The last couple of days in Esperance were spent doing “town things” like the village green with the “imported heritage buildings” from the district relocated to a “town museum” on the foreshore. We do enjoy long beach walks and this is an ideal place to enjoy our fantasy.
Then on to Hopetoun for 3 days, and the magnificent Fitzgerald NP. This amazing Biosphere is world renowned, and so “unknown” to the average traveller unable or unwilling to explore the road less travelled. I am told $59million has been spent on roads, explanatory signage, toilets etc, campgrounds, lookouts, access points, and I can believe it. This is an amazing place. We will definitely return for an amazing wildflower show in early September sometime in the future. I couldn’t resist the East Mt Barren climb, with amazing views over the rugged park and hinterland. We also enjoyed a fantastic pub meal at an old 19th century hotel in town. On our last morning we awoke to horizontal rain and howling winds, typical of this coast facing the Southern Ocean. When the weather lifted a bit, around 9am, we decided to go.
Finally made it to Cape Riche, about 120km east of Albany, a little known NP camp 18km down a corrugated dirt road early afternoon, fighting blustery winds all the way. But the sun was shining and the turquoise water only spoilt by the wind greeted us. The relief camp host told Denni the park was full and we would have to go elsewhere………….spew shit spew……………very poor humour when there were only 5 spots taken!!!!!!!!!!! You are absolutely right – this is heaven on earth. We took a spot on the upper level overlooking the lower, and good views through the trees, no-one anywhere near us, close to toilets, and a big fire pit. We spent the arvo exploring the beaches as the cloud increased, but still OK. It rained just a few big spots overnight and was cloudy in the morning, so we decided on a trip to Bremer Bay ——–for the doughnuts…ha..ha, just a myth, but got cheap fuel and returned with enough wood from the roadside for 2 great fires…….and we did. Cloud lifted to clear sky and warm weather, ideal for more “beaching & shell hunting”. Then a superb day, clear blue sky and water, and warm, so more beaching, a swim for me and sunbathing on god’s beach to finish off. Then lots of “hydration” , chicken parma, potato bake and broc, all in god’s garden. Left OMG reluctantly in brilliant sunshine and no wind for the short drive to Albany. We are staying at Emu Beach, a really nice park in a great spot, and enjoyed a huge feed of red emperor & chips from the “Squid Shack” at the Emu Pt Marina on our first night. We did explore Torndirrup NP after settling in, and the granite rock features were amazing. Scientists have established the connection between these formations and identical reverse formations in Antartica from 45 million years ago and Gondwanaland (or however it is spelt). It was sunny, but a massive fire somewhere west of here caused an annoying smog effect, disrupting some of the photo spots.
Then a town day learning about the early history of Albany. We did a fantastic tour over the “Brig Amity” with a hand held audio commentary to boot. It was an identical replica of the original ship sailing from Sydney in 1827 with 60 people, mostly convicts, to establish a penal settlement in Albany to thwart the French from settling and claiming WA. A tour over the Jail was also informative about early times in Albany. Then up to Princess Royal Fortress overlooking King George Sound. This military fortress was established in 1872 to thwart European aggression, and had multiple 6inch gun emplacements and a complex web of control stations and shelters. We had never heard of it, but spent several hours exploring an important part of our history. I had no idea that some 40 ships left Albany in 1914 bound for France with 8 carrying horses and supplies for them, but were diverted to Gallipoli!!!!!! – and the ANZAC legend was born. A massive new Interpretive Centre is being built on this headland to commemorate the 100th anniversary. The Light Horse Monument on a Mt Clarence overlooking King George Sound brought tears to our eyes.
Then a day in Porongurup NP about 50km north of Albany for some touring and climbing. The highlight was Castle Hill and the Granite Sky Walk, a steep 2km climb ending in a 100m rock scramble, 20m ladder climb, for a heavily guarded walk around the peak on a protected skywalk that was truly awe-inspiring. We then went to the day use area for a well deserved picnic lunch. Then we decided on a second climb to the “Devils Slide” up another steep rocky path to a granite outcrop. But it was steeper than we expected, so at the lookout below the final ascent we took many deep breaths and agreed to retreat so we could at least get back to camp before dark…………..and to our Cantonese chicken and fried rice banquet…………..and some hydration.
Not one’s to sit around; we set off for Denmark today, 50km west, and enjoyed coffee and cake at the famous Denmark Bakery before discovering a fantastic free-camp at Parry’s Beach, then retreating to William Bay NP for further surprises. Green Pool beach was the highlight of the day – see photo. The only regret was that I didn’t have my bathers and snorkelling gear, as this was a shallow pool teeming with fish, but it was clear, protected, aqua water in an idyllic bay. Elephant Rocks did produce elephant look-alikes. Couldn’t resist the Cheese Place in the hills, and brought 4 different cheese home to savour…………..and returned to the Bakery to pick up 2 pies for dinner – a lamb and rosemary, and green Thai chicken…………WOW. We plan to stop off on our way to Walpole in a few days for a few more.
Off to Whale World tomorrow and a boat trip up the Oyster Bay inlet on our last day here. Pics are:
Lighthorse ANZAC Memorial, Albany
Brig Amity, Albany
Cape Riche Beach camping ground beach
Cape Riche campfire
Granite Skywalk, Porungurup NP
Green Pool, William Bay NP
Princess Royal Fortress, Albany
The Gap, Torndirrup NP, Albany