A Travellerspoint blog

Mason Bay

Dragonfly Heaven

sunny 31 °C

To get to our next destination at Mason Bay we had to take a detour as the main highway was damaged in a number of places due to the floods a few weeks ago. Mason Bay was cut off during the floods and campers were stranded there for a couple of weeks with emergency supplies having to be brought in by boat. The dirt road in had been repaired but there was still a lot of water still lying beside the road.

The weather was hot and sunny when we arrived and we set up camp in a shaded, protected site with views of the calm shallow bay which is ringed by an outer barrier reef. Due to the floods the cost to camp here was half price which was an absolute bargain at $5 per night for the site. There are brand new toilets here and plenty of great sites amongst the trees and you can have a fire here in the fire pit provided for each site.

There were thousands of dragonflies flying around the campground while we here. We have never seen anything like this before, they would hover in front of you, occasionally land on you and the scene was like it was out of a fairy tale. We sat there for ages just watching their antics and aeronautical manoeuvres that were incredibly beautiful to observe in the filtered sunlight streaming through the trees.

On our second day here we visited Starvation Bay which also looked like a nice place to camp for a few days. We also collected some firewood and had a nice fire that night with roast potatoes cooked in the fire and the herring caught at Cape Le Grand. During the night a south west change came through and the wind was howling so we didn’t have a great sleep and left the next morning with the wind still very strong, making packing up harder than usual.

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Posted by OzJourney 23:04 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Cape Le Grand

Diverse Beauty

all seasons in one day 23 °C

Cape Le Grand National Park was one of the first must see places we listed when we were starting to plan our trip due to its reputation as being a place of wonderful scenery. Well all the articles we had read and the photos we had seen of Cape Le Grand were no match for the stunning visual assault on the senses that this place delivers. These words and the photos to follow are an attempt to convey the absolute beauty of this area, but the experience itself is so much more and can only be appreciated by walking the trails and seeing for your self the wonders of Cape Le Grand.

An early start saw us arrive at the Cape Le Grand campground around 8am on a Friday and we were in luck as there were a couple of vacant sites to choose from. We chose a nice shaded, sheltered site behind the dunes. There are only 15 camp sites here so it can be hard to get a spot and soon after we had set up the other vacant site was taken and the campground full sign was posted at the entrance and stayed that way for the weekend.

The other campground in the national park is at Lucky Bay which has recently been upgraded and now has 52 sites. We chose not to stay at Lucky Bay due to it being fairly exposed to the wind and after driving there and coming over the hill and seeing what looked like a caravan show on display we were glad we didn’t. The place was full and it really detracted from the natural beauty of the bay and it surrounds. There was obviously a need for more sites, it is just a pity that the upgrade doesn’t blend in with environment.

The day we arrived the weather was overcast with brief showers on and off all day so we decided to tackle the climb up Frenchman’s Peak which is a 300 metre high mountain of rock. The climb is rated as hard and involves climbing up a steep rock face with no ropes, steps or any assistance so requires a reasonable level of fitness and no fear of heights. There are marker posts every so often to guide you in the right direction but no set path. The wind was reasonably strong but we were only exposed to it on one section of the rock face so it wasn’t much of a problem and the rain held off until we got to the top and took some photos. The views from the summit were great even though it was cloudy. We rested for a while in a cave just below the summit and watched the light rain come across and wet the rock face. It was very peaceful sitting in the cave mouth and the strangest thing was there was absolute silence here, no wind noise, no bird noise, no sound whatsoever. Luckily it was just a sprinkle as the downward journey would be treacherous if the rock got too wet. About half way down the rain started again and we had to be very careful of our footing as a slip here would be disastrous. We made it down safely albeit a little wet and cold and headed back to camp for a warm shower
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The next day we walked the trail from Lucky Bay to Thistle Cove which takes you around the coastline with elevated views of the rocky headlands, offshore islands and beautiful coves. This walk is quite spectacular and is a must do if visiting Cape Le Grand. The other walk we did was from Hellfire Bay to Little Hellfire. Hellfire Bay is another crystal clear blue water, white sand beach which is a must see but Little Hellfire is even better and after walking here we had a swim and laid on the warm rocks to dry off before heading back.

On our last day here I got up early and went fishing off the rocks near the camp. The herring were on the bite in a big way and before long I had 18 of them in the bucket and also a nice flathead. We ate some of the fish that night for dinner and they were delicious. The rest of them gave us a few more meals in the following days. In the afternoon we drove along Le Grand beach for quite a long way. The sand on this beach is very firm and there is no need to let air out of the tyres or engage 4wd.

We stayed at Cape Le Grand for 3 nights and were going to stay an extra night but the weather forecast wasn’t good with rain and strong winds predicted so we made an early exit the following morning before the rain began. It would be easy to stay here for a couple of weeks as there is a lot to see and do. The scenery is unique, the camp ground is excellent and the jaw dropping vistas are everywhere you look. This place will be up there in the highlights of our trip.

