On Tuesday we woke up celebrating not being bitten by a snake at Parry Beach Camp (YinRu did imagine snakes to sneak into the campervan through any possible hole so she even stuffed the waste water hole from our sink before she went to bed). We then had a luxury hashbrowns and omelet breakfast just to make sure we have enough energy to enter the area of great southern forest and our task to do the very difficult giant tree top walk. Ehemppp!! Ok maybe it was just a nice excuse to have such a breakfast for campers…We paid a fee of aud15 per person for the valley of the giants tree top walk (a canopy walk reaching a maximum of 60m above ground) which was quite worth the money. We also learnt interesting facts about tingle trees through the guided tour on an ancient empire walk in the very unique tingle tree forest as this kind of trees only grow under very special conditions. Some of the big trees can be up to 400 years old! Big they may be, their roots, however, are not deep but mainly near to earths’ surface. Years ago visitors used to be able to drive their cars around the park and take photos next to the trees. The biggest tree used to have a hole on its bottom as big as a car could park inside. So visitors parked their vehicles next to the tree taking photos and slowly destroying it’s roots. The tree collapsed in 1999 which is truly a loss. The trees have also one special feature: they are almost fire repellant and could have large holes at the base of trees. The trees don’t die out after forest fires and will be able to grow back after a few months. The holes are also “souvenir” created by forest fires as the fires burn the center of the trees. Some trees also have “bumps” on their bodies which look pretty funny at times (caused by fungus, animals or other damages. Just imagine like scars on human, same same but different). Later we drove a bit on gravel road and had some difficulties finding the King of all trees, The giant tingle tree. The giant tree at Walpole has such a large hole that more than one car would fit in it (like the one that died a few years ago) or even dozens of people! We then had our food stocks refilled at a small store and visited the Walpole river inlet upon recommendation of the tour guide at the tree top walk (supposedly the most beautiful place on earth). It was beautiful but in our opinion not necessarily the most beautiful place on earth, but well…It has the hardest trail ever: 200m return (we didn’t even know a walk from the roadside to a fishing point taking around 5min could be classified as a trail but apparently its possible). After a day trip with a few stops we finally drove our way to Northcliffe. It was one of the most unforgettable drive for us as we drove kilometers and kilometers in “black” forests burnt from bushfires. What felt like autumn in the beginning started to smell more and more like a barbeque and ended up in endless dead-men’s land. Still in awe of power of nature we arrived at Northcliffe camping, being told that the fire took place in February 2015 and that very day we were there was also a local fire between Northcliffe and Pemberton (where we are heading tomorrow) and road was closed. We slept in campsite with alpacas, kookaburras around us. How lovely!
Wednesday we woke up to some construction noise in the morning, apparently the campsite owner is doing some maintenance or upgrading work. It was in need of it… the alpacas just looked up once in a while then continued to eat their grass again. After having our breakfast and lunch (our new trick to spare on our own gas, we cook something extra the night before and keep it as lunch so that we only have to reheat it) we drove to Pemberton, a small town nearby where you get to climb on big trees. The street between Northcliffe and Pemberton was reopened again after the bushfire ceased. Pemberton is a more tidy tiny little modern town with some cafes, bakeries etc. The main purpose of coming down here was to visit the giant karri tree…and climb it! There were three trees that were open to public for climbing and we chose the one nearest to town which was only like a few kilometers away. Yinru challenged it first, made it to the top…not. She went up a few meters high, posed, took a photo and then it was over. Roman did the climb all the way to the top (no joke!) which was 58 to 60 meters above surface. Only 20% of visitors made it to the top – Roman was one of them! Bravo! It was funny watching people who were interested in trying, some made it some did not. An Australian father encouraged the son “come on son! It is nothing! Give it a try!” we heard him saying, and after halfway he decided he would prefer to be on solid ground…Roman told him there was free cold beer on the top awaits him but it did not really help. Haha We then drove to have our lunch at beautiful picnic area at fresh water lake dam, Big Brook Dam. Some school classes and teachers were done with their kayaking or whatever water activities when we arrived. Happily we heard the teacher shouting “okay guys we are leaving” hoping that we would enjoy the scenery in peace, but half an hour later they were still there…well who says you should trust a teacher 😉 When the school bus finally left we were done with our picnic and about to leave too. We drove on a bad gravel road which was almost like a maze in forest. After half an hour of one way forestry road drive (it felt like a day for the driver) we made our way to Hamelin Bay, a beautiful beach near Margaret River. We had a short refreshing swim in the ocean for the first time since we arrived and enjoyed beers to beautiful sunset. We used the facility at the campsite and cooked ourselves dinner: rice with minced meat a la Chinese. At dinner we also met another young fresh graduate couple from Perth and had a long chat with them, to find out about difficulties lading on a job after graduating these days, the payrolls of graduates that vary vastly, etc etc. It was good to finally talk to some locals in the same age (so far we got to chat a lot – but only with retired people) and have some insights to certain issues rather than “it is all good” kinda superficial answers.
The weather got hotter as we travelled to this side of the coast, probably because it is missing the cold breeze from the southern ocean. We visited another famous feature of Hamelin Bay Thursday morning: stingrays! They were huge and not so shy. So as everyone remembers stingrays actually killed tough tough Australian Crocodile Hunter we were a little worried too. But apparently we just had to watch out for the tail and other than that they are totally fine (in Malaysia we eat them, baked stingrays with chilies are good. hmm). We then drove to the Cape Leeuwin, a special place where the Indian Ocean and Southern Ocean meets and shake hands, oh, create waves maybe. We paid some entrance fees and were given this stupid audio self guide tour at lighthouse. It was stupid because it even included an interview in the audio guide. Again we saw this “beware snakes!” sign! Yinru behaved so well and walked only on pave way to avoid meeting this creature (as if snakes would distinguish between pave way and bush!). We then had (leftovers) lunch at picnic area at Flinders bay overlooking stunning beaches. Tourists we were, stupid touristy thing we did. We followed the brown signs that were made for tourist attractions or routes. We drove the Caves Road tourist route and made stop at Lake Cave. One can only enter this cave with a tour guide so we took the last tour of the day. It was a pretty informative tour tough. We got to see some amazing formations and the formations are still growing a few centimeters a year as it is regarded as an active cave. There was water in the cave hence the name “Lake Cave”. The formations and its reflections on water were absolutely wonderful. There was also one unique formation in this cave that cannot be found in any other public cave in the world: a suspended table (A rockformation that once touched the ground and now is no long attached to the ground as it is hanging – or appears to fly). We camped at Prevelley Beach Campsite this night. At the (biggest) store we also had some wine tasting. The lady, an Irish, who was working there has lived in Switzerland had a long chat with us and shared some of her thoughts after living in Australia for two years. She talked about huge cultural differences and her Kurdish neighbours, etc etc. Besides being quite sociable, she was also generous and gave big glasses to taste their local wines! We bought a wine and then went next door to eat out for the first time since we have the campervan. A Hawaiian pizza and chips and a beautiful sunset. How can one not love Aussie!