We finished off our time in Cue with a walk along the Main Street to admire the lovely old buildings. We had hot drinks at a bed and breakfast cafe and did a small amount of shopping at a service station (there was no supermarket there). Separately we had considered overnighting at a nearby lake, Lake Nallan, and that is where we headed for the night.
There is a gravel road into the campground/picnic area. By taking the risk of driving over a stony road we were able to secure the best possible park up on the lake. Altogether, there were five vans staying there overnight and we were on the furtherest spot. The lake has birdlife, including a flock of swans in the distance. And, just to make sure we didn’t pine for trucks, we could see them passing on the far side of the lake.
After sunset we could see the Milky Way, despite all of the ambient light from Cue and the moon. The Evening Star(Venus) was reflected on the surface of the lake.
Our overnight was the coldest yet, with a light breeze helping to make it seem even colder. But, with the fresh clear air and sun to warm the van in the morning we found it invigorating.
Today we have driven about 80kms to Meekatharra, where we did some chores (dumping, shopping and filling up with fresh water) and Stephen went to the Tourist Info. Centre and Museum and art gallery. At the Visitor Centre he was recommended Peace Gorge as a good place to stay overnight. It is also recommended on Wikicamps. I thought we would drive another 100 kms or so to park for the night and had to readjust my thinking.
Peace Gorge has interesting rock formations and there are quite a few vans here, fairly well spaced out so we can have a bit of privacy. We took a walk on arrival to get a feel for the place.
We drove about another 300 kms yesterday, with a coffee and fuel stop at Paynes Find and a bit longer stop in Mt Magnet as Stephen wanted to go to the Visitor Centre there. We had planned to continue driving and overnight in Cue, but it was getting late in the day and I was able to find a good camping area about 20 kms up the road, rather than driving 80kms to Cue so close to sunset.
The camping area was called Old Wyngangoo Parking Area. We had a couple of trucks staying overnight there as well, plus one caravan which we didn’t actually see until the morning, so it must have come in late. The trucks kept their engines going, but it was a constant sound that didn’t bother us overnight. The camping area is huge, with lots of roads in and quite dry. We didn’t go as far back as we could have gone and the presence of the trucks was a bit reassuring as camping all by ourselves might be a bit spooky. The trucks stayed in the main pull off area and we thus kept out of each others’ way.
We had another cold night, but less moist than our first night which made it more comfortable sleeping under our warm doona. Oddly, we don’t seem to mind a bit of cold (I think it went down to 6 degrees). I got quite hot when cooking our tea (spaghetti, vegetarian mince, vegetables, canned tomato and tomato paste) in the single large pan. We have two meals left over.
We got away at about 10.00 a.m. this morning and have driven to Cue where we’ve filled up with water, emptied our toilet, and Stephen is off to the Visitor Centre here whilst I am writing. The day is sunny but there is a nippy wind. It’s good for parking in the sun so we get good solar power.
I rang Matt last night as Glenda had let us know that he had been running a temp and she called a locum to see him Monday night. Although his temperature was normal he actually looks a bit unwell. Still, I know that Glenda and the staff will monitor him and let us know if we need to head back.
So far our overnight parkups have had good internet, so we are not suffering from withdrawal symptoms. We haven’t had any more rain, but there is still some standing water beside the road which suggests there has been a lot of rain recently.
In this van we travel at 100kms an hour, which I think is our limit, and we haven’t had any caravans passing us, just some heading south or parked up in the towns. It appears that we won’t have any difficulty finding camping areas until we reach the more touristy areas further north as most people must be travelling up the coast road rather than going inland like us.
It was raining when we left and rained constantly for the first couple of hundred kilometres, then we had showers from time to time. We followed our first rule of road trips, that is, never drive past a good bakery, even if it’s a bit early for lunch. We had meat pasties and hot drinks at the Bindoon Bakehous, and decided that it was our main meal of the day. We bought a sourdough loaf and had toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches for tea, an easy option as I was tired when we arrived here at Jibberding.
Getting onto Great Northern Highway is a breeze with the by-pass on Tonkin Highway. Like being on a slingshot. Despite the heavy rain it was an easy drive.
