I had to return the keys for the campsite at 8.30 which was practically afternoon given the godforsaken hour I used to waking up at, so I had a bit of a chill this morning (in more than one sense!). I cracked on with reading some more of my frightfully intellectual Jackie Collins novel, showered and got ready for the day. After returning the keys I headed into town to fuel up and callk into the visitor centre to decide on the day's excursion. After much mmming and ahhing and some disdainful looks from the advisor, I finally settled on the Augusta Icons tour which included Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse and Jewel Cave.
So off I went headed south towards Augusta, and I still couldn't get over how different the scenery was down here than up north! Along the way I stopped off in the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park and did a short walk ending on the beach below. Inner child in full force, I clambered over the rocks eagerly searching the rockpools for signs of life. A few tiny fish, some crabs and a lot of photos later I made my way back to the car feeling very satisfied. I arrived at the lighthouse to be told that I was the only soul booked on the 12pm tour so I would have to wait until the one going at 12.30. I was given my audio guide and mooched around listening, reading the signs and taking some photos. I was reading the sign that signalled where the Indian Ocean and Southern Ocean meet when the tour guide (Bruce) promptly told me that actually the sign was in the wrong place. How so very misleading!
Anyway, 176 stairs later (yes I counted) and we were at the top of the lighthouse. Bruce opened the door and we climbed out onto the metal walkway that went round the circumference. I must take a second here to thank my mother for instilling in me her irrational fear of heights. Bravo mum, bravo. Clinging onto the rail I managed to pose for a few photos before throwing myself back against the wall of the lighthouse. I was not alone however, as one of the other members of the group also seemed as uncomfortable as me. We both tried to manouvre our way around the platform but it was far too windy towards the side opposite to the door so neither of us quite made the entire loop!
Managed to surpass the ice cream freezer in the entrance only to get back to the car and crack open the Margaret River buttons. Headed towards Jewel Cave but arrived too early, so sat in the car and read some more before making my way towards the meeting point. After getting haragued and bitten by weird giant fly things it was finally time to go underground. We past a picture of the first explorers of this cave, which included one of Tasmanian tiger remains (never understood how it got there). The cave tour was much the same as the one I did last year, although no less spectacular - the formations were incredible. Towards the end of the tour the guide switched off all the lights to show us how pitch black it was in there and how your eyes would never adjust to the darkness as there was no light whatsoever. It was quite eerie. We made our way up and out the cave (with the lights back on) without incident.
I drove a little way north to visit Hamelin Bay, a ray conservation area, but was disappointed as there were many people and a distinct lack of rays! Decided that I would stay at Northcliffe for the evening after looking on the app so I headed off. Got a huge bug stuck under the windscreen wiper which frightened the life out of me with an almighty thud as it hit window. It was incredibly off putting as I could see its wings and legs flailing about in the wind. I tried turning the wipers on to get rid of it but it just smeared crap all over the windscreen with no success at removing the bug. Left it for a while then tried the wipers which, much to my delight, worked this time and my peripheral vision was once again bug free.
I realised it was getting quite late and after stopping to look at the map I realised that Pemberton caravan park was a lot closer so made for that instead. The scenery was wonderful, trees, cows, rolling fields of grass, hundreds of vineyards and barely any roadkill. Then came Karri Forest. Now I had heard of Karri Forest through the couple on the wine tour but nothing could have prepared for the real thing. I actually had to stop the car so I could stare round in complete awe. It was breath-taking. The most enormous trees I have ever seen which just seemed to come out of nowhere; one minute I was driving past fields spotted with cows and the next I was driving through this Lothlorien-esque forest!
After a slow journey through the forest, eyes wide and mouth hanging open, I eventually arrived at Pemberton caravan park. It's in the middle of this clearing surrounded by the trees, and by far the most magnificent caravan park I have stayed in! Althought worringly the air is quite thick with the sights and smells of smoke... It feels a lot warmer here than in Margaret River but they may be due to the fact that there's a bushfire nearby.
So with today's solid diet of 2 cereal bars, biscuits, chocolate buttons, iced coffee and some sultanas I am going to cook myself some rice, tuna (shock), and mixed canned veg. Yum... I have signal here miraculously so have looked up the Karri Explorer trail that I kept seeing signs for. Turns out it's an 86km drive with walking trails along the route, going through several national parks. Heading to the visitor centre first thing to check it out.