Parry’s Beach, Elephant Rocks, the Great Forest Drive and the Glouchester tree.

Journey Down South-Esperance, around the south west coast and back to Perth

Location: A small town called Denmark, 530km west of Esperance.

Duration: 3 weeks

Next on our recommendation list was a little campsite called Parry’s beach just outside the town of Denmark, WA. This beach was located on the western end of William Bay NP. The well known Bibbulmun Track winds along this beach, which is well worth the wander. The beach was fully accessible to 4wd’s and amazing for fishing (although we were absolutely useless at fishing, and I managed to read plenty of books!).We camped here for a couple of nights at the tiny sum of $15 a night and it included very clean facilities and warm showers which were hard to come by in most of the cheaper campsites. This place was entirely volunteer run, and for an hour or so of your time in cleaning you were able to stay for a few nights at a reduced price.

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When we had our fill of relaxing and fishing (with no fish biting) we decided to continue on down the road. Just 20kms down the road was the very touristy spot of Elephant Rocks, which is situated in William Bay National Park. There is a car park at the beach, and a short walk down the steps brings you to see the tall rounded boulders. The name Elephant Rocks comes from the fact that the boulders are supposed to look like a large herd of elephants, however I think you need quiet a bit of imagination to see any elephants!! We (mainly James) had lots of fun climbing on the rocks and paddling in the calm and shallow waters of the sheltered beach. The water was pretty cool so we didn’t actually swim but it was crystal clear from where we were standing.

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Once we had finished playing around in the shallow water’s of Elephant Rocks Bay, we took our journey towards ‘The Valley of the Giants’, another major tourist attraction in the area which is mainly known for the tree top walk positioned around 40 metres above ground. Sounds lovely? I’m sure it is. We didn’t pay the extortionate fee for the 600 metre walk, instead we had a wander around the interpretive trail instead with our feet firmly on the ground, allowing us to really see the sheer height and size of some of these mahoosive red Tingle Trees.

 

This area was best known for its Karri Trees of Glouchester National Park. This included the Glouchester tree itself, which I will show you later. Apparently Karri forests are only found in the South-West of WA and the Pemberton Area is home to some of the tallest trees in the world. We spent plenty of time driving some hidden tracks in the park and taking in the sheer size of these giants.

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As well as finding some little off road tracks, we also drove the Karri Forest Explorer Drive which is an 85km circuit that starts just outside the town of Pemberton. We stopped for a picnic en-route and enjoyed the scenery. We also detoured to do the Lane-Poole Falls walk trail, which is a 5km easy walk from the Boorara Tree car park to the falls. Unfortunately we were there at the wrong time of year and it was more of a gentle piddle than an impressive falls. The Boorara tree (where we parked) was once a network of 18 fire lookout towers that were situated throughout the forests. During the fire season these towers were manned in order to spot any sign of smoke. There was also a replica cabin built there, in which the ‘towerperson’ resided during the season.

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Next, we travelled to see the Glouchester Tree, the parks most popular resident. This tree was yet another fire lookout used in the 1940’s which has now been retired from its duties but is used as a tourist attraction. The tree is a massive 58 metres in height and it is pegged with very strong metal poles, to allow you to climb the tree. I roughly made about 10 metres before completely chickening out, bare in mind this activity is at your own risk, there are no nets to catch you if you slip. James chickened out twice before, third time lucky, he managed to climb right to the top and see the views from the lookout.

If you can see in the pictures, I am on the left, about 5 metres up and James has just about made it all the may to the top!

30 minutes drive from here was our next stop which was the King Jarrah Tree which is estimated to be 300 to 500 years old and stands at approx 36 metres tall (and yes I did have to do a google to check that little detail!) The area around the tree is beautiful, it has a little boardwalk which just about stretches your legs, ready for another long journey!

So yes.. this was a very tree-y post… I’m sure you found it in-tree-guing.

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Adventures in the Porongurup and Stirling National Parks.

After our very scenic coastline journey from Esperance to Albany, Western Australia (around 480kms) we decided that we would go back inland to view some peaks and do some more hiking. It sounds like a very first world problem, but sometimes you get a bit sick of beaches and just need some solid ground and hills to look at.

Our first stop was the Porongurup National Park, just 40km from the town of Albany. Surrounded by Karri tree forests, there are plenty of bush walking tracks for every ability. While we were in the park we took full advantage of this and firstly did a little trek up Castle Rock which takes a couple of hours to climb roughly 500m (2.2km each way). Starting in a Karri forest, you first meet the balancing rock which is a great photo op. We completed a series of “leaning town of pisa-esque” pictures and then continued on our ascent.

 

Once you pass the Balancing rock you make your way up hill to the stunning Skywalk that is wrapped around the large granite rocks. The ladder up to the Skywalk is not for the faint hearted, but truly worth the effort for the stunning views.

