This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2004 Travels May 31


I was “owed” another day of exploring the area, after my bowls participation on Saturday, and was determined to ensure it happened.

So we set out driving to explore Cape Naturaliste and the northern part of the Capes region, having visited the southern portion on Thursday.

At least, it was a much better weather day.

The drive of about 30kms, along the coast to Cape Naturaliste, was pleasant, through the growing township of Dunsborough too.

Here was another lighthouse, where we had to park and walk up to look at the structure, on its headland. It was just a white lighthouse – nothing really special.

We did a one hour walk around the lighthouse area. The track went through bushland, well up above the sea.

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There were some great views along the coastline from various vantage points. Walking through the coastal scrub was very enjoyable, especially where wild flowers occurred.

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After completing the walk, we drove back to Dunsborough, then turned south on Caves road, intending to explore features of interest down as far as Margaret River, and thus complete what we’d started on Thursday.

Yallingup Beach was our first stop, where we sat and watched surfers there, for a while.

Then we realized we had yet another bloody flat tyre! Number 5. There had to be something more going on than just the effects of the Fowlers Bay effort. Changed the wheel, then aborted our plans for the rest of the day and drove back to Busselton to get yet another new tube and flat wheel repair.

As a result, we had a very late lunch. I’d been going to buy this on our drive, somewhere, but there were no shops near the tyre repair place. By the time that was done, had to settle for plain bread from a bakery in town.

There was not enough of the afternoon left to resume our sightseeing, so went back to the van. John whiled away his time there, while I went for a walk along the sea front.

Had collected the mail this morning. Nothing of note in the bag.

Bussellton was a lovely place and definitely worth spending more time at. I felt we had hardly scratched the surface of the area. The week here had been a frustrating one.

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2004 Travels May 30


It was a really wet and windy day.

For the sake of getting out of the van, we drove to look at the sea pounding in along the Geographe Bay sea front. Then drove along as far as the wharf.

This jetty was quite a structure, and had an interesting history. It was originally intended to be less than 200 metres long, but due to sand drifts in Geographe Bay, kept being added to, over the years, until it reached 1.8kms! It was the longest timber-piled jetty in the southern hemisphere – there certainly was no shortage of good pile timber nearby!

The jetty’s use for shipping ended in 1972, after which it deteriorated until threatened with demolition. But some locals were determined to save it and transform it into a viable tourist attraction. It was repaired, a little train began to run out to the end of the jetty, and an under water observatory was planned for out at the end. A fire in 1999 – possibly from a cigarette butt – was a setback, but it was repaired, and the under water observatory opened at the end of last year.

With that history, I really wanted to walk out along the jetty and visit the Observatory. But today was not a good weather day to do so, and John was not feeling like it, so we just drove back to the van.

Passed the rest of the day by reading and sewing. John played on the computer.

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2004 Travels May 29


After breakfast, drove to the shops and bought the much needed groceries. Also refuelled – $1 a litre.

After an early lunch we were off to bowls, where John had booked us in to play pairs, despite my lack of enthusiasm for the idea. We played in separate teams and the one I was in lost both games. I did not enjoy it.

John was happier with his game but his team was not placed.

I could think of so many better ways we could have filled the day!

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2004 Travels May 28


I set the alarm for 8am so we could go to the caravan park’s pancake breakfast at 9am. But when it went off, John was reluctant to get up and not feeling keen on either pancakes or socializing. So I went and did the washing instead!

We eventually headed off to do various shopping type tasks. But John suddenly started getting really strange noises in an ear, so we went to the hospital. They were busy and said to go back in an hour.

Went to two tyre places. At the second, were able to source a good Michelin tube. Having it fitted took a while.

Then it was back to the hospital, which was still busy, so John hunted up a private doctor and got an appointment for 11.45. This did not leave us enough time to do the food shop I’d planned. Went to the Library to pick up the books I was now entitled to. This detour was obviously a hassle for John, who was being very grumpy and made comments to that effect. So, in the end, I simply collected back the deposit money I’d previously paid and did not borrow anything. John was often intolerant about my buying or borrowing books, not being much of a reader himself.

Got to the doctor in plenty of time, then had to wait for ages. The diagnosis was a blocked Eustachian Tube. John was to try pseudo-ephedrine, and if that didn’t work, an antibiotic.

