Accommodation: $418 Lattes: $365
We packed up and headed out of Margaret River. Based on the advice received from a couple of kids at Canebreak Pool we stopped in at Gabriel's Chocolate for tastings and dark hot chocolates and a brownie. Yes, we indulged ourselves… again..
Next stop was Smith's Beach, Yallingup, one of the beaches in our Top 101 Beaches book. It's a famous surf beach but to us Yallingup Beach held far more attraction. The southern end of the beach was protected by a reef and looked like there was a good sized footy (Aussie Rules) field of shallow reef to snorkel right next to a beach with small waves and with the foreshore park (complete with sculptures and grass, even the bins had historical surf photos on them) and shops (café and surf shop) it had everything. No wonder so many people appeared to just come there to sit and watch the ocean and the kite surfers.
Our next port of call was Meelup Beach, tick off from the book and a very pretty, protected bay. We went snorkelling and swam the entire length of the beach (twice as we chose the wrong end and had to swim to the other to find where the fish were)
Julie's phone needed replacing and we were told that could be done at Busselton so we headed there next and discovered our first traffic light since Port Lincoln SA! Busselton Vodafone was in Retravision, but wasn't trading until the following week so they referred us to Bunbury! Julie got on the phone, found they couldn't help us anyway, and lined up new phones for both of us at Mandurah the next day.
We stopped to watch the sunset at Buffalo Beach and set up camp in a rest area for the night. Getting in after dark we didn’t notice until the next morning that the area was covered in banksia and grass trees.
Julie was pretty crook the next day but we headed into Mandurah to get the phones. With a new phone and a coffee and something to eat Julie was feeling much better. Glen's phone was going to need to be posted out. In the afternoon we headed out to Dryandra Woodland. It was the wrong day for the nocturnal tour so we headed out at night to try to spot some of the rare and endangered animals this place is famous for on our own, but unless an owl and a couple of kangaroos counts we missed them. We didn't spot any numbats during the day either. We plan to go back there again to do the tour. The battery was very low and Glen found it was low on water. Topping it up seemed to make no difference so we came to the conclusion it was the alternator. Once started we don't need a battery so as long as we didn't turn it off we were OK. Over the last couple of days the Hema GPS had begun to play up and that seemed to be battery related too. We decided to head straight to Perth. It seems that every Friday we get thrown a curveball in the form of some sort of breakdown. Many have been electrical issues in some way or another. We got to Trudy's and turned off the car to see if she was home. We couldn't start it again so called the RAC. The RAC came, started the car and Glen followed him to the auto electrician. He could replace it the next day (for a premium).
We had arranged with April to meet her and her partner Damon at the Fremantle Markets on Saturday so, without a car we headed there by public transport. For $4.50 each we could travel anywhere on the Transperth network for 2 hours. It baffles us how smaller cities can have cheaper public transport than Sydney. You'd think with a smaller population it would have to cost more but Sydney is the most expensive public transport we've found. The trip to Freo (heave ho) was very pleasant and the markets were lovely. We ended up buying some native fruits to make water more interesting then left with April and Damon for a short, but very warm, stroll to check out the seafood festival. After a few tastings, Julie found her way to the Broome Brewery tasting and Glen ended up at Ironwood Wines tasting. We each relented and did both tastings and bought both wine and beer! Another short stroll brought us to Little Creatures Next Door (next door is the actual brewery, right on the dock). On the way we saw a ton of fish in the harbour around the dock. We ordered the special of the day (Rogers Amber Ale) and sat out on the deck with a lovely view and brilliant company. The next round was to be at The Left Bank Hotel for lunch with Trudy and the kids. Everyone had a great time and Julie got her lobster Glen promised over a year earlier. On the way home with Trudy we stopped at the beach for swim.
The day was so good the next day we decided to do Freo (heave ho) again. With the kids we substituted breweries and alcohol tastings for watching the street performers and lunched on Pizza, but another good day.
On Monday we went to the movies (Dead Pool) Tuesday we went over to April's to kick the footy with her, and have dinner so we stayed the night… we went through a bit of wine… Wednesday we got our shots for Thailand, Thursday we changed the oil and Friday we once again hit the road to adventure. Thanks Trudy for everything while we stayed with you. We enjoyed the late evenings over a wine or two. :)
I know it doesn't sound like we did much in Perth but every day was busy, too busy having fun to write the blog so now we are catching up.
