Caves Road from Yallingup to Augusta

Caves Road is the scenic route to take through the Margaret River region, instead of the Bussel Highway.  It’s narrow and twisty in parts but there are plenty of places to stop for a break along the way.  We thought the Margaret River region was only famous for its wineries, breweries and artisan sellers, and most of these are along Caves Road.  However the coastline is also popular with surfers.  The surf breaks at Yallingup Beach were among the first ones surfed in WA in the early 1950s.

Yallingup surf breaks

The road winds through forests, dairy farms and vineyards.  We had to stop at the Burch Family Wines cellar door, as Burch is a family name but they don’t have the Burch name on their wine bottles unfortunately.

Caves Road runs the length of the limestone Leeuwin-Naturaliste ridge which is undercut by over 150 caves.  Four of these are open to the public.  We did the Jewel Cave tour, which is the largest cave.  You can get a pass to visit more than one which works out a bit cheaper.   Jewel Cave is spectacular.  Warning though: there are a lot of stairs and narrow walkways.  The tour guide turned out all the lights for a minute when we were deep into the cave and it was so dark, you couldn’t see your hand right in front of your face.   There is a statue of the extinct Tasmanian Tiger at the entrance, as footprints of the animal have been discovered in the cave.

Augusta is the closest town to Cape Leeuwin – the most south-westerly point of Australia, where the Indian Ocean meets the Great Southern Ocean.  The coastline is spectacular but also treacherous.  Twenty-two ships were wrecked off the coast before a lighthouse was built in 1896.  The nearby water wheel was built to pump water from a spring to the lighthouse cottages.  Over time, the wood has calcified and the wheel is now fossilised.  Instead of driving, you could walk the 135 km Cape to Cape trail.  It starts at Cape Naturaliste, West of Busselton and ends at Cape Leeuwin.  It’s usually completed in 5 to 7 days.

Winston had to wear his National Park disguise so we could sneak in and take a look.  Cape Leeuwin is also famous for whale watching but despite sitting with binoculars trained for quite some time, there weren’t any migrating past while we were there.

 

Busselton, South West WA

Busselton has definitely been one of our favourite places and that’s not just because the sun was out again and it had started to warm up.  We stayed at the Kookaburra Caravan Park which is only a short walk from an off-leash dog beach, the famous jetty and the town itself.

Busselton Jetty is 1,841 m long and only Southend Pier in England is longer.  Dogs are not allowed on the jetty so we had to explore it separately.  There was plenty of black ink along the jetty so Jonathan walked along with his fishing gear in the hope of catching some squid for dinner.  When it was my turn, I took the idle approach and caught the little jetty train.

The Underwater Observatory at the end of the jetty was a worthwhile experience.  You descend the stairs 8m to the ocean floor and stop at viewing windows on the way down.  The jetty piles have become an artificial reef covered in corals and sponges.  No fishing is allowed at the end of the jetty and the piles are home to hundreds of fish and marine creatures.

One of the viewing windows had a live webcam linked to the observatory website so I sent Jonathan a text to say if he logged on, I’d wave to him!  If you watch the webcam on Wednesday mornings, divers are cleaning the windows.  ‘Underwater window cleaner’ must be one of the more unusual jobs you could have.

 

A drive back from Wave Rock

Mulka’s Cave near Hyden

The cave is full of Aboriginal rock art, which is rare in south-west WA.  Archaeologists have dated artefacts found there to as far back as 400 years ago.  The hands on the roof of the cave are said to have been made by the giant Mulka who lived there.  He had been born cross eyed and couldn’t throw his spear accurately to hunt so he caught and ate children.  After he killed his mother, he fled south and was hunted down and killed by the people of the district. They left his body to the ants as they did not want to give him a proper burial.

The Tin Horse Highway, Kulin

The tin horses were created by locals out of farm junk to advertise the town’s annual bush races which take place on the first weekend of October.   There are over 30 altogether.

Thrombolites, Lake Clifton

More ancient living fossils.

But what’s the difference between Stromatolites and Thrombalites I hear you cry?

And finally some chilled out roos …

Dumbleyung – a little town on the big stage

Donald Campbell is the only person to have set both land and water speed records in the same year.  The land speed record was set in July 1964 at Lake Eyre, South Australia. We discovered today that the water speed record was set on Lake Dumbleyung near the town of Dumbleyung in Western Australia on the afternoon of 31st December 1964. Campbell achieved the double with only hours to spare.  A replica of his Bluebird K7 jet engine hydroplane was commissioned by the town for the 50th anniversary of the record and unveiled by his daughter Gina Campbell.  Bluebird reached 276.33 mph (444.71 km/hr) to set the record.

Hundreds of people visited Dumbleyung for the 50th anniversary only to find that the pub had recently closed when the owner ran into financial trouble.  This was a double whammy as it was outside the pub that Campbell had announced to the world he’d broken the record and it was also New Year’s Eve.  One of the visitors decided to buy and restore the iconic building and it’s now open for business again and contains a shrine to the great Donald Campbell.

A drive out to Wave Rock

The weather was still dreadful south of Perth with heavy rain and gusty winds.  We weren’t impressed either to find out that the temperature back in Brisbane is 30 degrees. Inland looked considerably better with sunny days but cold nights.  We picked up a self drive map which would take us on a loop East, as far as the popular tourist spot of Wave Rock.

Day 1

Our drive started in the historic town of Guildford which has National Trust status and sits at the southern end of the Swan Valley.  James Street is famous for its antique shops and cafes.