We just had time to dash to some shops to get John’s medicine and some bread for lunch, before rushing back to the van for lunch and for John to go off to afternoon bowls.

It was really a rather wasted and boring morning. Because of having no time to shop, we were out of milk for my morning coffee and cereal for John’s breakfast. Didn’t get to the Post Office either, which we’d intended, so would have to wait until Monday to collect our mail.

To add to my woes, it was raining heavily by the time we got back to the van, so I spent some of the afternoon putting my washing through the dryer – cost me $7.

The rain eventually stopped and I went for a walk for an hour, then sewed.

John was pleased with how he bowled, but did not win anything. Despite the ear, his day had been better than mine.

It had been cold at nights here, but not as cold and damp feeling as Pemberton had been.

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2004 Travels May 27


Today it was my turn to set the agenda! It would be a driving and sight seeing day.

Took the main road south, to Margaret River, where we stopped at the cheese factory and sampled and bought some of its produce.

Continued on south to Augusta and then Cape Leeuwin, with its lighthouse.

The area was really scenic and attractive. Augusta, we thought, would be a good place to stay for a while – fairly quiet, very pretty. The quite large Blackwood River empties into Flinders Bay here, so there were both sea and river estuary environments.

At the Lighthouse, we had to park, pay an entry fee, and then walk up a road to the Lighthouse precinct, which included several buildings. The Lighthouse was the tallest in WA, and the third tallest in Australia. It stood in white contrast at the end of the precinct. Having a browse around the whole place was worth the entry money – and the uphill walk!

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Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse – from a post card

At Cape Leeuwin, the Southern Ocean meets the Indian Ocean. A sign board indicated this.

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Back in Augusta, took the Caves Road, which tracked closer to the coast than the highway. As the name suggested, there were a number of caves through this area. We were not tempted to visit any of these, excellent though some were meant to be.

Our first side track was to the coast at Hamelin Bay. This was another really scenic place, with beach, picturesque jetty remains, a view to a little offshore island. Today, it was all enhanced by some really spectacular cloud formations. This was another place I noted for a future stay.

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Hamelin Island

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Hamelin Bay was named for a French explorer – Hamelin – who visited here about 1801. His name is also used much further north, at Hamelin Pool and Telegraph Station,  where daughter worked on her long road trip in 1998. Though the Telegraph Station came well after Hamelin!

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After Hamelin Bay, Caves Road traversed some very pleasant forested country of the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park.

We’d seen the Boranup Wood Gallery advertised – exactly the featured wood furniture that interested us, so made a point of visiting that. Truly inspirational – wood furniture elevated to art form.

At the Gallery, yet another tyre went flat. The count was now up to four since Fowlers Bay. What had we done to deserve this! At least, we were getting very skilled at changing wheels.

The only other side track we had time for was to Redgate Bay, where the sea swell was mighty.

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Redgate Bay

Cut back to the Bussell Highway at Margaret River. We got back to camp just before dark, after a long but enjoyable day of exploring.

Had a text from daughter saying grandson was doing well.

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2004 Travels May 26


We drove to the main part of town in the morning, and to the Bowls Club, where John booked himself in to play this afternoon.

Then we rushed to the Library, so I could try to get some books to read whilst John was bowling, and because being here for a week allowed me time to borrow from a library. The staff I encountered were petty bureaucrats: I had to pay $20 to borrow two fiction books – BUT was not allowed to actually get them until tomorrow. Unreal! I joined John up too – that way I would have four books, which should see me through the week, without having to make another library visit.

I had an upsetting text during the morning. Daughter had left my little grandson with his father for a visit, whilst she went off to Bendigo to visit a friend. The toddler had caught his finger in the porta-cot, as his father was putting it up. The finger was cut to the bone and the child was in hospital for surgery. Daughter had almost reached Bendigo when she heard, but turned around and drove back to Melbourne.

After early lunch, John went off to bowls. I walked for nearly two hours – there were very good walk/bike paths along the foreshore here.

John enjoyed his bowls. I enjoyed my walk, even though I was worried about grandson, and cross again with my daughter.

She texted about 10pm to say grandson was through the operation and was alright. The last joint of the forefinger may grow permanently crooked, though.

