We stayed for one night at Crokers Caravan Park in Esperance and then went into town the next morning to re-fuel and visit the library so Annelies and Thomas could research their home school projects on ecosystems - Thomas on Tall Forests and Annelies on Deserts, while Mark added the Wave Rock and Kalgoorlie blog entries. In his haste, he forgot to include a photo of Thomas with crutches and a couple of others from our visit to the Perth Royal Show, so we've added another back-dated entry for these in a Perth blog entry, in case you are interested.
We did the Great Ocean Drive loop to the west of Esperance before heading east to Cape Le Grand National Park. We stayed at Le Grand Beach camp ground for three nights. The weather was not very kind to us although the sunset on the first night was amazing. We climbed Frenchman's Peak the next day with quite windy conditions. The following day we visited Lucky Bay, where we visited Flinders' monument and walked to Thistle Cove. Mark and Thomas had planned to keep walking on the 12 km coastal track all the way back to Le Grand Beach camp
ground, but the walk from Thistle Cove to Hellfire Bay was closed due to a bush fire that had passed through nearly two years previous. So we walked back to Lucky Bay, had lunch at Hellfire Bay, where Mark and Thomas were left to continue on the coastal track back to Le Grand Beach on foot, while the girls drove the car back to Le Grand Beach. Thomas was very upset at being deprived of his 12 km walk but enjoyed his measly 9 kms!
From Cape Le Grand we headed further east into Cape Arid National Park, where we stayed at Thomas River camp ground for two nights. After setting up camp, we went down to the beach (Yokinup Bay) to watch a couple of Southern Right Whales (a mother with a calf) that we had heard were still sheltering in the bay. We thought they were pretty cool playing around out there. A few days prior there had been seven whales there, but by now there were only two or possibly three. A warm northerly breeze was blowing that first day, but overnight a cold and strong southeasterly wind developed and showers came through quite frequently. Nevertheless
we decided to make a day trip to Seal Creek and Cape Arid. However, on the drive towards Mt Arid on the track into Thomas Fishery, we were flagged over by the camp ground host from Thomas River coming the other way. He said how he had heard on ABC radio that a bad storm had caused quite a bit of damage at Hopetoun to the west of Esperance and that a severe thunderstorm warning had been issued for the whole district, so he was going back to the camp ground at Thomas River to tie down his caravan awning. As we had left our camper trailer with the awning up and not up to surviving a wild storm, we decided to turn around and head back as well.
We tuned into the ABC as well and heard how part of the roof of the local hotel at Hopetoun had come off and that there were quite a few trees down in the town, while some of the locals were saying it was the worst conditions they had ever experienced there. However, as far as I could gather, I think the damage was caused by strong to gale force,
but very gusty, east or southeasterly winds rather than a thunderstorm, so it was unlikely that a storm would head our way. Although thunderstorms were predicted for the area, the severe thunderstorm warning was only for the Goldfields and areas further north. Nevertheless, a fresh wind blew for the rest of the day, and that night the wind increased substantially, accompanied by heavy showers (Esperance recorded over 21mm and we would have had something similar). We took our awning down in the dark and rode out a wild and woolly night - the rocking of the camper trailer made us feel more like we were sleeping on a ship at sea rather than a camper trailer on dry land! We also discovered that our attempt to water-proof the canvas before leaving Perth was not sufficient to keep out heavy rain, so we ended up with some damp bedding in the morning. We had erected the tent, wet the canvas and let it dry a couple of times on a day prior to our departure, so that the stitching around the seams would shrink and seal, but obviously it was not enough to withstand heavy rain and wind. Hopefully this will
improve as the canvas ages with repeated wetting (we're getting plenty of that!) while we have also coated the stitching and seams with sealing wax in an effort to waterproof the tent. But preferably, we'd rather not experience another similar night!
We had originally planned to travel north from Cape Arid on the Balladonia track via Mt Ragged to meet up with the Eyre Highway, thus cutting about 170 kms off the trip, but the ranger at Cape Le Grand had previously advised against this track as there were quite a few washouts and it was very slow and muddy going with all the recent rain. We then thought we'd take the Parmango track instead, which was mainly just a corrugated gravel road, but after the previous night's deluge, we decided to play it safe and take the sealed highway instead.
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