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Home > Travelogues > 2005 Travelogues Index > Karri Forests and South Coast of WA
In January 2005 we looked for cooler places as we toured the Karri forests and the south coast of Western Australia. 
Short version only - full version with pictures yet to come

See all the campsites along the south coast between Albany and Esperance.

 

A little further east we called into Cape Riche, where we stayed at a lovely and small community run campsite on Cheyne Bay, protected from the elements by islands.  It was fairly crowded, being school holidays and with a number of retirees who chose it for the summer each year.  We were lucky to get a spot right near the beach.

While we swam in the bay, a fishing boat came in to anchor for the night. 

 

Next morning we followed the walk trail up Mount Melville, where there is always something flowering in the scrub.   A further walk took us to the edge of the Eyre River on an unmaintained and poorly marked trail, to where we looked across the historic Cape Riche homestead and farm buildings.

 

Following the river to the beach, we crossed the hill back to the campsite, looking back to the inlet. 

 

There is an old wool shed constructed from local spongelite stone near the campsite.  This soft rock was formed more than 36 million years ago when the area where it is now quarried in the Fitzgerald National Park was under the sea.  Sponges proliferated in the warm shallow waters, and their silica skeletons in the sediments gave rise to the name of the rock type.

 

Moving on the next day, we had lunch by the river at the Pallinup River Bridge, then went on to spent the night in a back paddock on our farm with sheep for company. 

 

At the old Quaalup homestead, where much of the original farm is now part of the Fitzgerald National Park, Karin and Carsten are continuing the restoration commenced by the previous owner, and operating as a tourism wilderness retreat. They have chalets and a camping area and a short nature walk.  See  Quaalup Homestead

 

The old barn, originally two storeys, had collapsed when it was vandalised.  Much of the homestead had also been vandalised, and it is now being restored in keeping with the era. 

 

The Fitzgerald River National Park is renowned for its spectacular scenery and diverse flora which is home to a number of threatened animals. More than 1,800 beautiful and bizarre species of flowering plants, lichens, mosses and fungi, have been recorded, representing nearly 20 per cent of the total number of plant species in Western Australia, in only a fraction of the state.

 

At Point Ann, whale watching platforms look across turquoise water.  It was not the time of the year to see whales, but we watched dolphins at play.

 

From Hopetoun, we followed the coastal road, stopping at Mason Bay. Here on a lovely bay there is an unserviced campground which was full of mainly regulars who spend the summer here.  We just managed to squeeze in.  We swam in the bay and watched the sun set.  Further east there is a similar campground at Starvation Bay. 

 

The Oldfield River near Munglinup Beach made a lovely setting for another campground.  We went on to stay in Esperance to shop ready for our continuing trip. 

 

While we were at Esperance, we heard of a devastating fire on the Eyre Peninsula; the way we were heading.  With the fires we had left behind fresh in our minds, our thoughts turned to these people and their livestock.  

 

We followed the coast east, calling in at scenic bays and beaches with clear turquoise water, with numerous islands of all sizes. 

 

At Thistle Cove there were some interesting rock formations.  Whistling Rock has been carved out by the wind, and emits a whistling sound in the breeze.  The cove looked calm, but waves were crashing onto the rocks below us. 

 

 

 

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Taking a short January holiday in 2005, we planned to stay close to the south coast to avoid the heat. 

 

We headed out travelling through the familiar places of Manjimup, Pemberton and Northcliffe.   We intended to roughly follow the coastline, stopping in at places we hadn’t previously seen along the way.

 

After climbing the granite hill Mount Chudalup which overlooks Windy Harbour, we looked for friends who had moved to Windy Harbour townsite, but failed to find their house and small camper bus.  A few wind generators whirled noisily and some house had generators.   Windy Harbour is a town with no power supply.  Windy Harbour is a holiday and retirement settlement which thrives on the fact there is no electricity to the settlement, no sealed road, and a long way to the nearest shops and facilities. 

 

We then drove through karri forests and took a walk through a forest that was clear felled 50 years ago.  A huge karri tree that was once part of a network of fire tower tree lookouts had been trimmed when it became unsafe and was on display at the car park. 

 

Hot and tired after our long walk to a waterfall with no water at this time of the year, we decided that with the mild weather, there would be little fire danger and it would be safe to stay. We had a memorable and peaceful night amongst the karri trees.

 

To the north of Walpole the Deep River was cool where the road crossed at the top of Fernhook Falls.  The falls would be really spectacular when the river was flowing at full force in winter.

 

At Mount Frankland, we took the walk around the granite mount and up to the top.  It was quite a climb; some of it included a section of ladder.  The fire look out man was around our age, and I commented how fit he must be doing the climb every day – he replied, no, you just get used to the pain.   Since our visit, a new walkway and viewing platform has been built.

 

Climbing higher we looked inland across forests.  The 360º views from the top included inland and towards the coast with a directional dial pointing out all the features.

 

Between Walpole and Denmark is the Tree Top Walk, amongst giant Red and Yellow Tingle trees. Although a very popular and busy tourist destination, it was worth calling in and taking both the ground level and tree top walks.

