A Travellerspoint blog

Cervantes and Sandy Cape

The Pinnacles

sunny 23 °C

The rain came down all night but had stopped when we arose to pack up and leave Margaret River. After a long drive we arrived in Cervantes and booked into the caravan park for the night so we could go out to the Pinnacles. We had planned a sunrise trip to the Pinnacles but the receptionist at the park suggested dusk was better so we headed out there that evening to drive the loop around the Nambung National Park.

There were quite a few people out there for the sunset and the first thought was that dawn would have been a better option. The rock formations here are quite unusual and interesting to see and we spent quite a while here taking photos and waiting for the sun to set. Unfortunately cloud blocked out the sun just as it was setting so the magical sunset wasn’t happening for us or all the others with cameras in hand waiting for the golden moment.

Next morning we had a slow start to the day as we didn’t have far to travel to Sandy Cape which is camp ground behind the dunes with toilets. It seems they have spent some money here by sealing the road in and installing new toilets. We had set up camp before lunch and the weather was sunny with a light offshore wind. After lunch we drove along the coast to check out Green Head and Leeman which were small seaside fishing towns. Then it was a drive out to Stockyard Gully to visit the caves.

The road out to the caves is at first bitumen, then a good wide gravel road and then on entering the National Park the road is 4wd only and consists of deep sand and rocky sections which require low range but we didn’t need to lower tyre pressures. The cave is formed where the creek goes through a hill and has a sandy floor which takes you through a large cave which continues on for a good distance and is pitch black when you get away from the entrance. It winds around and eventually comes out into the light again at the other side of the hill. In the middle of the cave are other small caves which branch off but they are small and require climbing up to the entrance and then crawling to enter them. The drive in and the walk through the cave was a lot of fun and well worth the trip out there.

When we got back to camp the wind was very strong and cold and we almost packed up and left as it wasn’t pleasant but decided to stay the night and see how it was the next day. The camp sites here have no protection from the easterly winds except for a couple that were taken in the SE corner. The beach was covered in seaweed and it was also in the water so you couldn’t fish or swim here. The wind dropped off during the night and it was ok when we awoke so we decided to stay, but an hour later it was back so we packed up and moved on to Kalbarri in search of warmer weather.

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Posted by OzJourney 06:37 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Margaret River

Wine and Food

rain 24 °C

After a long wet trip from Parry Beach to Margaret River we arrived at Big Valley Camp and the rain stopped just long enough to set up camp. Big Valley Camp is a caravan park set up on a 600 acre farm and has all the facilities you need with great views of the property. The farm animals such as sheep and chickens wander around and there are lots of birds here as well. It is a nice peaceful place as long as you stay away from the area where the backpackers congregate. Due to the wet weather they weren’t working so they took over one of the camp kitchens to escape the rainy weather.
The day after we arrived the weather improved a bit and the rain cleared by the afternoon so we drove around the coast from Prevelly to Busselton, stopping for lunch at Yallingup, a favourite place of ours from a previous trip to south west W.A ten years previous. At Busselton we had the tyres rotated and caught up on some shopping. That night we went to the movies in Margaret River.

On our last day in Margaret River we went on an all day wine tour in a bus which picks you up from where you are staying. We started out with a tour of the Watershed Winery and were shown how the wine making process occurs and given a good range of their wines to taste. This was followed by lunch in their restaurant and you got to choose from a range of dishes and also a glass of any of the wines we had tasted previously. We had the snapper fish burger which was delicious.

After lunch we visited more wineries, a chocolate factory, a cheese factory, a venison farm and finished off at a brewery where we tasted some fabulous liqueurs and beers. The owner was hosting the tastings and he was a very funny man which added a lot of humour to the tastings and had Deb in stitches. The tour was a fantastic day out and after being dropped off back at Big Valley we drove into Margaret River to have dinner at the Settlers Tavern. The place was packed and the line to order a meal was huge but the food was well priced, an exception in Margaret River, and delicious. We would have stayed an extra night here but the weather forecast was for more rain so we packed up that night ready for an early getaway the next morning.

