Monday, April 6, 2009

Nullarbor to the South West Coast of WA

Again, its been a while since our last update so this one covers quite a large area!

MAP OF OUR LATEST LEG:
Click here for detailed map you can zoom in on.

We awoke in the morning in Ceduna, SA and had breakfast (honey on toast - trying to use it up before crossing the border!)

We drove out to Denial Bay, near Ceduna in search of some oysters but all we discovered were some tractors that looked a little waterlogged:
We then realised that you had to purchase the Denial Bay oysters from a place in Ceduna so back we went to indulge ourselves. Yummy!! (and only $9 a doz - much cheaper than in the restaurant!)

We drove West to Penong, land of many windmills! (Used to pump the water from under the ground for those kiwis who take water for granted!!)


On from Penong we stopped in at Cactus Beach which is famous for its surf breaks. We walked along the cliffs and saw some amazing scenery but there were only a couple of surfers out.






A Salt Lake on the way to Cactus Beach (one side is pink, the other blue)


We drove on some of the way along the Nullarbor. Had to stop for a typical Aussie pic:


We were both surprised that although the plain was pretty flat, it was still quite scrubby and not just desert / dirt like we expected.
We stopped at the Head of Bight but the tourist area wasn't open at this time as no whales at this time of year (May to Nov). We stopped at a roadhouse and saw a few wild dingos hanging out looking for food.

They were obviously pretty tame and used to all the humans stopping by and taking photos.




We drove to a rest stop about 100km from the WA border which was right near the cliffs and gave great views. And Haz and Lindy - the stars did look great out here!


The next morning we managed to finish off all our honey ("Phew" I can hear you all gasp in a collective sigh - a happy ending after all!)

We drove to the WA /SA border and passed easily through the quarantine - only a rogue piece of garlic that we had missed was confiscated. Here we set the clock back 45 mins - always nice to gain some more time to your day!


This was the longest part of our drive across the Nullarbor. We drove past some small towns: Eucla, Mundrabilla, Madura, Cocklebiddy and Caiguna where we had to put the clock back another 45 mins. Petrol started getting more expensive the further out you got and at Cocklebiddy we paid $1.61L to fill up!

Just after Caiguna we drove along the longest stretch of straight road in Australia at 146km long:

Needless to say this was pretty mind-numbing...


...and we even resorted to watching a couple of episodes of Flight of the Conchords (You bet your Arse I'll be there!) and South Park.


We drove on to Norseman and stopped just North of here for the night. A long drive today of over 700km!!!

We woke up the next morning bright and early to drive North to Kalgoorlie-Boulder. As we were on our way we heard the time on the radio and realised that daylight savings had ended so we had to wind the clock back ANOTHER hour!! Which means we were up even more super early and when we got to Kalgoorlie the info centre hadn't opened yet. After waiting around for a bit we went in but found that being a Sunday not a lot of stuff was open, including the "Superpit" Lookout which overlooks the open cut gold mine.

We decided to drive on North for a bit to Menzies where we saw there was a Salt Lake (Lake Ballard) with 51 sculptures dotted around it created by Anthony Gormley, a London artist.

We had a beer at an old pub in Menzies and had a yarn with the owner who had just recently bought the pub and was going to do it up as a retirement project (a lot of work, but good fun I'm sure!)

We called past the Menzies Cemetary on the way which had some very old graves and contained many graves which had no headstones but just numbers.


We then drove on to Lake Ballard and made it our mission to see all 51 statues. Unfortunately they were all dotted around the Lake a quite big distances and it was very hot with the sun reflecting up off the salt in the Lake. We spent about 2hrs walking around and saw about 30 of them and most others from further away. The sculptures were all created from scans the artist took of 51 of the residents of Menzies.


They looked great with the shadows that were cast upon the whiteness of the lake. The lake itself was thick with the salt, hard to walk on, and sounded like snow as we crunched our way across it.
I liked this shot of the kangaroo track across the salt:


and of course Dave liked this one..I wonder which resident of Menzies this came from - Pamela Anderson maybe?


You can read more about Antony Gormley's exhibition here


We then drove back into Menzies and stopped for the night. In the morning we filled up with petrol at a place which had a heap of old tin signs for sale out the front.
We drove back to Kalgoorlie and thankfully the Superpit lookout was open. We went to have a look and it was absolutely HUGE!!! In the photo below you can see the scale of it when you look at the trucks to the left about halfway down. And these are big trucks! Just a breathtaking example of what machinery can achieve.



After stocking up at the supermarket and petrol station (only $1.13L thank goodness!) we headed south, back though Norseman and then down to Esperence.

Dave caught a snap of me having a wee snooze (hey, its hard work being the passenger!)
There appeared to be no free (legal) camping in Esperence so we looked at a couple of caravan parks. We began at the cheapest, but one look there and we decided to move on - most of the caravans were falling to pieces and looked like they were pretty permanent fixtures - the sort of place where you would expect a hillbilly man to step out of a trailer with his shot gun in tow. We went to a couple of others and ended up in a smallish one where we had dinner and watched TV which felt like a bit of a novelty!