After reaching the Skywalk, we wandered back down the hill and explored the forest a bit more, and also had a good lunch. We then drove to the Stirling Range national park, and found the campground called Moingup Springs. We settled in on the campsite for the night, and had plenty of chats with our fellow Nomads, and rested up in anticipation for our hike up Bluff Knoll.

Bluff Knoll is the most popular walking route in the Stirling Range, and we were told that there were outstanding 360 degree views from the top of the mountain. Bluff Knoll is recorded as being 1095m, which is the highest peak in Western Australia. It was estimated to take from 3 to 4 hours for the 6km walk, no problem. Too easy, as the aussies say! Looking up at the peak from the car park, I couldn’t imagine how the walk would take 3 hours… It was a beautiful day mostly with some clouds above the peak but we decided to set off around 8am as we decided by the time we got to the top, the clouds would have cleared.

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Well, how wrong were we. The route follows a very straight forward pathway from the car park to the summit. It involved MANY MANY steps. After many sulking episodes and a huge amount of water breaks (which I needed for rest more than actually for water!).

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As we approached the summit, we realised that unfortunately we were in cloud and getting rather wet. We trudged on up the steps, which were becoming ever steeper and harder (maybe this was in my head) ,we reached the top and we met this view…

James was pretty disappointed, however I was pretty excited that the whole ordeal was over. And just 5 minutes after we started our descent the cloud cleared, and although we weren’t on the top of the peak, the views were still pretty stunning.

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After the traumatic walk back from the top of Bluff Knoll, we ate some lunch and went and explored some nice view points. James felt compelled to sprint up the second highest peak in the National Park, Mount Toolbrunup which stands at 1052m, which I declined and had a nap in the car instead! He managed to run up it in under 33 minutes. Crazy person.

After this we went back to the camp, ready to set off back to Albany the next morning to do a quick shop for the next section of our journey.

Journey down south and the ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’.

Journey Down South-Esperance, around the south west coast and back to Perth

Location: 400km south of Kalgoorlie, the town of Esperance.

Duration: 3 weeks

On the 20th of March 2017, we set out on our journey from Kanandah Station (see previous post) to the beautiful coastal town of Esperance. We arrived late that evening and were greeted by a lovely roast dinner, cooked by the station owners daughter, Amy. Yum. The day was pretty drizzly and quiet a lot cooler than we were used to while on the station during the summer months (at times it ht over 43°C!). After a good feed and a brilliant nights sleep we were ready to take on the world the next morning.

 

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We drove to Cape Le Grand National park that morning and hiked up to the top of Frenchman’s peak. Although it was overcast and hazy, the view went on for miles and miles over-looking the vast expanse of the national park and the very blue Lucky Bay. Frenchman’s peak stands around 260m high, so not the tallest, but the climb was pretty steep and it was definitely rewarding getting to the peak. There’s a huge cave at the summit, this was formed by erosion when the sea level was 300m above its current level.

 

Post descent, we made our way to see the acclaimed Lucky Bay in all its glory. I have to say, I have never in my life been so stunned by a view. The contrast of blue on white was so breathtaking. It is beyond any doubt the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. We decided that it would be a good day to try out Bruiser on the white sand (and of course we wanted some pictures). We drove down the bay as far the view point, with the sand squeaking beneath our tyres, and then sat on the rocks and ate our lunch, which was pretty idyllic even if the wind was blowing a bit of a gale! We also spotted some little kangaroos hopping around the beach while we were there, which was a pretty strange sight!

 

The following day we had a tour of the farm that we were staying at, which was pretty epic, it was a total contrast to the cattle station that we had just left. The fields were green with grass as opposed to the bush and sandy ground. We then headed back into Cape le Grand NP in the search for Duke of Orleans bay. When we found it we realised it was equally as stunning as Lucky Bay, but a lot less tourists which made us pretty happy. We found the aptly named Table Island here, which James ran to the top of while I took some shots on my Canon 500d (camera not and actual canon haha) from the base. From the beach you could see 10’s of mini islands which were so stunning, we couldn’t believe that we were lucky enough to see this with our own eyes. These islands are known as the Recherche Archipelago or The Bay of Iles, and apparently included over 100 islands and more than 1500 islets, and you could see your fill of them from up high on the coastal hills. It was well worth taking our time in Cape le Grand, and I would happily go back in the morning. We also had a little adventure to Dunn’s Rock which we drove down to and got some pretty cool pictures of Bruiser in all her glory! All of this led me to fall in love with Australia’s South West coast, especially Esperance.

