…. We arrived in Geraldton with Daz announcing his intention to just buy a square one! ARB Geraldton had some (and a set of Clearview mirrors I won from ‘Travelling Aus with Kids in a Camper Trailer FB page!!!!) And the jaffle fun dance commenced.

Spaghetti, baked beans, ham, cheese, tomato and ‘the blue tin’ all went in. Kids were amazed at the deliciousness of the Jaffle. Everyone went to sleep dreaming about the next ARB jaffle (breakfast) and what else could go inside them.

Geraldton is somewhere we could live. What a great town! The museum provided a tour about the Dutch shipwrecks, seafood for lunch on the marina, a park on every corner, the most bizarre church we’ve ever seen.

A young man, John Hawes, who grew up in Wales in the 1870’s, trained in architecture, became an anglican minister, then became a catholic priest, went to Rome, met an Aussie bishop, moved to WA and built a whole lot of churches changing his ideas and design as he went along. Then he retired to the Bahamas and died in Miami.

It certainly was a different looking interior to the usual “cathedral” we are familiar with. We did enjoy a rare Sunday in church though!

Tomorrow sees us packing up and heading south, a bit closer to Perth.

Our Most Westerly Point

20180806_1715051743909592.jpg

So, the actual most westerly point, Steep Point Peninsula, is closed for August for roadworks….. Not to worry, we decided to explore the most westerly area available to us. Denham, Monkey Mia, Francois Peron National Park – all part of the Shark Bay World Heritage area gave us some great memories over the next week.

Denham was a great little town and our base for a few days while we visited Monkey Mia. (There was camping facilities available at MM but it was extortion $$$)

So an early rise to see the dolphins – this experience had been on Noah’s ‘must do’ list so there was some excitement . Long gone are the days (the 1980’s) where everyone can feed and pat the dolphins, now we wait to see if they want to come in and interact with us. They come in right to the shore and turn on their sides so they can look at you. Then there is one ranger/MM volunteer per dolphin with a couple of fish. So only 5 people are chosen out of about 150 people to feed a dolphin.

Lucky Noah and Chloe. Check out our video here

Next was some more remote beach camping at the top of Francois Peron NP. Some creative 4wd in sand (thanks honey) landed us at beautiful Bottle Bay, the most available westerly point. NP fees were a tad high, but we had the place to ourselves. Fishing, exploring and chillaxing replaced swimming, its now too cold to swim 😭. We have seriously though about turning around and going north again…. Really, that was not a joke!

Have you ever been to a NP with its own artesian hot tub? We have! On the way out of the park, we had a hot tub soak – at the heritage site of the the old pastoral homestead was 40°C, and it was ‘hotter than Mataranka ‘ according to the kids.

The bays here have twice as much salt in the water, so, Shell Beach is unique as the crockles love the hypersaline waters. 4000 live in one square metre. It’s squashy, salty soup! No sand here, just shells. They are actually used in landscaping all around Shark Bay.

Next, the stromatolites. There are thousands of species that make up the ‘microbial mats’. Plants and animals don’t really like this salty environment. They are also the earliest form of life on earth, this is what earth looked like millions of years ago. Without water, they turn into rock. Daz thought they looked like the usual badly laid roads from our hometown!

Our last stop was a station stay, Hamelin Homestead. These station stays make you feel like you are a guest at someone’s home, rather than a number in a caravan park. Next up – Kalbarri NP and Geraldton before we land in Perth. We have another scheduled pick up at Perth airport…… Who will it be this time? 🤔

PS Celebrity Moment Alert: sitting at the park in Denham, Daz was approached and asked if we were the Smiths from Smithsgowest2018. We were recognised!!!!!