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2004 Travels May 25


Pack up was fairly fast. Refuelled – $1.12cpl.

Went back to Peter’s gallery and confirmed our order for a small Temple. I was sure he thought he’d seen the last of us yesterday, and maybe regretted spending so much time on us. But all was rewarded. He was going to make it in a deeper colour than the broken small one he had showed us. The light through it then might be more like that through the big version.

He showed us his personal, reserved, Windswept #1, which was more blue than the ones on display, but appeared more three dimensional through it. Absolutely magnificent – but one of those would take more than a season’s work to pay for!

I wrote a deposit cheque for half the price and signed a purchase agreement. He gave us one of the books written about his work and gallery. Our Temple would not be completed and shipped until we were home again at the end of September.

Then we left Pemberton – happy to depart what had seemed such a dark and gloomy area in the forest – and headed to Nannup, with its timber mill that John had been told about.

At the mill, John went inspecting. He was very impressed with the quality of the jarrah timber he saw there, and its price. He bought a pack of jarrah – about $650 worth. It would be shipped to a place in Kilsyth and held there for final delivery to us, later in the year.

We had certainly contributed well to the economy of this corner of WA! Lord knows how much income we could have disposed of, had we stayed longer than two nights!

And so, on to Busselton. The driving was much easier than it had been on the way to Pemberton.

We booked into the Top Tourist Mandalay Holiday Resort for a week. After discount, $22.50 a night. It seemed a lovely park. The plan was to use the time to explore this SW corner of the state.

It was dark by the time we set up the van.

Had to do a rush trip to buy salad makings for tea, as fresh produce was just about out. Found that the supermarkets here closed at 6pm. Damn. Note to self: try – hard – to avoid looking for shops in a strange town, after dark.

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2004 Travels May 24


Yesterday, after looking at some of the material gathered from the Information Centre, we decided that we would try to do the timber tram ride today. Were able to book in to do this.

The Pemberton Timber Tram was a small “train” or diesel powered tram that travelled on an old timber hauling tramway, for 10kms, to a bridge over the Warren River. It took nearly two hours for the return trip, and was well worth doing. Great little trip.

There were not many people on board the little tram so it did not feel crowded.

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We had excellent views ahead, along the track, and to the sides, through the forests of jarrah, karri and marri.

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We stopped twice at points where we were allowed to get off the tram. First at the Cascades, and then at the Warren River, as far as we went.

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The Cascades

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As far as we go

The track had a number of stream crossings, and bridges, but the most impressive was the Warren River trestle bridge. It was 128 metres long and was the longest curved timber trestle bridge still in use in WA. To me, it was reminiscent of some of the bridges on the old ABT west coast railway in Tasmania. We were able to explore around this bridge and get down to stream level to take photos.

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Trestle bridge at the Warren River

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Warren River bridge

After lunch back at the van, we visited the Fine Woodcraft Gallery. In this timber focussed area, John was keen to see what was being done with wood by local craftsmen, and also maybe find out where he might source WA timbers.  We browsed the extensive and interesting displays for a couple of hours. I succumbed to temptation and bought a beautiful dark blue, round, glass paperweight that had fine silver line work inside the glass. It was totally different to anything I’d seen before, and cost $80. At the time, this seemed rather an extravagance but I’d fallen in love with it.

Then went on to the Peter Kovascy Gallery. His wood sculptures were brilliant – tables, bowls, forms. Items from his personal collection were on display, as he no longer did much wood work, as such. He had moved on to glass sculpture, often using cast lead crystal in a European technique, not much known in Australia.  His woodwork skills were relevant here because he carved wooden forms in which to mould the lead crystal. His work was very modern, abstract and fascinating in appearance. I adored it.

When Peter saw that we were really interested in the work, and picked up that John knew something of woodwork, he took us back into his work area and talked about his methods.

I fell in love with his “Temple”, which was done in both an orange-red and a blue-green glass. Different thicknesses of the glass, created by the moulding, glowed different shades with back lighting. The large Temple was $11,000!

I also liked his “Windswept” series, #1 and #2, which were around the $9,000 to $11,000 range. These glowed blue-green, just like the colours you see in some breaking waves.

