Home Again

This is Stephen’s stuff that he keeps with him in the dinette of the Sherwood.

We came through Roleystone on our way home yesterday. We had tried to phone first to let Marie and Geoff know we would drop in, but didn’t have a good enough phone signal. When we got there they were out. We went to the nearby cafe for a coffee instead and Glenn arrived and gave us hugs of welcome. Then as we were pulling out of the cafe driveway Marie and Geoff drove past and waved. So two close encounters!

We arrived home at about 3.00 pm, avoiding the worst of the traffic. It was very hot and after a bit of sorting we sat inside and rested to wait for the evening. I reversed up the driveway to give us better access to the door of the van and we put the awning out to give a bit of cover. We ran both the house air conditioning and the van, assuming that our solar would pick up most of the cost.

We will make the most of our two months at home to get things done. The Sherwood is booked into Ken Peachey for all sorts of things, I’ve sent Jason a long list. And we will get the Hilux serviced as well.

Leaving Albany

Mineral Springs, Gnowangerup

The above photos are from our evening walk on Tuesday. I’ve taken quite a few photos on my phone on our travelling day yesterday, but unfortunately my phone is back at the van and we are in the Katanning Dome, feeling satisfied after sharing a cooked breakfast.

We had a late checkout booked yesterday morning. It was fortunate that it was cloudy and a bit chilly in the wind, which made it easier to say goodbye to Albany and start our journey home. When we were young we drove from Albany to Perth in a day. Later on it went to one overnight on the journey. Now, we take three days. two overnights. Will there come a time when it takes a week!

We drove up past the Porongorups and through the Stirlings on Chester Pass Road, stopping on the way to take in the views from a rest area. We had lunch at the entrance to the Bluff Knoll road. We had hoped the cafe would be open, but it still meant that we had a lovely spot to have lunch and a short rest.

We stopped at Gnowangerup for a cup of tea and found a good spot with mineral springs. The original swimming pool for the town was fed by the springs until the 60s when they realised it was likely toxic. The town now has a conventional swimming pool, but one of the springs is quite fast flowing (a litre a minute) and leads to a small creek and large wetlands.

We pushed on to Katanning with the thought of a nice breakfast in the morning, but it might have been a mistake. We were parking up and I though Stephen was getting into the van to use our level, and started fiddling with the level on my phone. I happened to look up and noticed Stephen standing still and getting further away. I had used the handbreak, but was still in reverse, having not put the car in park, and it was rolling back. If I hadn’t looked up we would have hit the poles at the side of the parking area. Obviously I wasn’t operating all that well due to tiredness. Anyway, nothing bad happened, but it was a warning.

Today it’s onwards and upwards, with an overnight at Pingelly. Possibly in a caravan park as we might be getting into the heat. Katanning was quite cold overnight, and it was a good opportunity to run the diesel heater for a little while. I don’t know exactly why, but it’s suggested that it be operated about once a month. Albany was going to be windy for a few days and that was part of the incentive to leave, but Katanning is windy too.

Later on Thursday: we really enjoyed our breakfast at the Dome and did a little shopping on the way back to the van. Then set off. We took a break at a little Cultural Walk, we’ve been passing it so often and always wondered what it was about. The walk can be quite long, taking in several small salt lakes, but there are a number of parking areas to choose from and you could take a shorter walk.

Then on to Wagin where we went to a cafe for refreshments. Back at the Sherwood we noticed people admiring our setup and got into conversation with them. For the first time in ages we found ourselves talking with someone who was trying to avoid getting COVID, due to a chronic illness that he felt would make him very vulnerable. Nice people, they appeared to be on the road permanently, with a 4WD vehicle and largish caravan.

Our next stop was at Highbury where we had a second breakfast of fruit, yogurt and cereal at about 2.30 p.m. I felt very sleepy so had a long nap. By the time we were heading off again it was after 5.00. The Pingelly Caravan Park is council run and the phone number is at a shop, so no answer when we rang.

To avoid any problems we decided to take an earlier option and check out the Laze Away Holiday Farm in Poppanyining. It isn’t fancy, but we are in a nice area with trees and there are walks around the farm. This place is for sale, I think the owners are getting older and want to retire. It would be nicer in winter we think. But, we like that it’s not busy, with just a few guests and possibly some more permanent residents in various camp/caravan setups to the rear.

