Hopetoun/Bremer Beach/Cheyne's Beach/Esperance
Esperance, Western Australia
Hopetoun has 2 wind turbines.
We'd been hoping that it was going to be calm and warm for our return to the coast, but not so much. Explored Culham Inlet and the Fitzgerald River National Park. Culham Inlet is yet another one of those amazing Aussie estuaries which can go years and years without breaking through to the sea. It's a hard concept for Kiwis to get their heads around - I guess Lake Ellesmere is a comparison, with less fresh coming in.
The cliffs and beaches were pretty special. Native flowers we hadn't seen before, including the Royal Hakea - see photos.
Our caravan neighbours, Dave and Diane from Albany went to plug in their waste pipe and found a motorbike frog in the outlet, so left him in peace and used another.
Wed 16 Oct Hopetoun/Ravensthorpe/Bremer Bay
It is backtracking a bit, but while we have been inland we have been missing some well regarded sites on the coast, so have gone around the Fizgerald National Park back to Bremer Bay. The Wellstead Estuary looks to be another example like the above - possibly only during storms would the sea come in to the estuary.
Bremer Bay has one wind turbine. We're close enough to hear it when the wind is on-shore.Population 300 locals, they get up to 6,000 visitors over Christmas.
Thurs 17 Oct Bremer Bay
John & Anne Wellstead were the 1st settlers here. Great Grandson Max has a pioneer and machinery museum and café on the property. The house was supposed to be out of bounds, but we got kidnapped by his wife, who glided up behind Lynn in a golf cart. She's been here 40 years, but has a Greek accent. She insisted on showing is through the place, where they still live. It was the original house, including timbers from the salvage of the Agnes. The stone and lime sourced on the property and burnt for the mortar, the other timber pit-sawn.
John and Anne had 8 girls and 4 boys. I don't know how many the 2nd generation had but that father built a house for the older boys and converted a sheep pen into another house for the older girls as well. (the 1st generation had built another homestead at the other end of their grazing area by then)
They ran cattle in the bush originally, and couldn't do sheep because of the dingos. Later they would have shepherds with them, each flock of about 6-700, and put them in pens each night. Shepherds included aboriginal men and the older Wellstead boys. One venture by Anne and the girls was the production of feta cheese which they buried in damp sand for 6 weeks before shipping to Albany. (the Agnes was the 1st ship that they sent their produce on)
It must have been a hard road for any settlers as the soils were notoriously old and poor. Hence the 3 main mountains are called The Barrens.
We went on to tour the beaches and, while viewing one tropically clear-watered and white sand effort, saw a sea-lion.
Fri 18 Oct 9 weeks in the c'van
To Point Ann and the Inlet and Qeellup? the other Wellstead house. Even their 2nd structure wasn't palatial, even after several generations - it had started off as an outstation and the family was only there for 30 or 40yrs.
Sat 19 Oct Bremer Bay to Cheyne's Beach. We passed thru Wellstead on the way. Surprised that it was so far from Bremer Bay - which had actually been called Wellstead for a short time.
Bald Island, 2kms off, has a deep trench between it and the land, which is very popular with whales. The Cheyne's Beach Whaling Company still ended up based in Albany because it made logistical sense.
Big onshore wind today. We took a drive around the beaches. Mount Manypeaks was the name of the day - multiple granite outcrops. Waychinicup National Park had the Waychinicup River. We were standing beside it and it started flowing upstream! A couple of minutes later it was flat out downstream again. When we got around to see the outlet there were huge granite boulders. Perhaps it was only the 7th waves (or some harmonics) that created a high enough surge to push the water back up at least a kilometre. It was the strangest thing to see.
Really protected tent and caravan sites there in the National Park.
Sun 20 Oct Cheyne's Beach
I was getting along Hassel's beach around 6.45am when 2x4WDs came past and stopped further up. They let out 3 dogs and 2 sheep. The sheep had coloured collars on. When I was coming back around 10 mins later they were putting the animals back in the RAV4. I think that they must have just had a wander on the sand. Never seen that before.
A kite-boarder setting up wasn't sure whether he'd use a 9m2 or 14m2 kite. I thought it was still fairly brisk and voted for the 9.
Later Lynn and I met Indie who'd talked father Jase into coming fishing, so he'd picked up his fishing mate Emu and they'd brought the boat down. Emu had sprinkled some pollard (chook food) onto the sea surface from the beach. Being off-shore in that corner of the bay that worked well. Mullet could be seen coming to the surface. Jase was backing the boat out in an arc around the bay while Indie was feeding the net out. That "shot" wasn't very successful, one mullet and mainly little garfish. They had the rainbow coloured flanks of many artificial lures.
Jase said he'd seen several kingfish in the bay early in the morning. We saw large fins and tails protruding from the surface several times. The water was probably chest deep to just a few inches over sandbanks.
He also had 15-20 octopus traps in the bay. Just PVC tubes that the ockies set up house in. Sometimes he'll get one in every 2nd trap, but this close to school holidays he reckons he'll be lucky to get more than 1 or 2 total after the kids will have cleaned them out. Indie will go diving for them.
Further down the beach I went snorkelling, and within the first 2 minutes, came across a huge whale vertebrae and what looked like 2 rib bones - and this was in waist deep water. I could show Lynn a rib bone, but couldn't shift the vertebra. It was so immovable I thought for a sec that it could have been concrete, but the rib certainly felt and looked like bone. Whether it had just been uncovered, or whether we were the 100th person to see it I don't know, but we left it there. You see whalebones outside baches in the weather, looking very weathered. They must be pretty common here.
Looking back to the bay it looked like Jase and Indie now had a throw-net with them on the sandbanks. We could still see those fins/tails quite close to them.
We can now see 4 kangaroos from our c'van. An English visitor Sue, who looks like she's on chemo, loving it but sunburnt. She's looking forward to sleeping in a swag tonight. Still windy as.
Mon 21 Oct
Started the day with a snorkel. Calmest yet and I had the beach to myself. I wanted to get photos of the whale bones. All still there, water clarity excellent.
Time to make a mile, a big mileage day for us to Esperance.
Although it's 4.30pm when we get there the 1st things are - mountains of wood chips at the port - and no flies! What a relief.