'While we're living, the dreams we had as children fade away' - Fade Away, Oasis
G'day blog fans, sorry for the long delay since the last blog, we've been travelling down the South West of Australia in a campervan, check out www.wickedcampers.com for a look at the amazing selection of individually spray-painted campers they have on offer.
We had a fab week and it reminded me of being younger and travelling down south on holiday with our caravan. Memories and dreams of old came flooding back and when the classic old Oasis tune 'Fade Away' came on our camper stereo I couldn't help but pick up on the lyric above. Travelling lifts a huge weight off your shoulders, no mortages, bills, deadlines, this, that and the other. It gives you time to think and dream, reminisce and make plans.
Anyway, enough hippy talk, we've got a lot of catching up to do so here goes....
Thursday 18th -Sunday 21st October
We had a very lazy time during this period, staying at Lynn's friends Amy and Simon's place 6km from the centre of Perth. We caught up with a load of washing, booked a campervan for 22nd-29th October, I cooked dinner one night, we went out one night and Lynn got her first haircut in 4 months!
We visited the Perth Royal Mint museum and it was really cool to watch a gold bar being made right before our eyes. The moulten gold was poured into a mould, cooled for only 30 seconds, and then a solid gold bar had formed. It was beautiful! While Lynn was visiting the hairdressers I also bought some old Northern Soul compilations to play in the campervan we had booked.
Monday 22nd October
David Taylor's 32nd birthday.
After catching up on some sleep and chilling out for a few days it was time to hit the road in our fab Wicked Campervan. We picked it up around 12pm and after getting some shopping for the Eski (coolbox) we hit the highway to Albany. We cruised down long straight roads, passed by National Parks and wineries and arrived in Albany just as the sun was setting. We decided to get most of the driving over with on the first day so we could take our time cruising back up the coast to Perth over the next week.
We checked the van into a campsite just outside Albany and headed into the small town for some noodles, which we ate in the back of the van. Very romantic! We headed back to the site and read some local brochures before having an early night.
Tuesday 23rd October
Ross Lang Easton's 29th birthday - enjoy your last year in your twenties!
We both slept well and woke at 7am, had breakfast and checked out just before 9am. We then drove 20km out of Albany to Two Peoples Bay. It was appropriately named as for a while we were the only two people there! We then went on a 3km coastal walk around to a little beach named, oddly enough, 'Little Beach'. It was stunning. Pure white sands, some rocks for climbing on and crystal clear water. I did go for a dip but didn't last long as the water was freezing. The West Coast is decididly cooler than the East.
We walked back to the van and drove to Emu Point and Middleton Beach. Lynn then took over driving duties and we drove the coastal route to Albany, bought some food for lunch and dinner and then stopped on the coast for lunch, looking out at the ocean.
It was back on the road to a lovely little town called Denmark, 50km west of Albany. Denmark is a lovely little place that I would recommend to anyone visiting Western Oz. Indeed South West Oz is full of quaint little towns and villages, beaches, rivers, national parks and wineries. It's beautiful. Western Australia is 5 times the size of Texas and only 2 million people live there, with over 1 million living in an around Perth. As a result the South West (and North although we'll need to come back to do that) are beautiful, undeveloped and stunning. Clean air, clean water, millions of hectares of protected park, it's lovely.
We drove out of Denmark after a walk round town and headed to Green Pools and Elephant Rocks and enjoyed an hour or so clambering about. I went for another quick dip but didn't last long as the water was very fresh! We headed to the Valley Of The Giants and booked into a campsite for only $16aus per night. I cooked Pasta using a gas stove but the gas ran out before I could stir fry the onions, peppers and sauce!
Wednesday 24th October
Woke up at 7am but didn't roll out of the campervan until 8am for a shower and breakfast. It was only a 6km drive to the Valley Of The Giants national park and the tree top walk. I'll stick some photos on the flickr site but check out www.valleyofthegiants.com.au
The tree top walk is 600 metres long and costs $8aus per person. It was well worth it and we ended up going round twice, no need to pay the second time. At the highest point the walkway is 40 metres above the forest floor. The scenery and giant trees were stunning. After that we did the Ancient Empire walk through the massive red tingle trees and took a few photos at the foot of massive trunks.
We then drove the shorr distance to a town called Walpole and had a picnic lunch before heading on to Pemberton to climb the Gloucester Tree - 61 metres high and not for the faint or weak hearted! I'll stick some photos on flickr but check http://www.pembertontourist.com.au/pages.asp?code=130 for a great photo of the climb. The Gloucester Tree lookout was built in days gone by so locals could look out across the land to spot bush fires. The view from the top was breathtaking, in more ways than one!
We decided to drive to Augusta to save time the next day and we bought a 3-cd collection of Johny Cash songs for the trip at a gas station. Towards 7pm the sun was setting and it went a marvellous shade of pink, red and orange. It was gorgeous, although it was hard to drive in at times, blinding.
We arrived in Austa just after 7pm and had fish'n'chips at a local cafe. The campsite on the outskirts of town was closed and after driving around we decided just to park in a public carpark for the night with toilets nearby! Lucky Lynn is a cheap date!
Thursday 25th October
We woke up at 6.45am after a good nights sleep in the carpark. We packed the van and headed to Cape Leeuwin where the Southern and Indian Oceans meet. We had breakfast looking out at the crashing waves and then had a paddle at a nearby beach before heading to the lighthouse. The lighhthouse had one of those signs that tells you the distances to various places in the world and it was roughly the same distance to Sydney as it was to the South Pole.
