We had been delayed by the weather and minor problems with the Coaster, but finally the weather cleared and the Coaster was ready to roll, so we got going a few
days later than planned.
We drove south to Balingup and after taking a bit of video we went further south to Boyanup where we had
arranged to meet Norm and Anne who had kindly offered to show us through the South West Rail and Heritage Museum.
The museum has many interesting displays and also comprises the local Men's Shed plus a model railway enthusiast group.
South West Rail and Heritage Museum
From here we went back to Balingup and then turned east along the Ferguson Valley to locate and take pictures of a church and a couple of local halls.
We passed Gnomesville and then turned west at Lowden to get to Donnybrook.
Donnybrook was like rush-hour in Perth. It seemed as though every tourist in the south-west had descended on the town, so after a quick
look round and a walk through a massive Op-Shop, we headed for the first overnight stop of the trip, at Ironstone Gully Falls.
We had stopped there first about 20 years ago with our big old Bedford bus but the site has been expanded since then and we were able to fit the Coaster into a
nice flat site under the trees.
Ironstone Gully Falls
Due to recent rains the falls were flowing well and we finally got to take some pictures with the falls in action.
Next day it was a bit of a cold start but it soon warmed up once the sun came over the trees and after breakfast we made our way to Capel.
Capel is one of many RV friendly towns and there is an excellent overnight stop for self-contained vehicles. There is also a dump point and water pickup point in
town and these are shown on a map as you enter the rest area.
Our next stop was Busselton to refuel and pick up some spare parts for the back window as the catches on it were in the
process of giving up.
Then it was down Vasse Highway to the Cambray Road turn off.
We have attempted to get to Cambray Siding twice before but both times we have chickened-out as we weren't sure how far in the site was or what the track conditions
It turned out that we had nothing to fear and after following the old rail line north just before crossing a small creek, we came to one of the nicest campsites
we have ever visited.
There are no facilities but there is a large open area surrounded by trees and a track along the river (stream/pool) leads to several other great little camps,
one with its own river frontage and easy access to the large pool.
There were a number of wildflowers and we had the place to ourselves, although it was obvious that other campers do come here as most campsites showed traces of
It was such a great spot that we decided to have a rest day at Cambray Siding and just enjoy the sounds of nature and the beautiful warm sunshine.
With some regret we left Cambray Siding after two lovely peaceful nights with just the birds to keep us company.
As we got going I arranged to go ahead of the Coaster using our Leitner electric bike and film the vehicle as it came along the track.
Unfortunately my path coincided with a big black slippery patch of mud and SPLAT down I went. Bike, camera and rider all coated in the sticky evil black stuff.
It took some time to clean everything up but in the end I got my footage and the only damage done was to one of the bike pedals.
We visited the very pretty little town of Nannup and located the black-water dump point near the caravan park.
Nannup Visitor Centre
The shops in Nannup tend to be a bit on the expensive side (like Margaret River it is a tourist hot-spot) so we didn't end
up buying anything, although I did make a note to look for a book by Bob Liddelow called Guide to Native Orchids of the South West. It was $40 in the
visitor centre and I thought it might be a bit cheaper on the internet but it turned out it wasn't.
Our route took us along the Blackwood River Tourist Drive (otherwise known as the Nannup to Balingup road.
This is very scenic but is also very winding and full of hills. It was a bit of a slow drive in the Coaster but worth doing as our campsite for the night
(Wright's Bridge) was along this route.
Wright's Bridge campsite is administered by DPaW so fees apply and facilities include seats, tables, wood BBQs, toilets and a mini-skip
bin for rubbish.
The site was all but deserted with only one family camping and all the other 14 camping bays vacant.
We found a nice large space that gave us some sun for our solar panels (site 11 for anyone who is interested) and spent some time looking around. We had to
find a spot where we could charge the batteries as generators are not permitted at this camp ground.
Wright's Bridge campsite has two loops where the camping bays are located and a day use site that is right next to the Blackwood River. There are sites big
enough for just about all types of vehicles and dogs are allowed, which is unusual for a site administered by DPaW.
We walked down to the river and on the way back I managed to snag the end of a log with my foot and BANG, for the second time that day I hit the ground.
Some days it would just pay to stay in bed......
