Aus Update 20 - Bunbury, Busselton, Cape Naturaliste, Cape Leeuwin, Augusta, Pemberton, Walpole, Denmark & Albany


<Paula> 16-Oct  We headed for Bunbury on the coast, it is a decent size town.  I don't remember what we actually looked at.  I know it was only a couple of days ago but it seems like weeks and the only thing that is sticking in our memory of this town, apart from me writing up the last update and losing it all when the computer crashed because I didn't save it, was the housing developments.  We drove down the coast and all the way is housing developments.  I don't know what work there is around but obviously there has to be some because there seems to be as much new development as there is established houses. Here is a photo of  sunset at Bunbury.

17th-Oct  We continued along the coast and drove through one of the few remaining stands of Tuart Forests.  The tourist brochure had us believing that this was something really special that we were going to drive through and there were walks that we could take to view this amazing place.  Not to put down these very majestic trees but it seriously was just like driving through some tall gum trees.  I was sort of expecting some sort of special tree and I guess to a botanist they are special. The stats we read were impressive, they are: Tallest tree - 39.5 meters, biggest girth - 11 meters, oldest tree - 500 years. Unfortunately we didn't see anything like that. The nature walks we were going to experience we couldn't actually find.  So while I think the tourist brochure was a little over zealous in their description of this unique place it was a beautiful drive.

We went on to Busselton where we stayed for the night.  Before checking into a caravan park we walked the icon of the town, which is the Busselton Jetty, built in 1865.  Being 1841m in length it is rather hard to fit into a photo.  They have an underwater observatory at the end of the jetty which I wasn't too keen to experience so we just went for the walk. The jetty has no commercial use anymore only tourists, and a lot of locals fishing. In it's heyday it saw many large ships, one of the exports that went out of here was timber to Europe and England.  They specially mention that timber from the region was shipped from here to be used in building part of  the London Underground. The Jetty has been restored after both Cyclone in 1978 and a fire in the late 90's.  Here are some views of it.

18th-Oct  We headed off, continuing around the coast. We followed a tourist drive that goes from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin. Cape Leeuwin being the south-western most point of WA and I guess Australia and a view of the Indian and Southern Oceans.   Beginning with Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, it was built in 1906 and was the last lighthouse in Western Australia to be automated.  There were beautiful views, and we walked around the cape and did some whale watching.  There are three types of whale that can be viewed from here, Humpback (the ones we saw further up the coast, they go down near Antarctica for the summer), the Blue Whale and the Southern Right Whale.  The ones we saw were the Humpback Whale, we think anyway we certainly aren't experts.

above: walking around the lighthouse.
right: view from the whale watching platform.

We then drove around Eagle Bay.  Amazingly beautiful coastline, and again lots of housing development.

This part of the west coast is world renown surfing territory we discovered.  We read in a brochure that Yallingup has been a mecca for surfers for 40 years.  As we drove down to the bay we stumbled across the National Long Board Championships.  I have never seen anyone ride a long board before and it was very interesting to watch.  They do this graceful tiptoe walk up and down the board depending where they want it to go. We watched three heats.  The over 45 men seemed to really know what they were doing, well at least one of them did, a guy from Victoria, he had some really impressive rides.  We took a photo to show you, it is a little blurry, I have zoomed in so you can see, our camera doesn't have a very long zoom.

We then traveled to Smith Beach and Canal Rock.  Just as a side point, it would appear that every ground cover, shrub, bush and tree is in flower at this time.  Walking around the rocks looks like someone has purposefully planted a garden, it looks amazing.  Back to what I was talking about. Here is a photo of Chris on the boardwalk over one of the canals at Canal Rock.  It is basically a point on the coast where the rocks have formed what looks like canals, even more so with the boardwalk over the top of it.

We then drove onto Margaret River, which is the central town for the vineyards in the region.  There are lots of them and if you like wine, this whole region is a great place to come and holiday.  We camped at Canebreak Pool Campground.  It is a CALM campground and it was very nice.  If you have a tent they even have 3 areas within each site where they have put soft sawdust down to pitch your tent.  Here is a picture of the river, swimming hole actually.  They often build on the sides of swimming holes so people don't destroy the surrounding bush.

Chris looks harmless, but he is actually harassing the fish with shadows!

19-Oct The first things we did was visit the Eagle Heritage Bird Sanctuary.  This place is a sanctuary for not just any birds but rather Birds of Prey. It is the only one like it in Australia, and they are sent up to 300 birds a year from all over the country.  I wanted to come here because I had seen the Birds of Prey at Healesville Sanctuary and Chris didn't, I wanted him to experience them too.  The next photo shows how up close and personal he got with a particular Bird of Prey, his name is Rusty.