The next day we did the coastal drive around all of the beaches around Esperence. It was very misty so we didn't get any great photos. We could see that the beaches would be beautiful on a nice day.

We drove to the jetty and saw "Sammy" the local sea lion.

Video of Sammy
video
After this we drove out to Cape Le Grand National Park. It was $10 entry to the park.

Cape Le Grand Beach itself was just beautiful and we stopped here for lunch:


We also saw Frenchman's Peak which we decided we would climb the next day as the weather was a bit iffy.

Frenchmans Peak


We headed to Thistle Cove next where there were some great rock formations:
This one looked a bit like a bum, don't ya think?

We ended up at Lucky Bay which was voted to have the whitest sand in Australia. We stayed in the camp site there - $7.50pp which was pretty good considering they had flush toilets, a camp kitchen and hot showers (well, cold when I used them as they were solar powered and it hadn't been very sunny for a few days!) and was right by the beach. They also had a number of kangaroos wandering by, having a good old scratch...


Lucky Beach - Pristine!

After breakfast we headed to tackle Frenchmans Peak, a large granite peak.
This had some very steep slopes and we were glad to be wearing sturdy shoes unlike some people we saw wearing thongs!!!

Us before the steep ascent:

As many of you know, I'm pretty freaked out by heights. I'm not sure why, I had no problems as a kid but it seems to have got worse and worse the older I get. And this was no exception. I had one "panic" moment where a few tears were shed and I thought I wasn't going to get any further up or back down again.


But after bit of deep breathing and positive thinking, I managed to press on, past the worst bit...


...conquer my fears and make it to the top!

Dave got this shot from the summit looking down on the car park and Space Pig waiting patiently below..



At the top we were awared with a great view though the natural arch which made the trek well worth it.

Going down was also a little scary but nowhere as bad as I had expected which I was pleased about as the rain was just about to start once we got to the bottom!

We drove out to Hellfire Beach, which is yet another beautful beach in the Nat Park.

And around-about this time I managed to drop the camera into the sand. Doh - not a good idea!!! Although I will lay the blame on a crappy camera case on which the velcro had gone so the camera just decided to throw itself onto the lovely white sand (no, not my fault at all!!)

We drove back to Esperence and bought ourselves an Annual Parks Pass which gives us unlimited entry to all the National Parks in WA for $75. We figured we will be visiting quite a few parks here and at $10 a pop it makes sense to buy the pass. We got a $10 refund from the entry into Cape Le Grand which was good.

We bought a disposable camera for the meantime but have yet to get these photos developed so there's a couple of days of no photos!

We drove on towards Munglinup and stayed in rest area for the night.

The next day we awoke earliesh and drove to Ravensthorpe and then down to Hopetoun, a nice small beach town. From there we headed out to Fitzgerald National Park and visited a few beaches. There was great scenery and lots of native plants (sorry, no photos!)

We were going to skip BremnerBay, but we're glad we didn't - Its a great place located on by the water with heaps of lovely bays where you can swim, surf, fish and snorkel. We decided against paying for a caravan park and found a secluded spot near the marina where we cosied up for the night.

Next morning we drove to the beach for breakfast (I'm loving our great breakky spots!) and I had a cold shower which was bloody freezing but very refreshing! We went to Little Boat Harbour on our way out where they had a dive trail and Dave did a little bit of snorkelling (thanks for the gear Donno!)

We then drove down to Albany via Cheyne's Beach. We stopped at two wineries - Montgomery's Hill and Wignalls. We had blown a fuse in the car from a power overload (!) that morning and low and behold we came across an auto-electrician at the winery who gave us a replacement fuse - must be good karma or something!

We went to the info centre in Albany and spoke to the most helpful lady ever. We went to a camera shop to check if we could get our camera fixed but they had no technicians available to look at them and were told to try Perth.

We had a drive around town and had a beer tasting at Tangleheads Brewey (weren't that fussed with their beer to be honest!)

We drove out to the river and found a place to "tuck-up" for the night. Heard so many fish jumping in the river but were too tired to drop a line in!

We woke up the next morning to our six month wedding anniversary - hasn't it gone fast! We spent the day in town - first stop was the farmer's market which was just great - the freshest local produce at good prices. We then ended up spending a bit of money in town - new tramping boots for me (I'm sick of blisters!) After speaking to Bucky and hearing that it would cost more than the camera is worth to fix it we decided to buy a new camera and after shopping around found a great Panasonic one at a good price. Yay - photos are back!!

