Bit of an odd week to choose, week 17, but it aligns with us leaving WA on Wed 29/10/2014 after precisely 2 months and 1 day in the state! We had a great time, and as mentioned in our 3 month video review, WA is well set-up for travellers. There is a great range in the type of country out here, and it is mostly different to what we’re used to back in QLD. The Kimberleys, the Pilbara, the beaches and coastline, the southern forests and related tourists areas are all great places. And very different from the QLD outback, rainforests etc. We’ve enjoyed doing so much here – I think we’ve forgotten a lot of the earlier stuff already! Lucky we have the blog and diaries to look back on…
One thing I have not mentioned so far is that WA is way ahead when it comes to mobile networks. The major interstate hwys have very good mobile coverage (not complete, but close) around the whole state. They have obviously taken a much better approach than QLD and NT, who have very limited coverage and are still stuck with those UHF radio repeater towers in remote areas!! It is mostly Telstra only of course (until you get to the populated areas), but that’s a lot better than nothing! I was however surprised that the main interstate hwy in the north of the state (going into NT) actually go down to just one lane in quite a few bridge crossings (10 or more!). I don’t mean one lane each way, but one lane altogether! Traffic density is rather low, so perhaps that justifies it – there is a lot more traffic heading across the Nullarbor to SA than across the top into NT.
Not the whole of WA is as open to campers as what we encountered in the first month in the remoter north part of the state. Continue reading
It was a bit of a detour, about 190km’s each way, to go north and visit Kalgoorlie-Boulder before heading east across the Nullabour. We weren’t really sure what there was to see, and the drive up did little to inspire! Aside from quite a few turn-offs to mines (gold mines), there was pretty well nothing but rather boring bush.
Arriving in town early Sunday arvo, the place was quiet and closed up. We’d wondered if we should have bothered as there wasn’t anything immediately obvious to do, but don’t worry, we ended up having a good time. Sun arvo we had a look around Kalgoorlie township, with lots of old historic buildings. We found the Mount Charlotte Reservoir nearby and had a look at the info there. This was interesting, as the whole Kalgoorlie-Boulder township wouldn’t exist if it hadn’t been for a bold plan, back in late 1800’s, to install a large water pipeline from near Perth to this area. It began operation in 1903, was an engineering feat in its day, and still now the town and surrounding gold mines are dependent on this 560km long pipeline that rises 390m (up to 45 million litres per day!). This is a dry arid area, and prior to this pipeline, water was more valuable than whiskey!
looking out over Kalgoorlie
We went to the public lookout for the KCGM Super Pit. This huge hole in the ground is right next to the town, in what is known as the magic mile (because of all the gold found there). It is pretty cool, being the biggest Gold pit in Australia! You get a good view looking out over the whole pit (though you can’t quite see the bottom), but the sheer size of it means you have difficulty seeing what is going on so far away. The huge haulage dump trucks look like little ants, and a standard ute is almost too small to see!
the Super Pit!
Might start with the following links – before they disappear into ‘old’ news. Guess which boy made the TV and online news…?
More on that later… 😉 After heading east out of Albany, away from the Karri forests found in the bottom west, we stopped overnight (Wed 22/10) in rather different country – amongst the huge wheat growing farms near Ravensthorpe. Lots of cropping in this area, though it doesn’t seem to be the best soil.
We’d heard nice things about the beaches along here, between Albany and Esperance, though most of them are a long detour off the highway (eg. up to 70km’s). However, as you get closer to Esperance the hwy gets closer to the ocean, so we headed in to Quagi beach to have a look. Yep, can see why they say they are beautiful!
We walked around the headland, and down the beach. To top it off we watched a pod of dolphins playing around in the waves for ages! Catching them, jumping back through them…. Continue reading
Gateway to the Southern Ocean, and the oldest permanently settled town in WA! Albany is of course on the coastline, right at the bottom of WA, and has a well protected bay/harbour. This makes it rather pretty, if it weren’t for the overcast weather…
Monday (20/10/14) we had a look around Albany itself, through and between the passing showers. First, the view from Mount Clarence (where the Anzac memorial is):
Overlooking Middleton bay
Middleton beach is a nice area, with some decent surf despite being in the bay (waves coming through the inlet must aim here!).
Despite the overcast weather it was a beautiful drive heading east into Pemberton, from our Thurs night camp at Alexandra Bridge. Instead of taking the most direct route, we did some of the scenic roads on the way. The main ‘feature’ of these scenic routes are the Karri forests – the huge eucalyptus trees with tall straight trunks really are an impressive sight. A lot of it has been logged (hence the lovely green fields and the like), but there are large areas of protected national park, and also a lot under new plantation. I must be getting a bit slack with my photography – could of got some lovely shots of quiet remote dirt roads overshadowed by these huge forests had we stopped the vehicle and taken some photos – but we didn’t… Here is one from later on in the day though, to give you some idea.
We stopped in at Beedelup National Park for a quick look at Beedelup Falls. Nice but nothing spectacular. Didn’t feel it was worth paying the $12 NP day entry fee, though we ended up buying one later in the day for the Gloucester tree anyway….