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On a bit of a diversion, we decided to drive to Wave Rock. By diversion, it was about 4hrs driving North West of Esperance, but in Australia this isn’t such a long distance. We were told by several people not to bother with Wave Rock, they said it was an anti-climax, when you get there you just see the rock and leave, but we found no such issue. We camped at the Wave Rock camp site which was really pleasant, had a very relaxing evening with some music, reading and of course, a couple of beverages. It was free entry to the actual attraction of Wave Rock as we had paid to stay in the camp, it was just a couple of minutes walk from here so we strolled down to have a look. The rock itself was stunning, it stands around 14 meters high and 110 meters long. The rock, as you’ve already probably guessed, is shaped like a very large breaking wave! Once you’ve taken your pictures, you can do a short loop walk of around the area which was around 3kms, which was pretty pleasant and a good excuse to stretch your legs. Above the granite formation stands a wall which collects and funnels rainwater to the nearby dam which is visible while on the walk. Wave Rock is an area of cultural significance to the local indigenous people. It was thought to have been created by the “Rainbow Serpent”, which is viewed as a giver of life, as she dragged her body over the land, creating this structure. While in Hyden, we also went to visit Hippo’s Yawn (which is literally a massive rock that looks like a hippo’s mouth, wide open) you can see this in a picture below. We then drove around 10km from the camp site to see Mulka’s Cave, where you can see some aboriginal drawing on the walls of the cave, this was just a short stroll from the car park and was pretty interesting and it had some informative signage.  We walked around the Kalari Trail, which was a short 1,670m, but it climbed up to the summit of the Humps, on which you have stunning panoramic views of the granite outcrop for miles and miles.

 

 

That evening we made our way towards Fitzgerald River National Park (back to the coast), which was recommended to us by many other travellers. This area is well known to those who follow the migration of the Southern Right Whale, which comes to calve in this are during the winter. Unfortunately, we were a few months too early, but we managed to see the area where they usually go to calve and were able to imagine just how spectacular of a sight it is. We popped to see Hamersley inlet and camped in a nearby NP camp, we strolled along the inlet and took in the beauty of the area. Although the water did not retain the colour of the beaches of its neighbouring NP, it still retained the beautiful landscape, flora and fauna. We were lucky enough to see a pod of pelicans chilling out on the estuary. We managed to take pictures from around 10m out, and they didn’t seem bothered at all.

 

 

We drove out to another area the following day, called Point Anne. This is also a well known whale watching area. Additionally, it also has some historical importance. It is home to the very start of the well known “Rabbit-Proof Fence”. For those of you who are not aware of its significance, I would highly recommend that you educate yourself. Briefly, it was a set of 3 fences built in the early 1900’s in order to control the spread of rabbits that had been introduced by the Brits on the east coast for shooting purposes. But the rabbits soon got out of hand (hence the term ‘to breed like rabbits’) and the area became over run. They managed to migrate towards the west coast, thriving on the natural flora through Australia. Hence they build these 3 fences, stretching an astonishing 3200kms or 2000 miles. It was repaired by men until the 1950’s when myxomatosis (a disease that is used to kill rabbits) was introduced, this then diminished the need for the fence. You can see the remnants of the original fence on the cliff at Point Anne, where it all started over 100 years ago. There is also a movie called “Rabbit-Proof Fence”, which is a stunning movie that shows the vastness of the fence and also the history of what was happening in Western Australia at the time. Showing the harsh reality of what the indigenous people endured during the years known as the ‘Stolen Generation’ which started in 1833. Definitely worth a watch.  For more information on the ‘Stolen Generation’ click on the link below

Click here!

White in this area we also visited a very popular attraction called ‘The Gap’ which was pretty stunning and really showed you quiet how powerful the sea can be! Also formed from granite, this channel was carved by the constant beating from the Great Southern Ocean, creating a sheer drop of almost 40 meters deep! From the boardwalk you can also see a pretty impressive Natural Bridge formation which is also very impressive and definitely worth the detour from the main road!

 

 

#cattlestationlife

Location: The middle of nowhere. Around 350km east of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, on a dirt road with enough corrugation to render sea sickness.

Period: From October 2016 to March 2017

As part of our visa, if we wished to continue our stay for a further year it was essential for us to complete what is referred to as “Regional Work”. This means working in an agricultural/mining or construction industry within regional Australia (there are a list of certain postcodes that are eligible online). Our plan was to complete 3 months or 88 days of regional work on a cattle station in the Nullabor, which is described as flat, almost treeless arid or semi arid country, sounds lush.

 

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To set the scene, James and I drove to Kalgoorlie, which is approx 6 hours/600kms east of Perth, WA. We stopped off here, to gather some provisions as we would not be near civilisation for another 4 weeks (no shops or pubs within 4 hours of the station). We popped the destination into my phone’s sat nav (the Tomtom couldn’t handle it) and it read 6.5hrs to destination. We had been told by the station owners that at a good pace it would take us around 4 hrs. Luckily the satnav had underestimated the pace we would be going. After around 15kms we hit a dirt road, this was it, no going back now. The corrugation was pretty bone shaking, maybe not as bad as when we were up near Jurian Bay, but it was close. Around 3.5 hours later, we reached a barrel with ‘Kanandah Stn” written in white paint on it. We turned left down a drive where we dodged kangaroos, cattle and wedge tailed eagles. The land was arid and flat, a sparse covering of trees around to give the native wildlife some rest from the blistering sun. This was home for the next few months.

