After a lovely couple of days visiting family and touring wineries we were leaving the big smoke of Perth and heading further south. Busselton was our first stop.
Busselton Jetty Tourist Park – $40/night powered
This caravan park is straight across the road from Busselton’s famous jetty. Once again the weather was not favourable and a storm warning had been released by the Bureau of Meteorology for gale force winds. And we picked a caravan park right on the foreshore! The caravan park was superb with nice size sites and great amenities. They had an awesome camp kitchen which we used every day.
Busselton Jetty began in 1865. Tourism in the 1880s began to increase and the Jetty was also used as a stopping point for many passenger ships. Further extensions were made throughout the years creating the remarkable 1.841 kilometre length it is today, making it the longest wooden piled Jetty in the world.
Busselton is a reasonably large city about 220km south west of Perth. It has a city centre and its own suburbs. It is surrounded by wonderful wetlands and forests while being so close to the ocean. I found it such a lovely place to visit and it is definitely on my list of places to go back to and spend more time. After the first day of exploring the jetty and foreshore we walked into the city centre, which is an easy walk.
Tuart Forest National Park
Timber cutting operations were carried out during the 1800’s, allowing Busselton’s jetty to be built and to secure the timber industry. A lot of timber was removed and by the 1900’s, local property owners finally lobbied the government to stop the timber cutting and to preserve the forest. If it wasn’t for these people there would definitely not be any gorgeous forests left in this region now. The majestic tuart tree grows only on coastal limestone 200 kilometres on either side of Perth. Tuart Forest National Park protects the largest remaining pure forest of tuart in the world. It also has the tallest and largest specimens of tuart trees on the Swan Coastal Plain. Some trees are more than 33 metres high and 10 metres in girth. It was certainly very interesting walking through the forest. It was quite damp while we were there and plenty of mosquitoes. Make sure you cover up when visiting this region.
Margaret River Wine Region
The drive down along Caves Road to this region is just stunning with many wineries, cheese factories and distilleries to visit. We only managed to visit two wineries which is pretty normal for us, once we find a place we like we tend to stay there and enjoy the atmosphere, wines and hospitality.
Vasse Felix was our first stop and to be honest the only reason we only visited two wineries was because we settled in a bit too comfortable here. The service was brilliant and the wines are to die for. They have a section in front of the wine tasting area with floor to ceiling windows looking out over the vineyards. Complete with a comfy lounge area and a beautiful open fire. We ordered their platter for two for lunch and two glasses of Shiraz After a walk around the beautiful grounds we ordered our box of wine for shipping back home. To our surprise they said that as we had ordered a case of wine we were entitled to a glass of red each of our choice. So there went another hour or so, sitting and savouring the gorgeous wine and views.
Woody Nook has amazing grounds to walk through and we had the funniest time at this place. The lady serving was very suited for this job, friendly, jovial and loved a good joke. I noticed there was a sign saying they offer tea/coffee and scones. Always one for a good scone I asked if I could partake. At the time the owner came out and she asked him if he could serve this for me. So after being seated we were presented with two scones and plastic tub of butter and some jam. He then said I can only offer you tea as that would be a safer option. While he was off making the tea his wife came out and was mortified in the way the butter was presented and took it away. She then asked I hope he is making you tea? “As that would be the safer option” This was definitely our Fawlty Towers experience and will be something we will never forget. Oh and the wine was nice as well.
Leeuwin – Naturaliste Nation Park – Jarrahdene $30/night unpowered
This campground is suitable for all types of rigs and easily accessible. The sites are large and well protected and each site has a fire pit, table and chair. There are well maintained long drop toilets and one of the best camp kitchens I’ve ever seen in a National Park. I must say Western Australia does know how to set up campgrounds really well. This campground is surrounded by peppermint woodland and was once the site of a timber mill in the late 1800’s, if you go walking around you will find remnants. We based ourselves here and visited the following accessible places.
Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse
Cape Leeuwin lighthouse is located on the headland of Cape Leeuwin which is the most south-westerly point on the mainland of Australia. It is where the Southern and Indian Oceans meet and is Australia’s tallest lighthouse. It was first commissioned in 1895 and was not automated until 1982. The lighthouse keeper’s cottages are still there and kept well maintained, although not used for their original purpose any more it was certainly an insight of what life would have been like here in the 1800’s. It was a fairly calm day when we were there albeit constant wispy rain. But those ocean swells were massive; I can’t even imagine what they would be like on a really windy day.
The Water Wheel
An absolutely interesting place to visit was the water wheel which is not very far from the lighthouse. It was built in 1895 to supply water to the builders of the lighthouse and later for the lighthouse keepers. Water was supplied to the wheel from a nearby natural stream. Water travelled over a wooden flume and as water flowed over, it activated a ram pump which sent water to the lighthouse. It delivered about 1 litre at every stroke. The limestone deposits have calcified the structure and they have placed an electric pump there to prevent drying and cracking.
Hamelin Bay is on the south-west coast of Western Australia between Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste. As with all this part of Western Australia, a jetty was established to service the timber milling operations which was built around 1882 and extended in 1898. There are only a few piles of the original jetty that remain. I was hoping to see the stingrays that apparently come right up to shore at the jetty and boat ramp. But with the howling winds that day, I’m not surprised they didn’t show up.
It really is a pretty area and plenty of places to go for a walk up and over the rocks to get a brilliant view of the area.
Coalmine Beach Caravan Park, Walpole – $35.50/night unpowered
On the way to Walpole we called into The Greater Beedelup National Park which has a $15 per car entry fee to see the Beedelup Falls.
There is a 600 meter board walk that takes you around the falls; this includes walking across a 25 meter suspension bridge. Within this area there are Karri and smaller pockets of Jarrah and Marri trees. As you meander along there is a small and pretty series of rocky cascades that lead to the falls. The falls are really quite pretty it is such a very pretty and diverse area with maiden hair ferns and mosses everywhere. There is also a challenging 4.5km walk between the falls and the Karri Valley Resort. We didn’t have time to do this as well, so yet another reason to come back to this pristine part of Western Australia.
Walpole-Nornalup National Park – The Giant Tingle Tree (free entry)
Hilltop Road winds through a very special red tingle and Karri forest. The road into the Giant Tingle Tree is gravel and accessible by two-wheel drive vehicles. However, it is not suitable if you are towing a caravan. Due to this, we checked in at the Coalmine Beach Caravan Park to off load the camper. Not realising that the site they allocated us we needed to have our car and camper (which has a combined length of 10 meters) become a contortionist. This was a very pretty bush site however; it was on a bend with light poles and rubbish bins in front and a very narrow opening with low overhanging trees. Yep our worst nightmare but with Chris not to be beaten and with us nearly getting a divorce, about 15 minutes later with many, many backward and forward moves we finally had the camper in the site! It was a nice caravan park with great amenities but that site was the worst site they could have given us.
The red tingle trees can grow up to 75 meters tall. The girth of this tree is 24 meters and many of the larger red tingles can be over 400 years old. Two kilometres along this one-way road will bring you to a spectacular lookout over the Frankland River, Nornalup Inlet and Southern Ocean.
Three kilometers after the lookout will bring you to the car park of the Giant Tingle Tree. This is the start of an 800m circular walk which leads down to the Giant Tingle Tree and the board walk. Tingles are the largest girthed eucalyptus known in the world. This area is within some of the most prettiest we have visited it is so diverse and ancient. The trees are absolutely massive, so tall they block out the sun. In the early days pioneers drove their cattle through looking for grazing country. However, as with most of this part of Western Australia, timber milling was the main industry. This area was also ravaged by bush fires in the 30s and 40s and surprisingly they survived albeit a bit charred.
A further 20 minutes of driving we arrived at the car park for Circular Pool.
