South for the Winter

July 8     Perth – Walpole

We weren’t quite sure where the first week of holidays went, but as the Saturday of the middle week rolled in…we rolled out. The plan was to explore the Albany, Walpole and Denmark areas over 4 days. We didn’t make as early a start as first planned due to too much work and not enough sleep for Adrian during the week.

By 8.30 we headed off to a part of WA that was completely new to us (the kids have never been and Adrian and I haven’t since we were kids). We were all excited for the new sights and experiences.  The drive was fairly uneventful with some patches of rain and grey skies but we arrived in Manjimup for lunch and a stretch of legs around 11.30. After a play in very familiar playground we continued on, ham and cheese toasties in hand, towards Walpole.

We arrived at Rest Point Caravan Park and were greeted by a sparkling river and friendly kookaburras. It was a welcome sight after a long drive day. We set up quickly with the impending rain then enjoyed a cuppa while the kids sought out the bouncy pillow.

Adrian got some amazing photos as the sun set while I got tea ready.

July 9     Walpole

We woke up to a glorious orange glow over the river. We had planned a slower start to the day and enjoyed a cooked breaky before heading out to explore Walpole.

First stop was Valley of the Giants. It was COLD! So we grabbed our jackets and wandered towards the site. We had time to do the tree top walk before the next tour at ground level. After a deep breath we started the ascent into the tree tops. It was so high!!! And wobbly!!! Breathe! Please don’t anybody stop and don’t look down. The boys loved the walk while us girls were a little less sure about it. The view was stunning when I reached the points where I could enjoy a sturdy platform.

Back on solid ground, it was time for a tour of the Tingle Forrest. Our guide was amazing! She was so knowledgeable and really engaged the kids. By the end of it she was leading the way with all the kids right behind her while all us parents followed behind. We all came away with a much broader knowledge about the ancient giants.

We decided our next stop would be Mount Frankland for lunch. The kids slept as we wound through the back gravel roads and breathed in the country air. Hot dogs at the base of a weather station was rather chilly. We decided the 800m walk to the top to see the weather station would be pleasant after lunch. We were so wrong. It is a very steep walk and definitely longer than the signposted 800m! But as we arrived puffing at the summit, the stunning 360° view was well worth the effort.

We checked out a couple more spots on the drive back to camp. A lovely waterfall and a river crossing which was deeper than we were willing to attempt. A great day was topped off with amazing hamburgers on the Ziggy for dinner.

July 10      Walpole-Denmark

Packing up a wet tent is never fun. But we kept our minds on the adventures ahead, as we were off to explore Denmark on our way towards Albany. First up, we headed out through the dunes to pause at Boat Harbour just out of Walpole hoping to see be able to spot whales off the coast. On reaching the rocky coastline, the wind chill was and spray was so freezing that we took a couple of quick pics and jumped back into Blu to head to The Toffee Factory for some sweet treats. Yum! A definite must visit if you are in the area.

A stroll along the beach at Greens Pool was beautiful. A great location just a bit too cold for a dip (For us anyway, there was one gentleman braving the cold in Speedos!). We did find a hideous fish on the sand and heaps of the biggest blue bottle jellyfish we have ever seen.

Heading inland, we found the Denmark Farmhouse Cheese factory and sampled some delicious cheeses before settling on 3 yummies to take home.

Coming into Denmark itself, we grabbed a loaf of crunchy fresh bread from a local bakery then made our way to the Kwoorabup Community Adventure Playground for cheese, bread and a play. It was a really cool place. The kids had a great time exploring. After a running around in the chilly air, a coffee and hot chocolate from Pawprint Chocolate was on the agenda to warm us all up.

Our planned camp for the night was Cosy Corner, it rated well on Wikicamps and the photo’s looked good, however, on arriving it was pretty busy and didn’t wow us with it’s cosy-ness, so we headed closer to Albany and found a gorgeous spot called Torbay West. It was right on the inlet and lovely and quiet. We put the wet tent up and let it dry for a while before setting the beds.

By 5pm there were over 30 pelicans on the water…it was really cool!

July 11     Albany

Adrian had been wanting to ride the downhill mtb track in Albany so that was our first stop of the day. The kids and I wandered along the beach while he rode. It was such a lovely day we had our shoes off! We enjoyed a picnic lunch together once Adrian, arrived before continuing to explore the town. 

Our next stop was the Old Gaol and the museum. The Gaol was not quite at the level of some of the convict-era places we saw on our travels, however there was enough history there to make it worth the visit. At the museum the kids loved trying some old fashioned toys and exploring the old building.

The highlight for everyone was going on board the Brig Amity. The attention to detail in this replica is amazing and it is incredible to think that people travelled across the world in such tiny quarters!

We arrived at the gap and natural bridge just in time to see a couple of whales playing not far off the coast. It was mesmerising. I didn’t even look at the gap (Standing on a platform overhanging an ocean cliff is not my idea of a good time!) but did enjoy the bridge. Yay! We saw whales!!!

A relaxing evening with stuffed potatoes, rice pudding and snuggles by the tent as the cold came in again wrapped up a beautiful sunny day.

July 12     Albany-Katanning-Perth

The hope of packing up a dry tent was dashed when we woke up to rain. As seasoned packers we heard a break in the rain and jumped to it as quickly as we could. The backpackers camped next to us were a bit surprised to see us completed packed and eating breaky by the time they woke up! At this point the heavens were open and we had judged our pack up time well. 

Before starting the long drive home, we wanted to make it all the way to West Cape Howe (The Southernmost point of Western Australia). This meant airing down and heading off through the dunes. It was so wet and very slow going in places. Some parts were “hold the seat and pray” hairy but for the most part it was a great view.

We paused in Albany to air up the tires and grab a drink for the road. As the sky continued to be grey and wet, we pushed through hoping to find sun in Katanning. We didn’t find much sun but at least the rain had eased. With it being close to 2pm and the bakery almost closing for the day everything was half price. Winning! We chose some yummy lunch then took the kids to the All Ages Playground. They loved all the oversized equipment but we couldn’t stay long as the rain rolled in. 

The rest of the drive was easy and we arrived home relaxed and excited after an amazing few days exploring the Great Southern.

Michelle xo