 

When we arrived we were greeted by Mark and Karen, the owners. We had a cup of tea and a good chat and were shown to the workers quarters. The bedroom had a double bed, lino floors, two little storage units and a ceiling to floor cubby hole with a billion spiders and a big hole in the bottom, that was soon closed! We went to investigate the kitchen, I nearly died. There were hundreds of spiders on the walls, the smell of something dead and unwashed dishes on the sink. Shit, what have we done?? We had some friends called Bobtail lizards who lazed around the shady parts of the house too! After James flapped around for a while saying maybe we should leave, I attempted to stay calm for my own sanity. I grabbed a sweeping brush and attacked Mr. Daddy Longlegs and his friends, when pulling out the fridges I came across several dead and necrotic mice. This is fine, just. Don’t. Panic.

 

After removing all our possessions from Bruiser, and depositing them in the room, we decided we should start dinner. We washed all the cutlery and plates before using them (just in case), cooked dinner and jumped in to bed awaiting our start the next day. We got to the shed at 6am ready to take on the world; I was immediately told that today I would be helping Karen, immediately demoted to  self proclaimed ‘house bitch’. When I arrived to the house I spent most of the day weeding her overgrown garden, which probably hadn’t been touched in a long time. James followed the grader, which was operated by their eldest son, they graded the airstrip and some roads, Mark has his own plane for mustering so regular maintenance is required . I got back to the quarters and told James about my first day, trying to keep positive but as it turns out I was chief house bitch for the majority of my station life, although some days when it was 40°C+ I was pretty happy to be inside a cool house with the fans on, but after a couple of months I got over it. Occasionally, James and I got to go out on the station motorbikes; I had a few falls but bounced back pretty quickly. We helped draft the cattle in the cattle yards which was interesting but mainly I just got chased or kicked! The station bred Brahman and Murray Grey cattle; an interesting mix. I was responsible for a little orphaned calf while I was there which was pretty nice, when I called him he came running for his bucket of milk twice a day.

During our 4 month stay we were lucky enough to see countryside that most Australians have never even set eyes on.

We saw brumbies(wild horses), dingos, camels, emus (a personal favourite), kangaroos, wedge tailed eagles, numerous species of snakes and lizards and other species of native, and introduced, wildlife. We even had the unique experience to see some snakes in our sitting room and around the homestead, looking for some shade.. That was pretty scary! Looking out on the bluebush and saltbush scrub was definitely a very different experience to the lush friends of Ireland. I was lucky enough to have experienced the wonders of the underground blowholes located on the Nullabor, on one of their other farms, Belgair. It is the most amazing feeling, we stood in a paddock in the blistering heat and went to the blowhole and a stream of cool air greeted you. It has something to do with the airpressure in the underground caves equalising with the pressure above ground, but don’t quote me on that! There are very interesting interpretations from the indigenous tribes around the area, including a story that a great serpent lives within the caves, and the cool breeze below is his breath!

Probably the worst thing I experienced for the Australian summer, was the sheer number of flies!!

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One thing I loved about the station is that they had no need to buy beef of any sort, when they started to run out of beef they would drive into the bush, and get one of their own cattle. Their cattle were the happiest I have ever seen, only needing human contact once a year for tagging and sorting, what a life. I helped, on a few occasions, to butcher up some of the meat which was pretty interesting, and now i’m pretty confident with cooking most cuts of meat. Mark was a pretty accomplished home butcher and I was impressed with the quality of cuts he could achieve in his own mini butchers room. As well as learning how to ride a motorbike, I also learned how to really cook beef, my favourite dish of osso bucco was regularly on the menu. We were supplied with lunch and dinner Monday to Friday which was pretty great, and we were always offered a supply of meat from their stores. Karen allowed me to pick her veggies and use them on the weekends, which was pretty good of her. She was also an amazing cook, and I was lucky enough to learn a thing or two from her.

 

They had some horses on the station, their eldest son -who was a keen rider and a trained farrier, brought them in and saddled up one called Higgins for me. He was an ex-racehorse owned by his twin brother who lives in Sydney at the moment. The first day I rode him he was pretty well behaved but when I rode him a couple of weeks later, he decided he didn’t fancy the exercise and proceeded to rear up, dropping me off the back, and then fall on top of me, winding me and cracking a few ribs. It took me a long time to be able to cough or turn over without being in an other level of pain, never again. For the first week I required James to pull me out of bed because bending was pretty arduous. In hindsight, it was pretty comical.

I became pretty friendly with their eldest son’s fiancée which made life easier as living in such a remote area, I found I missed my friends a lot. They were having a wedding on the 3rd of March on the station and James and I were invited. The wedding was beautiful, there were around 200 guests, it had recently rained and the station was looking as green as we had ever seen it. We helped set up the ceremony area before being allowed to enjoy the day with all the other guests. The whole wedding was so incomparable, from the ceremony taking place in the middle of a semi arid flat to the sheer number of guests who travelled miles to come and witness this new alliance.

