Thurs 12 Sept
Out to Gracetown Beach - the rain had stopped by the time we got there. Site of a cliff collapse where 9 parents and children were crushed while watching a surfing competition between the 2 local primary schools.
Gracie's General was the only store. Very surfy and modern tastes. Girl in the process of painting a surf mural. She was supposed to be a "good little surfer" herself. Great range of home-made pies plus GF slices. Wine-tasting at Felix Vasse. The 1st vineyard in MR, started by Dr Tom Cullity. Now owned by the Holmes 'a Court family company. During Spring, while there is nothing needing to be done on the vines, they grow legumes and daikon radish between the rows. Good for the soil and they use the daikon at the restaurant.
Stopped in at the Dairy Company.
Fri 13 Sept Week 4
Moving Day. To Augusta. Population 1,100. I don't yet understand why it is so small relative to everything else on this south coast so far. And why you so confusingly have Augusta and Port Augusta 2,100kms apart as the crow flies. And yes, there have been untold screechy crows between here and Perth.
A brilliant new marina development $32M from government. 500,000t of granite quarried on-site for the breakwater. Main industry is Ocean Abalone, allegedly the only ocean "ranch-grown" green-lipped mussels in the world!.
We had a pub dinner, Friday night with the Western Eagles (W.A's premier team) vs Geelong in the finals. Plenty of passionate Eagles supporters present. Unfortunately Victoria took the cup from W.A.
Augusta Lighthouse tour. Taller than the others but the lens was nowhere near as heavy. When it was clockwork the lighthouse-keepers stopped it during the day. The rest of the time they had to wind it every couple of hours.
Lunch at Karridale pub. Tasting at Hamelin Bay Winery. The logo isn't a Griffin - it's a rampant Wyvern - 2 legs. One that she gave had a real aftertaste/finish of gunmetal/gunsmoke.
Cooked breakfast outside on the electric frypan that Odette gave us. A gum leaf drifted down into the pan before I started. I'm sure that meant Welcome to Augusta. We're on the right aspect for morning sun and it was a bright, calm morning overlooking the Blackwood River and estuary.
We did Jewel Cave - very impressive. Although the vertical shaft was known from the 1800s, it always had a breeze blowing through it and the candles and lamps kept getting blown out. (That's a dodgy story, what about storm-lanterns? Not until 1957 did a keen caver rope down it and find the large system.
Besides all the shawls, straws, flowstones and other spectacular cave decorations there were also a Tasmanian Tiger skeleton and a possum.
That's our 3rd cave and 3rd lighthouse now, we're ready to sit the test.
Back to Margs to stock up, as they're the biggest shopping area for the next few weeks.
King George Whiting are the big fish that the boats have been catching. The little ones are yellowtail whiting. It's quite a show when the fishermen stand ankle-deep at the filleting tables and gulls and pelicans all crowd around for the scraps.
We started this morning off with seeing a stand-up paddle-boarder with kelpie on board going past some pelicans. Then some splashing alerted me to a large bottle-nose dolphin splashing around between the 2 jetties. It was throwing a little fish through the air. (Probably one of those yellowtails)
Glenarty winery for lunch (Kerfuffle their signature brand). Vines next door bent down, supposedly for extra sun.
Drinks with Joyce and Gary from Perth. They had plenty of "must-sees" for our journey.
Fish and chips at the highly regarded local. The local dhufish was nice, but $15.30/piece. Even the local shark was $10.80. Aussies must love our fish and chip prices when they come over.
Moving Day. 130kms today, to Pemberton, more inland. Thru giant karri forests. A surprisingly narrow road. A good surface but if you hugged the centre line your passenger side caravan wheel was just on the ragged edge of seal. Another camper who has spent 9 weeks coming across the top and down from Bundaberg said that it was the narrowest he's seen, which was good to hear.
He said that around Bundaberg now supplies 90% of Straya's sweet potatoes. Farmers that have got out of other places due to lack of water are buying sugar cane-farms near Bundy to get the water rights and then converting to sweet potatoes.
The Ranger has lane-assist, which gives you a wee nudge if you drift over the white line. And also keeps you your preferred distance behind a vehicle in front. When we were out of Busselton the edges of the roads all had lane markings. Fine until it got too narrow and the lane-assist slowed me down as it sort of choked. I turned it off for a while after that.
The big timber mill here in Pemberton lasted for 100yrs, with 3 shifts 24/7 and 360 workers at it's peak. It closed in 2016 when the new mill opened 100kms away.
At Pemberton we saw the Gloucester Tree, a karri with the top cut off and a fire-watch tower installed, like the Diamond Tree. 53m high. There are long steel rods into the trunk as steps spiralling up. This one was named after the Duke of Gloucester who was here when it was being built.
