Perth to Norseman


11 October.  Fremantle. We briefly been here a week ago but it needs more exploring. It basically is a suburb of Perth. This is the first we saw of Australia when we arrived, back in 1970. We visited the shipwreck museum. This museum has a lot of history on Dutch ships which were stranded in the mid 1600s.  Also the history museum. Here a lot of information on early migrants. We were not migrants who came here because of hardships in Holland, but it still brought back a lot of memories.
Fremantle is very busy over the weekend. Restaurants and cafe's are overflowing and there are people everywhere. You really feel that you are from the country.

13 October. We will be leaving the big smoke. Finally got our broken glass and handle from the oven repaired.    In the afternoon we visited Brian and Rita Crombie who we met in Barn Hill. Now we are slowly going to the motorhome rally in Pengally.

14 October travelled via Toodyay, Northam, York, Brookton to Pingelly. Toodyay and York are towns who have left a lot of their old buildings intact. All from around 1850 and mainly made from sandstone.
16 October arrived in Pingelly. The rally starts at the 17th but we are allowed inside. We booked for an oilchange which is a bit difficult to do by yourself when you are on the road. This blew the budget again which is a regular occurrence.

21 October. Rally finished. We had beautiful weather and met some very nice people. Today is overcast and we had some rain.  We have not parked on green grass since we left home and after close to 200 motorhomes have parked on it, it needs some water.  We spend three days in a national park 50KM from Pingelly where a few people from the rally also camped. The last day it rained cats and dogs during the night wit a lot of wind.  We left for Rockingham. This is a place south of Perth on the coast. Here I decided to drive back to Perth to have some adjustments made to the diesel pump.
25 October and we are back with Bram and Nel Goedegebuur. We had a pleasant two days and left Monday morning  for the workshop which only took 10 minutes and off to Mandurah.
In Mandurah we visited Leigh Huyser who we met in Barn Hill. We just fitted on their driveway. They have a beautiful house on a canal estate where we spend a very pleasant evening with another Dutch couple Leigh invited for dinner.
Next day a stroll through the centre. The weather had changed from fine to cold and windy. That day we drove around the Peel inlet and spend the night at the waters edge. My birthday but no restaurant in site to celebrate.
29 October. Off to Bunburry. We contacted Gilbert and Mary Ann Dingjan. They used to live in Townsville and are managing a huge motel here. That night we went to a Thai restaurant. That night is the first time in five months we spend in a "normal" bed. Next day we stopped at the dolphin discovery centre but the dolphins here are very irregular and we did not see any. We had seen plenty in Monkey Mia.
We decided to weave our way down south. Collie, Boyup Brook, Bridgetown, Nannup, Ballingup, Donnybrook and back to Bunbury. We lost the address of motorhome people we met a few times over the years. But they called us when we would be calling in. So we will be backtracking a few KM.  The distances are like in Holland. Every 30KM there is another place.
The landscape is hilly, very green grass and plenty of cows with here and there a small national park. The roads we take are mainly tourist roads. Very scenic. The landscape varies from grazing to natural forest to plantation forest.

The wide open spaces have disappeared.
Most camps from now will be amongst the trees.
Jarrah Park national park.

Ironstone Gully Campsite.
One of the few times we are not camping alone.
Half way between Donnybrook and Capel.

1 November.  Susan did the washing in Nannup caravan park but the drier only managed to dry the washing partially. In the afternoon the washing on the line. We camped high on a hill amongst plantation pine. Next day to Ballingup, here someone left his wireless computer on so this update is done on a strangers computer. We had this a few times during our travels.


