24/11/16 Big Brook Arboretum is a campground in Big Brook State Forest, 15kms north of the town of Pemberton. The final 5kms into the campground narrowed to a winding gravel road flanking the north side of a lake which provided the town with a water supply. We camped among towering Karri and Pine trees reaching up high overhead and dwarfing the van. The Karri trees were just magnificent. After setting up and having a cuppa, we walked a trail through the forest to the lake. Birdlife was evident but difficult to see through the thick forest growth and we had to be content with just their calls.
Heading on the next morning, we travelled 160kms south-east through lofty Karri forests to a very pleasant farmstay-like caravan park at Peaceful Bay on the southern coastline between the towns of Walpole and Denmark. We’d wanted to have a taste of the big WA freshwater crayfish and called in to Forest Fresh Marron at Pemberton. Much bigger than the QLD freshwater crayfish, the size of the WA variety was a real surprise, as was the fact that we’d be buying them live rather than already cooked and cryovaced. We selected four medium-sized snapping marron from a tank and they spent the day in the car fridge before being cooked and served up for dinner that night. Marron won’t be replacing prawns or mud crabs as our favourite menu item, but they were still pretty good. On the way to Peaceful Bay, we also stopped off at the small town of Northcliffe and did the interesting Understory Sculpture Walk where sculptures by local, national and international artists have been installed along a 1.2km pathway through a bushland setting. We especially liked the many charcoal faces that had been carved into burnt tree trunks from a severe bushfire two years earlier.
One of the WA birds that Di has really been hoping to see and photograph was the White-tailed Black-Cockatoo. They are native to the south-west corner of Western Australia and we’ve often heard their calls in the bush or glimpsed them flying overhead, but the opportunity to have a good look or a good photo as yet hasn’t presented itself. At Peaceful Bay, we took a long walk on the beach one morning and, for once, Di chose to leave her camera in the van. Of course, what did we come across but a gang of White-tailed Black-Cockatoos feeding on flowers of low shrubs in dunes at the top of the beach! And no camera! Di slowly worked her way to within just a few metres of them as they fed. And no camera! We looked at each other, mouthing “Can you believe this!” Just short of being close enough to touch one, she has vowed never ever to leave her camera behind again. And next time I get asked “Should I take my camera?” my response will be “What would David (Attenborough) do?”
On the second day at Peaceful Bay, Peter and Fleur, our NBFs from Perth, pulled in beside us with their van. We’d been hoping that they could join us when Peter got back from chasing the gold lust out west. It was good catching up again. We did a couple of day trips together to a few picturesque beach spots, checked out the award winning bakeries at the nearby town of Denmark, enjoyed a terrific platter lunch at The Lake House winery, walked the Valley of the Giants among the giant Tingle trees and walked to the Giant Tingle Tree and Circular Pool. It was a lot of fun. We extended our stay at Peaceful Bay and they extended theirs as well. Their deadline was the looming prospectors meeting in Perth that Peter wanted to attend.
Being on the southern coastline of WA and heading east, it occurred to us that we were now sort of heading homeward. We have about two months to go until our intended return date which is still quite a lot of travel time, but heading east has brought home to us that the trip is starting to wind down, that we were on the return leg. Even so, ahead lies a lot of as yet unplanned travel – we have no idea how we’ll be returning home, and that’s the exciting part. All we know is that it won’t be over ground already covered if we can help it.
“We’ll be friends ’til we’re old and senile… Then we’ll be new friends!” – Anonymous