Circular Pool has sealed paths all through the park and this was a really interesting pool to see. With stunning views and many lookouts and the abundant bird life we had the camera at the ready. The water is a really dark colour which is a result of the tannin which comes from the native plants as they break down in the water. The reason for the name circular pool is because as the water tumbles over the rocks it churns up the tannin in the water to give it a white froth. If you look at the water and the white froth as it flows, it moves in slow circles, very fascinating indeed. Marron, freshwater mussel and western minnow are found in these pools. This is all part of the Frankland River.
After visiting this fascinating area we then drove onto Nornalup inlet which is very close to the caravan park.
Riverbend Chalets and Caravan Park, Denmark – $32/night unpowered
This caravan park is out of town a bit in a suburban street; in fact it is part of a farm. You pull into what seems someone’s house and driveway. But down at the back of the property is a huge area and right next to the river. It certainly is very pretty and very green as is all this part of WA due to the rainfall. We were the only people staying here so found it very pleasant. Amenities are great and I would go to say well worth the money paid.
We arrived in Denmark on a Sunday and unfortunately everything was closed so we did not get the chance to enjoy their hospitality. From what we saw on our walk around town it is most definitely a place to come back to. Very pretty and the walk along the Denmark River was very picturesque.
Valley of the Giants Tree Tops Walk – Walpole-Nornalup National Park
The tree top walk is a $21 entry fee per person and is located 18km from Walpole and 52km from Denmark. Many years prior and prior to becoming a National Park, people were able to drive their cars right inside these giant trees. However, in 1990 that particular tree fell down, Tingle Trees have shallow roots and are very sensitive. Therefore in 1994 in order to protect these giant trees a design team was commissioned with the project of building a tree top walk which eventually started in 1995. It was designed to protect the beautiful giant trees and for this reason construction began using a minimum of machinery and no helicopters or cranes. And the pylons were erected by riggers using scaffolding. The spans used were fabricated in Freemantle and then taken to the site to be erected.
The walk is 420 meters long and consists of 6 x 60m lightweight bridge spans on 7 pylons, reaching a maximum height of 40 meters which was over a small creek at the bottom of the valley. The spans were designed to sway when you walk on it and that it did. Quite an unusual feeling especially when there was a lot of people all walking at the same time. You can look up and still not be at the top of the trees and looking down through the decking was just amazing considering how high you are.
Once you make your way down then you walk around the bottom and look at the trees from ground level. You are fortunate to view up close all the brilliant species of plants that grow in this moist area. The colours of the flowers are superb and the birds’ flying in and out of the plants just makes the whole experience something we will never forget. Once we completed our walk around the ground level we took advantage of the picnic area for some lunch. We were treated with a pair of red winged fairy-wrens to entertain us, they were walking on our table and strutting their tail feathers while doing their special little dance.
Greens Pool and Elephant Cove – William Bay National Park
Greens Pool is a stunning sandy white beach with striking turquoise green water and massive granite boulders located on the south coast between Denmark and Walpole. This wonderfully sheltered area is part of William Bay National Park and has a sandy white beach ringed by large granite boulders that prevent the swell of the Southern Ocean reaching the shoreline. You can walk for ages on the sand or in the shallows and go exploring for as long as you like. For us it was an incredible experience and something we have not seen before.
As you make your way up to the top of the boulders there is another walk taking you up and over to Elephant Cove, this is where the boulders look like elephants strategically placed and looks like they are walking into the water. We kept an eye on the swell of the Great Southern Ocean while walking through and I imagine during rough weather it could be quite dangerous.
Pallinup River Nature Reserve – Free Camping
Had a really good look around Albany today and we even treated ourselves to lunch in a café. All the usual supermarkets in this large town and everything you need to assist with topping up supplies are here. We took a drive out to the Marina/Boat Harbour in the hope to purchase some oysters and mussels from the market there. We were not in luck this day as it was closed. We enjoyed walking along the boardwalk at Middleton Beach and the magnificent views over the Princess Royal Harbour and surrounding areas.
