Pinaroo Point Walking Group

What motivated us to pack up the van and go to Pinaroo Point for an overnight on Saturday is that Eversley’s Gwelup Walking Group were coming on Sunday morning for a walk or a swim (in the end, both). It took a bit of energy and whilst Stephen went to an opera film I felt I needed to concentrate on doing some shopping and getting the van ready. When I was ready I drove over to Leederville and had lunch and a rest whilst waiting for Stephen. How comfortable that was!

During the week we had some paving and bricklaying done, then the gardener came to put plants all along the back fence. She was working in 41 heat and we couldn’t put the air conditioner on without it having a fairly major impact as she was constantly walking past it. Anyway, we felt it showed solidarity with her as she shoveled stuff, put in the reticulation and then the plants. We brought out cold drinks, for which she was most grateful.

We hope the plants survive as there is still quite a lot of hot weather to come. The retic will come on twice a day for the first week or so to help the plants settle in.

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I’m sorry the photos are so dark, I need to redo them in better lighting, but I felt I couldn’t talk about it here without giving some idea of what it looks like.

We’ve had some paving done outside of the window of Stephen’s study. This area is shady in summer and sunny in winter and makes a perfect little outdoor setting. The other paving is at the front of the house. We’ve had all the bushes taken out at the side of the house and now have our van parking bay fully paved. With our new smaller van fitting perfectly into the space, with lots of room to access the inside through the sliding door, we feel very happy with this setup.

The van itself is currently at GeorgeDay Caravans having the grey water release handle looked at. We are also getting a quote on putting in a storage area so that we can have an extra battery and maybe even have a diesel heater fitted. I’m thinking of taking the quote to Ken Peachy Caravans to see if they can match it. We have great faith in their work and if they can do it for the same price I would prefer them to do it.

Back to the weekend. Of course, on Saturday and Sunday the heat spell was over and it was quite cloudy. We enjoyed walking down the path to the south in the evening, taking in the beautiful cloud scapes.

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A few vans in for the night. As you can see, people don’t put out chairs, tables, etc. as you might in a campground. We are not really stealth camping, as it’s obvious we are campervans, but we are respectful.

In the morning, with the group, we walked all the way south to Whitford Nodes where there was a market day in progress. After looking around we walked back and took over a picnic table sheltered area for morning tea. We actually shared the table with the nice woman who is living at Pinaroo Point in her car, so it was an opportunity to connect with her a little. She appears to like her privacy, but was friendly in a quiet way. She said that she had driven across Australia and into the Northern Territory before her car finally gave out nearby. She manages to live in the car without looking like a hobo, in fact she looks as clean and neat as if she is living the lifestyle as a choice. Stephen and I have seen her a couple of times before and are glad we have actually met so that we can at least exchange nods and smiles. She does yoga outside her car and uses one of the shelters as her ‘office’ during the day.

After coffee, bickies and pastries, the clouds were clearing and most of us (not Stephen), went for a swim.

Stephen and sat outside until we felt hungry again and then had lunch. Soon afterwards we packed up and went home. We wanted time to rest a bit before Matt arrived. We had a nice evening with him and Tin picked him up at 7.30 as usual.

Final blog on 10 day trip

I’ve been wanting to finish the story, but we’ve been busy since we got back and this has been on the back burner. We enjoyed our last day on the road. Stephen did some of the driving and now that I am so comfortable driving the van myself I find that I am as comfortable with Stephen driving as I am when he is driving our car. That will be wonderful when we take our trip north this winter as it means we will be able to take turns without me feeling stressed.

We stopped in Harvey and drove into the town, rather than just pulling off at the Visitor Centre. We were chasing shade and found some near the railway station. However, it only seemed a relatively short time until we were in the sun again. We drove back to the highway and pulled off near the river to have a cup of tea and cake.

We had another short break in Pinjarra where we did a FaceTime with Matt and went to the toilet. There is a nice overnight place here where we have stayed previously. It would be a good place to come on the night before Fairbridge as we can free camp, empty our toilet and grey tank, refill our fresh water tank and then get into the queue early to get a good spot to camp.

My suggestion was to stop at our shopping centre and have tea before going home. Otherwise we would arrive tired and hungry and get a bit grumpy unloading. We had a meal at a tiny Chinese restaurant, very tasty, with drinks from the tea house next door.

We feel it was a great little trip where we had some varied camping experiences. The disadvantages of staying in the caravan park were outweighed by the pluses of being within walking distance of a small shopping centre and some great resort cafe/restaurants, plus having only a short walk through the park to the beach. We could be partly in the shade during the day and had a nice spot with concrete and grass for our outdoor area.

