Nanga Brook Camp

After a restful afternoon we went for another walk in the opposite direction. After exploring it we returned to a little bridge and it was there we picked up a walking trail that was wide and well maintained. It was the walk we would have like to have done in the morning. Something to come back for. We walked along for a while before coming back to the van. We had leftovers for tea and watched some YouTube before bed.

Dwellingup: Folk in the Forrest and Nanga Brook Campground

We were home for two nights before setting off for Dwellingup. I shopped in the morning and bought more food for the weekend than I thought we would need. It was just as well as the food van didn’t arrive and we had to cater for all of our food, except the excellent breakfast on Saturday morning, of course. Some folk went into Dwellingup to get extra food, but we actually didn’t need to.

A highlight (for me) was Stephen and Rob singing the policeman’s song in the Dome as a practice for singing it at the Trinity School for Senior’s concert in a couple of weeks time. They both got into the spirit of the song and made it quite funny. I took three photos, but because the Dome is actually a shape with vines covering it, they came out rather green. I’ve corrected as best I could in this photo.

The blackboard session can be boring, but in fact this year was an interesting mix, with our own David Cutler singing as well.

Other highlights were the evening ‘session’ with drinks and food (there was a bar and we provided our own food) and various musicians and singers contributing.

Yesterday there was a presentation on sex in folk music, interesting and funny in part, but also going to the outer edge with some of the material. Then, the final concert featured Hot Toddy and the Red Sea Pedestrians as the last two acts and I enjoyed them very much. Hot Toddy is a group of musicians and their singer is a Scottish lady of mature vintage, with a soft voice and great sense of humour. Of course, they commemorated the 275th anniversary of the Battle of Culloden. As she said, a big event will be the 200th, but she won’t be around. Culloden was the last battle between the Scots and the English and afterwards the Scots lost many of their rights. It was a crushing defeat, with a terrible aftermath.

The Red Sea Pedestrians features two women who are marvellous commedians and also perform as the Joans of Ark. Along with some brilliant supporting musicians they provide wonderful entertainment.

Then, it was time to move on. Many people had already left, but as we didn’t have far to go we were feeling relaxed about being on our way. In Dwellingup we used the excellent facilities to refresh the van. We could have had hot showers and done some washing as well, using the facilities provided for cyclists, however we are not going to be away for much longer. A coffee at the cafe set us up for searching for a place to stay. After exploring many options we booked into the Nanga Brook Campground. I also checked the weather and found there was a warning of severe weather, with a storm and possible large hail. But by the time I found out it was too late to outrun it, so we drove to our campsite instead. We had a very heavy downfall soon after arriving, but our site, being slightly slopey, drained well. And that was it for the storm.

We are loving this spot. Trees have been cleared to make way for the campsite, thought new ones have been planted and are very pretty. But, we have a gurgling brook close by and are surrounded by tall forest. As this is not actually a national park people can bring their dogs, but it still managed by parkstay so that we could book online.

This morning we went for a walk along the brook. There is another campground further along and also one near the old townsite which is in the opposite direction (so we haven’t seen it yet). There was enough of a population to have 80-100 children attending the two room school.

A very large bus arrived and parked nearby, with a group of school children. They appear to have gone off for a long walk. So, no guarantee of quiet here, but the setting is so lovely and we have four bars of 4g, so it’s close to perfect for us.

We have booked for two nights and will return tomorrow (Tuesday).

Martin’s Tank Campground

Conto Beach

By coincidence Marie, Geoff and Glenn have come to stay a couple of nights at Preston Beach. We decided to catch up in the late afternoon. We were a bit sad to leave Conto, but interested to come to stay at Martin’s Tank Campground near Preston Beach. on arrival we were supposed to check in with camp host, but being tired from the drive we went straight to our site. Marie and Geoff picked us up shortly after and we drove down to the beach, then to their rental cottage, which has views over the ocean. After a good catch-up and fish and chips from the General Store Geoff drove us back to our campsite.

We had hot drinks and some fruit and yogurt, followed by our last chocolates whilst watching an episode of ‘Fires’ on ABC iview.

Public parking within Martin’s Tank Campground.

I didn’t get a photo of our campsite as we were a bit focussed on getting ready to move by 10:00 am after a late start. The camp host came to see us and told us about the walk trails and public parking, and we first of all moved there and did a short walk. Then took advantage of the dump point before driving out of the campsite to a little parking area at the beginning of another, longer walk.