The Gap & Natural Bridge, Torndirrup National Park
These are some pretty spectacular views of the Southern Ocean which in fact stretches to Antarctica. This area shares a lot with Antarctica, this part of Australia was once joined to Antarctica around 1350 million years ago. In fact the two continents collided and apparently is evident in the rocks. The two continents then broke away around 34 million years ago. This structure is 37.1 meters above the water level and this structure had to be built to withstand the harshest marine and wind conditions mother nature can throw at it. In fact every year someone is washed off the rocks by freak waves. For this reason it is most important you stay in the safe areas.
The natural bridge is a granite formation that looks just like a bridge. The bridge has been formed by the giant ocean swells.
After visiting all the wonderful sights it was time to top up fuel and food supplies in Albany and head onto our stop for the night.
We found this roadside stop at Pallinup River Nature Reserve to be very pleasant it is quite a large area back from the road right next to the river. There are shaded picnic tables, BBQ and bins plus plenty of shade if you are there during the heat of the day.
Esperance Seafront Caravan Park – $35/night powered
This caravan park is opposite the beach and a little out of town but was the cheapest one we could find for our night’s stay in Esperance.
The beaches are what make Esperance just stunning; every beach we visited along the Great Ocean Drive was jaw dropping gorgeous.
We completed the full loop of the Great Ocean Drive which starts off along Twilight Beach Road continues to Eleven Mile Beach road and then onto Pink Lake Road taking you back to the beginning. It is a 40km circular loop and allows you to explore the stunning beaches, rocky headlands, small bays, steep cliffs and hidden ocean pools. If you have a bicycle you can ride along the provided paths or of course you could walk. On a really warm day it would be so lovely to go swimming in all the beaches and explore the rock pools.
The Rotary Lookout offers you magnificent 360 degree views of the town and the archipelago. From here there are 2 walking trails for you to walk along.
The beaches have paths or steps to get you down to the beach for ease. They are all a long way down from the road, which makes for spectacular views. Seating has been provided for most lookouts and access to the car parks are welcomed. We enjoyed walking along the beaches and just sitting, taking in the views and watching the sun setting.
We enjoyed our sunset at the Pink Lake lookout with some nibbles and a beer. This lake used to be pink but since the building of the railway it was separated from Lake Warden and other lakes which would all periodically overflow into the lake bringing its salts with it. Of course there have been other environmental impacts and I guess over the years with not the right mix flowing into the lake it is now blue not pink.
Cape Le Grand – Site 7 $30/night unpowered
There are 2 campgrounds to choose from; Le Grand Beach or Lucky Bay. We primarily chose Le Grand Beach as the sites are set back behind a sand dune and protected from the wind. The latter has magnificent views of the bay but no protection from the wind. I guess it all depends on what type of rig you have and whether or not you are bothered by the wind. Yes it does get very windy here.
The campground was well set out with great camp hosts, hot showers, unfiltered bore water, rubbish bins and flushing toilets, there is also a well set up camp kitchen.
It has easy access to the beach and a walking trail up to the headland. You can drive along the beaches, however you do need to be super careful and well equipped with recovery gear.
As soon as you pull in you will be mesmerised by the beauty that beholds you. The whitest sand and most turquoise water will make you stand there in awe. We made our way down to the beach and when you walk on the beach the sand squeaks beneath your feet. This was our final meet up with Adam, Sarah and Isla, we first met them at Broome and we kept running into each other all the way down.
The sand is a very fine quartz and it originally came from the surrounding granite rocks and for millennia has been weathered by rain, wind and waves.The sand is very hard and has rough surfaces and this is what makes it squeak.
We came out here primarily to see the flowering plants and birdlife and there were plenty. Once again the beach is just gorgeous and I saw lots of tread marks which suggested cars drive along it. But I’m not so sure how safe it would be, pretty soft deep sand but I guess it comes down to your capabilities. I would be inclined to speak with the Ranger before attempting it.
Now this place is the jewel in the crown and by far the most beautiful place we have ever had the privilege of visiting. The bay is thought to have been named after St Elmo’s fire – a bluish flame-like electrical discharge that sometimes occurs above a ship’s mast. There is a huge sheltered picnic area with gas BBQ’s and toilets. Plus on the beach there is a rock area to your left where you can go fishing. We spent so much time there exploring the area and didn’t want to leave.
