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.
I didn’t actually finish the last day of our time in Dwellingup. We awoke at our campsite at Nanga Brook camping area and moved over to a parking area so that we could take one last walk along the brook. Although we went the same way as the previous day it was interesting because there were people camping in tents and trailers with bicycles arriving, so obviously there was a bike event happening. We also had a group of school kids going on a nature walk with an indigenous leader.
Stephen suggested we try a different road out of our camp. It is gravel, but in good condition and we enjoyed the road and were only frustrated at the end to find that the last couple of kilometres at the end were blocked off. He asked someone about it and was told that it has been blocked off for years. Normally there is another route out, but that is blocked by roadworks at present. We drove back and found it actually seemed a bit shorter, not the usual experience when you have to retrace your route.
It gave us an excuse to go to the cafe at the Dwellingup Visitor Centre for lunch. During the day we had updates on Matt as he possibly injured his shoulder Tuesday evening. Staff took him to the Urgent Care Clinic of SJOG, Midland (near Bunnings apparently) and they had been taking him over to emergency for X-Rays, then back to the clinic.
We drove home afterwards lunch and had a cup of tea and a rest before unpacking the van. Then we had a phone call from Matt’s house supervisor asking if we could take over at the hospital as Matt still hadn’t had his shoulder fixed. We felt very tired, but I was worried enough to feel I really wanted to go and Stephen came around to it after a bit of thought. The cafe was still open at the hospital so we got some food and went around to emergency to relieve the staff.
It was a good thing we were there as we were able to consent to Matt being sedated so that they could attempt to get his dislocated shoulder back into place. Once he was sedated they had some X-rays done on the mobile X-ray machine to help with diagnosis. Then, about three doctors worked on him to get the shoulder back in place. They weren’t sure at the end if they had succeeded and Matt took ages to wake up. He had to be sort of startled awake by one of the nurses. Fortunately he was then able to go home and Tin, his taxi driver, left his home to come and pick him up. Stephen travelled with him in taxi in case he vomited and I followed in the car. I think we got home at about 1.00 p.m., but felt good about him being back to his house and looking much more relaxed than when he was at the hospital.
So, that was the end of our trip to Dwellingup for the Folk in the Forest music festival and camping at Nanga Brook. It was very enjoyable overall and is our last planned camping trip for 2021.
After a restful afternoon we went for another walk in the opposite direction. After exploring it we returned to a little bridge and it was there we picked up a walking trail that was wide and well maintained. It was the walk we would have like to have done in the morning. Something to come back for. We walked along for a while before coming back to the van. We had leftovers for tea and watched some YouTube before bed.
We were home for two nights before setting off for Dwellingup. I shopped in the morning and bought more food for the weekend than I thought we would need. It was just as well as the food van didn’t arrive and we had to cater for all of our food, except the excellent breakfast on Saturday morning, of course. Some folk went into Dwellingup to get extra food, but we actually didn’t need to.
A highlight (for me) was Stephen and Rob singing the policeman’s song in the Dome as a practice for singing it at the Trinity School for Senior’s concert in a couple of weeks time. They both got into the spirit of the song and made it quite funny. I took three photos, but because the Dome is actually a shape with vines covering it, they came out rather green. I’ve corrected as best I could in this photo.
Other highlights were the evening ‘session’ with drinks and food (there was a bar and we provided our own food) and various musicians and singers contributing.
Yesterday there was a presentation on sex in folk music, interesting and funny in part, but also going to the outer edge with some of the material. Then, the final concert featured Hot Toddy and the Red Sea Pedestrians as the last two acts and I enjoyed them very much. Hot Toddy is a group of musicians and their singer is a Scottish lady of mature vintage, with a soft voice and great sense of humour. Of course, they commemorated the 275th anniversary of the Battle of Culloden. As she said, a big event will be the 200th, but she won’t be around. Culloden was the last battle between the Scots and the English and afterwards the Scots lost many of their rights. It was a crushing defeat, with a terrible aftermath.
The Red Sea Pedestrians features two women who are marvellous commedians and also perform as the Joans of Ark. Along with some brilliant supporting musicians they provide wonderful entertainment.
Then, it was time to move on. Many people had already left, but as we didn’t have far to go we were feeling relaxed about being on our way. In Dwellingup we used the excellent facilities to refresh the van. We could have had hot showers and done some washing as well, using the facilities provided for cyclists, however we are not going to be away for much longer. A coffee at the cafe set us up for searching for a place to stay. After exploring many options we booked into the Nanga Brook Campground. I also checked the weather and found there was a warning of severe weather, with a storm and possible large hail. But by the time I found out it was too late to outrun it, so we drove to our campsite instead. We had a very heavy downfall soon after arriving, but our site, being slightly slopey, drained well. And that was it for the storm.