Stephen went out walking whilst I’ve been relaxing in the van with my second coffee of the day.

Sorry for the smears on the iPhone camera lens, the sort of thing you don’t notice until photographing water and skies. The water is really clear.
Paperbarks near the lake.

Conto National Park Camping

At Conto Campground

We found it hard to drag ourselves away from the festival. We caught up with old friends after Stephen’s workshop, had some morning tea, and only left when a choir came on that we were sick of. We headed for Margaret River for a late lunch and shopping. Margaret River cafes were so disappointing. Either they didn’t open on Sundays or they were shutting as we arrived. We ended up at a Bakery and had wraps. Fortunately the IGA wasn’t disappointing and we got all that we wanted.

The best Margaret River could offer on a Sunday afternoon.

The drive yesterday was beautiful, I had forgotten how nice this area of the south west is to visit. I had booked our campsite in the morning and we did our usual thing of driving around the loop looking at the individual spots before we settled on this one. There were a few kangaroos around. But then, when we decided to have afternoon tea disaster struck. I asked for my tea in one of the new plastic keep cups we were given a few days ago, thinking it would be safter for drinking on the bed. It was a little hot so I transferred to the top to hold and discovered that Stephen had forgotten that it was supposed to be screwed on. A big cup of tea spilled onto the bed, and some on me. After standing up and assessing that I wasn’t burned we surveyed the disaster on the bed. Our doona was soaked. We dragged most things out and took the cover off our mattress topper. The foam was slightly damp. We were able to pile things onto the picnic table that is part of our campsite. Eventually, some things dried and I also had a clean cover for the mattress cover and a spare sheet. Our doona is made of feathers and that dried after a couple of hours. There was a strong wind and we had to make sure things didn’t blow away.

We have a functioning bed even though our doona is stained and doesn’t have a cover. A couple of items should be OK when washing, but I found the mattress topper cover cannot be washed, so it may not be possible to use it again. I use a doona cover on the mattress cover as a bottom sheet, and that may be enough. We have stains, but fortunately not on the actual mattress that came with the van, just the IKEA mattress topper.

After settling down with a new cup of tea we assessed the overall effects of the spill and decided that in the greater scheme of things, this is just a blip. However, I did start scheming about having a second night in this location so that I could fully enjoy it, which fitted with Stephen’s plan to do a walk on the Cape to Cape which is accessible from the campsite.

This morning we woke up and had our cups of tea (I was allowed to have mine in bed), had some breakfast, and set off on the walk. We put sunscreen on and covered up as best we could and don’t seem to have any sunburn, a great blessing. The walk was lovely, though bees near the campsite as the peppermints are in bloom at the moment, then flies where the path went further from the beach. We found a beautiful spot with a bench seat and we are going back there presently to enjoy the evening light.

From the Perch

I was taking photos on my real camera (not the iphone, and discovered that I have some dust on the sensor. I’ve done some electronic cleaning, which appears to have helped (testing by photographing plain surfaces and the sky, plus I’ve been able to clean up the spots on the photos in Lightroom. So, hoping all is well because my tiny full frame camera (Sony A7c) is my favourate camera for walking as it’s so light to carry, has a folding screen so that I don’t have to worry about damaging it when walking, and it is very capable even with the little folding kit lens, that helps to keep the weight down.

We had some leftover hot food for lunch with sourdough bread bought at the IGA. Stephen managed to open our new jar of marmalade after putting his bowl of hot food on top for a little while. Brilliant Stephen!

After 5;00 pm we walked back to the seat on the Cape to Cape walk to see the sunset. There was cloud and a little sea fog, which made for mostly subdued colours, but we enjoyed being out enjoying our perch above the beach. We had tuna and salad for tea.

I have some photos of the many wildflowers on our walk to be posted in the next blog.

Dunborough Songfest 2021

The Dunsborough Songfest didn’t go ahead last year due to COVID. In fact, there is to be a discussion after the afternoon concerts on the way forward, given that we can expect that our COVID free status will change next year. This year we’ve been able to go ahead if there is no worldwide pandemic because our border controls are working.