We headed back into Augusta and out the Caves Road towards Margaret River, stopping off to visit the 3 mains caves - Jewel, Lake and Mammoth. http://www.australiassouthwest.com/en/Natural+Wonders/Caves/default.htm
The caves were fascinating. Our muscles were sore from climbing down and into them after the Gloucester Tree climb the day before. I think we'll need to book into a gym at some point.
We then drove along the coast to Margaret River, one of Australia's main wine regions. We arrived at 3.30pm and booked into the Riverview Caravan Park who also arrange wine tours. We booked on to one for the following day and got a $15aus discount as we were staying there - ideal.
As we had stayed in a carpark the night before we immediately made use of the shower facilities! We went into town for a beer at the excellent Settlers Tavern before having Pizza and a bottle of wine at Goodfellas restaurant.
Friday 26th October
It rained last night! I'd forgotten what rain was like. It was quite cold during the night and we were glad of our sleeping bags. We've used them quite a lot on the trips we've being doing in Oz and it justifies us carrying them around SE Asia for 3 months.
After breakfast and a bit of reading we headed down to the BBQ area to meet the rest of the people going on the wine tour with us. We had a BBQ lunch and the tour guide told us the best way to taste wine. Pour a little into your glass, swirl it around for a bit to let the scents come flooding out and then smell it. Repeat this two or three times and depending on the wine you might spot a different smell each time. When tasting wine you don't need to swallow it, the taste comes from allowing the wine to rest in your mouth, however if you want to get drunk then swallow.
After lunch and the all important advice we headed by bus to some wineries, a cheese factory, a chocolate factory, a venison farm and a brewery - not a bad day for $50aus each!
At the first winery - Zanadu we tasted 4 whites and 3 reds before heading on to Redgate winery for 3 whites, 2 reds, 2 rosies and 2 ports. Our group mainly consisted of 'older' people in their 50's or 60's. SW Australia is full of retired Australians travelling round in amazing campervans or caravans (some have satellite dishes) 'spending our kids inheritance'. Good one them, we met loads of nice people walking around towns, in camp sites and on the winery tour.
Due to the fact that some people were getting a little tipsy it was probably a wise decision to visit the cheese factory and the venison farm next. We bought some cheese, sausages and pate for the campervan. Next stop was the chocolate factory and it was fab, a kids dream. Chocolate buttons were free and after several handfuls I could feel a sugar rush coming on. We bought milk chocolate and white chocolate to satisfy our cravings.
The last winery was my favourite and was called Woody Book, a boutique winery. A winery is considered boutique if it produces less than 250,000 tonnes of grapes each year. The Woody Brook is run by an English couple and we were very lucky to have one of them as our host. She told us about all the awards they had recently received and that due to the fact they only produce 50,000 tonnes of grapes per year, they are very boutique. The wines were lovely and our hostess was charming and friendly. On the way home we stopped at a brewery but Lynn and I both agreed that Aussies should stick to wine, Toohey's New excepted.
We had toast, beans and venison sausages for dinner and talked to a nice old guy in the kitchen who was touring round Western Oz with his wife for 4 months. The couple across from us in the park had sold their house, bought a caravan and were travelling around Australia for 4 or 5 years! It is incredibly easy to get work out here.
Saturday 27th October
It was cold and wet last night and there was even a clap of thunder during the middle of the night. We got up at 8am and checked out by 10am, heading to Prevally Point where the Margaret River meets the ocean and there is some of the best surf in the world. The waves crashed into the shore and it would have been nice to have stayed a week to see a surfing competition, but on we went.
We drove up to Busselton to visit the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere http://www.busseltonjetty.com.au/
It was really windy and we were glad to reach the end of the jetty, 1.8km from shore, and get into the warmth of the underwater observatory. The jetty is so long as the ocean is so shallow at Busselton. It's only 8 metres deep 1.8km out to sea. Ships now dock at Bunbury so Busselton Jetty was unused for a while before being restored and an underwater observatory put in at the jetty head. We went down into the obsevatory to look at the spectacular fishes and coral that have made the jetty home.
We then braved the wind to get back to the shore where we had lunch and then decided to drive to Bunbury and Busselton didn't look very lively for a Saturday, although it is a lovely town.
Bunbury didn't look incredibly lively either so we decided to drive to Freemantle. As we didn't arrive until late we again had to use a carpark as our home for the night. We got a Thai takeaway and a couple of beers and parked down by the beach.
Sunday 28th October
The clocks went forward and we woke up at 7am. As we were practically on the beach we got out and went for a nice walk along the beach. We then checked into a camp-site, had a shower and got a bus into Freemantle. Freemantle is a lovely old town, full of old style buildings and heaps of cafes and pubs. We had lunch and a beer at the 'Sail & Anchor', walked around the market and walked around town for a while.
As it was a sunny day we decided to go back to the campsite and get some beer and food to sit outside. It was very relaxing sitting outside our campervan with a beer and the Sunday papers. I think we might buy one when we get home!
Monday 29th October
We had a nice relaxing night, checked out at 8am and headed 20km up the coast to Perth to hand back our home for the last week. We've had a brilliant week and campervans are a great way to get around Australia and see as much as possible. It would have been nice to have had the time to go up north-west but time is marching on and tomorrow we fly to Adelaide where we will probably stay the night before hiring a campervan to drive to the Great Ocean Road and then along that to Melbourne over 2 or 3 days.
We're now back at Amy and Simon's catching up on some washing and gossip. I'm about to doa bit of research into campervans and also a music festival being held this Saturday on Phillip Island, 120km out of Melbourne. www.chillisland.org
Hope all is well wherever you are.
Lots of love and lemonade
Murray and Lynn