The trip you have when you can’t do your trip – part 1

If you follow our blog, you’ll know our recently planned caravanning trip from Perth to Qld lasted all of 1day, with only 150 of the 15,000kms completed.  Read here for more info if interested.

Well, what to do with two months leave, a desire to have a break from work and no caravan?  Airbnb of course.  But, before we kick into this post, we did (briefly) consider breaking out the tents and doing our trip that way, however, now that we’ve been caravanning for 6yrs, all of our camping gear is setup, sized and mostly still packed in the van – which is currently still at the insurance assessors yard in Northam.  In other words, tents weren’t going to cut it.

So, after getting the car sorted out, Jules and I jumped online and found a couple of Airbnb’s, the first on Vancouver St, a block behind the Farmers Markets location on York St, Albany, and the second on a farm stay at Bow Bridge, in between Denmark and Walpole.  Our new plan, to spend a week in Albany, by day exploring the region north and to the east and by night walking down to York St to find somewhere for dinner.  Then we had another five days in a farm stay where we could rest and relax by the fireplace with a bottle of wine or three.

Thankfully, the car held up and we safely and easily cruised down to Albany on Monday 2nd August, checking into our Airbnb and then going for a walk up York St to check out the sights.  York St, and it seemed much of Albany, was a ghost town. Many of the shops were closed and the few people we saw seemed to be furtively scurrying between locations, with the heads buried under umbrellas or winter jackets.  Weather wise, it was a typical glorious Albany winters day – that is to say, it was cold and wet although, there was very little wind.  However, Jules and I managed a dry lap of the town via foot, finding our first dining spot, Loft22.  Dinner was lovely, share plates of good tasting produce paired with a bottle of Georg Jensen sparkling.

Tuesday saw us head eastwards, first through Middleton Beach and Emu Point, before travelling through Lower Kalgan and out to Gull Rock, where there wasn’t a lot to see, before stopping for a nice break at Nanarup Beach, where the Taylor Inlet had recently broken through to the ocean.  We had a nice stroll around the beach, dodging the decomposing whale carcass and getting somewhat accosted by a couple of older local ladies who randomly decided we’d be good ears for their complaints about “those bloody 4WD’ers that tear up the f***en beach…”.

An Osprey seeking out lunch over the Lower King Bridge
Pelicans resting in the inlet
Hakea near Gull Rock
Banksia near Gull Rock
Taylor Inlet has broken through to the ocean at Nanarup. Note the cordoned off whale carcass top right.
Nanarup Beach
Nanarup Beach
Taylors Inlet, Nanarup

From Nanarup we drove out to Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve and found a couple of really lovely walks and beaches, in particular, Little Beach with its brilliant white, squeaky underfoot sand and turquoise blue lapping waves. 

Little Beach, Two Peoples Bay
Little Beach, Two Peoples Bay
Crabs, Little Beach, Two Peoples Bay
The only thing we should leave behind at the beach

Heading back to the South Coast Hwy via backroads, we then drove down to Cheynes Beach, where we enjoyed a lovely, but overly large feed of fish and chips from a chippy van.  On our way back, we again took the route less travelled and followed Circuit Rd down to Bettys Beach and camping area.  Again, another unknown, to us, at least. A beautiful little camping spot.  Our final stop for the day was East Bay Campground, yet another nice but very small beach with campground.

Spring is near, lamb chilling in the afternoon sun
A couple of skinks I think I’ve sprung doing the ‘rude thing’ at Cheynes Beach
Looking back over the nature reserve towards Cheynes Beach
Hakea near Cheynes Beach
Bettys Beach
Bettys Beach
Bettys Beach
Bettys Beach
The nature reserve near Bettys Beach
A Blackboy, now called Grass Trees or Xanthorrhoea with silvery fronds near Bettys Beach

We opted to stay in for dinner tonight, making do with cheese on toast whilst we watched the Aussies in action at the Olympics.

Day 2 (Wednesday) of our Albany trip dawned bright and mainly sunny. We decided to stay local today, making our way around to Frenchman Bay, stopping in and exploring the many access roads down to the beaches and views, including a visit to The Gap and Natural Bridge which have been upgraded with accessibility footpaths and great viewing platforms.