A very windy day in Albany, followed by a bit of overnight rain, then a calm, cloudy day

Yesterday (Monday) we spent a quiet day in the van avoiding the very windy day. Sami and Kim, pictured with us above, put us to shame when they revealed that they spent yesterday walking to Bald Head. Kim did manage to do a bit of damage to himself, but nothing a few plasters wouldn’t fix. We enjoyed lunch with them at the Emu Point Cafe and their plan was to do a walk at Two People’s Bay afterwards, whereas we walked back to the Rose Gardens Caravan Park, where we are staying tonight, and had a cup of tea and a nap.

Kim met Sami just before COVID. She is Austrian and they had to endure a long separation before Kim was finally allowed to leave Australia to visit her. He is able to get six month visas to stay in Austria, fortunately he is retired and has more flexibility for travel than her. She has had two weeks here and is flying back soon. He will leave in April for his next six month visit.

In the evening yesterday we went for a walk and found a couple of tracks/firebreaks that lead down to the bay, a little bird sanctuary. We hadn’t quite realised that it was possible until yesterday, after staying at the Golf Links several times over the last few years.

Because we had the time yesterday I cooked us a hearty lunch. Despite using a packet Thai flavouring and a packet of par boiled rice (Uncle Ben style, but the Community Co. label) the meal still took about 1.5 hours to cook. The meat was frozen at the start, so took longer than usual. Anyway, we had the time and by the time it was cooked we had a good appetite.

We’ve been trying to work out when we should return to Perth. Matt is not booked in to do surfing this coming Saturday, which moves one reason to get home early. However, it was the realisation that we only have two months at home before our next two month trip away that made me feel that we could probably go home fairly soon. Arriving perhaps by Friday or Saturday evening. We would probably need to have a couple of nights on the way, so that means leaving tomorrow or Thursday.

Today is quite a cool day, we wore jackets when we were out and both have jackets/jumpers here in the van. We will take an evening walk along the shore towards Middleton Beach. Being at a caravan park means we are doing some washing, of course.

On Sunday afternoon we went to a concert at the local CWA Hall. It was a multimedia presentation of violin, cello and video on the theme of migratory shore birds. The cellist is completing a PhD and asked us to complete a little survey to see if the presentation made us more likely to become involved in conservation of habitat for these birds. Obviously we supported his thesis in our responses. Sami and Kim were there and we chatted for a bit, but saved meeting up for the next day.

On Sunday evening we chatted with Matt for about 40 minutes on Facetime. He is amazingly patient as he doesn’t get a chance to tell us what he is doing. But, his support worker checked the diary and he isn’t booked in for surfing. I asked Matt if he was disappointed to miss out, but he put on his ‘neutral’ face, so I don’t know.

Cape Riche and return to Albany

I made notes at Camp Riche as we didn’t have enough of a signal to upload anything so I’ve included day and dates in the blog.

Cape Riche campground Friday 13th January, 2023

Yesterday at Cheynes Beach Caravan Park was a bit of a frantic morning with packing up, getting our washing in, and emptying and filling tanks. We bought hot drinks at the cafe before leaving the caravan park and went for a drive to check out the beach.

Then drove to Wellstead where we checked out the community centre and library. I bought honey and freshly baked bread. The bread was a bit of disaster as it wasn’t cooked through. It was obviously done in a domestic bread maker. I always choose a longer setting as I know it can be a problem. But, the honey is local and delicious.

The Cape Riche campground costs $20 per night and has flushing toilets and a cold, but enclosed, shower. The camping spaces are marked out and we had to vacate by 10.00 a.m. We have driven around to a day use camping spot to finish off our washing, etc.

Now we can relax and enjoy being here a bit longer. The beach here is short and rather rocky with lots of seaweed. You can avoid the seaweed, but we keep comparing beaches to the lovely sheltered and clean beach at East Bay, and we’ve not seen anything to compare with it. We walked over to the back beach, a walk suggested by our camp host, but even that didn’t seem as nice. The walk was very sandy and much tougher than it should have been and the beach sand wasn’t as firm as at East Bay, you can see where this is going.

At least our spot at the Cheyennes Beach Caravan Park had view, both of the ocean and the bushfire in front and heathland and rocks to the rear, plus heaps of kangaroos who stuck around for the camera.

The bushfire appeared to be mostly over by the time we left yesterday morning. On the way to Wellstead there was a section marked as having smoke limiting visibility, but at the time we came through it was clear. We saw a couple of fire trucks leaving, probably heading for the Donnybrook region where there has been a much more serious fire threatening lives and homes.