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Posted by OzJourney 06:04 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Parry Beach

Wild Wet and Windy

storm 20 °C

After leaving Mt Trio we headed to Albany to restock on food and fuel before continuing on to Parry Beach campground. Parry Beach is a council run campground with toilets, showers, fire pits and various sized shady sites in a wind protected corner of a bay. There is a nice sandy beach you can drive on which stretches a long way around the curved bay and is popular with fishermen. There is no power or water here so you need to be self sufficient and the shaded sites make solar panels next to useless. As it turned out the weather was cloudy and raining on and off for the 3 days we stayed here so the shade didn’t matter and as we did a lot of driving around so the fridges were getting plenty of charge.

The coast and forest around Denmark and Walpole is very beautiful and despite the bad weather we really enjoyed this area. The places that stood out for us were Boat Harbour, a small cove with a protected sandy beach and rocky points at each end. To get there you follow a 4wd track which is sandy but easily negotiable until you come to a car park and if you continue on it leads to the beach where you can drive around to a small camp site suitable for tents or a camper trailer.

Conspicuous Cliff is a wild beach with pounding surf and a high cliff which is a quite unusual shape. There is a track which leads to a lookout with sweeping views of the beach and cliffs. Peaceful Bay and Coalmine beach were other nice spots to visit. Mandalay Beach was another rugged beach with strong rips and big waves. There is an island just offshore and a viewing platform which gives nice views of the coast and the site of the wreck of the Mandalay. Other places worth seeing are Green Pools, Elephant Rocks and Mad Fish Bay.

There are a number of scenic drives through the forests around Denmark and Walpole which take you through the hills past wineries, breweries, berry farms etc. The forests and farms around here get lots of rainfall and were very lush. We called in to a local cider maker who grows heritage apples and produces top quality cider which was very nice so we bought a couple of different types and some apple cider vinegar. Deb loves her chocolate so we couldn’t miss calling in to the Denmark Chocolate Factory to try some samples and buy some expensive chocolate. We also visited a meadery where we indulged in some honey sweetened icecream which was delicious, a toffee factory and a brewery where we tried 6 different beers and some wines.

From Walpole we did a scenic drive through the forest with huge karri and tingle trees reaching up to the sky. The giant tingle tree is over 300 years old and worth a visit, as is Circular Pool which is a bit further on along the track.

We had planned to spend more time along the south west coast but due to the cold wet weather we decided to push on to Margaret River hoping for some warmer weather. We had some heavy rain one night at Parry Beach with a severe thunderstorm with savage winds which despite its protected location managed to bend heavy duty tent pegs and poles and dump 30mm of rain in a short time. The morning we left it rained as we were packing up and continued all the way to Margaret River.

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Posted by OzJourney 05:44 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Stirling Ranges National Park

Towering Peaks

overcast 19 °C

We arrived at Mt Trio Bush Camp around midday, set up and had lunch. This was a great place to stay, with powered and unpowered sites with no set boundaries, hot showers, flushing toilets, laundry, a huge camp kitchen and a fire pit with seating cut from large tree trunks. The cost was $28 unpowered and $35 powered. The camp is on the edge of the national park in a bush setting with lots of bird life and kangaroos. The camp was quiet and peaceful with lovely views of the Stirling Ranges and is a good place to base yourself to explore the park and climb it’s peaks.

After lunch we drove to Mt Trio to tackle the 3.4km return hike up the mountain. The track started off climbing steeply up rock steps through the trees and only varied in the angle of steepness almost all the way to the top where the 360 degree views were breathtaking and well worth the climb. The track is rated class 4 medium difficulty and you need to be reasonably fit to make it to the top as the vertical climb is relentless and will test your endurance. Deb found it testing but persisted and made it up with quite a few rest stops along the way. The weather was overcast and cool with no wind which helped with the climb but not with the photos which don’t do the views justice. That night we had a fire which was nice to keep the cool night air at bay.

The next morning was an early start as I wanted to climb Bluff Knoll before the forecast cloud came in. The air was crisp first thing but the sky was clear blue and the sun soon warmed us up while having breakfast. Deb had decided not to climb Bluff Knoll as she was sore from the Mt Trio climb so she stayed at camp and caught up on some reading while I headed out there to the car park to begin the 6km hike up to the summit which is a spectacular looking peak.

