Isolated Rocks, and a little bit of Kent

When we were planning this trip, and work approved my leave of absence, the biggest comment I had from people was ‘I’m so envious that you are having a 10 month holiday’. I knew at the time it wasn’t going to be a holiday in the sit down and relax sense, but this type of travel is hard work, much more tiring than I was expecting. This admission sounds like I’m complaining. I’m not, and I would not swap this opportunity for anything. It’s just that I had all these ideals of finding more time to relax, exercise, read, sleep in, and relax some more. Reality is never like that.

We have been pretty much on the go since day dot. There was never really a plan, but we had a far idea of the pace we wanted to set ourselves based on the big goal. We wanted to be in the Kimberly’s by early July (just after the wet), so we would have time to do that and Cape York in one dry season (and everything in between). As this month has shown the wettest wet season on record for the Kimberly (and Cape York has had an impressive soaking too), our plans may go astray a bit.

Regardless, when we got to Esperance after the beautiful Cape LeGrand, we thought a few days off was in order. I did manage to walk or cycle every day, catch up on all the washing, shopping, writing, cooking ahead for a few days bush camping, and have some fun with our new friends the O’Callaghan’s. I was still feeling exhausted when we left Esperance for Wave Rock. Wave Rock surfers

We did manage to find time to visit the Esperance Playgroup centre, which was a major highlight for the children. Mike has also found time to write a short update for Mike’s Page.

But I don’t want to come off sounding negative. I am LOVING this. Coby rode her bike along the bike track in Esperance for about 500 meters, for the first time ever. We had a great afternoon at the local pool, where both Coby and Rhys are coming along in their swimming and confidence. It’s so thrilling that we are seeing this all happen. The kids are so happy and I love having so much time with them and Mike. I just sometimes wish Australia wasn’t quite so big.

The Wave Rock side trip was debated about between Mike and myself for some time. I had always wanted to see Wave Rock, since I was a child. My mum and dad had a Reader Digest book about Natural Wonders of Australia, and the picture of Wave Rock was my favourite. So actually seeing it for myself was a must for me for this trip. I was a bit disheartened when we ran into several travellers who remarked how ‘disappointing’ it was after travelling all that way. But we persisted. It ain’t Uluru, but it is worth seeing in its own right. We also discovered the less famous ‘Hippo’s yawn’, a natural cave in the shape of its namesake, which really impressed the children. The neighbouring town of Hyden is an interesting little place, with junk sculptures depicting its history, and all the attractions (including Wave Rock) are community run. I’m glad we made the effort to see this unique Natural Wonder.

Cranbrook....WAMike at Tenterden..down under.Just over two hours drive away was the town of Cranbrook. When I met Mike, he had lived in a village in Kent called Biddenden for over 14 years. This was situated between Cranbrook and Tenterden in Kent, England. Well, in South Western Australia there is both a Cranbrook and a Tenterden, similar distances apart of the English originals. By sheer coincidence, we arrive in Cranbrook on the day of their annual show. So we had a great look around. The kids stuffed themselves with ice-cream (special treat as it was a hot day), and we had a drink in the Cranbrook pub to mark the occasion. We then headed down the road to Tenterden, which was nothing more than a roadhouse with an art gallery attached, and a shaded picnic table where we could sit for a drink.

As for Biddenden, it doesn’t really exist, but we guessed the spot it should have been and took a photo.

Bluff Knoll - Stirling Ranges NPSo onto the Stirling Ranges National Park. After weeks of arid landscape, and flora that changed across the miles, but the local variety was always sparse, the Stirling Ranges was a pleasant surprise. It has been earmarked as UN biosphere, which basically means the place has such are variety of species of plants and animals, that it is too important to ignore or destroy. We noticed the difference immediately. There is an amazing variety of plants and trees and birds here, it was simply breathtaking. Having young kids prevented us from completing the 4 km hike up to Bluff Knoll (where the view from the top is meant to be spectacular), but we did manage part of it and the kids were FANTASTIC. They loved every minute of it, and the natural beauty and variety of plants held their attentions so much better than I could have imagined. Maybe they are just getting fitter.

Albany views from LookoutNext stop, Albany. Mike and I both agree that Albany is our favourite place so far. There are two natural harbours (Oyster and Princess Royal), separated by the lovely Middleton Beach, where we stayed at the Big 4 Middleton Beach Holiday Park. Most of the coastline is sparsely developed, for a large coastal town, and there are loads of Nature Reserves and National Parks close by.Torndirrup NP We were there out of season, but Albany is a great place for Whale Watching round June-December. Incidentally, if you are wondering how we find all these great camp grounds and holiday parks; take a look at our review of the new ‘Camps 6’ and ‘Caravan Parks Australia Wide’ here.

Onboard Cheynes 4 WhalerA point of interest, Australia’s last commercial Whaling Station ceased operation here in 1978, and you can still visit the Station, now called ‘Whale World’. It explains the history of Whaling in the region, which I mostly found a bit confronting, given the state of the whale population these days. But there was a great film about shark conservation, and a 3D film about the Life of Whales. Coby and Rhys kept stretching out their arms trying to touch the 3D whales. One of the Whale Chaser ships used by the station is now part of the display, where you walk all over the ship from the engine room to the upper deck. This impressed the kids to no end.

We are enjoying WA so much and there are many treats ahead of us. I just hope the weather holds out until we start heading North after Easter.

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4 Responses

  1. Hi Guys,
    I was so excited to get your email today! It is the highlight of my week as our family is watching your travels. We have just purchased our first jayco expanda caravan for our family of 7 and are heading to Tamworth for easter for our first trip. We are very excited. We are hoping to head off next year to do some travelling but saving is our goal at the moment.
    We love your blog its very real and helpful for our future plans. Thanks
    Happy safe travels and I look forward to your next blog. Cheers Leetisha & Tim Hillier

  2. Hi Sharon
    thanks for such interesting updates. Mere mortals like me really truly marvel at how much you achieve so you really should not worry about saying that its tough. It makes me feel better at any rate! Better to be truthful and tell it like it is. And you are right it is an amazing thing to be doing – maybe truly wonderful experiences are meant to always be a bed of roses?
    Can’t wait to hear about the next part of the trip. We fly on 26 April. Can’t wait to see you in NSW!
    Lots of love
    Kath

  3. Hello dearies,
    It is so GREAT to read about your travels every week. The only shame being I have no atlas to follow your travels. Have Dug here till tomorrow arvo and then looking forward to anniversary and trip to UK. Time is flying by but life is good.
    Lots of love to all 4 of youse, travel safe – XXX

  4. Tough…*tut*..my heart bleeds … 🙂

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