Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Full on at Fish Creek

01st-06th December

Another 5 days off saw me heading South once again. Playing a bit closer to home for a couple of days and then venturing further South, Continuing the journey east of where my last trip "Wandering down the Warren" left off.

Leaving home early afternoon on a Friday, I was once again stunned by the traffic that is the Perth freeway, a freeway in name, not in stature. All was fine until the city, where the traffic banked up considerably, and then took me an hour to travel a further 30Km's. 2 hours from home to Ankatell Rd, normally a 50 minute drive. I had caught up with Leo on the freeway part way down.

We headed into Belvedire campground, a place I had reconnoitred previously but not camped at previously. Finding the place nearly empty was a bonus, and finding a fire ring with a couple of logs ready for splitting was a bonus. So with a later entry into camp, it was time to get down to business - dinner, a fire and a glass of red.

There wasn't much need for lighting this night, what with a full moon casting its beams over the area. interestingly, we spied a cheeky fox, coming in quite close to us at the fire, obviously slunking around to do a snatch and grab of any food we may have left out. Unlucky for him, we always pack out stuff away.

The following morning after coffee and breakfast, we headed onto Bufallo Beach for the 30Km run up the coast to Preston Beach. Arriving at the water was amazing. Today was one of those handful of days with no wind. The ocean was a mill pond and it made you appreciate where we actually live to be able to do things like this in such pristine conditions.

First port of call was Myalup. It was getting hot and so too was the tranny temps. Such a long way in 2/3rd low range, with a torque converter constantly unlocked, generated a lot of heat in both tranny and engine coolant. I've never experienced the torque converter being unlocked so often and it only made me want to investigate a torque converter lockup kit even more.

Into Myalup we went, stopping off at the general store for a bite to eat for lunch and finishing off with a nice ice cream on a hot day, gave the chance for our Paj's to cool down and have a rest, much like ourselves. But still only halfway to Preston Beach, we had more sand to go. The temperature was getting hot now, greater than 32 degrees and the vehicles were working hard in the hot dry sand. Leo's engine mounted DCDC Pro shut down from over temperature, something he had not seen before.

Another hour or so on the sand and as we approached Preston, we came across a Suzuki, full of young folk, stranded on the sand. It appears it has burnt its clutch out and wasn't going anywhere. We were going to offer to pull them to the blacktop, but they asked for a lift into town so they could get their "recovery vehicle". Upon arrival, and looking at the state of their gear and the recovery vehicle, we deemed it safest to tow them home with our gear and our vehicles. So back to the zuk we went. I suggested before we started prepping for the pull home, they give the zuk another go under its own steam. My theory was that the clutch wasn't burnt, just cooked, and the hour or so of rest may have enabled it too cool. And right I was, reducing the tyre pressures, the zuk started and drove its way out. The clutch not totally shagged, just too hot to perform. A win all round. So we aired back up I the carpark and headed to my old favourite, martins tank for the evening.

The old pissums were at their mischievous best, trying to raid out food crates and rubbish bags, whilst we were sitting next to them. Around 1800, a couple arrived in the site next door, erected a double swag and subsequently took off again. I guess they went into Preston for dinner at the resort.

Arriving back at about 2030, Leo and myself were enjoying a quiet drink, trying to shoo the Pissum thus mentioned away from out stuff. Every now and then, a strange sort of noise could be heard in the distance. I got up to investigate but couldn't find the source. Leo retired early, and the ZZ's started flowing whilst I sat up at the table with my glass of red. The noise continued, and in between bouts of snoring from leo's camp, I discovered the source. It was coming (literally) from the double swag next door. Female moans and groans. The dirty bastard..........I couldn't go to bed, another red was order of the night. No poles required for my swag tonight......

Sunday morning came around. The couple next door packed up quick and buggered off whilst I held my secret smile in check. Leo was out of there pretty quick too, his trip was done, and had to return home for work the next day. I hung around a bit longer. I had arranged to meet Trevor on the highway at 1000, so we could continue the journey South.

