Tag Archives: Australia

Augusta to Bunbury via Albany

Yes it’s not an imaginative title but what that doesn’t cover is the distance involved…

The drive to Albany was some 370km, so to break up the day I took the coast road and stopped at the tree-top walk at the Valley of the Giants, near Walpole. At a very simple level it’s nothing more than a forest. Except someone decided to build a 40m high walkway through it. Stunningly beautiful and it’s nice that they allowed full wheelchair access too. It was just a bit unnerving to see just how far trees sway in even a small gust of wind. For once luck was on my side, as I arrived early enough to get a tour of the ground level part of the site so got the full insight into the Red Tindle, a native tree that grows 80m+ tall. It turns out that the trunks rot from the inside and that people used to park cars inside one of them – until it fell down…

From there I continued to Denmark, only to find that I’d overshot the Elephany Rocks by 15km. Naturally I backtracked to see them and the Green Pool. The rocks are pretty impressive – it certainly does look like a herd of elephants trying to storm the beach! It’s just annnoying that the weather took a turn for the worse, being very windy and relatively cold (“only” 20 degrees) so I didn’t stay long. Good thing too, as  after 410km on the road I finally reached the hostel at 7pm (having left Augusta at 10am) to find the end of the free Sunday BBQ!

I spent Monday in Albany – and really could have done with an extra 24 hours to see it properly. I started at Whale World, the last place where commercial whaling took place in Australia – and it closed mainly due to economic reasons (could really do without hearing that one again). It’s a fascinating place and getting an idea of the size of the larger whales takes seeing to believe it. Some pretty gruesome descriptions of how whales were killed too – harpooned in the brain with a mini-grenade that explodes on contact. It’s the method still used by the Japanese so I can certainly now understand why people are against whaling.

From there I headed back into town, intending to talk a walking tour of the town. Annoyingly the flyer I had didn’t mention that the afternoon tour was “by special appointment” so I had to make other plans… I still went to see the Brig Almaty (a replica of the first ship to enter King George Sound) and the local museum, before heading back south to Torndirrup National Park to see the many natural sights – the Gap, natural bridge and Stony Hill were, in very different ways, spectacular. The Blowholes were something of a disappointment as the weather wasn’t right to see them (after an 800m walk even more of a disappointment) but that’s how things somethings work out.

One big thing I’ve noticed is how expensive beer is – a six pack of Hahn is around $18/£13. I can get 12 for £10 in the UK!

The 1849 backpackers is fantastic – by far the best place I’ve stayed at so far, mainly as the people there were fantastic. Like most hostels there’s a fair few people working and using it as a cheap bed but unlike the Underground hostel in Perth, they were far easier to get on with. One iPad being handed roundwith everyone taking turns to play music, an Australian Katy Perry lookalike and a not to crazy Californian made for a very good night (along with Canadian, Dutch, Scottish and English for good measure).

Today was more intense behind the wheel than the drive down to Albany. 525km later and I’ve made it to Rockingham, via Bunbury.  The 150km from Mount Barker to Manjinup in particular was pretty gruelling as it was nothing but forrest and identical looking roads – except for the only set of traffic lights I saw all day before getting to Bunbury.

Bunbury itself seems pretty nice – I’ve not spent too much time in the town as there’s far too many family members in the area, so I spent the afternoonwith my 2nd cousin – who shares my “pixie ears” as they’ll be called forevermore…

Tomorrow I’m seeing the final part of the Aussie side of the family, before going back to Fremantle on Thursday and Cottesloe beach on Friday before leaving WA for Alice Springs on Saturday, with Uluru following that. Can’t wait….

Augusta and around

You can tell when its been a mixed day…

This morning started well enough at Cape Leeuwin – named after a Dutch boat that first explored the area. It’s a big highlight, as the Indian and Southern Oceans collide at the cape. The lighthouse tour was also worth the effort.

Less so was Augusta Museum. I struggled to stay for 45 mins though a complete mixed bag of memorbillia (in fairness Augusta is a very small place, so to have a museum that raises some interest is an impressive feat). A plate from last year’s royal wedding in the same section (cultural) as the bell from a ship which sank (SS Pericles) made for a strange experience. The ship itself is far more interesting, having been owned by White Star Line and sinking in 1910. They also had some interesting pictures on local whale beachings, with letters from children in a big book. A bit strange being invited to open books and cabinets to see more…

It’s taken a while to spend the $400 I came out with, mainly thanks to spending most of the last week with family. I finally had to get to an ATM (easily found) an headed for Jewel Cave up the road, only to find out that it’s tour only and that they had sold out for the day. 30km further up the road is Mammoth Cave, thankfully self-tour so was able to spend an hour having a look around. Impressive sights inside and it’s certainly big.

