We drove over 300 kms yesterday, just for this, the great feeling after a shared ‘big breakfast’ at the Dome in Katanning. Also for the in town free camping with dump point and water, of course.
We were trying to think about the highlights of the trip, and it’s hard to go past two days ago in the Fitzgerald River National Park. We made a rainy day into the best day of the trip by driving further into the park to enjoy views and wildflowers.
Also, we recall stopping by the side of the road on the way to Lake King and finding many wildflowers, unexpectedly. Our first night of the trip camping well off the main road in the bush. The Ravenshorpe experience, the Wildflower Show, and meeting someone who directed us to my grandparents house in the main street. Then camping on a wildflower trail recommended in a brochure. Camping at the beach in Hopetoun which remains a small village and not obviously touristy. Going to the pub to watch the Grand Final and chatting with a local couple. An guided evening wildflower walk with drinks and nibbles afterwards near Hopetoun. And then making the big effort to drive far enough to reach Katanning yesterday to enjoy breakfast this morning.
We have to arrive home Thursday night as Stephen only bought medication for 10 days and also has an appointment on Friday morning. But, we won’t have a let down feelin because we are going to the Nanga Music Festival next weekend. We will be home for about seven days, then off again for a few days of music. Just time to catch up with the washing😀
Yesterday was a ‘service day’ as we needed to fill up with water and fuel, dump our tanks and do some shopping. But first we went for a walk along the path that was formerly a railway line near where we were camping. It was cloudy, with a couple of very light showers.
The Magic Kingdom is the Fitzgerald National Park. As you turn into Hammersley Road you can see Mt Barren in the distance. Our campsite is just next to it. Soon after we arrived we had a thunderstorm. When it cleared we took a walk to the beach and as we contemplated walking to the next beach we heard some thunder and retreated to the van for a second thunderstorm. We gave up on the idea of a walk, which worked out well as I then felt like cooking up a meal that would result in at least one extra night of leftovers.
After a fairly energetic day we slept well through lots of rain during the night. There were lots of insects coming into the van as our side window insect screens do not appear to work very well. I taped up the top area but I think they might be coming through the sides.
This morning we once again relaxed and took our time having breakfast, etc. There is a hot shower at our campground as well as clean, non smelly toilets. We haven’t tried it yet, but have noticed other people using it. There are BBQs and a campers kitchen which is still being set up. However it provides a sheltered area for tent campers to use their own stoves.
As there was almost constant rain we decided to give up on going for a walk and instead took a drive through the park to the furtherest point of the bitumen road. Our first stop was a lookout with a little walk with views and lots of wildflowers. After lunch at Hammersley inlet and attempting a walk (we got quite wet) we drove back to the lookout for afternoon tea. Here we have good views and much better internet than at our campsite.
On Thursday Stephen spent more time at the Ravensthorpe Exhibition learning more about plants. I did some shopping and then had coffee at the cafe with a view that is part of the shop.
As we hadn’t been able to book a wildflower bus tour and didn’t hold out much hope of the wait list, we drove out to a nearby rest area for lunch, then took a gravel road that was on the self drive list for wildflowers. It turned out to be a good move as we also found a place to stay for the night. We stopped there for a while to look at the flowers, then drove to a lookout. It was threatening rain and the view was a bit obscured. We thought about staying there for the night, then decided to go back to the designated camping ground (Coulter’s Camp). It is very sloped, but we still managed to find a fairly level spot. We were congratulating ourselves on the privacy when the first caravan arrived. In the end there were four vans altogether, but it is a large area and we still felt we had quite good privacy. These are some of the flowers around our camping area.
Yesterday we walked around exploring the area around the campsite before driving on to Hopetoun. The gravel road was in very good condition and we had no qualms about driving although I got some practice driving in manual. I have to say, it isn’t difficult in this van. It tells me when I have to change up a gear and still changes down without me intervening, and there’s no clutch of course. But, it does give me a bit more of a sense of control when going up and down steep parts of the road.
Our first stop near Hopetoun was the dump point, then down into the centre of town to find a drinking water tap. After a bit of scrounging around we found a labelled tap out on the groin near a boat ramp. Handy for boats, but with good access for us as well.
