The Wild, Wombat’s Wonderings!
10 November 1999 – Up & out early. I headed downtown to await my pickup for a guided tour of the Barossa Valley. It included 4 vineyards, a side trip to the reservoir where the curve of the dam allowed one to speak to a person on the other side without shouting. The wine as I expected was quite excellent. I tended to stay to white, non-dry wines. The weather cleared up from early morning overcast & was excellent.
11 November 1999 – On the road again. I drove up thru the Clare Valley. The landscape went back thru vineyards to wheat fields to a sparse grazing as I headed north. It didn’t take me long to run out of traffic & population except for the very occasional farming town. I stopped in Wilmington at the north end of Spencer Gulf. The B&B there is excellent. I drove over to Hancocks Lookout. It gave an excellent view of the gulf & the surrounding countryside.
12 November 1999 – I was up early for my assault on Mt. Remarkable. It was an 8 km trip up & back. It was rather difficult in spots. The trail was mainly scree. The view going up was delightful. However, the view from the top was quite unremarkable; it was non-existent. The top was tree covered. They need a tower for a good view. They would have to helicopter it in. I got back pretty well knackered. I drove over Port Augusta for lunch & petrol. The camera store didn’t have the film I wanted, & they referred me to their store in Quorn. It was on my way. I got into Rawnsley Park a short way from Wilpena Pound. A very nice campground.
13 November 1999 – I was up early to drive over to the park. I wanted to climb St. Mary’s Peak. I had heard a lot about the trail. I hadn’t heard enough. The first 2-3 km was thru thin forest. I then climbed more or less straight up the Pound wall. It was a rough climb, & I was scrambling part of the time. Along the way I ran into two women on the trail. I asked if I could climb with them as I really didn’t want to do it alone. It was a wise move as we did need to help each other out in several difficult portions. We finally arrived at the saddle. The views were grand & as had been views as we came up the wall. The sign said: 0.8 km to peak. Right! Well, we all pushed on for the peak. Oops, we had done the easy part. We went along tops of ridges with steeply slanted slopes. Hunted for almost non-existent trail markers. At one point we edged along a 60 cm wide ledge with our backs to a 300 m, maybe more, sheer drop. I truly had only seen scenes like the one I was in in movies. Unfortunately I couldn’t locate my stunt double so I had to do it myself. About 15 m or so from the top my spider monkey genes gave out. I couldn’t find a comfortable purchase on the rocks to get up & over a ledge. I tried to imitate a couple of others who came by, but no go. Oh well, I had done quite well. The track back was worse than going up. The round trip lasted about 8 hours over a good 12 km. I was tired & a little bit sore. I had done enough climbing; I would push on tomorrow & give my legs a rest.
14 November 1999 – It was an easy drive back to Adelaide, tho I did run into some traffic on the last stretch. It was Sunday. Usually once you are about 50 km out from the city centre, you run out of traffic. Then it is one car every 5 minutes to a half hour. When I finally tracked down Roman, he noted my credit card had arrived. Yeah! Citibank is fine if you sit at home & wait on them. Roman introduced me to his parents.
15 November 1999 – Once again I headed north to Port Augusta. I spent the night here. I headed up Hwy 1. It was, of course, a lovely day. I made Port Augusta early enough to be able to spend some time wandering about the town. I dropped by a couple of bookstores & got a few books, before heading back to the info centre to tour the Wadlata Outback Exhibit. It was an excellent exhibit on the South Australia Outback. I could have spent more time there.
16 November 1999 – I turned off onto Alt. Hwy 1 to head down the eastern side of the Eyre Peninsula. The road hugged the coast, & the weather was fine. Nice farm & grazing lad to my untrained eye. It was a very pleasant drive. After settling in at my motel I walked over to the Maritime Museum. It was run on a part-time basis. It was open, & I enjoyed the museum having a long chat with the gentlemen manning the museum. Over lunch a truckie & his wife told me where to find the cheapest petrol along the Nullarbor. Petrol is quite high on that route.
17 November 1999 – Up early for the drive down to Whaler’s Way the rising sun reflecting off Spencer Bay. It was at the very tip of the Eyre Peninsula. I had to let myself in thru a locked gate, the drive along an unsealed road. There were about 15 places to wander off to see the ocean from the track throughout the area. At a couple of places I lost track of time watching the waves roll in to pound against the rocks. One spot asked you not to go further as freak waves had killed a couple of persons. The sea was actually quite calm today. However, occasionally the waves would merge together to produce a quite large wave. I could see how in heavy seas this could be quite spectacular & dangerous. I was, for the most part, quiet alone. It is funny. Only while standing alone watching the heaving & relentless sea do I feel the scene would be better viewed by two. I can wander thru forest trails, drive across desolate plains, but only at the sea do I really want someone there to share it with. Fascinating.
