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Weeks 21 and 22
We have had the wettest, coldest and windiest day in a long, long while and it happened to be the day we left Albany for the Castle Rock Skywalk in the Porongurup National Park. The forecast was for showers, strong winds and colder conditions and they weren’t wrong. When we left Albany is was quite nice but getting very overcast, windy and instead of warming up it was getting colder. We arrived at the carpark at the start of the walk to Castle Rock at about 9.00 a.m. and thought we might be lucky and get the walk finished before the weather set in too much. So we decided to take our rain coats and rug up a bit more than we would normally when going bush walking. It was a really nice walk although it was 1.2 kilometres and all up hill.
Just push it a little bit further and it should be just the right spot. Hang on .... eh, maybe a bit to the right.
Looking up at the Sky Walk on top of Castle Rock.
Making it to the Sky Walk Platform
And look how far down it is!!!!
What a view - except for the rain coming.
Wildflowers on the walk.
We got to the lookout and the Skywalk without getting wet and decided to climb up to the skywalk before the rain came. We just managed it! It was blowing a gale and freezing up on the skywalk and we could see the rain coming so I quickly took some photos before climbing back down. Just when I reached the bottom we got our first shower – only light, thankfully, and we managed to shelter under the rock before starting off back down to the carpark.
We did have to get our rain coats out on the return walk but we only had a couple of showers. We then left for the Moing Spring Camp Grounds in the Stirling Ranges. Just after we arrived we had a torrential down pour with cyclonic winds which thankfully only lasted about 15 to 20 minutes. We managed to get the van parked and set up without getting wet but it turned into a very wet and cold afternoon. Time to unpack the gas heater – I have not been so cold since Ballarat in August last year!! Next morning it was 3 degrees outside and only 7 in the van.
Would you believe only three days later and about 200 kilometres further north it was so hot we nearly put the air conditioner on.
We had a good look around the Stirling Ranges although we didn’t do any of the walks as they were all climbing to the top of one of the mountains and Phil had had enough of walking for a few days.
Below are some of the wildflowers we saw in the Stirling Ranges.
They have some weird and wonderful plants and flower here.
I wouldn't exactly call this one a (wild)flower .
A rather strange looking grass tree at Bluff Knob
It was then up to Wave Rock. It was a nice drive mostly through wheat country and many salt lakes.
We came across this out-of-place Dutch Windmill. I am not sure of the story behind it but it was a property advertised as a B & B.
Lake Grace North
We went through Lake Grace and it was on a very big day for the little town. This years's AFL Brownlow Medalist comes from Lake Grace and he was coming back to town with his medal. When we drove in we wondered what the huge crowd (apparently they came by bus from near and far) was down at the sporting field until I remembered hearing abut it on the radio.
We took the route to Wave Rock via Kulin because I had heard about the Tin Horse Highway and I wanted to see it. There are some very talented and imaginative people in this world.
All the sculptures are made out of 44 gallon drums or bits of scrap iron or metal found lying around the farms. The Tin Horse Highway runs from the bush Race Track to Kulin which is 14 kiolmetres. I think I walked most of that 14 kilometres as my driver was getting sick and tired of stopping especially as we had the caravan attached. Lucky it was a quite highway and there were usually good pull off areas.
We called into Hyden for a coffee and also a look at their art work.
Actually it was quite good too. It was all done by locals and told the history of Hyden.
We stayed out at the Wave Rock Caravan Park which was not very good especially for the price. They put us on a site that obviously had been one site that they have now split into two – it may be okay for two small motorhomes but definitely not for two caravans. Neither us nor the bloke next to us could put our awning out even half way and it was probably lucky the other bloke parked a bit further back than we did or I reckon he would have had trouble opening his caravan door and getting in. What made us all cranky about it was that there were about five other powered sites of a reasonable size vacant that night. They don’t seem to like anyone who only stays one night and doesn’t pre-book.
Anyway, Wave Rock was really interesting. We did the walk to Hippo’s Yawn and took the wrong way back and ended up walking up over the rock- good exercise.
Magic Lake. It is part of the Wave Rock complex and claimed to be much saltier then the Dead Sea (??)
View from the top of Wave Rock
Trying to surf Wave Rock - as you do. (Actually I was trying very hard not to fall face first down Wave Rock)
We also went out to Mulka’s Cave and the Humps – we did both walks out there.
Inside Mulka's Cave
The walk over the top of the Humps
The walk around the bottom of the Humps
We then went south again and had a night at Stokes Inlet in the National Park Camp Ground. We did a good walk there 2.8 kilometres one way but it was mostly flat. There were not as many wildflowers as I was expecting but it was still a pretty walk although the weather wasn’t very good again. It was very overcast and certainly a little chillier the few days prior. The camp ground was really nice.
Finally, red Kangaroo's Paw (in the wild) and
The Black Kangaroo's Paw
The sign reads"No Vehicles Beyond this Point" - do you really have to be told?
Stoke's Inlet - another inlet that is only open to the sea when there has been a big flood and the river has washed away the sand bar.
There were many of these Zamia trees at Stokes National Park and some were massive - they must be very,very old.
