Just over three years ago, I failed my HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) test for the last time. “Sod it” I told Steve “You’re just going to have to do all the driving. You love driving anyway and you hate being driven by me.” I was sad but philosophical: it just wasn’t meant to be….. Ha, ha, ha! Now I know the karmic reason why, two words: Designated Driver or as the Aussie’s affectionately call them the “Skipper” (as in lots of signs outside vineyards saying “Who’s the Skipper?”) – Steve must have done something absolutely terrible in a previous life.
We were in Margaret River, 4 hours south of Perth, famous for its excellent Chardonnays, Shiraz, and so on. It was our first stop back on the road and we were keen to experience the best that Australia has to offer, in this case in it’s liquid form. The vineyards are scattered throughout the area, so it was up to Steve to convey us around for a day of quaffing. I’m not that terrible a wife, I did let him have the tiny dregs in the glass. Just to check he was happy with what we were going to buy. The wineries were well set up with beautiful grounds, playgrounds, cafes and free tastings. A happy day was had by all, especially me. When we’d fully stocked our wine cellar (actually, it’s a cardboard box), we headed to an artisan brewery to check out their offerings. All delicious apart from the ale that tasted of bacon, it did promise in its very flowery tasting notes “hints of cured meat”.
We finished the day at the local golf course after a tip off, not to play golf but to see kangaroos. Lucy had spotted a glimpse of a kangaroo in the bushes but was dying to see them closer up, so we asked around. She was transfixed watching them lolling on the immaculate grass. It bought up lots of questions ” Do they ever get hit by golf balls?”; “Who has right of way on the course?”; and Alisha’s classic: “What happens if a ball lands in the kangaroo’s pouch?”
We camped in the very pretty Leewin National Park, just a 20 minute steep hike down to an absolutely gorgeous white sand, surf beach. According to the girl’s book, Australia has 7000 beaches. If the other 6999 are anything like Conto beach, we are in for an absolute treat! Although Steve would prefer it if there were less horse flies. While trying to post the last blog up on the hill trying to get better reception he got bitten alive. Poor thing his legs are now covered with over a hundred red welts, Lucy tried to count them but got bored when she reached a hundred.
Our way south meandered through national park after national park, full of huge Karri trees. These giant eucalyptus trees get up to 90m tall and are stunning with silvery bark. That night we camped at another bush camp in a national park, another stunning location for just a few dollars. They are very basic, with just a long drop toilet, but so quiet and in a beautiful forest. The next day we came across two Karri trees that had been used as bushfire lookouts and had metal pins winding round the trunk up to their dizzyingly high tops. As tempting as the views might be at the top, we decided to opt out of the scary climb up although Lucy was keen to go up.
We did take the views in the following day during a tree top walk in a red tingle tree forest (what a great tree name). The metal walkway was suspended high up in the tree’s canopies. It swayed gently in the breeze, while we admired the views over the forest. Back on the forest floor we marvelled at their thick buttressed trunks, many with splits and hollows big enough to walk through. A famous old red tingle used to have a hole wide enough to park a car in.
At Parry Beach, we were dismayed to find the pretty little basic campsite had a height restriction. “Don’t worry,” said the friendly caretaker “you can sleep in the overflow”. Perfect and just metres from a white sandy beach with perfectly blue water. We waded out to an exposed rock where the girls imagined themselves rulers of all they surveyed, while Steve and I lounged in the sun.
We are slowly getting back into the swing of things back in the truck too, after nearly a month of being out of it. The girls are getting into their usual 8-10 morning school routine and we are trying to get them to sleep at a reasonable time, so we get some down time in the evening.
We’d been told that the beaches of Green Pools and Elephant Rocks were stunning. We were not disappointed with perfectly turquoise water with a shallow sandy bottoms, protected from the waves by big rocks. After a morning hike we returned to the truck for lunch, and went down to the beach for a swim. Although the water was perfect the wind had got up,so it was now blowing a gale on the beach, even though the sun was still blazing. We tucked ourselves away behind some rocks,on the almost by now deserted beach, for a swim and a play.
That night we parked up in another gorgeous free beach campsite, made by the local council. As Steve enjoyed his well deserved glass of Shiraz, we decided that, we think we are going to enjoy Australia.