 

We hadn’t been to Peaceful Bay so called in for a look and a walk on the beach.  It is a popular family holiday spot.

 

NearDenmark, we visited Pentland Alpaca Stud and Animal Farm.  It is an ideal family experience, where children can get out and see a variety of different animals and birds in a natural rural setting with hands on experiences at feeding time.  See more from later visits on Travelogues from 2010 to 2017.

 

After driving straight through Denmark and Albany (see more in Travelogues from 2010 to 2017), we were unable to reach some of the beaches east of Albany.  Roads were closed due to a fire on Mount Manypeaks which had been started by lightening strike just after Christmas.  This fire wiped out half the population of the Mount Manypeaks colony of the Noisy Scrub Bird – and endangered species which was thought to be extinct until it rediscovery at Two People’s Bay nearby. 

 

We had not heard about this fire, as at the same time, we had a fire which burnt out almost half our Shire, only being stopped as it entered the town and burnt two houses there.  Another even larger fire the same day at Tenterden, where loss of live as well as property occurred, had dominated the media coverage.  Both of these fires were started by electricity lines.  It was to prove a very bad fire season across the country. 

 

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Cape Le Grand National Park was beautiful with walk trails and camp sites.  The camp sites were full so we couldn’t stay to climb Frenchman’s Peak and enjoy the longer walks. 

 

Huge granite boulders through the park were striated, as can be seen on Frenchman’s Peak.  Beaches were white against a vivid turquoise sea.

 

Leaving Lucky Bay with its nice sheltered bay and beach, where I had hoped to camp and swim, we went to the west side of the peninsula.  Le Grand Beach was a surf beach which campers there described as “very dumpy” surf.  Not my choice for a swim on a hot day.  Islands surrounded by sea spray eerily appeared to be ‘floating’ above the water.

 

With no where to stay, we moved inland a little way and found a patch of bush near a blue gum plantation.  It was very hot so we used the generator and air conditioner for the first time.  Beautiful – after a couple of hours it was too cool inside then caravan.

 

At Duke of Orleans Bay there is a resort, and it appeared they hired out quad bikes in all sizes for people to use on the beaches.  Table Island is a distinctive shape out in the bay.  The day was cloudy and clouds were thickening.

 

There were just a few people in the surf at Wharton Beach.  We parked in a small parking bay and walked around, including to the almost enclosed Little Wharton. 

 

Moving further east, we entered the Cape Arid National Park. Looking down on the Thomas Fisheries campsite from the Tagon Point lookout, where the small white beach was striped with water channels.

 

We looked across to Cape Arid, with Mount Arid virtually obscured by rain, and chose not to venture further into the park.  We could not take the caravan through the sandy 4wd tracks. 

 

We returned to Condingup and headed north on Parmango Road through farms to Beaumont wheat bin, then into woodlands and later scrublands.

 

The abandoned Deralinya station homestead is surrounded by scrub.  The old stations here are now all run as one holding.  Campers are welcome at the homestead, but asked not a leave rubbish, which unfortunately some have not heeded.

 

We joined the Eyre Highway near Balladonia and continued east.    See more on the Eyre Highway 2009

 

At Eucla we went to the Old Telegraph Station ruins, now buried in white sand.  At Eucla, the sand dunes give way to cliffs.  

 

See 2005 Nullarbor and Eyre Peninsula travelogues and more for the South Australian section of this trip. 

 

Continue reading for the homeward stretch when we returned to Western Australia

WA – the return leg

 

After crossing the Nullarbor through light rain showers and a stiff south westerly wind, we finally found our way to the Cocklebiddy Cave.  The rough track is not signposted and had eluded us previously.  We did not climb down into the cave’s entrance, but looked into the opening of Australia's (and one of the world's) longest underwater cave. It is the only source of water for birds.  Thin kangaroos sat in the shade under every bush.  There was little to eat, and the only water source for them was the leaves of the scrub.  Just trackside on the way back to the highway, we counted 62 kangaroos. 

 

The Nullarbor is unique as it is the only desert region with extensive caves that contain large quantities of water.  This water varies in salinity, and being 90 to 100 metres deep underground is inaccessible to all but birds. 

 

Close to the Eyre Highway at the Caiguna Blowhole, air rushes out of the hole at 72 kilometres per hour.  It is like feeling the Earth is breathing

 

The region is a 270,000 square kilometre slab of limestone, the largest in the world, and it is riddled with caves, blow holes and sink holes.  For safety reasons, access to many of these caves is restricted to all but experienced caving groups. 

 

Stopping for lunch at a rest area, we were surprised when a coaster camper pulled in – our friends we had missed at Windy Harbour.  A change of plans meant they had left on their lap a couple of months earlier than previously planned and they were heading east. At the next rest area we pulled in to, there was a Bushtracker caravan similar too and the same age as ours.  The owners had been basically on the road in their 18’ home for seven years. 

 

We took a different route home, taking the new road from Norseman towards Hyden.  This has a well laid out trail of signed features, including rocks and the Lake Johnston salt lake. See more about this road and The Granite Woodlands Discovery Trail in 2007 travelogues. 

 

See all the campsites along the south coast between Albany and Esperance.