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Published: October 12th 2013
The flight to Perth goes smoothly and we que up at immigration with some nervousness, we've seen the TV programs on Australian Border Control, however we get in with no problems.
Unfortunately our flight had been brought forward which means we land and clear customs at 1 am. There's no way into the city, so we blow up our inflatable pillows and bed down in the airport until 6.30.
We wash and brush up in the cloakrooms and eventually get the bus into Perth. We don't know where we are after being dropped off but after asking a few directions we find our hostel.
After a short nap we venture into the city. It's all fairly modern and characterless, however we manage to replace our lost vacuum bottles, at some cost and buy a few things needed for a camping trip later in the week.
We see a restaurant down by the pier with a sign for a typical Aussie saying!
We were warned that Perth would be expensive but reality hits when we see the prices ! Our next stop is the supermarket so that we can self cater, no more dinners
The weather's a bit of a shock too, it's cool and we have rain showers.
Off to bed early as we didn't get much sleep on the airport benches.
Up early and off to the port as we have booked to go whale watching. Hopefully it'll be 3rd time lucky after similar trips have been so bad people who know we're going don't show up!
The trip starts with a lovely boat ride down the Swan river to Freemantle where we change boats ready to go out to sea.
It's a rough ride and the sick bags are out early ! Some of the small kids have barely made it out of the harbour before their affected by the swell. Unbelievably I'm ok, Christine's a far better sailor than me and is rarely ill.
We sail for only 30 mins or so before we see two young Humpbacks breaching the water, the guy on commentary keeps shouting "AND ANOTHER BREACH!!" I'm already starting to hope he falls overboard.
We follow them for 15 mins before we lose them. We motor on for another 45 mins or so and
see larger Humpbacks spouting water and jumping out of the waves or BREACHING! as he keeps going on.
We return to Freemantle for the afternoon and have a good look around. it's a really nice town with great looking Victorian buildings and lots of street performers and markets.
Later we catch the boat back to Perth and return to the hostel for more home cooking, although we did manage to buy a bottle of wine at a reasonable price to with our meal.
This morning we catch the free city bus round to Kings Park and get off at the wrong stop thanks to our Guide Book. Only a 1 km walk back to the park entrance via Jacob's Ladder. This is a set of about 150 steps up to the park and we discover it's where all the young people come to get fit by running up and down them.
We walk up and are passed by the fit and the gasping ! they're not all as fit as they think they are. I get to the top and despite carrying a rucksack, I'm not out of breath, but then I've not
been up and down 5 times !
The park is probably the best in the world for wild flowers and also has a wonderful botanic gardens of plants from all over Australia. There are also stunning views over the city and river estuaries. It really is a good park and well maintained. We walk around the Botanic area for about an hour and a half before finding a bench to have our packed lunch. More economies !
After lunch we take a guided tour of the "Bush" area and see natural grassland areas and plants. It interesting but goes on a bit ! I'm pleased when we get to the end of it.
We take a rest and treat ourselves to two ice lollies for £4 ! the last we'll behaving for a while.
We walk to the bus stop and find that they don't run on a Sunday from the park so it's another long walk to another bus route.
Back to the hostel for a well deserved cup of tea.
Up early and off to the car rental company and pick up our vehicle. We negotiate the one way
system and get back to our hostel and load up. It’s relief not to have to carry everythng for once.
We also have to find our way around the city to get out, but all goes well with only a little shouting !
Our first stop is Cottersloe a nice little seaside town with a great beach and wind off the scale ! There are some brave soles actually swimming.
Back in the car and off down the coast to Rockingham. We stop in a car park alongside another great beach and have our pack lunch.
I phone ahead to a camp site and book a berth for the night.
We finally arrive at Mandurah Caravan Park in Mandurah and pick our spot in the camping area. It’s only the second time we’ve put up our tent and this time we have an audience of kids ! We get the tent up surprisingly quickly although we’re terribly short of cooking gear. Off we trot to the nearest shop to get a saucepan and a couple of glasses.
While out we visit Mandurah and have a good look around. It’s a fairly posh seaside come
Back at base the other happy campers are using the BBQ and cooking more refined things than us. They’re really friendly and lend us all their cooking utensils. I think they feel sorry for us being so unprepared. Our little tent sits amongst such bigger ones. Bed comes soon after dinner as we sit surrounded by mozzies.
We wake up, not sure if we ever got to sleep. Two things we have learned from our first night under canvas, the ground is very HARD and camping kids get up early and are noisy !
After a quick breakfast and clearing away between showers our first stop is at K-Mart for lilos !
