Southern Escape: Manjimup to Bunbury (with overnight at Olive Hill Farm)

I’m not much into museums, as you know, and did not join Stephen in exploring the museums after breakfast in Manjimup. However, a walk through the park was wonderful. It seems very well thought out, with some historical buildings, one of those wonderful playgrounds for kids that seem to be ‘the go’ now, plus some tall trees, including indigenous and imported varieties. There is a wetlands with lots of little bridges and a rocky fountain. The day was cool with ‘sunny spells’, just delightful to be out.

It was a bit of a long diversion to go to Olive Hill Farm, but we really enjoyed the first part of the journey on Graphite Road which ambled its way through farmland and vineyards as if specially designed to be scenic. We took a pause in Nannup for lunch, then followed Mowena Road through to the back of the Margaret River area where the olive farm is located.

Mowena road wasn’t scenic, but fairly straight and we could travel faster. Stephen rang up to check that it wasn’t a gravel road and was assured that it wasn’t. It felt like Sue’s road, which cuts through a back area to take miles off your journey. Mowena road crosses Sue’s road at one point.

Then, we had our disappointing night at Olive Hill Farm. Our host was very hospitable and we didn’t say we were upset.

In the morning we debated whether to move on or stay another night, before packing up quickly. We had part of our breakfast before leaving and the rest at Capel where we stopped to have our morning shower/washes.

Then, on to Bunbury. Why on earth! Bunbury offers two short stay (48 hr) stopping places for RVs on the beach. We are parked at the one nearest the CBD and took a long, orientation walk last night. Our first stop was the nearby lookout, where we didn’t climb the tower as we thought the view from the deck was quite special anyway. Excuses, excuses.

We have one full day here, another overnight, then off to Perth tomorrow. Yesterday was so windy we were nearly blown away, today is cloudy with a light breeze, quite nice. We have the sound of waves on the rocky beach nearby. We can see the sea although there is a car park and picnic area between us and the beach.

Our park up

Southern Escape: Olive Hill Farm

We spent last night at Olive Hill Farm. We were there in February 2020 and loved the little woodland next to the olive farm. Imagine our disappointment when we found that they had sold most of the trees. In fact, we left there quite early this morning to come to our next destination as it was so hard to bear. Here are some before and after photos

Southern Escape: Albany to Manjimup

We faced choices. To travel home over a couple of days heading directly north or to divert through Manjimup, Margaret River and Bunbury. Stephen has been wanting to stay at the Olive Hill Farm again, so this gives us an opportunity. Plus, we are wanting to try out the free camping provided by Bunbury. But, perhaps the main reason is that this route has cooler weather.

On Thursday afternoon, despite cloudy conditions and cool weather we had a short swim. We drove down to the carpark near the beach so that we could have a warm shower afterwards. Later, before tea, we drove to our usual spot overlooking the bay. We were the only campers on our second night there and a police car drove through on the morning we were leaving. Perhaps the other campers knew something was up, although rangers are more likely to ask people to move on. Anyway, we were packing up at that stage and the police didn’t stop.

From cloudy Albany we drove into sunshine and warm weather. A stop at Mt Barker to empty and fill tanks, and then down the Muir Highway to Manjimup. Although we planned to stay at the caravan park last night we didn’t want to be caught short without water if we didn’t make it. The heat was a reason to keep going in the end. We had a stop at Muir Lake, dry of course, on the way and didn’t stay out of the van for long because of the heat. It was looking beautiful in another way, the vegetation bright green, which suggests there was underground water anyway.

Manjimup Caravan Park has a little cafe that does fish and chips, our plan for tea easily settled. We shopped at the Woolworths across the road, filling up on fruit and vegetables for the next few days. We had a good spot in the park, absolutely level. Towards sunset it really cooled down. I did some washing, rushing out to do it right away and forgetting things left, right and centre. After doing a second load I realised I had still overlooked things. Message to self: no need to rush to get the washing done as soon as we arrive. The laundry had many washing machines and only one other machine was used during my time there. By taking my time I would have had it covered.

This morning we had showers and then packed up quickly. Stephen wanted to go to the local museums and there is a cafe where we have had breakfast. We weren’t expecting it to be so elegant, it’s a lovely spot to do this blog. The Museum complex includes two museums, a visitor centre with shop, and a lovely park. I’m going to take a walk there after finishing here. Our breakfast was reasonably priced by the time we shared, $12 each, plus our hot drinks extra.

We had a little bit of washing out this morning and it was beautifully sunny and cool when we woke up. Later a fog rolled in and I put the washing inside as the air was very damp, almost raining. It came up so suddenly that I walked over to the toilet in sunshine and walked back in fog a few minutes later.

