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Published: December 9th 2010
Getting hotter and windier
We left Augusta on a warm still morning with a clear blue sky overhead and made fairly good progress up the highway to Karridale. It is typical that we had been cycling into the face of a southerly all the way down the coast and the minute we turned around the wind dropped. By the time we reached Karridale the heat had increased to one degree below unbearable and the flies were out in force. We stopped at the roadhouse for ice lollies and cold drinks, then turned east onto the Brockman Highway towards Pemberton, it was at about this point that the wind started up and it was an easterly! We were riding through a mix of forest and farmland, so we got shelter from the wind for some distance then suddenly got a full hit as we moved out of the trees. We were aiming for a long day of riding, getting us to a campground a few km out of Pemberton and were making fairly good progress, but at 17:00 Vernon suggested we started looking for a place to stop, we consulted Elwood who suggested a spot just after the Barlee Brook, but
Mill worker's house, Pemberton
These were built from Karri and Jarrah wood and are still going strong after nearly 100 years.
the book was written a few years ago and what had been campable bush was now completely overgrown. We moved further on and came across a patch of bush which has been control burned to clear the undergrowth but was now regrowing such that we had some cover, but there were areas we could pitch the tent, we chose a spot and pitched up for the night - cost 0 Aus dollars, our cheapest night so far and not likely to be bettered! We were in the tent by 19:30 but didn't sleep too well as I was kept awake by the strange noises around us and Vernon was kept awake by me nudging him and saying "What was that?" every time I heard anything weird and everything I heard was weird. We must have slept though as we both woke up at about 06:00 the next morning and dozed until 07:00 before getting up, sorting breakfast and packing up to move on to Pemberton.
We turned onto the Vasse Highway and soon after saw a winery (Donnelly River winery) with a cafe attached so we stopped for coffee and scones as second breakfast and sampled the wines before selecting
They are called The Cascades really, but they weren't when we saw them.
a dry white for the evening. The road became very hilly as we neared Pemberton and we had to get off and push a few times. Once again we were passing through Karri forest and it was getting very hot and humid, but thankfully no headwind, or at least there wasn't until we suddenly passed into farming country and almost came to a complete standstill. On reaching Pemby we fell into a cafe for cold drinks and a very late lunch, before arranging accommodation at the Old Theatre House for the weekend - an expensive choice but it was my birthday weekend so what the heck!
I was about to write "Saturday dawned fair" but I have no idea if that was the case or not as I didn't wake up until about 08:00, Vernon handed over a birthday card which his mum had given him before we travelled, how he managed to keep it flat and hidden is a mystery. We were out fairly soon to walk to the tram station for a rather noisy ride into the forest with an informed commentary about the plants and animals we saw. We stopped to walk down to The Cascades
which sadly would have been more correctly named The Dribbles after a very dry winter and spring, further on we disembarked again, this time to wander around the forest and marvel at the rail bridge the tram had just passed over.
In the afternoon we took a tour down the Donnelly River; at the beginning of the tour we had to introduce ourselves and say where we were from, mention of England caused much merriment from the Aussies as Hussey and Hadin were knocking our bowlers all around the park at the Gabba. Anyway, the river tour was very interesting, enough info about the area and the wildlife, an interesting discussion about whether DEC should continue introducing trout into the river each year, at first the view was "yes" until we pointed out the trout aren't native (yup, they are our fault) and Peter (the guide) mentioned that they eat the native fish at which point opinion turned to "no" but DEC will continue to do it because politically it is not a good idea to upset the anglers. we reached the sand bar at the mouth of the river and Peter spent a while trying to beach the boat,
Donnelly River Cruises boat
It finally made landfall at the third attempt.
there was a strong onshore breeze and with only a seven inch draft the boat was not behaving well. We finally disembarked and wandered across the sandbar to the Southern Ocean but didn't stay out for long, the wind was whipping the sand up around our legs very painfully so we returned to the boat for tea and muffins.
On our return to Pemby we decided it was going to be a pizza and wine night and that we needed another day of lazing around doing nothing to recover from the lazy day we had just had!
