Millers Point,Kalgan River, Coalmine Beach, & Lake Towerinning. (Week 5.)

Friday, May 10, 2013 at 22:10

Member-Heather MG NSW

Monday May 6th. Millers Point. Camping fee $7.50 p.p. p.n. collected by caretaker.

I was hoping to wake to blue skies today but it was not to be. The men set out quite early to fish and said they would be home for lunch so I pulled on the walking boots and decided to have a short walk to the lookout along the signed and marked walking trail. It was mainly to find a place where there was phone reception so I could contact both Jayco Warranty and then a repairer in Perth so we can get the van booked in.
Whilst I was unsuccessful in finding a mobile phone signal on the walk, I did enjoy re visiting the lookout and took the opportunity to take some photos on my phone, which has a great little camera and is lightweight and convenient to carry compared to the SLR. A sea mist shrouded much of the inlet early but it cleared and throughout there were intermittent patches of sunshine and blue skies.
On my return, I discovered one tiny patch where I could make calls and send messages and I did manage to get us booked in on 16th in Perth which is a great relief. I returned to the same place a number of times during the day and received news of a friend back home who has suddenly found out he needs stents to keep his ticker working and is undergoing the procedure tonight in Sydney. It is good to be able to keep in touch.
Barb and I had a lovely quiet day, mostly sitting reading with views up the Inlet. I also made coffee at regular intervals while the genie was available. The men returned with a few fish which they said they worked hard to get, had a quick lunch, and then went back out for a couple of hours. It takes a couple of hours to clean and load it so John was back by mid-afternoon and the four of us carried it up to a flat place near the car and got busy doing the necessary, while Darrel took the kayak out for a while. They had collected firewood so I set up a fire on which I planned to cook a camp oven meal of lamb,lentils and vegetables for our evening meal.

There was a stunning sunset this evening and both my cameras were employed taking many shots of the brilliant pinks and oranges in the sky, which were perfectly reflected on the water. The meal bubbled away as the light faded. Darrel returned in the kayak with 4 fish, and finally the boat was loaded and we all were able to sit for a while and relax around the fire. John and I ate in front of the fire with our meals on our laps and then sat around for hours enjoying this lovely quiet place. Tonight we are the only campers here and it so rarely happens. Plans for the next destination, Albany, were discussed and then it was inside for a hot shower, washing up and bed.

Tuesday May 7th. Kalgan Chalets and Caravan Park $35 p.n powered.
We were on the road before 9, with plans for me to phone Kalgan Chalets and Caravan Park, at Kalgan River, approximately 11 kms east of Albany when I had phone signal, to book us a couple of powered sites for two to three nights. We were surprised at just how green the land is everywhere so there must have been recent rains here.
It is a lovely, very quiet, place set on a Wildlife refuge, on the Kalgan river with Golf Course adjoining and lots of relaxed roos. Sites cost $35 powered. Our sites are generous and most campers are on the waterfront however with bad weather (strong winds and rain) predicted, we chose places which are not under trees! We arrived before lunch so it was a short days driving for once.
Barb and I took advantage of a sunny day and soon had loads of laundry done and on the lines, before setting out to find Post Office, supermarket, gas refiller and service station. John and I were back at the van mid afternoon but the others didn’t appear until almost dark, having decided to do a bit of exploring. Tomorrow we will do the touristy things, chiefly Whale World and a few walks if the weather permits. Not sure yet whether we will stay three nights but it seems there is plenty to do here, and the Park is so lovely it is not like being in one at all really.

