What a nice change: We were off on a trip and the weather was perfect! Nice blue skies and not too hot. I suppose it has
to happen sometimes...
Our destination for the day was a new campsite that we had only just learned about a week or so back; Lake Ewlyamartup,
17 kilometres east of Katanning.
We took what had become a vary familiar route this year. Up through Jarrahdale, refuel at
Wandering and then through Narrogin, Wagin
We arrived at 1pm and found the perfect place to overnight.
The lake was just about full after the good winter rains and the new facilities included toilets (with water to wash your
hands) shelters, seats, tables and BBQs.
The place was lovely and quiet but if you come on weekends when the lake is full, then be prepared for ski boats roaring
up an down because the locals do use the lake for water skiing when water levels are high.
The next day we drove back to Katanning and had a quick look at Korbeelya (sp) House in town then went out to see
Police Pools. This also looks like it would make a good overnight stop but there are no toilets, just seats and tables.
There is a walk trail here but a lot of it was overgrown with grass.
The pools are the site of the first police camp in the area and a memorial has been placed there to commemorate the first
troopers who worked from the site.
Police Pools - Katanning
It was a long tiring drive through Broomehill, Gnowangerup,
past Ongerup and on through Jerramungup to a rest area north
west of Ravensthorpe, Overshot Hill. The weather was heating up and we were looking forward
to getting to the coast, where it would be a bit cooler.
Parts of the road were in poor shape
and we had to constantly avoid sections that had broken away from the edge leaving large pot-holes. Which-ever government
authority is responsible for road maintenance in this area isn't doing a good job.
Overshot Hill Rest Area - Ravensthorpe
This route was a tough drive for the Coaster as it is up and down hills all the way. That means up and down through the
gears all the time too and an average speed of something less than 80 kph.
The plan for this trip was to get as far east of Esperance as we could go in the Coaster
(without being too daring) and then make our way back slowly staying at the various campsites we could find along the way.
We hoped to be able to do all of the south coast that it is possible to access with the bus.
Our trouble free touring period didn't last that long. I did all the usual checks in the morning before we took off and
found one of the inner tyres had gone flat. Why is it always an inner tyre?
After pumping it up we went into Ravensthorpe only to find one mechanic doesn't work on Saturday and the other was flat
out so we had no choice but to head out to the closest rest area (Meridian) and wait until it could be repaired.
On Sunday morning we got the good news that Col, the mechanic who had been busy, would be able to help us with the tyre
so we went in to town as quick as we could and it didn't take long before we were back on the road and for just $60 -
on a SUNDAY!
The wind had been very strong and pushed the Coaster around while we were driving. We didn't really drive all that far but
it was tiring due to the wind and the endless up and downhill terrain.
While we were at the mechanic's we found out that the Poison Creek area was all closed. I checked on the internet and found
it was due to bushfires. Not sure when they happened but it is a pity we have come so far to miss out on one of the prime
places we wanted to visit. Thomas River campsite was open but the news was bad there too as there was no beach access.
We arrived in Esperance about 1pm and had lunch at Bandy Creek before heading out to check out Helms Arboreturm on
the Coolgardie road. Being Sunday everything (including Woolworths) was closed so there wan't much else to do.
This turned out to be a perfect spot to overnight. There is a small pool here but the grey looking water wasn't exactly
inviting. (Later we found out that there was a lot more to Helms than we first discovered.)
Helms Arboretun - Esperance
Helm's was a nice quiet place to spend the night and we went back into Esperance in the morning to stock
up and refuel.
The Coaster hadn't been starting properly and we were tossing up whether to see a mechanic and get the
problem looked at.
In the end we decided to risk it and head out to Cape Le Grand and just hope
it would keep starting and not strand us somewhere.
At the time we didn't know about the redevelopment of the Lucky Bay Campsite,
if we had we would probably have stayed there instead of Le Grand Bay, but we chose
the latter and found a nice secluded site.
Le Grand Bay campsite
We left the trailer at the campsite and went to see Lucky Bay, Hellfire and Thistle Cove.
We were surprised to find that Lucky Bay has been extensively redeveloped and there is a much better
campsite available for travellers.
The site is rather exposed so it would not be great in very windy conditions but the view of the bay is
We spent the morning filming and photographing the area.
The following day was a rest day and the weather started to become windy and rainy. It continued into
the next day and although we could have stayed put, we decided that if we had to be stuck inside,
at least we could be moving somewhere while we were.
Headed out to Duke of Orleans Bay and took the short-cut via the unsealed road. The road was in good shape
and it cut about 20km off the sealed route.
The caravan park at Orleans Bay wanted $39 for a powered site and our limit is $35. As far as we are
concerned if they want more than that, they can stick it where 'the sun don't shine'. Of course there
were 'NO CAMPING' signs everywhere to try and force people to use the caravan park. We don't like protection
rackets so we looked around, took pictures and left.
Duke of Orleans Bay
While we were looking around, we took a road that looked like it went down to the beach, it did, literally,
it was an access road for 4wds and there was no sign warning people not to go down if they don't have a 4x4.
