We say goodbye to Kirsty’s parents and we say hello to the cold as we drive down into South West WA.
About an hour south of Perth we stop in at Busselton. We have a walk on the jetty there which is the longest timber jetty in Australia. We walk the 1.6km out to the end. And somehow we didn’t calculate it would be a tiring 1.6km walk back again.
We have a quick lunch in the park and then we drive onto the Margaret River region. This is very beautiful country. It’s all vineyards or green pastures or national parks.
This is wine country and we drive past every vineyard without bothering to try any of them. You see the Swanns on the Road have other priorities – such as the Margaret River Chocolate Factory. The unlimited free samples at the door makes for some happy Swanns.
And we also visit the Margaret River Cheese Factory.
Our home for the next couple of nights is Contos Campground in Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park. It’s a very pretty spot. And all master woodsmen must pass on the ancient ways to their young apprentices.
It’s really good to be camping again after the interlude in Perth. The thing about travelling around Australia is that you end up meeting up with the same people who are travelling at the same pace as you. At Cape Range we’d met Julie with her two kids Max and Oscar and they are our neighbours here again. It’s great to catch up again. Julie is doing an amazing feat. She’s a single mum giving her 2 kids the type of experience we can only manage with the 2 of us. And she’s studying as she travels as well! It’s great to sit around the fire and talk and Max and Oscar teach our two to play Ninja and they love it. 1030pm arrives and that’s about 1pm in camping time. Time to get to bed.
A thing about the Margaret River region we didn’t know is that it’s riddled with caves. We choose to have an explore of Giant Cave. It’s an adventure cave where they give you a helmet and light (there’s no lights down there). Our self-guided tour takes us through some tight squeezes. It’s lots of fun.
This is us at the end of the cave. This is Noah pretending to be a cave troll.
We also drive down to Cape Leeuwin lighthouse which is the spot where the Indian Ocean meets the Great Southern Ocean.
And there’s always another rock pool to explore.
After 2 nights at Leeuwin Naturaliste we have to keep going and our destination is a cheap camp ground called Windy Harbour. We hope it doesn’t live up to its name. But we want to visit a few places first. Many of the towns around here end with the sound ‘up’. It’s aboriginal for ‘place of’. So there’s lots towns with names like Yallingup, Nannup, Myalup, Balingup, Dardanup, Fakenamemadeup. Do you like that last creation of mine? I kill me.
We stop for lunch at Manjimup. They have a cool playground there. At the timber museum all the family remark this guy looks just like me.
And it’s cold down here. For 5 minutes it can be a bit sunny but then the next 5 minutes it starts to lightly spit rain. And the wind is icy. I actually really like it. Very different to Brisbane. And we notice that all the caravans aren’t on the roads down here. The migrating grey nomads like to stay north for a bit longer.
And the highlight of the day for me is climbing Gloucester Tree near Pemberton. It’s one of those times when you say, ‘In the age of public liability, how do they allow this???’ But best not to question it and just do it while it’s still possible. It’s a 58m climb up a tree (use to be used for fire spotting). The steps are stakes hammered into the tree that spiral up to the top. Kirsty doesn’t want us to do it. But male bravado must have it’s way so Noah and I make the climb. The butterflies in the tummy are fluttering as we ascend but what a view at the top!
We get to Windy Habour which is a fishing village (we’d never seen a fishing village before) closed up for winter. It’s raining and the toilets and shower are a hike away so we decide to push on and find somewhere in the area of Walpole. It’s getting dark and we get to Rest Point which is a caravan park and campground. Light is starting to disappear and the rain is coming down. We start to unpack the tent and then we come to a family consensus. Let’s take one of their cabins instead. Oh the weakness! This is our place for the night. Noah is not happy that he’s the one who has to continue to sleep on the floor but we all enjoy a hot shower tonight.
And this is the jetty at the caravan park.
There is so much in this South West part of WA. We’ll keep going to see what we discover.