Our favourite place to stay was Olive Hill Farm with it’s large, fairly private campsites, clean and attractive long drop toilet, beautiful little woodland walk to the river and hospitable hosts.

Augusta was the most beautiful place with stunning beachside parkups during the day and a good enough campsite for overnights. For the price we have no complaints.

The most difficult place to stay was Conto due to being in a sheltered spot with high humidity and no breeze, and mozzies. Still, we got through it and really enjoyed our morning walk.

The biggest surprise was having a sprinkler come on at 2.30 am at Busselton Farm. Thankfully it was easy to move to another spot.

We loved being able to meet up with Marie and Geoff for lunch in Augusta. We hadn’t planned it in advance.

We had red grapes, which are seedless, and now we have green grapes which have seeds. We’ve been sharing them with our neighbours. Stephen did some good pruning last year and we have bumper crops.

I’ve been practising using the Ridge monkey on our house stove. Works well, but it is fairly small. We might need two.

We have the van booked in for Monday morning at George Day Caravans to fix our grey tank handle. I sent them this photo.

An enjoyable lunch at Stilts and some light rain

Yesterday was our last full day in Busselton and we spent it mostly sitting around. We went to one of the nearby restaurants for lunch. They had larger servings than Colourpatch, though I ordered a small version of my choice, a pasta dish. Stephen had fish and chips and we shared a little,of each other’s,dish. This was followed up by a shared, generous serving,of,sticky date pudding and hot drinks. We sat there until after 3.00 pm to allow the UV level to go down a bit. Walking back along the ocean was lovely, as usual.

We took an evening walk along the path as we had the previous evening, but were chased back by rain. It wasn’t heavy, but we were a bit damp by the time we got back. There was the lovely smell of wet earth and plants. The family behind us who hadn’t bothered with putting up an awning suddenly were seated until a large shelter.

It was cool overnight and we enjoyed snuggling under our down doona. This morning was the Busselton Jetty Swim and we felt inspired by people getting up early to pack up after our showers and head down to the beach. Of course, by the time we were ready the swim was already over, but we found a boat ramp parking area with a view of the sea as a backdrop for having breakfast. We’d had difficulty getting the awning back in and may need to make sure we don’t take it quite all the way out to make it easier to wind next time.

We are taking it slowly going home, with a stop in Harvey for lunch. I’m not sure we will make it home tonight, we may need to park up and get there tomorrow morning. We’ve not yet heard from the gardener as to when they will start.

Amblin Day

We have booked in for three nights here as it is a good base for the area and for returning to Perth on Sunday. We set up the awning and chairs, increasing our living space by about 2/3. The weather is still humid, but cooler. We slept well last night. Due to the swimming event in Busselton the caravan park is busier tonight and we have kids next door, thus expecting things to be noisier overall.

We walked to the nearby small shopping centre in the morning, taking note of the cafe/restaurants on the way. We bought some small items, milk, bread, etc. making sure we could carry it all home, about 800 metres according to Google Maps. It is quicker by the road, but nicer along the beach as we found by doing the circuit.

I went for a swim in the pool this afternoon, but found it was really too warm for summer weather. The only people using it were older women with large busts, oops, that me as well.

The meal I cooked last night had some leftovers, I heated it up with some pasta and a tin of tuna for tonight. Afterwards we did a sunset walk along the beach. There were some people enjoying the evening at the beach, but it wasn’t crowded. From what we’ve seen so far people don’t appear to use this beach much for swimming. And yet, it is quite lovely.

A very trying night at Conto

But before that we left our camping place after filling up with fresh water. We dumped our toilet cassette for $5 at Turners Caravan Park and met up with Marie and Geoff at Colourpatch. Not only has it been upgraded to a restaurant and bar, but the prices are normal restaurant prices. We shared a main course and desert, but separate hot drinks. The serving sizes were a bit mingy for sharing though we each had a side dish to share.

What was great was catching up with Marie and Geoff, which we hadn’t expected to do this trip. The setting is stunning and Geoff was able to point of dolphins and a sting ray, which we wouldn’t have seen but for his far sightedness.

When we eventually parted, they returned to Busselton and we set out for Conto campground. We have stayed there before and as with all our national park cam-grounds it is well set up with good sized sites, each with a fire pit and picnic tables. There is a campers kitchen with non drinking water and gas bbqs and clean, well maintained long drop toilets.

But, on a warm and humid evening the sheltered location was very unpleasant. In the evening we had a plague of mozzies, which meant having to use the insect screens, which made us even more uncomfortable. I took Marie’s advice and set up our little battery fan on the kitchen bench and it really helped with moving air around.

