The plan was for him to fly in on Friday at 12.40pm of a long weekend. I had planned to go away for the weekend, but a cat 4 cyclone (rusty) in the Pilbara earlier in the week had some ordinary weather predicted for the South West so I canned that idea. So at 1030am on the Friday morn, the forecast had changed once again for the better, so the long weekend was on. Pity I didn't have the ulti prepped, as now it was going to make a late departure as I had to fire the fridge up, pack all the gear, do some shopping yada yada yada before I could get away. And I still had to pick up Adam from the airport.....
Anyway, the baggage handling conveyor in Sydney had crapped itself. Sydney airport was in Chaos. Subsequently, Adam was late in and I didn't make home till 3pm (which was my planned departure time). So a flurry of activity had me ready to hit the road at 4.30pm.......Just intime for the freeway peak of a Friday arvo on a long weekend....great!.....
We hit the road and all was good till Vincent St (just north of the city). Then it was probably the worst I'd ever seen it. The freeway was a carpark from there to Thomas road, a distance of some 35Km's. Normally it free flows after Berrigan drive, so this added another 15Km's of bumper to bumper traffic to contend with.
Hitting our intended stay at about 6.30pm, we find the place is full. It was full at 10.30am. I tell you what, it's getting increasingly difficult here in Perth on a long weekend to get away unless you're prepared to get there a day or two before hand. Alright for some, don't people work for a living these days?
So I make plans to head further down the coast for another site I'd never been to. All the suitable spots for the ulti was taken due to DEC in their wisdom not supporting campers. I'm finding DEC sites to be a right PITA, their over zealous use of copper logs leaving just enough room to park a car. Then, they have a huge camp site to put your tent on, but you cant get a trailer in there. I vented my frustration to the camp host and explained to her, 3 tyre footprints (two wheels and a jockey wheel) is more environmentally friendly than pitching tents all over the ground. When will DEC ever learn, a far majority of us use campers these days.....
So I bugger off yet again, much further South. I headed out for Welly Dam. We got here about 9.30pm. And it too was chockers. I was just about over it all by now and spat my plug a few times and just wanted to go home and give up on the idea. I didn't want to go any further South. It was too late for making dinner, so I headed into Collie for a take away, a rethink and somewhere to cool down to gather my composure.
I decided we would go back to the second site (Yalgorup NP/Lake Preston) to see what we could do with the dregs. After much trailer manoeuvring, trying to clear logs and trees, I was finally happy we had the ulti in the correct spot. There was just enough room for my setup and we were finally done at 1am. What a shocker of a day.
In all fairness and in hindsight, whilst it was a tight squeeze at this site, it turned out to be a very nice place indeed. There was ample shade and plenty of room in the camp site behind the ulti. The Ulti isn't really made for 4 people, so Adam got the swag under the main awning.
The camp site
Saturday was a bit of a lazy affair, what after all the drama of the day before. After lunch we went down to Preston Beach for a gander. Kaitlyn found another kiddie to play with (don't they always) and had a ball running from the incoming waves and scrambling up the "cliff". She got caught out once or twice with the incoming waves and got taken down. Maybe I'm a bit strange, but I thought it funny seeing the fear on her face (she was fine and I was at the ready anyway):
Adam went up and chatted with a local doing some beach fishing. This was timely for him, as he asked Adam to watch the rod, he hadn't had a pee for hours and was busting. Adam duly complied with the request:
Sunday was a bit of a site seeing day for Adam. Kaitlyn decided it was time to loose her first tooth which has been hanging precariously for months. Here comes the tooth fairy....
Late morning we headed off to Yarloop to check out the old rail workshops. Wished I took some pictures (in my rush the camera was left at home, so I only have a few phone pics to share, I'll make up with google map links). They had a wealth of machinery in there, from lathes and drills, shapers (where I subsequently taught the daughter about clapper boxes), presses, pattern making shop, forges and lots of old time multiple belt driven tools of every description. Cost us $20 for the four of us, but I quite enjoyed it.
