Thursday, 18 September 2008


18/09/08 Margaret River – Beedleup NP – Pemberton   139(12719) kms

A day in very distinct parts.

During the night - still at Margaret River - we had to contend with rain, high winds and rude buggers who walked through our campsite several times during the night. At one stage, four of them walked so close they brushed the tent whilst they laughed and yelled on the way to the toilets and then back again. We changed accommodation sometime soon after midnight as the wind reached the 7 mark on the Beaufort, so the car with its harder roof was a safer option. With rain falling, we were left with the problem of how to get fresh air into the car without water joining it. My MacGyver answer was to place an umbrella over the opening and tie it in to the centre console.

Our pack up was done between showers - from the sky not the ablution block - but we still managed to get away before 9:30am. We were off to big tree country and it struck me as we drove along, how different the roads were from up north. Trees and lots of them lined the roads and the roads went up and down hills that would have been mountain chains in western Qld and the Territory. The rain was falling more consistently now.

The falls at Beedleup
Closing in on Pemberton, we detoured into Beedleup National Park for the falls there. With the extra rain falling, it was a given that the falls could be expected to be a little fuller than usual. They were. We walked on boardwalks beside, over and then beside them again and the water cascaded down the rocky slope and on into the lake beyond. Finally, we walked across the most sway baby sway suspension bridge I've ever traversed and stood mid stream as water crashed underneath us, whilst watching the falls above us. Nice moment. Still dodging showers, we grabbed a late morning tea before driving on to Pemberton as the rain came down again but with more serious intent.

Our caravan park had its office on the top of a slope and all of the sites at the bottom of the slope. After describing my needs, which included putting up a tarp, they sent me to a site which was two thirds underwater and with the still falling rain likely to increase that percentage of water-logging. Whilst Sue, with her sore back and limited ability to help, sat in the car, I tried, I really tried. I had the four corners of the large tarp up and one supporting side in place as rain got heavier and heavier. Then pegs started popping from the ground and the tarp was flopping about and I was soaked and our gear was getting soaked and anger was rising. Instead, I directed Sue to find us alternate accommodation for the night whilst I packed everything away, sloshing through water all the way. Once packed, I drove back up the hill and politely informed them I didn't want to stay in their park and I wanted my money back. Believe it or not, I got my money back and I didn't get upset.

Things are changing in my life. So, for the first time in our trip, we were in a motel for the night, at the Pemberton Hotel.

The Gloucester Tree
This afternoon - once I had all the water wrung out of me - we went out to see the Gloucester Tree. It’s a big, big tree which was used as a fire lookout. Some fella climbed up this 61m tree in spiked boots with a leather belt slapped around the girth of the tree and drove metre long spikes into the tree as he went, to form a spiral set of "steps" which fire watchers could climb. Once spiked boots man got to the top, he pulled out an axe and calmly chopped the head off the tree. No problem! What's left is the Gloucester Tree. Of course they put a wooden platform on the top for the fire watchers to sit and sway whilst they kept lookout for fires. That's been replaced by a metal cage now and the fire watching is done by plane. The naming of the tree came about when the Duke of Gloucester visited and had a picnic at the base of the tree and so his name was fixed to its future. Did nothing to develop the tree, nothing to maintain it, nothing to support it but got the gig because of his birthright. For the record, spiked boots man's name was Watson ... Jimmy Watson ... and I'm renaming it the Watson Tree.

For further records, neither of us climbed it. We could blame the weather but truth makes us reveal we found it too scary. So we put on the Chicken Man outfits and left the Watson Tree behind. It started raining again.

By the time we got back to town, in search of a coffee, it was cold and wet. No coffee was available because in WA (Wait Awhile) all the cafes close at 4:00pm. Luckily, we scored at our accommodation.

I did say it was a day in very distinct parts.

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