In the morning it was quite cool and the mozzies had departed. We took a walk along a nearby park and were able to get a great view of the sea. It is the wrong time,of year for walking, but we could walk to the sea if we had an hour or two.

We drove long Caves Road to the Margaret River Chocolate Factory where we had morning tea. The cafe wasn’t quite as nice as we had hoped, but being able to view chocolates being made was good. We had a rather nice slice with lots of nuts. I bought some chocolate for us and some mousse mix for Matt.

Meelup Beach was our next destination, for lunch, a rest and a swim. We had a cup of tea afterwards. The van is on a sideways slope, but we have a lovely view, especially later when the sun was out fully.

In Augusta yesterday morning we called in at the bakery hoping to be able to buy some interesting bread. This is the picture in the window.

Basically, none of that is sold and they only make rye bread on Tuesdays, or something. We got a small loaf of whole meal bread, nothing special.

Whilst having our cup of tea we rang the RAC caravan park and Amblin CP to check on prices. For the two nights Amblin is $13 cheaper, plus is on the ocean side of the road and has a heated, enclosed swimming pool. When we gave them our name our details were in their system. We have never stayed there in the Winnie, but stayed there often in tents and smaller RVs. The sites are quite tight, good for our little van.

I want power tonight in order to be able to cook outside using the induction hot plate and my big pan. We’ll also get to experience being in this van with 240v power, so far we have always relied completely on 12v. I wonder how it will work out.

Something has broken, the handle for closing off the grey water tank. We should be able to get it fixed under warranty.

Making ourselves at home in Augusta

We have decided to stay a second night at the same campground in Augusta. It’s busier tonight than last night, but we still expect a quiet night of good sleep. I had my first proper shower this morning and was able to blow dry my hair in the en-suite style bathroom.

It was time for a little serious washing and we found our way to the laundromat where I was temporarily stumped by a lack of coins. Eventually, hopefully in my lifetime, we hope that we will be able to always pay by card, but it’s rare at the moment. A nearby Bankwest branch was able to come up with 20 $1 coins, they said they often supply change for the laundromat. As well as clothes I washed our towels and flannels.

There was a cafe nearby and I was able to enjoy morning tea whilst keeping an eye on the laundry about 5 minutes walk away. Stephen went in search of the museum, which was closed, then joined me at the cafe bringing his own paper as the cafe did not have one for him to read.

On the way to the cafe at the local hardware I was able to pick up a universal tap, often needed for access to fresh water and handy for us in case tourist information centres are closed.

Then, we went down to a beach a little past Colourpatch for lunch and a nap.

When we got tired of being lazy we drove out to the Cape to see the lighthouse. We were too late to go in, but spent some time admiring the coastline.

We checked out Flinders Bay on the way back to town.

A quick foray into the IGA for salads and fruit, then back to our campsite. Stephen has had a shower and I’ve done a small amount of washing of delicate stuff, now hanging on the line nearby.

We checked out a little cabin, expensive at $150 per night, but it is lovely. There is a yurt where yoga takes place and some ‘glamping ‘ tents, we don’t know how much they cost per night.

We’ve arranged to meet with Marie and Geoff for lunch at Colourpatch tomorrow. They are staying in Busselton, but don’t mind the drive down here. There is a lot to see and we may stay here another night before moving on to another location.

Olive Hill Farm for two nights, then on to Augusta

We stayed two nights at Olive Hill Farm and walked through the beautiful woodlands three times. When we woke up on Sunday we had our morning cuppas, then walked through the woodlands to the river. We felt so laid back that we decided to stay for two nights. We didn’t go anywhere else, just enjoyed being in the shade by the van. We called Matt at around 4.00 pm and had a FaceTime session with the signal cutting in and out. Then we went for another walk down to the river, enjoying the evening light and sense of peace.

This morning we had scones with jam and cream and some socialising with the other campers. Benji, our host, had a little stall with meat, haggis and some cheeses. We bought sausages and cheese. Next time we go I hope we get to hear Benji play the bagpipes. He calls me Susie, which I realise is a Scottish thing, like him being called Benji. We met his mother Jennie walking in the woods a and she told us that the woods were planted 40 years ago by some artist who owned the farm. It was her idea to make the walk through the woods a winding path with labels on the trees and that certainly added to the experience.

We had thought of going to the Berry Farm for morning tea, but even I couldn’t face more treats, so we went into town to dump our toilet, get water and do a little shopping. I was disappointed in the bakery Benji recommended as it was more of a cafe than a place to buy delicious bread. They didn’t have the bread I wanted sliced and didn’t actually do slicing, and it was back to the IGA to buy some sliced rye bread, which is rather nice. Then down to Augusta to park up for our lunch and afternoon rest.

