Burton’s – Waves, beaches and tin horses – Part 1

Saturday, Feb 02, 2013 at 12:49

Mike & Amanda

Leaving Fremantle on an early January Wednesday morning the envious stares of work commuters blasted through the Cruiser’s tinting like malevolent searchlights. Prius’ and Getz’s scurried out of the way of the 5 tonne load as we gleefully headed for the freedom of the open road. Escaping Armadale and climbing up to Albany Highway the boredom of the highway beckoned, the only available excitement of the bitumen was wondering if that Multinova speed camera got us or the truck.

Amanda, myself, 11 year old Jack and 9 year old Kate were off for a well earned summer break. We’d returned from Cape York in July and were lusting for the road again. The Australian Off Road Odyssey was festooned with spider webs and dead leaves. The LC200 had been moping for months, constantly whining about getting out into some dirt. Besides we wanted to check out the new Kaymar bar, wheel carrier and long range tank – how did these affect the performance whilst towing….was the fuel problem that plagued us across the Top finally fixed?

The town of Williams half way to Albany was our first stop. We’d intentionally made this a short run trip. A cousin from distant freezing England had dropped in, so we’d shoehorned Julie in the back between the kids, valuable real estate usually jealously guarded by the little mites…well one thing for certain, the rig would be the heaviest ever…5 people, roughly 280 litres of fuel, new steel bumper, full twin water tanks in the trailer, storage lockers jammed, diving gear….hope the old Landcruiser is up to it after its period of convalescence….

We stopped at Amanda’s mum and dad’s town house in Williams. They were living in town whilst the farmhouse was being rebuilt. Pat and Jeff had travelled with us previously meeting us in the Kimberleys in their new Hilux – their first real bush 4WD trip. They would meet us at Ravensthorpe in a day or so, in the mean time providing us freeloaders with a welcome break and brewed coffee. Julie got to try out her pommy accent and wither under the 40 degree heat. We’d also just discovered that gasp, aghh…she was a smoker!! Instructions were provided to stay right away and to de-gas before returning anywhere in the proximity of us vehemently anti smoking nazis. Next stop Narrogin and my sister Mandy’s place. Julie and Mandy got to meet and say hello over a yummy lunch, the kids always pleased to see their Aunty even though she misguidedly owns a Nissan ute.

It was only a short run to our Lake Towerinning never-before-tried overnight stop near Darkan. I’d found it from our friend Google – apparently a very popular ski lake tucked out the way and usually frequented by locals. We were hoping that it wasn’t frequented by anyone at the moment. A minor dirt road guided us to the Lake and a cheerful camp manager. This was a private camping ground with a number of powered lake side camping possies and a few others tucked away in trees. We are not fans of powered jet boats at 5 AM or of the gusty hot wind now fanning the lake, so elected for a quiet spot down in the trees. There not being too many power points we set up next to an old guy with a truck and caravan. He looked like an old aussie santa, with white beard, balding pate, sufficiently large belly, stubbies and thongs. Can in hand, he sussed us out, telling us he was an ex truckie who travelled Australia as the mood took him, work a thing of the past if he could help it.

Unlatching the Oddy, the best hard floor camper in Australia was erected in minutes. Jack and Julie’s tents were removed from the cavernous internal storage area and they set about putting them up – Julie for the first time. The English girl didn’t do too bad really, especially with an eager Kate assisting, she being a former Energiser bunny in a past life! Jack being an old hand after the Cape, casually erected his tent quite sloppily but as he would say ‘fit for purpose Dad’. Soon the Coronas were in their ARB stubby holder and we wandered about checking out the geography. Tents, old caravans and lots of jet boats girdled the lakeside. Some of the old vans were battered, no plates and looked like gypsy wagons, roadworthy not! We learned later that they are stored by the property owners in a top paddock and towed down to the Lake when needed by the boaties. The boom of the big V8s was somewhat muted due to the high wind and rough surface. The toilet block was clean and adequate, with a Jack-rating of 5 for pressure and 7 for hot water (out of 10).

Amanda performed her magic with the AOC six star stainless steel kitchen, us sitting around in the performance tested Oz Tent King Goanna chairs. These chairs with their lumbar support are amazing and the only chair that has survived with us more than 4 months.

Tomorrow, we head off for Fitzgerald River National Park on the south coast….
Mike & Amanda
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