From there we made our way to Harvey. We drove around Logue Brook Dam and took some back tracks to Harvey via harvey dam. In Harvey, we pulled up in a nice little spot off the road adjacent to the Harvey River for an on the road lunch from the engel in the back off the car.
My plan was then to head a bit further south, cross to the coast, and check out the beaches back to camp.
I checked out a camp ground near Belvedere beach. Dam pity I didn't check this on the way back from Collie. It had plenty of space for the camper and multiple free spots available. Whilst not as much shade as where I was, I wouldn't have to spend the day chasing the sun with the panels and the beach was just a short drive away. A spot for the memory banks for next time I guess. unusually there was no South Wester howlin and both Adam and Kaitlyn decided on going for a swim
So we meandered our way from beach to beach back to camp. Call me soft, but I took the black top. I couldnt be arsed to deflate my tyres to venture along the beach, and that said, I generally aim for non beach driving whilst solo anyway.
Honey soy Kebabs, leafy and wet salads for dinner.....Yum
The friendly Magies were hanging around for the chicken kebabs..
Monday dawned to the sound of pitter patter on the ulti roof. Bugger. I didnt really want a wet pack up. Anyway after breky, and a slow pack up, it all dried out well. So now it was time to leave, with a day of rest to come before just the boys load the ulti for the Sandy Cape/Wedge trip for the remainder of the week.
Taking the yak and not being able to use it was frustrating, but it seems to have proven my peel rivet repair on the ulti track mount was successful and I returned fuel usage of 13.5L/100, which is normal for me haulin the ulti anyway, so it looks like a minimal fuel penalty is to be had :)
Anyway, next up: Part II
Tuesday was a lay day. Time to reorganise the ulti, restock with food and enough beer to keep the swan brewery boys in for some overtime. And Adam calls me fish.......he's the one that drinks like one..... Gotta love the irony.
What is it with Ticks......I haven't seen one for 30 years and I score 3 at christmas. Then I find another one again today....Grrrrr!
Tuesday night I'm getting ready for a trip meeting for my Steep Pt trip in April. Alli has left her phone at home. She rings me at 5pm on the woman's phone who's car she got shunted into to ask if I can pick up Kaitlyn. She has been in a 4 car bingle on the Narrows. The 2 that went up her rear are uninsured and the last one is an Indian without an Aus licence. She says her car is drivable and will be home in about 1/2 hour.
So I wait, and wait and wait some more. I have to cancel my attendance at the trip meeting. All this time all I can think of is she has driven home, ran out of coolant and cooked the goose. About 7.30pm she rocks up in a taxi and informs us the car will be a writeoff. Bloody great. So now, as she was insured for market value, we will end up thousands out of pocket replacing her wheels. And where does this leave me for the next 4 days going away with Adam now she doesn't have a car.......She gives me the green light, she will catch the train and get her sister to pick up Kaitlyn.
We depart about midday on Wednesday for Sandy cape. An uneventful trip. We check in with the caretaker and he advises what he believes is the best spot and its untaken. So we drive over. There is a group of arrogant Dutch retiree's sitting under the tree. So I ask them if it would trouble them if I set up my camper here. Afterall, its not like there isn't a gazillion other shady trees they could sit under. They tell me no I cant. They are reserving the spot for their friends coming later. My blood boils......and I walk away muttering things you shouldn't post on a family forum.
As luck would have it, the spot next door was large, shady and personally, my choice of spot and it was empty before I saw the Dutchies. Two cars have since parked up here in the shade. I see the owners and ask their intentions. They tell me they are going to set up tents here. Be it right or wrong, I tell them tent land is over there. Still a bit peeved from the Dutchies, I explain to them I cant set my camper in tent land, so you cant set your tent in camper land. They are very apologetic and I score what I believe to be the prime site.
