Sherwood Travels: Albany Weekend

On Chester Pass Road, view from rest area

We were thinking of going to the Wongan Hills Wildflower Festival 3rd-5th November. The time had been set aside in our diaries when we were contacted by the partner of a friend living in Albany about a surprise 75th birthday party on Saturday 4th. We converted our trip to WH to a trip to Albany and accepted the invitation.

This turned out to be unexpectedly beneficial because there was a heatwave over the weekend, which we were mostly able to avoid by going south instead of north east.

On Friday we drove to Kendenup just north of Albany. Although it is over 300kms from Perth, quite a long distance for us to drive in one day, it was hot whenever we stopped for breaks during the drive and only became cool as we approached Kendenup. It was an incentive to keep driving.

Unusually we travelled via Albany Highway. It is the quickest route and as it was a short trip we wanted to save time and distance. The route is riddled with passing lanes, which definitely helps as it is fairly busy. Our first stop was at Bannister and as it was about 12.00 we had some lunch at the roadhouse cafe. There is a new little cafe there as well, which we went to explore. Having had lunch we just chatted with the owners and looked around at some of the goods. The roadhouse cafe has its own bakery, selling lovely cakes and fresh loaves of bread, so it has stiff competition, especially as it hosts toilets for customers only. I’m not sure if the new cafe can compete.

Our next stop was in Williams where we had a look around the WoolShed. It has not changed much, there is one air conditioner for the whole area, so still uncomfortable on a warm day. We decided to have cordial made in the Sherwood rather than buying cold drinks.

It was lovely to get to Kendenup in the late afternoon. As it was Friday evening the Country Club was serving meals, so we walked there, about 1.2kms away for our evening meal. The food was good and the atmosphere friendly. Kendenup offers a simple camping experience, with or without power (we chose without), with showers, toilets, a washing up sink with hot water, sullage at some sites and a drinking water tap.

On Saturday morning we made a leisurely start before heading to Mt Barker to go to the pharmacy and then driving down to Bayonet Head where our friends live. We had lunch at the nearby boat ramp and enjoyed the peaceful location. Our plan was to either overnight at our friends’ lifestyle village, or come back to the boat ramp area to stay overnight. They live somewhat out of town and I don’t like driving in the bush at night to go to a caravan park.

The surprise worked well, our friend’s partner had enlisted others to help with the plan, including brother in law taking him out during the afternoon whilst she got things ready. We really enjoyed the party, finding lots in common with our fellow guests, mostly of a certain age.

We asked our friend about parking with the RVs in the village, but he said that the new managers were sticklers regarding rules and might kick us out, embarrassing for him. So we took the second option. We thought we might be moved on by a ranger, but nothing happened. In the morning there were people walking dogs and using the boat ramp, but no one challenged us for our obvious overnight stay.

For Sunday night we decided to go to Katanning, one of our favourite overnight spots, with the Dome cafe a short distance away. We were hearing about wildfires close to Perth and it felt safer to stay in a town overnight as there could be other fires on the way. We drove up Chester Pass Road to enjoy the scenery, then on to Katanning. When we arrived it was still hot and I enjoyed a coffee at the Dome in the air conditioning.

Once settled we experimented with running the air conditioning from our EcoFlow Power Station, and when that was reduced to 20% switched over to using the Sherwood batteries. I was able to switch off battery charging in the Victron app so that we weren’t charging the batteries as we were using them. We have to run the cord out through the little exit point we use for our Starlink cable and plug the whole van into external power, actually batterympower. It would be handy to be able to do this within the ‘house’, but it works well with the normal 10-15amp adapter. We had enough power to run the air conditioning for about 4 hours. I only let our house batteries go down to 80% as we need the power for other things.

Even with the air conditioning, which I kept on a fairly conservative setting, we found the hot afternoon rather tiring and both ended up with headaches. Of course, we could have gone to the caravan park and had normal power, but where’s the fun in that! Anyway, the caravan park is too far from the Dome and we wanted to be able to walk there for breakfast Monday morning. Which we did.

I cooked our dinner on the gas stove Sunday evening. It seemed to take forever. Fortunately Stephen remembered that we were going to call Matt, I lost track of the days and hadn’t remembered it was Sunday night.

So, yesterday we drove to Wagin, where we stopped to visit the adventure park behind the giant ram before heading across to get back on Albany Highway. We had lunch in Williams at a little cafe on the highway and made a few other short stops on the way. About 70kms from Perth we went through a bushfire area, with lots of smoke, smoldering bush on one side of the road and lots of emergency vehicles and staff. There were signs to slow down, but otherwise it appeared to be safe to travel through the area.

We are now home for four nights before heading off to Dunsborough for the festival. Stephen’s choir is performing several times over the weekend. We will be home again Monday night, then off to Dwellingup for the Folk in the Forrest weekend the following Friday. Three weekends away in a row. We have too many rehearsals and events to simply stay away for three weeks. A benefit is that Matt can come to tea on Wednesday nights to make up for not coming on Sundays.

At Bayonet Head boat ramp, where we stayed overnight on Saturday after the party

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