As luck would have it, Trevor raised me on the radio and I arrived at the highway turnoff just as he passed. Perfect timing. A pub lunch and a beer in Manjimup, with a fuel top off had us heading for Callcup Hill (WA's largest dune). The flexible plan was to camp at the top of Callcup, and have a crack at ascending it in the morning. But when we arrived at ground zero, it was still early afternoon, so we made the decision to have a crack at Callcup today. I stayed at the top as a recovery vehicle, whilst Trev attempted Callcup for the first time. The D-max pissed it in. With trev sporting a big grin, I had to show him what the Paj was capable of. And I failed miserably. Almost bogged at the turn around point, I had 2 cracks to no avail. D-max 1, Paj 0. That said, Trev had another crack at it and failed miserably too. I know from experience here, I need to run super low pressures, and to be honest, I couldn't be bothered, so we decided to head down to the Warren River to see if we could cross.

Crossing the Warren was again a no-go. Not without partly driving in ocean washup. Nothing neither Trev or myself was keen on. Trev was extremely keen on sleeping on the beach, what with the little wind about (something of a rarity for us), so venturing on past the Callcup track, we found a suitable spot for the evening.

We sat back with a couple of drinks watching the sun set over the ocean. Trev had a bottle of Grey Goose vodka and tried repeatedly to get me to try some. In the end, I gave in. Not being a vodka drinker at all, I was surprised how refreshing Vodka, lime and soda was. Too easy to drink.

So much so, by 2000, sitting on the edge of the dune in the dark, I suggested I couldn't be bothered cooking dinner now. So we polished off the bottle ;) Both a little wobbly booted, Trev went to bed whilst I had another glass of red for a nightcap.

Trev didn't fare so well in the morning. Mentioning that he had lost a few carrots out the side of his swag during the night. Unable to make himself a coffee, I had to look after the poor blokes welfare and made him a special brew. Unfortunately the hot milk and coffee brew didn't last in his stomach for long. Poor bloke :)

But some food made him come good and we hit the sand venturing further South for an exit at the Summertime track. Trev veered of a few times checking tracks heading away from the beach. One particular track, in typical Trev fashion, had me swearing and cursing as the sounds of the vegetation scraping down the sides of the Paj was akin to nails on a blackboard. But a magic little spot we found, the upper reaches of the Meerup River. Certainly one to put in the memory banks for another time. Light rain now starting to fall.

Back onto the beach and we find the Meerup cuts the beach, just like the Warren does further North. Stopping high on the beach and we are worried. The sand is like quicksand a good 20m from the water. It's even softer in the water. Not a good prospect, so we spend quite a while looking for a suitable place to cross.

Down near the ocean, we find the only place where the sand isn't like jelly. It has a small soft section in the water itself and in all reality, it's the only place we can cross. We spend quite a bit of time here checking out all the options, testing the water, discussing recovery options should it be required. In the end, it was time to attempt the crossing. Edging in and out to test for sinkage, it was time to just do it. So through I went, no drama's at all. Trev followed and we were across. A bit nerve wracking at the time, but time spent in preparation is well worth spent.

Then an easy run down to the Sumertime track to find the exit was pretty chewed up. Again, time spent in preparation proved its worth. Trev unfortunately didn't put his wheels where I suggested and had to have a few cracks at ascending off the beach. I went up first go:

D-max 1: Paj 1

At the end of the summertime track, it was time to air up for the blacktop run into Windy Harbour.

Some spectacular scenery to be had around Windy harbour. The view from the top of Mt Chudalup was pretty amazing, allowing us to see the dunes from where we had just come. It also allowed Trev to call home to make sure everything was A-Ok.

The cliff top views from Windy Harbour are also worth a visit.

Leaving the little village of Windy harbour behind , we headed out to the Gardiner River along a sandy track. At one point, the sand becoming quite soft, it was time yet again for tyre pressure adjustment.

Upon reaching the river, we found there was no way to cross and could see some DPAW buildings on the other side of the river. So we made our way to the Lower Gardiner River road and found a nice little campsite just to the North of those buildings.

The following morning (no duty free vodka left, thank goodness says Trev), we decided to head for Moores Hut/Fish creek. It wasn't long before our first obstacle became apparent. Again, not wanting to just plunge in, we walked, we analysed, we prepared to do it properly. Again, no drama's to be had, just an opportunity to wash all the beach sand off.

