Trip 31 – The Big Apple!

Yep, that’s right. This trip we headed off to the Big Apple, which all Sandgropers know, is Donnybrook, about 200kms south of Perth.

Our long time camping buddy BJ recommended the Donnybrook Transit Park to us the other week and with a long weekend to enjoy we headed south to check it out.

First up, the Transit Park.. It’s located on some spare ground, behind the cricket oval and the council have installed about 10 caravan bays, with power and water, and installed a little shower and toilet block. Booking the site and picking up the key to the shower block is done via the Donnybrook BP servo, which is just a few hundred metres away. We weren’t sure what to expect, but we are very pleasantly surprised. The bays are well kept with lovely green grassed areas and the shower/toilet block is clean and neat. At $31/night for two adults, it’s a little ‘caravan park’ pricey, but we’d recommend it if you’re in the area.

Jules enjoying the serenity outside Goldy
Now with Champers in hand..
Nice sunset lit clouds
Some leaves in the Transit Park.
Lot’s of Maggies here, all very tame.

On our first night (Friday) we did the 5min walk from the park to the Donnybrook Hotel for a counter meal. Luckily we arrived early (5:50’ish) as all tables were reserved and we got lucky with an outside table near the open fire pit and Oscar, the pub Bulldog. Shared Seasoned Calamari for starters, which was probably one of the best we’d had, with the squid beautifully cooked and the seasoning spicy but not overpowering. Jules then did the Chicken Schnitty with gravy and I had a Scotch Fillet with Pepper Sauce. Both meals were very good quality ‘pub grub’ and we’d happily go back for another meal – meals = good.

Following the pub meal, it was back to the van for some Old Fashioneds and chillaxing. Whilst it wasn’t overly cold, because we had a powered site, we pulled out the little electric heater and got the van all toasty like.

Old a wintery night, enjoying an Old Fashioned in the toasty van, whilst watching the F1 practice sessions on Foxtel Anytime.

So with our destination predetermined by BJ’s recommendation, all we had to do is entertain ourselves by exploring the surrounding countryside and what beautiful countryside it is, particularly at this time of year as the paddocks are lovely and green and the deciduous trees are showing autumn colours -(somewhat rare around Perth).

We decided our plan for the two days was to do a northerly’ish loop on Sat and a southerly’ish loop on Sunday. So whilst smashing our Peanut Butter on Sourdough toast for breakfast (sucks to be you Madeleine), I planned out a nice little 250km’ish loop where our 1st stop was the Crystal Brook Forest.

Nankeen Kestrel en route to Crystal Brook
A nice row of gum trees en route to Crystal Brook
A nice Banksia(?) flower along the Crystal Brook Forest walk

From Crystal Brook we meandered through the side roads of the Ferguson Valley before making our way to Wellington Dam to check out the recently (Jan 2021) finished mural on the dam wall. It was painted by Aussie, Guido Van Helten- who wouldn’t have picked him for an Aussie with a name like that? Guido took 4 months to finish what is now stated as the “biggest dam mural in the world,” and boy did he do a fantastic job. The painting imagery and colours suit the area and colours of the Australian bush. Unfortunately, my pano shot of the wall looks a bit wonky, but hopefully you can appreciate the artistry in the work from this shot. Again, well worth visiting and word must be getting out as there were heaps of cars coming in despite the drizzle.

Guido’s mural on the Wellington Dam Wall

From the Welly Dam, we then headed up to the Green Door Winery, hoping to score a table for their grazing platter and a wine tasting. Unfortunately, all the tables were booked out so we settled for the wine tasting instead, coming away (as usual) with another case of wine. If you’re ever in the area or see the Green Door wines at your local, do yourself a favour and try their Tempranillo, it’s good.

Then it was off via the Rowlands Road into Collie, stopping off at the cemetery so Jules could visit some (deceased) rellies, namely her nana and grandad. Jules’ mum Shirley, hails from Collie and we sited four graves that held relatives. Lunch was a pie and snot block (vanilla slice) from the French Bakery in Collie – not bad, but not the best we’d had, before making our way back towards camp. On the trip back we checked out the new Lake Kepwari camping and boating area which is very well setup, however, I reckon would be packed with jet skis and ski boats on a warm day (which is what the place is designed for, so I shouldn’t complain).

An abandoned house on the trip back to camp
A cool tree at the abandoned house
A field of trees, not sure what type, all bedecked in their autumn finest

Tonight (Sat) it’s steak and salad with homemade Mulled Wine. Geez, life is tough…

Sunday started off a bit dreary, with heavy showers passing through, but the low contrast and grey skies only made the landscape more vibrant. Heading south, our first stop was Brazier, what was once probably a small country town is now a cool name to drive to. From there it was out through the bush to Nannup for coffee and cake.

A nice little landscape out near Brazier
The beautiful colours and shapes of the bush
The beautiful colours and shapes of the bush

From Nannup, we meandered back through the tourist drive to Balingup, again stopping for photo’s along the way.

The multilayered landscape
Lambs resting
The old rail line

Whilst in Balingup, we shot out to the Golden Valley Tree Farm for a walk out amongst the many varieties of European trees, many of which had their Autumn’s best on.

A leaf in all its splendour
Another leaf, split tone processed
Jules looking for a spot to use her new tripod
Oak leaves
A copse of trees
Probably the most colourful tree we found – stunning colours
The trunk of the previous colourful tree
Leaves of red, amber and green

En route back to Donnybrook, we stopped in at the Kirup Pub for a beer and for the first time, tried the famous Kirup Syrup! The Kirup Syrup recipe is a secret and it tastes a bit like a porty wine with a hint of bitters and overall it’s pretty good!

More homemade Mulled Wine tonight whilst we watch the Baku Formula One race, before heading home tomorrow.

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