We decided to treat ourselves to a nice night so checked in to a Backpackers Hostel in a double room ($60 so not too bad). We went out to Nonna's for dinners, a lovely Italian restaurant. We then went back to Tangleheads and watched a free band - Arons Crusade - who were having their album launch. THey were pretty good for a band we'd never heard of and we ended up buying their album. You can click on the link above for their myspace page and to listen to their songs.

We then went back to the hostel and had a great sleep in a "proper" bed. In the morning we had free toast and coffee for breakfast and then went for a drive to explore the outer areas of Albany. We thought Albany was brilliant. On the map below you can see that there are so many bays and beaches around the area, there is just so much to do and we could have happily spent a few weeks here.

We drove to Frenchman's Bay and had lunch, saw the whaling station, Salmon Holes Beach, Stony Hill Lookout, the Blowholes and The Gap and Archway.

Salmon Holes

Blowholes


Natural Archway
You can see the scale of it by looking at the little person in the middle of the bridge.


Rocks at the Archway



We also visited the ANZAC Memorial at the top of Mount Clarence. Albany was the spot where the soldiers sailed off to war from and so was the last glimpse of australian soil for many men. A very special place.

A very sobering sight was the tree lined street leading up to the Memorial with each tree bearing a plaque to a fallen soldier.


We also drove out to Middleton Beach and Emu Point and saw a new roadsign:


We then drove back to Tanglehead Bar to see yet another free gig - Saz lockyer, a one-man band, Xavier Rudd style (but a lot more restrained!) We were very impressed with the number of free gigs on a various places in Albany.

We then went out to Cosy Corner Beach camp spot for the night - a lovely, shaded spot with lots of nooks and crannies to park your car or tent.

In the morning we drove back to Albany and headed North to Porongurup National Park. We went first to Jingella Winery which had been recommended to us and bought some "Pawny Tort" off the very talkative lady.
We then went into the National Park to do some walks. The first one was up and across several peaks.

There were great 360 degree views all around right out to Albany on one side and the Stirling Ranges on the other.

There were some great rocks around too!


That took us about 2 hours and then we did the walk to Balancing Rock and The Castle. WOW! This was just stunning. It was a fairly gentle walk through the trees and then up to thes incredible rock formations that just had to be seen to be believed.

Balancing Rock - What the? This was kinda freaky!


Just up from Balancing Rock was the Castle, named after some huy who was the first European guy to climb up it. It involved a bit of rock scrmbling to get up but was just magnificent.



A good rock for abseiling...

At the very end you climbed up a ladder and along a walkway to get to the very top.



We made it!

This is one of the best walks I've done of late and was a real buzz!

By this time it was close to dark so we drove to Mount Barker and stopped at a rest stop for the night.

Oh, and there I discovered a tick on my knee!! It was lucky I found it as I only pulled up my pants to check out a mozzy bite and there was the tick. At first it looked just like a little scab but on closer inspection I noticed that it had legs.. I've always wondered what a tick looked like - I've heard stories of paralyzing ticks on shoulders and a certain person who found one on their
bum and had to ask someone to help them pull it out when they were only on their third date but up till now, I've never seen one. So there you go... not the nicest of things but at least Dave got it out for me before it had time to bury itself in the depths on my body.. Eugh.

Anyway....
Next morning we went to a winery in Mt Barker before heading North through Woogenellup and Kembellup to the Stirling Ranges. We didn't actually drive in to the ranges and do a walk but decided to head to some of the little towns North of the ranges. We stopped at Amellup for a photo opportunity:
(sorry to blind you all, but think of the poor lady we asked to take the photo!)
We then drove on to a Dutch Windmill which is the largest working one in Australia:
and then we stopped at a pub in Borden. Notice the whales willy on the wall?!!
From there we passed though Gnowangerup where we saw a big wooden statue of Ned Kelly..

...and a lovely big steam tractor.

We headed back to Mount Barker for the night where we had a few games of cards and a wee drink of the old Pawny...

And here we are now in Mount Barker. We are heading off to Denmark today where there is lots to explore and then west to Walpole. We're just hoping all the free camping spots aren't too full over Easter!!!

Til next time folks, ciao!

6 comments:

  1. Geez it's lucky that person told you the tick story so Dave knew what to do when you got one and so you could write about it on your blog.

    I'm loving the blog and the photos. Great work guys!

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  2. Love your words and photos you lucky fuckers! But I'm glad I'm not relying on you to catch dinner for me - they were emu tracks in the salt, not roo tracks.
    Miss ya's heaps!

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  3. Wow, that was one mega post! Awesome to follow what you guys are doing. What are ya doin for Easter? Do they even have chocolate in the wilderness?

    That photo of Sammy the Sea Lion made him look a little dead, good to see he was able to waddle into the water.

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  4. Ah, yes, well I did mention to Dave that I would make a crap tracker... but there were two different types of tracks - I think the others were roo tracks... who knows!

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  5. Love the post my dears, you sure have made some distance! Looks amazing!

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  6. Where's the next update ya slackers!

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