Day 22: 15th Sept 2014


This morning, after breakfast, we wandered across the road and had a quiet coffee sitting on the rocks overlooking the sea. Very pleasant.

Our morning view
 Today’s plan was to visit “The Gap”, “The Natural Bridge”, and the “Blow holes” and when we arrived at the carpark, it was obvious by the number of cars that it’s a very popular spot. The Natural Bridge turned out to be exactly what its name suggests, a huge rock forming an arched bridge over the crashing sea. The Gap I’d describe as a canyon between two rock walls where the sea rolls in and creates a loud, resonating “boom” as it hits the end. There’s a viewing platform that actually steps out over the edge of the wall slightly, so you get a bird-eye view of the waves as they roll in.




A short hop down the road is the carpark where you gain access to the blow holes. There’s about a 15min walk to the actual blow holes and along the way there are plenty of wildflowers, plants and reptiles to photograph and admire. The blow holes themselves aren’t your typical blow hole in that they don’t eject spray as the swells crash in, rather, they blast an extremely high speed jet of air.



 
 
 
 
 
 
The 1st snake for the day.
We moved on a little further to the Discovery Centre at Frenchman’s Bay. This was once the base for the whaling fleet and a restored boat, complete with harpoon gun, sits there high and dry on blocks for everyone to look at and ponder the times when we were less enlightened. This is such a beautiful spot, it's a shame it has such a past.

Making our way back towards Albany, we detoured in to take in the view from the Stoney Hill lookout. Because of its strategic value, during WWI and WWII, the Port of Albany was protected by observation posts perched on top of the massive granite boulder at the peak of Stoney Hill. This was upgraded to a radar installation, complete with an Operations room that was shaped to mimic the surrounding rocks. The view from up there was fantastic and we sat for a while, taking in the sights and tranquillity.
So much serenity
 
Laura's sitting on what's left of the footings for the radar tower
Back down from Stoney Hill and a little closer to Albany is the Wind farm. A short walk up to the first observation point provides an excellent spot to view all of the wind turbines as they stand off into the distance.
"...a reminder of man's ability to generate electricity."
Yet a little further back towards town is the Great Southern Distilling Company. This local company have won awards for their small volume batches of Single Malt Whiskey. Even though I like Scotch, at 61 proof, and up to $350 per bottle, we all opted for coffee and a cake.
Coffee and cake at the distillery
Sharon had been snapping photos of wildflowers all day, here's a selection of what she took:
 
 


 



 
 
2nd snake

3rd snake
 
 
 



Day 21: 14th Sept 2014

 


Walpole's main street
We left Walpole today with the intention of stopping to sample some cider and toffee at “The Toffee Factory”, near Denmark. Yet another place that sells all sorts of tasty things to eat and drink. I bought a mixed 4 pack of apple and pear ciders and a packet of reasonably potent Chilli Cider  Peanuts, whilst Sharon and Laura grabbed several types of toffees.

A courteous young cow escorts us from the Toffee Factory
A bit further on we pulled up at “Bartholomews Meadery” who sell, and allow you to sample, all sorts of pure, unprocessed honeys, and a variety of Meads. We tried the warm, spicy Mead, which is supposed to be ideal for a cold Winter’s night, but found it wasn’t really something we liked. So it was back on the road and in to Denmark to find somewhere for morning coffee.





Even though we didn’t spend much time in Denmark, what we did see looked really nice and would definitely be a location we’d stop-over in next time we’re out this way.
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Main street, Albany
With nothing else to divert our attention we pressed on and arrived in Albany in time to set up camp, have lunch, then sit back and admire the view looking out the front of our sites to Middleton Beach.
The view out the front of our campsite

Day 20: 13th Sept 2014

Today’s explorations started with a drive up through the Walpole-Nornalup National Park, stopping at a lookout that provided a view across the inlet to the ocean.


A little drive further on, and a short walk into the forest, brings you a stand of Giant Tingle trees. In years past, families would travel up here for the day and it was the done thing to have your photo taken alongside the family Holden, standing within the huge cavity that forms in within the trunks of these centuries old trees. Unfortunately, the root system of the tingles is shallow, and the weight of the people traffic and their cars compacted the soil. Sadly the largest of these giants died before this practice was stopped.




