Our time in Perth was very social as the reason for staying there was to visit with two lots of friends; Jackie & Lea, and Greg, plus we booked the van in for a 20,000 km service. We were spoiled and it was lovely to be invited home for dinner, driven around scenic parts of Perth and introduced to some lovely restaurants. I did get a new phone in Perth so back in business now with the same number and hopefully a better camera. For the third time this trip we took the Lestervan to a car wash. Not so easy to get that red dirt off and will need a lot of elbow grease when we get home.
On the road again we travelled to Wave Rock in Hyden via a free camp. Wave Rock is a granite cliff 15 m high and 110m long. Crystals from the rock were dated as being 2.7 billion years old, amongst the oldest in Australia. It is part of the much larger Hyden Rock which we climbed around before also checking out Hippos Yawn, an unusually shaped granite rock that was formerly part of the larger outcrop. We also visited Magic Lake (clear and salty on a gypsum base) and Mulka’s Cave (home of an aboriginal legend and the largest collection of aboriginal paintings in SW-WA (over 450 and mostly hand stencils)). Had another night in a free camp on a lake behind some deserted tennis courts. The mosquitos were so bad I crawled into the back of the van from the cab and vice versa in the morning. Its the first time that I never got out of the van on an overnight stop.
Had an exciting drive in the morning; passed The Stuck Truck and then visited the Lake King Tractor Museum. Stopped in Ravensthorpe which is an RV friendly town so we could get water and fuel, visit the tourist info and the dump station. Did a wildflower and lookout drive and stopped at the Cocanarup Memorial which acknowledges a massacre of the Noongar aborigines in the late 1800’s and is part of their process of reconciliation. Then we camped for two nights at Four Mile Campsite in the Fitzgerald River NP. Not many campers there, weather was ordinary and flies and mosquitos were bad. Got ready to have a walking day but had rain in the morning so drove to some lookouts. Checked out a coastal walk called The Hakea Trail, named after the Hakea flora family, and just then the sun came out. Had a gorgeous 6k walk with tons of wildflowers and stunning coastal views. The Fitzgerald NP is another biodiversity hot spot and an internationally recognized biosphere by UNESCO. We needed to clean our boots before and after all walks to help prevent dieback, a plant disease. Looking at all the different wildflowers has increased our powers of observation significantly and we find ourselves being much more observant and aware of our surroundings. That park was an amazing place for wildflowers and for the Royal Hakea, which are prolific there but not many other places.
Given we have seen so many new and different wildflowers since we left Perth I will do another separate wildflower post. Both of us have gone crazy taking pictures of the wildflowers and delighting in seeing new and different varieties; and then spending hours culling and editing all the photos.
Had sunshine as we left that park and drove back to Ravensthorpe for another ‘pit stop’ before driving to Stokes NP, where we made it just in time for 5pm drinks in the camp kitchen. Did a short walk along the Stokes Inlet before driving to Esperance for a few errands and lunch. Then we drove to Cape Le Grande NP and headed for Lucky Bay. Campsite was full so fortunately we could get into the other campsite at Le Grande Beach. Met a couple in the camp kitchen and invited them in for after dinner tea and a chat.
Moved to Lucky Bay early in the day so we got a camp site there with views of Lucky Bay which is reputed to be Australia’s whitest beach. Had a big walking day along a beautiful coastal track – from Lucky Bay to Thistle Cove, home for lunch and then from Lucky Bay part way to Rossiter Bay. 13 k’s in 5 hours along some absolutely stunning coastline. In fact these coastal walks remind us of our 2011 Cape to Cape walk south of Perth. The next day we visited Hellfire Bay and did a walk to Little Hellfire Bay (more white sand and brillant turquoise water) before driving to Cape Arid NP. Then for something different we did another beautiful coastal walk in Cape Arid from Dolphin Cove to Little Tagon Bay and on to Tagon Bay. Another 7 km walking day along the stunning coast on the Southern Ocean. Getting hard to keep the beaches straight as they are all beautiful – stunning white sand and turquoise water and no people!
Before we left Cape Arid I took the first sunrise picture of the trip, from the bedroom window, as we had a magic view. Completed a 3k nature walk before driving back to Esperance for another first – we checked into a caravan park with an ensuite. Worth the extra $10 to have our own toilet, shower and handbasin in a little house next to us. After stocking up again we are off to cross the Nullarbor Desert.