Our first night back on the road, a Friday, we should have known would not be plain sailing. We drove to Lancelin and the Nambung National Park (The Pinnacles) and had dinner in the carpark there. That was where the Friday Curveball hit. We noticed that a bracket had broken a weld It was reinforced by a good old ratchet strap - what you use when duct tape and fencing wire just won't cut it - and, since we still had no idea where we were camping even though it was after 8pm, we decided to head towards Cervantes in hope that the larger town would have a welder available on the Saturday of the long weekend. We pulled up in a free camp (rare in this part of the world apparently) and hit the yellow pages on-line. According to the yellow pages the nearest welder was at Jurien Bay - about 30km north. We rang the next morning but the phone had been disconnected. Undeterred we set off to the address and behold in the same street was a welder, rang the number above the door but he'd given up welding in favour of mowing lawns. He gave us the number of the welder in town, we arranged to meet at his workshop and problem solved.
Jurien Bay is a lovely town so we hit the Tourist information Centre and got the good oil and by the way it’s a long weekend in WA so the only accommodation is the overflow camping at the footy oval for $25 per night. We started out on the town's snorkelling trail, lunched by the beach, headed out to Sandy Cape, a lovely beach/bay and camp area (full) then back into town for dinner on the foreshore again. We weren't unhappy with our free camp 20km out of town so headed back there to one of the best nights of stars we have had… all the cameras were not ready for star trails since they had low batteries!!!
Next morning we headed to Lake Thetis, near Cervantes to the stromatolites. Next! Glen wanted to spend the day four wheel driving so we headed out to Mount Lesueur National Park - interesting fact, 1080 poison is derived from a native plant. All the native animals are resistant but not the ferals. After that we headed to Stockyard Gully Cave - about 450m of cave carved by the creek through limestone. Sandy floor (creek not running at all) and pitch black for a fair way through the middle. After the cave, instead of heading back the way we came we went inland along Pearson's Track and ended up free camping at Lake Indoon. The track was supposed to be challenging but although slow going was very easy but hot, especially for Julie who was sitting on the sunny side the whole time. Lake Indoon was free because of the high risk of meningitis from the cyanobacteria in the water. It was alive with water birds, many black swans, black and white ducks, wading birds and even some pelicans. It had toilets and free warm showers. Bonus, especially after a few days in the heat!
At night beautiful sunsets brought the onset of thousands of tiny night insects and Glen tried star trail photos - unsuccessfully.
The next day, Monday morning (HAPPY BIRTHDAY KYRA BETH MORRIS), most people went home which upped the flies for us. It was also very hot and since this was going to be a lay day we found a shady spot, put on our fly veils, necessity not a fashion statement by any means, and had a couple of fully clothed cold showers to try beat the heat.
That afternoon Glen decided to walk the lap of the lake (about 3.5km) while Julie read and we both finished the day with one of the beers we bought at Fremantle. They certainly went down well.
More unsuccessful star trail attempts that night (all night the swans softly honked, it was beautiful) and an early start to beat the heat so we could head back to the coast.
We arrived in Leeman, Julie fished from the wharf but apart from that and "the cheapest fuel on the Baird Highway" the place had little going for it so we moved on to Port Denison where Julie almost stood on a 30cm baby brown snake! She is so lucky with snakes :) Glen was sent back to take photos.
We spent the afternoon on South Beach, us the car and camper as the beach is firm and everyone, 2wd included drives on the their little piece of heaven by the water. Kite surfing is huge along this whole coast as the coast is protected by an off shore reef and the waves are mostly small.
Since we were finally in a coastal shire that allows free camping (and funds are tight the day before pay day, no lattes today :( we are currently camped at a beach, Flat Rock near Greenough and as I write this in the shade of the camper a gentle breeze is keeping us cool and we are looking out over the ocean with the sound of waves and the sun sinking into the ocean.
OK it's taken a few days to upload so there is now more to say.
We headed toward Greenough and saw the horizontal trees. The wind blows so hard and so consistently that the trees actually grow horizontally. It's a very historic town but we just passed on by to Geraldton.
Geraldton is a nice town built around the harbour. They have upgraded all of the Western Foreshore and just behind the Tourist Information building is the Youth Precinct. The areas for children/youth here are amazing. Geraldton's youth precinct has free wifi, a rage cage (hockey, basketball, indoor soccer all inside a big cage), electronic games that you stand up to play (move to touch buttons) and table soccer and table tennis tables as well as interesting climbing apparatus and swings and merry go rounds. All towns should provide facilities like this.
Today we visited the HMAS Sydney II Memorial. We took the free tour with the volunteer guide and it put a whole new dimension on the place. The whole ships company was lost after an encounter with a German warship and sunk. No trace was found except a dead sailor on a piece of flotsam that washed up on Christmas Island. The memorial was completed in 2001 and in 2008 the ship was found 120 nautical miles off Steep Point (the most Westerly point of mainland Australia). This led to the expansion of the Memorial to recognise the final resting place. Well worth the visit if you get to Geraldton. We spent last night at Coronation Beach and were awake until after midnight chasing a mouse that we had picked up at Flat Rock the night before. Mouse eventually dispatched :)
Still having wonderful time.