Next stop was the Circular Pool on the Frankland River. A short, easy climb down to the river revealed a spectacular set of rapids that were flowing quite hard. The name, “Circular Pools” describes the movement of the foam that forms on the surface as a result of the saponins (a chemical compound found in the surrounding vegetation). The “cappuccino” like foam rotates in lazy circles in the quiet pools at the top and bottom of the rapids.



Back in the cars and over to the Tree Top Walk in the Valley of the Giants. This is a series of cantilevered walkways suspended 40 metres above the ground amongst the giant tingle forest.
 

A late lunch was had in the local café back at Walpole where a more vividly coloured Superb Fairy Wren made an appearance.
 
 
Later that afternoon Wendy and Laura tried their luck at fishing from the jetty again whilst Dave and I launched the kayaks. After a bit of moving around and changing spots to find where the fish were biting, I eventually anchored up at a location that provided plenty of action. Unfortunately, all the catches were undersized yet again, but we had a really enjoyable time anyway. We probably stayed out on the water a little too long and by the time we paddled back to shore, the sun was really low with the light fading and both of us feeling a bit chilly. This is an excellent location for this sort of activity with so many waterways and estuaries to explore.

Day 19: 12th Sept 2014

One of the many stands of tall timbers between Pemberton and Walpole 
This morning we left Pemberton with the aim of stopping for breakfast along the way at the Lavender & Berry Farm to sample their famous “Pemby Pancakes”. 
This was the "small" serve.
Whilst we were each hoeing into one huge pancake, topped with berries and ice-cream, we were entertained by Superb Fairy Wrens that flitted about looking for any crumbs that might be had. After sitting for a while, a shy little bandicoot gingerly made its way from one corner of the outdoor dining area across to the other, then out into the garden surrounds.
 

With breakfast done, we were back out on the highway, arriving in Walpole mid-afternoon.

Once the camps were set up, Dave, Laura and I wandered down to the little jetty to do a spot of fishing.

This time we were a little luckier than at Augusta and Laura caught a nice little black bream that was exactly the minimum legal size. A few others were caught during this session, but none we could keep. We were contemplating putting the kayaks in the water but the wind was a little strong, causing a small chop on the water, so it wouldn’t have been that pleasant and decided to keep our backsides dry.

Day 18: 11th Sept 2014

We’d come across the native Ring Necked Parrots back in Perth, and again at Yallingup, but the locals here were very cheeky and friendly, mobbing anyone offering them food, much like the Rainbow Lorikeets at Currumbin Qld. Laura had some apple that she’d cut up hoping to coax one onto her arm to feed, but it didn’t take long before four of them were perched on her head, arms and shoulders.



Later in the morning we drove out to the Yeagarup Sand Dunes. There’s an easy 4wd track that has to be negotiated before hitting the dunes, which we’re told are the largest land-locked dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. After letting the tyre pressures down to the recommended 15p.s.i. , Laura didn’t hesitate when I asked if she wanted to drive to the dunes. She giggled like a school girl as we accelerated up and onto the sand, squirming and drifting all the way until we hit the firmer sand up on top.

There are white posts marking the areas to stick to and the path across the dunes is about 3kms long at this point, exiting the southern side onto another track that meandered through the bush. Eventually, the track ended at the base of a large sand hill, at which point I exited the Prado so that I could climb to the top and see what was on the other side before we committed to barrelling up and over.

The view from the top was spectacular and I took the opportunity to fire up the video camera to capture some footage of the vehicles cresting the dune and driving down the long, steep slope on the seaward side.  
As none of us were aware of the tide times, it was decided not to continue further to drive onto the beach. I took over driving and turned us back the way we’d come. It was quite a thrill gunning the Prado to get the momentum to climb up the slope and break out over the top whilst Dave and Laura snapped the action from the other side.



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We made our way back to the start of the dune track where we stopped for some lunch at the sheltered picnic area and took the opportunity to inflate our tyre pressures back up normal.
After airing up again we moved on to the 12-kilometre Heartbreak Trail that winds down into the Warren River Valley. There are some great bush camping sites along the river, nestled in amongst the big karri trees, but unfortunately due to some steep declines, caravans are banned. Oh well, maybe another time when we’ve got the tent.