Being pretty close to Margaret River I took a quick look around and visited the local Coles for food (think Tesco) before heading back to Augusta. It’s an interesting enough place but even 24 hours is being generous for a solo traveller – it’s probably much better in bigger numbers…

Tomorrow is the epic drive to Albany, some 360km. Assuming I don’t find anywhere interesting to stop on the way…

Detour to Augusta and pictures

Yesterday I went up to Cape Naturliste. Near Dunsborough, it’s the northernmost part of the 100km long cape that forms the far south west of Australia. A really enjoyable 90 minutes, though the flies were murder at times!

From there I spent yesterday taking a slow drive south (having finally managed to find a decent(ish) hat in Dunsborough), taking the far more scenic Caves Road over the Bussell Highway. Not that there’s much difference anyway…

I also found Prevelly beach – a surfer’s mecca, though obviously devastated by bushfire. The beach is unlike any I’ve seen before – waves far bigger than any I’ve seen and a stunning location. Somewhere to go back to, though I doubt I’ll have the time to do so on this trip.

I’m currently in Augusta – it’s a tiny place right at the bottom of Australia – you can’t go further southwest than here. It sits on Cape Leeuwin, where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet. I’m spending a few hours here this morning before heading up to Margaret River for the afternoon.

The hostel I’m at is pleasent, if a little basic. And it lacks aircon, an essential in this heat.

I hadn’t planned on coming here but it looks like it might be the right decision – there’s plenty to do!

Tomorrow will be the 5 hour drive to Albany. It won’t hurt too much thanks to the aircon in the car but will be a long drive – I’m hoping to see the Valley of the Giants on the way and do the tree top walk too.

I’ve finally used the first set of camera batteries too – it managed 800+ pictures so I’m pretty happy with that! I’ve uploaded a few to Facebook but you don’t need an account to see them – just go here to have a look.

Right, time to explore Augusta!

Rotto, Rockingham to Bunbury and Dunsborough

It’s been a busy few days!

Saturday was spent on Rottnest Island, so-called thanks to the native Quokkas that were seen as giant rats… they’re actually closer to mini-kangeroos!

2 Quokkas

 

 

I hired a bike and rode around the island. The advice I had from the tour guide I booked with proved invaluable – plenty of empty beaches to explore! It took it’s toll though, thanks to 12km on the bike in 4 hours. The boat ride was worth the effort though!

Since then I’ve been catching up with parts of my extended family on dad’s side, starting with Joan in Rockingham and heading down to see my grandmother’s sister in Bunbury before heading to Michelle’s in Dunsborough in the far south west. I’ve also hired a car – a tiny Suzuki Swift that I’ll be using to get to Albany over the next few days before heading back to Perth on Tuesday.

I’ve also managed a quick visit to Fremantle Prison – by far the oldest place in Westwen Australia, dating back to 1852(ish). It’s the home of the original WA convicts and is a fascinating place, having operated as an active prison til 1991. How they managed without toilets is beyond me! (buckets all the way til the end). I’ll be spending next Thursday in Freo so will have plenty of time to explore the Prison and other museums there further…

I’m heading south through Margaret River over the next few days, to Albany over the weekend and back to Perth for Wednesday. The car will get me there! More soon…

 

Day 1 in Perth

I’m down… under! Strange times following the flight too…

Since I flew with Emirates the change was at Dubai – and I was sat between Malaysian and Indonesian women. I must admit that trying to choose a suitable film for them to watch wasn’t easy… but watching Toy Story 3 & the final Harry Potter film whilst flying over Baghdad and Basra seemed appropriate.

From the 2 hours I spent at Dubai airport, it’s obviously an impressive place. Even from a distance the Burj Khalifa is staggeringly big.

Perth was far more interesting, thanks to the South American next to me having a big problem with the turbulance, going so far as to ask me “Are we going to crash?” Suffice to say I’ve had better flights.

Naturally immigration took ages, with far more staff dealing with the Aussie & Kiwi nationals than everyone else combined – luckily I found someone heading to the same hostel and I’m typing this from there.

The weather’s been a mixed bag. It was obvious a storm was on it’s way leaving the airport but didn’t prepare me for 10am – good thing I stayed in bed for an extra hour! Today has been sunny since and very hot – about 37 for most of the day.

It’s been a quiet day, simply getting my bearings around Perth and finding the extra bits I didn’t bring with me. Tomorrow I’m off to Rottness island – it’s a 2 hour boat ride (so not somewhere mother would go) but the scenery is supposed to be fantastic. I’ll find out soon enough…