We’ve had a very busy week, but yesterday morning we were in a great mood because we were setting off on another adventure in the van. I decided we should only take breakfasts, enough food for simple lunches, and the leftovers from the meal I cooked on Friday, and just buy the rest of our food. It made for a much simpler packing experience. There were still clothes and technology to pack, but we had filled up with water the day before and there just wasn’t as much to do. We were able to leave by about 10.00 a.m.

We went down the fast route of the freeway, then Forest Highway. This is mostly a four lane highway and there are roadworks happening to extend it, which will mean there is only a short section left to complete. It makes for fast and safe travel. We stopped at the John Togneti Rest Area for a coffee break and pushed on to Busselton for lunch. We had though of having fish and chips, but there was also a pleasant takeaway cafe, with some indoor seating, and we decided it felt better to be outdoors. There was no wind yesterday and the temperature was ideal, getting a little warmer during the afternoon, but comfortable all day.

I had a BLT and Stephen a bacon and egg roll. We shared a ginger beer with a twist, followed by a locally made icecream, all the while sitting looking out over the water. There has been extensive development of the foreshore, with the little train still running and a shark net for swimming. The new playground features a replica sailing ship and there is a new two story pub. The Visitor Centre is also located in this area.

We lingered until about 3.30 p.m. and set off for Dunsborough. We had a plan to try some wild camping up near the school which was the venue for last night’s concert. Initially we parked up just to test out the access. There was a wash away at the entrance, but by going to one side it was fairly smooth. Then up over a culvet. Our first parking spot was on a slope, but later a car moved and we went into the vacated spot, which was pretty level. We were within walking distance of the school, but decided to take the van down for the concert and it felt a little sketchy to leave it there in daylight.

Coming back in the dark was a bit of a worry, but we got into our parking spot without too much trouble. We were very glad to have worked it out in daylight. There had been a lot of comings and goings as we were in the parking area for a bike trail. One young person had reminded us that it wasn’t a camping area, which made us feel somewhat uneasy. But, the overnight was peaceful and we made the decision to go to nearby Meelup Beach at about 6.30 a.m. Of course, that meant we were at the beach when the ranger came and she thought we had camped there overnight. She told us gently that we should book into a caravan park for tonight.

As we had found the wild camping experience quite stressful we were only too happy to comply. After attending a 9.00 – 10.30 a.m. workshop we headed for the caravan park and booked ourselves in. We will have lunch here before heading out to one of the afternoon concerts. Last night’s concert was great because it was a taster of many of the different choirs and small groups who will be performing today and tomorrow. Many were excellent, a few so so, and one or two bad, but as they all sang only one song it made for an overall good experience. We met with Cherry who is singing here with her choir and also connected with someone who had come to our house in Cannington for a rehearsal. She remembered Matthew and also worked with Eversley at one stage and I think Eversley was also at that rehearsal.

This morning our workshop was with the Eneksis choir run by Michael McCarthy of WAPPA. He runs a continuous choir with students moving through their years and leaving as they graduate, so always changing students, but with the same wonderful outcomes. He took us through a long exercise to get in touch with our bodies, relax, and find our best voices, then we sang a couple of peices with the choir. The first one I knew, so it was fairly easy, but the second one was a challenge as we didn’t have enough copies of the music and I had never sung it before, though I’ve heard this choir sing it. Still, it was an incredible experience and I was able to sing much higher than I normally do due to the effect of being surrounded by good voices. Also because of the pre singing preparation. It reminded me how much I love singing this type of music, rather than just popular songs and the Working Voices repertoire.

Sunday morning at Dunsborough

After lunch at the caravan park we went to one of the venues to listen to choirs. We left before the end because unfortunately listening to community choir after community choir becomes quite dreary. We drove back to Meelup Beach and followed the carpark to the other side of the beach. Afternoon tea and a rest later we went for a walk along the path to the Castle Rock beach. It was quite warm and we were glad of having lots of trees and bushes for most of the walk. We saw a few kangaroos, including one with a joey in her pouch. She was the most wary of the roos, the others seemed used to people.

The evening concert at the primary school was great actually. We had a lively and funny presenter, back by popular demand from previous years, and most of the choirs were of a high standard. The Electric Barbercats stand out. I don’t like barber shop quartet music generally, but they were into sending it up, with funny songs that sounded like most barber shop music at the beginning, until they got into the lyrics. They produce a really good sound and it was very entertaining. Of course, we had Eneksis to finish off the evening.