The track started off gently and gradually became steeper as it went, winding along the edge of the mountain with a steep drop to the side of the path. Most of the track was not as steep as Mt Trio except for a grueling section nearer the top but it was relentless climbing and quite punishing on the legs which were a little fatigued from the previous days climb. Near the top the path flattens out a bit and traverses across a ridge which gives the legs a bit of relief and soon after you reach the peak with a vertical drop over the rocky edge and views of the ranges and surrounding farmland. The clouds had stayed away and the wind was moderate and not too bad but very icy. There were quite a few people coming up as I was going down and I reckon a few of those would not have made it to the top as they were struggling before they had even got half way up.

After heading back to camp for lunch and a rest we did the scenic drive through the park that afternoon. This was a lovely drive winding through the ranges with some lookouts to stop at and stunning vistas to admire. Another fire that night was a nice way to end a great couple of days exploring the Stirling Ranges. We roasted some vegies in the coals and sat around the fire staring up at the cloudless night sky full of millions of stars and contemplating the wonders of the universe. We could hardly walk for the next couple of days due to the leg pain from the punishing climbs but it was all worth it.

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Posted by OzJourney 05:06 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Fitzgerald River National Park

Plus Bremer Bay and Millers Point

semi-overcast 23 °C

Our original plan was to explore the eastern part of the Fitzgerald River National Park before moving over to the western end but due to the floods the eastern side has suffered serious damage and is closed indefinitely. So from Mason Bay we had to detour via Ravensthorpe and then head north on a 60km dirt road detour to bypass the damaged highway leading south. The amount of flood damage to the roadsides and areas where watercourses had crossed the road and washed sections away was incredible, and this was on the roads that were open.

Eventually we made it to the turnoff into the western side of the park and followed a fairly well maintained dirt road until we reached the entry gate and then the road deteriorated quickly with corrugated sections until the Point Ann turn off. The road got considerably worse from here and this last 16km had bad corrugations for most of the way. We camped at St Mary’s Inlet which is a well protected camp ground with shady sites beside the St Mary’s River where it meets the ocean. There are drop toilets here which smelt bad and barbecues in shelters.

This area is very beautiful with mountains as a backdrop to a magnificent curved beach with crystal clear water and squeaky fine white sand. There were only a couple of other campers here so it was very quiet and peaceful and it often felt like you had the beach to yourself. While here we walked the beach, swam and relaxed. On the second day i got up early and went fishing in the surf out the front of camp and was rewarded with a 4.2kg salmon which took me 10 minutes to land after it had me chasing it along the beach as it peeled line from the reel and put up a fantastic fight. Before i hooked the salmon i had 3 other hook-ups to large fish which stripped line and fought for a while before they chewed through the line and escaped. After losing 3 fish i decided to use a wire trace and ganged hooks and this worked to land the salmon. I suspect the lost fish were large tailor.

The next morning i was up early again to try to repeat the previous morning’s success but the surf had risen and seaweed was catching on the line making fishing very difficult. The only fish caught were 3 herring which we ate that night. After breakfast we packed up and headed to Bremer Bay to look around before moving on to our next camp at Millers Point Reserve. The quickest route was to take a dirt road through the park to Bremer Bay rather than a long way around via the bitumen. Well the short cut was the road from hell, massive corrugations, washouts, mud and potholes made travel very uncomfortable but we made it in the end after having serious doubts. For the money you pay to enter the national park and then camping fees on top of that, you would expect the money to be used to maintain the roads in reasonable condition but the roads in this area were a disgrace.

Bremer Bay was a really nice place with lots of great beaches, lookouts and scenic drives and we will come back here one day to stay a while and enjoy what it has to offer. From Bremer Bay we headed to Millers Point Reserve for an overnight camp. This was a lovely bush camp in the forest beside a huge inlet and we chose a spot on the cliff above the inlet with great views out to the distant ocean. There were only 2 other campers here so it was very quiet and had a nice feel to it. After setting up i went for a bush walk through the bush up to a lookout with views over the inlet and surrounding forest while Deb did some reading. This was a lovely short walk shaded by the forest on a well formed track and i would recommend it if staying here.

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Posted by OzJourney 06:39 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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