I had another go at trying to work out why our water heater isn't working properly and I still came to the conclusion that it has to be the circuit board
that is causing the problem. I did manage to do away with the long patch lead and was able to use power from the new wiring I had done before we left home
but unfortunately this bypasses the thermostat cut-off so we still have to set a timer in order to stop the water getting too hot.
We had been enjoying a few days of nice sunny weather but the clouds and drizzle eventually returned.
We finished the winding drive to Balingup and then headed south to Greenbushes.
There are two short term rest areas at Greenbushes, one at the recreation centre by the main road where you can stay for up to
7 nights and another at Greenbushes Pool which is much nicer but there is only room for 4-5 vehicles in the designated camping areas.
There is a picnic area and water available at the recreation centre site but as it is right next to the main road it is very noisy. Not surprisingly, no one
was camping there.
Greenbushes RV rest area
At the pool there are toilets, water, BBQ, seats, tables, shelter and a playground and of course the pool which is very pretty. There are also some walk trails
so this is where most people want to stay but this is limited to 3 nights as it is much more in demand.
We were lucky to pull in just as someone was moving out so we got a pretty good site.
There is good phone reception here too so for the first time on this trip we were able to get on to the internet.
Cold, cold, cold, that just about sums up the weather, which was more like winter than spring. There was a lot of cloud so we had no option but to run the
generator for long periods during the day. The upside to that was that we could put the heater on and warm things up a bit.
At least we had phone signal (and therefore the internet) to keep us amused while we were stuck inside.
The next day we had a good look around Greenbushes town and finally got to see the mine lookout.
Greenbushes is a lovely little town and its residents are obviously proud of the place they live. It is very similar in many ways to Westonia that has the same
feel about it.
Community garden in Greenbushes
As we came in to town we had missed one of the camping areas at the recreation centre that was further from the road so on the way out of town we went to have
a look to see what it was like.
It wasn't a very large area but there were toilets and from what we could tell from the short time we were there, the road noise would still be a problem so
Greenbushes Pool is a much better alternative if there are sites available.
Once we had finished taking photos and some footage we went south to Bridgetown. We have been through this place many times but
have rarely stopped longer than a lunch break.
This time we had a more in-depth look around and found a number of interesting buildings away from the main town centre.
Unfortunately Bridgetown's main street is part of Highway One and large trucks rumble through every few minutes. It is a pity that a bypass road is so
difficult to build in this town.
It reminds me a great deal of many of the small towns located in the hills near Adleaide in South Australia.
There were many visitors in town as it is a popular destination for families and there are many B&Bs and farm stays scattered around the pretty countryside.
We dropped in to the visitor centre to see if we could find a copy of the orchid book we had seen earlier in Nannup and sure enough they had one for the same
price so I picked it up and we went to the counter to pay.
A voice from behind the counter said 'I know you', we had bumped in to an old friend from many years back (over 20 years at least) just by chance. The funny
thing was we had just been talking about her on our way in to town. It was a very odd coincidence.
We were invited to stop the night and have dinner and got to catch up on a very long period of time when we had lost touch.
It turned out that our friends (Anita and Til) owned a farm stay property near Bridgetown called Forestview. We took a few pictures to add to a new page on
wanowandthen that I will put up as soon as I can.
The visitor centre has an interesting museum and a jigsaw gallery. Just how interesting can a jigsaw gallery be? I hear you thinking,
well trust me, go and see this one if you are in the area, it was simply amazing.
Forestview Farm Stay
Their property is situated on the side of a hill and has wonderful views over the valley below. There is a dam, and orchard and some lovely vegetable patches as
well as alpacas and sheep. It would be a wonderful spot to use as a base to explore the area and with luck we will find time to go back and stay with them for
longer than just one night.
Anita's brother, Ian, had been one of my best friends all the way back to high school in Rockingham, but sadly he had passed away in 2007 while we were living
in the wheatbelt, so the reunion with Anita and Til was a little sad as well as being very enjoyable.
We moved on the next morning as the clouds began to roll in again.
Our first stop was Donnelly River where I had hoped to be able to explore the old timber mill but the structure is now dangerous and has been fenced off. We did
get some pictures through the fence though and had a quick look at the settlement next to the mill that is still very much in use.
Not knowing what the unsealed roads in the area were like we decided to head back to the Nannup road and take the long way round to Green's Island via the
Vasse Highway and Graphite Road.
There are plenty of hills and bends that kept our speed down to about 60kph.