We are loving this spot. Trees have been cleared to make way for the campsite, thought new ones have been planted and are very pretty. But, we have a gurgling brook close by and are surrounded by tall forest. As this is not actually a national park people can bring their dogs, but it still managed by parkstay so that we could book online.
This morning we went for a walk along the brook. There is another campground further along and also one near the old townsite which is in the opposite direction (so we haven’t seen it yet). There was enough of a population to have 80-100 children attending the two room school.
A very large bus arrived and parked nearby, with a group of school children. They appear to have gone off for a long walk. So, no guarantee of quiet here, but the setting is so lovely and we have four bars of 4g, so it’s close to perfect for us.
We have booked for two nights and will return tomorrow (Tuesday).
By coincidence Marie, Geoff and Glenn have come to stay a couple of nights at Preston Beach. We decided to catch up in the late afternoon. We were a bit sad to leave Conto, but interested to come to stay at Martin’s Tank Campground near Preston Beach. on arrival we were supposed to check in with camp host, but being tired from the drive we went straight to our site. Marie and Geoff picked us up shortly after and we drove down to the beach, then to their rental cottage, which has views over the ocean. After a good catch-up and fish and chips from the General Store Geoff drove us back to our campsite.
We had hot drinks and some fruit and yogurt, followed by our last chocolates whilst watching an episode of ‘Fires’ on ABC iview.
I didn’t get a photo of our campsite as we were a bit focussed on getting ready to move by 10:00 am after a late start. The camp host came to see us and told us about the walk trails and public parking, and we first of all moved there and did a short walk. Then took advantage of the dump point before driving out of the campsite to a little parking area at the beginning of another, longer walk.
Stephen went out walking whilst I’ve been relaxing in the van with my second coffee of the day.
We found it hard to drag ourselves away from the festival. We caught up with old friends after Stephen’s workshop, had some morning tea, and only left when a choir came on that we were sick of. We headed for Margaret River for a late lunch and shopping. Margaret River cafes were so disappointing. Either they didn’t open on Sundays or they were shutting as we arrived. We ended up at a Bakery and had wraps. Fortunately the IGA wasn’t disappointing and we got all that we wanted.
The drive yesterday was beautiful, I had forgotten how nice this area of the south west is to visit. I had booked our campsite in the morning and we did our usual thing of driving around the loop looking at the individual spots before we settled on this one. There were a few kangaroos around. But then, when we decided to have afternoon tea disaster struck. I asked for my tea in one of the new plastic keep cups we were given a few days ago, thinking it would be safter for drinking on the bed. It was a little hot so I transferred to the top to hold and discovered that Stephen had forgotten that it was supposed to be screwed on. A big cup of tea spilled onto the bed, and some on me. After standing up and assessing that I wasn’t burned we surveyed the disaster on the bed. Our doona was soaked. We dragged most things out and took the cover off our mattress topper. The foam was slightly damp. We were able to pile things onto the picnic table that is part of our campsite. Eventually, some things dried and I also had a clean cover for the mattress cover and a spare sheet. Our doona is made of feathers and that dried after a couple of hours. There was a strong wind and we had to make sure things didn’t blow away.
We have a functioning bed even though our doona is stained and doesn’t have a cover. A couple of items should be OK when washing, but I found the mattress topper cover cannot be washed, so it may not be possible to use it again. I use a doona cover on the mattress cover as a bottom sheet, and that may be enough. We have stains, but fortunately not on the actual mattress that came with the van, just the IKEA mattress topper.
After settling down with a new cup of tea we assessed the overall effects of the spill and decided that in the greater scheme of things, this is just a blip. However, I did start scheming about having a second night in this location so that I could fully enjoy it, which fitted with Stephen’s plan to do a walk on the Cape to Cape which is accessible from the campsite.
This morning we woke up and had our cups of tea (I was allowed to have mine in bed), had some breakfast, and set off on the walk. We put sunscreen on and covered up as best we could and don’t seem to have any sunburn, a great blessing. The walk was lovely, though bees near the campsite as the peppermints are in bloom at the moment, then flies where the path went further from the beach. We found a beautiful spot with a bench seat and we are going back there presently to enjoy the evening light.