Cherry, our friend from Victoria Park and Working Voices (who now lives in Northam) is attending with her choir and we caught up with her briefly on Friday night, but sat with her for the concert and had time for more catchup as the concert finished at about 9.00 p.m. Stephen was tired and a bit anxious to get ‘home’ as he wanted to do a workshop on being a choir director this morning, but bowed to our request to stay a bit later. The bar was open, there were savoury platters of food available, and some singing, although as you had to stand we gave up and sat at the tables to talk.

This morning we woke to another sunny day. Although we didn’t get up early we managed to get everything done and arrive back at the primary school 10 minutes before the workshop was due to start. The coffee van hasn’t arrive yet and I’ve made coffee in the van where I am sitting writing this blog. At the moment our plan is to skip the final concert and do some shopping before setting off to Contos, a national park campground about 60 kms south from here.

Lake Ninan to home

After lunch and a rest at Lake Ninan it became clear that we didn’t want to actually leave. As the afternoon wore on Stephen got out the outdoor chairs and we put them in the picnic shelter to have good shade and comfortable seating and we spent the rest of the day there. Changing out of shorts into long trousers was a help in keeping flies at bay.

With all the cloud it wasn’t clear that there would be a good sunset, but just after sunset it began to glow pink and eventually became quite firey. I spent time walking around trying to get the best shot.

The evening meal was easy with leftovers from Saturday night and we had a good night’s sleep. On Monday morning it was windy, cloudy and there was even a little rain, but it cleared later with mixed cloud and sunshine.

Our drive home was in two sections, first going to the Bindoon Bakery for lunch, then taking the fast route home via Tonkin Highway. We arrived before 3.00 p.m. and didn’t feel particularly tired. The unpacking went the usual way, a bit messy and I haven’t put all of my stuff away yet, but so long as things are out of sight I don’t mind too much (in my former study which is now a sort of store room).

We have about two weeks at home before leaving for the Dunsborough Songfest. We have to then come home as we have a Working Voices Choir gig before leaving again for the Folk in the Forest weekend. We went on a wait list for this event and were lucky enough to score a camping spot due to a cancellation.

There are quite a lot of musical events in the next few weeks before Christmas, one WV event with two rehearsals, and two Mackie Street Singers gigs that we can actually do. Stephen is getting together with a friend to do a song at a concert in the city. As well, Marie and I are working on getting Mum’s business sorted. We now have been granted Probate and have started sending out letters to her investers. We are also setting up a Deceased Estate bank account with her bank where money can be safely transferrred or cheques desposited.

We have a leaking water pipe in the shower of our van and I’m hoping it can be repaired when the van goes in to have the heater installed on the 14th December. The work around is to use the tap in the kitchen to fill our basins of water for washes. We don’t usually shower anyway, just use two or three basins of water for soaping up and rinsing off. The kitchen is a step away from the bathroom so it’s not too inconvenient.

See if you can spot the girl on the top of the van in this slideshow. Like me she was taking photos of the sunset, but with more elevation! I’ve included a few photos from the morning as well.

This video is much better when viewed in Youtube.

Cleo was found today, an incredible outcome. We camped at the Blowholes Campground this year on our northerly trip and feared that the beautiful place was forever changed into something so sad. It’s hard to put into words how relieved and happy we feel here in WA. We are very thankful she and her parents are reunited and she appears to be unharmed.

Wongan Hills

On Friday we had lunch in ‘Cafe of Note’ – we are not sure if the cafe was here last year or not, but it is the first time we have been there. It has two rooms and the larger one is music themed. After eating Stephen asked a man about shade for parking our van and we ended up having a long discussion. He is the partner of the woman who owns the cafe and is a piano tuner. He still works in Perth a couple of days a week and spends the rest of the time in Wongan Hills. He and Stephen discovered lots in common with music and aquaintances in the music scene in Perth.

They sometimes have music at the cafe and we said we would be back for the evening session. The Aroretum had a bit of shade and we had a rest there, followed by a walk, then back to the cafe. The owner was singing and the man we had spoken with, Alan, played a short keyboard electric piano, supplemented with a separate sounding keyboard, whilst singing as well. We had fish and chips and joined in the singing as much as we could. We were more impressed with his keyboard skills than the singing, perhaps, but it made for a really interesting evening. There was one other couple and a single man who sat in the other room, but looked in to smile at us.