The free camping area is close to the centre along a road parallel to the beach. We can’t actually see the sea from our spot, but had the sound of waves last night to lull us to sleep. At around 3.45 p.m. we set off to meet up with our guide for a wildflower walk. After a bit of phoning up we were able to meet up with the tour. We enjoyed the group experience walking along a fire break and examining the flowers, plants and some fauna. At the end there was supposed to be a sunset with our drinks and nibbles, but it had been cloudy most of the day and the sun was obsured. Still, they had organised the drinks and nibbles into little individual cardboard platters and were generous with the wine. As we only had a short distance to drive we indulged a bit.
The cloud cover meant we didn’t have very much light for photos, but I went for it anyway.
Stephen had left a little improvised flag on our spot in the free camping area and we were able to get back to our original place. We’ve done the same this morning. We are at the laundromat and I’m writing this whilst waiting for the clothes to be washed and dried. Hot showers are also advertised, and Stephen thought he could get a shower whilst waiting on the clothes, but it turns out to be a bit further down the road. He doesn’t actually shower as I do in our little bathroom and it is time, or past time, for him to wash his hair. We drove to the Tavern/Bistro next to the caravan park. I had a coffee whilst Stephen had his shower, then we had hamburgers for lunch.
We have another night here in Hopetoun before going into the Fitzgerald National Park for two nights. Then we have to home on Thursday night, so have three days to drive back to Perth. It should be enough. Our flag was ignored at the camping area, but we’ve been able to get another place and it isn’t a problem.
On our first day in Ravensthorpe we spoke with someone from the community centre who remembered Bill and Hazel Macdonald. She and her husband had arrived from Victoria and decided to stay, taking up a business next door to their house. Later, when my grandparents decided to move back to Perth her father in law bought their house. Thus, she was able to describe the house and Stephen and I stopped outside to take photos before leaving town. The house was formerly a shop, hence the rather plain frontage.
Whilst we were travelling yesterday on the Newdegate-Lake King Road we happened to stop to change drivers across the road from a beautiful wildflower garden, not deliberately planted, of course, but the abundance and variety made it feel like a garden.
We lingered in Kulin after using their dump point and water facilities, marvelling at their facilities for the free RV parking area. Flushing toilets and hot showers, no less, a nice park and a cafe across the road. Still, it was only 50 kms from our overnight area and we had to move on.
We stopped at the Lake Grace lookout for lunch. The view wasn’t wonderful, the lake itself in the distance and mostly only visible from a little raised platform.
We stopped in Lake Grace for some fuel, then continued on our way. At about 3.00 pm I’d had enough of travelling. We found a camping area a little off the road. It was hot and we rested until about 5.00 pm, then took a little walk, rather an interesting name, the Jam patch Soak Walk. Where we are is not very nice woodlands, but the walk on the other side did have flowers and Stephen found some orchids when he stepped off the path for a moment.
It was even colder overnight than last night and the sun is very welcome to warm up our van a bit. Today we should reach Ravensthorpe, only about 150kms to go!
Amazingly we got away yesterday and travelled about 200 kms to a roadside rest area just out of Corrigin. We were staying in Caversham for two nights over the weekend as we enjoyed the Guildford Songfest. We went home around 12:30 as we wanted to have time to rest before Matt arrived.
We had to reload all our stuff as I had taken out the bedding, including the mattress pad, and cleared out the pantry in preparation for the installation of a battery monitor. We managed to get the main stuff back in place with Matt watching. By the time he went home I was so tired that I went to bed early and slept pretty much through the night.
Which set me up well for all the work of packing clothes and food in the morning. I had put together the tech (cameras, etc. on Sunday afternoon.
We had a pleasant drive through sunny, but cool, weather, with stops for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. Our overnight spot is close to the main road, but partly hidden.there is a gravel road but we’ve only had one car use it.
This morning I decided on a battery challenge, using our electric kettle twice, coffee machine twice and milk frothier once. The batteries have not gone below 96%. It’s interesting to see the indication of remaining hours when using the kettle which is over 2000watts.