18 November 1999 – I now headed up the other side of the Eyre Peninsula. The landscape was much the same as on the other side & the weather continued to be sunny & warm. About 260 km up the road I pulled off to take a look at “Murphy’s Haystacks.” These are huge rock formations which look like haystacks from distance. They are quite impressive. Then on to Ceduna. I would begin my crossing of the Nullarbor tomorrow.
19 November 1999 – I was up early for my trek westward. The sky was mostly swirls of gray with sheets of rain falling from them here & there. It was very pretty. I topped up my petrol at Penong where the truckie told me petrol would still be somewhat reasonable. It was about 87¢ a litre. A short way down the road I ran into some heavy showers. It figures. I’m driving thru a desert, & it rains. I stopped at the Yalata Roadhouse for a permit to the “Head of Bight.” I didn’t need one, but the chap there said don’t stop for the night at the Eucla RH as the manager there was a shit. Petrol here was about $1.04 a litre. I turned off to the Head of Bight. This is about where the Bight begins. The views of the cliff walls are quite something else. Well worth the detour. I met the ranger there & donated some “gold,” a gold colored coin, for an entry fee. Got a little bit of petrol at Nullarbor RH. The price was the same $1.04 a litre. I stopped to take a shot of the sign at the “beginning” of the Nullarbor Plain. It was rainging. :-) I had lunch at the WA-SA Border Village. I had a nice chat with a truckie also having lunch. We more or less sat on the border which ran thru the RH. At the border is a inspection station. While I didn’t have any prohibited fruit, I did have a fruit box in which I was carrying my maps. This had to go & was exchanged for another. A sign informed me to set my clock back 45 minutes. At Mundrabilla I filled up with Petrol. It was only 99¢ a litre here. That truckie had been spot on. With the sky cleared I pressed on. The drive was easy. Of course, I did have to pull over as a huge bit of mining equipment trundled by. That there was no shoulder to speak of was only a minor problem. Paved shoulders don’t exist in the bush & even gravel ones aren’t very wide or level. I pulled in for the day at Cocklebiddy. I had done just under 800 km for the day.
20 November 1999 – I was up at the crack of dawn: 0630 [A]; 0445 [C]; & 0400 [P]. Love them there time ziones. I was still working on SA time, on purpose! To keep me company I put on the audiotape of Upfield’s The Devil’s Steps. The reading was quite good & very enjoyable. The road ahead was quite empty. There were some pretty clouds about. One stretch of this road, about 150 km worth was dead straight, tho it did undulate. Some ways down the road was a sign telling me to turn my clock back another 45 minutes. This plus the hour as WA was not on Summer Time. I put in at Norseman for petrol where it was a cheap 92¢ a litre. :-) I turned south for Esperence reaching there just as the novel finished. I stayed at the Doo Drop Inn. It was quite nice. The hosts recommended I take the scenic coast drive while it was still light. I took their advice & very much enjoyed the drive. The views of the ocean & beaches were very pretty. The sand here is very white.
21 November 1999 – When I got up, I found that the weather had turned drizzly. Nevertheless I drove out to Cape Le Grand NP. By the time I got there the rain had let up. I first headed over to Frenchman Peak. It was an interesting climb to the top. Once again I was looking for my stunt double. The first part of the trail was fairly easy. Then you reach a sign which says “follow the crest to the top.” Unfortunately there is no crest only a rock face at about a 45° angle. The next trail marker was way, way up there. The view was worth the effort. Surprisingly, the way down was easier than going up. As I was coming off the peak I ran into some folk from Busselton. They knew the family I was going to stay with. Small world. I then drove thru the park stopping to walk out to the several beaches. They were of postcard & travelogue beauty. The sand was as white as snow. Lovely! On the way back I treated myself to a torte at the “fat farm,” a restaurant noted for its tortes. It wasn’t bad.
22 November 1999 – Up early to take my car in for its 20K service. The day was sunny & warm. The road for the most part went thru farm & grazing land, tho I did head inland thru some rather dry country before turning south to Albany, WA. Albany is a very pretty town on a magnificent harbor. Went out for a quick tour of the town.
23 November 1999 – I went over to Mt. Clarence & then to Mt. Adelaide with the fort set up to protect the harbor. The main threat was from the Russians. The 1890 Russians. I only got to see a little bit of the fort & the bldgs. before I had to leave for my meeting with the mayor, Allison Goode. Ms. Goode was nice enough to grant me about a half hour with her. She was warmly appreciative of my bringing the letter & panoramic photo of the Albany skyline from Mayor Jennings of Albany, NY, for her. She promised to send a proper response to Mayor Jennings. It was fun. I then went back to the fort to continue on my explorations.
24 November – Up early & off to the Porongurups. I had a nice 5.5 km hike across Hayward Peak, Nancy Peak & Morgans View with a young couple who were setting out at the same time. Good company. I worked up a good sweat; it was warm & sunny. I also had to deal with lots of flied. Yuck! I headed back over Mt. Barker. I went back over to Mt. Adelaide to finish up my tour of the fort. As it was still early, I drove up to the top of Mt. Melville for another view of Albany. I stopped by Moira’s friend’s home & was welcomed. I could stay there for a few days to further my explorations of the Albany region. A free room is always welcome.
