Woke up feeling pretty good after last night's nutritional dinner. I was in the car hanging around waiting for the visitor centre to open when I stumbled across a guide and map on my phone. Jumped out of bed and showered and off I went! The first stop was Gloucester Tree which I had read was one of the tallest trees (over 200ft) in the forest and had metal rungs all the way up to a platform nearly 60 metres high. Arriving I felt gassed and ready to climb, until I actually set eyes on the tree. As my gaze went skyward I felt an unwelcome feeling of dread wash over me and realised I couldn't even see the platform. I looked at the man standing next to me and with a glance and smirk at each other we both decided 'sod that'.
I decided to embark on the 10km Gloucester Loop instead - my longest hike yet. It was a great hike, slipped a few times on the loose rocks covering the steep slopes but managed without an actual fall, stunning looking birds flying around including loads of lorikeets, and I even made it round the loop without getting lost (pat on the back). A quick stop at IGA for some food more substantial that biscuits (a yoghurt with oats), then I made my way to the next stop Big Brook Dam.
This comprised a short 3km walk around a beautiful lake which was bordered by the forest, making it undeniably the most LoTR-esque place I had ever seen. Irritatingly, I felt the beginnings of a blister on my right ankle but persevered nonetheless. No pain no gain. Next up was Beedelup Loop where a very bouncy suspension bridge and a small waterfall preceded another 3km hike to Walkthrough Tree. Funnily enough this was a tree that had a hole in it big enough to walk through... Kudos to whoever came up with such an inventive name.
Hearing Dad's relay of Grandma's comment that there were not enough pictures that included me, I managed to find a tree to prop the camera up on and took a really lame timer-delay stand-in-the-hole-in-the-tree-and-look-like-an-idiot photo just to appease the masses. Awkward. The blister was well and truly angry now which was less than ideal. Walked back past Karri Valley Resort - an appealing looking place with spectacular views over the lake of the forest, but I had to run at a few points round the lake as the flies were out in full force. Guess it serves me right for having a relatively fly-free and peaceful morning.
Next up was Warren National Park. Sadly my blister - and legs and feet - were pretty sore by this point but thankfully there was a driving path (Heartbreak Trail). As I was minding my own business meandering down this trail, carefully navigating the car along quite a narrow pathway, a huge black shape darted out in front of me. Baffled I looked closer and realised it was an emu. Trying to get closer to the bird to get a picture proved difficult threefold: the emu was actually running faster than I was willing to drive down this track; the bumps and holes made holding the camera steady nigh on impossible; I was laughing so much at the sight of this ridiculous bird galloping away in front of the car that it took all my effort to keep the steering wheel steady. Needless to say the picture I got is difficult to make out and the bird swiftly disappeared into the forest. So after that adrenaline and humour inducing incident the rest of the track seemed very placid!
The novelty of seeing the emu wore off pretty quickly after I saw two in a field (along with some teeny tiny calves!). Managed to take a wrong turn at some point and ended up driving down this track that wasn't so much a track, more a dumping ground for loose stones and rocks. Anyway, on the car and I ploughed before getting to a crossroads. I went straight on and this rubble-littered track started going downwards quite steeply, and much to my dismay, we reached the bottom only to find the way blocked by a huge fallen tree. Panic rising I turned the car around and with a lot of motivation and encouragement aimed at the car we managed to make it back to the road!
Relieved I headed to the last port of call, the Cascades. The name was fairly misleading as it was a few rocks with some water, probably more impressive in the wet season. There were a lot of people there so needless to say I did not stop there long! Back to Pemberton for fuel and an ice cream of course (diet today has consisted of said ice cream, biscuits, yoghurt with cereal and oreos... Oops), then to Walpole. I finally saw my first snake in the wild, right before I ran it over. Saw it at the last second and there was nothing I could do, and looking in my rearview I could now see two snakes behind me. So basically I chopped it in half. Ew. Probably should stop killing the wildlife.
I was aiming for a campsite about 10km further than Valley of the Giants as it had some good reviews and wasn't too costly, but I ended up finding one about 2km before the VotG turnoff that wasn't listed on the app. Feeling slightly apprehensive I went to check it out and was told it would only be $13.50 for the night. I was greeted by two elderly folk and served by the man who took a long time to finish what he was trying to say. He showed me the parking spot allocated to me, and sure enough I was the only person in the whole place. I have absolutely no signal on my phone and they have informed me that their son lives on site too, who could well be a crazy axe-wielding murderer. Thankfully the doors lock. Although not sure how much more this poor car can take after the battering it received from the horrific 'detour' we took earlier...