South: Gibson’s Soak to Stokes Inlet National Park Campsite

Stephen suggested we check to see if we could camp at Stokes Inlet for tonight and when we got to the entrance there was no ‘campsite full’ sign, so we ventured in. The gravel road was pretty rough, deep corrugations, which made it quite a bumpy and noisy ride for the 7kms. We had been planning to do some shopping, fill up with water and empty our toilet in Ravy, so I felt a bit unprepared for this, but the day was extremely hot and being close to the ocean seemed a good idea. It was hot at our campsite, so we went down to the day picnic area and sat as close to the water as we could,

The reason it was so hot was that there was a gale coming later in the day. By about 5:00 pm the wind was getting quite strong and the temperature went down to low 20s. We went for a short walk down to a boat launch site near our camp.

The camping is well set out with a little sheltered bay for each RV or tent. There are drop toilets of the best kind which are mostly smell free and a couple of campers kitchens with BBQs and slow running water from tanks, not drinking water, but useful for washing up. I used a tap to wash my hair and just had to be patient with the rinsing as it took quite a while.

We were out of bread, so I made some damper to go with our meal. It was a bit hard, but very tasty and we ate most of the little loaf.

By now, 8:40 pm, there are some very strong gusts of wind that are making the Winnie rock. We chose to be in one of the most sheltered parts of the camp, which was clearly a good decision. We feel fairly safe, there are no large trees, just bushes that are higher than the van, but look like they bend with strong winds.

South: Esperance to Gibson’s Soak

Today was cloudy and misty, the sort of weather that happens close to the sea. I noticed yesterday that a coffee van parks outside of the caravan park, so after having a shower I walked to the gate for a coffee to have with breakfast.

Yesterday evening, with the Winnie once more on park water we went to turn on the electric hot water system only to find that it was already on. Yikes! We were plugged in the evening before but had left the water hose off because of the leaking. We have heard that we must have water on, either the pump or park water or we would burn out the element. I have argued that because the hot water tank is usually full, it gives the element a bit of protection should we be silly enough to forget. But, I didn’t expect the protection to last overnight and part of the next day.

We were lucky, the water was hot and I also used the water heater this morning, so all is well. We have decided to unplug the heater when not using it as an additional safety measure. It can be switched off inside it’s little panel as well.

We left our $45 per night campsite, thinking that it was mainly worth the money the first night when we had a view of the beach. Anyway, there are five caravan parks in Esperance, but no free camping unless you travel 21 kms up the Norseman road to Gibson’s Soak, where we are spending the night before heading off for the Stirling Ranges tomorrow. We will have a night in Ravensthorpe on the way.

We began by heading up to a local tourist attraction, a modern Stonehenge, based on the original. It is on a farm just outside of Esperance.

The owner told Stephen that they are sometimes quite overwhelmed by visitors, and it was pretty busy whilst we were there. It was hard to get photos without people in them, including us😊

Our next port of call was on our way here, Helms Arboretum. It was beautiful, especially the picnic area, mainly because of the pine smell and wonderful, echoing birdsong. I have a little video that needs processing before I can post it. I took it more for the sounds than the visual. Anyway, we do have a photo:

e had lunch and a rest, then drove here for our overnight stay. It is a large area where self contained RVs can park for free next door to a hotel. There are public toilets available even though there is a local shire requirement that we be fully self contained. The forecast for tomorrow is 36 degrees, fortunately today has remained cool even as the sun came out this afternoon.

here are trees in flower and a lot of birds.

South: Esperance 2nd day

We found the local caravan repair specialist on Google and went for a visit this morning. We were able to make an appointment for 1:30 pm, so went and spent time at the Dome cafe working on our stuff, me photos, Stephen Mandarin.

It took about half an hour to fix the problem and they really seemed to know their stuff. Afterwards Stephen visited the Museum to learn some local history whilst I read. I’m reading a book written by a girl who escaped from North Korea. The book is called ‘In Order to Live’ and tells of the hardships endured by herself and her family after they escaped North Korea because of the cruelty of the people smugglers.

We went and had wonderful ice creams in waffle cones afterwards.

There is a model railway on the foreshore, with a dear little clock tower that chimes on the hour, well sort of, the chimes happened five minutes after the hour, even by its own telling. There is a small marina, with a bathing beach where the water is shallow and calm.

We went back to the caravan park to sit outside for awhile before tea. We are working through ‘The Crown” on Netflix, one episode each night. Theoretically we should be able to watch TV live, but our aerial only works reliably in cities, and just occasionally in a small towns.

There were two pavilions near the train station with upturned eves which looked rather Chinese.

South: Esperance

We had a restful day today. We were able to get two more nights at the caravan park, but had to move back from our prime position with a view of the ocean to being in the middle of the caravan park. We moved, then took the morning off, reading, in my case, and studying Mandarin in Stephen’s case. I did some hand washing just to keep up a bit.

We left the park at about 3:00 pm to do some shopping and go for a drive along the ocean front. We passed several car parks overlooking the beach until we found one on a point between two bays, with views of each. We sat for a while, then walked down to the ocean.

The photos here are actually from a different beach where we stopped on the way home.

We cooked sausages in the electric frying pan outside, the evening was mild and there was little wind. When we walked down to the beach after doing dishes, we found it was quite windy. There is no wind at our campsite. Odd!