Stephen was wandering along the road and discovered that a couple of better campsites had opened up. So we decided to stay and paid for another night. It’s been a pretty warm day, but I felt too lazy to go in the water, what with dealing with wet bathers. We waited until after 4.00 p.m. when the sun is less intense to go down to the beach.

Saturday 14th January, 2023

We really enjoyed our stay in the second campsite at Cape Richie. We were closer to the sound of the waves for sleeping. It was lovely being closer to the beach for walks. I helped, I think, with a little fishing dinghy as a man and his daughter were trying to put wheels on to take it out of the water and up the beach. The waves kept pushing it away from him and the daughter was busy trying to keep it in place, so I stood on the opposite side for the placement of each wheel clamp.

It was much quieter on Friday due to fewer people camping and no swimming lessons. That contributed to our enjoyment. We had another utility camper next to us, one of the Explorer ones, which always seem more glamorous than the Suncampers. They have a fibreglass hull like a boat so they don’t need harsh edges. They are more expensive, of course.

On the way out of the campground we went to try to find a lookout walk. We started walking the wrong way (back to the campground) so were just able to check the beginning of the walk before heading off.

I now quite enjoy gravel roads as we use high range 4WD, which feels safe, and I feel happy driving at about 60kph which smoothes out the bumps. I think I’ve already said that we couldn’t do this in our Fiat camper as it was too jarring, especially if the corrugations went from shallow to deeper, as they do. This camper handles it beautifully. It is now appropriately covered in red dust!

We had quite a shopping expedition when we arrived back in Albany. We stopped first at Wellstead to empty the toilet, then drove pretty much straight through, just over 100kms. Our steps are still sticking and although I tried the trick of putting the button in the outward position it didn’t release. We’ve been relying on the small plastic step we use to get into bed and it’s beginning to deteriorate, with a long crack and bits falling off. The mission was to find another little folding step, just the same. After going into BCF, Anaconda, Bunnings, Spotlight, another unidentifiable shop I was able to find one finally at an auto store. The BCF was the only shop at a different place and we were able to get mini pizzas from a place next door for our lunch.

I spent money at Anaconda and Bunnings as well, so the long search was expensive, but has resulted in getting a step that looks the same, just a different colour.

When we put the Sherwood in to have the second battery connected and our new storage box installed I will ask them to remove and reinstall the steps. The problem arose back in Port Hedland when they were taken off due to no 12v power and then reinstalled.

Sunday 15th January, 2023

We are at the Golf Links car park, the only camper here. We’ve booked for two nights and it was good to have a peaceful place to go yesterday after our marathon shopping expedition. We are not sure how much longer we will have in Albany and it partly depends on whether Matt has surfing this coming Saturday. I’d like to be back to see it. Otherwise we will still be heading back this week, probably arriving Sunday evening, as we have things we want to do in Perth next week. I’m sorry to be leaving the cooler weather with access to lovely beaches, but it is a sign of a good holiday if you don’t really want it to end.

A little video from East Bay

East Bay Campground

This turned out to be an unexpectedly beautiful place to be. We had all sorts of weather, including a very windy night last night, predictable as we had put out our awning for the first time yesterday morning, with the help of our neighbour, and then I was so anxious in the night that we brought it in again at about 1.00 a.m. this morning!

The campground was otherwise located in quite a sheltered spot with a very steep road in. Further around the bay it was much more windy. Just opposite us was ideal for swimming as the waves were never really rough and the water was shallow for quite a way out. Somehow it didn’t leave us feeling sticky and too salty and other campers were using the sea water for bathing.

Our camping spot overlooked the beach and as we reversed in we could take advantage of our living room windows to enjoy the views. We enjoyed swimming, little walks, chatting with our neighbours, seeing dolphins, being entertained by a fire dancer, and a lightning/thunderstorm.

The family next to us was a couple with three daughters, all pre teens we think. They played boardgames a lot as there was so little internet. We had the frustrating experience of having notifications and emails download, but not being able to upload anything or stream shows. I found I had quite a few books downloaded on my ipad, this proved quite enough for me even though it means rereading books.

We were impressed that the family of five had a small campervan and made it accommodate all of them. One child slept in the pop top roof, two inside the van and the parents had a double swag tent. They lived outside the majority of the time with the father appearing to do most of the cooking. They all seemed to get on very well, though I overheard the father giving very clear guidelines on playing boardgames together (there will be winners and losers, it’s just a game, etc.). He sounded like a firm but kind teacher.