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We left the station on the 20/03/17 to start some travels before heading to the Northern Territory to do some verge cutting (that’s a whole other blog post!). We drove to Kalgoorlie that day and once our cheques had been posted through to the bank, we drove to Esperance which is a very charming town on the south coast of WA, we had been offered a place to stay at Mark and Karen’s other property for a few days so that we could explore the area. And another adventure began.

Kalbarri, Western Australia.

Location: 550km north of Perth on the West coast

Duration: 3 days, 4 nights.

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On arrival into Kalbarri, we were greeted with the views of sheer cliffs and vast blue sea. We stopped for a quick look at the well sign posted view points. They were around a kilometre off the main road on a dirt track and the “walks” were around 500-600 meters each. The views were stunning, you were able to see the natural geography  of the cliffs such as sea stacks and sea bridges, the signs were super helpful in explaining each view. After this we continued on, and a few kilometres later we were in the vibrant seaside town of Kalbarri. As we looked to the west, into the sea, we were greeted with the sight of 5 or 6 large white birds, with large beaks-Pelicans! These large strange looking creatures were chilling out on the beach, oblivious to the people walking passed them taking pictures, they appeared pretty content. We later found out that some of the locals fed the pelicans at 9am every morning for the tourists.

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After getting some supplies from their supermarket we heading off in search of our camp for the night. The camp was called “Big River Ranch” and was located at the rear of a horse riding school. The owners were less than helpful and the camping area was bumpy and cramped, we agreed that the following night we would find another camp site in the area. We relaxed for the remainder of the evening and when we woke up the following morning we were greeted by a large, scary looking spider who decide he would made a nice home right on our handbrake. Neither of us had any idea as to what it could be and whether it was poisonous, after James took a quick snap we proceeded to evacuate the Beast and plan how we were going to remove it. We decided it was too big to spray with spider killer as he would probably just run away, hide under our chair and eat us in the night, so we decided that we would try and flick it into a salad bowl and let it free into a bush nearby. We managed, with a couple of screams every now and again, to get the spider off the handbrake without getting bitten (hurrah). In hindsight (a few months on) we concluded that it was actually quiet a small spider considering the mahoosive arachnids we’ve seen on our travels. We eventually got over our ordeal and headed off to a walk that we had read about on the signs on the way in, we trekked 6km to the viewpoint and 6km back, the views were stunning. We were literally walking on the edge of massive cliffs constructed of layers upon layers of sedimentary sandstone. We took a nice little picnic with us and watched the waves crash against the cliffs while we ate.

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In the evening we found a nicer campsite based on a riverbank called “Murchison house station”, the owners were much more welcoming and we got a perfect little camping spot right beside the river. There was an over hanging tree that allowed us to hang our little washing line and provided a little bit of shade while it was warm. Perfect. Coincidently we ended up camping across from the couple who had camped out in the storm on the last blog (Peter and Jo)!

The next day we decided to drive into Kalbarri National Park. We drove the 40ish kilometres to the Park entrance and paid our fee, knowing that we would be coming back the next day also. We decided to visit Nature’s Window and do The Loop walk around the Murchinson River. It took us around 3 hours, and during the walk we had a little picnic down in the empty gorge. The sheer cliffs were beautiful, eroded by the river Murchinson that flowed into the sea at Kalbarri. The sheer cliffs were a beautiful red and orange colour. Down in the gorge we were greeted by beautiful black swans and lots of mountain ducks. We even spotted a dead goat, we had heard there was a goat problem in Australia so weren’t overly surprised. After our excursion, we headed back to camp and set up for dinner with a glass of wine and a camp fire to keep us warm. We chatted for hours with Peter and Jo across the campsite and encouraged them to go on the walk. It was the most beautiful place I had ever seen, I wanted to go back the next day but we had other walks to do so didn’t quite get there.

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We hiked through a giant fissure the following day and made our way down to a different part of the Eroded river bed, however this time there were large pools of water, we often spotted fish leaping from the safety of the water in an attempt to catch the bugs hovering over the water. We contemplated that it would be a beautiful place to camp, if only we could drive the beast into the gorge! After another day admiring the beauty of Kalbarri (our favourite place so far) we decided to carry on with our travels, we could have happily of stayed there for longer but we knew we had limited time and money for our travels.

Greenough and Geraldton

We arrived in Geraldton a bit late having attempted to off-road on a beach and our 4wd setting broke in the so called “Beast”. We spent the whole day in the rain (on a bank holiday Sunday) trying to find someone who could sort it out, basically The Beast was stuck in 4wd and could not go above second gear. Eventually we found what I thought was a SAINT of a man who owned a garage and just so happened to be working on his own car when we rang. He fixed us up but we made the difficult decision to go back to Perth and get it fixed properly as we were unable to put The Beast back in 4wd…

One week on we were back on the road. We drove up as far as Lake Indoon which left a bit to the imagination as it was pretty polluted, stayed there for the night and then continued on to this walk we had heard about in a place called Cape Burney. It was just over a 10 mile walk and took us around 3 and a half hours. The walk took us along the banks of the river Greenough. As this is Australia and the rain water in the summer doesn’t keep the river topped up, therefore we were able to cross over the river and walk back on the other side. It was a really nice day so it made for a perfect free day out, and we also brought a little picnic so we could sit and eat during our day of exploration.