Looking out along the Flinders Peninsula towards Bald Head
A Baudins Black Cockatoo
The inlet at Jimmy Newells
Natural Bridge

We concluded the day’s exploration with a visit to the fantastic National ANZAC Centre. A fantastic journey through the 1st World War, allowing you to follow, (interactively), one of 32, well researched and documented, people who experienced the war in their own way.  This included our ANZAC military leaders, German soldiers, our nurses etc.  A great experience and well worth a visit.  Finally, dinner was had at the historic Earl of Spencer Inn, established in 1884 and still serving a great, very hearty, pub feed and cold beer.

With the weather improving still, a nice break from the crap weather we’d experienced in Perth recently, shared by the folk down south, we used Wednesday to drive out to the Stirling Ranges.  Having climbed Bluff Knoll 20’odd years ago, we chose to forgo this climb again, opting instead to do the Mount Trio climb, a class 4, 3.5km return trip up a very steep, but well-marked path to the peak.  With lungs heaving and legs burning we made it to the top in just under an hour, only to find a 75yr old couple at the top who advised they’d done it in 90mins.  Wow, if we can still be doing walks and climbs like this when we’re 75 then I’d be very happy with that.  Along the track on the way up, I’d spotted numerous, very tiny, jumping spiders and attempted to get some shots, though their tiny size, around 3mm, and my heavy breathing didn’t make it easy to get a stable and sharp shot using the macro lens.

The road up to Bluff Knoll in the Stirling Ranges
Bluff Knoll, Stirling Ranges
One of the many jumping spiders, Jotus genre I think, on the steep climb up to Mt Trio in the Stirling Ranges
Another angle of the little jumping spider. He’s only about 3mm long
The view from the top of Mt Trio, Stirling Ranges
The view from the top of Mt Trio, Stirling Ranges
The view from the top of Mt Trio, Stirling Ranges
Another jumping spider on the Mt Trio track

Taking the lessor route home, we followed the Stirling Range Drive through the range, before following every backroad I could find to keep us off the highway.  A lovely drive home through the bush and farms, however, we almost came to tears on one of the tracks, where what looked like a bit of water flooding across the road, turned out to be a relatively deep, 500mm issue hole that we managed to push our way through, luckily already being in 4wd.

With the Kookaburra’s going for Gold in the hockey, we opted to eat in tonight, grabbing a great pizza and pasta dish from Venice on York St.  The Kooka’s did us proud but, unfortunately, went down in the penalty shootout earning Silver for their efforts.

On Friday, we headed Nth Est again, this time exploring the Porongurup National Park.  Stopping in at Ironwood Winery for a lovely share platter lunch and glass of wine in the sun and dropping into Dukes Winery to taste, and buy, some of their award winning wines.

Whilst wasting 15mins, waiting for Ironwood to open, we parked ourselves at the Porongurup Hall, taking the time to explore the area for jumping spiders and anything else interesting.  Again, I found a couple more jumpers, similar to the ones we’d found on Mt Trio, Jotus genus I think (TBC), whilst Jules found some taddies and a small Motorbike Frog in a puddle of water on the track into the hall.  We’re not sure how they’ve managed to survive in such a small puddle of water or being on the main tyre track into the hall, but they seemed happy enough.

Another jumping spider near the Porongurup Town Hall
Another angle of the jumping spider at Porongurup Town Hall
The Motorbike Frog Jules found in the puddle in the track into the Porongurup Town Hall
Another shot of the frog
A view looking back up into the Porongurups
A lovely little wildflower at the base of the Porongurups

We took the opportunity tonight to catch up with Jules’ cousins, Nicole and Shari, with their better halves, Rob and Phil at Due South.

Saturday morning and we’d been looking forward all week to exploring and doing some shopping at the Farmers Market, however, were pretty disappointed with the amount of produce available, I think being winter and very seasonal, there was limited supply.  We then took a run out to Mt Barker for a looksee, again taking the back roads through farmland to Albany.

Tomorrow, we’re off to our farm stay at Waalitchup Farmhouse in Bow Bridge – but that’s a story for part 2 of this trip post.

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