The Wandering Tops

The Wandering Tops

27 December, 2013

Nullarbor crossing

We set off on Boxing day for the trip across the Nullarbor to SA and Adelaide.  After the Christmas day celebrations it was a slow start but we did eventually get going around 11.00 am.  Our after fuelling up and stocking up with food at Mundaring we travelled approx. 300km to Westonia.  Westonia is a refurbished mining town with the main street shop fronts being refurbished and "shop sculptures" placed throughout the town.  Westonia has a very modern and clean camp site and at $15 a night including power is a must stay, especially as when we arrived it was 43 degrees so the air conditioner was needed to cool the van.

Shop sculptures

Main street

The pub
The next morning we were on the road by 7.10am, I know this time exactly as Hels reminded me for the next hour until her eye lids conceded and I could enjoy the serenity of an early morning start.  I also promised that when we made it to SA I would not expect such an early start time .... 2 1/2 hour time difference.  For the day we travelled 666km the greatest distance travelled in one day with the van to date and camped at Woorlba Homestead Rest Area about 20km on the western side of the 90 mile straight.

Everyone needs to stop and take a piccie of the 90 mile straight sign.
I couldn't help myself and the next morning was up and about winding up the van stabilisers in readiness for another early start .... no point sitting around swatting flies.  This time we were on the road at 6.52am this time was again mentioned to me several times in the first hour or so and when referred to the diary to confirmation the time has been written in BOLD over 3 lines, I think a point is being made!!  Just before Eucla we were pulled over by the local police road block doing a licence check. After crossing the WA/SA border we camped 10km into SA after travelling 496km for the day.
I decided to play on hole on the Nullarbor golf course @ Cocklebiddy

One of my finest golf shots, par 3 holed in one, excellent choice of club!!!
Now as promised to Hels the next mornings start was much later and was on the road at 7.52am, how good was this of me to let Hels sleep in ;o) even though sunrise was after 6am not 4.30am as in WA. We stopped at a couple of lookouts which over looked the Great Australian Bight, checked out the Head of the Bight but didn't go whale watching.  We decided to continue on after passing through Ceduna and stayed at another great camp at Minnipa, Home of the Concrete Crappa.

The Great Australian Bight

Couldn't help but take a piccie

The sign is self explanatory.
From Minnipa continued via Port Augusta to Auburn in the Clare Valley a camp spot we had stayed at back in June.  For the last day (NYE) of our west to east crossing we travelled to Younghusband on the Murray River to celebrate New Years with my sister and family.

25 December, 2013

Christmas in Perth

From Fremantle we travelled up to Perth area initially staying north of Perth near Greenwood to visit friends - Natalie and David (Crawf).  Spent a lovely day at their home - thanks Nat and Crawf for a fantastic lunch and wonderful company.
From Greenwood we headed to the foot hills of Perth staying on a property at Hovea (near Midlands) where we enjoyed a relaxing weeks' stay.  Thanks to Pam & Ian for their hospitality.  Also staying were a family from Derby with their 3 children, Amber, Pearl and Beau.  I had put up some Christmas lights on the van so Amber & Pearl made some decorations for a plant they decorated as a Christmas tree - they were staying for Christmas Day and were so excited about it.  Kids really do make Christmas a special time.
Our Christmas lights on the van
Amber holding Beau and Pearl with their decorated tree.

Moved back into Perth to East Victoria Park staying at Jarred and Alex's house.  After negotiating the van into their backyard through gates with 50mm each side of the van, we started the Christmas celebrations!! Singing along with the Christmas Carols on TV will be a night to remember for a few years (neighbours are probably still having therapy!!)  Ros and Phil had come over from Adelaide and Greg and Mel returned from Canada.

Warm up celebrations with Hels, Mel, Greg, Jarred, Alex, Ros and Phil. Oh can't forget Charlie in the foreground, woof.
Christmas Day we were invited to Jarred's uncles place.  Gerry and Chris put on a great spread and a wonderful Christmas Day was had by all.  A huge thank you to Gerry and Chris - we really appreciated sharing Christmas with the family.

Unfortunately on the day I was that busy, hic, I forgot to take any piccies of the lunch and it wasn't until we had returned to Alex and Jarred's for a night cap that the camera was found.

A few sips of liqueur made for fine singing ....... well we thought so!!

A big day out was tooooo much for Jarred and had to catch a couple of ZZ's on Phil's shoulder

20 December, 2013


The last week or so has gone very quickly as we travelled to Perth via Busselton, Bunbury, Mandurah and Fremantle. After seeing as much as we could around the Margaret River area we seemed to pass quickly through the larger towns knowing too well that we are going into more populated towns and the traffic started to increase from Bunbury going to a dual lane highway through to Freo.

