There is apparently a much more posh golf links at Middleton Beach, but we are happy to be here out on the Frenchman Bay road away from the city. We are surrounded by bushland and with lots of birds, including noisy magpies that woke us up this morning.
Yesterday afternoon we picked up Eversley at the Bus Station at about 3.00 and took her to her motel where we had a cup of tea and catch up before heading out for a meal and a concert at the Uniting Church in Duke Street. The singer and musicians were very good indeed and it was a wonderful experience. We walked back to E’s motel where our van was parked before heading back here for the night.
I had a quick shower at the motel before we went out to tea, and Stephen and I have our own dedicated bath towells for the duration of her stay. The room is very old fashioned, but large and well appointed. There are three comfortable chairs at the dining table, so it’s well set up for sharing.
As we have been very busy it is time for a day off today. I cooked a meal which has resulted in left overs, always a good thing. We have enough bandwidth here to watch the Ash Barty match on the iPad.
It has rained often overnight and today, but very light rain and showers rather than constant rain. It’s keeping things cool, but we’ve also had some sunshine and our batteries are well charged.
It is Australia Day tomorrow and plan is to arrive at Middleton Beach for 9.00 a.m. for the Welcome to Country and honours ceremony, whilst enjoying the Rotary Big Breakfast. There will be entertainment, children’s activities, and food and craft stalls.
We’ve kept saying to people that we don’t know when we will return to Perth because it depends on whether our van heater has arrived at Ken Peachey Caravans. We are booked in for February 2nd, but it’s no use going home for that date if it hasn’t arrived. In the end I sent an email, and the receptionist confirmed right away that it has arrived and she has seen it! Therefore we won’t get more time here in Albany, but at least we know it’s worthwhile leaving here on Monday next week. We can get home in two days and strip out everything from the van when we get home, ready for the work. The side panel of our bench seat has come loose again (I’ve repaired it with superglue twice), and it will be good to have the experts fix it for us.
On our last day at Shelley Beach we stayed until quite late in the day. The ranger arrived and we paid for the two nights we were camping there. Saturday proved to be a very busy day at Shelley Beach because of the paragliding from the lookout area. I was able to get lots of shots of them in the air and landing on the beach. It was very interesting and they have amazing skill at staying in the air and sometimes weaving around another flyer.
On the way back to Albany we took a detour to book ourselves into the Golflinks car park for the night. We joined our friends at the Captain Stirling Hotel in the evening. A local choir has a meeting there once a month as a way of attracting new singers. We arrived a bit late to join in as they had been practicing for an hour or so when we arrived. They were in the courtyard and as it was a very pleasant temperature it made for a perfect setting, with walls around to help with the sound. The end result was surprisingly good, with three part harmony.
The drive back to the golf links in the dark did not seem far. Although we missed the ocean overnight it was pleasant there in the morning with bushland around us and lots of bird sounds.
We were able to book Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights at the Golf Links, but that left Sunday night. There is a big parking area between the IGA and the Transperth Bus Station, and our friends have camped there for one night and there is a blue campervan that seems to be permanently camping, so we felt fairly sure we could get away with staying for one night, and we did.
Yesterday was a busy day as well, with visiting the laundromat for an hour or so to do a large load of washing, then off to a car wash to get the salt and dust off the van. It was our first time of going to a self serve car wash and we had trouble working out what exactly we wanted to do, but chose one pressure soap wash and one rinse cycle and left with a clean van. Stephen wanted to try out the showers at Middleton Beach so we went there and parked in a shady spot away from the beach for lunch. In the end, he decided not to try the Middleton Beach showers and we drove back to the town so that he could shower at the public showers. There are toilets available near the IGA/Busport, but the showers have been disabled. Still, he was able to go across the road to the showers he has used in the past.
It was noisier overnight due to being close to the railway yard for the dock, and rather well lit up as well, but very convenient. Our friends had told us about a live show at the Hilton Sunday evening, which is just over the railway, and we joined them for the show -4.00 to 7.00 p.m. The singer and pianist only had two short breaks in that time and proved to be very good entertainers. The music was varied, jazz and pop and only spoilt somewhat in that there was a lot of noise from people talking rather than listening. We had a snack from the bar to keep us going. We drove over to the hotel carpark for the show, then back to the IGA/Bus Station area for sleeping. The IGA provided us with a hot meal, and a cooked breakfast this morning. Plus Stephen went over and did some shopping this morning.
