Day 130 to Day 133 – Saturday 22nd to Tuesday 25th October 2011
Well, we had a very enjoyable few days ‘trapped’ at Big Valley farm, watching the farmers rounding up the sheep, relaxing under the trees or in the sunshine, even sharing a bottle of wine with the neighbour one evening (as well as being given two bottles as a gift from another neighbour!). A very nice stay with some lovely people, both fellow travellers and the farmers. It was sad to leave, but on to more adventures!
Day 134 – Wednesday 26th October 2011
After all the standard food and water top ups, we were off in the direction of Pemberton and the home of big trees. First stop, Beedleup Falls, with a 300 metre walk down to some falls and then a couple of hundred more metres to a ‘suspension bridge’ crossing. It was very reminiscent of the shrek/donkey scene in Shrek, wobbling and all, and the boys were big fans. They had to go back and forth over it about seven times.
On our arrival back at the car, Andrew discovered that the brakes on the caravan had ‘gone’ (that’s the extent of my knowledge about it, I forget the details) so we decided to skip the climbing Karri tree and leave it until the morning. The road we were on actually bypassed Pemberton itself and we made our way to our free camp for the night, some old sawpits about 15kms out of town. Unfortunately, our out of date Camps book was inaccurate and the place is no longer available for camping. However, with the brakes gone and the need to go back into town in the morning for parts, we decided to take the risk and stay anyway.
Me and the boys took a look at the old sawpits while Andrew took a look at the brakes. No solar panel today as it was too drizzly. I doubt we would have got any sun anyway – the trees are so big now, we’re lost in the forest with barely any sun.
Day 135 – Thursday 27th October 2011
We got up and left early – mostly to avoid any potential ‘capture’ and subsequent fine for camping in a no camping zone – and headed straight into Pemberton. On arrival, we quickly realised that it was not the kind of town we were going to find spare parts. It was much smaller than I’d expected! However, we found a nice spot to park and have breakfast before heading north – and 40 km’s out of our way – to Manjimup, which was the next biggest looking town anywhere near us.
Manjimup, with it’s numerous car part places, still could not help us and advised that the next closest place would be Albany (where we had planned on skipping in the interest of heading inland to Hyden instead). It was still a helpful visit though, as we were able to grab some more bread and milk from Coles. (Small town = general store, Medium town = IGA, Big town = Coles / Woolies).
Already being out of our way, and with a day of constant drizzle, we decided to give the big climbing Karri trees a miss. I didn’t want to pay the $11 national park fee and then not even be able to climb it because it was too wet. So one more thing on the ‘next trip’ list – hey, we’ve got to save some of the good things for next time! So instead we headed straight for a rest area just outside of Walpole, near the Tree Top Walk.
We’re really in big tree country now and our little van was dwarfed by the forest surrounding us at our rest area.
Here’s a little mate I saw just at my feet as I got out of the car. Nearly trod on him! He was smaller than a blowfly. How gorgeous is that!
Again, no opportunity to get out the solar panel today, so our batteries are slowly diminishing.
Day 136 – Friday 28th October 2011
First thing in the morning, we headed into Walpole to the visitors centre. We were disappointed that we’d eaten breakfast already when they advised us that they had a fundraiser on with a fully cooked breakfast for $5! I contemplated fitting more in anyway, but considering all the jeans I brought on this trip are now too tight (Margaret River didn’t help) I gave it a miss.
On to the famous Tree Top Walk! This is a big walkway, going up to 40 metres high, walking through the treetops in a big forest of Karri trees and Tingle trees (which reach up to about 70 metres high). It actually sways a bit in the wind and I thought it was pretty fun. Andrew was not such a big fan of the height and was pleased to be back on firm ground again.
After the Tree Top Walk, you do the Ancient Empire walk, which is another walk around all the trees but on the ground this time, with some interesting looking trunks, like this “Grandma Tingle”. See her face? It reminds me of that old garbage pile in Fraggle Rock.
At our rest area just down the road – again, dwarfed by massive forest, and no solar! – we met a lovely family with two girls the same age as Ethan and Jack. They had lots of fun running around and playing together. You know kids are getting along well and feeling comfortable with each other when games like ‘let’s wear our undies on our head’ starting coming out.