Wednesday 8th May.
Our first morning in Kalgan River dawned sunny but it was not to be that way for long and by the time we drove to the Whale World Complex at Frenchman’s Bay some 35kms from the park, it was showering lightly and the wind was howling. We had brought fruit and a sandwich so we could stay out for the day but worried about our awning and shadecloth walls back at the park, and their chances of damage.
The entry to Whale World cost us $24 each, pensioner rates, and entitled us to a tour, three movie presentations and entrance to all exhibits. Tours leave at 10am and hourly thereafter until 3pm each day, and a friendly guide outlined the processes involved in obtaining and extracting the oil and other products from whales, with the help of audiovisual aids, and a short walk around the buildings. It was a ghastly, awful industry and the graphic colour photos of the men on bloody decks as they hacked the blubber and chopped the poor creatures up for boiling made me feel quite sick! Thank goodness Australia stopped whaling over 30 years ago and now we do our utmost to prevent anyone else from doing it. It is barbaric in my opinion when the products are no longer necessary for human survival.
After the tour I wandered around the restored whaling vessel in light rain taking photos, and we also watched two movies about whales and sharks, then bought the grandkids a small gift each in the shop at the entrance before John and I returned to the car for lunch.
10 minutes later the sun was shining so we decided to have a look at some of the lookouts and tourist attractions along the coast in the nearby Torndirrup National Park, visiting Jimmy Newells Harbour, The Blowholes, and the Gap and Natural Arch. The sun shone and it was hot doing the walk back uphill from the blowholes but dark clouds gathered and threatened to dump rain on us as they moved quickly across the skies.
On our way back to the van, we drove to the lookout at Mt Melville, close to the CBD, and there found a tower which we were able to walk up three levels to good viewing points over the city and the surrounding country. It is a picturesque place and I understand why it would be a popular place for holidaymakers to visit in warmer seasons also for permanent residents to live here.
It had rained heavily in our absence and there were pools of water lying around the park, although our awning looked intact and once again the sun was shining. John and Darrel put the canoe in the river, despite strong winds, and fished until dark, returning with 4 good sized bream.
With reports of cyclonic winds and rain forecast for overnight we pulled down the shadecloth and awning and packed all the outside furniture away just after dark. Later in the night when we woke we were glad we had done so as the wind buffeted the van, and howled around us. One van owner across from us was not so lucky and his awning was bent and broken when we woke.

Thursday 9th May.
Having decided to stay an extra night because of weather forecasts (for more damaging winds and rain) we had a chance to get out and do a bit of walking for the first time in what seemed like ages. I packed map, fruit, water, camera and waterproof gear and after paying the extra $35 to the managers, we set out to have a look closer to the park, firstly driving to Two Peoples Bay and Little Beach. Here we only stopped long enough to take a few photos because of the rain and wind of a very pretty little place, its coastal landforms similar to Cape Le Grand with great sweeping curved rock faces plunging into the ocean.
Next it was to Mt Martins Botanic Park and a short drive along some dirt road which turned much of our car from charcoal grey to red! By now it was sunny again so we packed some gear and started out with little information as to distances involved, following tracks up and then to the left meandering around the coast and providing tantalising glimpses of blue water and Islands dotted around, as well as coastal views across King George Sound. It was a lovely walk and probably all up we did around 5 to 6 kms however there appeared to be at least double that in tracks and I was sorry we hadn’t taken lunch and extra water and made a day of it. I stopped and took photos along the way and was thrilled to find a perfect example of a local banksia with three red flowers in different stages, right beside the track.
After returning to the car park, and a short walk to the beach for photos, we drove to nearby Ledge Point for further views and photos and then back to the van. We have filled up with fuel (car) and water (van) and will leave for Walpole in the morning where we hope to stay at Coalmine Beach in a van park for a couple of days.
John and Darrel fished all afternoon in the canoe and I spent some time baking date scones and then a fruit loaf. The weather was not pleasant with cold winds and squally showers so it must have been horrible out on the water, regardless of how many fish were being caught. Can’t understand how they can do it!
During the night we had rain again but the bathroom did not leak which is strange…..but also great!

