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Published: March 25th 2011
On Monday 21st we only had a journey of about 100 kms but we were still on the road by 9.30. It had stayed dry overnight which meant it was much easier to pack dry awnings etc away. The road was quite quiet apart from some other caravans. Lately on our journeys we have been listening to the CD version of Julie Walter’s autobiography called ‘That’s Another Story’. It was a Christmas present but we had been saving it for some of our longer journeys. However, once we started listening we were hooked as it’s very funny. So the time whizzed by as Julie entertained us with her hilarious exploits. We were heading to Coffin Bay – perhaps a somewhat macabre name for a village and National Park? Actually, it was named by explorer Matthew Flinders in honour of his friend Sir Isaac Coffin.
The caravan park at Coffin Bay looked to be pretty busy but we were allocated a roomy ‘drive-through’ site which was a bit bumpy in places and had plenty of evidence of recent animal visits. We set up and ate our sandwiches but by then it was threatening rain. It didn’t come to much but, rather
than risk getting wet, we used PIE to find our way around what was a small village (we often walk or cycle). It seemed to have a pleasant water-front though not much in the way of shops. There was a post office which, as usual, I was able to use to post some cards. Coffin Bay has a reputation for oyster production and our near neighbour was intent on getting some fresh off the boat. He returned to his caravan later looking very pleased with himself and carrying a large bag of oysters. Graham had read a newspaper article about oysters only recently and the question was asked about whether they really possessed aphrodisiacal properties. The answer was “only to other oysters”!!! As it happens, neither of us is particularly partial to oysters so we won’t be looking out for any.
It gets dark quite early these days – about 7:30pm – and as I popped out to the loo after dark I almost fell over a couple of kangaroos which were nosing around our caravan. They obviously feel comfortable in and around the park and simply hopped a few yards away. They clearly live here in their numbers
judging by the amount of droppings to be seen but that’s a small price to pay to have such wildlife so close to hand.
The weather of late has been very changeable so we’re never sure what to expect from one day to the next. In spite of a cloudy forecast, Tuesday dawned dry and bright so we made up our minds to see what the Coffin Bay National Park had to offer. But before that, I thought I might need to do a bit of forward planning. Whilst checking in yesterday I overheard the receptionist on the phone telling someone that they were already fully booked for Easter – that’s over a month away!! In talking with the neighbours we realised that, from now on, we would be wise to consider booking ahead regularly to make sure we get a site. So before we left for the National Park I tried to work out where we would be at Easter. Our first, second and third choices of Busselton, Bunbury and Mandurah were all fully booked when I checked on the internet. I then rang a couple of other caravan parks but to no avail. As a last resort,
and not wanting to be ‘homeless’ over the Easter holiday period, I booked us into one of the few Perth CPs that still had some space! That’s much further on than we had intended at Easter so we’ll just have to double back to visit some of the places nearer Perth that we may have to bypass on the way.
Then I began to wonder about our immediate on-going arrangements and, thankfully, I managed to book the last spot at our next destination – Streaky Bay. The lady in the office hesitated at first and then offered us a site that was ‘some way from the toilet block’ so we wait to see if we need to use our bikes to get to the loo and back! The problem at Easter is largely due to school holidays but, with so many “grey nomads” now on the road, and many heading west to get away from the southern winter, it may be necessary to think ahead far more often than we’re used to.
Eventually, though much later than planned, we set off for the national park which was only a few kms away. Having paid our entry fee we
were immediately impressed with the quality of the roads compared with the Lincoln National Park. We were able to get to so many beauty spots very easily and soon found a lovely spot to have our picnic lunch - Yangie Bay - only a short distance along a good gravel track. Whilst sitting there we were approached by a large emu with three youngsters following behind. They didn’t seem at all perturbed by our presence and one of the youngsters made to come closer to us – possibly out of curiosity, possible having an eye on our sandwiches. I just managed to get a couple of photos before the male adult bird guided it away and they all loped off quite casually across the nearby sandy shore.
The track went down on to the beach and up the other side. Looking at the map, it continued for about another 20 kms to the far end of the peninsula. It may well have been manageable but as it was listed as ‘4WD only’ we thought better of it, especially as there was much more of the park we could explore using the sealed roads or good gravel roads. Actually, PIE
has an excellent 4WD system and I’m sure we’ll use it in due course but with so far yet to go on our travels, we don’t want to jeopardise our adventures by pushing PIE too hard too soon.
There were some huge sand-dunes at Almonta Beach which we walked over to get down to the ocean. We went as far as Point Avoid where the waves crashed in and we were exposed to a blustery wind. A couple of fishermen were busy setting up their gear on the beach but I wouldn’t fancy standing there for long. Still, if they managed to catch some fish no doubt it would be worth it! We made several other visits including Avoid Beach, Flat Rock and Golden Island Lookout. We had a great day in the National Park and for us it was so much more enjoyable because most of the roads were so good. Later in the evening I was poised with the camera ready to snap any loitering kangaroos but did any show up? No – of course they didn’t!
Wednesday was a totally different sort of day – chilly, very cloudy and showery and for about the first
time on the whole trip (when it wasn’t pouring with rain) we didn’t feel like going off anywhere. So I carried out some much needed ‘maintenance’ on the laptop and tidied up the photo files on the external drive. Graham spent some time reading his latest book and doing crosswords. We also tried to work out in a bit more detail where we might stop on our up-coming journey across the Nullabor and onwards into Western Australia. It will be a shame if our very casual ‘pootling’ around Australia has to become more structured – we much prefer just making it up as we go along. During the afternoon we watched “Prime Minister’s Question Time” from the Canberra Parliament buildings. Whatever you think of the way our UK parliament is conducted, surprisingly, it is much more civilised than in Aus. We were amazed at the open abuse and rabble rousing that went on and the total lack of respect shown, especially towards the lady Prime Minister and especially by the leader of the opposition who often sat with his back to her. During proceedings, seven MPs were expelled from the chamber for an hour and one for 24 hours -
however, it was very entertaining!
We managed a walk in the evening to the local Boat Club where, on Wednesdays, they do a fish and chip special. We were lucky enough to get a table by the huge windows so we looked out over the bay. We were able to supplement the relatively small dinner with generous helpings of salad, veggies, beetroot, pasta and coleslaw, making it a very nice meal indeed! A pleasant stroll back to the CP (dodging the odd shower) made a lovely end to our short stay in Coffin Bay.
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