Saturday, June 27, 2009

Big winds and big trees! (aka the stalkers have names!!)

We left lovely Esperance and spent the night at Short Beach, Bremer Bay. Despite the return of the cold and rain, Jess played in the surf for ages. Alex joined her briefly (they had a seal come and play quite close to them!!), while Daniel and I set up and knocked down domino lines in the bus. Trucky had his most successful fishing expedition yet. From the beach he caught trevally, herring and a whiting. The next morning, all the children braved the weather and played in the water (crazy…) and Trucky again caught more fish.

Arriving in Albany we called into the tourist centre and picked up lots of brochures and ideas about places to go. We booked into Kalgan River Caravan Park, and headed over through the storm and tempest. The kids and I stayed inside, warmish and kinda dry while Trucky tried his luck river fishing (no avail). We dined well that night on the catch from Bremer Bay, watched a movie and went to bed to the sound of driving rain.

We awoke to blue sky, sunshine and wildlife. Outside the bus were about 20 kangaroos and three kookaburras having their breakfast and generally enjoying the day. With the forecast for more storms, we headed off in Terry, westward. Our goal was the Valley of the Giants, and the skybridge tree-top walk, but we had contingencies also, considering the weather.

It rained on the way, but was clear when we arrived at the Tree Top Walk. It was an awesome experience, being 40m above ground in the canopy of the red tingle trees. Jess and Trucky were both a bit concerned with the amount of sway in the bridge, but they still managed to appreciate the scenery. (The kids and I even did the circuit twice.) The Ancient Empire Walk was also interesting, seeing the giant trunks with holes in their bases.

We met up again with Jason and Jeanette, a couple we have nick-named ‘our stalkers’. From the 133K marker peg on the Nullabor onwards, everywhere we’ve stopped, they’ve been there. A really nice young couple working their way around the country, they managed to help Trucky out of a predicament (he ran out of cigarettes in the middle of a national park in the middle of nowhere) and have even offered to teach the kids to surf if (when) we meet up somewhere coastal.

The rest of the day was spent tasting our way back to Albany. We started at the Toffee Factory (chocolate, mango and ginger toffee), then Bartholemew’s Meadery (honey icecream), Denmark Farmhouse Cheeses (Golden Hill Cheddar), Ducketts Mill Wines (Golden Nip) and finally Puzzle Shop for a Rubik’s cube, Tantrix game and Tower of Hanoi.

Last night the wind was so bad I didn’t think we’d be going anywhere, especially with the forecast for hail. But the day was typical – intermittent showers and lovely sunshine. We spent a few hours at the sandalwood factory, touring the facility and sampling various products. Alex wears a sandalwood elephant necklace (bought by Grandpa in India) so he was keen to get some oil to recharge the scent in the little carved animal. The oil is supposed to aid relaxation and encourage deep sleep, so the kids have gone to bed tonight with a little oil sprinkled on their pillows!

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