Wednesday, October 10th, 2001
It rained overnight and this morning, quite heavily at times. It was 11°C at 5am in the van - cooler than we're used to. At the town of Walpole we looked at the Information Centre, where there was also a splendid display of rare native orchids. We enjoyed browsing the craft shops, and examined finely-crafted wooden items. Bill's back was painful again, and we had lunch at the van before sightseeing, by which time it started fining up to occasional showers.
First day touring around Walpole/Nornalup
Soaring crown of a Giant Tingle Tree near Walpole.
Firstly, we bought some timber bowls and platters for home, and packed these away - beautiful work, which we chose carefully! Then we went west of the town via Knoll Drive to the John Rate Lookout, and toured more around the town. The Nornalup Inlet is a large, interestingly-shaped bay and inlet, of a deep tea-coloured hue due to the rain washing down the tannins from the forests. This is good water for black bream, King George Whiting, skipjack, big flathead, cobblers (like catfish), and so on.
Bill enclosed within the buttresses of a Giant Tingle Tree.
East of the town we toured to the Giant Tingle Trees (Eucalyptus jacksonii
) up in the forest, along the Hilltop-Circular Pool tourist route. The largest of these trees has a girth (circumference) of 24m! It's burnt-out in its core, but living and stable, and you can walk through holes in the buttresses. There are also huge karri, jarrah and karri oak (Allocasuarina decussata
). The forest was beautiful and very photogenic.
In fact, so close did we get to nature taking photos that Bill unwittingly transported some of it into the car! This became obvious when, while driving along, Bill felt a bite on his leg and saw big black bullants down there on his boots and socks. After several more stops to jump up and down, he finally shook off about seven huge bullants which were very hard to kill, especially inside the car on the rubber mat.
Still being unsure, he finally removed his trousers in the middle of the road, and Glenyce checked inside them for more bullants. None, thank goodness, but it would have been funny if another car had come along the narrow gravel track!
Glenyce acquaints herself with another Giant Tingle Tree.
After the ants episode, Bill remembered another occasion that he had been bitten by bullants, in February, 1952, in the Nullarbor Desert. He and his parents were driving from Kalgoorlie to Melbourne, and the 14-year old lad was wearing sandals. So he decided to play with a bullants' nest, didn't he, whereupon the ants attacked his toes ferociously, didn't they? Serves him right! Now it happened again!
Accompanied by the awe-inspiring Tingle Trees, we travelled further up a muddy, gravelled, pot-holed road to a waterfall and a nearby pool deep in the forest, called Circular Pool. This was flowing swiftly, and was striking for its deep tea-coloured water, and copious foam and froth the colour of cream brulée.
Water stained by tannins and foam derived from Australian native shrubs and trees gathers in Circular Pool below the rapids on the Frankland River, near Walpole.
The Frankland River ran through a rocky valley through a series of waterfalls and rapids, laced with tea and cream-coffee foam, to fall into a large (200m diam.) pool, Circular Pool. Here the water and foam formed fascinatingly complex whorls and curlicues of tea-brown and dirty cream-white, all in slow but obvious states of flow. It was quite artistic, particularly with the reflection of the clouds in it.
The journey home into the gathering dusk was a pleasant one, and even then we discovered some different blue flowers on the side of the road.
After a delicious chicken-fillet and veg tea, preceded by Margaret River cheddar, biscuits and sherry, we lounged around doing chores, diaries, and put a few more photos into the album.
We feel tired, but enjoying ourselves, but when we look at what we're doing each day, it sure adds up!!
Thursday, October 11th, 2001
As we travel through the main parts of WA, I have had occasion to explore the residue of my youthful experiences and memories about this: today was another such day. We visited the attractive town of Denmark, where I spent, I think, a week when I was just 15, in January, 1954. On visiting the Denmark River entrance, I tapped into more of those experiences of fishing and diving there; reading trashy cowboy novels; and a long walk to go ocean beach fishing, and jumping down the smooth, steep sandhills; where my Uncle Les caught a big salmon; and where we were all molested by clouds of march-flies as we walked back home along the thin track snaking through the deep green beach scrub, all in the baking WA summer heat. The place still has a nice feel about it which Glenyce and I both shared. Denmark certainly is a pretty town, hilly and nicely planned.