25 November 1999 – After dropping off my stuff at Ethnea’s, I pushed on to the Sterling Range. I wasn’t up for a climb today. I took a nice slow drive thru the ranges. The climate was entirely different from the Porongurups. It was much drier here. Desert scrub seemed to be the rule. The trees were shorter & sparser. It was a hot & dry day. I did climb one lookout. The flies were unreal, however, I don’t think, I inhaled more than 1 or 2. I got in some more German practice when I met 2 German girls climbing the same hill. Ethnea was most thoughtful. She had found some turkey for me for dinner. It was Thanksgiving! :-)
26 November – I was up early. I would do a lot of driving today. I headed west to the Valley of the Giants near Waldpole. This is a stand of Kerri & Tingle trees between 60 & 80 m tall. There is a walkway, rising to 60 m above the ground, which takes you thru the tops of the trees. It is neat. The area has number of other interesting sights that I visited: The Tingle Tree – an ancient treed that is hollow & maybe 20 m around. Circular Pool in a wooded glen fed by a swift moving stream. Mt. Franklin – rises 400+ m above the surrounding countryside to give marvelous views.
27 November 1999 – Another fine day. I drove around Albany Habour to Torndirrup NP. I spent the afternoon walking to several lookouts. There were a couple places where the ocean really pounded the coast. Saw the remains of an old WWII lookout station. Getting there wasn’t so easy 55+ years ago.
28 November 1999 - Time to move on. I headed west over Waldpole, thru Shannon NP to Nothcliffe & then down to Windy Harbour. I did stop along the way to climb Mt. Chudalup, a small hill, but one that gives a very nice view of the land down to the ocean. I spent a nice couple hours walking about the beach at Windy Harbour. I then continued on to Pemberton stopping just out of town to walk about the Cascades, a small, pretty set of rapids.
29 November 1999 – Up early to head over to the Gloucester Tree. It is a 60 m high fire lookout tree. I climbed up using the metal rods which are driven into the tree as steps. A very nice view. The tree, which was originally stripped of all it limbs, now has quite a number of living branches growing from it. The trees, which were much below it in the original photos, now are nearly as tall. There are a couple other such trees in the area, but decided one tree was enough. :-) I then took a tour of the local forest & sawmill in town. They were quite good & free. Finished up the day with a drive thru the woods.
30 November 1999 – I drove up to Busselton today. I stopped along the way to check out One Tree Bridge & the Four Aces – 4 superb Karri trees near Manjimup & an isolated swimming hole near Nannup while driving thru lovely forests on unsealed roads. Met Moira & Kevin Dahlberg. I gave Moira the books I had brought for her & she gave me some Upfield novels she had picked up for me. Late that evening I curled up Bujold’s Civil Campaign.
1 December 1999 – I more or less called the day off until I had finished the novel. It was great. WhenI finally came up for air Moira & I headed out to drop by some bookstores in town. The towering thunderheads dumped a fair amount of rain on the area. It cleared up, & we then took a nice walk to the end of the Busselton Jetty. The sea breeze on a warm day was wonderful. It extends 2 km out into the ocean getting a certificate to prove I did it. :-) [Several weeks later I learned that shortly afterwards a 70 m section of the jetty went up in flames, closing it. :-( The jetty is partly wood & being refurbished in concrete.] Went over to Moira’s friend, Susan, & checked email. Found out I had to contact WorldNet. I couldn’t get thru. ?
2 December 1999 – Up early to head down to the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. The lighthouse towers over 60 m on the most SW point in Australia. It is where the Indian & Southern Ocean meet. On a good day you can see the dotted line separating the two. I stopped by Hameling Bay to watch the waves roll in. I took a rambling drive thru Boranup Forest along bumpy roads. Mammoth Cave was a delightful walk. I finished up with look at Caveworks. It is a museum about the caves in the area. Went over to try & sort out my problems with WorldNet. They had changed their URL. The midges were horrible!
3 December 1999 – I sort of took the day off. Worked a little bit on my diary. Took Moira, Kevin & Susan out for dinner. Checked on WorldNet. Still problems. I’m going to have to give a friend in Albany the info & have them call it in. Like Citibank, WorldNet is fine if you are at home & can spend hours trying to get thru to them.
4 December 1999 – Kevin would be my chauffeur for the day. We headed off to nearby Dunsbourough [had a lovely meat pie from the Dunsborough Bakery] & Meekup Beach. Next were Cape Naturaliste & its lighthouse. We took a nice walk thru the brush. It was going to be a warm day. Yallingup Beach is not only pretty, but has some good surfing beaches. The waves were really good, but there were a goodly number of folk out there in the water. We then headed over to Yallingup/Ngilgi Cave. This was about the best of the caves so far. As it was hot, we stopped for some excellent ice cream on the way back. An excellent day.