This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


2004 Travels May 3


I phoned son to wish him a happy birthday for tomorrow – whilst I was still in a place with a phone signal. Tomorrow he would turn 30.

After a relatively early breakfast, we did a final small shop for oddments: oil for Truck, a tyre deflating gadget, milk, bread and the like. Collected mail. The expected new aerial for the GPS was in the mail bag, but they had sent the wrong one!

I collected some more books from the library – we would be passing back through town before their due date.

Refuelled Truck – $1.03cpl.

Then it was back to van, where we completed the pack up and hitching up of van.

Our destination was the Thomas River camp ground in the Cape Arid National Park, to the east of Esperance. We intended to have a look out there – where we had not been before. If we liked what we saw, would stay there, otherwise would come back to Cape Le Grande National Park, where we had camped for a couple of nights in ’93. We knew the camp ground at Lucky Bay was adequate and the surrounding area lovely, but also that it could become quite crowded.

The drive took us out through Condingup, and was mostly through farmland – grain growing country. It was quite pleasant. Eventually turned south. The last 12kms was on a gravel road, but it was in good condition.

We came first to the Shire campground, which fronted onto the little Thomas River. It seemed alright, but we decided to go look at the National Parks campground, up on the hill, just in case it was better.

It was absolute magic! We found a site high on the hillside, with a superb view over Yokinup Bay to Cape Arid and Mt Arid. Ours was a deep site, set back with bush on three sides. We could hear the sea. There was an adequate eco-toilet not too far away. There were only two other lots of campers there, and a couple who were acting as campground hosts – Rhyllis and John. We discovered that he was the brother of a lady I’d known for some time, through my then work. She was for a time a State Parliamentarian. Yet again – small world.

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Looking over the mouth of Thomas River & Yokinup Bay from our camp area

This was just a wonderful place to stay. There were no formal fees, but we donated $5 for each night we stayed.

After setting up, went for a short walk to the beach. A path through the scrub met up with a vehicle access that came from the Shire campground. The beach was quite wide with firmer sand where the tide advanced and receded. but softer sand behind that. We judged it able to be driven on, at low tide.

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Cape Arid from beach by our camp

Came back to the camp hosts’ van for Happy Hour drinks. Rhyllis had made little savouries – it was a pleasant, relaxed hour or so. She was yet another former secondary teacher!

There were lots of birds about. The surrounds were mostly banksia dominated scrub and heathlands.

Hearing the sound of the sea as background noise at night was lovely. It was a cold night.

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2004 Travels May 1


It was even colder today.

The planned bowls for today was cancelled, as there were not enough entries, so they were to play tomorrow, only. John was disappointed.

We walked to the shops and bought the weekend papers.

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John arranged for us to practice bowls with a local couple. It was a pleasant game, and we had drinks together afterwards.

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2004 Travels April 29


After breakfast, we went back to Lake Monjingup. This time, we spent over three hours there, wandering about, watching birds, trying to identify the varied bushes, and just generally enjoying the little oasis of wilderness.

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Lake Monjingup

We spotted a Western Spinebill, for the first time, and a Fan Tailed Cuckoo.

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Very symmetrical banksia

I was quite intrigued by an ant path that extended a long way, over soil and rock. I wondered how many zillion ant footsteps it had needed to make such a clear path? Amazing.

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Ant path with large ant mound in background

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Venerable banksia

The rest of the day, I read and John played computer games.

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2004 Travels April 27


We were woken very early by a phone call from the errant daughter. She’d forgotten about the time difference! She needed to borrow money until her financial situation got more sorted out. Later in the day, we transferred some money to her.

I decided to phone my minister friend P, to see if he would counsel daughter, and assess her state of mind, for me. I knew I could rely on his impartial, and expert, views – and he’d known daughter for years. He agreed. I felt better for having actively done something!

John bowled in the afternoon. He won some beer, for coming second. He came back with the news that there was to be a big bowls tournament on here, next weekend. I agreed that we could stay on longer, so he could play in that, instead of leaving on Saturday, as planned.