Second day touring around Walpole/Nornalup, Denmark
The steel lattice of the slightly-swaying Tree Top Walk in the "Valley of the Giants" throws its multiple spans through the lofty canopies of this unique kind of eucalypt forest, affording a unique view which attracts droves of tourists.
But before our trip to Denmark about 60km east, we toured a nearby forest region of giant Tingle Trees (again!), in the famous "Valley of the Giants", with huge trees up to 70m tall! These we viewed in two ways. Firstly we went on the "Tree Top Walk", a 600m walk of steel pathways which ramp up into the forest canopy to a height of 44m, which was awe-inspiring. Fortunately, the rain held off, and we had an exhilarating, fascinating traverse of this marvellous modern skyway of galvanized steel spun like spider web through the primeval, deep southern forest. It's hard to describe the feeling of being suspended so high in a huge forest, especially as the surprisingly flimsy spans had a sideways sway of at least 2 inches, which gave the feeling of being on board a boat.
Afterwards, we got down to the forest floor in the same region along a carefully constructed walkway of wood (jarrah, I think), weaving 600m through the forest floor past the overwhelmingly massive buttresses of the Red Tingle Trees. This walk is "The Hidden Kingdom", and because of their size, photography cannot do these beauties justice; but we did try. The boardwalk is necessary because these trees are shallow-rooted and were suffering from compaction of the soil by the foot-traffic of tourism.
At ground level a pedestrian boardwalk gives visitors a totally different perpective on the "Hidden Kingdom" of these huge trees. Often burnt within their core, these trees are unique in that their outer layers form healthy buttresses to sustain them. Glenyce is visible as a small blue figure peering within from the other side. This is all just the one tree!
Oh, along the way we found a little tent with a woman tending sick baby animals, comprised of 5 joeys, a penguin (in the forest?), a Woylie (kind of Potoroo), and a Nightjar. Everyone was fascinated, particularly as she was cuddling a swaddled joey and dabbing its urethra every few seconds to keep it clean! She does this regularly to collect donations for the local animal rescue group.
At Peaceful Bay, just west of the town of Denmark, we sat in the car and ate our picnic lunch comfortably away from the untimely drizzle.
The rain had kindly held off until we did the giant trees walks, but started up again as we drove east towards Denmark by the main highway, via Nornalup (not-a-lot there), and Peaceful Bay, where we drove along the beach and and ate our picnic lunch in the car because of the rain, with a rain-flecked but satisfying view of the bay, rocks, grey horizons, green water and some large seabirds (Pacific Gulls) duckdiving for minnows.
Reaching Denmark, we bought some organic food at a little hippy-looking fruit shop, and the most delicious Turkish Delight we've ever tasted. Bill's attempt to recapture the past, so to speak, we viewed the outlet of the Denmark River via William Inlet into the open sea. But the rain-swollen river unphotogenically discharged water the colour of cappuccino coffee into the turbulent ocean.
From there we went north into the forests via the Scottsdale Tourist Road, an alternative route 60km back home. This gave us the opportunity for more photos. We noticed again that the wildflowers are more prolific in heathlands than in the forests, and we stopped at several places. The last 25km or so were on a gravel road, as we did our own thing through back roads.
A great day!! Tea was barbecued venison with mushrooms and vegetables, canteloupe, Turkish delight and coffee. Oh, isn't it a hard life?
And what more could we want?
Friday, October 12th, 2001
It rained very hard last night at times, but we awoke to blue skies, fleecy clouds, but occasional showers. So, packing up, we moved off east towards Albany, a major town centre; in the early days of settlement it was the main port before Fremantle, and in the First World War the Gallipoli troops assembled and boarded ships in the huge fleet that left from here.
Walpole/Nornalup to Albany
East of Denmark we found Green Pool, which we understand is very popular with the locals, and rightly so, as the deliciously green, shallow waters are safely enclosed by rock barriers. On this day, however, the cold winds blustered univitingly across the water.
