SATURDAY 22 MAY WALPOLE
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We followed a path and board walk to the beach – these were part of the Bibbulmun Track, so we were on that again.
The seas were wild, which was great.
We walked along the beach for a while. There was an interesting outlook to 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.