We spent the afternoon after Whale World in Albany digesting the enormity of the establishment, success and decline of the whaling industry, the last Aussie whaling station, to close in 1974 by walking the shores of Emu Pt and beyond. In its day, whaling was an important industry for there was no alternative lubricant for top end machinery to whale oil. It is ironic that the closure was not due to pressure on whale stocks declining to the point of endangerment, but to the price of fuel oil to power the station which was entirely dependent on oil fired steam plant. The station was closed, but all the buildings and equipment remain, so you can see a whaling station as it was, rather than the decrepit remains of some historical sites.
Next day was a real surprise. I had read about this “River Cruise” on the Kalgan Queen departing Emu Point daily, and since it was just round the corner, and we needed a day off driving we thought what the heck.
When you arrive and see this highly painted touristy boat you always duck!!! But it was the best 4 hours we spent in Albany. Captain Jack had all the attributes………..a stand up comic, a treasure of history, geography, oceanography, flora and fauna, and made up the rest. We had a ball, watching him hand feed stingrays, his pet pelican raised after rescuing it from fishing line, baiting and feeding eagles and ospreys, the swimming of a tiger snake cross the river, a little wine tasting, and I forget the rest.
A final swim at Emu Point unaware the neighbouring Middleton Beach was closed due to a 5m great white shark in the shallows!!!! We were leaving in the morning. Albany has given us sensational weather, and the week here was really not enough by a couple of days, but we are committed to move on due to the WA school hols. Albany is a standout; its deepwater harbour and port make it No.2 in Australia behind Derwent in Hobart. The city has great history, from settlement to the ANZAC departure in 1914 of 38 ships with 40,000 troops and 1500 horses and the remnants are well preserved. The city falls down to a beautiful harbour. Nearby NP’s have all the wow factors of beaches, granite cliffs, natural features, and the whaling station.
An easy 120km drive to Walpole meant we were set up and ready to tour by lunchtime, so we headed for the Treetop Walk amongst the giant Tingle Trees. Incidentally, their botanic name is “Eucalypt Jacksonii”!!!!!! The 600m trail 50m above the ground amongst these 75m+ trees was awesome. Then the Empire Walk down below with them complimented the experience.
A 120km drive to Windy Harbour on the following day in the D’Entrecasteaux NP might seem excessive, but it was rewarded with the “BEST” view of any coast anywhere so far we have seen………..Salmon Beach from Pt. D’Entrecasteaux coastal walk. The massive cliffs shadowing the pure ocean break of aqua water and white sand cannot be equalled…………it was VERY GOOD. There were several other great vistas in the area, with the “Window Lookout” the best….pic included.
Not to rush back we took the 40km “Great Forest Drive” through massive stands of mainly Karri, Jarrah, Marri, and Blackbutt. This is sensational country, and those trees are REALLY BIG!!!!!!!!
Then an easy day for the first really cloudy day we have had since leaving home. We had a lovely cooked breaky and proper coffee before setting of for Peaceful Bay for a squiz, but were not inspired. Then to Conspicuous Cliff which had a variety of walking trails, but the wild beach and the cliffs didn’t disappoint. Back to Walpole and a couple of local drives, and home to a magnificent “pie Floater” dinner, with “hydration”.
Then a clear blue sky in the morning sent us to Pemberton for the day. The 120km trip there was not ideal, but we do what we want to do, and were rewarded with magnificent Karri stands towering up to 100m above the forest floor. Pemberton is picture perfect, almost artificially beautiful. The tourist blurb claims that more wine is made here than in Margaret River, and more avocado’s are grown here than any other single location in Australia………….and we could believe it driving around. The Warren NP was a highlight with massive stands of native Karri, Jarrah, and Marri. I did climb the first 20m of one of the fire lookout trees, and that was enough. We enjoyed a very generous serving of pancake covered in berry sauce and ice-cream for lunch at a local Lavender and Berry Farm, before a couple of other nearby sightseeing spots, then the drive home through massive forests of massive trees, mainly Karri, Jarrah and Marri. We still got home in time for a swim at Coalmine Beach, which fronts the CP.
We then decided on a day of R & R in CP at Walpole, doing the housekeeping chores of washing, cleaning, shopping etc, then relaxing, allowing time for a roast chicken and veges dinner.
Just north of Walpole is the Frankland NP, and the site of a long running and finally successful (1996 I think) anti-logging campaign. To commemorate the long protest, a 39m long tribute wall has been built, and named Swarbrick after the park ranger of the time. It was quite moving, as it was in the form of mirror panelling, with inscriptions from all perspectives of the struggle firstly to log and mill, then the indigenous view of connection with the land and forests, to the Nat. Parks staff trying to mediate etc. Each comment was encased by the shape of a leaf. Then a loop walk of abstract sculpture art pieces in the forest followed.
Our last day in Walpole started off with drizzle, the remained partly cloudy, so we contented ourselves with a long walk, a bit more shopping, and partial pack-up ready to leave in the morning for a week in Nannup, about 250km away.
Cheers from the travelling Jacko’s