On the way, we visited William Bay and Green Pool, on the coast just east of Denmark. By this time the sun shone fully and we beheld a beautiful coastline with a rocky shore, reefs and headlands, green green shallow pools fluffed by breezes, and a wild wild ultramarine sea flecked with creamy waves breaking on treacherous off-shore reefs. We photographed the scenery, but this has been the story all the way along, in that there has a been a constant greyness of sky, or wind-ruffled water which obliterates a lot of the beautiful color of the scenes. After a picturesque morning tea we pushed on east.
As we had passed through Denmark, en route, we had parked in a back street of this engaging, hilly, hippy-looking town while I fixed the left caravan blinker globe, and Glenyce bought provisions. As the mobile phone at last worked, we phoned our Auntie Vera in Melbourne for a chat. I tried to ring my mother, Millie, but no answer: it turns out that she was unavailable because my daughter, Leanne, was pushing her wheelchair around for a walk in the nursing home. Bless Leanne's heart!
Still propped near the Denmark shopping centre, we sat in the van and gobbled up very nice pies for lunch. After viewing a local art gallery, we set out for Albany along roads all new to us, and alternately heathy, paperbark bush and beautiful pasture lands full of cattle. We saw a farm with hundreds of deer, too! In the autumn, we'd have meal in a paddock - mushrooms and venison steak.
Further on we went on an unexciting "scenic route" to Albany along the coast through Torbay, a big asparagus-growing area, until we came to the beautiful bays and granite rocks of Albany. Finding our way through the city centre, we settled in at Mt. Melville Caravan Park, had a rest, phone home, ate, did chores and went to bed.
Saturday, October 13th, 2001
First day touring around Albany
Today we shopped in Albany's main streets, had films developed, and looked at a local art show of rather patchy quality, as they usually are. Bill's back was rather sore, and then he got lost trying to pick up Glenyce from Cole's crowded carpark instead of Brumby's hot bread shop near Woolworth's woolly carpark, so that, added to heavy traffic and a maze of narrow streets, caused him to get a bit niggly. Anyway, after a healthy lunch, a good read and a lie down, off we went to see the sights.
Parts of the fine city of Albany climb up the western flanks of Mt Clarence, which dominates the beautiful Princess Royal Harbour.
Just east of Albany is Middleton Beach, a resort and hotel area with cafés, a caravan park, and a beach with a view. Climbing, we rounded a scenic drive along the shores of the magnificent King George Sound to two large hills or mounts, on which we found lookouts and scenic stops.
The appropriately-named Dog Rock is found on a main road just north of the main streets of Albany. The city fathers have thoughtfully provided it with a dog collar to warn off careless motorists.
Mt. Clarence is a high, granite-laced mountain dominating Albany. It has a war memorial at the top, and a lookout at which Bill took 10 or so shots in panorama, from the Porongorups and Stirling Ranges to the north, across the city of Albany with about 12 large windmills further to the west, which constitutes a wind farm, just as we had seen in Denham, Shark bay.
Turning south we viewed Princess Royal Harbour, the huge bay with some shallow, tidal shores, but with channels which enable large vessels to dock at the town. Albany was the first port established in WA, and all the sailing ships called here until Fremantle was built. There is a destroyer or something currently docked close to the town. Further to the east is the "Ataturk Entrance"; perhaps this was named as such when a large fleet of about 37 ships carrying the Anzacs left here for Gallipoli in 1914, Kemal Ataturk being the Turkish commander then, and the father of modern Turkey. Beyond this are the deep blue island-studded expanse of King George Sound. The rocks are granite around here, together with red gravel (lateritic bauxite) and sand. It's got to be one of the most beautiful places in Australia or beyond!
Bronze relief map located on the summit of Mt Clarence, which dominates the city of Albany.
By this time clouds were rolling in again, spoiling the vivacity of the water and rocks; and Bill's back was very sore. Dosed up on Panadeine, and supported by Glenyce's patient forbearance, we pushed on to nearby Mt. Adelaide, which has a similar but more limited outlook. The claim to fame of this spot is its service as a fort and gun emplacement from about 1893 to 1956. In particular, all through the 1st and 2nd World Wars, it was a vital defence establishment. Now the gun emplacements, magazines and barracks are preserved as a historical site and memorial. The US was located here during part of WW2, as well - especially submarines.