We used to visit a fish and chip shop called Colourpatch in Augusta in the days when we stayed at Vicki’s place in Karridale. We are parked near there at the rivermouth but Colourpatch has been upgraded to a bar/cafe and doesn’t open until Wednesday (closed Mon and Tues) so we may or may not stick around to try it out.

There are a few caravan parks here, but very expensive. There are also a couple of campgrounds with toilets and showers that are a much better price. We have booked into the one without power at $25 per night. The other campground has power and water sites, but may be about $10 more per night.

We had thought of spending a few days in this area, then going to free camp on the beach between Denmark and Albany. Because we have less time than our original plan we decided it would mean too much time on the road and too little time to relax. We’ve decided to explore this region for the rest of our holiday.

I ordered a ridge monkey, a cast iron cooking implement similar to a jaffle iron, highly recommended by English van travellers. It arrived two weeks ago, but spent time at the front house in our block of units due to the neighbour not actually living there and the address being slightly wrong. It is now in the hands of our next door neighbour and I can’t wait to try it out. I had hoped it would arrive in time for this trip and it did, but we didn’t know. It will help with making the most of the more limited cooking facilities in our van.

We have chosen to stay at the Boogaloo Campground here in Augusta. We don’t have power, but there are toilets and showers available and the price is right, $25 rather than at least $40 for caravan parks. We don’t need power, but Stephen is keen to have a full shower after days of just basin washes in the van. I might even go for a shower myself.

Is Augusta always windy? It is in our experience. The advantage of the wind is that even if it is hot, if we are by the sea it stays cool enough in the van. We’ve been sleeping under our warm doona every night so far, and the temperature seems quite cool now, so perhaps we will tonight as well.

A couple more photos from the woodland walk at Olive Farm. It was $20 per night there and well worth it. We almost ran out of drinking water there, we could have bought some drinking water quite cheaply, but only realised when it was getting dark and too late to contact our hosts.

We watched some kite surfing at our park up near Colourpatch this afternoon.

Blogs

I did a post yesterday with some photos, but it won’t upload at our present location – Olive Hill Farm just out of Margaret River due to slow internet. I will upload it when we are in town later today.

A rude awakening at 2.30 am this morning

Yesterday we stayed overnight at Busselton Farm. Around this area there are farms and wineries that offer simple camping, without hookups. Some offer more than others in terms of facilities. We spent the afternoon parked up at a beach in Wonnerup just north of Busselton and didn’t want to have too far to drive. We were perfectly happy with our choice until 2.30 in the morning when we were woken up by a strange sound. After a little while we realised we were in range of a sprinkler which was washing along the side of the van. The owners knew we had parked there as one of them came to take our money after we parked up.

Another benefit of our dear little van is that we could easily move, and we did. We went into an adjoining space where there were other vans. It took a little while to get over it and go back to sleep.

Quite a nice spot at Busselton Farm. We had TV reception and watched the news and 7.30 report.

Today we got away late. Our host was unable to actually give us a definite departure time, but we left at about 11.00. No one came to ask why we had changed our position.

Our first stop was to visit Cowaramup.

We had planned to go to Margaret River for morning tea, but were seduced by the little street of cafes, shops and cows. Stephen visited the newsagent and the pharmacy. I went to the French bakery for rolls, etc. then we had coffee at a nice shop full of specialty teas and chocolate. We shared a cream cheese bagel and had our usual hot drinks. My coffee was the best I’ve had so far this trip, but we haven’t been on the road long.

In Margaret River we went to the dump point, a great highlight of our visit to the town where we met up with other RVers. Stephen tried phoning the Tourist Bureau, but couldn’t get through. We wanted to fill up with water. We gave up and went down to Prevelly Beach for lunch and a rest. Stephen finally reached the TB and found they had a fresh water tap we could use so we high tailed it back into town.

Stephen also rang up to book us into Olive Hill Farm for tonight. We arrived here at about 5.00 pm. There is a lovely walk down to the river and we didn’t have time to go all the way after arriving and setting up, but enjoyed walking through the beautiful trees. The sites here have good privacy, are hard stand gravel, and set amongst the olive trees. No hookups, but we can have access to drinking water, a dump point and a laundry service for a small fee each.

I washed our clothes in the kitchen sink. Nothing is dirty, just needs refreshing.

We travelled on our first gravel road for a couple of kilometres to get here. It was pretty bad in spots. Of course, our van is no stranger to gravel roads, just a first for us. We put out the awning for the first time, I had to watch the training video again to work out how, but we feel a sense of achievement.

Later we walked around the farm and eventually found the walk trail to the river. We didn’t go all the way and plan to do that in the morning.