Saturday, 28 March 2015

Ceduna to Margaret River

Yellow route: Ceduna to Margaret River – 3480km
Total so far: 12'300km

Before we started the Nullarbour adventure, we spent two days at the wonderful campground at Cactus Beach (near Eucla), a surfers paradise and at least as nice for non-surfers in terms of beach scenery and coastal walks. 

En route to Cactus Beach

Watching the surfers

I called it the Nullarbour „adventure“ because for us, coming from a country which can easily be crossed in one day (220 km North/South and 340 km East/West), driving through the Nullarbour from Ceduna to Norseman (1205km, just one part of the 2700km long Eyre Highway) is somehow unreal. We did this stretch in 2.5 days and enjoyed the vastness and monotony very much. We were surprised by how much bush and how many trees we saw where we had expected a deserted landscape. Of course the lookouts, especially at Great Bight with the impressive cliffs were an absolute highlight.

Nullarbour: flat and deserted

Nullarbour: some vegetation but still flat

Nullarbour: Great Bight

On short notice we decided to detour to Kalgoorlie and even booked the Super Pit tour ahead, a thing we normally try to avoid in order to remain flexible. Luckily we did as the tour was fully booked on Friday and they only could get us in on Saturday morning. The very experienced tour guide made this a very special 2.5 hours. We not only got to see the pit from different lookouts but also the whole process incl. machinery to get the gold out of the rocks. A pretty complex, time and resource-consuming procedure. As we came across the history of the gold rush during our stay in 2010 in places like Ballarat we wanted to explore further and see from different angles what was involved. Hence we also did the brothel tour about the only remaining establishment from the golden age – the Questa Casa. The madame fed our curiosity with glorious and very personal and honest stories about this kind of business which she has run for 23 years.

 Kalgoorlie Hannan Street

 Super Pit

Impressive truck

Questa Casa

The days in Kalgoorlie were pretty hot and we headed back to the coast directly into the highly popular Cape le Grand NP. The camping spots there can’t be booked and normally people line up in the early morning in order to get a spot. We tried our luck at Lucky Bay at 5 pm on a Sunday and got a spot in the already packed tenting area. The next day we made ourselves an upgrade to the campervan area. The picture-perfect beaches with the squeaky white sand and the turquoise water are amazing. We were quite energetic and we walked parts of the coastal trail, did some running along the beach and climbed Frenchman’s peak at sunset! 

 Cape le Grand NP

 Camping in the best spot at Lucky Bay

Frenchman's Peak

 View from Frenchman's Peak

In Esperance we did some grocery shopping for the upcoming national parks. Fitzgerald River NP is one of the largest in Australia and is popular for its botanical diversity. As we like climbing mountains and the rewarding views one normally gets from the top, we climbed East Mount Barren as well as West Mount Barren. Two of the accessible summits of the quartzite ranges. 

Royal Hakea

At the summit of West Mt Barren

Fitzgerald NP was followed by Waychinicup NP before we got to Albany. The weather was windy, cool and cloudy. Perfect weather to see museums. In the brand new ANZAC museum we broadened our knowledge about the impact of the ANZACs in the WWI and the significant losses. They do make the visit quite personal as with the entry ticket you get a small card representing a specific person who served as ANZAC who you then follow through the excellent and very informative exhibition. The other attraction for us was the whaling industry at Discovery Bay, which was operational 1952 - 1978. This outdoor museum on the actual production plant was brilliant although the imagination of this job is very bloody and brutal. One can imagine how it stank there…..

Sceleton of a Blue Whale

As the weather was improving we decided to continue to the Stirling Ranges NP for a few walks. After we climbed to the summit of Bluff Knoll (1095m, highest point in the southwest) we enjoyed Devonshire tea at the Bluff Knoll cafe with exceptionally good scones.

Bluff Knoll summit

Devonshire tea after the lovely walk

The Karri Forest area around Pemberton covers several NPs and State Forests. It is an impressive experience to walk and drive through these forests and this could only be topped by climbing two of the three accessible fire lookout trees. Gloucester tree is 56m high and Dave Evans Bicentennial tree is 68m. Quite a climb and there is only one single warning sign! How refreshing in a country where you normally are warned and hold off to do anything which could be remotely harmful. 
After Oliver and I had a bit of a challenge in the trees we wanted Kasbah to have some too and did the 4WD track in the sand dunes to Yeagarup Beach in the D'Entrecasteaux NP. That was great fun for the three of us.

 Camping in the Karri Forest

 Climbing the big trees

Driving in the sand

We approached Margaret River via Cape Leeuwin and a fascinating coastline as well as another Karri forest. Now we are in for some more wine tasting and most probably will do this by bike again.

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