Many of the buildings are restored, and house historical displays showing exactly what it was like to serve here, especially during the Anzac times. We found it quite interesting and spent a lot of time there.
At last we went back to the van for a well-earned rest and a read, and slept until tea-time, after which we inserted another 120 photos into the albums, covering Cape Naturaliste, Margaret River, Augusta and Cape Leeuwin, Walpole and Denmark.
So, tired, we slept well.
Sunday, October 14th, 2001
Second day touring around Albany. The Stirling Ranges
Today was warmer but somewhat cloudy, but windless. Getting a comparatively early start (by 10am) we launched ourselves in the direction of the Stirling Ranges, 75km to the north through the undulating pasture land, heath and woodland with the odd saltbush-looking appearance which is never far away in Western Australia.
Glenyce stands amidst the low shrubbery characteristic of the Stirling Ranges region.
A strip of yellow-ochre road threads its way across the Stirling Ranges.
Not far out of town we started finding new and different wildflowers off the roadside, and it soon became obvious that we were going to use a lot of film. We used 5 today in these amazing mountain ranges. The region has dozens of species exclusive to the place, and we stopped and photographed continually all of our 70km tour through the range, 42km of it gravel roads. A huge national park stretching some 80km from east to west, it consists of a series of darkly craggy mountains with smooth-looking slopes composed of sandy heath scrub with a huge range of plants, most of which are new to us.
The unique Kingia australis prefers to develop its peculiar club-like rosettes of flowers after the trees have been blackened by the seasonal bushfires.
It was a thrill to discover large numbers of Southern Cross Flower (Xanthosia rotundifolia
), a rare (to us) vermilion Leschenaultia, Banksia coccinea
, many scraggy eucalypts, and a huge range of lower scrub plants, ground covers and creepers, all studded liberally with blackboys (Xanthorrhea preissii) and grass trees of a different kind (Kingia australis
), kunzeas, petrophiles, mountain bells, a lot of deep crimson red grevillea, hakeas, dryandras, Purple Enamel Orchids and cowslip Orchids. There are also a range of plants which are yet to flower, or are finished flowering. We seemed to discover pockets of new flowers every mile or so, and took all day to do 200km, most of the travelling being just 50km or so within the ranges.
We photographed Mt. Hassell, Mt. Gog and Mt. Magog, with thrusting granite tops bursting through the smooth slopes of low bush. It looks like a dry area, although the rainfall is obviously adequate for the wildflowers, and although it is all rocks and gravel and sand, these plants just love it!
A sweeping panorama characteristic of the Stirling Ranges - not to be missed!
Together we walked up this ancient rounded hill to find an extraordinary profusion of different wildflowers. To the south are seen the geologically younger Porongorups, beyond which lie Albany and the Southern Ocean.
Doggedly climbing mountain lookouts, we waded through acres of very prickly plants - most of them - they don't have spines, but have prickly leaves. One feels as though one has been lightly scourged all over!
Not only that, but in one area we picked our way through bush burnt last season, now bursting into growth, as a lot of these plants only rejuvenate after the fire causes the opening of seed-pods and stimulates new growth from apparently burnt charcoal sticks and branches. Bill finished up with streaks and stripes of charcoal black all over his clothes, and Glenyce fared little better.
We picnic-lunched at an unforgettable spot whose name escapes us, (later found to be Talyuberup) and took every photographic opportunity to wring nice wildflower closeups out of the grudging vegetation. Rather than a blaze of colour, as happens in good years (so we are told), we saw liberally-sprinkled sparse colour throughout, some of it sought painfully on hands and knees.
Like ancient Gods, these peculiar Stirling Range crags for millions of years have stood guard over the fragile layers of unique shrubs and wildflowers clinging to the rocky flanks.
By the end of the day we were staggering like drunken sailors from tightness, cramp and spasm from all the exercise. Tired, we drove back to Albany via the town of Mt. Barker. even then, we saw lots of the charming Cat's Paw, like a dwarf yellow Kangaroo Paw.
But it was worth it for the glorious (albeit cloudy) day. We finished off with a rather forgettable Chinese meal in a restaurant in Albany, a scenic night drive around the lookouts, and a very welcome beddy-byes!
William G. Leithhead 2006