Saturday, March 21, 2009

Esperance to Perth

Soooo, it's been a while. Andy last blogged from Esperance which seems like a long time ago now.

*A bloom on the side of the road - a bottlebrush?

After leaving Esperance we wanted to spend some time in the national parks along the coast in this beautiful south west region as we made our way to Fremantle. We ended up in a council run camp ground called Munglinup Beach nestled back in the dunes with the all important protection from the wind. It also had conveniently spaced trees for the hanging of hammocks and the awful, awful bloodsucking giant flies.
*An almost full moon rising over the dunes at Munglinup.

*West coast sunset.

The next day the weather was bad, the weather in the car was also turning foul with too long on the road, rain and the camp we'd set our hearts on closed for the salmon fishing season! The good thing about the place we ended up, East Bay on Two People's Bay was that we met a Hungarian drifter who gave us a few good tips for the days to come. Oh, and we could hear the surf from our tent.

*The view as we approached Shelly Beach in West Cape Howe NP.

Albany proved to be a nice town. We particularly loved that they provide free showers to weary travellers in the public block which we took full advantage of. We stopped for a latte and to write a few postcards before heading to Shelly Beach in West Cape Howe NP (one of the Hungarian's tips). Shelly Beach is up there as one of my top 10 ( probably too early to commit to #1) beach camps. We had a primo spot, perhaps not entirely legal, right on the beach.
*Our camp at Shelly Beach.
*Payniac in the living room reading.

We had set up camp and I was sitting just soaking up the atmosphere and I noticed a commotion a couple of hundred metres off the beach. There was white water on an otherwise glassy surface and the birds were going nuts. I got the binos out and it turns out they were fish. Big ones jumping out of the water. Some of our fellow campers, somewhat better equipped than us, also noted the action and got down to the beach with a rod.Within half an hour one of them had a fish that went from hip to ankle.The salmon were running! This provided entertainment on and off for the rest of the afternoon/evening and the following morning. Shelly Beach is a commercial fishing spot and there were professional fisherman camped among us who were all business when the salmon were on. In all I saw 5 fisherman land their prize from the beach, they're big fish and seem to put up a fight, one took half an hour to bring in - a beauty.

*Giant tree grove where I could hear birds but could not see them.

From Shelly Beach we headed into D'Entrecasteux NP to find a place to camp. Using our trusty camping bible we went in search of the Banksia Camp - a 4km sandy, 4WD only track off the main road. And what an amazing spot.As well as a camp ground there was a lodge, Banksia Lodge which was no extra charge to stay in. Even though we had no intentions of sleeping in the well appointed rooms (bare wooden bunks, no doors) we made ourselves right at home taking up deck space. Strung up the hammocks and lay like broccoli and pretty much had the joint to ourselves until Tim the shearer showed up. We heard trouble on the corner coming into the camp ground - as he came around the corner his dog knocked his vehicle out of gear and he sank in the sand, he then let too much puff out of his tyres and you could hear his rims on the gravel in the camp ground. He came over and asked to use our compressor - no worries. He was a pretty funny bloke. I'll let Andy elaborate on his reward with Tim the shearer.

*Brekky at Banksia Lodge - soft boiled eggs are on the menu about twice a week these days.

*Camp at Banksia - note the hammock.

*The road to Banksia was a single lane, deep sandy track.

Apart from the very cool quarters the highlight of Banksia camp ground was the biggest pod of dolphins I've ever seen. There must have been about 60. They were surfing and playing not too far off the beach. All before breakfast - pretty happy with that!

*The flies!
*Sue's Bridge on the Blackwood River - a picturesque place to camp.
Although we were loving this part of the world we thought we'd head over towards the West Coast as the weather was forecast to be great for Sunday. We thought it'd be nice to be close to the beach and not have too far to roam to the Margaret River. We had been in touch with some friends, Tommy G and Dee, from Sydney holidaying in the Margaret River, specifically in a cottage at Evans & Tate. They very generously invited us for dinner and to stay with them for the night.