Friday 10th May. Coalmine Beach Holiday Park Walpole $31.50p.n powered with TT discount.
The men were up early and it was not raining. In fact it was cold with a chill wind and almost sunny and by the time we drove out of the park at Kalgan river, the day was shaping up to be the best we had seen in quite a while. I had to use the air conditioner on heat setting before I could get dressed and it worked very efficiently to bring the temperature up from 13 to 21 degrees quite quickly.
I had phoned and left a message for Coalmine Beach then also emailed to let them know to expect us but had heard nothing so we assumed that there would be vacancies. With the cool weather it does not seem to be peak season here and parks seem to be quiet, which suits us just fine.
There was a small glitch in Albany when we did not take the correct exit on the big roundabout and had to turn around and have a second attempt to get onto the South Coast Highway and head towards Denmark.
The sun shone and the paddocks beside the road were green and lush with fat stock feeding for much of the way. I had vague memories of Denmark and they were correct. A picturesque, neat little town with a riverside park. We were soon west of there and I looked out for T-signs and a Meadery and Honey Icecream place which we had visited last time, as we once again planned to stop. Barb and Darrel could not be persuaded to do likewise so we pulled in alone and after some deliberation I chose honey, rose and almond and John had honey ginger. They were a rather strange choice on a very cold morning however we reckon the climate is ALWAYS right for ice cream! I also bought a couple of small honey filled dark chocolate bars, one of which was eaten after lunch, and comes highly recommended.
As we drew closer to Walpole, the clouds once again gathered and it was showering before we had parked and levelled the van. Coalmine Beach park is approximately 2 kms east of Walpole and we have paid for two nights however may stay a third. The sites are shaded by peppermint gums which would be lovely in Summer however the ground is soggy and in some places boggy because of recent rain, so we were given a double site and were able to drive through. There is a Table tennis room and a good lounge area and undercover BBQ not far from our site. Nornalup Inlet is only about 50 metres from the park but was not too appealing in this afternoons wild weather, and I have so far left exploring it and the surrounding tracks for better weather.
I used the air conditioner on heat setting to warm up the van interior at lunch, then pulled the fan heater out from under the bed to use later.
After a lunch of toasted sandwiches (and honey filled chocolate) we set off in the car for Walpole, to the Tourist information place for literature, mainly on the local walks. It was pouring with rain and continued to be that way during much of the afternoon, although there were intermittent patches of sunshine too. John caught 40 litres of water off the awning and used it to give the Pajero a much needed wash in between showers and I managed one quick dash to have a look at the Inlet before I had to run for cover.
This evening I’ve examined the pamphlets and decided on tomorrows activities…drives and walks, hopefully in good weather. The heater has been welcome and I cooked us a warming chicken casserole for dinner before enjoying a lovely hot shower without leaving the warmth and comfort of the van. John still elects to go to the amenities almost every evening we stay in a park but I much prefer mine here.
Saturday May 11th.

Although we woke to cloudy skies, I packed us water, morning tea and lunch and we set off around 8.30am to explore some of the sights in Walpole Nornalup National Park. First destination was to Swarbrick,
an artistic installation in the forest along a 500 metre pathway containing a mix of sculptures and information which I found fascinating. I especially liked the long mirror like panels of reflective and also semi-transparent surface on which was transposed information about the history of the place. We were there by ourselves so had a good opportunity to take photos and enjoy it.
From there we drove towards Mt. Frankland on good, although wet, dirt road, deciding to chance good weather for our walk to the summit as the clouds appeared to be clearing. The waterproof jackets were once again put on and with fruit, water and cameras we set out along the smooth bitumen path, past a historic hut which housed the person whose job it was to record weather details and also keep a lookout for fires.

The path led steadily upwards around a sweeping curve before arriving at the base of a huge rock, partially covered with moss and lichen and dripping with moisture from the rains. We saw two pigs, a sow and piglet calmly foraging around up on the rocks. Continuing to follow the path, we came to steps and then a series of ladders with a small platform where I managed to take photos before tackling the final series of steps, hundreds in total, which led to the summit. Up on top it was fine but threatening to rain again, and soon, with low cloud and mist obscuring some of the 360 degree views. We wandered over the bare smooth rocks where there is now a small building with telecommunications or other antennae, and then along the sturdy fence which has been erected I suppose to stop people slipping and falling down the steep sides. After taking photos and having a good look around, we started back down, eager to avoid having to do it in rain. Along the way, I took photos of the beautiful blackened trunked grass trees which hugged the side of the hills, as well as the views.