I must have been excited about leaving as I didn’t get tired whilst we were driving. We had afternoon tea at Dalwallinu, which was also a decent break from driving. We have some apple cake made by one of my guests at the Friday movie night and it is delicious, especially as it was cold and I toasted it slightly to warm it through.
We are the only ones here in a large camping area in the reserve. One vehicle came to check it out, but it moved on.
We had many trucks passing in the night, but if I am asleep I don’t notice them. The minimum was 7, the Campervan was comfortable and we were a bit hot under our very warm doona. No difficulty managing without a heater, in other words.
This morning there was a mist and some dawn photos were necessary.
We set off in the late morning. I had done some packing of the van on the day before and it wasn’t too difficult to get us loaded up. Our first stop was a rest area on Great Eastern Highway near Northam which has good a good view. Then on to to Meckering. We camped away from the bitumen for the first time and it was definitely quieter. We were able to watch a vehicle leading a couple of horses at a brisk pace for exercise. They went past on the way out and on the way back, and also once in the morning, but I didn’t have the camera handy at any point, of course!
We walked over to the service station for some crisps and the paper, and that was the extent of our evening walk. There was a strong wind, a bit cold, but we could easily handle it in our jackets. There was a leftover meal of Thai chicken curry for our evening meal, plus a fairly decadent icecream to have with our fruit.
Day 2 – Meckering to Merredin
In the morning it was still cloudy, though there was a red dawn early. We left Meckering at about 10.00 a.m.
We waited until we had arrived in Merredin to have our lunch. We went out to the Merredin Railway Dam camping area to check it out. We plan to stay there at least for Saturday night, perhaps Sunday night as well, although the Songfest is largely over by 12.00 on Sunday.
We called in to do a little shopping for extra salad items for the shared evening meal with MD7. Then out to the caravan park to check in and find our spot. We were parked near Cherry and she joined us for coffee after our rest. As she said, we would be busy with our choirs over the rest of the time and it was a good idea to catch up before things began.
It was already feeling hectic before we arrived at the house, but still, the sense of camaraderie made it worthwhile. There is one other ‘partner’, Lyn’s friend Steve, otherwise just the choir members. They had a little rehearsal after the shared meal, then we set off for the evening. It was a fairly casual evening of food, which was already served when we got there, a couple of songs from each choir, and some introductions and stories. The drinks were also complimentary, country hospitality at it’s best.
We stayed until the choir items were finished, then headed home to the caravan park and went to bed. It was only about 10.00 p.m., but we felt it had been a busy day.
Day 3 – Merredin
On Saturday we checked out at about 9.00 a.m. as MD7 had a rehearsal planned at the house. Whilst they got on with it I went to a cafe and relaxed a bit. There was some singing in the open near the visitors’ centre and a sound check in the afternoon. Stephen and I went out to the camping area for our lunch. We wanted to find a good place to park overnight away from the water as the choir member who was camping (Nick) said the frogs were very loud. It was such a good spot that when we arrived after the evening concert there was another camper van there as well. We managed to park in a way that didn’t block their exit, just as well because they did get away before us on Sunday morning.
The evening concert was more enjoyable than Friday night as it was a real concert and the choirs were well rehearsed. Filming was a problem as I was banished to the back of the hall. My lens wasn’t long enough to reach the stage and the microphone picked up all of the extraneous noises in the hall. Still, it’s a record of the event. I’ve recorded MD7 in a church with the camera on a tripod right in front of the choir and that worked well.
Day 4 – Merredin and Baandee Lake
In the morning MD7 were doing a ‘flash mob’ event at the local hardware store, followed by joining in a concert at a little market in the centre of town. I did some filming at both events. Then we had our reward, a BBQ back at the Tivoli Garden next to the Cummins Theatre. We spent so long talking with friends from MD7 and ex Working Voices that it was about 3.00 p.m. before we were ready to move.
We had planned to go back to Meckering for the night, but I was tired so we drove about 40 kms to Baandee Lake. It’s the usual rather bleak looking salt lake, but I had a nice evening walk before cooking us a light meal of lentil patties and some veggies. There were flushing toilets, but the toilet block was old and grotty, which was off putting.
The most interesting thing was that on the drive into the lake there was a large colony of rabbits. They were dear little things and had burrows on both sides of the road. Stephen was able to take a little bit of video on his phone, but they were quite wary of us and kept diving down.