This morning we drive down the coast and stop at Australind and call in at the Tourist Information. The woman says there’s load to see and gives us some info. After studying it we find out that most of the points of interest are just historic plaques ! I’ve never known someone get so excited about so little. We give them a miss but go and look at the smallest church in western Australia. It’s about 10
foot square and looks like my timber shed.
We continue our drive to Bunbury and park up. We have a good walk around and take in most of the historic buildings and views over the town.
We then decide to visit the Dolphin Discovery Centre. The ticket girl says how much there is to see for our 10 dollars (£14). We go in to the Centre and see the café and don’t realise that this is it ! There’s a few small fish tanks and a TV. To say we were underwhelmed is to put it mildly ! I’ve been in larger pet shops and our friend Ed has a bigger fish tank. A real rip off.
Crest fallen at the “experience” we try and find our camp site. No mean feat as none of the maps seem to show all the roads.
We book in and erect our tent in record time, we’ve learnt from yesterday . We then have a “who can blow up their lilo the quickest” competition. Christine wins, proving girls have more hot air !
Another BBQ dinner followed by watching TV in the camp kitchen
and killing more mozzies !
The lilos have done the trick and we get a better nights sleep although it’s freezing by 5am. Also getting up in the night for a call of nature is a 20 min excursion by the time we fight our way out of the sleeping bags and get dressed.
The early morning is going fine until our next door campers mention that they have just killed a white tale spider on their tent, one of the dangerous ones !
This morning we drive to Harvey to see their historic buildings, all built since 1910 and interesting to see. We then drive on to Sterling dam and back to Harvey dam for lunch. There’s a lot of dams around here.
On the way back we stop off at Wellington dam, the largest of all of them and overflowing following all the rain. We’d like to stop and go to the gorge but I’m running low on petrol and worried we might not find a petrol station. So we rush off !
The scenery today has been terrific with rolling hills and huge forests and very green. In many
ways like England.
After filling up, I needn’t have worried, we stop at a nature reserve and go for a walk at dusk. We’re on our way to a look out when two locals warn us that there’s a 4’ Dungit snake on the steps. I ask if it’s venomous and they say “of course”. That’s two dangerous creatures in one day !
Back at the campsite BBQ I’m relegated to stirring the veg after making a mess of cooking the potatoes on the grill.
Up at 5.45 as I’m freezing ! Christine sleeps on and I cover her with my sleeping bag and go and wash and have breakfast.
We get the tent down and everything packed away and leave before 8. Our first stop is Busselton to have a look at the remains of the longest pier in the southern hemisphere. It’s still nearly a mile long and there are fisherman spaced out along it. One’s caught a lot of blue crabs and probably a cold from the weather.
Back in the car and the next stop is Cape Nauraliste. It’s a lovely area with lots of wild flowers and a rugged coast line but the wind’s blowing a gale. We’re supposed to be able to see whales off shore but all we see are water spouts from them in the distance. Typical of our luck seeing wildlife !
On the road again and we stop at Nigli Caves and have lunch, sandwiches again, and hang the tent out to dry, before going into the ticket office to see that they want over £15pp. We decide to give them miss as we’ve seen lots of caves before.
We drive on and stop at a chocolate making factory. The chocolate’s really good and we try the samples. Unfortunately a standard bar of chocolate is over £8 and over our budget. We then nip round to where they are offering samples of their chocolate liquors and it’s wonderful but we can’t fly with them and have to decline a purchase.
On once more and we then stop at Cowaramup, a strange road side town. Not so much a one horse town but more a herd of plastic cows town. They’re everywhere ! We visit several produce shops and a winery shop.
Our final stop of the day is at Margaret River. A major tourist spot with wineries all around. We admit defeat on the camping front and book into a nice, but fairly expensive hotel for two evenings. We can’t take the cold any longer !
In the evening we go out for dinner, our first since getting to Australia and have ------- fish & chips wrapped in paper !
We wake up to pouring rain and don our wet weather gear as today we’re walking the 10 mile path to Brook Dam. It’s a pleasant walk through the forest although it would be even nicer in the dry. We see lots of wild flowers and hear birds singing, even a kookaburra but we don’t see them of course. Eventually we get to the dam and have lunch before returning to the car. Not a snake in sight !
We then set off for one of the many wineries in the area and stop at the Voyager Winery. It’s very swish and has impressive gardens and buildings. We go in for a wine tasting and try 4 of their varieties on offer. They’re all good but unfortunately we can’t buy any as we’re not allowed to take them on the plane with us next week. Rather sheepisly we leave !
We call in at the Eagle Heritage site on the way back but have missed the flying displays.
Back at the hotel we have a cup of tea and a snooze before going to get a take away pizza.
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