The unsealed roads into the campsite (Donnelly Drive and Greens Track) were both ok but a couple of close trees either side of the track might make life
difficult for wider vehicles than ours.
The campsite is another one managed by DPaW and is set around a large grassed area with toilets.
There are sites of various sizes with site 4 (the one we used) being the easiest to get in and out of for bigger vehicles.
The weather had now gone back to cold and wet and as it was the weekend, there was no reason to move on to Manjimup.
We stopped for two nights at Green's island (it isn't actually an island) and had to run the generator to keep things going.
At least it was a chance to clean up the inside of the Coaster while the rain drizzled down outside.
Although the weather had dried up a bit the next day, it was still very dull and overcast so we moved on towards Manjimup and spent the night parked near an
It is a nice quiet location tucked away on its own and for that reason we aren't going to publicise where it is.
The Old Hall
Technically it isn't an authorised campsite anyway so we can't really recommend it to others.
We drove in to Manjimup did some quick shopping and refuelling and then we continued to Pemberton specifically to have a look at the
tramway and the swimming pool.
We have been to Pemberton many times in the past and for some reason never got to see these attractions that are almost in the heart of town.
The tramway was a bit too expensive for us at $28 a head so we just photographed one of the trams arriving and then moved to the swimming pool.
The pool area is lovely with grassed lawns, BBQs and a lovely swimming area in the river. This would be really great on a hot summer's day.
Pemberton Swimming Pool
Our campsite for the night was Big Brook Arboretum where we have stayed a couple of times in the past.
DPaW has now taken over the campsite and this has resulted in sites packed far too close together and hundreds of their favourite items, wooden posts, everywhere.
It has really ruined what was once a lovely free-form area and I doubt we will ever bother to stop there again.
Big Brook campsite
The weather continued to be grey and damp but we were heading a bit further east and hoped that it would start to get a bit more dry at least.
The forecast was for a couple of days without rain and then showers returning so it was just a case of make the best of what we could.
We had to return to Manjimup before heading east along Muir's Highway but just before getting to town we took a detour out to Deanmill, a few kilometres
west of Manji.
This is another old timber town but in this case the houses are mostly occupied and the timber mill is still in operation.
It was nice to see all the old houses in such good condition.
We made a brief stop in Manjimup to dump some black water. There is a free black water dump point just on the other side of the railway behind the Visitor Info
Centre - where just one day before we were told there was NO dump point besides the caravan park!!!!
Then we decided to have a look at the Timber and Heritage Park in town.
The weather was being difficult but despite continuing rain, we dodged the worst of it and in the end really enjoyed walking through the park.
There are many things to see and do in the park including a steam museum, wood turners centre (closed when we were there), cafe (HORRIBLY EXPENSIVE!),
a playground that is great not only for kids but adults too and a heritage hamlet.
The park also has lakes, many different trees, a fire tower, a huge slide, flying fox and all sorts of other interesting places to see.
On a sunny day it would be really lovely. Best of all, entry to the park is free so if you are in Manjimup, don't miss seeing this place.
Timber and Heritage Park
It was then east along Muir Highway with the aim of finally getting some pictures of Rocky Gully and then stopping at the 24 hour RV stop in Mount Barker.
Along the way we decided to stay overnight at the Lake Muir Observatory. This is a big expensive raised board-walk leading to a mostly dry lake.
The bonus was a nice clean toilet, shelter and seats and tables. The biggest surprise was getting good phone signal, something we couldn't get just 6km
Lake Muir Observatory
We have stopped at this spot a couple of times over the years and it is usually nice and quiet.
In the morning I decided to take a last walk down to the lake to see if I could catch any birds with the big camera lens.
Some corellas flew out on to the lake bed and began fossicking for food in the grasses and I snapped a few shots hoping that they would be Muir's long billed
corella. They were and a couple of the shots were at least passable so we had a new bird to add to the growing collection
we have photographed.
Muirs long billed corella - extreme range on a 600mm lens
We continued east to Rocky Gully to get some pictures and found that there was a good rest area on the main road and another useful spot at the rear end of
town that also had toilets and water available.
As we needed to fill our tanks we made the most of the opportunity and then continued east to Mount Barker.
The main reason for coming to Mount Barker on this occasion was to have a look at the 24 hour self-contained RV rest area. While we applaud towns that make
these available, the hope is that they will at least be pleasant places to stay, this one was just a car park and was also on sloping ground so we decided
to keep moving.