We then made our way to a little camp site called Oakabella Homested. We nearly got turned away from here as the weather was going to be torrential. I kid you not, the woman who owned the place told us her goat was restless and wouldn’t go inside so therefore there was a storm coming. And I shit you not, the heavens opened not a couple of hours later. Luckily there was an indoor place to cook in but one poor couple were in a tent for the night, nutters. The next morning we decided to head into the town known as Geraldton, we were rather sceptical about going back there due to our previous bad luck but we went anyway. We popped to the visitor centre (as we do in every place we go) and got some information about the town. We went to the HMAS Sydney II Memorial for a free talk at 10am with a delightful man who was clearly passionate about it. He showed us around and explained each element of the memorial created by the Smith Sculptors. The memorial was a credit to them with little hidden messages all around. The most amazing part is that their statue of the woman is looking out to the sea where the original ship sank. 

We then made our way to the local museum and with a gold coin donation we were able to explore the museum as well as listen to a talk about the Batavia ship that had once sailed the Australian coast, we had previously visited the wreck in Fremantle near Perth city. For our last activity for the day, we popped over to the old Geraldton Gaol. In each cell, a little local artisan craft shop was set up. We stumbled upon one cell which had numerous figures of Australian native animals. On closer inspection we found that each of these animals were hand crafted by a 90-something year old man called Archie from tin cans. Even though he appeared shaky, each item was so perfectly crafted. We had to buy a souvenir, and obviously it had to be a kangaroo it cost a mere $10, which converts to 5 GBP,I thought this was a bargain! We named him Archie in memory of his creator. Other than the craft side of the gaol there wasn’t a huge amount of history found, but there was a very enthusiastic volunteer tour guide who was happy to show us around.

We packed up for the day and headed back towards our campsite before it once again got dark, Geraldton is a town full of character and small hidden gems, they just need to be discovered. Next stop, Kalbarri National Park.

The First Leg.

The first leg to our journey started on Wednesday the 1st of June, nearly 3 weeks after we arrived, oops. Perth is like a black hole, you just get stuck in there and have to really will yourself to leave, opportunities at every doorstep, and a lot of Irish friends. We can’t thank everyone enough for their hospitality. Our first leg of the journey took us to The Pinnacles (Nambung National Park), the stromatolites and some other National Parks near Cervantes and Jurien Bay.
Entry to The Pinnacles was $12 for the Beast, as we drove through the barrier, we were given a map and set off on a 4km scenic drive around The Pinnacles. The rocky formations stood around the drive, as if the drive was blended in, looping around the strange rock formations. Many tourists stopped in the laybys near them to take pictures and dare I say even climb on them. They ranged in height from 2ft to 8 or 9ft but I’m afraid to say they didn’t leave me in awe.. I can understand that this is a point of interest but I was left a bit underwhelmed. We popped into the onsite visitor centre which was nicely presented but it left us a bit baffled as neither of us are sure how the rocks came to be. The literature within the centre was confusing and wordy with little or no factual information. Contrary to this, we did enjoy their mile long walk through the strange coastal desert.

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We drove to Cervantes that afternoon and explored some of the walkways and found ourselves a cosy camp site right on the beach for a bit of fishing (nope, didn’t catch any dinner) and to sleep the night.

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The next day we explored the few things that Cervantes had to offer, some freaky stromatolites or “Living Fossils” in Lake Thetis, and some lovely turquoise beaches! Lake Thetis is thought to have become isolated from the sea over 4000 years ago, the lake is one of only a few places to harbour these ugly looking formations. They are basically a layer of bacteria that deposit too much calcium and deposit sediment making these lumpy stony looking things, but apparently they are over 3000 years old, and still living which is crazy. You can see them “breathing” for want of a better word, they basically make bubbles in the water, odd. We walked around the 1.5km boardwalk and admired the strange but wonderful lake, and took a few snaps.

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The beaches around Cervantes were beautiful and so turquoise you would think they were fake.
We then decided to drive a bit further up the coast to the town of Jurien Bay. I didn’t realise until later that the beach that runs from Cervantes to Jurien Bay, is actually called Jurien Bay and it is a protected area as it has some interesting coral and fish. Anyway, we drove into Jurien town and went to the tourist information, as usual. No one in there was there to greet us and tell us what to see, so we browsed the stacks of brochures and left.
We decided our best bet was to head to a place called “Lesueur National Park” (you can tell the coast had been colonised by the French). We paid another $12 into an honesty box and drove half of the 18km scenic drive, stopped at a walk way and wandered along their 8km trail walk that took you around the conservation area and up Mount Lesueur itself, it wasn’t exactly a mountain at 313m and its near circular flat top. But the views were something, and the place was rich with the flora and fauna of Western Australia (WA). It is considered the most important flora conservation reserves in WA and it’s not hard to see why! The fauna I mentioned was an abundance of flies, some kangaroos and a little brown snake which I didn’t see and could of stepped on, but James, following behind me definitely saw it and once again screamed like a little girl!