Our first overnight stop was York (beginning to feel like we’re in England) which also has National Trust historic town status.  The council provides a free 24 hr rest stop at the Avon River Park with power, which is the first time we’ve seen this on our travels. The rest stop is also close to the main street.  As well as the heritage walk around town, Barclay Books bookshop is well worth a browse, there is a motor museum, a ye olde sweet shoppe and a well stocked IGA.  We could probably have happily spent another 24hrs here.

Day 2

On the way to Bruce Rock, we stopped off at Australia’s smallest bank at Shackleton – it probably also has Australia’s shortest opening hours.   Bruce Rock is an interesting town. The centrepiece of the main street is a sculpture park, memorials to servicemen and women and an amphitheatre.  There was pop music playing at top volume through loudspeakers which slightly spoiled the reflective mood of the memorials.

Day 3

We had our morning tea at 54 Mile Gate of Rabbit Proof Fence No 1.  In the mid 19th century, a certain Thomas Austin thought it would be a good idea to bring a few rabbits to Australia for hunting.  Their numbers quickly spiralled out of control and rabbits became a serious problem.  The Western Australian government decided to build three barrier fences.  Fence No 1 is 1,822.4 km (1,139 miles) long and stretches from the south coast to East of Port Hedland in the North.

The 2002 Australian movie ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’ is well worth watching.  It was based on a true story of three Aboriginal girls who were forcibly removed from their family in the North so they could be taught how to assimilate with the white population at a camp in the south.  The eldest girl realised they could follow the fence back to their home and the movie depicts their journey and the authority’s attempts to find them.

Wave Rock

Very impressive and well worth the drive. I’m sure Jonathan can add something about how it was formed geologically.  I just know it was something to do with water and erosion of the granite over millions of years.   The local Ballardong people call the rock Katter Kich and believe it was created by the Rainbow Serpent.  You will notice that there is an unsightly wall along the top of the rock which we assumed was to stop daft tourists in unsuitable footwear slipping on the wet rock and falling to their death.  In fact it was built to funnel rainwater to a storage dam.

A short distance away is the very aptly named Hippo’s Yawn.

To be continued …

Feed me Seymore!

In the world of carnivorous plants, it’s a little bit disappointing that the ‘real things’ are somewhat less spectacular than Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors, but they have still fascinated me since childhood and poor Ann has on many occasions had to suffer some bizarre house plants from all over the globe. These plants evolved in such poor circumstances that they have turned to eating insects to supplement their diet. I had a lovely selection whilst in London, and Samford is home to a rather splendid pitcher plant on our al-fresco.

So when I took a walk up the desolate granite dome of Bruce’s Rock in Western Australia, I couldn’t help but notice that the mossy, peaty dampness was prime Sundew territory.

I was not disappointed, with three distinct species of Sundew being identified in half an hour of searching. Sundews, like the better known Venus Fly-Trap, actually grab their victims in their sticky little paws. Not with the same ferocity of the Trap, but with a more gentle caress lasting a few hours.

These plants are quite tiny – The size of a 20c coin or smaller, so are often overlooked. They flower too, with their long flower stalks just beginning to shoot from the centre of the rosette.

I’m looking forward to finding more 🙂

 

 

Perth

Even though the weather forecast was for heavy rain and strong winds, we couldn’t put off travelling further south any longer.  The last time we visited Perth was Easter 2005 for the wedding of our friends Anna and Ed who we met in the UK when Anna and I taught English at the same school in Wiltshire.  Anna is from Perth and the wedding took place at the Sandalford Winery in The Swan Valley to the East of Perth.

It had been pouring with rain on their wedding day too but I’m sure Perth must see the sun sometimes.  We had a great catch up with them over the weekend and also enjoyed sitting on soft furnishings again.

Their cats Jazzie and Mischief weren’t as pleased to see us, as Winston has had a hatred of felines since he was a puppy.  He became finely attuned to the bells on their collars and went berserk at the slightest tinkle.

What cat? Where?

Winston was a hit with their young son Danny though but the poor lad developed puffy eyes after intensive Winston snuggling.

Kings Park in Perth ticked all of the Bradshaw’s boxes for a stop.  Loads of parking space for the campervan and parking is free.  The majority of the park and botanic gardens are dog friendly – only the Federation Walkway is closed to dogs.   The café is also dog friendly and you can sit and have a coffee taking in the extensive views of the city and the Swan River.  The gardens are immaculate and there was an army of gardeners working around the park.  We were lucky with the weather too, as the rain held off for the morning.

We also had a walk around the historic port of Fremantle and a fish and chip lunch at the harbour.

We found a fantastic caravan park called Queen’s Grove Caravan Village in South East Perth.  All the amenities are brand new and the park is spotless.  The heavy rain and wind arrived on Monday morning when we were booked into the Fiat garage to get the handbrake issue finally fixed.  Luckily they were happy to let Winston sit in their warm waiting room too.  He turned out to be an excellent meet and greet Spoodle.  New windscreen tomorrow.  It will feel strange not to look at a squiggly windscreen crack anymore when driving along.  We thought we had better get it replaced before crossing the Nullarbor because it’s probably only one large stone away from shattering.

A Beach Walk

We’ve seen a few echidnas in the wild on our trip but they’re difficult to photograph.  They’re shy and usually run for the nearest cover where they curl up in a ball.  This one was quite happily strolling along the beach.

It’s always a lovely walk when you’re joined by dolphins close to shore (also difficult to photograph as you don’t know where they’ll pop up next).

It sounded like we were walking on bubble wrap on Sunset Beach and then we realised what was popping – hundreds of tiny Portugese Man of War jellyfish.

The beach at Cervantes is covered in thick piles of seaweed which they say is left in place to stop erosion of the sand and to provide food for birds.  It’s quite stinky though which a certain spoodle loved.  All the rolling around in smells brought on the zoomies and a digging frenzy.