We bought a one year National Park Pass online to get the RAC 50% discount.
Trout hatchery, fish ladder, marron farm, sawmill, power station, mountain bike tracks. In the camp were a group of high-schoolers from Albany here for 2 days of mountain-biking.
Wed 18 Sept
A bit too drizzly for the tram, so we took Channybearup Rd to Beedelup National Park. (You couldn't make up names as good as these). Another fire-watching tree and the Cascades, a waterfall over the Darling Fault.
Avocado farms, angus studs, vineyards, enormous hydroponic strawberry operation under a tunnelhouse top (no sides).
The lower climbing rods have been removed from the Diamond Tree, the best known fire-watching tree, and accessible without a National Park Pass. Some previous rods had also been cut back to the trunk. A bit of rot at the top meant they had to take down the cabin, remove a bit of tree and replace the cabin.
On to Manjimup, the nearest big(ger) town. Not big enough for a SuperCheap Auto or a Dan Murphy's. I wanted a juicy (sic) set of jumper leads and a tow rope. I got a snatch strap instead, doubled over it can still be a tow rope.
Manjimup developed the Pink Lady apple and has just released a new one called the Bravo which is really nice, and set to be another world-beater like the pink lady.
According to a real estate commentator in the West Australian today gardens are anathema in modern Strayan house sales. The most popular layout in W.A is 4bed w/ 4 ensuites! As the desirable lot size has dropped from 586sqm to 380 it has meant that you can't fit the 4 bedder on it, so people are more likely then to go for a 3 bedroom 3 ensuite. Unit/Apartment style sales haven't increased much except in Brisbane. Last night's news was saying that W.A mining will need 30,000 more people in the next 10yrs, which will have to be a mixture of local trainees and imports to achieve those sorts of numbers.
We'd been invited to the neighbour's for drinks around their fire but the rain set in. This caravan park has multiple metal fire-boxes and it is a selling point when you allow fires. Strayan campers are absolutely mad for them. For some an evening is incomplete without some fire-gazing101. They carry chainsaws (battery or petrol) to collect firewood.
Thurs 19 Sept
Max 12C today, with showers. Our coldest in W.A. so far, so we stayed in Pemberton and did the tram thru the karri forest to the Cascade. Everyone rugged up and their hoods up. 55hp Italian diesel. Clears rolled up for the view. We put one side down when we were stopped on a bridge for a while with "technical difficulties." Our driver's commentary had included a couple of Furphys by then, so we didn't know whether he was being serious or not.
We were told that Karri is the 3rd tallest tree in the world, but I couldn't even find it on Wiki.
David & Wendy from Adelaide had been on the Indian Pacific last week and had caught norovirus on the train. According to a letter they got it had come from an infected cruise ship passenger from the trip before. Wendy didn't come down with it until 2 days afterward.
Fri 20 Sept Wk 5
Moving Day to Coalmine Rd. The original plan had been to Shannon, where the caravan park has just been rebuilt after a bushfire. The forecast however is drizzle and 14C today down to 4C overnight - and that one doesn't have powered sites. Our only heating is still electric.
At Walpole we saw an outsize Ford Transit van with NZMCA wings on it, the only other ones we've seen so far. Craig & Lynn from Wairarapa, and their ferret Evie. Craig and his father did the conversion. They then shipped it to Japan and back to Brisbane for less than the direct to Brisbane rate. To get it registered in Queensland they had to change to smaller wheels as the ones that were on it were for a commercial vehicle, and they were now a recreational vehicle.They had to wait a fortnight for the certification label to be sent up from Victoria. She's a vet nurse, he's a crop spraying pilot. They travel to ferret meets. Who knew that was a thing?
At Port Augusta S.A, their motor packed up, with only 400,000kms on it. They had also filled jerry cans and eventually were able to prove that their diesel was contaminated. Now insurance was possible. They were quoted $12k for a replacement motor in Port Augusta. They eventually got a reconditioned one from a wrecker in Christchurch, sent to Melbourne, where they trucked the van. Total price fitted, $5,000.
There are tame Western Grey kangaroos at the Coalmine Bay caravan park. We were given a length of co-ax cable to connect an outback TV aerial to a fitting on our caravan. This was on the same little pole as our power.
We are amazed at the number of pop-top caravans that we've seen so far - mainly old. They get too hot in the heat, too cold in the cold and wet. Sure they're cheaper and lighter and less slipstream, but is that really enough? I suppose that it's a step up from a tent. We've seen a few camper-trailers as well, that fold out by hand-winch so that you have a tent and a kitchen.