After leaving Eucla we headed on thru to Fraser Range Station, a really nice campground just 100km out of Norseman and definitely worth the $25.00 it cost to stay. There are plenty of barren, gravelly camp sites in this stretch, so to find a green and attractive place with good facilities was a bonus. If youâ€™re doing the trip then mark it on your map as well worth a visit. It was an old sheep station and many of the original buildings have been restored and are in use today.
Along the way we managed to spend a rainy & cold but fun, half hour at Madura Pass with Kevin & Shelly Black who were heading in the opposite direction. We spotted each other 10ks out of Madura and Kev turned and caught us while we were re-fueling. It was good to see these guys who are just starting their trip â€“ and we sure hope they encounter some better weather.
After Fraser Range we hit the road and drove on thru to Esperance, one of the places we were hanging to see again. Itâ€™s probably 13 years since Danelle and I were last there and we had very fond memories of that trip. We were also hooking up with our good friends Graeme and Sharon Mason who were driving down from Narrogin for the weekend, so we were looking forward to that as well.
Victoria has the Great Ocean Rd and Esperance has the Great Ocean â€˜Driveâ€™. The Victorian experience is definitely head and shoulders the best, but the â€˜drive at Esperance is still pretty damn good. The Esperance beaches have some of the whitest sand and bluest water you will see anywhere. The surf was pretty average while we there and the only time we hit the water was at Twilight Beach where we tried teaching the kids to surf. It was fun, but very cold.
We stayed at the Seafront Tourist Park a decent enough campground, but we definitely noticed the school holiday crowds. Suddenly there were lots of people on either side of us and noise early in the morningâ€¦ It felt busyâ€¦ and congestedâ€¦Weirdâ€¦
Sadly our return to WA has been met with crappy weather almost from the time we crossed the border. When youâ€™re camping, days seem looooong when the weather is lousy and when youâ€™re waking up before 6am again then they seem even longer. We loved hanging with our friends at Esperance but on Monday they went home and we headed out to Cape Le Grand. Before the trip started this camp-ground was on my â€˜do not missâ€™ list as I find that particular area so beautiful.
Thereâ€™s no question that Cape le Grand campground is one of the best National park campsites around. For $9.00/adult/night and $2.00/kid you get a private camp area, toilets and hot showers (solar) as well as a camp kitchen and a water supply. All of this is right on one of the most beautiful beaches you can imagine. We rolled in, set up and were hoping to spend 3 nights there, but the wind got the better of usâ€¦ On Monday the wind blew pretty hard and apart from making it a little unpleasant we spent the evening listening to the camper clatter and shake, before it eventually calmed.
Tuesday morning it was still blowing hard and getting stronger. We spent Tuesday Am visiting the bays in the area and came home to play on the beach. The beach was lined with perfect little A frame beachbreak peaks, but it was just too small to get any decent momentum on. I tried on both daysâ€¦ and had I brought the 8â€™8â€ mal I probably would have been ok, but the 7â€™1â€ just didnâ€™t have the float. The offshore was blowing a gale and it was icy out there even with the sun out.
When we got in from the surf the wind had increased and the weather report suggested it wouldnâ€™t ease till after midnight. So at 3pm we made a snap decision to pack up and head for calmer territory. The plan was simply to drive until the wind dropped. We had been tossing up heading north of Perth and spending the last couple of weeks in Kalbarri or Geraldton, but despite these places being warmer they are also infamous for wind.
So in the toss up between wind and cold the â€˜coldâ€™ won. We figured its more pleasant to camp when its cool than when its blowing a gale, although Iâ€™ll admit that neither is a very desirable option. We had hoped to come home and spend a nice few weeks in some of our favourite places in the south of WA, but the weather means we are currently enduring a bit more than enjoying.
We finished up at a roadside stop in Munglinup next to the roadhouse where a large group of nomads were partying with the country music/karaoke cranked to the max. Despite the bad taste in music they were harmless enough and went to sleep at 9.30. The wind had died and we actually enjoyed a really good sleep before the road train pulled in next to us at 6.30 cranked his air brakes and left his diesel motor running while he took a leak!
So with grey skies setting the backdrop, we hit the road again, this time headed for Bremer Bay. I had been really looking forward to visiting this place as Iâ€™d heard so much good stuff about it and seen pictures of the beaches. But I was nursing what felt like a hangover (it wasnâ€™t) and felt pretty weary, so my own enthusiasm was on the wane. The grey clouds and kids wishing ‘we could just go home’ (again) didn’t help my energy levels.
As we arrived the motor on the Patrol was running hot and we needed to get some water into it asap, only our second mechanical issue in the 21000 km. We parked by the beach where I did a quick inspection and discovered that the molded plastic fitting coming out of the radiator tank and going into the top hose had cracked and the hose simply pulled off. It isnâ€™t good to be able to pull your top radiator hose off and I was pretty worried by what I saw.
It had obviously been leaking as we had been travelling. A piece of the radiator pipe remained in the hose and it was clear that it had broken and we no longer had the same length of pipe to connect back on to. I refitted the hose as best I could to the remaining piece of pipe, clamped it tight, refilled with water and drove to the caravan park as it was past lunch time and we were all feeling a little narky from hunger and me especially so with car dramas now front and centre.
A few phone calls to Albany revealed that because it was a molded fitting there was of course no way to repair it. A new â€˜tankâ€™ cost $400.00 fitted or a whole new radiator $700.00. So it looks like she’ll be getting a new radiator…
After realizing we werenâ€™t in as much trouble as I first thought, I left the family at home and hit the road to find some surf. Native Dog Beach and Blossoms looked like the best options, but a quick check of both didnâ€™t bring much excitement. Blossoms was tiny and Native Dog was messy and not very appealing. It was one of those days where if there had been another bloke present we would have paddled out just for the hell of it, but I just wasnâ€™t in the mood and messy slop couldnâ€™t entice me out.
I came back to the campsite to discover our immediate neighbours at the campsite are Tim & Charlene Prosser from Katanning, a couple of friends, so we enjoyed catching up with them before darkness hit and it was time to make dinner and bath kids.
Today we are in Albany staying at the Big 4 on Middleton Beach, a real 5 star affair and the kids are off watching a movie in the kids club. I am vegging in the camper and Danelle is doing the op shops… again…
We’ll drop the car in tomorrow and then take it a day at a time as there seems to be a pretty strong cold front coming thru on the weekend and we may get blown away again!