Next thing we knew we were stuck near the bottom of the road with a steep hill under us and only beach sand
in front. There was no room to turn the Coaster with a trailer on the back and there was no way to take the
trailer off as the hill was so steep it would have just taken off and either rolled or ended up in the sea
at the bottom of the hill.
The only choice was to back up the hill to a flatter area and take the trailer off there. This was
accomplished - with some stress and swearing - and we were finally facing the right way up the hill with
the trailer re-attached.
We decided to take the sealed route back and have a look at the small settlement at Condingup. This turned
out to be a good idea as it was possible to stay (free) at the local sports ground where there are toilets
and drinking water available. There is also good phone signal so we could get back on the internet after
3 days in Cape Le Grand with no connection.
Condingup sports ground
The next day the weather was particularly bad, with rain and strong wind, so we just sat tight at Condingup.
We had arranged to visit and film Esperance Stonehenge which is on the way back into
Esperance via Merivale Road.
It is a very interesting attraction as it is a full sized replica and shows what the original (in England)
would have looked like when it was first constructed around 4000 years ago.
Then is was back into Esperance to resupply and have a drive along the Great Ocean Drive (not to be confused
with the Great Ocean Road in Victoria). There is some very spectacular coastal scenery right on the doorstep of
Esperance but some woefully inadequate car parks for bigger vehicles.
The loop road heads west along the coast and then turns inland to return to town via the Pink Lake. Unfortunately
for us, the lake wasn't very pink at all when we were there so there are no interesting pictures to share.
Great Ocean Drive
We went back to Helms Arboretum as we hadn't been to the picnic area on our first visit. It is simply a
matter of following the main gravel road for a couple of kilometres and the picnic spot comes up on the
right hand side.
There are lots of tracks around this large reserve and the picnic area has seats, tables, shelters and a
toilet. It was a great place to spend the night.
Just north of Helms (about 7km) is Gibson where there isn't much more than a pub and a store
but there is a good free overnight rest area for self-contained caravans and motorhomes. It is a huge area
and there are toilets available.
From there it was back to Esperance one last time before driving out to Quagi Beach Campsite
(approx 75km, 11km on unsealed road) . This is now $15 per site per night. The toilets have been rebuilt and
there is washing water available but otherwise the site is pretty much as we remembered it from previous
Quagi Beach Campsite
We left early as there was no reason to linger at Quagi. Stokes Inlet was only
about 30km away so we arrived around 8am.
The campsite at Stokes has been completely redeveloped since we first visited and there are now two camp
kitchens, two toilet blocks and a variety of sites catering for just about any type of caravan or motorhome.
There is a national park entry fee ($12) plus camping fees ($10 per person $6.60 concession) at Stokes Inlet
and for two people staying only one night this can add up to $32 for an overnight stay. Stokes is the only
national park we have seen (so far) that has an EFTPOS machine at the entry station.
Both Quagi and Stokes are great places for birdwatchers and the birds are used to people and not that shy.
At Quagi we even had them knocking on the windscreen.
The weather forecast was for more strangeness, 37C followed by storms and 18C so we decided to spend a couple
of extra nights before moving on.
We got a chance to put up a tent that we bought a few months back. It is a Boab Outback Cabin tent and it is
very similar to, but much lighter than, cabin tents we used to own.
The inlet was full of mullet but nobody was catching any because you need a throw net. People were
catching some black bream up to about 32cm.
The forecast was for storms, but in the end the storm turned out to be a few drops of rain and a bit
of strong wind but nothing to be concerned about.
We left Stokes fairly early and made our way to Munglinup Roadhouse for the
usual re-stock and waste disposal.
We had to back-track about 4km to Fuss Road which is the sealed access road to Munglinup Beach.
The campsite at the beach has been 'upgraded' with lots of little fenced in parking bays that really ruin
the atmosphere of the place. It was much nicer when we first visited and didn't have fence posts everywhere.
Some of the parking bays are so small it would be all but impossible to put a car and a tent in them.
The toilets have been re-built and there is washing water available as well as seats, tables and bins but
no shelters of any kind.
The camping fee was $15 per campsite per night - which we think is a bit too high just for a patch of dirt,
but it isn't as bad as some places.
We decided to move on to Starvation Boat Harbour and although the road
west was unsealed it was in very good condition with few corrugations.
Starvation Bay is another campsite that has been changed. The old section is still available but a new section has
been added. The new area doesn't have very nice sites as they are just strung along the side of the road but
if the old section is full then at least there may be some sites still available.
Last time we visited the place was packed out and we couldn't find a site but luckily this time there were
only two other vans and we got a prime spot near the boat ramp.
Starvation Boat Harbour has three toilet blocks, a shelter in the day use area, a dump point and there are
some sites (in the old section) that have shade. There is also a nice tenting area overlooking the bay.
There is a beach launch boat ramp and the bay is very pretty.
Fees at this site are $10 per campsite per night.
Unfortunately taking video and still shots from the air is going to be more difficult as the GoPro camera's
USB port broke and so there is no video signal being sent to the FPV goggles. It didn't completely
stop filming but it has made it much more difficult.
Starvation Boat Harbour
End of Part 1
See Part 2
Updated November 2016