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We hiked back down the mountain, had a good guzzle and headed off to find the infamous Stockyard Gully Caves. We took a cross country route on a red dirt track toward the caves. When you first get on these tracks you think “wow.. I’m in Australia, driving off road, this is great”. I promise you that gets old quick. The 40km long track was around 6 meters wide and mostly had a straight road that you could not see the end of, Great! No, not great. There seems to be a tracking mark on all the roads, like a track machine drove on the road in wet weather and then the sun came along and dried it in that position, so the whole car shakes. For 40 f**king kilometres, excuse my French. At the end of the dirt track we required to stick the Beast in 4 wheel drive and navigate along a winding sand track. The track produced plenty of massive boulders underneath to keep us steady but we got there eventually. We had a quick bite of lunch out of our cooler and set off. To be honest, we weren’t really sure what to expect but these very eccentric Australian men decided to take us on board and show us round. I do love the Australian humour, so dry. I was named first aider and “our safety officer” had a word for when something dangerous or to be cautious of was up next, “CHECK” or it could have been “CHEQUE”.. Not sure. Sorry. Anyway, the Stockyard Gully Caves were created by an underground river system, and there are 3 caves in that area in total. One is easily accessible and you just need a torch to see around the 300m long cave, the second one is easy to get to but you’re not allowed in, we still went in. And the third one you are not supposed to be allowed in, but we did anyway, that one was a bit more risky but we powered through. The caves were HUGE.

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And experiencing how dark it was inside was something else, we couldn’t see our hands in front of our faces when we turned the torches off. Throughout the caves there was a constant “buzzzzzzzz…” droning in the back ground, it turns out the area where the caves are is inhabited by thousand of bees, apparently this area is a beekeeping area, their hives were an attraction of their own, they hung down like spiders webs, some had fallen down so you could see the amazing detail in the comb. Brilliant. After The caves we made our way back down the track in search of our next available campsite.

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The next day we start our journey to Geraldton.

A Little Trip Down South

As of Saturday morning we were ready to travel! Inconveniently for our travel plans I had an interview for a nursing agency scheduled for Tuesday the 31st of May. Therefore we needed to wait until the Wednesday before we set off for our big adventure to Broome. SO , we decided to go down south as far as Busselton for a little explore to make sure all of our gear was sufficient.

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On our way to Bunbury, we stumbled across a brown sign for a place called ‘Serpentine Falls..’ Being in an adventurous mood, we took the turn off towards them and soon realised we could do a little trail walk. We stopped Beast and jumped out, popped on our walking shoes and headed off on the 14km, undulating pathway. The views were wonderful, but sometimes it was hard to concentrate as we were constantly searching for spiders and snakes (just in case) . The walk probably wasn’t for someone who was unfit, as even James and I had sore legs at the end. And surprisingly enough, the ever clumsy me, didn’t fall once (I did trip a lot, but managed to catch myself). The walk took us around 3hrs, but was very enjoyable. We got back to the park, had lunch and set off again towards Bunbury.

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We found out that Bunbury held some of the most beautiful beaches south of Perth, so we felt obliged to check at least one of them out, we checked out a place called ‘Back Beach’ which had a really nice cafe literally on the boardwalk. As I am partial to the odd latte, we didn’t hesitate to go in and sit down for a drink and a slice of cheesecake between us, we deserved it after our hike.

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We then drove to Busselton, checked out the camp site, and headed off to find some beach fishing. We chilled on a little secluded beach until around 6pm, made our way back to camp and cooked our dinner in the dark with head torches. We are still shocked at how long quickly it gets dark, we have now become early birds to make the most of the day! After a couple of beers we got ready for bed and curled up for the night under our lovely fluffy blanket. It was FREEZING. No one could have warned us for how cold it got at around 3am, but we powered through and made it until morning. Must get a duvet!

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Day 2, we got up early, headed to the beach for some fishing and chilled out until 10am. The fishing was pretty unsuccessful unfortunately. But it was nice to relax and just stare into the beautiful blue sea. When we had packed up, we decided to drive through Busselton, take a look at the Jetty and head off in search of another hike. We stopped at a Coles to grab some wraps and salad for lunch, then took off towards the Tuart Forest. We turned off the freeway onto the 15km “Tuart Drive”, In my rear view mirror I noticed someone flashing, I ignored it.. Then the car was trying to overtake.. And I saw a 60 something year old woman waving my bright orange purse at me.. SHIT. I pulled over quickly and James jumped out.. I had clearly left the purse on the roof, it had apparently flew off the roof when we turned off the freeway, and $800 in 50’s flew all over the road. These beautiful women stopped, picked up our money and purse and followed us for at least 5 km!! Wow, we were shocked at their generosity!!