Day 137 – Saturday 29th October 2011
We left the rest area in the late morning, after some more playing for the kids, and headed into Denmark. This was quite a nice looking little town and we soon found a brilliant big playground to spend the afternoon in. More bread and milk shopping (IGA sized town) and Andrew tried his luck with the auto parts places, but no go. So on to Albany it is.
We didn’t leave Denmark until later in the day, so we headed to ‘Cosy Corner’, another right on the beach, sand dune campground. For the first time in four days, we managed to get a bit of sun on the solar panel, but it was no way near enough to bring our batteries back to a reasonable level, so it will be a caravan park for tomorrow night. All this drizzly, overcast weather!
We went for a walk down to the water but it was blowing a gale, so the boys had a good time playing in the sand just outside our van instead where it was a little more sheltered. The views here are fantastic, great coastal scenery and we can see the Albany wind farm in the distance. (photos don’t do it justice so not putting any up).
Day 138 – Sunday 30th October 2011
Wanting to get the van brake thing sorted out asap, we headed to Albany bright and early. Having previously told fellow travellers that we were skipping Albany, every single person told me not to worry about it, that Albany was just another big town and not worth going out of our way for. WELL, I’m extremely glad that destiny sent us here anyway because I really love it! So there. I didn’t know the historical significance of Albany before – being the first European settlement in Western Australia – and if I’d known I would have made sure we came anyway, if for nothing more than a history lesson for the boys. The town is full of old buildings from the late 1800’s and it’s just gorgeous. It’s quite hilly with lots of the houses being set up into the hills amongst the trees and overlooking the ocean – feels like Tuscany or something. I think it’s very picturesque.
And besides that, there’s LOADS we want to do here, so after checking straight into a caravan park for two nights, we headed off on our first adventure – the Brig ‘Amity’. This vessel carried the first settlers to Albany in 1826, and they have now built a replica that you can look through. It cost $15 for a family pass, but it was well worth it because we all enjoyed it immensely. It was incredible to picture the living conditions of the men inside – even the Captain’s cabin, which was massive in comparison to the others – was very tiny. The atmosphere was great below decks, with minimal lighting and some wave / wood creaking sound effects playing. They had a couple of dummies in there which added to the feel of it, but they were so realistic it was a little bit creepy!
The captain in his quarters – I almost expected him to blink!
Drink up me hearties, yo ho!
A pleasant surprise, we happened to be visiting the ship while there were some local teen bands playing, so we got to sit on the lawns and have a bit of a chill out, listening to some new talent.
We were also right next to the museum, so we had a look in there and the boys got to paint a plaster frog each for free.
It’s been a big day, so we’ll have to save the rest of the things on our list until tomorrow.
Day 139 – Monday 31st October 2011
This morning we headed to Princess Royal Fortress, the first federal defence of Australia, opened in 1893. At $22 entry, it was a bargain for how much we got out of it. We spent four hours there, exploring the many barracks, buildings and grounds. With field guns, slit trenches, cannons, torpedos and underground bunkers, it was a little boys (and big boys) heaven.
It also encouraged lots of interest in World War 2, so the boys were voluntarily engrossed in yet another history lesson.
These guns still had the working mechanisms for moving them around and up and down, so Ethan took great pleasure in aiming at his mother. He thought it was hilarious. He’s in there somewhere.
Back home for a rest after another big day and a lot of walking around. Albany hot chips for dinner.
Day 140 – Tuesday 1st November 2011
Raced to the supermarket to do a quick shop – food and Daniel’s birthday presents – before checking out of the caravan park. One more sight-seeing venture before we leave Albany – the old Convict Gaol.
Once again, quite good value at only $12 for a family pass, and it was fun to see all the old cells, sit on the beds, etc. They’ve done a good job of setting it up with lots of old bits and pieces from the time and more posed dummies – not quite so realistic as the Amity, though I thought this one looked like Angelina Jolie!
Ethan in the ‘black hole’ cell.
Now that we’re in Albany after all, it’s just as easy to do Hyden as a little side venture and head in the direction of Esperance, instead of inland, from here. So tonight, en route to Esperance (via a detour to Hyden’s Wave Rock) we’ll be staying in a rest area with probably no reception so I’m posting this now, from a town called Jerramungup, to placate all you diehard fans out there who are going into withdrawals (you know who you are).
Won’t be long til we’re home now! I’m missing everyone, but I’m glad we still have more travelling to look forward to after Christmas or I’d be disappointed that it was over. I’ve not quite had my fill of gypsy-ism yet.