From the front:
The rear area, nicely shaded all day:
And the view from the rear:
Later in the arvo, the caretaker comes to collect the fees. We have a chat for a bit then I mention the Dutchies reserving a spot for their friends (you can see their chairs and towels strung up in the above pic). He replies, "There are no reservations here: But I'm not up for an argument". Weak as piss. Though I'm not concerned now having the best spot in camp. But still, its weak as piss. He didn't need to cause an argument but a word in their ear wouldn't have gone astray IMO. The bloody hide of them. I'm still fuming even as I write this.
Thursday dawns and yet another cooked breakfast on the barbie. Bacon, eggs, fried tomato and mushrooms. I'm going to hate jumping on the scales. Man, I've eaten some food. A stroll down the beach and we decide to head off for stockyard gully caves.
The view towards the camp on the way out to Stockyard:
Reaching the "4wd only" point, I spot soft sand. So I get the egt's raised a little. Its then I notice the big hole....crap too late to take evasive action.....The paj gets its lovells reset, I get to test the engel's tiedowns, it bounces up and down wildly and we get thrown around a bit. But we and the paj and its contents come through unscathed. We arrive at the caves and meet a couple of rangers going about their work. They are surprised to see us as it was quite hot. We had a good chat with the fella's. They advised us there are 3 caves to see. Go through the first (guessing 300 or so meters in length and in darkness), then follow the creekbed to the second (maybe 100m in length, full daylight. He tells us to climb over the "do not enter" rail to get into the second) then continue further up the creek bed to the third (apparently endless). We do the first and the second, but its too bloody hot for the third. Another day maybe.
The creek bed walk:
I thought this was amazing. If you check the pic above, you can see the coastal strip is just salt bush type shrubbery, very few trees. Its like this for thousands of K's over here on the coastal strip. To see majestic gums in the creek bed just made my day.
The cave entrance:
Adam had to be a bit careful due to the multitude of beehives. He is allergic to bee sting and carries an epi pen.
And some internals:
The jagged roof was unique:
Disappointingly, I found lots of evidence inside of broken stalactites. They were only small, but have taken thousands of years to form.
The second cave:
And looking out:
So we are now back to camp. Adam really wants a sunset pic. So we head up the dunes to the viewing platform about 40 Mins prior to sunset. The wind has been howling for days now and the platform was a good way to abrade hot sweaty skin from the dune sandblast we had to endure. We had to hang around for about 20 Mins, but eventually, I got a series of the sun going down.
Its a bit of a novelty for Adam seeing the sun go down over the ocean, not rise from it.
I'm still yet to see the green flash as the sun disappears over the horizon.
Friday comes around and we have to meet a group of fella's from work at a shack up at wedge. A ramshackle group of ex cray fishermen shacks.
They are not planning on being there till 4pm so we have a lazy pack up around noon. It was bloody hot. So much so, that I even went for a swim when we were done. Today, it was blowing from the East, so the bay was calm. The water was bloody beautiful. I spent a lot of time just floating on my back, as something in the sand was taking a liking to my blackfella feet.
As we had about 3 hours to kill, we checked out some of the coastal spots on the way back down. I parked the paj and ulti on the beach at Cervantes for a poser shot:
We get to Wedge about an hour too early. So out with the chairs and the beers until the gate party arrives.
That night we emptied the engel of beer and Adam subsequently went to bed. I remained on the red woobler and subsequently fell asleep in my chair. In the morn when the hangover had cleared, we made for home as I had to vote. Gave the ulti a bath and did a general unpack. A slow night was had on Saturday (due to the previous night) and I dropped Adam at the airport Sunday morning. As I type this, Adam will be sitting around the bar at Sydney airport waiting for his flight to Parkes.
I haven't seen ya for about 10 years mate, but thanks for the company this past week. Lets make it another 10 before you come back.....to give my liver function a chance to recover and pass the test.......