While John was at bowls. I walked to the town library, where I was able to borrow some reading matter. I had to pay a $50 surety, though.

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Aerial view of Esperance, showing Pink Lake – from postcard (source unknown)

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2004 Travels April 27


In the morning, we went to bowls. The game was a new form of Scroungers (for us), and was good fun. That type of game allows individual scoring, and takes off the pressure to perform that goes with the usual team structures of games. It is much more social and light hearted.

Back at camp, after lunch, John did some computer stuff for the first part of the afternoon.

Then we drove the 14kms out to Lake Monjingup – a botanical reserve, with lakes and teeming bird life. It was a lovely spot. We walked about and did some bird spotting, and could have used more time out there. We’d left it a bit late in the day to do the place justice.

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2004 Travels April 26


Today was a public holiday.

We went driving, firstly around the 38km long Tourist Loop. This followed the coast west from the town, then looped back around past the Pink Lake, to town. This had got to be one of the best coasts in Australia. It was so beautiful. The road wound about, and each rise crested gave an outlook over the sea and islands, and occasional beaches.

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There were also occasional glimpses of the wind farms.

The day was a bit grey and slightly chilly, so we were not tempted to stop and walk on any of the beaches.

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We saw the Pink Lake – faintly pink, due to its salt-tolerant algae. Apparently, it could be really quite vividly pink, but not so at the moment.

We drove back through town and out the other side, around to the Bandy Creek boat harbour – an anchorage place for fishing boats and smaller craft, away from the seriously large shipping frequenting the main harbour.

From there, followed a track that took us on to the point beyond, and Wylie Bay. There is so much beautiful coastal scenery around Esperance that, after a while, one starts to become a little immune to it!

Today was an enjoyable sight seeing day.

At night, there were more of the ongoing phone call and text messages with daughter, concerning her situation and plans. They just perpetuated my unhappiness with it all.

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2004 Travels April 25


After breakfast, took ourselves off to the Tourist Information/historic Museum complex.

There were a number of craft outlets within the historic area. John got a leather maker to put a tie, or thong, onto the good Akubra hat he’d bought last year in Charleville. Without this, it was only going to be a matter of time before it was lost forever, off a cliff or jetty!

I bought a beaded anklet, for $6 – a pretty little thing.

There were some Anzac Day commemorations happening in the town.

After lunch back at the van, we went for a walk. There was a very pleasant path along the Esplanade – pretty, interesting, and with the sea outlook to the offshore islands, that were part of the large stretch of islands making up the Archipelago of the Recherche.

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Brilliant ocean views abounded in Esperance

We walked as far as a shipping pier where a boat was unloading something that was grey and dusty – fertilizer?

Couldn’t make actual phone contact with John’s travelling cousin, but our criss-crossing phone messages established that they were leaving Perth tomorrow, heading back to Melbourne, so our paths will not quite intersect, this trip.

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2004 Travels April 24


Today’s aim had now become to get to Esperance in time to get the two problem tyres fixed!

We refuelled at Norseman – $1.04cpl – and turned south for the run to the coast.

It was pleasant to get back into the farming country south of Norseman. The roads became lined by stands of the salmon gums whose vivid pink-red trunks had so impressed us when we first encountered them in 1993.

Reached Esperance about midday.

Pulled straight into the first tyre place we came to – a Beaurepaires. They fixed the tyres then and there, while we waited. Great service! Both needed new tubes.

Booked into the Seafront Caravan park – a Top Tourist one. This was $19.80 a night, after discount, with the seventh night free because we booked for a week. Quite reasonable. It was a very pleasant caravan park.

After a quick set up of the basics, we headed off to the shops. Fresh produce again! But some of their stocks were low, as it was a long weekend in WA, and getting close to shop closing time.

Back at camp we finished the setting up for an extended stay.

Went out and bought fish and chips for tea. It was expensive – $6.50 a piece for flake! Not what we expected in a seaside location.

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