During the night the wind had dropped away to nothing and we slept very well compared to a few recent nights where the wind had flapped away at the tent for much of the night. Sometime very early in the morning – or maybe in the middle of the night – some rain set in – not overly heavy and no wind with it – but just gentle constant rain on the tent. As we awoke the drizzle continued and we stayed in bed as long as bladders would allow. The rain eased off and we got up but it was a wet pack-up – the first time in three months of travelling where we had to pack things away damp, wet and/or muddy. The positive of travelling though is that we put the tent up again later that day so it’s not like going home from a camping weekend and having to dry everything out somehow.
We hit the road and the weather was a bit dismal – a good day for driving though and we decided to head through Albany and work our way down to Denmark where we could set up for a few days and go exploring on day trips. Out to the north as we drove along were the spectacular peaks of the Stirling Ranges which – after Amy and Josh had spent some time there 12 or so years ago – we decided to pass by this time around.
We stopped in at plenty of lookouts and beaches along the way and then eventually decided to stop at the Ocean Beach caravan park in Denmark (or really about 10 minutes drive outside the main town centre). The unpowered sites were called the “Outback Area” and it literally was way out the back of a huge caravan park. We chose a spot that was protected from any wind in a forest of trees “out the back”. The tents we saw in the nicely grassed powered sites were very exposed and were being blown around crazily while our tent wasn’t moving – one tent had virtually collapsed with the wind buffeting it. The caravan park was pretty ordinary – we’d prefer to be out in the bush – but we struggled for bush camp options (national parks, for example, charge around $30+ for a family to camp in a sometimes pretty ordinary location; with no facilities but a pit toilet – for $10 extra at the caravan park 20 minutes away you get hot showers, camp kitchen, tv, wifi, kids playgrounds etc).
Once camp was setup we did a few hours touring around the Greens Pools (amazing! good find Colleen), Elephant Rocks, and William Bay. It was windy so there wasn’t any swimming unfortunately but the sand was perfect and the water colour was superb – and the smooth rocks slid down into the pools. Spectacular location.
On Tuesday we had a slow start – blaming it on the West Oz timezones which have shifted us two and a half hours behind. No one else in the caravan park seemed to be in a hurry either! The boys, as always, found other kids to play with – Cammy disappeared at one point finally to be tracked down playing with his new friends Josh and Emily. We finally hit the road and headed towards Walpole visiting the Valley of the Giants then a lunch stop and walk at the Swarbrick Art Loop (which was a bit out there artistic-wise) and then out to the highlight of the day which was the Mt Frankland lookouts.
The new lookout is fantastic – a bit similar to Sealy Lookout in Korora – but the true adventure is the fire tower lookout with a step climb, then 300 steps, then two ladders, to finally reach the top of a massive granite boulder/outcrop where for decades the fire towerman had to keep watch for smoke during the fire season. There’s even the old hut at the base where the towerman used to live for weeks on end. The view from the top of this outcrop was 360 degrees and spectacular. It’s so high you actually feel like the boulder has got a wobble going on.
We headed back into Walpole – the whole area is full of creative and unique people with alternative produce such as leather-makers, ugg boots (there’s enough sheep around), small breweries, chocolate makers, meaderies (if that’s the term – maybe just stick with honey-wine makers…), toffee, cider makers, lots of B&Bs and of course, wineries (not something we’re dragging two disinterested kids along too unfortunately but they were popular with some of the people we were staying with at the caravan park).
We cooked at the camp kitchen and it was a nice group of people who were staying there.