The Trail of Destruction Continues
We passed through Norseman, in rain!!! and down towards Esperance.
At Norseman we had reception for the first time in a few days and Glen had messages asking him to contact a couple of people from school. He rang and was very distressed to find that the teacher they employed to replace him didn't show up and all attempts to contact him had been fruitless. His classes were being taught by a music casual until the position could be re-advertised. Later he saw an email advising that a different person would be doing the Head Teacher Administration role too!
We rolled into Salmon Gums and stopped at the Community Caravan Park. Great facilities and self-register for $10 per night (or $15 with power). We tried to have dinner at the pub but it was pizza night and orders had to be in by 5:30… bugger!
We went back to the camper, set up and then down came the rain and up came the wind! We retreated inside for the worst of it then grabbed the portable stove, a pot, frying pan and the food and headed to the shelter to cook out of the wind and rain. Life on the road is sometimes inconvenient but is always good. After dinner and a shower (our first for some time) we went to bed.
As If Julie!
The next day dawned warm and sunny so we headed to Peak Charles National Park. After driving in through some very flat country the peak was visible from 50km away. We arrived at the car park and campground to find we were the only people there. Julie hates the toilets because she is worried there might be a snake in one of them! As if! Glen bravely led the way into the toilet then sprang back with a start! There was a rather large carpet python next to the toilet. "You can pee outside today Julie"
It's a very impressive peak but due to the rain the night before we couldn't see more as the 4wd track is closed when wet. We could of course have climbed the peak but since the climb is actually rated too high for the bush walking scale to cover we admired the beauty in our shorts and thongs from the base.
The next night we free camped at Gibson Soak, next to the pub which has two 100 year old Morton Bay figs growing out the front. We went to the pub for dinner (and lattes) and saw TV for the first time since we were away. Australia's got some weird talent…
Esperance on the Incoming Tide
We spent the next day in Esperance, washing and restocking the larder. Also we purchased a longer tongue for the tow bar as our spare wheels were restricting our turning circle. We couldn't decide where we wanted to stay but it was still a couple of hours to high tide so we opted for the dunes of le Grand Beach. It started out OK but soon we were running out of beach with our tyres perilously close to the water. We weren't going to make it all the way up so we started looking for an alternative. On the third track Julie sprinted down to check we found a suitable campsite and got off the beach. We've driven that beach quite a few times and never had that issue with tides. We spent a lovely night behind the dunes and tried to catch up on the photos for the blog. Reception was very poor so after persisting most of the morning we headed into Esperance and more reliable connections. Lunch in the beautifully maintained foreshore park (solar powered bins - they compact the rubbish, and free warm showers outside, great playground and bike paths) saw all of the photos for the last update loaded…except videos, I still don't know how to do that in the blog :(
Still taking advantage of the warm weather our next stop was Twilight Beach, voted best beach in WA with good reason. Afer a cool off we got on the road toward Bremer Bay, with an overnighter at Mununjinup.
Double Disappointment at Bremer Bay
While every other beach has not disappointed this one did. Last time we visited it was an idyllic beach with crystal clear water. Now the water was dark brown with zero visibility! Apparently the recent rains upstream had opened the river for the first time in 5 years! We explored the other beaches in the area, which were clear as ever, and ended up talking to a guy at Little Boat Harbour. He had spent the day watching orca and massive sun fish and the tour left from Bremer Bay. Expensive but it sounded too good to pass up! It's not every day you get to see killer whales in the wild. We booked in, missed the chemist by 15 minutes so had to go with herbal over the counter sea sick medication and booked into the caravan park for the night in preparation for the early morning start.
The next day was warm and clear and we arrived at the wharf for a 7am start. We met the captain and the researcher who discovered the whales around a phenomena where hydrocarbons leak from an underground oil/gas deposit on the edge of the continental shelf. This forms a methane hydride reef and becomes a hub of life we can only access for a couple of months a year. In over 2 years they had only missed seeing orca 3 times. The 50' cat left the wharf and the rock started, they get a massive backwash from the granite shoreline and the chop is terrible. Glen was worried about Julie who had felt sea sick on the Spirit of Tasmania. We went to the fly bridge, poor Julie ended up crashing to the deck after she ascended the ladder. Pride and knee bruised. Julie just kept chatting away, Glen watched the horizon and became progressively unwell until about 40 minutes into the journey he bolted downstairs to the sick bag and spent the next 5 hours in various shades of green.
The orcas were proving elusive as the boat searched back and forth along the continental shelf in a 3m swell. Julie was an angel and despite not doing vomit well went downstairs and sat with Glen. Turns out we did not see a single sea creature, the crew were very apologetic but we get to go again for free. If we'd even seen a solitary dolphin we would have gotten the next trip half price instead. Many were going to try their luck tomorrow but we had other plans.
We were meeting up with Emma's brother and his family and some friends to camp the weekend at Cape Riche, about 120km from Albany. It's a beautiful spot with, as many places here in WA have, a whaling background. We met Tim, Tam, Hamish and Dom and then Ben, Bec, Aiden and Carys arrived. We were all able to set up around the central BBQ area and as dusk fell headed to the beach. The bugs were out in force so regardless of how pretty the beach was we headed back to bug spray up and cook dinner. We chatted well into the night. The next day was bacon and eggs for breakie and we headed to the beach, which as you see in the photos, is on a bay. First activity was out in the kayaks and we met Ben and Carys out there and with another spur of the moment decision decided to paddle to Cheyne Island. Hard going for Ben with little Carys perched on the front of his kayak. On the island we found penguin tracks! Glen decided it would be a good idea to paddle around the island before heading back but the occasional 2m swell sets sent him back to the leeward side of the island and back to the beach where we were camped. The rest of the day was filled with snorkelling and swimming and walking the rock pools with Julie practising Grandma with the four kids :) Tim went spear fishing and brought back a couple of decent size fish and some abalone. He proved to be a wonderful cook and gave us the good oil on Dampier as he works for Parks and Wildlife.
Speaking of wildlife these WA grey kangaroos are much bigger than ours "over East" and have very pretty faces with almost deer eyes. Due to people feeding them they still raid the kitchen and rubbish :( It was an earlier night as everyone was tired from a day in the sun. Next morning before lunch we drove over to and onto the next beach along the cape, played in the water and Julie and Aiden had a fish. Julie also taught Aiden to use his boogie board, which he thought was broken because it sank in 50mm of water. :) Solar panel issues continue and the camper battery continues to annoy Glen. After lunch it was time to pack up and it wasn't just the heat that made it hard to leave this beautiful place.
For the third time in three years we drove into Albany to see Emma (the stunning beaches and wineries of the region are purely a bonus) and set the camper up in the front yard of Helen's (Emma's mum) property. We supplied the salad, Helen the Tuna cakes and Emma the wine and we caught up and laughed until bed time.
The following day we had a few things to do, calls to make to see if we can get the air con back, solar panels working and the tow bar tongue didn't fit into our tow bar - Haymen Reece is a standard we thought and now we are 500km from the place that sold it to us. No choice but to round the corners with a file. Orca tour rescheduled for Thursday now.
More soon patient reader…