We had had a taste of the big tree forests of southern WA around Margaret River, but once you hit Pemberton you are really in amongst the forest giants. We stayed at the only caravan park in Pemberton, but it was brilliant there, backing directly onto the mountain bike tracks and a very short ride to a BMX circuit and the Pemberton Pool. Having Mum with us meant that Ben, the boys and I could leave Indi behind and do the downhill mountain bike circuit – “Relentless Blue Cross Country”. It was brilliant fun, but the heart and legs wondered what all this exercise was about after such a long time of doing very little.
There was a lot of birdlife around the park too, parrots came in in the morning and evenings for any little snacks that you may have and there was a family of ducks wandering around with mummy duck hissing her disapproval when the kids got too close.
Pemberton Pool is in such a beautiful setting, but the water doesn’t look all that inviting, it’s a little tannin stained and when you look closely you can see a few small marron swimming around in there. Still, Jake had a swim to cool off after a bike ride and Indianna managed to get in waist-deep before the thought of the marron nibbling her toes and the cold water forced her out.
This area of the country is very proud of it’s marron so we felt obliged to sample a few. We were out of season to attempt to catch any ourselves, but they are available all year around from the local marron farms. They were delicious! Maybe even better than their ocean dwelling cousins – the crayfish. We were lucky enough to team our marron with smoked trout, caught that day by neighbouring campers from the trout farm and smoked on the fish smoker which we have been carrying with us all the way from Toowoomba and have not yet had a chance to use! Thanks Katie and Tilly.
Around Pemberton there are several very tall trees that you can climb to the top of. The Gloucester and Diamond trees were originally “pegged” as fire look-out trees with platforms situated at around 60 metres from the ground. A third tree which you are able to climb was pegged in 1988 as part of the bicentennial celebrations – the Dave Evans Bicentennial tree has it’s platform a dizzying 75 metres from the ground. The health and safety officers certainly have not been out to these trees. In our current world of wrapping everyone in cotton wool it was pretty amazing to see the lack of safety barriers, nets or harnesses on these climbs. You climb up the tree on pegs driven into the trunk which have a little bit of netting on the outside of the pegs, but there’s a free-fall to the ground if your foot slips off a rung. Indianna was far too keen to climb very high and had to be content with going to the 25m platform on the bicentennial tree with me. We waited there as Ben and Jake went a little higher before Jake turned back. Ben was the only one brave enough to make it to the top of the bicentennial tree. Tobey needed a lot on convincing to get very high, which I was quite surprised at, but he managed it in the end making it to the 25m platform. The boys, Ben and I all made it to the top of the 60m Gloucester tree to a fabulous view over the tree tops, it’s certainly a brilliant vantage point to spot a fire. Indianna climbed the Gloucester tree until I made her stop and come down and Mum managed 10 or so rungs just to say she had! Go Nanna!
Unlike the rest of WA everything in the south west of the state is so close together, we found ourselves driving not much more than 100kms to our next campsite at Walpole, passing through Northcliffe on the way to take a look around the forest sculpture there. The walk is a self-guided audio with 4 or 5 different tracks depending on your interest. The children had a series of stories to listen to at different spots and Ben, Mum and I listened to the artists talk about their different works. If you are into art and sculpture it’s certainly a good way to spend an hour or so.
They have some mighty big trees in Walpole too, this area is probably most famous for it’s Tingle trees. You see many of the Tingle trees hollowed out from fire and fungi, but so long as the live layer of bark just below the surface of the outer bark survives then the tree can continue to live for many years. There were times when tourists would drive their cars into the holes of the trees, but this practice has been stopped to help preserve the shallow roots of the Tingle.
Because the weather has still not really improved lately we’ve done a fair few ‘drives’ to entertain us through the days. Around Walpole we went to Circular Pool, where the heavily tannin stained Frankland River flows over a small waterfall and creates a circular motion in the water below. Because the tannin water froths up as it goes over the waterfall you can really see the circular movement of the water. There is a huge about of froth on the water – depending on your preference you could have imagined a huge pool of coffee, coke or Guinness! We also went out to the coast, to Conspicuous Cliffs – no prizes for guessing the origin of the name, the cliffs would certainly have been conspicuous from a passing sailboat.
The Bibbulmun walking track passes by Conspicuous Cliffs, the Bibbulmun stretches almost 1000kms from the Perth hills to Albany on the south coast. In this southern part the track crosses many areas where we have done little walks into the bush, as you can imagine walking this track would be Tobey’s idea of hell, so every time we come across the now familiar Bibbulmun walking track sign he says “There’s the ‘blimmin’ track again”. Got to love his enthusiasm.
We had another massive driving day from Walpole – a full 50kms to Parry’s Beach near Denmark, but we’d been recommended this spot and were due to meet my brother and his family camping there for a few days. What a great place. The campground is run by the Denmark shire so is very cheap – $7 for two adults a night, kids free and extra adults $2 more. There are flushing toilets and (solar, so not always) hot showers, it’s situated right on a safe beach where the kids could fish, swim, snorkel and do a little surfing. Ben and Tony took the boat out and managed to catch dinner one day, although the following day the sea came up and they had to cut the anchor free before making a dash for home. The boat got a further work out towing the boys around on the donut and every single dog – big or small had more than their fair share of pats and cuddles from Indianna and Anastasia.
Denmark and the area around here is so beautiful, there are endless spectacular coastal scenery spots and a surprising number of wineries and gourmet food places around. There’s a much less intense atmosphere than the likes of Margaret River though. We stopped in at one place that seemed to hold an attraction for everyone – wine, chocolate, cheese and especially for the girls… dogs. These were big ones, Burmese Mountain dogs, but oh so gentle and just looking for anyone to give their tummies a rub.
Denmark also has a really new hospital… how do we know? Well despite thinking that we’d get accident-prone Tobey around the country without the use of our Medicare card I had to whip it out at Denmark hospital so he could get his head glued up! Nothing really major, just a run-in with the playground gate which resulted in a small (but deep) gash to his head and as we were close to the hospital we thought we’d make use of the services. Now we just have to keep him out of the water for a couple of days.
Despite the cool weather the kids managed to take a dip at Greens Pool, a beautiful sheltered, natural sea pool. Our photos on this cloudy day don’t really do the place justice, it would be absolutely stunning on a blue-sky day. Just around the corner from Greens Pool are the Elephant rocks. These are huge rocks which look just like a herd of elephants from above, again there is really sheltered swimming around here. The rocks are irresistible to two young boys though and of course they had to climb on them. Tobey got into a little predicament when he realised that his legs were not quite as long as Jake’s, he was stranded with no way up or down and daddy had to come and rescue him!
We had such a great time camping with the Breach’s and Indianna in particular will certainly miss her cousin, but it was time to move on and for the Tony and Tash to get back to work. Hopefully we’ll make it across this side of the country a little more frequently than in the past!