We finally got around to loading up and setting off on Monday 29th it was already very warm as we left town and we struggled grimly through the forest with our own personal fly swarms hitching a ride as the heat got more and more oppressive. We reached Northcliffe for lunch, thinking that we would then continue on to Shannon River for the night, however after sitting around until 15:00 the temperature had not dropped from the high 30s and we decided to call it a day and take a room at the motel instead, Shannon River could wait one more day.
Tuesday was another hot one and we set off slowly along a fairly flat road out of Northcliffe, we soon came to some road works where the tarmac had been removed for resurfacing and the exceedingly dry underlayer was kicking up a huge amount of dust from the passing cars; as we were about to ride through we were slowly overtaken by a car carrying a Dutch family who had been next door to us at Pemby, they yelled encouragement to us as they drove by. Once past the road works we plodded on slowly to Shannon River on an increasingly lumpy road, we arrived at 14:00 having ridden the grand total of 33km - woo! We spent the rest of the day doing as little as possible except fending off the crows who were after our food supplies. The following morning one of them very nearly got our lunch, but a well aimed used teabag soon solved that.
Cooling at last but there's a catch.
Wednesday was much cooler than the previous two days and we made good progress towards Walpole under a blanket of cloud which threatened to become rain a few times but never quite managed
Giant Tingle Tree
Can you spot the Vernon?
it. The road was becoming flatter and we finally got a tail wind for a large part of the day. As we neared Walpole we met a monster hill, not too steep but it went on forever and the sun decided to break through just as we started to climb it. We made it to the top though and were rewarded by a swooping downhill for about 3km all the way to town. Later that evening the rain came down spectacularly, we checked the forecast and booked another day at the YHA. Sure enough Thursday was a wet one, we had been planning to ride up to the Tingle trees and the Treetops' Walk, as it was we stayed in the hostel and watched the rain coming down.
Friday was much the same so we decided to hire a car from the hostel and drive to the trees instead, it was definitely the correct decision, the road up to the giant Tingle tree is unmade, steep and very, very rutted we'd have had fun riding that! After the very big tree we visited Circular Pool, so called because of the way the water moves in it, unfortunately because the levels
The Tree Top Walk
It's as scary as it looks...
are so low we didn't really see the circular effect but it was a pleasant walk and we had it all to ourselves.
Every day you should do something that scares you, getting on the tandem usually counts but today we found something different to try. The Tree Top Walk is a walkway rising to 40 metres high in the Tingle forest, it is designed to sway in the breeze to replicate the feeling of being in the treetops, it is very scary if, like me, you don't 'do' heights. However I got all the way around with my eyes open and even stopped to take photos and look at the views on the way, I was glad to get back onto terra firma though.
The weather looked better on Saturday so we set off towards Denmark, the road was becoming flatter as we headed east, but still had a few hills for us. Unfortunately the drivers were in general less attentive with a lot of close overtakes including one than caused comment along the lines of "Gosh,that was close, you could see the whites of their eyes, what a silly driver." or something like that. We stopped
The Tree Top Walk pt 2
...and it really is that high.
for coffee at the teahouse in Nornalup which wasn't open when we arrived so we hung around looking thirsty until they took pity on us and let us in. Got some shots of a honeyeater while we were waiting. Second stop was at Bow Bridge for a cuppa, then lunch at the side of the road along the way as nobody had thought to put a suitable stopping point in for us - bah! As we reached Denmark the rain came down in bucketloads. We reached the visitor centre just as it shut but they passed a map through the half closed door to us and pointed us at the YHA where we got a room and slowly dried out.
The rain continued for two more days so we hung around Denmark hoping it would let up, eventually on the 6th we decided we had to get going so we packed up and headed out into a rainstorm.
Graham (the hostel manager) advised us to take the bike path around the inlet, which we did, very slowly as it was a sandy track, unfortunately it led to an unmade road which would be fine in dry weather but we sank
in it and had get off and push on the very small hill. We were just getting ready to remount and start again when a woman appeared from a nearby house and invited us in for coffee, we declined as we really needed to get moving but it was a lovely offer. The rest of the ride was on almost flat roads with the occasional rise for a bit of a change and no further rain, we reached Albany by 16:00, found a room for a couple of nights and put the tandem in the largest bike store ever.
Tot: 1.387s; Tpl: 0.02s; cc: 22; qc: 92; dbt: 0.0308s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.6mb