                                              Just a selection of flowers I found in a 10 Meter radius from the bus.
3 November. Donyybrook to Capel and back to Bunbury.  We stayed a day with Ron and Jean whom we missed when we were in Bunbury the week before. They drove us around Bunbury and Susan visited some more op shops.
The weather is deteriorating. Cold, rain and a lot of wind. We spend a whole day just parked in front of the Busselton jetty.
6 November. The weather is still no good. Visited the Busselton history museum. I don't know if this is an indication of the mentality of the local population but this is the first time I saw a chastity belt. Off to Dunsborough and the Cape Naturaliste National Park. Next day made a tour through the lighthouse. Saw a pod of whales. They pass the coast closely here. We later walked closer to the sea and saw plenty more. The weather is still cold and miserable. We camped near the coast with the view of the clouds and the sea. Had happy hour with fellow Queenslanders.
  Lately the weather has been like this.               Cape Naturaliste lighthouse.       There are still plenty of flowers.
7 November. Followed the caves road and went in to every turnoff to the beach. The coastline is spectacular. Ended up in Margaret River. This is the prime wine growing district of West Australia. We booked a wine tasting tour. Found another spectacular overnight spot overlooking the ocean. Wales were jumping out of the water a few KM out to sea in front of us for hours. The second night we stayed here we got woken up 6.30 AM by the ranger who told us that we could not sleep in the car there. He probably does not work during the weekend and this was Monday morning. This is the first time in 5 months that this happened. The wine tour on Sunday was very pleasant. 19 People in a bus going from vineyard to vineyard. They only poured very small glasses but before lunchtime I felt I could not drive anymore. 

                                                                              Not a bad spot to stay the night.  Prevelly Beach
10 November. Woken up early by friendly ranger. On the road by 7.45 AM. This must be the earliest so far. Normally we are ready by 9AM.  Drove in to some more bays till we ended up in Cape Leeuwin. This time we only went in to the grounds and not the lighthouse. A lot of photos in panorama but the coast has to be viewed in wide angle. We spend the night on the side of the road in an abandoned logging site.

Cape Leeuwin.  You can just see the lighthouse.
   Named after a Dutch ship which charted the coast first.  The Southern and Indian Ocean meet here.

Now we are heading in to the rainforest. It is as wet and cold as in North Queensland but the trees are completely different. Giant Karri and Jarrah trees. They are tall straight trees with very durable timber. Some trees have a cabin at the top which was used as a fire lookout in the dry season. There are three you are allowed to climb in. The tallest is 75 M. I climbed the two tallest. We went to the other one but it rained and this can be dangerous to climb.
12 November. Manjimup. Last time we were here the bus had gearbox trouble and we had to stay here a few days.

    Pemberton fire lookout tree.                                  You can just see the tree behind the bus.             Karri forest.

From Manjimup where we visited the forestry museum we we went south to the Shannon National Park. We stayed here two nights. It is an official National Park campsite. If you want a warm shower you have to light the fire in the hot water system. The last day we did the Great Forrest Tree Drive. 45KM of dirt road through an ever changing landscape. When you have the radio on you can have commentary along the way. Here is a clump of trees which are 300 years old and 85 M high. When we finished the drive we decided to go to Walpole but Tomtom directed us the wrong way which happens regularly when we come of unsealed roads. When we found out after a few KM we decided to continue towards Northcliffe. When we got to Northcliffe I saw that there was a lot of water under the bus. We travelled a fair bit of unsealed road and at one stage I heard what sounded like driving over a tree branch. It must have flicked up and broken the tap under the bus. Luckily the only store in town was one that sells everything so the problem was quickly fixed. On the way we saw an unused fire lookout tree and I walked up mount Chudalup. Windy Harbour is the coastal town. There was not a lot of information about this but the D'Encastreaux National Park which surrounds it has a spectacular coastline. The road to it is very good. Even the unsealed roads we have done are smooth.
16 November. Visited all the sights around Windy Harbour. Drove back to Northcliffe and towards Walpole. Stopped half way to spend the night in the bush. Too many trees for the satellite TV to work. I have been lucky lately to get a signal in the bush.










     Left:  300 year old Jarrah trees 85 M high.        Top:  D'Entrecasteaux National Park coastline.

17 November.  Walpole is a small village situated besides an inlet.  There is a lot of tourism because of the forest. Here is the treetop walk, giant Tingle trees and scenery. We did all this apart from the treetop walk which we did previously. We camped at the base of mount Frankland. (411M) and walked up the rock which looks like a miniature Ayers Rock.





