Margaret River – Sun 26th to Tue 28th Apr
Heading out of Drafty’s camp the track runs through the forest, the trees towering overhead in a way almost reminiscent of Californian redwoods.
Heading through the thriving and really rather nice, little town of Pemberton, the road runs through a mixture of woodland and agriculture before fetching up in Margaret River. Whilst this is a pretty part of the world in the natural beauty stakes it is not quite in the same league as the south coast; it does make some pretty good wine though.
First stop was Swallows Welcome. To say this is idiosyncratic is an understatement. Self-styled as the smallest vineyard in Margaret River it is tucked away about 5km from town. The owner built a small chapel to house his wife’s art, if no one is in the tasting room you ring the chapel bell to get attention. To be fair the wine is pretty good, as is their Pensioners Port. Meeting up with with a mate, Andrew Thomasson, who was running a photography course (see http://www.focus10.com.au for all the details), the girls were an instant hit as impromptu models for his students.
Further north of Margaret River is Aravina. Not exactly a bastion of fine wine, but worth a mention for the vintage car collection on display next to the tasting rooms. Pretty location too.
Seaward of the town is Prevelly, tucked on the hillside behind the beach and a great place to watch the sun go down over the ocean at Surfers Point, venue for the Margaret River Pro surf contest. With sunset the light is great for photography, with the girls again drafted in as models.
Geographically Margaret River is a bulge at the SW corner of WA, with Cape Leeuwin at the south end and Cape Naturaliste at the north. The vineyards are scattered about, but primarily around town and towards the north. Hamelin Beach was a great spot for a picnic lunch. Also worth a mention is Boranup Beach, with a great 4wd track in – not so great was snagging the fishing rod on a low tree and snapping the tip, a bit of a blow given the aim was to have a fish on the beach.
Home for the 3 days we were here was Glenbrook Estate; not a winery as the name suggests, but a camp ground just south of town. Originally run for school camps, rampant OH&S put paid to that, and it is now a low key camp spot. It is one of those places with no sites marked, and everyone gathers around the campfire after dinner – just the kind of place we like.
Elgin – Wed 29th to Thu 30th Apr
All good things and all that, time to move on. Probably not a bad thing as the weather was forecast to be poor for the next couple of days.
Heading north, just before the road heads east, you pass through the little village of Yallingup. Not only does it have some fine views of the ocean, but at the entry to the village there is a delightful little bakery selling Googlehupf, including an interesting version with speck.
From there its Busselton and the road to Bunbury. The only notable thing on this stretch was the Holy Mile. For some reason there is a string of religious campgrounds all in a line. With both Catholic and Anglican represented images of the Spanish Inquisition came to mind.
Franloy is a farmstay based on a working dairy farm. Only opened this year it boasts one of the best camp kitchens we have come across, and the softest grass of the trip so far. Also a bonus was the woodfired stove, especially as the weather forecast had for once proved accurate.
The camp kitchen was so good we stayed a second night to get some lessons done.
Perth – Fri 1st May
Whilst Perth may have many plus points, the availability of campsites and the prices charged do not seem to be among them. Unfortunately there was no avoiding it, we needed to have a wheel stud fixed on the trailer. A big thumbs up for Daniel, with the repair being fully covered, and also for Towsafe who fitted us in at short notice.
It may seem strange that we did not see the sights, but to be honest cities are not top of the list for us and the extortionate price to stay was just a touch offputting.
On the positive side the guy at the site who showed us around was also a 110 owner, so conversation turned to things Land Rover and Hilary’s eyes glazed over…..
GinGin – Sat 2rd May
Just outside of GinGin is an interesting little place called the Gravity Centre, with various interactive displays designed to demonstrate science, primarily in relation to gravity and space.
The girls had great fun working the exhibits. Highlights included a toroidal vortex machine (basically a smoke ring machine) and the leaning tower, from which water bombs are used to test Galileo’s question of which object would hit the ground first, heavier or lighter.
Just around the corner is Willowbrook Farm. We had expected a little farmstay like Franloy, so were taken by surprise to see a full blown campground; however it is fortunately much more relaxed than a caravan park.
The girls were well entertained feeding the animals – as well as 43 sheep there are a few alpacas and a small herd of cows including a Texas longhorn, looks scary but really quite friendly.
Also staying were the Mandurah Vietnam Vets, they meet here the first May weekend each year and Sat night is there main dinner plus live singer. A great night, sat around the campfire chatting with the girls burning marshmallows.