We have, of course, sprung a leak – it’s under the kitchen sink where the plumber worked on when we were on our long trip. It’s the water inlet hose and leaks whether we are using our tank or outside water. It starts to leak as soon as we put the pump on. We will try to get a plumber to look at it tomorrow. Stephen tried tightening it up by hand, but it’s a very awkward place to work in. I’ve put a plastic container underneath the leak for the moment. At least Stephen doesn’t have to connect up the water hose, and we have a campers kitchen where we can do the dishes.

There are about seven plumbing companies here in Esperance, so we should be able to get help.

I’m posting from my iPad, and yesterday when I did this I found lots of typos. I hope it’s better tonight because I’m too tired to check.

These photos are full sized rather than the very compressed size of yesterday’s photos, I hope they will look better and do more justice to the beautiful scenery.

South: Ravensthorpe to Esperance

We feel very satisfied to have reached Esperance today, the final eastwards destination of our trip. We thought we might spend a night at Stokes Inlet at a National parks campground, but when we turned off there was a sign saying the campground was full. We pulled over to have lunch shortly afterwards. We made one phone call to a caravan park on the beach at Esperance and managed to get a birth for the night. There is free camping about 20kms to the north if we can’t get another night here. We will want to go out in the van exploring anyway.

After a cup of tea we went for a walk along the beachfront. There was a lot of erosion, so they have built up the beach front with rocks and made some little groins, all from an attractive reddish stone. There are fresh green lawns and Norfolk pines, some with very thick trunks. There is an old jetty and islands in the bay that make this area very attractive indeed. We explored a lookout which gave us quite a different point of view. I took the short video from that vantage point.

This was taken from a lookout.

South: Ongerup to Ravensthorpe

The featured image is of one of the signs on the walk at the memorial near Ravensthorpe.

Today we’ve been driving just north of the Fitzgerald National Park, sometimes seeing the unique plant life of this region. We set off a bit earlier than usual, about 9.30 a.m. and made good time to a little place called Fitzgerald where we had lunch. We tried to shop in Jerramungup on the way, but their IGA was closed. We bought a few things at the roadhouse where we filled up with fuel.

About 15 kms before Ravenshorpe is a memorial to Aboriginals who were killed by local farmers about 135 years ago. A very sad story indeed, but the setting up of the memorial in 2015 has allowed some reconcilation to take place. The site is very beautiful.

memorial entrance (1 of 1)
Entrance to the memorial walk trail

memorial walk trail sign (1 of 1)

view to Mt East Baron (1 of 1)
Stephen thinks the mountain is Mt East Baron, there is a Mt West Baron that we passed earlier in the day.
near Ravensthorpe (1 of 1)
Vegetation near the memorial. This is a bit different to what is in the Fitzgerald National Park
bendy tree (1 of 1).jpg
Winnie hiding berhind bendy tree

We took a video of some painted silos coming into the town, but the video doesn’t really show how impressive they are.

As it is New Year’s Eve, we are going to check out the pub meals here on our walk around the town. We are parked in town opposite a service station in a free RV site for self contained vans. We are not sure if we will have a quiet night, or be kept awake by local celebrations. There are no other vans here at the moment. This town offers free drinking water and there are public toilets across the road at a little park.

Ravenshorpe is where my grandparents came to live after being in Parkerville for a long time. They had a caravan and would travel to Hopetown to enjoy the ocean and fishing. I visited twice that I can remember, once with Robyne and once when I caught the bus here and stayed with them for a few days. They took me on a quest to find the Qualyup Bell, a local flowering plant. When Kings Park have their wildflower festival I have seen it as part of the display. The website gives some information  about it.

South: Dumbleyung to Ongerup

The featured image is a view of the Stirling Ranges from Chester Pass Road.

Yesterday in the evening we went for a walk around the block. There is a replica of the Bluebird and memorial to Donald Campbell.

Replica of the Bluebird (1 of 1)
Bluebird Replica

It was quite a lovely evening with no clouds.

Dumbleyung evening
The Grand Old Dumbleyung Pub, with a truck going somewhere in a hurry!

For some reason I was awake in the night for quite a while, not worrying, just awake. I went back to sleep and was woken up by Stephen doing our morning cups of tea, very nice.

We took a while to get going, with Stephen working on his Mandarin and me doing some hand washing. It had a chance to get past the dripping stage in the warm sun. Our nights have been quite cool enough for the doona, which means we have cool mornings and evenings even though the day temperatures get up to about 30. There is usually a cool breeze, but it’s hot walking in the sun.

The most enjoyable part of today was that we were travelling towards the Stirling Ranges for part of the journey. As you can see, we are still putting the little dashboard camera up to take video of travelling along.

We passed through a couple of small villages on the way here. We had a choice for tonight of a free camp with no facilities (not even drop toilets) or at the caravan park, and decided on the caravan park. We have privacy on one side with a view of bushes and trees, which we are assured will give us shad in the morning.

We sat outside when we first arrived, getting gradually very chilly, but waiting for the van to cool down a bit as it was still very warm inside. We had a small amount of shade at the roadside stop at lunchtime. We had quite a long rest after eating, me making up for missed sleep last night.

I am cooking tea and writing this blog, feeling smug at being able to multi-task. I’m regretting not bringing our electric pressure cooker. It’s quite large, but means I can brown the meat and onions, then add everything to the pot and let it finish off. The little electric frying pan doesn’t allow for this type of cooking, so have done the vegetables in the microwave.

Time to eat!