Our stay in the Walpole Lodge youth hostel was great. In addition to having strong, reliable Internet, our room was quiet and comfortable, all at a very reasonable price.
We were on the road by 8AM after brekky at a Walpole cafe (baked beans on toast for Jim!) and we were trying to make the most of the sunshine we didn’t expect to see this morning.
We drove east again on the Great Southern Highway, this time taking two side roads off the main road. First we went on a hard-packed dirt road that took us to the largest known Tingle Tree. We had to get out of the car and walk about 400m to see this mammoth of a tree-24m in circumference! Large Tingle trees are usually hollow at their base and we marveled at how they could hold their tall, 75meter trunks up! They are beautiful trees and are a nice contrast to the other famous trees in this area, the Karri trees, which are almost as tall but have very clean, smooth trunks and are not hollowed out. It was a lovely walk through these forest giants!
We then drove across the Great Southern Highway to another well-maintained dirt/gravel road to Conspicuous Beach where, you guessed it, there were crashing waves! But before we got to the crashing waves we had a close encounter with 2 kangaroos! We came around a corner and these 2 roos hopped out of the bush on the side of the road, right on front of the car! Good thing I was only going about 25kph at the time or we would have been picking kangaroo fur out of the hood of the car! After parking the car, we walked up a hillside to an overlook of the beach and surrounding cliffs. For a long time we watched as whales spouted and breached a ways off shore! What a treat! We then hiked down to the beach and as usual, enjoyed watching and listening to the surf crash into the beach. It was quite windy and it was fun to watch the tops of the waves blow off as they started to break! I cannot get enough of this stuff.
The clouds started to roll in around 10 AM and that was our signal to get on the road back to Perth. We had about 450k to drive and sometimes we could go 110kph and other times 50kph, so we knew it would take a big chunk of time to make the drive and we knew that we would make some stops along the way.
The rain returned and we were in and out of it all day and fortunately we never had flooded roads, but we did have one other “water on the road” incident which I will share at the end.
While I was driving Jim was reading the pamphlets we got on this area and discovered that there was a large Karri tree that had a set of spiral steps up it to a lookout platform on the top! That piqued our curiosity so we pulled into the Diamond Tree turnout to see what we could see. And there it was, this very tall tree with rods hammered into it, spiraling up 51m to a platform in the canopy! Now here is the truly amazing thing: there were no safety precautions for climbers, there was no one there in an official capacity, it was free, and it was like an accident waiting to happen! These were not steps imbedded into the tree, these were slippery, wet metal rods about 18″ apart spiraling their way to the top! How can the Australian government let this go unsupervised! Of course, we had to see how high we could climb and it wasn’t very far before our will to live kicked in and we climbed down on those slippery rods! We both agreed that this was much scarier than the Tree Top Walk yesterday! Unbelievable!
Click here to see a video of Jim’s partial climb. You may have to turn your head sideways to watch the movie because I shot it with my camera vertical.
We fueled up our bodies and the car in the little town of Bridgetown and then continued on, still shaking our heads at the Diamond Tree climb!
In Bill Bryson’s book about Australia, “In a Sunburned Country”, he talked about coming across these “big” objects in some random small towns around the country. We saw the “big” koala bear outside of a brew pub on Phillip Island (and that was before we had a beer!) and Jim read about a “big” orange in the little town of Harvey, just off of our route to Perth. We had to make the detour and we are glad we did. Harvey is orange growing country and we saw rows and rows of orange trees heavy with ripe-looking fruit! The “big” orange sits in the orange grove and vineyards of Harvey Estate Winery! We climbed to the top (40 feet up), where inside the orange were some historical photos of the orange grove. We looked down onto beautiful trees ladened with oranges! We bought a liter of Harvey Orange Juice while we were there and will take it back to Melbourne with us! I’ll have to do some research to figure out where some of these other “big” object are!
We were a bit concerned with the traffic we would find as we approached Perth because we saw many signs reminding the locals that lots of the local trains would be out of service from July 12-17 for some major overhaul of the transit system. We did find back-ups in the city and what seemed to be lots of people at the bus stops. But the most exciting thing on the road into Perth was the crashing waves that were splashing up in the freeway! There was a sign warning drivers that “Water May Be on Road Surface” and we immediately thought of flooding, but no, the winds were so strong they were whipping up waves on the Swan River that were breaking on the rocks next to the road, sending sheets of water onto the cars! It was wild! There is a bike trail between the road and the rocks and those bike riders were just getting hammered!
Click here to see a video that Jim shot while I drove through the surf on the road!
So lots of wind and intermittent rain showers have been the story in Perth tonight. The sun is supposed to emerge again tomorrow, when we do our last sightseeing before catching the 5 PM flight back to Melbourne.