Mount Barker RV rest area
The next possible overnight stop was at Kendenup sports ground.
This is a fee paying site although it is cheap at $10 a night or $15 with power. There are toilet facilities available and it was nice enough but a little
too much like a caravan park for us so we moved on again.
The next stop was Cranbrook as there was another 24 hour RV rest area in town. This one turned out to be right next to the railway and was very small.
Cranbrook could provide a much better spot than this as we saw so many ideal locations around town as we looked around. Anyway, any overnight stop in town
is better than none so we took pictures but decided to keep going to Poorrarecup Lake.
Cranbrook RV rest area
It had been a long day of driving so we wanted a nice spot to stop for a couple of nights to relax and recover.
Before we turned west toward the campsite at the lake, we had a quick look at the wildflower drive just east of Cranbrook. It wasn't quite as good as
I have seen it in previous years but was worth the quick detour and we got a few nice photos.
When we arrived at Poorrarecup, we found the place deserted, perfect for us! We love peace and quiet and although other travellers are generally ok, there are
some who can be quite noisy and the only guarantee of peace and quiet, is to have a place all to yourself.
Poorrarecup Lake campsite
As we set up camp we found three different species of orchid right next to the Coaster. We hoped we would find more but a quick walk around revealed nothing
extra. Well there was always the next day to explore a bit further around the lake.
In the end we found a few different types of orchid, including, cowslips, donkeys, sun, and three types of spider orchid.
The weather gradually cleared and we were treated to a nice warm afternoon. Was spring finally here?
Being 'Black Friday' we should have stopped at the lake for another night, not because we are superstitious but just because it was such a lovely spot and
any excuse would have done.
We moved on anyway looking for some new places we had never been to before.
First we passed through the little town of Frankland River. It is a pretty little place with some good facilities but after picking up a few items at the local
store we continued west.
The first interesting spot of the day was Unicup Hall. This is a very fine looking building but sadly it looks as though it is suffering the fate of many country
halls, as it is being neglected to the point where damage is no longer being repaired.
It wasn't possible to tell if it is still in use but the toilets at the rear of the hall were certainly well past their 'use by date'.
It would make an excellent overnight stop as there is a lot of parking room around the hall and it is a nice quiet spot.
Next was another hall, Bokerup. This was nowhere near as impressive and it was obviously abandoned. Inside were a few reminders of what seemed to be playgroup
activities but the power has been disconnected and I don't think anyone has used the hall for quite a long time.
Tone Bridge was listed as an authorised overnight campsite so we called in but as there was maintenance work being done on the bridge and there was a construction
camp just over the river, we decided to keep going. There were also a lot of very hungry mozzies here, so even if there was no construction going on, we would probably have kept moving anyway.
We moved on to Heartlea where we found a small rest area with a shelter and a toilet. It would be a useful overnight stop if you needed something urgently and
were nearby but it wasn't what we were hoping for and we pressed on again.
Next stop was supposed to be Querijup but we had a devil of a time finding it. The GPS co-ordinates given on the internet were wrong
(they should be: 33 58 01.16 S 116 30 38.33 E) and we sailed past it before
re-checking with Wiki-Camps and finding a more accurate (if not completely so) set of co-ordinates.
The local shire lists this as a campsite but for some strange reason does nothing to sign-post it for travellers.
The site basically sucked! It was scrubby rather ugly bush with tons of dead timber on a sloping site with nothing remotely level enough to park a motorhome.
We took a couple of shots - which will no-doubt make the place look lovely - and left in a big hurry.
Well it was three out of three strikes for campsites so far so we decided to head for Jayes Bridge - which we know is good as we have stopped there before.
For the first time this trip we had been down some long red dirt roads and as usual, there was a lot of cleaning to be done inside the Coaster once we arrived.
We stayed at Jayes Bridge for the weekend and got a number of chores done and did quite a bit of filming.
The weather improved and was quite warm so we hid in the shade of a large tree. That meant using the generator a bit but it is better than being too hot during
It seemed like we had skipped spring and gone straight from winter to summer.
Any predictions about the arrival of summer were certainly premature as next day the weather became very windy and rained and rained and rained.
Thankfully it held off until we had packed up and left Jayes Bridge but it made filming in Boyup Brook all but impossible. A few shots through the windscreen
with wipers crossing the lens were all we were able to manage.
We fuelled up and picked up some supplies at the local IGA, then headed north east towards Arthur River.