After running back to the freeway to pick up what was left of the money we lost, we took a long drive through the colossal Tuart Forest. We found a dirt track in the forest and turned down it to find a nice touristy area with a 1200m walk around some of the forest that had previously burned down.

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After admiring the sheer size of these Tuart trees, we grabbed some lunch from The Beast and headed off towards the Leschenault peninsula conservation park for another walking adventure. We camped at the ‘Belvedere campsite” which was in the middle of the forest, right beside the water. Ideal. We soon navigated ourselves 2 and a half miles down a one way track where we viewed lots of parrots, termite hills and even some grey and brown kangaroos (James screamed when he saw the kangaroo.. and not in the excited sense of the word..).

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We then turned back towards the campsite, done some fishing, and did not get any fish for dinner.. Dinner was nice and the sun went down quickly so we lit a campfire and chatted about the day. We left early enough the next morning to complete our journey back to Perth for my interview. That campsite definitely gets Number One on our campsite list so far, although the park warden never came to take our money, it was only going to cost us $15 for the night!

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The “interview” went well, it was more of a friendly chat than anything else, but I’ll start work with the agency once we run out of money… Let’s hope it takes a while!!

Travel Plans!!

So we’ve been in Perth for over 2 weeks now, we’ve seen some of the sights but kept some of the better ones til the weather gets better. Our last few days have consisted of shopping trips for camping bits and food that we can bring on our journey. Thanks to the people we have been saying with, we’ve been able to acquire a very sturdy 4×4 Mitsubishi Challenger 1998, hereby known as ‘THE BEAST’. The Beast cost a reasonable $3000/1500GBP, we got her serviced through a friend and he recons she’s in great condition and ready to do some thousands of miles.. Fingers crossed!

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We plan on driving up North, as far as Broome but maybe farther if our money lasts. Before we leave I have to have an interview with a nursing agency, just in case I need to do any work on our travel up North, and also it secures work for me when I get back to Perth. We are also hoping to get our Regional work while we are up North, we’re really looking forward to this part of the journey as we both love the outdoors.

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Tomorrow (29/05) we plan on going a couple of hundred KMs down south to see a place called Busselton, which is suppose to be wonderful. James has wrote a comprehensive but not solid plan for our couple of days testing out our living arrangements.

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Here’s to the next part of our Adventure!

A Little Trip to Lancelin, WA.

As a last minute idea, our amazing hosts, Niamh and Ale (al-ay), decided it was a good idea to drive North a couple of hours to do some off-roading.. My thoughts were that we would be driving on some bumpy dust tracks and maybe along a beach, I was wrong.

We arrived to the tiny town of Lancelin, WA, and popped in to a petrol station for a little fuel before we got going. The petrol station looked as if it was from the 1900’s, with super old pumps and a tiny shop. Within the shop they rented out sand boards for $20 for a few hours, with a $50 deposit. I, naturally became a chicken instantly. The other three in the Jeep became immediately excited. Oh crap. Fortunately for my sanity, they decided we should wait and see if we had time later. In hindsight, sand boarding would have been less scary than what I endured…

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We drove along a bumpy dusty road to a car park. In the distance I could see some crazy people on top of a  20 meter sand dune in a 4×4.. I started to worry. We let the tyres down in the Jeep and then drove out to the middle of the dunes. Then the “fun” started. We drove up and down these dunes at speed, sometimes taking more than a 60 degree drop down a 20 foot dune, my heat racing and screaming like I was on a roller coaster. Wow. Exhilarating.. And terrifying. I have never experienced anything like that. It was nuts.

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and then we may have got stuck…

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After the fun crazy stuff, we done what I thought we came to do, and drove on the bumpy, dusty track. We also saw our first kangaroo, which was EPIC. They are just like massive rabbits, with massive legs, and massive ears, and they are massive.

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I must be honest, the bumpy track journey made me feel a bit nauseous. But when we got to the beach, I felt so much better. Just like the first time I saw the beaches in Western Australia, it took my breath away. At that moment again, I knew I was some where different. The sky was a brilliant blue and the sand was a wondrous white. We jumped out of the Jeep and ran to the water. We immersed our legs and feet in the lukewarm sea water, before thinking.. SHIT what if a shark gets me???

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We soon got over that! We sat on the beach for a good half an hour and stared at this beautiful vast tremendous being, before driving back.

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Our day out was concluded with a scenic drive back to the monstrous city of Perth. It was terrifying to see how many kangaroos were about near dusk.. Beautiful.. But definitely terrifying. We are so amazed by the beauty this country has to offer, even by just driving a few 100 km from the city, it’s like another world. Hopefully our journey will start soon after we get a 4×4!

Ciao for now.