After three nights there and filling up our toilet we have come to Cheynes Beach Caravan Park to do washing and have a reset. The drop toilet at East Bay was initially quite dirty and unattractive. After about a day someone cleaned it up and this morning a truck came to clean the bottom out. Not a pleasant job, but it makes a difference.

I have a lot of photos and video to process, but have prepared just a few for this blog.

the view up the hill from our Cheynes Beach campsite
We were planning to go further east to Cape Riche tomorrow, but this might be a reason to change our plans as it is affecting the road we would be travelling on.

Days 10 and 11 – Rose Gardens Caravan Park to Little Beach Store

Yesterday we did nothing in particular until it was time to head out for an evening performance of Twelfth Night. After Friday when there were rain squalls and strong winds it was quite a change to mostly clear skies and very little wind on Saturday. Perfect for an open air performance. This was taken early on before lots of people arrived. Still, there was plenty of space for more.

It was an excellent production, a young cast who made the most of the comedy and added local and contemporary touches here and there. It was a lot of fun in an absolutely gorgeous setting. Of course, by the end we were all rugged up with shawls and woolly hats, as you would expect. But, it wasn’t unpleasant.

We had some snack food with us, but also shared a cold meat and cheese toastie Italian style, really good. And later, hot chocolates.

It was about 30 kms away from our caravan park and I was a bit worried about the drive home in the dark. However, I was on a high from the play and found it fairly easy. A lot of people had left by the time we were on the road so I wasn’t holding up a long line of traffic as we drove at about 70kms, keeping an eye out for kangaroos.

The public golf links is out on this road and we noticed that it had dropped off Wikicamps as a place to stay. We have found it quite convenient in the past. We called in on our way out to the Whaling Station to find out what had happened. Apparently it became so popular that they decided not to allow it to continue on Wikicamps. However, we can still stay there. They just want the keep the numbers down. That’s great news, just what we wanted to hear. We don’t need it for the moment, but might later in our time here in/near Albany.

This morning we got up at about the usual time as we had lots to do before heading out to camping spots east of Albany. There are quite a lot to choose from, but each has only a few camping spaces, so we are hoping we can be lucky with our first choice. As well as emptying and filling up with water we had to get fuel and do a little shopping. Fortunately there were options along our route.

Then we were in search of a cafe for lunch and found this delightful little place. There is an animal park for kids, plus a nice cafe. There was a sign saying that the chefs were ill and the kitchen wasn’t open, but fortunately it is still operating as a cafe. We had toasties and hot drinks, just what we hoped for.

As part of our preparation for going a bit remote we contacted Matt on Facetime this morning and had a short chat. We don’t know if we will have a signal in the evening and wanted to make sure we saw him. He got a bit distracted because someone had brought them a large coffee from a nearby cafe and he could hardly wait.

Day 9 – Cosy Corner East to Emu Point

We were fairly relaxed yesterday morning as we didn’t really have to leave, according to our parking app, until the afternoon. So we went through packing up our our outdoor stuff at our leisure and actually were leaving by about 11.00 a.m.

Our toilet announced it was full first thing in the morning, without prior warning, so I trolleyed it over to the dump point immediately. After that, we didn’t have to worry as the caravan park has a dump point. In fact, our spot is opposite the dump point, very convenient.

On the way here we went to the IGA and bought food for a couple of days. We plan to move east of Albany to try out some campsites and will shop again before we go. We can probably last four nights with regard to our tanks and drinking water, if we are careful and by buy a few extra litres of drinking water.

The caravan park is very full at the moment and the toilets/showers get mucky quite quickly. Therefore we will continue to use our own bathroom and toilet some of the time whilst we are here.

The location is lovely, within a short walk of the beach, of course, and went for a walk around last night, despite the fact that it turned windy. wet and cold. I kept my shorts on, but added my rain jacket. The rain was very light and at one point when a squall came in we sheltered under a tree which kept us completely dry.

We explored options for an evening meal. There was supposed to be a food truck in the caravan park, but that didn’t happen. We walked to the nearby sporting club, which does meals on Friday night, but it was extremely busy and we didn’t like our chances. Fortunately we asked someone who told us about a food truck doing Mexican meals at the nearby motel. It was less than 500 metres away and although we had to wait about 30 minutes the food was worth it. We came back to the Sherwood to eat out of the weather.

During the afternoon we did our washing, two loads, one of clothes and one of our towels, etc. It felt very satisfying when it was all done. We used the dryer of course as we didn’t feel we could rely on getting the washing dry on the line.

View from the lookout at Cosy Corner East
Path at Emu Point