This morning, we’ve done some van services (emptying and filling) and are now parked near the Hilton where there is a marina. The wind is very strong today and we are glad to enjoy the views in the comfort of our van.
Yesterday morning we packed up early and were on our way by about 8.30 a.m. We wanted to give ourselves the best chance of being able to stay at Shelley Beach. The drive through the Cape Howe National Park to the beach is gravel, fairly corrugated, but we went slowly in low gear and even the steep areas were not difficult in our 2WD.
We found ourselves in a little haven, with a small beach and steep slopes down to a small parking area. There were a couple of places we could have chosen, but we are near one end next door to a van similar to ours, with the only older couple we have seen here. Once we arrived and backed up with our rear doors looking directly onto the sea we decided to stay for a couple of nights, even though it would mean conserving water. It is so lovely and it feels like such a privilege to be able to stay in this lovely spot for a small fee, in our case $14.00 per night for two people. The only facility is one drop toilet. We cancelled our booking at the winery in Denmark.
Surprisingly this spot turned out to be busy during the day, but many cars and campers left by late afternoon. In fact, it has turned out quite easy to stay here. So far we haven’t seen a ranger so that we can pay, perhaps we won’t in the time we are here. The toilet was cleaned out yesterday and is about as good as this type of toilet gets, not smelly and people seem to respect it and not make a mess or steal the toilet brush(it can happen, goodness knows why).
Our friends came in the afternoon and we chatted and I shared my baking tips with the Omnia Oven, making us some muffins, which browned really well, but took about 1.5 hours. I must have had the flame too low. They plan on coming here to camp in early February. They offered us some water, surprisingly they hadn’t used any of the water we collected in Albany on Monday, so we put 10 litres into our tank and filled up a couple of our drinking water containers. We are still frugal with water, but now don’t have to worry about running out.
I opened the back doors and put up the lace curtain as soon as we arrived and the van did not get hot despite being in the direct sun. Good for our solar of course.
In the late afternoon Stephen and I sat outside on our chairs just behind the van where it was shady and cool enough for jumpers. We went for a walk along the sand which was very hard going indeed. There doesn’t seem to be any part of the beach where the sand packs down hard and you sink in at every step, even when close to the waves. It’s a bit rough for swimming, but not everyone is put off and we watched people wrestle with the surf.
The waves were so loud we thought they might keep us awake, but we slept extremely well. This morning we took a walk up to the lookout. There is an overgrown path, but we took advice from our neighbour that we might encounter snakes, so took the road instead. It was only about 2 kms, but mostly steeply uphill, with little shade, so a bit tough for us. Still we made it and had muesli bars at the top to celebrate. We found little patches of shade to rest in.
We’ve now had lunch and a rest, then afternoon tea and are now busy doing stuff, reading, Stephne is keeping a log, and me writing this blog.
It’s windier today than yesterday and we found it was too strong to have both back doors open. But, when it got a bit warm I opened one door for a while, with the lace curtain across, of course. I even sat outside whilst having afternoon tea. We lose the sun here at about 5.20 p.m., but are getting sufficient solar during the day to bring the batteries up to 100%.
Last night we listened to the news conference with MM and the health minister. I didn’t think he would change course from the February 5th opening even though things have changed so much with Omicrom, but he did. The border won’t open to all, but they will expand the list of exemptions. Of course, he is being vilified in the media and lots of people (supposedly local celebrities, but I’ve never heard of them) are complaining. But, It’s commonsense to keep quarantine requirements in place for now, and businessnes that are complaining have obviously not noticed what is happening in the Eastern States with many places having to shut down due to staff shortages and lack of customers.
We have 7 new cases today, so the virus is definitely here, but this way we can hopefully keep the numbers low and not have our contact tracing, listing of exposure sites, and about all, hospitals, overwhelmed. And hopefull we won’t lose any of our family and friends to the virus, which is my biggest concern.
Another nice perk of being here is that we have better internet than at Cosy Corner. We are a bit further from Albany, but out on a headland and that might make the signal a bit better. But we also think it might be due to fewer people using the bandwidth on the tower nearest to us (wherever that is).
It is not possible to book this campsite and so far we haven’t seen the ranger. According to the Wikicamps app we can pay by card. We have our National Parks pass showing on the windscreen.
We did two unusual things today. We went down to the beach before breakfast, walking along the beach to our right to the sheltered part where we each had a quick dip. And we left the rear doors of the van open and put up the lace curtain I inherited from Roslynn’s previous house.