I was taking photos on my real camera (not the iphone, and discovered that I have some dust on the sensor. I’ve done some electronic cleaning, which appears to have helped (testing by photographing plain surfaces and the sky, plus I’ve been able to clean up the spots on the photos in Lightroom. So, hoping all is well because my tiny full frame camera (Sony A7c) is my favourate camera for walking as it’s so light to carry, has a folding screen so that I don’t have to worry about damaging it when walking, and it is very capable even with the little folding kit lens, that helps to keep the weight down.
We had some leftover hot food for lunch with sourdough bread bought at the IGA. Stephen managed to open our new jar of marmalade after putting his bowl of hot food on top for a little while. Brilliant Stephen!
After 5;00 pm we walked back to the seat on the Cape to Cape walk to see the sunset. There was cloud and a little sea fog, which made for mostly subdued colours, but we enjoyed being out enjoying our perch above the beach. We had tuna and salad for tea.
I have some photos of the many wildflowers on our walk to be posted in the next blog.
The Dunsborough Songfest didn’t go ahead last year due to COVID. In fact, there is to be a discussion after the afternoon concerts on the way forward, given that we can expect that our COVID free status will change next year. This year we’ve been able to go ahead if there is no worldwide pandemic because our border controls are working.
We’ve had a very busy week, but yesterday morning we were in a great mood because we were setting off on another adventure in the van. I decided we should only take breakfasts, enough food for simple lunches, and the leftovers from the meal I cooked on Friday, and just buy the rest of our food. It made for a much simpler packing experience. There were still clothes and technology to pack, but we had filled up with water the day before and there just wasn’t as much to do. We were able to leave by about 10.00 a.m.
We went down the fast route of the freeway, then Forest Highway. This is mostly a four lane highway and there are roadworks happening to extend it, which will mean there is only a short section left to complete. It makes for fast and safe travel. We stopped at the John Togneti Rest Area for a coffee break and pushed on to Busselton for lunch. We had though of having fish and chips, but there was also a pleasant takeaway cafe, with some indoor seating, and we decided it felt better to be outdoors. There was no wind yesterday and the temperature was ideal, getting a little warmer during the afternoon, but comfortable all day.
I had a BLT and Stephen a bacon and egg roll. We shared a ginger beer with a twist, followed by a locally made icecream, all the while sitting looking out over the water. There has been extensive development of the foreshore, with the little train still running and a shark net for swimming. The new playground features a replica sailing ship and there is a new two story pub. The Visitor Centre is also located in this area.
We lingered until about 3.30 p.m. and set off for Dunsborough. We had a plan to try some wild camping up near the school which was the venue for last night’s concert. Initially we parked up just to test out the access. There was a wash away at the entrance, but by going to one side it was fairly smooth. Then up over a culvet. Our first parking spot was on a slope, but later a car moved and we went into the vacated spot, which was pretty level. We were within walking distance of the school, but decided to take the van down for the concert and it felt a little sketchy to leave it there in daylight.
Coming back in the dark was a bit of a worry, but we got into our parking spot without too much trouble. We were very glad to have worked it out in daylight. There had been a lot of comings and goings as we were in the parking area for a bike trail. One young person had reminded us that it wasn’t a camping area, which made us feel somewhat uneasy. But, the overnight was peaceful and we made the decision to go to nearby Meelup Beach at about 6.30 a.m. Of course, that meant we were at the beach when the ranger came and she thought we had camped there overnight. She told us gently that we should book into a caravan park for tonight.
As we had found the wild camping experience quite stressful we were only too happy to comply. After attending a 9.00 – 10.30 a.m. workshop we headed for the caravan park and booked ourselves in. We will have lunch here before heading out to one of the afternoon concerts. Last night’s concert was great because it was a taster of many of the different choirs and small groups who will be performing today and tomorrow. Many were excellent, a few so so, and one or two bad, but as they all sang only one song it made for an overall good experience. We met with Cherry who is singing here with her choir and also connected with someone who had come to our house in Cannington for a rehearsal. She remembered Matthew and also worked with Eversley at one stage and I think Eversley was also at that rehearsal.
This morning our workshop was with the Eneksis choir run by Michael McCarthy of WAPPA. He runs a continuous choir with students moving through their years and leaving as they graduate, so always changing students, but with the same wonderful outcomes. He took us through a long exercise to get in touch with our bodies, relax, and find our best voices, then we sang a couple of peices with the choir. The first one I knew, so it was fairly easy, but the second one was a challenge as we didn’t have enough copies of the music and I had never sung it before, though I’ve heard this choir sing it. Still, it was an incredible experience and I was able to sing much higher than I normally do due to the effect of being surrounded by good voices. Also because of the pre singing preparation. It reminded me how much I love singing this type of music, rather than just popular songs and the Working Voices repertoire.