This road was quite wet and numerous holes were presented along the way:

None of them presented any drama's though. In wetter times, this track would be quite challenging. the track skirts a large area of wetland and would be inundated in a wet winter.

Reaching Chesapeake Rd,  we find a diversion due to a closed bridge. having to cross the Gardiner River at a causeway also presented no challenge. However, in winter, no doubt this wont be the case:

Stopping at the bridge for a photo session, I had the window down and could hear an alarming noise coming from the right hand rear. Subsequent investigation showed a piece of wood had wedged between my rim and caliper. Luckily, it appears no damage was done apart from a few scrapes inside the rim:

Checking out the Shannon River before going into Fish creek area, Trev decided to remodel my windscreen with the famous South West ball bearing gravel. that's what you get I suppose driving too close trying to get some footage. Grrrrrr.

Turning off onto Moore's track, we headed to the Hut. Having never been here before, I was stunned at the quality of the restored shack. It was simply brilliant. I will have to come back here again.

So we now have a choice: drive the inland track to fish Creek, some 17Km's away or head down to Coodamurup beach. We chose the latter:

Fish Creek via the beach from here is the shortest way to go, so we decided on a beach run. Unfortunately, a few Km's from Fish creek, the beach narrowed and as I cruised along, I came to a grinding halt and sunk. And what a job that was to be extracted. As the video show's, it was scary soft....hahahaha.

But eventually I was out. Another group had come along and they we not going to let the beach beat them, so they picked a line about a meter higher than I had took and were through easy. Mind you, the speed they traversed was scary. I looked at Trev, he looked at me and we said stuff it, lets do it. So we were both through without issue. Its amazing what difference a meter can make.

However, we were all thwarted at the next narrow point. it was just too narrow and we all had to turn back. back through my bog point, the wheel tracks now washed away from the surf, which proved the urgency of getting me out of that place pronto.

So with the run back to Moore's hut, coupled with the 17Km inland track, we eventually reached Fish Creek (West Cliff head):

There is the most beautiful spot to camp here, grass and all one dune from the beach, offering wind protection. However, it was full, there must have been 6 or more cars in that small area. So Trev and myself went in search of another place and found a spot in the dunes. it was bloody soft to get in, I had to reduce pressures below 10PSI. But in we got. The wind was pretty crappy and we huddled behind the cars for protection:

When we woke in the morning, the weather looked very daunting. Rain was imminent. A decision was made to skip breakfast and get packed and on the road before we got wet. We made it just in time. Not without it's issues though.

This trip was the maiden voyage for my mew Kumho KM51's.I replaced the Toyo opat's due to finding the sidewalls just didn't have the strength I needed.  To be honest, I wasn't overly happy with the KM 51's in the sand. The Paj (although it weighs more than the D-max) sure didn't perform as well. Maybe I just need a bit more sand experience with these tyres. But when I woke I was properly deflated......and so was my Left hand rear. Suspecting another sidewall stake, I re-inflated the tyre to see what happens. It seemed to hold pressure, so I took the gamble to drive out and check out the damage in a place more tyre changing friendly. It was still at the same pressure????/

So we drove back out to Chesapeake Rd, our re-inflation point. The tyre still holding, we inflated back to road pressure. Checking frequently on the drive back to Manji, there was no change. So it seems, with the low pressure and the tight manoeuvring in the camp behind the dune, I must have popped the bead enough to deflate the tyre but not unseat it. So in a way that was a relief, but I've never popped a bead before and that in itself makes me worry into the future.

Arriving in Manjimup, we had our breakfast, then hit the road for home. A thoroughly enjoyable trip done and dusted, ready for the next one.

Trip Stats:

5 nights under canvas
1753km travelled
71L fuel used @ Manjimup (477Km's - 14.9L/100)
119L fuel used remainder of trip (819Km - 14.5L/100)
1296Km in total
for an average of  14.66L/100Km
cost of fuel $253
camp fees $20

The running tally of nights under canvas now stands at 46

Vids for the trip


  1. Love the read and photos.

    1. Thanks Andy, glad you liked the read. It does take a bit of time to put these together, so its very satisfying to hear someone liked it. Cheers mate, appreciated!