Southern Escape: Exit Cosy Corner, back to Frenchman Bay

On our last evening at Cosy Corner we talk a short walk along the beach to sit on a bench overlooking the bay. A feature of the evening was several couples cuddling, etc. in our field of view. Plus we saw an unusual bird that we weren’t able to identify. The sea was relatively calm after quite a warm and humid day. Possible rain was forecast and the clouds looked as though a storm might be brewing. We wandered home and had our evening meal quite late. I used our camping stove outside once more.

We don’t know what it is.

We woke up to a bit of rain in the night and I was worried enough to go outside and put the camp stove cardboard box up on my camping chair. Later we had heavy rain and lightning and thunder. In the morning we went out to inspect the damage, as it were. Our washing was really damp and the camp stove needed wiping down. We took our time with breakfast, washes and other things before tackling the outside area. Fortunately the rain had stopped.

It means we put away the camping mat and our chairs a bit damp and had to find spaces inside to hang the washing. Did I mention that we both did some hand washing in the morning on our last day. We thought it would be dry by evening as it was certainly warm enough and they were in the sun, but the humidity was a problem.

We finally finished our packing up at about 11.30 and headed into Albany to empty and fill tanks, once again. Stephen wanted a shower so we parked in the IGA parking lot. I had a coffee and did a small amount of shopping whilst he was showering. He had to wait as there are only two stalls at the Women’s Rest Centre and it was busy. The Women’s Rest Centre is no longer a Women’s Rest Centre, but public toilets with hot showers, which is why the men can go there too. Just in case you were wondering.

We headed out to Frenchman Bay to see if our camping spot was free, and it was. After lunch and a rest it was off to the little settlement on Goode Beach where a friend has a house. We had been in touch over choir matters and she noted we were in Albany, so suggested meeting for coffee. In the end, since we are both in Frenchman Bay, she invited us over. The house is large, but she has four adult children, plus grandkids, and it is a family house that they can all share. She has had the block of land for many years, but the house was built recently and only completed six months ago. She loves the area as her parents used to bring them there when she was a child. Her house has a wonderful view across the bay. We chatted for ages, rambling over many topics. Eventually we headed off to see if our camping spot was still free, and it was.

We enjoyed a peaceful evening. We don’t have to put up the privacy blinds at the front of the van here and could enjoy the view as long as there was light and also first thing this morning. Our plan for the day is writing, editing photos and going for walks.

Stephen pretends he has to adopt this position so that I can get out of bed from the window side. It’s not THAT bad, really!

Southern Escape: Denmark Day

Of course, we went to the Denmark Bakery first. I think we weren’t quite hungry enough for our pies to taste as good as they probably were, plus it was very busy and the temperature probably in the low 30’s. We only stayed for about half an hour. Good things were getting nice fresh bread and rolls and a busker nearby who was playing music that was calming, helping us to cope with being around so many people.

Our other problem was that we had run out of beer, the nice Single Fin beer that Eversley introduced us to. I was able to drop in to pick up some cider on the way back to the van. We then spent a minimum of time in the IGA, which was also busy with lots of people. They didn’t have the SafeWA QR code or any sort of sign in available, which is probably illegal. The Bakery and bottle shop both had the QR codes.

We needed somewhere cool for the afternoon and drove down to the lookout at Ocean Beach. The cool wind was a blessing and we could park in the sun without the van getting hot.

Afterwards, we went to the slow water tap in Denmark and whilst filling our tank and water bottles I used the 10amp plug with adapter to charge our batteries. It was therefore quite handy that it was a slow process.

Back home we set up camp again as we had two more nights. We have parked the van a little bit forward on our campsite so that we get sun in the afternoon. It will be hot, but we are relying on the normally constant breeze to keep us comfortable. And we could always go for a swim.

Cosy Corner beach walk

Last night we had a paddle and enjoyed the evening light over the water before coming back to have tea. We had a leftover meal that was easy to prepare, plus one of our new fresh rolls from the bakery. Fresh fruit and yogurt completed the meal.

Southern Escape: Saturday and Sunday

The last two days we have basically spent at camp here, with walks along the Bibulmun Track in the evenings. We’ve been clocking at least 5kms, my phone says up to 7kms for the day. Even going on long slopes uphill has become easier. Saturday evening we started on the beach and last night we started by going up towards the Cosy Corner Cafe, then taking Coombes Road to the left, then finding the track again, ending the walk along the beach.