Sunday morning at Dunsborough
After lunch at the caravan park we went to one of the venues to listen to choirs. We left before the end because unfortunately listening to community choir after community choir becomes quite dreary. We drove back to Meelup Beach and followed the carpark to the other side of the beach. Afternoon tea and a rest later we went for a walk along the path to the Castle Rock beach. It was quite warm and we were glad of having lots of trees and bushes for most of the walk. We saw a few kangaroos, including one with a joey in her pouch. She was the most wary of the roos, the others seemed used to people.
The evening concert at the primary school was great actually. We had a lively and funny presenter, back by popular demand from previous years, and most of the choirs were of a high standard. The Electric Barbercats stand out. I don’t like barber shop quartet music generally, but they were into sending it up, with funny songs that sounded like most barber shop music at the beginning, until they got into the lyrics. They produce a really good sound and it was very entertaining. Of course, we had Eneksis to finish off the evening.
Cherry, our friend from Victoria Park and Working Voices (who now lives in Northam) is attending with her choir and we caught up with her briefly on Friday night, but sat with her for the concert and had time for more catchup as the concert finished at about 9.00 p.m. Stephen was tired and a bit anxious to get ‘home’ as he wanted to do a workshop on being a choir director this morning, but bowed to our request to stay a bit later. The bar was open, there were savoury platters of food available, and some singing, although as you had to stand we gave up and sat at the tables to talk.
This morning we woke to another sunny day. Although we didn’t get up early we managed to get everything done and arrive back at the primary school 10 minutes before the workshop was due to start. The coffee van hasn’t arrive yet and I’ve made coffee in the van where I am sitting writing this blog. At the moment our plan is to skip the final concert and do some shopping before setting off to Contos, a national park campground about 60 kms south from here.
After lunch and a rest at Lake Ninan it became clear that we didn’t want to actually leave. As the afternoon wore on Stephen got out the outdoor chairs and we put them in the picnic shelter to have good shade and comfortable seating and we spent the rest of the day there. Changing out of shorts into long trousers was a help in keeping flies at bay.
With all the cloud it wasn’t clear that there would be a good sunset, but just after sunset it began to glow pink and eventually became quite firey. I spent time walking around trying to get the best shot.
The evening meal was easy with leftovers from Saturday night and we had a good night’s sleep. On Monday morning it was windy, cloudy and there was even a little rain, but it cleared later with mixed cloud and sunshine.
Our drive home was in two sections, first going to the Bindoon Bakery for lunch, then taking the fast route home via Tonkin Highway. We arrived before 3.00 p.m. and didn’t feel particularly tired. The unpacking went the usual way, a bit messy and I haven’t put all of my stuff away yet, but so long as things are out of sight I don’t mind too much (in my former study which is now a sort of store room).
We have about two weeks at home before leaving for the Dunsborough Songfest. We have to then come home as we have a Working Voices Choir gig before leaving again for the Folk in the Forest weekend. We went on a wait list for this event and were lucky enough to score a camping spot due to a cancellation.
There are quite a lot of musical events in the next few weeks before Christmas, one WV event with two rehearsals, and two Mackie Street Singers gigs that we can actually do. Stephen is getting together with a friend to do a song at a concert in the city. As well, Marie and I are working on getting Mum’s business sorted. We now have been granted Probate and have started sending out letters to her investers. We are also setting up a Deceased Estate bank account with her bank where money can be safely transferrred or cheques desposited.
We have a leaking water pipe in the shower of our van and I’m hoping it can be repaired when the van goes in to have the heater installed on the 14th December. The work around is to use the tap in the kitchen to fill our basins of water for washes. We don’t usually shower anyway, just use two or three basins of water for soaping up and rinsing off. The kitchen is a step away from the bathroom so it’s not too inconvenient.
See if you can spot the girl on the top of the van in this slideshow. Like me she was taking photos of the sunset, but with more elevation! I’ve included a few photos from the morning as well.
Cleo was found today, an incredible outcome. We camped at the Blowholes Campground this year on our northerly trip and feared that the beautiful place was forever changed into something so sad. It’s hard to put into words how relieved and happy we feel here in WA. We are very thankful she and her parents are reunited and she appears to be unharmed.