Dryandra Woodlands, Perth & bush camp near New Norcia. (Week 6)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 09:01

Member-Heather MG NSW

Monday 13th and Tuesday 14th May (2 nights) Dryandra Woodland. CongelinCampground. $5 pp (concession). Near Williams.
We have spent two wonderful days here, arriving Monday morning, and enjoyed a bit of respite and rejuvenation. The campsite has clean composting toilets and a free gas BBQ but there is no rubbish collection and garbage must be taken out. Separate areas for caravans, tent based campers and a group camp area and toilets of each.

Mornings have been cool (8degrees inside van), very foggy Tuesday morning but clear Wed. We have used the gas heater here both mornings and at night while showering and until bed and it has made life much more comfortable.

On the first night we were the only campers here so this will be remembered as a very special place. We enjoyed a roaring, warming campfire and sat outside long after dark, watching the antics of two friendly small brush tailed possums who searched in vain for food around our camp, and listening to the calls of unknown birds. It was also a chance to view the milky way and a crescent moon.
There are several great walks and two interesting drives which give an insight into this (for us) unusual landscape and the rare and endangered animals which inhabit it; the numbat, WA’s state mammal emblem, which feeds entirely on termites, also the red tailed phascogales, woylies, tammar wallabies and possums. The trees are mallet, kwongan (heath and shrublands) and sheoaks. The woodland is the largest remnant of original vegetation in the western wheatbelt. The information pamphlet tells us there are more than 25 mammals, 100 birds, and 50 reptiles although we have seen but a few; a flock of noisy carnabys cockatoos, grey roos, possums, sheldrake ducks, a colourful scarlet robin, honey eaters, wrens, plus the usual magpies.
Monday afternoon after lunch, we drove to the Old mill dam picnic area and walked the 5.5 km Woylie walk, all the time on the lookout for numbats! Our walk took us through woodlands of wandoo, powderbark, kwongan heathlands, jarrah and stands of sheoak which was really interesting and I photographed some of the plants and the striking orange coloured tree trunks. Although we saw the diggings, some very fresh, of woylies and numbats we did not see any animals unfortunately.
Yesterday (Tuesday) I packed us morning tea and we did the 23km Darwinia drive and stopped at the 5 pull over bays where interpretive information is provided on big boards, about the complexity and interdependence of the natural systems at Dryandra. At stop 5 (our first stop as we did it in reverse) there was a very short walk to the top of a granite outcrop which is the home of the red tailed phascogale. We found it very interesting.
Afterwards, we pulled up at the Dryandra village settlement and walked the 3.3 km return Kawana walk and it was on this walk that we saw the carnaby cockatoos as the noisily screeched overhead in a flock.
After returning to our van, we ate lunch and enjoyed a couple of hours reading, relaxing and generally just revelling in the place. I also did the short Congelin siding walk to the dam from the campground, 1.6 kms return, along the old Pinjarra to Narrogin railway line which was constructed in 1925.
Our campfire was started early and a slow cooked meal of lamb shanks put over it mid-afternoon. A couple in a huge expensive van pulled in at one of the sites across from us and later in the afternoon we enjoyed a talk with the male of the party when he dropped past on a stroll around the campground. By the time he left it was cooked to perfection with meat falling meltingly off the bone and we savoured our last night here, already thinking of how different our next camp will be in Perth.

Perth Discovery Park Hale Rd Forrestfield $45 p night (drive through site)