We learnt so much about Birds of Prey during this demonstration.  Rusty actually thinks he is human because he never saw his parents when he hatched.  Some kids took him out of the nest when he was still in the egg.  He was rescued from being abused and sent here.  He has been here for 12 years and will live here for the rest of his life.  They tried introducing him to other birds of the same species and he attacks them, he does not recognise them as being the same as himself.  I learnt so much I don't think I will start putting it all down, I have to just say that I have a new found respect for these types of birds.  One thing that was fascinating, The wedgetail eagle is Australia's largest predator bird and mainly lives on rabbits and fresh road kill, but they can take down a full grown big red kangaroo.  They have 2.5 tonnes of crushing power in their claws!  The largest known wedgetail eagle had a wing span of 2.8 metres (discovered in Tassie) and an adult commonly grows to have a wing span of 2.4 metres. Here are some photos of other birds in the sanctuary.

I have to put the following in because these guys were just so cute!  They were asleep or pretending to be anyway, they were right near the fence and were such posers.

After this we did things like visit a supermarket, have lunch, the necessary stuff of the day and then continued south to Hamlin Bay.  This we thought was a town, but rather it used to be a port but due to large numbers of ship wrecks it wasn't in use for long, now it is just a beautiful beach, remains of a jetty and a caravan park.  Further down the road past Augusta, the last town on the road, we came to Cape Leeuwin where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet.

This photo is of a water wheel that was made of wood but due to the large mineral content of the water it is being rapidly petrified.  When I say rapidly I mean faster than something would normally be petrified. It was very unique (there were also a lot of tourists - we haven't been used to seeing so many).

We stayed in a caravan park in Augusta, it was very sheltered from the wind which just never seems to stop around these parts. I have to put the next photo in for Katrina, Theo and Zeke.  The family that owns the caravan park have a three year old and the Mum reckons the miniature John Deere she purchased was the best money she ever spent (probably because it meant their son was always outside with Dad). You have to admit it is cool! To add, it works (battery operated I think), he drives around following his Dad everywhere, helping with what needs to be done.

At 5am I had the privilege of experiencing the black cockatoo, I have never seen one before.  They are very large, loud, and hang out in large groups.  They were ripping the blossom off the banksia trees near us and eating the seeds then throwing the blossom on the ground, there was quite a mess when they had finished.

20-Oct We drove towards Albany through some very beautiful and tall forests.  We found a free CALM campsite that we decided to stay at. This site was at a river crossing and they had a hut with potbelly stove and even fire wood, no axe however and the hatchet Theo loaned us got some use.  It has been a while since I have used one of these things and I hope we never have to use it to remove a tree from the road, which is the reason that all the 4x4 books say you need to have one, my skills at handling one of these leave a little to be desired. The place reminded Chris of the DOC (Department of Conservation) huts that you hike to in New Zealand.  The area reminded me so much of Tassie.  The smell of the bush and there was lots of bracken fern on the way in.  The river even had the distinctive brown colour like lots of rivers in Tasmania including the Huon.  This one however was more black and resembled coke as it tumbled down over the rocks.  Chris being a coke addict (he will object to that word) didn't think I was very funny :-) We liked the place so much that we ended up staying 2 nights (21-Oct). Some photos...  The water looks really deep because you can't see the rocks underneath, you can only see 2cm into the water.  It is only about 30cm deep on the other side of the rocks.

22-Oct We headed to Albany and stopped on the way to view the very tall forests from the top of the canopy.  Yes we did the tree top walk which felt rather like you were on a swing bridge only there was no other side, you were just on four really tall singular posts.  Not for those that don't like heights.  These are Tingle trees and they are really quite amazing.  I am guessing you probably don't want to hear all about them.

Some varieties of these tingle trees can grow up to 60m in height and the red ones can have a girth of 11m.  The platform was only 40m high at it's tallest point.

 This was taken in a forest before you get to the walk, people used to drive their cars inside this living tree and take photos.  Of course you aren't allowed to do that now because it was killing the tree.

We found a place to stay in Albany where it poured with rain for the night.  For the last couple of days it has only been misty which unfortunately makes for not so great lookout vistas.

23-Oct We had a look around town and some history of the area and we went aboard the ship Amity, which is a replica of the original that foundered somewhere off the coast. The museum we went in had a display of  those that lived in England during WW2. There were stories from those that were children and were sent away to safer places.  And an explanation and display of rations.  I found it quite interesting and especially so knowing that Chris's Nan was in London during that time and would have had to have the same ration books and gone to similar bomb shelters during air raids.  Anyway there was lots of other interesting stuff like the explorers to the region and who places are named after and general information like that.

We stayed the night in Kojorup a small town between Albany and Perth.

24-Oct We drove the rest of the way to Perth and found a place to stay and set up camp.

I am going to leave this update there.  We are in Perth at the moment and have been for the last couple of days and have caught up with my brother David.  But we will update Perth later.