                  Tingle tree north of Walpole.                                                                  Natural bridge Albany.
After we left Walpole the weather slowly got worse. We camped in a council caravan park at Perry's beach. 25 KM before Denmark. We stayed here 5 days. 1.5 of them were good weather the others constant rain. The day we arrived here a couple from Townsville went for a walk and the man got a massive heart attack and passed away. The same age as me.
23 November left for Denmark. this is becoming a real small tourist town. All day it rained and got worse. We spend all afternoon parked at a lookout point near the coast. There were still a lot of surfers. At the end of the afternoon we drove north to the Stirling ranges. In mount Barker to a laundromat. The internet cafe is next door. The computers were out because the roof had leaked so much. The washing machines trip out every now and then because of the water damage.
From here we drove north to the Stirling Ranges National Park. A 50 KM unsealed road through the park. Because of all the rain the dust was not too bad and the road was good. The highest peak is 1085 M. We only walked up one that was 200M. The view from there was already nice enough. Not a lot of tourists here. We only saw two cars.
25 November. Albany. Here a lot of old buildings and the place has a friendly atmosphere. Our overnight stay was half way a mountain with a view over the city. Next day we went to the whaling museum. The weather forecast is still rain every now and then and they were not wrong. We spend all morning in the museum and walked through town in the afternoon. Spend the night again in the same spot as the night before.
27 November. visited all the spectacular coastal sights. Natural bridge and blowhole. The sea was fairly calm so the blowhole was not very spectacular.

                                                                                                 Salmon Hole.  Albany.
Drove towards Esperance. Spend the night in a parking bay by the side of the road. Next day Bremer Bay. A quiet town but the starting point for the Fitzgerald River National Park. After 35 KM unsealed road we got to the park and the road was closed. Another 30KM back to the highway. Luckily the unsealed roads are very good here and I can drive as fast here as I do on the bitumen, around 85 K.H. From Jerramungup towards Hayden is mostly sealed but still a lot of dirt road. Where the road turns north there is a free camp behind the community hall. When I drove in there I got bogged in the grassed area. Luckily the lady who runs the hall just passed and phoned one of the neighbours to help me out. As soon as he hooked his four wheel drive up it was over in seconds. I made sure to stay on the gravel.


                                     Bogged in Needilup.

To go to Wave Rock near Hyden is a 400KM detour. We heard conflicting stories.
Some say it is not worth it while others say it is. Only one way to find out.
 I think it was. We took an unsealed road to Hyden but again very good.
It was a nice warm day for a change. The wave is really impressive.
You can just see a wall they build to catch all the water that falls on the rock
and is channelled in to a dam. The dam was overflowing. The amount of water
flowing over the rock the last million years or so is what caused the shape
of the rock. It is about twice as long as you can see on the photo.
30 November direction coast and Esperance
1 December stopped for two days in a very basic camping area at Quagi beach,
70 KM west of Esperance. The weather has improved but still chilly at night.
3 December Esperance. Rain and cold. All we do here is shopping  and internet. 




Wave Rock in Hyden.

 Late in the afternoon we drive to Cape Le Grand National Park.  We are lucky to find a camping spot in the park this late. The park is one of the most popular parks in WA. The massive granite mountains and sparkling white sandy beaches are spectacular. I walked up two mountains Le Grand and Frenchman peak. Fairly steep but rewarded with a magnificent view. We spend four nights in the park. The camp host we have met in Casino when we were there with Christmas and they were in Exmouth when we were there. Here in WA you can help out the park rangers by volunteering to be a park host. This entails to collect camping fees and do some cleaning. You can stay for free. There were also some Dutch tourists who we had over for happy hour and dinner on Sint Nikolaas day.



Cleaning fish I did not catch                         Feeling right at home.                                                 Cape Le Grand.
                                                 Cape le Grand.             You can just see the campsite and Frenchmen's peek. 
7 December. Slowly heading north towards Norseman. Salinity is a big problem in a large part of WA. Here every lake has a thick crust of salt on it. The wind is still strong but at least not head on and the weather has improved. Camped on the side of the road somewhere and drove to Norseman. 50% of shops in the business district were permanently closed. Susan posted some books to friends and I filled up with water and fuel. Water over the next 1000KM is hard to get and fuel very expensive. The price of fuel has come down considerably over the last few month but it is still 20 cent more expensive than in Perth.


   Salt lake between Esperance and Norseman.                             Camels were important for transport in the 1800th.