And here is a little slide show, with a photo of the MD7 group with Stephen, and some morning shots at Baandee Lake.
Day 5 – home
We set off at about 10.00 a.m. and were home by 3.00 p.m. We had lunch in Mundaring where we bought some bread and rolls as well as a pastie, pie and apple slice. We also had a bit of a rest.
My plan is to talk about some of the highlights of our Festival experience, rather than going into details.
Thursday 8th April – to Pinjarra Overnight Free Camping
The reason to stay in Pinjarra overnight was to be close to Fairbridge so we could join the queue in the morning to wait for the gates to open. We enjoyed an evening walk over the road bridge and back along the footbridge before our evening meal.
Friday 9th April – to Fairbridge to queue up at 7.10 a.m.
In the morning we had cups of tea and a small hot cross bun each before going to the dump point and heading to Fairbridge. I’d forgotten to bring Panadol so we stopped at the service station on the way to see what they had. Stephen also picked up a loaf of bread which was very useful over the weekend.
We arrived at 7.10 am and there was already a queue for the opening at 9.00 am. I had breakfast and a coffee as we waited.
There was a bit of a delay in opening the gates, but we were able to choose a good camping spot with some morning shade. This also proved to be a good spot in sheltering us somewhat from high winds on Friday evening.
As usual, we felt unsure what to go to see at the beginning of the festival, it takes a day and a half to get into the rhythm. The major highlight was the wind. We went to Manja, the big tent for the evening concert. The wind was making the tent groan and the stage lights move backwards and forwards. I was pretty scared and persuaded Stephen to move closer to one of the exits. Another problem was that between the sounds inside the tent and noise from the other big venue we couldn’t really hear much of the concert.
I only felt vindicated for being so anxious the next day when people told us that the tent was evacuated. Apparently it took ages to get everyone out. Amazing that I seemed to be the only person there who was worried.
Saturday 10th April– Fairbridge
Saturday was warm and sunny and we alternated between time in the larger venues and the Clubhouse and loft. There were limits on numbers at the smaller venues and we decided to give up on joining queues, just seek out other places to be.
Sunday 11th April– Fairbridge
We got up early Sunday morning to go to the chapel for the Singing the Spirit concert. We knew there would be a queue so Stephen left ahead of me to line up. It had rained a lot in the night and we dodged showers getting there. I bought some breakfast to save time and had to sit outside under shelter as we weren’t allowed to take food and coffee into the venue. Singing the Spirit is a variety concert, which is why it’s interesting.
After the concert we headed back to the van and had lunch. Much of the field was under water and it was quite a business avoiding mud and puddles. There is only one road in and out of the field and we could see that it was getting very churned up and muddy.
Many campers pack up on Sunday and whilst having our lunch in the comfort of the van we watched our neighbours packing up a camper trailer and Campervan. There was heavy, driving rain the whole time and they appeared to have decided to ignore it, opening doors and hatches whilst the rain poured in and only one was wearing a rain coat. I just hope they couldn’t see us!
A highlight of the afternoon was a singing workshop where we were able to join the other singers in almost perfecting The Parting Glass. I shared a short video of this on Facebook. It was taken by one of the organisers. Iris is the name of the group.
One of our favourite acts was a husband and wife duo performing songs whilst they entertained us sending up themselves and German culture. They were one of the very few non Western Australian acts and had come from Germany to Sydney, undergone quarantine there, the they drove to Western Australia. We liked them for not taking themselves seriously at all.
The husband is Australian and it reinforces my feeling that Australians complaining about being ‘stranded’ overseas are missing something. People with Australian citizenship and their partners appear to have little difficulty coming here to visit.
We sampled various types of food, but nothing really wonderful except some chips that I bought as a snack which stayed crisp till the end and were definitely the best we’ve had. We also enjoyed some masala chai at the Beatles concert with Bernard Carney. Stephen had said he didn’t want to end up going, but it was the nicest venue and our German duo turned up as guest artists. We had wanted a cider, but one bar was very crowded and the other had run out of cider. The chai turned out to be a highlight,
Monday 12th April – back to Pinjarra for dump point and breakfast at the Dome
By Monday morning much of the water had drained away, though it highlighted how muddy and deeply rutted the road was. We got ready to leave quickly to avoid being the last out. Stephen walked ahead of the van to stop peacocks or peahens coming onto the road. I didn’t want to stop and risk being bogged. Stephen kept walking ahead until after I drove around a corner and onto the main field. He missed seeing the van slipping and sliding around the corner and said ‘well, that wasn’t as bad as we thought’. I wish he had turned around!