At Bunbury we were greeted by millions of flies however the weather had finally warmed up enough for a swim  Thank God flies can't swim as it gave us a bit of reprieve! Drove in and around Mandurah but found it too busy for our liking.  Interesting to drive around the canals and seeing the beautiful homes. Drove along the Old Coast Road to Caddadup Reserve then onto Pyriamids Beach.  Travelled along the Mandurah-Rockingham Scenic Route to Fremantle.

Fremantle has many examples of great architecture dating back to the early 1900's

Inside the Round House, the walls are made from local sandstone and half a metre thick.
Fremantle's Round House is Freo's oldest building opened in January 1831, it was built to hold anyone who committed a crime in the settlement.  After it ceased being used as a goal it was used as a Police lock up until 1890.

Fremantle Town Hall

View from The Round House along High St towards the Town Hall

Stayed in Fremantle a couple of days which enabled us to have a walk around the city (having a cappuccino on 'Cappuccino Strip') and found a beach to cool off as temp was a warm 39 & 41 degrees.

08 December, 2013

Margaret River region

I don't know what's happened as we seem to have slipped into a holiday mode, visiting many beaches and tourist attractions.  I keep saying to myself this is not what it's about, it's a lifestyle we want, but there is so much to see and it's been more than 30 years since we have been in this area.  So we will continue to see many of the attractions in the area.

After leaving Manjimup travelled west towards Margret River area, staying for one night at Alexander Bridge on the Blackwood River, another great spot and if we were in the life style mode would have stayed for a week or so but had to keep moving ............ places to see (wineries and chocolate factories!).

We decided to base ourselves at Big Valley Campsite a working sheep station about 10km out from Margaret River, we had heard some good reports on the camp ground and this would be a great central spot to visit all the attractions that Margaret River has to offer.

On our way from Alexander Bridge we also decided to visit some southern attractions. With the van in tow we headed for Augusta then along the Caves Road until we turned to Whitchcliffe then to Big Valley.

You've guessed this one, Cape Leeuwin Light House.
Cape Leeuwin Light House 9km south of Augusta on the most south westerly point of Australia. Only 1km from the Light house is the water wheel known as being the most photographed tourist attraction in WA.  It was built in 1895 to supply water to the light house cottages. Also stopped at a monument which commemorated Mathew Flinders mapping the coastline of Aust from Cape Leeuwin in 6/12/1801 - and we were there on 6/12/2013!!!

Water wheel, built from timber, now fully calcified.

Visited the mouth of Margaret River at Prevelly -  another nice beach and many surfers.

Mouth of the Margaret River @ Prevelly

As we were in the Margaret River area on the weekend was able to go to some of the markets, they have a farmers Market, again lots of local produce and excellent coffee. We also just happened to pass a Lions Garage Sale where I just HAD to visit if only for the sausage sizzle! Hels was happy I no longer had a shed! Also visited Cowaramup, which is 11km north of Margaret River.  With a name like Cowaramup the town has lots of cows hanging around and very clever names of businesses incorporating the 'cow' theme like 'Candycow' for the lolly shop - I've managed to capture a few piccies of the locals.

This is our Xmas card, so Merry Christmas

Found this cow in the candy store, say no more!!!

Obviously waiting for a Christmas card.

Was moooooved on by couple of characters by the ATM.

This guy had spent tooooo long sampling the beer at Colonial Brewing Co.

Not only does the Margaret River area have many wineries but also has cheese factories, chocolate factories and wool outlets being in a sheep farming area.  As we neared one of the chocolate factories our eyes lit up and the Tojo just veered off the road into the car park. What could I do but go and sample the produce.  The only way I could convince Helen to leave the first was promise we would stop at another chocolate outlet!!  At the second chocolate outlet, Gabriel Chocolate, they produce fine chocolate made from freshly roasted cacao beans from around the world. We decided to have a coffee and Helen thought a hot chocolate drink would be in order.  The glass was lined with chocolate and drink poured in, it was at this point that Hels realised she had reached the chocolate limit.

Like a kid at a candy store ...... Hels at the chocolate window

Some choccies didn't even make it to the car park.

And another chocolate delight!!!!

The many wineries vary in size with a lot having dining available as well as tasting.  We had lunch at the Cheeky Monkey Brewery and on the second day of touring the northern region stopped at the Berry Factory and had scones and coffee.  Some wrens also came and enjoyed the jam & crumbs!

Laurance Winery, set overlooking a lake and beautiful gardens

Wrens at the Berry Farm
Margaret River is also know for surfing so could not leave the area without stopping by some of the many surf beaches, like Gracetown and Yallingup.

Hels counted 40 surfers in this area at Yallingup Reef

After a great stay @ Big Valley Campsite, reluctantly moved on towards Perth via Bunbury, Mandurah & Freemantle.

04 December, 2013


We passed through Pemberton on the way to Manjimup. Pemberton is a town surrounded by tall timber and has the Gloucester tree only 3km from town. The Gloucester tree is the highest working fire outlook tree in the world.  There are 153 climbing rungs to a height of more than 60 metres. The town has many timber buildings adding to the character of the town.  There are still streets with some of the small timber cottages really giving the town that character.