We then went onto Esperance. It is a very nice little town. The first afternoon there we did their Great Ocean Drive which took us all along the beaches and headlands west of the town and also the Pink Lake which was not very pink. They have had a lot of overcast, rainy weather recently and for the lake to turn pink (i.e for the algae to be able to grow) they need lots of sunshine. The beaches were certainly pretty but the water looked cold. We stopped in at all the lookouts. We saw a seal at one of the beaches but we haven’t seen any whales for a while. I think it is probably too late for the whales now.
The Pink Lake - that wasn't very pink.
Blue Haven Beach (this was where we saw the seal surfing)
Eleven Mile Beach
We did a full day out at Cape Le Grande National Park. We had planned on staying out there for at least one night but they are rebuilding the camp grounds and it is in an awful mess at the moment. Part of the camp ground is still open but everyone is very squashed in. It will be nice when it is finished – it looks like they are putting in heaps of individual campsites. It is a very pretty National Park and I would expect in summertime it gets very busy. The beaches are certainly nice but they had a lot of dead sea grass washed up on them when we were there.
Le Grande Beach
Hell Fire Bay
Cape Le Grande National Park
On the way out to Cape Le Grande National Park we happened upon Stonehenge. Not the real one but a full size replica. Of course we had to call in for a look. All the rock was quarried from across the road to the property where it is nowsituated. There is a bit of a story to it. Apparently some fellow down in Albany wanted to build it and had ordered all the stone but then went broke before he could get started. These people didn’t want to see such beautiful stone leave the district so decided that they would buy the stone and build Stonehenge themselves. It is really good – I think I like it better than the original in England. I am not sure if it has something to do with the one in England being four thousand years old and in pieces and this one is only four years old and still intact.
It was then time to head north again.
On the way we passed through Grass Patch. It had a lovely town sign, war memorial statues in town with plenty of off-road parking and picnic tables but no public toilets and was otherwise not a very nice looking little town.
Bromus Lake just south of Norsemen. It is also a free camp - there are a lot of free camps in the Goldfield areas and quite good camps too.
We stopped for a quick look around Norsemen and lunch. We didn't spend too much time there as we will be back before starting across the Nullarbor and if we missed seeing anything we can stop off then.
Wish I had a horse like Norsemen that could go out and find a gold nugget for me.
Storm clouds (the storm didn't eventuate) at Lake Cowan Rest Area (Free Camp). It was only a dry salt lake.
I think this cheeky little fellow has been fed a few times from a caravan door. He even called out to you and would take food from your hand. Naughty Phil!!
We passed through Coolgardie –it is looking very run down and oh, so quiet. Very few shops open and the only people around were about five or six lots of RVers. The only real shop open was ‘The Markets’ which was a second-hand shop but they had a lot of second-hand books and were doing a very good business with them as nearly everyone went into the shop and came out with a bag of books. It is a pity it is getting so rundown as they have some lovely old buildings there.
Another odd coloured salt lake - this one was yellow/green.
Main Street in Coolgardie
Next was Kalgoorlie – again we just stopped for a quick look. We wanted to go out to have a look at the Super Pit and went into the Information Centre for some information about the roads. We were helped by an extremely helpful, obviously, local young lady. It was certainly a pleasure after dealing with some of the Information Centres up north. She advised us if we went out to the Super Pit at 12.45p.m. we would be in time to see the next blast so that is what we did. It was quite interesting and we were pleased that we took her advise.
Some grand old hotels in Kalgoorlie - The New York
The Super Pit - before the explosion
The Super Pit - after the explosion
We then headed further north to Lake Ballard. Lake Ballard is a large salt lake basically in the middle of nowhere. An artist, Sir Antony Gormley was commissioned 2003 by the Festival of Perth to create some sculpture as part of their Arts Festival and he chose to placed them around Lake Ballard.
They are all based on locals from the Menzies area. There were originally 51 but now there are only 49 and if you walked around to find them all you would spend hours and walk almost all over the lake. We only did some and walked for about an hour. There are camp grounds at the lake, free and with pit toilets and picnic tables. It is a lovely spot but probably very hot in summer time.
Our next stop was at a little place called Menzies – about one and a half hours drive north of Kalgoorlie. Nothing there except for one pub which doubles as the general store, Council Office and the Tourist Information Centre which looks after the bookings for the caravan park (which incidentally is just behind the Tourist Information Centre). It has only recently been put in by the Council and is very nice but again would be very hot in summer.
Entry to Menzies
The Council Offices - always a grand building
The Main Street of Menzies- as you can see it is very busy!
They had these cut out sculptures dotted around the town - actually they had two sets - one told the story of the early white settlers and the other was stories from some of the aboriginal inhabitants about how they dealt with the changes brought about by the gold rushes and white settlement.
We did a drive up to another little place, Kookynie and which they call the ‘living ghost town’. It was quite interesting but none of the original buildings are left except for one pub and a couple of other buildings that are now private homes.
Near Kookynie is the Niagara Dam build in 1897. We had a look around and did the Dam Wall walk which was interesting. They also have a free camp grounds out there as well but it looks very hot.
Time to head south to Norsemen and then across the Nullarbor. We expect to take about 5 or 6 days to cross the Nullarbor and in that time we will probably be out of mobile phone range. We plan on stopping and seeing everything (or most things) on the way across.