Then on the way into Permberton we side tripped to The Cascades, where we did a circuit walk. A pretty enough creek again, but I get the impression that WA doesn’t have the same level of spectacular creeks and waterfalls down here as what you might find in rainforests in various areas of QLD (or NSW).
Lower part of The Cascades
Leaving our Conto’s campsite Wed morning (15/10/2014), we first headed to the coast for a little look (just a short drive). Large boulders dominate the shoreline, though as usual, there are sandy areas/bays between the rocky sections.
We were told good things about Hamelin Bay from Nick and Kate, who we met at Sandy Cape Recreation Reserve, so headed a bit further south to spend a day and night there. It is a lovely spot, but Wednesday was incredibly windy (even if the bay itself, and the caravan park, are fairly well sheltered). Thursday morning was much calmer, and though Daniel and I had a quick dip both days, Nicole saved hers for the nicer one! The water was rather cool, so Jonathan decided he hadn’t yet recovered enough from his cold to go swimming yet.
Located a couple hours or so south of Perth, the Margaret River region is beautiful. Lovely green rolling hills, rugged but beautiful coastline, and lots of tourist activities to enjoy. Yes, this place is loaded with fine dining, wineries, fancy cottages, chalets and resort accommodation, day spa’s, family fun parks and mazes, and lots of yummy food. Sure, a lot of that is wasted on us, especially when travelling in the motorhome, but we still had a great time.
To help you get the picture lets relate back to Brissy again: perhaps think of Maleny and Montville, enlarged greatly in terms of number of attractions and in area (spread out over an entire shire), and then placed on the coastline! Over two days we visited and sampled sugar from: an ice cream factory, chocolate factory, fudge factory, cheese and yoghurt factory, candy factory, and a nougat factory!! And this is isn’t even mentioning our time at some other attractions, national park walks, whale watching, and time we spent on the beach!
The shire of Busselton is run with tourism as its main focus. Margaret River is the name of one of the towns in the area, but is also the ‘brand name’ for the region of a whole (ie. what people refer to the region as). The Busselton township itself was the first place visited, a bustling town with lots of cafes, art galleries and the like, with a pretty shoreline.
looking out over Busseltons 1.8km jetty, from the lighthouse
shoreline at Busselton
Back in the big smoke! Well, OK, Perth isn’t that bad – quite a nice place actually. But it is full of housing estate after housing estate, roads clogged with cars all wanting to get somewhere in a hurry, and all the busyness typically seen in a city of almost 2 million people. Having spent a month traveling through the remote areas of WA, you kind of get used to a quiet relaxed lifestyle!
Our time in Perth was based in a couple of different caravan parks – the first 3 nights at Karrinyup Waters Resort, which is on the north side of town. Whilst here we did some of the more practical necessities, such as getting 3 new tyres put on the motorhome, and getting it serviced (to my surprise a lot cheaper than at Darwin). When it was in for the service, we took the train into the CBD, and had a good look around.
We spent most of that morning at the Perth Mint, which used to mint legal tender for Australia (but is now all handled by the mint in Canberra). However, they still do a lot of gold and silver coins, for collectors and the like around the world. We did the tour, where we got to see a demonstration gold pour (the $40k gold bar was real!), and the stamping of silver coins. There are various information and displays to review, or handle, as in the 100oz gold bar that you can pick up (heavily secured!)! There is a large $1,000,000 face value pure gold coin on display, I’d estimate about 80cm diameter, and perhaps 150mm thick! The actual gold value of this coin is around $44 million! Interestingly, it is not secured or screened off at all – would be easy to jump onto the display and grab it! I guess they rely on people not being able to carry over a ton away, lol, as well as being in the guts of a solid building that is crawling with security staff!
The boys got to mint their own custom coins! Real gold plating, with there own design on one side (helped by the staff), and the Perth Mint logo on the other. Continue reading
Well I woke up on Tuesday 7/10/14 and thought that I’d really like to go for a walk. Good thing that is just what we had planned to do.
We made a 20 minute trip to Yanchep National Park where we paid our entry fee (yes, they charge an entry fee to some National Parks in WA) and set off for the Visitor’s Centre. We spoke to the lady there about the different walks in the park and the cave tour we could do. After she totally freaked out the boys and I about snakes – there have been lots of sightings this season, it’s best to go on the well worn tracks, you should walk with your legs covered, remember you only have 40 minutes if you get bitten by a tiger snake and so on and so on – we decided to do the cave tour first and then do a 9.2km walk with the thousands of snakes that inhabit Yanchep National Park.
The cave tour lasted about and hour. We had a nice, informative tour guide and learned all about the limestone caves and the crystal – stalagmites and stalactites. We even got to touch some crystal and enjoyed looking at all the different formations.
We arrived at the tiny town of Guilderton late Sunday, stopping at the caravan park on the banks of the Moore River. This is quite a nice holiday place, though the caravan park was pretty busy. No surprise really I guess, given that it isn’t far out of Perth, and it is school holidays! Monday morning we had a general look around and went on a nice walk up and down the beach, and to the nearby lookout. Mostly overcast, but thankfully no rain. Here are some pics.
Edge of the Moore River, looking out to sea.