Climbing the Gloucester tree, as if, done that in 1980 why do it again.

We stayed in Manjimup for a couple of nights, again another town in the sheep and timber area, although I think Manjimup is on the fringe of the tall timbers.  The highlight for me was the Manjimup Timber & Heritage Park at the northern end of town - it was free to enter the park with a large picnic and playground in the centre which is surrounded by heritage buildings and logging equipment.

Snorting Liz
Snorting Liz - this is a unique 12 tonne steam engine built by Ransome Sims and Jefferies in Ipswich UK.  It began life in WA clearing land for the State Gov.  Later brought by the Shepherdson family it went into service in 1915 hauling logs. As a traction machine it was unsuitable in the heavy wet soil of the south west so it served inside the sawmill, stationary.  When Shepherdson put down rail lines to Wilga Sawmill, Snorting Liz was converted to wheels for rails in 1921.

Robey Steam Engine
Robey Steam Engine - The horizontal, Class E, cross compound engine used to drive the Tone River Mill

Robey Steam Engine

Locomotive Engine Number 109

Locomotive Engine S.A.Y. Class number 109 was built by Beyer Peacock & Sons Ltd, Manchester, England in 1907.  It was reputed to have hauled passenger carriages between Perth and Freemantle.
From 1958-62 it hauled timber over rough bush lines to Bunning Bros. Northcliffe Mill.  Derailments were a daily occurrence.

A couple of the buildings on display, the cottage and other buildings are furnished with glass dividers providing good visibility of exactly how these buildings were furnished.

King jarrah tree, estimated to be 500 yrs old and 2.6m diameter

Going west from Manjimup towards Nannup we stopped, had a coffee and checked out Glenoran Pool, The Four Aces and the One Tree Bridge, which when you look at the piccie it's self explanatory.  Unfortunately not a lot of history about the bridge was mentioned other than the tree was used to span the river but you could see how the timber cutters would have used their ingenuity to build this crossing.

One Tree bridge

One thing that continues to impress us as we have travelled through WA is the facilities which are provided at the small parks and stops.  They usually have well maintained and clean picnic tables and toilets for the locals and tourists to use.

02 December, 2013

Denmark & Walpole

From Denmark we did a day trips to the west visiting some beaches and local tourist attractions.  We drove down to Ocean beach and watched the "little nippers" having surfing lessons in a sheltered section of the bay leading into Wilson Inlet which Denmark is situated on.  We could only look at the many beaches and inlets as the weather was faaaar too cold for us to take a dip.  Along this section of coast we visited Greens Pool, Waterfall Beach and had to take a look at Mad Fish Bay, but never saw any mad fish only mad fishermen.

Lights Beach, just toooooo cold for a swim :o(

Waterfall Beach

Elephant Rocks, you count the elephants anywhere between 3 and 8 wins a prize.

Greens Pool, a very sheltered and picturesque bay.
Continued along the coast to Parry's Beach, Colin had stayed here for a week and so we thought we would check this out.  Was a nice camp for low vans as has a height restriction of 2.75m due to the trees so we decided to stay in Denmark until we moved to Walpole.  On the way back had to visit the Toffee factory, again on Colin's recommendation, and have an ice cream. The sign on the road said "the biggest cone in WA" how could we go past that!!

This is the Biggest Cone in WA - I just had to have one

I think this guy had "head freeze" from eating his ice cream too fast.

In Walpole we stayed at the Rest Point Caravan Park on the Nornalup Inlet and went touring from here.  The lady at the Walpole information Centre was most helpful and suggested a drive taking in the Giant Tingle Tree, Circular Pool, Swarbrick Art sculptures and valley of the Giants which we did over 2 days.

This is really tall timber country and the tingle trees are only found in this area.

One very big tingle tree

Circular Pool, you'll have to imagine the foam moving in a circular motion.

Swarbrick Art loop - by opening the door we "Discover the diversity of people's relationships with the wilderness area through time."

Wilderness door of perception

Wilderness wall of perception, Hels stood here for ages!!

No perception here, I'm an angel!!

I need to dust before we go.

At the Valley of the Giants we decided to take the Empire Walk, which is around the base of the tingle trees rather than the tree top walk.  We managed to join in on the guided tour which was most informative and gave us a better perspective of the tingle tree.

Got to drive the EK through the tingle tree, he he.

The guide telling us about "Grandma Tingle" tree in background.

The walk is well planned with walkways and signs to explain the different aspects of the tingle tree.

After the Valley of the Giants it was back to the coast and visited Peaceful bay, a small fishing village.  Infact this was a very tidy shack area with what I would consider a real fisherman's paradise.  From Peaceful Bay travelled back towards Walpole stopping at another bay, (the last for a while) Conspicuous Cliffs.

Conspicuous Cliffs