For Sue and me, Wal and Faye's place was the hardest to leave since we left home in early July but after a few more stories and a few last minute photo swaps, we pointed the Forester towards Albany and made our way into the wind and rain and increasing cold.
|Middleton Beach, Albany 5C|
That was the end of sightseeing.
Our arrival in Albany was a few hours too late to catch the day's balmy maximum of 10 degrees, so we had to be content with 8C. Not surprisingly, with the rain still drumming away on the roof of the Forester and temperature conditions in single figures, we took the softer, safer more sensible option of a cabin. By the way, the wind chill factor - reported on Weatherzone soon after - was -4C, so we weren't imaging the cold!
22/09/08 Torndirrup NP
The morning had a few time wasters in it - I got the washing done and the car went to the Subaru dealer for a little check up.
We moved on to the Blowholes. It was an 800m walk down, down, down to their locality and twenty minutes of roars and crashes but very little signs of blowhole action (no spray etc)! Whilst us Easties are used to seeing blowholes like Kiama which spurt sea spray skyward and roar their approval, not so in WA. Here, noise is enough. For the record, it was 800m walk up, up, up again. It is by far the furthest I have ever walked to hear rocks fart. Our last port of call was Stony Hill and a spectacular lookout around 360 degrees. This had been a radar placement late in WWII and the coastline was spectacular.
Back to town to gather information from the Tourist Information Centre and short list activities for tomorrow. This naturally included coffee. We also walked York St and others with old buildings. The standout in this wandering was the Anglican Church, thanks to a recommendation from Faye Gibbens. Sue took herself inside for a sticky beak whilst I played safe and found a café. That was about it for our tourist activities. Tomorrow should gear up a tad more.
We had nice calls with Dad and Sam during the day.
Today was one of the big ticket items of the tour. We went whale watching this morning in a cruise that took us all over St Georges Bay. It was fabulous. I got some great photos and Sue had another dream come true and boy did it show. The male whales tend to be the ones that show off to impress the females, so we got to watch Southern Right Whales doing the equivalent of wheelies in Peel St. Lots of tail shows, breaching and some very close contact as they moved about our boat to get in the best positions for us to photograph them. Sue will have that smile on her face for weeks.
This afternoon we visited the Princess Royal Fort up on Mt Adelaide to see lots of interesting military hardware and memorabilia. The lookouts were good but the afternoon was hazy which detracted from Albany's natural beauty. The Light Horse Memorial was moving.
Came home, ate tea and watched TV.
Stirling Range tomorrow, about 80 km to the north of Albany. Hope the weather is kind. Sorry. More
to say but really tired tonight.
24/09/08 Stirling Range NP
|Bluff Knoll, Stirling Range|
Much like ranges such as the Warrumbungles in NSW, the Stirling Range becomes very apparent as you approach it and by 8:00am we were roadside taking photos of these dramatic mountains as they rose in purples and greens. Unlike ranges in the north of WA, these are covered in vegetation giving them a greener, softer line against the blue sky.
After seventy five minutes driving we were in the carpark already high up beside Bluff Knoll. The carpark sits on its perch on a lower hill and looks a lot like something from a James Bond movie and about as much out of place in this setting. Sue and I set off with confidence but with the reality that this is a difficult walk and one we were unlikely to reach the summit. Fifty minutes later and about half of the climb completed, we sat on the track and decided to enjoy the amazing view we already had without having to punish ourselves or rummage around in the realm of failure. It was all hard going, straight up from the get-go and we gave it our best and most measured shot. In the end, we captured some great photos and felt satisfied of our achievement.
Naturally, as is our want, we found a cafe within fifteen minutes of coming off the mountain and planned the rest of our day.
It was further to the north first, to look at a replica Dutch windmill. It was interesting and gave me some good photo opportunities but all a little odd and out of place. After that, Ken was turned off and Sue navigated us around a circuit through the Stirling Range. We had lunch at Redgum Springs - a place where there were no redgums and no springs! Still, vegemite sandwiches have never tasted as good ... actually, since I was 12, vegemite sandwiches have never tasted any good but the cook has made few mistakes on this tour.
After lunch, we continued over a good dirt road and stopped several times to look at these spectacular mountains and the wildflowers which covered them. We have seen some wonderful sights on this trip but none of them were better than this.
A campground is available at Moingup Springs.
Mid afternoon, we put the Stirling behind us and set course for Mt Barker and the home of Goundrey Wines. One of my two favourites, this time things worked out well and we tasted until satisfied of our choice and sent a combination of cabernet/merlot and a shiraz blend home to Tamworth to ease the pain of our arrival there in a couple of weeks.