Published: January 1st 2010January 1st 2010
One car, 4 adults + camping gear for four people = one very tight ride!
After Christmas morning breakfast (banana pancakes courtesy of Rita) we packed the car and headed to the South coast of Western Australia in search of fantastic beaches and breathtaking scenery....needless to say we were not disappointed.
Though we had a rough idea of what we wanted to see/do, general consensus was that we would all go with the flow and see where the road took us. First stop was Walpole, a town so small it would be missed in the blink of an eye. We had hoped to make it to Albany on our first night but didn't anticipate the fact that EVERY gas station outside of Perth city limits would be closed. Nervous that the gas tank would soon hit empty, we decided to settle in for the night at Crystal Springs park. There was a collective sigh of relief as we stretched our legs for the first time and cooked up dinner at camp.
After speaking with a few of our neighbours at the camp grounds, we discovered that floods of Perthites would soon invade the South coast. We had heard rumours that the
South coast is a popular spot for Christmas vacation but thought we would try our luck in terms of securing camping spots (as you can't make reservations). From that point on we decided it was probably best to make Crystal Springs (Walpole) our home base and make day trips as we were told every camp site along the coast was full.
We ventured out to Pemberton on our first day to hit the famous 'Valley of the Giants' tree top walk. This walk consisted of a series of suspension bridges amongst some of the tallest trees in Australia. Though the black flies nearly drove us crazy, the view from the top was worth it and provided great photo opportunities. We also made a stop at the 'Gloucester tree' - a 61 metre high tree which you can climb, no safety net or harnesses included! Eric gave it the old college try but felt it was better to keep his feet planted safely on ground.
Day two we stopped at Mandalay Beach (which was just a few kilometers from our camp site) to check it out, the guys braved the rough waters for a quick dip. Next stop was Williams
Eric and Mike did dishes...
Bay, just outside of the town of Denmark, which included Greens Pool and the Elephant Rocks. Greens Pool took our breath away. The water was so vibrantly turquoise in colour that it almost looked fake. The unique rock formations that surround this beach make for extremely calm waters and thus feels more like a swimming pool of sorts. We proceeded to sun ourselves on the rocks and enjoy a few dips in the water before returning to base camp once more. On the way home we managed to find a luke warm shower at the local rest stop, Rita and I (Sheena) maintain it was more a trickle of water vs. shower but it was better than the alternative...no shower at all!
We spent all of day three at Ocean Beach in Denmark. This beach is set amongst the cliffs and sand dunes of Denmark with a giant sand bar in the middle. The guys enjoyed a game of beach cricket with the official 'Ricky Ponting Beach Cricket set' we bought Mike for Christmas. Rita and I were asked to be spectators but decided reading on the beach was more interesting. Eric did mention that he beat Mike 4
Eric made it 10ft up before backing out of the 61ft free climb.
wickets to 3 but Mike attests that this was day one of a three day test (aka. cricket match)....again Rita and I chose to ignore the post-game chirping.
Day 4 started with some necessary housekeeping, i.e. LAUNDRY!!
The only problem with bringing limited clothing in the name of saving space is that we all found ourselves out of clean close by this point....so the stop at the Walpole laundry mat was essential. After a leisurely morning of folding clothes we set out for a full day at Greens Pool. The beach was packed compared to our first time there but 'packed' is a relative word as we still felt things were pretty quiet and peaceful. This was a recurring theme for most of our trip, spectacular beaches that were for the most part pretty void of crowds.
That night we made the decision to pack it up the next morning and set sail for Albany to try our luck at finding a new camp site.
We hit the road bright and early on day 5 for Albany. Mike desperately wanted to visit the Albany Whaling Museum and so we made this our first priority. Up until 1978 the
main industry in Albany was whaling and since this time the old 'whaling station' has been converted into a museum for tourists. Though parts of the tour were definitely disturbing/eye opening, our favourite part was taking in the enormous Pigmy Blue Whale skeleton - a staggering 95 ft long.
After stopping for lunch in town, we headed back to the outskirts of Albany to stop at some famous rock formations along the coast called 'The Bridge' and 'The Gap'.
After touring around some of the recommended camp sites in the area and with an approaching thunder storm, it was decided over lunch that we would head back to Perth that evening...grab a hot shower! and head north to a small town called Cervantes the next day, home of the most famous tourist stop in WA - the Pinnacles.
Feeling refreshed after a good nights sleep, we hit the road to Cervantes. The three hour drive consisted of endless straight roads and plenty of outback scenery, i.e. barren landscape and no sign of life. We managed to secure last minute accommodations at the 'Cervantes Lodge - Pinnacles Beach Backpackers' for just $29/person! Of course there was a slight catch, we
would all share a dorm room complete with bunk beds. After sleeping in a tent for 4 nights, bunk beds were a luxury of sorts and no one seemed to mind. The hostel was the best any of us had stayed in. The facilities were clean, bright and comfortable. Our host was originally from Israel and was currently working her way around Western Australia. For just $10/person she served us a delicious home cooked Thai meal that was ready and waiting upon our return from the Pinnacles at sunset. The Pinnacles were worth the drive and we found that sunset was the perfect time to visit as only a handful of tourist were left. With a 6 pack of ciders in hand, we found a great lookout point and waited for evening sunset.
We returned home on New Years Eve day and prepared for the nights festivities ahead. New Years was considerably low key this year. We heard fireworks took place in the city and decided to take a few pizza's (and drinks) to King's Park to enjoy the show. The park was buzzing with visitors/tourists/locals who had the same idea and the crowd patiently waited for the clock
to strike midnight. Arriving at 8:30pm, we were considerably cold (rare in Perth) by the time midnight drew near and were anxious for the fireworks to start. Midnight struck and everyone started checking their watches...where were the fireworks??!
Much to our dissppointment, Perth chose NOT to hold fireworks this year on New Years. We couldn't believe it, especially considering the fact that Perth finds any and every excuse to hold fireworks as often as possible. Though we were slightly dissappointed, it was still a good night with great friends...not a bad way to ring in 2010.
With only ten days left in Perth, we are starting to wrap things up...this includes the dreaded task of packing our lives up into 4 suitcases (again) and downsizing our wardrobe as much as possible.
This weekend we are heading to Rottnest Island one last time with our friends Kevin and June, should be a great way to spend the day as temperatures should reach a high of 39 on Saturday.
As we prepare for the final leg of our journey we can't help but reflect on such an eventful and memorable 2009, it has been truly unforgettable. We wish each and
Snooze on the rocks..
Proof that Eric can officially fall asleep anywhere, any time!
every one of you a very happy New Year and look forward to catching up with you all upon our return in February 2010.
Stay tuned for future blogs of our trip to the East Coast starting Jan 10th!
There are more photos below