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Posted by OzJourney 22:59 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Duke Of Orleans Bay

Peaceful

semi-overcast 25 °C

Duke of Orleans Bay is located between Cape Arid and Cape Le Grand and the only camping is in the caravan park which sits beside the bay and is protected from the wind by a large rocky hill at the back. The park is large and has quite a few permanent residences as well as powered and unpowered camp sites. The powered sites are large and grassy amongst large trees, with the unpowered section having a dirt base. There were plenty of sites to choose from as the park was not busy so we chose a powered site which cost $39 a night. The park was quiet and had a nice atmosphere with lots of birds and the odd kangaroo, we really liked it.

The weather was overcast most of the time we were here and cooler than we had encountered so far, but also very humid. For the 2 nights we stayed here we had thunderstorms in the evening but very little rain. On our first afternoon we drove along Wharton beach, another stunning white sand aqua blue water beach, to the end and then drove along a track through the dunes to Victoria Harbour. The sand was quite firm to drive on and we didn’t need to let down our tyres to drive this section. However we only had a hand drawn map given to us at the caravan park and when we reached Victoria Harbour we thought we were only at Cawrie beach which is in between the two so drove to the end of what was actually Victoria Harbour and found a sandy track up over the dunes.

We had to let the tyres down to get up this sandy track which was very narrow with banksias either side creating some serious pin striping down each side of the car. The track got very sketchy when we came to a rocky area and then eventually came to a dead end with the only way to turn around being to drive up the bank and reverse down and up the other side and then back through the paint destroying foliage. We later realised we had driven the track labelled Scratchy 4wd track on the map which the caravan park manager had said not to go down.

After getting back from the beach driving it was time for some squid fishing off the rocks near camp and it wasn’t long before a large squid took the jig and became that night’s calamari dinner. We stayed here just the 2 nights as we wanted to get to Cape Le Grand before the weekend as it is a popular spot and hard to get a camp site, however we would have stayed longer otherwise.

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Posted by OzJourney 22:55 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Cape Arid

Wild West

sunny 40 °C

Cape Arid is a National Park about 113km east of Esperance with a number of different camp grounds. Due to recent flooding most of the roads in the park were closed and the only camp grounds open were at Thomas River. There are 2 camp grounds to choose from here, a lower one near the river and one higher up the hill which has nice sites separated by thickets of tall banksias. The lower camp ground was occupied by the local fishing club and all the sites large enough for a camper trailer were taken so our only choice was the higher camp ground which has new amenities and camp kitchen.

Cape Arid is a remote place with a magnificent white sandy beach stretching as far as the eye can see and rocky headlands and islands at the western end. The weather here was hot, particularly the second day when it reached 40C. On our second day we walked the Tagon trail early before it got to hot. The trail takes you over headlands to stunning white sandy beaches and high viewing areas. The walk took us 3.5 hours and takes you to Dolphin Cove, where sure enough we saw a pod of half a dozen dolphins very close to the beach, Little Tagon Beach and then the much larger Tagon Beach. We had a refreshing swim at Tagon Beach before tackling the return leg. The scenery on this walk is stunning and we would highly recommend it.

After finishing the walk we had another swim, then lunch back at camp before driving half way down the beach and pulling out the awning for some shade. We spent the afternoon here reading, swimming, fishing and keeping cool on a very hot day. The fishing produced plenty of herring but nothing else. A light sea breeze sprang up late afternoon to cool things down and that evening there were thunderstorms close by, but very little rain with it.

We stayed 2 nights here and would have stayed for an extra night if it wasn’t for the march flies during the day and the swarming mosquitoes at night. Cape Arid is a beautiful unspoilt coastal wilderness that warrants further exploration another time when the rest of the park is open again.

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Posted by OzJourney 22:50 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Esperance

Nice beaches

overcast 27 °C

After leaving Fraser Range we arrived in Esperance around 11am and found that the only caravan park not full was the Foreshore Caravan Park. We needed to restock with food, fuel and refill our gas bottle so we had to stay for at least one night before heading out to Cape Arid. It was a long weekend in WA and Esperance was very busy, hence the lack of choice for a caravan park. We decided to stay 2 nights as we thought Cape Arid might be full over the long weekend. We wouldn’t recommend the Foreshore Caravan Park if you have a choice as the amenities there are very old and need upgrading badly, they have a security problem which you are warned about when you check in, and the cost of $40 for an unpowered small site wedged in between caravans is ridiculous for a rundown, cramped park.

That night we went to see a movie at the local cinema with a dozen other patrons in a very small theatre. The following day we did the Great Ocean Drive which takes you around the coast to lovely beaches and lookouts and then back to Esperance via an inland route past the Pink Lake (it wasn’t pink this day). Twilight Beach is a beautiful beach with a rocky point and island at the western end, which protects the beach from wind and swell and is great to swim in the crystal clear water. We spent a couple of hours here swimming and sunbaking in the afternoon.

After the beach we went to see some live music at Taylors Beach Bar down at the boat harbour which proved popular with the locals, many who had just returned from a day at the Esperance Horse Races.

The beaches around Esperance are lovely but the town itself was not somewhere we wanted to spend much time. They seem to have a big crime problem here, the police were patrolling constantly, we were breath tested on our way to the movies, and there seemed to be a lot of dodgy people hanging around the shopping areas. Theft at the caravan park was a big issue as well and we were warned not to leave anything out that was not locked up.

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Posted by OzJourney 19:10 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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