Back at the car park, we decided to do the short walk to the lookout along the wheel chair friendly track, amazed at the metal walkways and structures at the end which enable the viewer to walk out suspended over the edge of the hill. My first attempt at viewing was hampered by rain however I went back for a second attempt and managed to take some great photos of the structure and the views, along with interesting fungal forms growing low down on the tree trunks and the ground. Back at the information shelter, another impressive sculptural structure made from drystone walls in curved shapes, we read the information boards, ate our morning tea, and waited for a break in the weather. WA National Parks has spent a huge amount on this particular feature and its certainly impressive, making the walk to the summit of Mt Frankland very accessible.
Next on our itinerary was a visit to Fernhook falls but I must admit, despite having a bit of water falling, this was a bit of a disappointment although I did manage to take a few photos with beautiful colours and reflections further down the path at the big pool of still water.

From the falls we took the dirt road across to the Highway and then turned south back towards Walpole, as I also wanted to walk to the summit of Mt Clare and feel that I had conquered two mountains in one day! We were ravenous after the mornings exercise and the cold weather and ate our lunch while on the road.
The car park was just a short distance off the road and after locating the walk to the summit we set out expecting a similar trail and level of difficulty as the one to Mt Frankland. Instead it was a gentle stroll uphill for maybe a km, made interesting with several large tingle trees, one a burnt our stump in which I posed for a photo. The so called ‘summit’ was a mossy covered slightly curved rock and tree growth prevented any views so we retraced our steps back to Walpole, a little disappointed.
After stop to refuel in town we took the muddy drive to the giant tingle tree where we managed the short loop walk past some enormous examples of ancient tingle trees without being rained on, then drove back to the van park, arriving around 2 pm. Our pajero which John had washed using water collected off our awning the previous night, was absolutely covered in mud again!
John and Darrel spent the remaining part of daylight fishing, putting the kayak in the river near the bridge in Nornalup while I enjoyed small patches of sunlight under the awning, with coffee, and paper to read.
Despite quite heavy showers we had managed to fit everything we wanted to do into our day and feel that we had also had some exercise.

Sunday May 12th. Mothers Day 2013.Lakeside campground. Lake Towerinning $25 p.
This morning we packed up and moved on. Barb and Darrel decided they had seen all they wanted in Walpole (Darrel decided I think!) so left to see the Margaret River region. John and I packed up in a very leisurely fashion and didn’t leave the park until 9.45 which must be a record late time for us.
I had researched camps in some detail and decided we should head inland to try to find better weather while also discovering new places, firstplace being Lake Towerinning not too far from Kojonup . This meant back tracking to Denmark some 80 kms before turning north onto the road to Mt Barker, then again north to Kojonup. We enjoyed the feeling of being alone again although drove through showers and the clouds hung heavy in the skies for much of the way.
There was a fuel stop in Kojonup then lunch in a flat roadside parking area where John also managed to phone to wish his mum a Happy Mothers day. We arrived at the Lake around mid afternoon, finding the owners and managers enjoying a coffee outside in the sun. With no one else here we chose a lovely generously proportioned waterfront site and parked with our awning facing the water. Within half an hour one other family arrived and set up a tent a few sites from us.
Because there is power to the sites I paid the extra $5 so I can have coffee. Apart from at a tank, the water is not drinkable so we are using our own tank water.
Having set up and put wet clothing out on a line to dry, we set out for a walk around the lakes edge to the Picnic area provided by the local council. Along the way there were marvellous photo opportunites, perfect weather and many interesting birds. At the back of the park, there are dead paperbarks sticking p out of the mud, their stark white trunks appearing like a sculptural installation…more photos! It is a beautiful place and apparently very popular in school holidays and over long weekends, understandably so, from water skiers and other groups.

Back at the van, after making a batch of pizza dough, I sat and enjoyed coffee and watched the sun set , listening to the bird calls, while it proved. John managed to get some TV reception which later disappeared, and I have phone and internet which is great. We watched the first two episodes of ‘The Wire’ and at 10.30 when the second one finished, it was time for sleep and perfectly quiet.

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