We planned to stay at the free camping spot where we have stayed before, but had difficulty actually finding it in the dark. By the time we did we felt pretty silly as it was obvious, once we knew to head off over the gravel towards the hall, the bear left. Still, we had a good nights’s sleep and were ready to head over to the cooked breakfast before 8.00 a.m. Then Stephen suggested that we take our van out to the Reynolds Reserve and do our own breakfast there. As it meant having our toilet with us I was happy to agree.

This meant we did the walk through the reserve on our own schedule and were back in the van again before the sun became too fierce. I’m a bit disappointed in my photos of the verticordias, but as I’ve been photographing wildflowers so much this year I focussed on enjoying the abundance instead. And, the the flowers are not yet at their peak owing to having lots of rain recently.

We returned to town for lunch under a tree in a parking area just one back from the main street. That meant being on hand to have devonshire teas and look at exhibits. By the time we left the van the stalls were being dismantled, but markets can be a bit boring anyway, I’m sure we didn’t miss anything.

I had some chicken to cook, so we moved house once again, chasing better shade, and parked outside of the pub. The sun eventually came into the van, but we persevered and had a good meal, plus have leftovers for one or two more meals.

Our next priority was the Saturday night stargazing at the airport. The airport is just on the edge of town and we arrived around sunset. We had to dig out our camping chairs to join the ‘class’ waiting for the presentation. This time we had Phil of (can’t remember) who also does presentations in Karrijini at Dales Gorge campground. He was a showman and liked to surprise us, have little quizzes and generally mess around. He had three telescopes, all manual, which needed frequent readjusting to take into account how fast our Earth is rotating, but it was an excellent evening of fun and learning. It even included a bit of astrology. He had a green lazer to point out stars to us.

I didn’t feel that the night was a clear as it could have been, perhaps dust in the air as it is very dry here. But it beat last year when we had so much cloud. Afterwards we easily found our way home, had some fruit and yogurt, and went to bed. I set our alarm for 7.30 a.m. this morning and we woke up naturally at around that time.

Today we will, of course, take in the vintage car display and do some van services (no need to specify) and head off.

After a bit of a look around this morning we decided to go to Lake Ninan to have our lunch. The water is quite high after the rains and covers a large area. The wind coming over it was cooled down a bit and we had parked in the shade. Whatever our original plan we found we couldn’t leave as it’s so nice to be at this lake. After a rest and coffee we’ve been sitting outside. The wind is too strong at times to have the screen over the sliding door, which meant we were plagued by flies inside. It is more comfortable to be outside than inside, we still have flies, but we are cool enough.

Jennacubbine to Gabbi Quoi Quoi lookout

After a walk around in the morning we left Jennacubbine for our next overnight park up. This is also on WikiCamps and isn’t a designated camping area, but other people have stayed there and we didn’t have any problems.

We had to level up the van as there were no flat spots. At the lookout is a board featuring information about the restoration of farmland in the area. After a restful afternoon we took a walk back down the road leading to the lookout as we had noticed quite a lot of wildflowers on the verges. It is only a kilometre back to the main road and Stephen went the whole way, I shaved off the last bit as I felt I’d done enough.

Yesterday was mostly overcast, but we did have a bit of blue sky and a pretty sunset. I put the drone up after the walk, but the footage was quite dark and I thought I’d fly again this morning. But it was too windy. Anyway, the batteries need charging and as we are having a cafe lunch today I’ve left them working away in the van. We are getting better solar today, but still have not had the van batteries below 91% at any stage, and so far this trip haven’t gone below 97%. We use the electric kettle, my coffee machine and milk frothier and the hair dryer. We haven’t needed heating even though the nights are cold. Cooking an even meal seems to do the trick of keeping us warm enough until bedtime.

After a restful morning we’ve driven to Wongan Hills to do van services: water, dump, rubbish and shopping. We now have the programme for the Wildflower Festival and have booked the tour out to see the verticordias at 9.00 am tomorrow. We can have a cooked breakfast at the Visitor Centre at 7.30 so only have to get up, wash and dress in the morning. Earlier starts are not really a problem now that sunrise is so much earlier.