So much for the 7 day challenge. Stephen is nearly out of lemon ginger teas and we have decided to take a day trip to Denmark where we will attempt for get some water (the water available there are taps set up with slow flow holding down the top). Apparently, the dump point is pretty disgusting too. So, not really for that reason. We had planned to move the van anyway because we are not getting enough solar charging in our spot. If we move about 1.5 metres forward we will have less shade, but more solar. It’s been difficult with all of our gear, including cameras, to manage.

So, we would be putting the awning in anyway even to move a short distance, so why not have the fun of a change of scene! See, we have some pretty good excuses.

I have lots of photos from our walks to process, plus we have video recorded on our GoPros (his and hers, of course).

The photos up top are of our tea last night. A fish van came to the campsite and I asked for fish that would fry up well for our tea. A 230gram pack of whiting was her suggestion and they were really lovely, coated in flour and fried up in a combination of butter and olive oil. I was using the camp stove which we set up yesterday for the first time on this trip. This meant that Stephen had room to serve up salads and drinks whilst I was occupied outside. We used the soapy water test on both connections (connection to the stove and connection to the van) to test for leaks before cooking.

We had a Facetime session with Matt, which might be the last for this trip, but I didn’t want to promise we would be back in case we don’t quite make it in time.

Photos to follow in a separate blog.

Southern Escape: The Cosy Corner (East) 7 Day Challenge

In the morning yesterday we discussed what we are going to do next. We explored going to stay in Denmark, or even just to go there to dump the toilet and get water, but the reviews of the dump point were discouraging. I am also concerned that if we head west there are fewer options for cheap and free camping near the coast and we are heading towards another heatwave which will affect places such as Margaret River. The coolest place to be is still Albany and surrounds.

We have become a little accustomed to our campsite here are Cosy Corner and we have many facilities that we need, including 2 bars of 4g internet on our phones. We have decided to take up the option of staying here for the full 7 nights. That is, provided we can last in terms of water. That gave us an excuse to head into Albany yesterday. After the usual business of emptying and filling tanks we parked up behind the IGA at the bottom of the hill and walked up to find a cafe. Dylan’s had a table for us upstairs, plus a friendly waitress who took care of us. We shared the first course, which was delicious and not quite enough, so followed up with cake and icecream. I think our waitress was worried about us having enough food because the slice of cake was definitely large enough to divide between two people. Stephen had a chai tea and I had my usual flat white coffee.

Afterwards, Stephen headed off to have a shower and wash his hair at the Womens Rest Centre and I took care of the shopping, stocking up for the duration of our stay. We went to Lawley Park, just a little up the road, and Stephen went for a walk up to the beginning of the boardwalk whilst I read my book. We had walked a lot the previous day, first to the cafe, then we went out along the Bibulman track in the evening, total of just over 11,000 steps.

We arrived back here are about 5.00 p.m. and had a restful evening, with a light tea. We had left our mat and chairs out to keep our spot, plus I had done some hand washing in the morning. It was still a little damp and as we had put up the awning when we got home I put the washing under the awning for the night. There was a bit of moisture in the air, not really raining, but it seemed good to have it under cover.

Another reason for the trip yesterday was that the batteries were a bit low and it seemed a good idea to give them a good charging by driving to Albany. It was cloudy this morning again, but we should have some sunshine in the next few days to keep them charged up. We are partly in shade so the solar mainly has a chance to work well in the mornings, by afternoons the solar panel is in shade. Yesterday, with the van parked in the open, we had 540wh, today with the cloudy conditions and now shade we have had 190wh so far. The batteries are at about 85% at the moment.

The Bibulmun Track goes through this campsite and gives us the opportunity for some walks. We don’t want to keep packing things up to drive and it will be interesting to see if there is enough to do on foot. We came in on Wednesday 13th January and if we stay for seven days we will be leaving on Wednesday the 20th January. I’ve asked if we can have one more night at Frenchman Bay, then the plan is to head back to Perth with one overnight stop on the way. I don’t know what the weather will be like at the time we are leaving, but it is likely to be hotter as we head north, which means there would be no reason to linger on the way.

Today I cooked a one pan meal of beef stirfry with lots of vegetables. We have leftovers for two more meals. Cooking in the evening is a problem because it’s a good time for going out for walks and I don’t feel like it when we get back. But, we’ve been hanging around today, watching a livestream with John and Mandy on Tour after the event as it streamed at 3.00 a.m. Perth time. I rarely watch a 2 hour livestream after the event, but Stephen was interested in it as well. We were able to stop and start as required. Towards the end I was able to listen as I prepared our meal, then we watched to the end whilst the meal was cooking.