The first stop was the Teapot House at Dinninup.
Teapot House at Dinninup
This isn't a house shaped like a teapot but a massive collection of teapots owned by Barlee and Robyn Jones.
The collection is quite astounding and now numbers over 5000 pieces.
If you visit then be prepared to be offered tea and cake and to stay for a while because Barlee loves nothing more than to have a good chat.
Entry is free but it is good form to leave a donation which goes to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
It was a couple of hours before we hit the road again and we made our way to Trigwell Bridge. This isn't the best place we have ever seen to overnight
but it would do if there was nothing else available. We were looking for something a bit better and the closest was at Eulin Crossing so we back-tracked
a bit and took the unsealed road east.
Unfortunately the site isn't sign posted so the easy way to find it (coming via the southern route) is to go to the T junction, turn around and come back and
take the first road on the right.
The crossing itself was closed so on this occasion we had to take the southern route to get in.
This leads down to a nice little area by the Blackwood River where there is room for 4-5 campsites and most rigs would get in reasonably easily.
The weather was pretty horrible so we just stayed put and waited for it to clear.
The following morning the sky was nice and blue (for a while anyway) so get packed up and got moving.
We re-traced our route to Trigwell Bridge, even though there was a much quicker way out across the Eulin Crossing causeway.
I had neglected to take pictures at Trigwell when we had been there two days previously so that cost us a trip of about 20km instead of 4km.
We had a quick look at Lake Towerrinning and then continued north to Duranillin. This is one of the many tiny towns we pass through so we stopped for a toilet
break (great modern toilets by the way) and took a few photos.
We drove through Darkan and then stopped briefly at Six Mile Cottage that is 8km north of Darkan.
It is an example of an old slab-hut cottage that early settlers used and looking at it made me most grateful to be living in a time when accommodation has
improved a bit.
Six Mile Cottage
Just two rooms and both of those were tiny, this must have been hell in winter and summer. The pioneers were certainly made of stronger stuff than most of us
We rescued a lizard that had managed to get itself stuck in a big china dish and then continued west towards Collie.
The next stop was at Bowelling where the Collie to Darkan walk trail comes close to the Coalfields Highway. There is an lovely little railway station that has
been restored and is used by walkers on the trail.
Across the highway was Varis Road and not far along the road was the site of an old timber mill.
We had hoped that it might be a good overnight stop but the whole site is on the side of a hill and there wasn't much level ground. Lake Stockton was only a
few minutes away so we decided to head there instead.
The campsite at Stockton is run by DPaW to once again fees were payable. There are nice modern toilets and bins available and the lake is very pretty.
Unfortunately the water in the lake is a bit acidic so prolonged exposure is not advised and there may also be amoebic meningitis present so if swimming,
keep your head out of the water.
As the day wore on the weather improved and the sun made longer and longer appearances. We did get phone signal at Stockton.
We woke early to a cold and misty Lake Stockton.
Took an early morning trip out to Cardiff to get some pictures of the old hall and then headed back towards town.
Once the sun was up it was a nice warm day and we went into Collie to do some shopping, fuel up and pick up some water (There is a tap near visitor centre but you need
a tap key).
It was only a short drive west to Black Diamond Lake. We visited this site some time ago and it looked promising as an overnight stop. There were no NO CAMPING
signs in view so we settled in to wait the outcome.
Walking around the bush by the lake we found 4 different types of orchid.
Black Diamond Lake
We didn't get disturbed white at Black Diamond but I would certainly stay well away from that site on weekends. There is just too much evidence of idiots
using the site and leaving garbage everywhere despite the presence of bins.
We picked up two big bags of garbage and binned them while we were there but it would take a lot more effort to really clean the site up.
Broken glass is one of the biggest problems as it is all over the place.
Potter's Gorge was a mere 20 kilometres away so we left early and found a big enough site. There were a few other campers about but it certainly wasn't
The day use area at Potter's Gorge has been completed now so the whole site is available for visitors.
There are 50+ campsites but even that number would quickly fill up in peak season.
It has been a good trip despite the cold wet days that dogged us for while. We got to see almost all the areas we had planned to get to and we have shot
a ton of video footage for keep your eye on our YouTube channel in the coming weeks.
We are planning a short camping trip with the tent and 4x4 before Christmas so if the weather is good enough there should be some more videos being produced in the near future.
Updated October 2017