Mon 30 Sept. Out to the whaling station. The flies decided that it was officially summer. Even in wind they were sticky. Because it's close to a whale highway for Humpback, Right, sperm, and even the occasional Blue whales, it survived way longer than any of the other Australian whaling stations. The Humpback and Right whales come up from Antarctica and along the continental shelf of Straya about 50kms off Albany heading towards the West Coast of this wide brown land. They then head up Carnarvon way where they calve in the warm water. They then spend long enough on the return trip for the young'uns to grow a good coat of blubber before it's back to the cold Antarctic feeding grounds again.
"By the mid 70's Albany supplied 60% of the world's whale oil." Wow. This company killed harvested them by the thousand. Employed 120 people. Closed in '84. They had been really profitable for a lot of years but their 3 boats were due for replacement, whale oil was in less demand, and whales were soon to be protected - they got out at the right time.
Tues 1 Oct
The helpful girl at the I-Site knew several of the roads we were enquiring about, as she had recently been to the Newdegate Field Days. Others she looked up GoogleMaps satellite view to see whether they were black or brown. Said that the black may be single lane but at least had bitumen.
Sandalwood factory. Sandalwood trees are hemi-parasites. They can grow for the 1st 2yrs on their own but by then must have found a host tree and use it's roots to provide water and nutrients. The govt. tender licenses for harvesting (twice in 1 page) wild sandalwood trees (collateral damage for their hosts) but you must put back 12 nuts for every one that you harvest. Wylies were the cute little rodents who buried some of the nuts within a 5m radius and came back when the hard outer shell had softened up.
Then we did the drive-thru chainsaw gallery. The wood sculptures were really, really good.
We're going into forests again for the next few days, then thru to the wheat-belt to scope the silos that have been painted up.
Our next-door neighbour at the caravan park had been feeding the magpies. (He put on gloves while he did it - not sure whether that was for their benefit or his) Now that he's gone, they expect us to take over the duty.
Thurs 3 Oct to Porongurup
Ulli and Fredy. On meeting us Ulli told us a risquè story.
Our site has quite a slope, I borrowed some of their firewood to help level us up. Last night may have been the last time that you're allowed camp-fires until Autumn anyway.
We had lunch and back-tracked to the Castle Rock Granite Sky Trail. It was another National Parks spectacular. You had to hike 2.2kms up a hill trail to get to it, but then were able to view the granite cliffs from a ladder and walkway. Another magnificent stainless structure into granite.
Dinner at the pub. Only opens Thurs-Sun.
The forecast for tomorrow is for rain. Lynn's first plan was to recover from today, but she's already thinking of a smaller trek if we get a gap in the weather.
We had a great dinner at the local bar with 2 other couples from the caravan park, from Perth & Busselton. (None of them had considered the granite skyway walk) They're both heading home tomorrow though the RAC has warned of winds up to 100kms.
The barman offered a free drink if anyone could identify a couple of objects on the wall. One was a saddler's clamp, which he held between his knees, and the other a hand-operated agitator for use while boiling your laundry in the copper.
Scott the local farmer had come to NZ many years ago as manager of a cherry-stone-spitting contestant for the world title held in Wanaka or somewhere. He reckoned it was organised from here, so I don't know why it was held in NZ.
Fri 4 Oct (week 7 in the caravan)
Forecast is for rain. We did a lap of the granite ridge, stopping at the tree in the rock. That is one determined tree, not only has it presumably found a crevice to send a tap-root down, it has been keeping up the pressure for long enough to break bits off the granite boulder.
Stopped at the tea-rooms and were served by Scott, so he was able to answer our farming questions. On to the town of Mt. Barker.
Another wet and windy night, which can't have been much fun for those in tents. I hope that the hot water has been fixed for their showers this morning. We're off to Mount Trio Camp in the Stirling National Park.