We went back to Pinjarra, which is about 5 kms away, and stopped off at the dump point before going to the Dome for breakfast. A lovely way to finish off.
As I’ve been writing lots of other details about our experience have come to mind. We caught up with Eversley for a while on Saturday and she came back to the van with us for a cup of tea and a rest. We saw lots of people we know, but mostly just in passing as we moved between different venues.
It was pretty amazing that the organisers were able to set up such a full programme in the circumstances. They hadn’t skimped on the children’s activities and I gather there were still the special youth concerts as well. There wasn’t much social distancing so we can only hope that we didn’t have anyone infectious attending. Most of the musical acts were Western Australian, but we have so many talented people here that it wasn’t a problem.
They took a risk that we would have a sudden lockdown as well. Still, here in WA that has only happened once. Our closed borders and quarantine system are working to keep us safe. Even the delayed vaccine rollout really only affects people who need to go overseas for family reasons. The rest of us as making the most of holidaying in our own country.
Last week we decided to take a mini break at Pinaroo Point, leaving on Thursday. We weren’t sure how we would go with wearing masks outside, but we are mostly used to it, just don’t always remember!
During the week we received word that Stephen’s cousin had died and the funeral would be held at Pinaroo Cemetary on Thursday. It fitted in with our plans. The funeral was held at the same place as her husband’s, not that long ago it seems. For the family it was difficult because one of their siblings had died first, then the father, then the mother. I felt quite sad afterwards and it meant the early part of our stay here was tinged with sorrow. If it was like that for me, who only went to two of the three funerals, I could only imagine how bad it was for the immediate family who were losing close family members.
Anyway, we have stayed. Yesterday and today we went swimming soon after breakfast and I have had cold showers, washing my hair, in the ablutions block here at Pinaroo Point. That was good yesterday when they had just been cleaned, not quite as nice this morning with some graffiti and rubbish left. There was an interesting large stick insect type creature in the shower cubicle as well, but it didn’t move at all, thank goodness.
We really enjoyed the swims and this morning’s was really lovely as we had left it late enough for there to be other swimmers as well, which made us feel safer. Until I put on my snorkel and found there were small jellyfish in the water. Another swimmer, who was covered neck to toe in black with mask and snorkel, also noticed them. Although I went back in briefly it did make me cautious. Lots of people stayed in the water and didn’t report stings.
On Friday morning we packed up and drove to Mullaloo Beach where we had morning tea at the Dome and lunch in the van. Then we drove back to Pinaroo Point and tried to find some shade. The shade didn’t actually come our way, but as it wasn’t hot we were comfortable enough. I cooked up a one pot meal of mince, various vegetables and rice. There are two meals left over from the cookup..
Today (Saturday) the morning has been hot, but there is a sea breeze now (at 12.00) and a bit of cloud. Also, we are parked under a peppermint tree where we have a bit of shade. We noticed yesterday that this spot had some shade all afternoon and when it was vacated late yesterday we moved in. We are still getting some solar, enough for me to dry my hair anyway. There is also a bit of cloud coming in.
The cloud meant we had some colourful sunset photos. After an evening walk we took a rug down to the beach to enjoy the show. Still wearing masks as the deadline was just after midnight.
It was a warm, still night and we used the fan to make it more comfortable.
Our final day was Sunday. It was cloudy and I didn’t fancy swimming as there were likely to be stingers in the water again. I just had a paddle. We packed up and drove home at around 10.00 a.m. The temperature was forecast to be 36 degrees even at the beach and we were glad in a way that the weather was against us staying longer as we had to get home for other things. Stephen had a rehearsal in the early afternoon and Matt was coming to visit in the evening.
Three nights and two days at the beach were definitely worth it. We felt very healthy and relaxed when we arrived home, although Stephen had to get ready for his rehearsal after helping with unpacking.
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.
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.
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.
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.