We talked with him for ages, way past his published closing time. He must have picked up on how entranced I was with the work, because he offered to make me a small version of the Temple – for $2200. I really wanted  a red-orange one, his “mead” colour,  because of the superb colours of the refracted light through the different thicknesses and textures of the glass. He showed me a broken attempt at a small one, to give me an idea.

John said that I should buy a big Windswept one, as an investment, but I was not comfortable spending that much. I was not comfortable with spending anything with more than one zero on the end, for that matter! But occasionally, can make an exception…….

Wed told Peter we would think on it overnight and if we decided to commission a small Temple, would confirm that tomorrow.

Back at the van, over tea, there was much discussion about the spending of so much money. It was decided that, a couple of months of work, somewhere, in the 2005 tourist season, would pay for my indulgence.


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2004 Travels May 23


It rained again in the night, so we had wet stuff to pack up.

Stayed on the South West Highway to the Vasse Highway turnoff, rather than taking a more minor route through Northcliffe. The highway from Walpole to the turnoff was quite narrow and winding. In sections, there were nasty little drops down from the asphalt to the road shoulder. It required much concentration to drive. Fortunately, there was not much traffic. The Vasse Highway was slightly better.

We went straight to the Pemberton Caravan Park – $20 a night. This fairly small park had a gloomy sort of atmosphere, feeling like it was in the middle of the forest, even though it was only a block from the main street of town. The overall “dark” was probably not helped by the really cloudy and dull weather.

There were lots of Ring Neck Parrots about the park, obviously used to being fed by visitors, because if you stood still for any length of time, they would land on you! Do parrots have lice, like chooks can?

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Caravan Park Pemberton

We did not intend a long stay here – mostly to visit some timber mills that interested John in the region – so did not do a full set up with awning and so on. Shade was definitely not an issue!

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We visited the Tourist Information Centre, then went for a walk in the forest behind the caravan park – for some exercise.

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2004 Travels May 22


There was more rain through the night, quite heavy at times. It fined up through the morning and after the damp start, the day turned out mostly fine.

We managed to sleep in until 9.30am, probably due to the dimness of the light. The Phoenix ladies had left by the time we got up, so we did not get a chance to say farewell to them.

We went driving, out through the forests of karri and tingle, on a winding unsealed road, to the Giant Tingle Tree area – about 7kms from Walpole. Here, there was a walking path amongst superb, old, big trees. It was a delight to see them.

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These trees have their centres burnt out by fires, but the remaining side parts of the tree provide the route for the nourishment to the canopy, as well as supporting it. It was amazing that the bases of these trees could be so hollowed out, yet be the bottoms of living, seemingly healthy forest giants.

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After a walk of 800 metres, we came to the Queen of Trees – a 24 metre high red tingle tree, the oldest living eucalypt tree in the world. We did much admiring of this tree, standing inside its hollowed out base looking up, marvelling at how it could still be alive.

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Queen of Trees

From the tree, we drove on, completing a loop that took us through farmland back to the highway, then some 18kms west of Walpole, we turned south onto the 8 km long unsealed road that would take us to Mandalay Beach.

Our visit to the beach nearly did not happen, as there was a fallen tree across the track. John liberated the axe from its place attached to the roof rack, and got to work to clear enough of the tree for us to get past. It was hard work – he was really puffing. I fell over backwards, when a tree branch I was pulling on gave way quickly. Hurt my neck a bit.

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Enough tree moved for Truck to get through

Mandalay Beach was worth the effort to get there. The beach is named for the three masted barque “Mandalay”, which was wrecked there in 1911.

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Mandalay Beach

We followed a path and board walk to the beach – these were part of the Bibbulmun Track, so we were on that again.

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Mandalay Beach and Cliffy Head


The seas were wild, which was great.

We walked along the beach for a while. There was an interesting outlook to Chatham Island.

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Chatham Island

The road in would be ok for the van and we could, on a future visit, park the van in one of the bays off the carpark. It was not really clear if camping was permitted there, though.

I have to admit that, whilst walking on the beach, I had this little niggling thought – what would we do if, whilst we were here, a really big tree had come down across the track? There are times when I wish I had less of an imagination!

On the way back to camp, we took a quick detour to look at the caravan park where we stayed, in the rain, in a rather musty old caravan, in 1993 – on the other side of the inlet. It was not a patch on where we were now, for environment or ambience.

This had been a varied and very enjoyable day.