This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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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.

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2004 Travels May 21


On our only other visit to these parts, in 1993, we gave up on the wet and stormy south west, and hightailed it from Albany direct to Perth. On our long trip, we had intended to spend the summer and early autumn of 2001 exploring the area south and east of Perth. That was before we had to, unexpectedly, go home.

This time, we were determined to see more of this area. However, the elements were definitely not on our side, yet again. We were just too late for these parts – again.

Steady rain had set in overnight and this continued into the afternoon, when it cleared, a little.

Daughter texted in the morning, asking to borrow more money. We were not really happy about it, but found it impossible to refuse, under the circumstances.

We drove into the town, arranged the money transfer. At the tyre place, had a new tube fitted in the latest flat tyre.

Then we walked around the town, seeing what it had to offer. As it was a small township, this did not take long. The town is situated on Walpole Inlet, but our caravan park, just out of town, faces onto Nornalup Inlet. The two are joined by a narrow stretch of water. In turn, Nornalup Inlet empties via a narrow opening, into Grace Darling Bay, with its attractive sweep of sandy beach.

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Nornalup Inlet

It was an attractive little town, with its watery setting. In better weather, we would have been wishing for a boat or a canoe, to explore the inlets. This would be a great place to stay, with a canoe.

Back to the van, and lunch. After that, we ventured out for a walk on the Bibbulmun Track. This long distance walking track extends from Perth to Albany, some 1000 kms, sometimes through the great forests of the south west, sometimes along the coast. Here, the track followed the coast and went between the caravan park and the sea. We were able to walk out of the park and onto the Track, which we followed for some way to the east. However, we got rained on, and retraced our route. It was a very pleasant segment of exercise, despite the damp.

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In the caravan park were two ladies, widowed sisters in law, travelling with a Phoenix van. We had seen them in the caravan park in Esperance too. Both had lived on Queensland pastoral properties, one in the Lakefield area, years ago. We’d talked with them at the fish BBQ last night. Tonight, they had power problems in their van, and came across to ask if John might be able to help – in the dark and the rain! They fiddled about for quite some time, trying to find the source of the problem, until eventually realizing that it was a faulty electric jug that was shorting out their power. Sir John to the rescue!

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2004 Travels May 20


Nice day, with pleasant driving conditions.

We took the highway along the coast, westwards. Actually, although it was the South Coast Highway, the route was somewhat inland from the coast, so we saw a mix of farm land and bush land, rather than coastal vistas.

At Denmark, we visited Goldfields Timber and Burls – an inspirational place with an excellent variety and supply of special timbers and tree burls from WA species. John obtained details of how he could make purchases from home, and have them transported.

Our next stop was at a place producing honey and mead, where we bought some wine and honey. I guess mead was mankind’s first wine?

The final activity for the day  was at the Valley of the Giants, where we wanted to do the Tree Top Walk – on an elevated walkway through the canopy of a tingle forest, some 40 metres up.

As we pulled into the car park there, yet another tyre went flat. Well, that was number three out of the four that had been on Truck at Fowlers Bay. John refused to admit cause and effect, but I was convinced. We changed the wheel before doing anything else.

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Yet another flat tyre

The 600 metre long Tree Top Walk was not the most comfortable experience, given my aversion to heights. It seemed very high up, and swayed. But I was very pleased to have had the experience – it was an unusual perspective and good value.

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Hanging on tightly!

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Bird’s eye view

Then we did the Ancients Walk there – this time at ground level, on a pathway that took us through a little forest of old Red Tingle trees – unique to this corner of the world. This was actually more impressive than the Tree Top Walk.

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Long way up there!

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Base of Giant Tingle tree

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At the inevitable associated shop, I bought a National Parks book and a jarrah waiter’s friend that John took a liking to.

Continued on towards Walpole, turning off just before the town, to go to the Coalmine Beach Caravan Park. We wanted to stay there because it was right by the Nornalup Inlet, and had a really bushy setting.

The park was a Top Tourist. After discount, cost $18.90 a night. It was really pleasant.

There was a free fish dinner night happening, which we took advantage of. Quite a few people attended. The fish was really nice, too.

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2004 Travels May 19


Today was relatively pleasant weather – windy and not too hot.

I did the washing.

We went off to visit Whale World, driving around the coastline to a point almost opposite Albany town. Whale World  was a display of the whaling history of Albany – and wider parts – located on the site of the Cheynes Bay Whaling Station, which was the last one to be opened in Australia (1950’s) and the last one to cease operation (1970’s).

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Former whaling vessel at Cheynes Bay

The hunting of whales and seals was the first major industry of the new colonies set up in Australia. The main product gained was oil, from the melting down of their blubber, (for lamp oil) but items like whalebone for corset stays and fur from seals were also of value. The whaling industry often led to the first (informal) settlement of many areas along the coast, where small groups of hunters set up land bases. By the time whaling ceased, several species had been hunted almost to extinction. It is pleasing to see the extent to which the populations of these beautiful creatures have recovered since.

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Grey day at the whaling station

At Cheynes Bay there were factory buildings where the whale meat was processed, and a whaling boat on display too. We did a tour, which was detailed and interesting, and then were able to wander about independently. We could even go on the boat.

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The flensing deck, where whales were cut up

The area was so pretty, to have had such a grisly past!

We were several hours at Whale World, then drove further around the coast to look at the dramatic rocky coastline at the Gap and the Natural Arch.

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The Gap

Refuelled – 99cpl. Under the dollar again – good.

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2004 Travels May 18


John had arranged that Truck would go into the Land Rover dealer here, today, for a service.

He suggested that we fill in the time waiting in town by going to the cinema – a favourite activity of his, though we rarely agree which film to see! This time, he chose to see “Troy”. It was absolutely awful and put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day!