Southern Escape: The last day and the day after

We took our time getting up and having our washes and breakfast. We felt relaxed about leaving and didn’t feel we had to get away quickly. It was cool and partly cloudy, and I took a few photos, including of some bugs for Stephen.

I suggested we go to the Dome for a full breakfast for lunch. On the way we stopped at the lookout tower and this time Stephen took the stairs to the top.

Bunbury Lookout Tower

The Dome is in a newish development on Dolphin Bay. The dolphins didn’t stand much chance as there were speedboats giving rides to kids in doughnuts on the water. Our table was in an atrium, well sheltered, but away from the main noise of the cafe. Our breakfast arrived so quickly that it caught us by surprise, shared between us it was enough for two quite large meals, at least for us.

We drove up the Forest Highway as the quickest and safest route home. The van really hums along at 100 kms per hour. At one stage I was a little sleepy and Stephen took to wheel to the John Tognela Rest Area, a gorgeous smelling place because of the pine trees. We had a good rest, followed by a cup of tea. I wanted to stay the night, but knew we didn’t have far to go and was feeling refreshed. We made one more little stop at one of the ‘services’ for fuel and toilets.

Once home, Stephen now helps with sorting out the food from the van. This really takes the edge off unpacking. After some work we went around the corner to the Pachi Patchi cafe for orange beef, salad and rice for tea. When we got back we were tired, but still feeling happy from the trip.

Today we are feeling rather under par, Stephen worse than me, he said it feels like he’s coming down with a virus. We got some things done, me all of the washing and a bit more unpacking, and Stephen is now taking an interest in photos and videos of the trip. We want to make a video using photos and videos to complement the blog.

I’ve also rung up Matt’s house about Saturday, speaking with him briefly, but basically letting staff know the pickup time. Tin, the taxi driver, has worked out the logistics of picking him up, then us, then getting us out to the Gosnells Hotel. Matt’s new taxi voucher book hadn’t arrive and staff have followed up and re ordered a new one. It should be here in time for his next visit home.

I’ve already defrosted the van fridge, emptied the toilet cassette and washed all of the towels, etc. There is still the bedding to be done, but as I’ve also washed all of our dirty clothes I feel it’s enough for today. We have really appreciated the cool weather here in Perth, especially as another heat wave is coming.

Southern Escape: Answering the question: “why Bunbury?”

Yesterday morning Stephen went to the Tourist Information Office to register our vehicle for our free stay. The first question on the questionnaire was ‘Would you have come to Bunbury if we hadn’t offered free camping on the beach’ or words to that effect. He answered ‘no’ and even after a couple of nights here that would be our response.

Our park up is lovely, we can see the sea even if we are not right on the beach and go to sleep to the sound of waves. We spent yesterday walking to and from the main street, which is about 600 metres from here. A visit to the art gallery was interesting because it is in an old monastery, and appears to have been added on to from time to time, creating a maze of galleries.

This is Stephen’s take our visit there.

“It is the old Sisters of Mercy convent, beautifully converted. There were three interesting galleries that caught my attention.

Firstly a display about the two young men accused of sodomy when the early Dutch ship was shipwrecked on Dirk Hartog  Island. Their sentence was to be each marooned on two adjoining islands, and thus dying in isolation. So there were photos of items collected from the islands (eg a clay pipe) as well as a wall chart displaying how attitudes to gay behaviour have change from then to now. Also a map of the world showing which counties still had the death penalty for sodomy (red dot) through to green for acceptance. 

The second was the result of the artist having spent time in China and had taken typical Chinese paintings and given them a western feel. Also captured much of the construction going on (cranes and massive apartment buildings. I liked a drawing of birds eye view of street of a town, where the grid pattern had been selectedly  drawn in red as a certain Chinese character, pronounced “ha”. Apparently Chinese people have used it as ha ha ha to represent laughter.
The third gallery had works by Elizabeth Ford and Robert Juniper et al and the gallery notes challenged the viewer to spend time analysing the works (some hints were given) Too often people pass by too quickly if the work looks “puzzling “

It was quite a surprising and pleasant visit. Good one Bunbury!

We had lunch at one of the Thai restaurants we had noticed on our walk the first evening. The food was not that special, but had a variety of vegetables and gave us the feeling of having a healthy meal. I went back to the van for a rest whilst Stephen took in the public library.

At 3.00 p.m. we met at the cinema. I chose to see ‘The Marksman’ starring Liam Neeson in another action role. The attraction is that he is the same age as me doing these action roles at quite a late stage of life. In an interview he said it was quite challenging for him even though the fight scene was staged. A nice story that left us feeling pretty good. We could have seen a more thoughtful movie, but we wanted something that wasn’t challenging, we have real life for that!

We came straight home so that I could cook the meal I’ve been planning for a little while, a lentil and vegetable curry, with yogurt bread to follow. Yogurt bread uses yogurt and flour as the basic ingredients, with additives depending on whether you want the final result to be sweet or savoury. To go with our meal we wanted savoury, so I added salt and herbs. This was my first go and I made it a bit moist and slightly too thick to cook through in the ridge monkey. However, I will try again sometime. Stephen learnt this recipe when he did a community cooking class a couple of years ago. I added a teaspoon of baking powder as well, I’m not sure if it was needed. The bread smelled slightly yeasty as it was cooking.

We have spent a reasonable amount of money on the meal out, pharmacy products, some spices and a coffee or two, plus our visit to the cinema and choc bombs. We would definitely be more cautious about some of the spending if we had to pay for accommodation. Bunbury has done quite well out of our visit. I found it surprising that there are so many cafes and restaurants here, plus little bars, etc. And traffic, most people seem to drive and we had to be really careful crossing roads as pedestrians. Yet, it is a nice little CBD to walk around.

I think offering the free beach side stays has been beneficial for this town, as well as us. We always like to be able to camp at the beach. There are a few more free camping bays about a kilometre away. It looked a bit quieter there, but being able to easily walk to the main street is preferable from our point of view.

There seem to be more campervans and motorhomes using the spaces at the moment. Vans are more likely to have a built in grey water tank than caravans. There was a caravan when we arrived, but they had to put a portable grey tank underneath the van.

The deal is that we ‘leave no trace’ and do not put out awnings and chairs on paths. Next to us is a green lawn strip. People do use it as a path, but we have put out our awning for a little while anyway, I don’t think it really qualifies as a ‘path’ and we wanted to make sure it was completely dry. The last time we had it out was when it rained one morning in Albany.

Basically, Bunbury offered us a safe, beachside camping area with easy access to the town centre. That’s why.

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.