Being the Saturday night of a beautiful weekend, and Payniac deciding the Leeuwin-Naturaliste NP would be too popular and therefore too busy we headed for an inland camp. We ended up at Sue's Bridge in the relatively new Blackwood River NP. After driving through some beautiful forests this was a great option and we ended up with a lovely shady spot near the river.
*Snake (Dugite according to local opinion, looked a lot like a brown snake to me ) about to eat a large skink. Obviously wouldn't usually go anywhere near a snake like this but he was pretty tied up with his lunch so we watched for a while with morbid fascination. The lizard was still breathing and moving its legs as the snake started to ingest it.I had never seen anything like this before.
On Sunday we made our way to the coast with a stop at Augusta - for the sights and for a bakery
brunch. Then we did some beach time at Hamelin Bay. We had intended to beach hop up Caves Road towards Evans & Tate (where G & D were) but we took a turn off so we could drive through the incredible karri forest with a general heading toward the coast - the next thing you know we've been driving for ages and it's all sandy again - - if we'd kept going we'd have ended up on the beach back at Hamelin Bay where we started from.
*Catching some rays at Hamelin Bay.
*More giant trees this time in Leeuwin-Naturaliste NP.
After a quick shop in Dunsborough we arrived at Evans & Tate around 6:30pm very excited. We hadn't seen these guys in quite some time and were really looking forward to spending some time with them. Their lives have changed significantly since we'd seen them with baby Juniper 5&1/2 months old. With all the excitement we all talked and drank too much and stayed up really late and some of us felt very average the next morning. It was a top evening spent amongst the vines of the lovely E&T vineyard so a great big thank you to Tommy and Dee for putting us up for the night & for your fantastic company. Meeting up with people as we go has played a really important role in us workshopping the trip. It sounds a bit silly but being together 24/7 and living this trip-of-a-lifetime together means we don't talk a huge amount about the experiences as we have them. It isn't until we start imagining other peoples curiosities that we delve deeply into our experiences. So, thanks to G and Dee for that too.

From the Margaret River it was a quick scoot, and very painful for me with the worst headache I've ever had, up the highway to Leggie's in Freo. As Andy went to Sydney for work (sounds more like fun to me!!!!) from Wednesday and got back y'day I had a chance to explore Perth and Fremantle a little on my own. Firstly I got my dive computer back - the one the guys took from Kangaroo Island a month ago-thank you Divers Service Adelaide!I went to the WA Museum, walked around the city, shouted myself lunch at a cool city cafe, looked in the shops, bought some books, visited Kings Park and intended to get a "ferry" back to Freo to take in the river.

*The incredible view of Perth city from King's Park

This was thwarted as I had missed the last one of the day and so trained it back.
It's about 20km from Fremantle to Perth city and takes under half an hour. Yesterday I had the day in Freo - what a cool place! Last time we were here it was all a bit of a whirl wind and never got my bearings so it was nice to see it at my pace. I walked to the Fremantle Prison where I did a tour, then wandered through the markets and down to the harbour.
*The accomodation circa 1860 in the Fremantle prison.
Leggie had also given me a heads up on an art gallery that he really liked called the Moores Gallery - in an old warehouse with a really great exhibit that I enjoyed. Freo has lots of old buildings so the city has heaps of character. It's been lovely to have these few days with my own company in the day as Leggie's hard at work making the upcoming West Coast Blues & Roots festival, and in the evenings we've been hanging out here with Jasper the chocolate labby.

We've also had the opportunity to catch up with some easties in the west while we've been here. Great to see Caz & Sam, Nat New, and the gracious hostesses Kimmy and Fluff. Thanks guys for such a lovely evening last night - we intended to drop in for an hour or so but didn't get home until well after midnight, good to have a laugh and a chat and listen to the daylight savings debate.

This morning we saw the Sculptures by the Sea at Cottesloe before a delicious sunday brekky with an incredible Indian Ocean outlook. I'll let the Payniac take over from here.

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