We have been able to put out the hose for our grey water. It’s not ideal as we are on a slope the wrong way for a good flow, but that is something that will keep us going. I’ve also checked out the dump point. It doesn’t have water for washing down afterwards, but doesn’t look too bad. Our drop toilets are cleaned daily by a team of cleaners who do a number of camp toilets in the area of Albany. Quite a lot of driving involved. These facilities work in our favour.

Being partly in shade, whilst bad for the solar panel, is good for comfort for sitting in the van and our awning also means we have a shady spot to sit outside.

Southern Escape: Cosy Corner (East)

We finally made it to Cosy Corner (East) Camping area. I’ve been looking at this campsite for a while as a place to go if we went to Albany. We can camp here for seven days for free. There are drop toilets and bins and a camp host to consult about where to camp. There was a sign out to show ‘no vacancies’ so I got Stephen to go to ask if they had any spots. It worked, and she showed us this campsite, which is rather poor with regard to getting sun for our solar system, but very nice for feeling sheltered, with privacy because we are at the boundary fence, meaning we have bushland beside us.

Unusually for us, we have set up our outdoor mat, put out the awning, and set up the table and chairs for a comfy outdoor area. We’ve used it a little bit. I especially enjoyed having my first cuppa of the day sitting outside.

We emptied and filled tanks before leaving Albany and plan to stay here for three nights, probably the limit of how long our water will last. We have 100 litres in the main tank and 25 litres of drinking/cooking water in bottles.

I was initially disappointed with not being closer to the beach and compared with our Frenchman Bay campsite, well, there is no comparison, especially as FB has flushing toilets. But, it’s all part of the adventure to try out different places to stay. We can drive out to get water and keep our campsite by leaving the chairs/table/mat, but I think after three nights we may be ready to move anyway.

We can hear the roar of the waves as the beach is on the ocean side of the peninsula where it is unsheltered. We can see the Albany Windfarm in the distance. Yesterday evening we walked down to the beach and had a paddle. We saw young children using body boards in the surf with very little in the way of parental supervision, which I thought was pretty careless. There did seem to be parents around, but they weren’t paying much attention and one mother of two boys walked out of sight up the path from the beach, leaving the boys to finish surfing and follow. The beach seems too dangerous for swimming.

Today our aim was to walk to the nearby cafe for lunch. We put on sunscreen, covered up, and wore hats. The cafe was a bit disappointing as there were no tables inside and we had to eat outside contending with quite a cool breeze and lots of flies. The food was quite good (hamburger and chips, shared), but the experience wasn’t quite what we had hoped. It was also quite expensive. Still, it meant we had a walk after a fairly lazy morning at camp. The cafe is 1.6 kms away from our camp, according to Google Maps.

It was warm and muggy outside earlier, now it appears to be getting very cloudy and cool. We will go for another walk before our evening meal of leftovers which just needs heating up.

Southern Escape: last night in Albany?

We had thought we might go to Cosy Corner yesterday after having our new tyres put on the van. But, I decided to go to a laundromat to do all of our washing in one go and it worked out that there was a laundromat within walking distance. We dropped in to get the washing loaded into machines and Stephen stayed with them whilst I went to drop off the van. My plan was to walk back, but then I was offered their little work car, which worked out well, especially as we were able to visit a local patisserie afterwards for hot drinks and cakes. Perfect.

The owner of the laundromat turned up whilst we were there and in conversation with Stephen it turned out that he was a Trump fan. I was trying to drown out the conversation by reading my book, but as he started spouting the latest Trump ideas about the election I was upset enough to ask them to change the subject. The man remained amiable and continued chatting with Stephen. It shows the power of what the lame duck president says that by repeating lies over and over again it makes people believe them, even apparently our Acting Prime Minister!

Anyway treats at the patasserie and new tyres on the front of the van made everything good again. We next tackled shopping, calling in at the IGA on our way out of town. Then dumping and filling tanks.

By this time we were ready for lunch and bought some pies at the service station where we bought fuel. Our thinking was that we might be too late to secure a spot at the Cosy Corner free camping and should stay the night at our old friend, the public golf course. We drove around a bit looking for nice day use park ups and found a marina where we ate lunch and had a rest. Later we went out to Fisherman’s Beach, but sadly nothing compared with our park up at Frenchman Bay.

Our overnight has been peaceful and we are the only van here. The manager and family live on site, which gave us some peace of mind. For the past few nights we haven’t used the front blinds as we don’t need them for privacy and it gives a nice sense of openness.

Today we will try for free camping at Cosy Corner, if unavailable, we have a place in Denmark where we can camp without facilities for $10 per night. It’s up at Scottsdale, and there are good reports on WikiCamps.

If we get into Cosy Corner there is limited internet and I may not be able to post for a couple of days.

Golf links park up
Fisherman’s Bay.