Having 4 nights here and booked this site so we could take the van out for repairs to the leak and other small warranty item repairs on the 1st morning of our stay. There is a constant hum of traffic and very frequent sounds of planes landing and taking off, as the airport isn’t too far from here. However the site is well off the street and its reasonably ok for a park, with our site being on the end of a row and there’s space to put the awning out, so not complaining. Could have had 10% discount had I joined Big 4.
Hopefully the water leak has been found and fixed. I guess until there is more rain for more than a couple of hours, we won’t know however the repairers seemed to be reasonably confident that the source (leaking around pop rivets in window) had been found. We were without the van from 7.30am until 3.30pm and basically spent the day driving to Fremantle for a look around, and then sitting in car parks in shopping centres, so it was a bit of a boring, wasted time. Also had the outboard motor serviced though.
Having reparked the van, we sought out the nearest Woolworths supermarket, approximately 1 km from here and did a big shop, then had to pack it all away. There was little time left so it was dinner preparation and the usual evening activities.
Friday (yesterday) we caught a bus into the city and wandered Kings Park and botanical garden

for a few hours, enjoying the great views and the huge range of plants. It is a lovely place and we were lucky that the weather cleared up early in the day. Amazingly, we also managed to catch a bus back to the stop outside the Park, and so decided to book a day trip to Rottnest Island through the Park office on our way back to the van.
Rottnest Island…caught a cab to the Jetty and was refunded the over $43 fee by the ferry company who must have found it cheaper than providing a bus for us. We were told to be there by 8am so ordered the cab for 7.15am however did not depart until almost 9am so it was a long, long cool morning waiting on the jetty in a longish queue. Managed to fluke the nicest cab driver in the whole of Perth and she gave us a running commentary on places to see, history of buildings etc.
Barb and Darrel joined us on the ferry at Nth Freemantle and there were many vacant seats so they sat with us. It was a very calm crossing with a small swell and almost no movement which was a good thing for Barb who gets very seasick. Once on the Island, we split up with them going for a bus tour and us starting out for a few short walks. We also visited the bike hire place and had a look at our options…for me an adult trike, as I am not a bike rider. Unfortunately they are regarded as a mobility vehicle and are prohibited from going anywhere apart from the township area of Thompson’s Bay so we decided instead to do a discovery bus tour after lunch and paid the necessary $56 (concession rate) at the visitor centre.

Spent the morning looking for quokkas, wandering to the lookout over the salt lakes and taking photos, visited the Museum and generally enjoyed the calm, warm conditions of this beautiful scenic and historic Island, Lunch in the Lodge was a hot buffet and passable although very poorly attended. Not sure how they survive much of the year in many of the businesses but it must be a struggle. A tame quokka kept having to be shooed out of the restaurant.
We enjoyed the bus tour and were a small group with a very passionate female guide/driver who stopped frequently and pointed out interesting historical and geographical features, also allowed us off the bus at west end where there was a huge osprey nest and bird standing on top and beautiful views to photograph from the end of the boardwalk.
Back at Thompson’s bay we bought a huge double ice cream ($7.50 each) from Simmo’s shop and waited to board the afternoon ferry with Barb and Darrel. They had to catch a different one and our larger boat was very comfortable and sparsely inhabited so we got great seats up the top level where I was able to wander around and get lots of photos of the sun setting over the water and scenes of the Fremantle port and Swan River as we made the journey back to Perth, arriving after dark.

We tried in vain to get a bus back to the Park and gave up, instead hailing a cab. Once again the driver was very friendly and had us back home before we could have even boarded a bus but by now it was close to 7pm and both of us were pretty tired. We did look forward to a hot shower, a salad sandwich for dinner and the thought of getting out of the city the following day.
Sunday 19th May. Bush camp somewhere near New Norcia
Found a fantastic bush camp on our way to New Norcia and pulled in before lunch, hidden behind vegetation, off a rest area on a side road where we had partial shade and a good sunny area to put up the clothesline and dry a load of washing I had done before we left the van park. We enjoyed a quiet relaxing afternoon with me photographing grass trees and other plants, all familiar from our couple of days in Dryandra woodland the previous week, reading, and just enjoying the silence this rare camp provided.

After dinner cooked inside, lovely hot showers and completing the chores, we watched two episodes of ‘The Wire’ and afterwards had a wonderfully relaxing night all alone, knowing that it could be some time before we so lucky again.

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. John Muir
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