Harms Lake Rest Area – Free Camping
We are now sadly on our way home and said goodbye to Cape Le Grand National Park, this is one place we certainly want to revisit. We made an early start and stopped at Norseman to top up with fuel and food. This is where we met up with Michael and Annette again. We met them first at Wooramel Station.
We are now travelling on Highway 1, the Eyre Highway the Fraser Range. This rest area has your usual spot just off the road but then it opens up out the back with a very large bush area, where you will find plenty of shade, space and plenty of rubbish unfortunately. Which is a shame considering there are rubbish bins provided at the entrance. There are no toilets here so watch where you walk, it really was disappointing how inconsiderate people can be. However once we bagged up all the rubbish and cleaned up our site, we set up and had a really lovely evening. Except for the many bees hanging around. I had read they are looking for water as it is really dry out there and they were definitely hanging around our taps. So I put a bowl of water out away from us and they were happy to play there and leave us alone.
38 Peg Camp Site – (Free Camping)
We set off early and bumped into Annette and Michael again during our lunch stop. They were cooking up a vegetable soup ready for crossing the border. We had pretty much eaten all our fresh food and had just enough for this evenings meal so we were fine. We travelled together from this point and after a very long days driving we pulled into this site. We were trying to get to Bunda Cliffs for the night but we were all exhausted. Easy enough to get into a bit bumpy but fine for both of us as we all had off road gear. The views are just amazing and I can’t get over how high up we were and the massive drop into the ocean, you wouldn’t want to get to close to the edge or be walking around at night time.
We set up camp back a bit from the edge and when we set up it was really quite calm. So decided to set up the camper, bad mistake!! Oh my goodness to this day I still don’t know how things are still held together. I say it every time this camper is built tough the only thing that was blown off was that darn tropical roof. Neither of us got much sleep that night with the howling wind so made for a very long day the next day.
Wirrulla Caravan and Camp Site – $10/night unpowered
By the morning it was so calm and beautiful and after another look around we packed up and decided to call into Bunda Cliffs to check out the camping for next time. I would most definitely camp here next time. It has much better scenery and more camping choices. You can choose to camp near the cliffs in the open and exposed area or you can camp behind the sand dunes where it is more protected. We managed to get those beautiful photos you get and headed off towards home.
We topped up at the Nullarbor Roadhouse and made our way along the Nullarbor Plains towards Ceduna. So many things to look at along the way and lots of lovely scenery and dead boring scenery, it certainly has choices. They even had golf greens along the way so you can stop and have a game of golf.
Cleared the quarantine checkpoint at Ceduna for the border and after a brief rest, top up of fuel and food supplies we made our way to our destination for the night.
This campground is set up by the progress association and they have a honesty box for your money and you get the key for the amenities block from the hotel or general store. Note to oneself, if you arrive on a Sunday like we did, neither will be open. It didn’t really bother us as we have everything on board. So the four of set up with afternoon drinks and settled in for the evening. During our drinks a gentleman from the mechanics store headed over and he was involved in setting this campground up. Such a wonderful story of a town coming together and providing something for the travelling community. I take my hat off to this community for their dedication and wanting to provide something that is built so well. If you are calling through this way, make sure you pop in and support this wonderful community.
Worlds End Reserve at Burra Gorge – Free Camping
Said our goodbyes to Annette and Michael, hoping we will see them again one day on the road.
Our first stop was in kimba, I really love this town, being first settled during the 1870’s and as with most of this part of the country has very limited water, they rely on the winter rains. However, by 1908 it was deemed to be a good area for wheat farming. We had morning tea in one of the cafes and then took some photos of the silo art they have on display there.
After a very long drive we made it to Burra Gorge where our son Shaun and Partner Claudia and children were camping and waiting for us. After being away for just over 3 months the one thing that melted my heart, was to hear my granddaughter come running up the hill screaming grandma, grandma I missed you and ran into my arms.