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….