It was a long 4 hour journey from Augusta to Albany in an area called the Great Southern, on the South coast. Along the way we passed Walpole and the Valley of the Giants, home to tingle trees growing up to 60 metres tall. The main road passed through a lot of the forest as we made our way to the tree top walk. A 600 metre suspended walkway in the tree canopy, we were about 40 metres up and the steel walkway was even swaying in the wind, the notices scared me a bit, no more than 10 people on each section at any one time! At the end of each section there was a round viewing platform with great view out over the forest and hillside. As the end of the canopy walkway was a ground level walk called the Ancient Empire, here you could walk among the forest; many of the trees had spilt trunks which left holes big enough for both of us to stand in. We drove on to Albany and had trouble finding a place to stay as it was a long weekend and most places were booked out. We did eventually manage to find a small caravan park, but it was not the best so we cooked a quick meal and had a very early night. We left first thing in the morning to have a look around the surrounding areas. We drove the tourist drive to Torndirrup National Park a coastal park with some stunning scenery. We stopped firstly at the blow hole, we walked down a lot of steep steps and then emerged on to the rocks with the sea pounding the shore. It was quite windy so there was lots of swell. As we stood on the rocks the waves rolled in and forced the water up and spray came out of the crack in the rocks! The noise the blow hole made was a load whistling noise, although it must be fairly scary to be there were the sea is really rough. We then made our way to the Gap and the Natural Bridge. An area of rocks which had been severely eroded by the power of the sea, there were many warnings advising the public to be careful as the sea here is particularly treacherous. Despite these warnings there were people sod on the arch if the bridge and two mad men preparing to abseil down the cliff side and in to the swell of the sea!
There was not much else to see in Albany and the weather was not hot enough for us to sit on the beach so we decided to move on to Esperance. The drive took again about 4 hours and was a lot further than we had first thought when looking at the map. We arrived early evening and settled in to a campsite, after eating tea we decided to take a walk along the seafront; it was so windy and cold that we only managed 10 minutes. The next day was still windy and very overcast, which made it really quite cold. We drove around the coast and looked out at the bay, which is known as the bay of isles because of the huge number of small islands that sit within the huge bay. We drove the "Great Ocean Drive" which follows the coast west of town. The first scenic stops were the beaches of Blue Haven, great for surfers and Twilight Bay, with blue sea and white sand. At Twilight bay there was only one family walking along the long beach, probably due to the weather. We then stopped at a couple of scenic lookouts which had good views of the islands lying just off the coast.The last stop of the drive found us looping back towards town and a stop at the Pink Lake.The algae, salt levels and the sun gives the lake a bright pink sheen. As there was so much cloud the lake was not at it's best colour, it was more a grey/pink than a bright pink. One of the reasons we had come to Esperance was because we had heard that they have the best beaches here, these were located about 50km East of Esperance in the Cape Le Grand National Park. The main road ended as we hit the national park and turned more to dust tracks, it felt very remote. We drove past Frenchman's Peak a rock formation so named because it looked like a face with a big Frenchman's style nose. We then made our first stop at Lucky Bay, it was amazing even though the sun was not shining, the sea was turquoise and the sand was pure white, again because of the weather the place was pretty much deserted. The weather really was a disappointment, if the sun was shining it would have made the sea and sand seem even brighter and we could also have stayed and enjoyed it longer, but it was just too cold with the wind. We then stopped at Thistle Bay which had a walking trail which was closed due to a recent bush fire so we just admired the bay from the car parking area and the whistling stone. The last bay we stopped at was Hellfire bay which was busy with people having BBQ's and a tour group had just arrived it as a pretty spot and we did manage to put our feet in the water but it was icy cold, not what we expected from Australia. That evening we went to the local town cinema and watched Dewy Cox, which was rubbish we had also stocked up on water food and fuel for our next big adventure, crossing the Nullabor Plain!