So there has been a slight obsession with wildflowers in this section of our trip. All of this means every journey is interrupted by me suddenly screaming “Flowers! Pretty! Pull over!”. Then Jamie and the kids wait patiently in the car while I take photos of pretty flowers.
We began the trip in Margaret River, because it would have been wrong for Jamie to drive through the wine mecca and not partake. We stayed at a Big4 complete with farm animals, jumping pillows and baby ducks. This was topped only by the fact that we were down the road from Cowaramup, a town that embraces all things cows!
The kids and I mostly played in the winery gardens while Jamie quaffed wines. There were some amazing places, with huge gardens filled with perfectly cultivated plants. Every time I saw them it just made me tired imagining how much effort is required to keep them like this.
We interspaced wineries with a rather yummy chocolate place called Gabriel’s. Delicious tastings and ice cream – breakfast of champions!! We also headed out to one of the many caves in the area. We choose Ngilgi, mostly because it promised a tunnel of Doom – how could anyone resist that??
It was an amazing underground wonderland filled with crystals and forests on the ceilings. The tunnel of Doom was clambered through a few times. Even by me, although I almost had a panic attack when Jamie claimed he was stuck and tried to get me to come and pull him out. Small dark spaces start my heart pounding, probably not a good thing for someone with a slight defect! But it was actually fine crawling through, sliding on your back to look at crystals. The kids happily did it a few thousand times as we read information panels. We also headed to the lighthouse which was shut, and did a walk to their whale watching platform. But after Exmouth every whale watching platform is now a bit of a letdown.
We spent a windy afternoon at A-maze, and I can successfully confirm I have no sense of direction. I just trailed after Jamie getting more and more disorientated while the kids screamed and charged in all directions trying to find the centre. We then spent forever trying to work out the below.
You have to follow the set path of red, black, white. It was almost impossible so we cheated and asked reception for a quick look at the answer. Turns out we were almost there, just screwing up the last few steps. Afterwards Jamie challenged me to a game of giant chess, made slightly difficult by the boys “helping” by acting out wizard chess and using the pieces to bash others off the board. Might have to persuade Jamie to buy a set for home.
On our last day we stumbled over a 4 wheel drive track in Wikicamps and Jamie felt the need to have a go. It was pretty fun and we crawled over rocks and up massive washouts with me gripping to the car for dear life and the kids egging him on. We finally got to the beach and found just one other person fishing so decided to take a small trip down onto the sand to see how far we could go. Huge mistake! A few feet past the previous person’s tracks the car slowly stopped and some how we ended up bottomed out on the sand. So basically the sand is so high under the car than the wheels just spin in place getting nowhere. With the tide slowly heading towards us we ended up almost digging the entire car out of the sand. The kids came in particularly useful as they were little enough to slide under the car to help dig out the bits under the engine. Took us about 2 hours to get off the beach – never again.
We moved on toward Denmark and found a great caravan park – $30 a night for the lot of us with free washer and dryer and unlimited Wifi. Netflix has been missed 🙂 We used it as a base and headed into Albany for the day and saw the most amazing chainsaw sculptures at someone’s house. There is a little drive through their gardens filled with mind blowing sculptures.
We also went to see The Gap and the Natural Bridge. Standing on the edge of the Gap you can feel the pounding of the waves below, terrifyingly awesome.
We took a walk through the ancient Empire but skipped the Walk through the Treetops. A bit expensive for us but also a touch too windy for me to risk it. Instead the kids charged about the forest, walking through giant trees and trying to spot birds. Half way through a massive branch crashed in the forest not far from us, further confirmation skipping the tree top was a good idea.
We packed up and headed into Fitzgerald National Park and found more windy weather. But not enough to keep us off the beaches and look outs. Every time I think I have seen it all something else appears to make me realise how much I have still to see.
We left Fitzgerald and took a trip inland to see the Wave Rock and Hippos Yawn. A little bit out of our way but I had my heart set on seeing it. Plus on the way we passed wildflowers by the thousands. Flashes of neon pink amongst all the green. We made the rocks an afternoon visit, climbing to the top and following the track over the top looking for little dragons sunning themselves.
We stopped the night in a free camp in a little town of 12 people – bustling! and in the morning we hit the road for Kalgoorlie. Jamie took us on a trip down memory lane in Coolgardie – just down the road from Kalgoorlie. He took us to the caravan park where he had his little tent and the mine where he worked. We drove into Kalgoorlie and stopped at the Country Club, now very run down but still open. We had a drink with the volunteer behind the bar and listened to Jamie tell the story of the night 28 years ago he won $7,500 at 2 Up in the club and a little old lady told him to take his money and run before someone came for him. I think he lasted 3 weeks after that before calling it quits – too many people wondering where the money was.
We managed to arrive at the same time as a massive storm. Rather well done I think. I got all our laundry done and off the line before the rains came in. The thunder pounded above us and as the lightening flash Jamie remarked that 11 men had been struck by lightning in Kalgoorlie recently. Perfect.
We took off in the rain and headed to a mine museum just out of town. We climbed massive trucks and had a look at the old tents and houses the miners used to live in when the gold rush was on. Jamie attempted to teach the kids the rules of 2 Up in one of the old sheds they had set up with a history of the game. We finished up panning for gold, or rather gem chips as the kids had no patience for gold.
On our last day we hit the superpit on the way out, awed by the tiny trucks slowly climbing their way out and more awed by the half million the pit is apparently making each day! Then we were on the road for Lake Ballard. It’s about an hour and half north of Kalgoorlie and an art installation by Inside Australia featuring sculptures by Antony Gormley. I stumbled over this place at the start of my hunt for things to do and then promptly forgot it again until a couple at the endless wifi campground reminded me. I’ll be honest it was a little weirder than I imagined. Amazing to look at, even better from the top of the hill when you can see the trails left by all the visitors between the figures.
While we were in the middle of no where I decided to take some night pictures of the stars. even better I thought pictures of the statues at night would be amazing. So I dragged my tripod and camera and wandered down onto the Lake leaving Jamie and the kids snug inside the van. I got onto the Lake and suddenly realised my phone light was not best choice to actually see more than a few feet in front of me which then makes finding the statues hard. I wandered aimlessly until I found a well worn path to this lovely lady.
So I am standing in the darkness taking photos and all of sudden all I can think about is the Dr Who episode about the Stone Angels. And suddenly the place is not beautiful or inspiring it is fricking terrifying and any moment now something is going to get me. I snap my light back on and leap 2 foot in the air when I see this crazy spiky giant ant running full pelt towards me. I stomped my feet but this just encourages it to run faster for me. Running in flip flops in the dark is not a good choice, especially when you are being chased by metal sculptures and a mutant ant and carrying a tripod and camera. I almost barrelled into another statue on my way back – they are herding me! But I made it safely back to the van and threw myself through the door before a metal arm could send me hurtling through time and space.
So in all probably not the most successful stop but definitely worth it….in daylight…..with plenty of people around.