The curtain doesn’t keep out all of the insects, in fact we did a good spray of the van before our evening walk tonight. But it at least discourages flies and the benefit of having a breeze flowing through our living space was worth it.
From here we are going to try to get a camping spot at Shelley Beach for tomorrow night. If unsuccessful we can just park there for the day and there is a community hall on the lower Denmark Road that allows 24 hour camping where we can stay tomorrow night if necessary. We have booked a couple of nights at a winery in Denmark to follow. It’s about the only way we can have a couple of nights fairly cheaply in Denmark, though they have food and wine to tempt us to spend. As we are not much on the wine it could be that the food will be our downfall😀
Omicrom has officially arrived and there is community spread. My original title for this series of blogs no longer applies. Hopefully, with our low population density and sensible measures in place we won’t go the way of NSW and Victoria and be more like SA.
In Cosy Corner our quiet life continues, although yesterday was a little different. Our friends had offered to have us for an evening meal, but before that we had some chores to do in Albany. One of the plastic strips at the front of our vehicle had lost a screw and was flapping in the wind. At first we thought the noise was the awning, but after bringing it in we still had the sound. So, our first chore was to visit a mechanic to have it looked at. Our friends gave us the name of someone and we headed there without phoning first. We found his office closed and heard later that he had gone to emergency that morning. Someone was working next door and when Stephen asked him for a recommendation he came and looked at the problem. He was a farmer, not a mechanic, but as it was a fairly simple problem he was able to find a suitable screw and secure the flapping thing in place. We were very grateful for his cheerful willingness to help.
Our next destination was nearby at Dog Rock. First of all we went to a pharmacy for some pain killers for our neighbour at CC who had injured his back (a recurring problem). Then we went to one of those cheap stores for a set of flags on a strip to help with marking our camping bay when we drive off temporarily. Australia Day flags were our only option. I forgot to mention that we had visited the laundromat first and put on a load of washing.
Then we did some shopping including for portabello mushrooms for our evening meal. We picked up some takeaway noodles for lunch.
Then it was down to the services bay on the foreshore to empty grey and cassette tanks, and fill up all of our water containers and tank. We also filled up a couple of containers for our evening hosts, a small favour that we were only to happy to fulfill.
Our friend had suggested 4.00 p.m. as the starting time for cooking, but she sent a text to say that my shift as Assistant Chef would start at 4.30 p.m. Not that I did anything, but it was wonderful to be there whilst she cooked various dishes for our meal, with multiple sprices and ingredients. The mushrooms were the main protein source. As her husband sat quietly I said to him that he must be quite used to it to be able to sit so quietly whilst I was savouring each different smell.
We had a lovely evening of food and good stories of our lives and travel.
Today has been a bit lazy, though I fitted in washing the floors. We angled the van a bit differently after returning from Albany yesterday so that we could have more shade on the sliding door side of the van in the afternoons. This has worked out well as there has been very little cloud cover today, though the fairly constant wind has kept us from feeling too hot. We’ve been able to comfortably sit outside and bring the awning in a bit when the wind became stronger in the afternoon without losing our shade.
We have been enjoying a restful time here at our camping spot. Our evenings have been spent with our neighbours, talking and singing. During the day we eat, drink and laze about. We took a walk yesterday along the beach to the sheltered area that is good for swimming and found it quite busy, probably due to being on the weekend. On our way back to camp we realised that we were only a kilometre from the cafe. It motivated us to take a slightly longer walk, with the promise of some food. As was the case last year it became a bit chilly sitting the the garden even though we had felt quite warm on our walk there. We haven’t had any hot weather yet and it gets chilly after dark, but it can get quite warm in the van during the day. So, nothing much is happening, but it’s lovely to be here where we can hear the waves on the beach.
We made it to Cosy Corner at close to 1.00 p.m. yesterday. For some reason we had no difficulty getting up and ready to go by 9.00 a.m. yesterday morning. First stop was the van services area for water, dump point and getting rid of grey water. Then we went straight to the vaccination clinic. Although we were early for our booked appointment they let us join the queue. The setting was a disused Bunnings and it allowed for different areas for children, adults and post vax seating for the 15 minutes. They’d even organised water/juice so that the waiting wasn’t too boring for kids. Toilets were also available.
Our friends had organised a camping spot for us and let us know that the person hadn’t left, so we didn’t have to hurry. We took the opportunity to go to the Dog Rock Laundry to do a load of washing, get some cash, and have a bit of a snack so that we wouldn’t arrive hungry. Despite all that our camping area was still occupied (by a very nice person), so we sat with our friends catching up with news.
We have the camping spot next door to them with privacy bushes on both sides. Our neighbours on the other side were noisy last night, but we plan to make noise as well tonight having a sing a long.
We had a short walk along the beach before tea last night, then went and had more catchup with our friends. The husband is a fellow geek, so we share information on gadgets for our vans. They’ve invited us to tea on Sunday night and I’ve asked if I can be assistant cook and learn to make a really nice vegetarian meal. They are vegetarians for health reasons, which is my motivation as well.
We have been planning things to do when Eversley arrives and have already booked three tickets for a film at the library. I’m hoping we can take in some of the Australia Day festivities as well.
We’ve set up camp with the awning out and tethered (winds can be strong here), mat, tables and chairs. We had our external solar panel out, but I didn’t want to leave it out overnight so brought it in. However, I think it’s a good idea to leave it out and we can wipe it down if the dew causes sand to stick to it, as it will.
We didn’t want to drive a long distance yesterday. Stephen found a nearby lookout and it turned out to be a good find. On the way we had to follow a gravel road for about 2 kms, then saw a two wheel track going up the hill to where we thought was the lookout. We knew we didn’t want to drive up that, but as we drove a little further we found a sealed road that took us to the lookout. It wasn’t sign posted, but we followed it because it was going in the right direction.
We made toasted sandwiches for lunch, then basically lazed away the rest of the afternoon either resting, reading books or listening to podcasts. I took a few photos but I didn’t want to wait until sunset for better shots, then have to drive back when it was getting dark. Mainly because of the danger of hitting wildlife.
We had another peaceful night at the campground and took our time getting ready to leave this morning. At Mt Barker we did van services (refuelling, emptying and refilling tanks, and shopping). Well stocked up we drove to Middleton Beach for lunch. It was beautiful, but extremely windy and it became a bit tiring to cope with. The beach looked inviting, but sand was blowing and it wasn’t pleasant to be out for very long.
Back in the town Stephen went to the Visitor Centre and I went to a cafe for a coffee. We both had a great time, of course. Afterwards I wanted to go to Frenchman Bay. The informal camping area has been closed off with a chain and padlock. Stephen investigated and there is a sign to say that it is private property. A pity, but as it wasn’t actually a designated camping area we can’t complain.
Stephen rang the golf links and when they said they were full he pleaded that our van is very small, surely they could fit us in. The person caved and booked us in.
After afternoon tea at Frenchman Bay we went to the golf links and found a good spot and only had three tries to get ourselves up on the levelling blocks. I didn’t feel up to cooking and we had cooldrink with snacks, then had tuna and salad with half a roll each and cider, followed by fruit and yogurt.
We were a bit delayed in getting away for this trip and only left on Sunday. We pushed through to Katanning for our first night. It was fairly easy driving on the Great Southern Highway, with no trucks. Our aim, of course, was the free camping with dump point and fresh water and being close to the Dome Cafe for breakfast. We took a walk around the town in the evening and had a shared big breakfast yesterday morning.
Later we located a tyre place and had the tyres checked. The rear tyres were a little down and there is a bit of wear as a consequence. The person was helpful and cheerful, which left a good feeling.
We chose our next location as somewhere near the Stirling and Porongorup Ranges. A winery offered camping at $20 per night with no facilities and the Kendenup Shire offered camping in the recreation centre car park for $20 per night with power, water tap, toilets and hot showers and an outdoor sink with hot water for washing dishes. Which would you choose? We felt it was a no brainer to choose the shire site and we had a peaceful night last night even though some tent campers arrived after dark and spent time getting set up. It is $15 per night without power, but as it is a bit cloudy and it was only $5 extra we have opted for power.
One of the things that delayed us getting away was that Stephen developed a bit of a cold last Wednesday. He checked with the surgery where we were booked for booster shots and they didn’t want him there. We cancelled both appointments and went and got tested. We had to change the time for Matt to come to tea whilst we waited on results. He came to tea on Saturday night in the end. Fortunately he is very flexible.
This morning we have been very relaxed about time, waking up and spending time having our cups of tea before breakfast and washes. I also wanted to get started on this blog, and so I have.
We have booked into the Albany Community Clinic for our booster shots on Thursday. I also checked with Ken Peachey regarding our new water/space heater, which was due to arrive around Christmas, but is still apparently on the road. They have booked us in for February 2nd, but I will check the preceeding week to make sure it is either there or very close. If it looks like being delayed again we don’t need to rush back for the 2nd.