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The Birds Trip - South Coast



We drove south to Capel and stopped at the self-contained RV rest area (SCRVRA) overnight.

These rest areas are meant for SELF CONTAINED vehicles ONLY and that means they must have their own on-board toilets and black and grey water containment tanks. Unfortunately there are many vehicles using these rest stops that are not self-contained and there were even cars stopping overnight.

This will almost certainly lead to the sites like this being closed down.

 

Capel RV rest area

 

We got the bikes out and it was only a short ride to town to find the other RV facilities. These are located at a park behind the library and community centre.

There is a dump point and water pick-up BUT you have to phone the shire to get the combination for a lock on the dump point and you need a 4 way tap-top opener to use the drinking water tap. (Most hardware stores sell these and they are great to carry in your glove box.)

There are toilets, shelters, seats, tables and BBQs at this park so it is a very useful spot.

 

Capel RV dump point

 

We continued south to the an old mill site.

We had visited this site once before but had not looked closely at the accommodation that surrounds the mill.

This time we explored the site in much greater detail and found that the houses have been forced open and the vandals have been at work.

 

Old Timber Mill

 

As the site is no longer secured and it looks as though nobody is interested in preserving it, we took the opportunity to film as much of the old houses and the school building as we could.

It was so interesting that after a drive down to look at Forrest Beach, we came back and stopped the night in order to make sure we didn't miss anything as there is no telling how long these buildings will continue to exist.

 

Forrest Beach

 

Moved on to Busselton and found that Woolies have now moved across the road and Aldi have a store in town.

We went to the jetty with hopes of perhaps taking the train out and going to see the underwater observatory to do some filming but at $68, that little trip was out of our range, so we had to content ourselves with just filming the land end of the jetty.

 

Busselton Jetty

 

Our camp for the night was Cambray Siding where we were the only campers.

Despite to upcoming Labour Day long weekend, Cambray remained peaceful and quiet so we stayed the day.

The pools were much lower than they had been on our first visit but the river had now stopped flowing and the lack of accessibility to the water may have accounted for the lack of other campers.

It suited us fine so we just enjoyed the sounds of the birds and the wind in the trees.

NO phone signal here.

 

Cambray

 

The next day the long weekend was in full swing and an 'event' had blocked entry to the dump-point at Nannup when we arrived. Somewhat peeved we kept going as there was another dump-point at Manjimup.

We arrived to find that a farmer's market was blocking access to that dump-point and on top of that, all the long vehicle parking bays had been taken up by selfish car drivers who obviously don't give a damn about how hard it is for larger vehicles to find parking.

The authorities responsible for setting these facilities up need to actually start enforcing the rules if they want travellers to stop and contribute some money to the local economy.

I did rather a lot of swearing to myself and drove out of town.

 

Manjimup

 

Muir Highway was the fastest route to where we wanted to go so we (yet again) missed out of going down to see the new facilities at Shannon campsite and also missed out of Fernhook Falls camp.

In the end it turned out that we did eventually get to these spots during the trip but that comes a bit later.

Rocky Gully was a good stop off for lunch as there are toilets and water available.

 

Rocky Gully rest area

 

From there we continued east to Mount Barker where we made use of the 24 hour SCRVRA for the night.

There is a lot of room and it is right in the middle of town so is perfect for travellers who want to stop and enjoy the town's facilities.

One word of caution, the rail line runs RIGHT BEHIND the rest area and the trains DO RUN AT NIGHT. There were 4 trains that came through when we were there so don't expect to get an uninterrupted nights sleep.

Even so it is a good stop and there is a dump-point and water pick-up at the tourist centre on the other side of the railway (access from Albany Hwy.).

Of course being in town there was no trouble with phone reception.

 

Mount Barker Visitor Centre

 

Refueled at the unmanned fuel stop in Mount Barker only to find that the roadhouse on Albany Hwy. heading north was a bit cheaper.

We took Woogenilup Road east toward Chester Pass Road and passed a nice looking old abandoned farm house and an old hall at the Chester Pass T junction. We should have stopped and photographed both but we didn't and the same was the case with The Lily windmill and Borden.

It was a bit of a depressing day for one reason or another and I just lost the mood to do anything but keep going.

We also skipped Ongerup and only stopped to refuel at Jerramungup before stopping for the day at Fitzgerald.

As far as filming and getting anything useful, that day was a complete waste of time.

 

Fitzgerald old school oval

 

After a nice quiet night at Fitzgerald we continued east to Ravensthorpe where we refueled and filled up water before heading south to Hopetoun.

We found that the coastal road was closed and were told it was due to flooding over a year ago.

Hopetoun does have a 48 hour SCRVRA that we did think about using on the way home but in the end, we decided to make use of it on another trip.

 

Hopetoun self-contained RV rest area

 

We went north a few kilometres to Springdale Road and then followed the unsealed road to the Mason Bay turn off.

Mason Bay Road turned out to be very corrugated and we got a bit of a shaking before we finally arrived at the coast.

To try and keep dust out of the back of the Coaster we had sealed up as many areas as we could with masking tape. It wasn't 100% effective but there was much less mess in the vehicle than usual considering the dry dusty state of the roads.

The wind was very strong and we had to bring the awning down overnight to stop it banging around and keeping us awake.

The wind was still howling in from the south east but the beach was sheltered enough to throw a line in and do some fishing.

There were whiting in the shallows but they were not at all interested in taking our bait. We tried a couple of times during the rising tide but it was the same old story.

Mason Bay is a very nice campsite and has good facilities including toilets, dump-point, communal skip bin and there are a number of shady sites for those who want to get out of the sun. We tend to pick a more open site to get enough solar power.

Site fees for Mason Bay are $10 per night per site. Dogs are allowed and generators are also permitted. We didn't get an internet signal here but our external aerial had died so we may have managed to get one if that had been working.

There were enough birds to keep Dorothy happily snapping away with the camera for most of the day but unfortunately no new species to add to our collection.

 

Our campsite at Mason Bay

 

We moved from Mason Bay to Starvation Boat Harbour that is only about 9km east.

The site we got last time was vacant again so we moved in but by mid-morning it was apparent that the weather was really warming up and before lunch time we put the air-conditioner on.

There was never a real itinerary for this trip, only a general plan to get to Starvation Bay. Since we have now arrived it is time to start thinking about which way we want to head home.

 

Starvation Bay

 

Originally the route was going to be via Lake King and Dumbleyung but that changed thanks to the warmer weather.

We decided it would be more comfortable to go via the south coast and back through Margaret River.

A loooong day's drive back to Hopetoun, Ravensthorpe, Jerramungup, Ongerup (yes we did drop in this time) and then we stopped overnight at the sports ground at Borden.

 

Ongerup

 

This is another SCRVRA and there are no facilities. An alternate site in town is the rest area opposite the general store where there is water, toilets and bins available.

As it was in town, Telstra phone signal was very good and we were able to get internet.

 

Borden sports centre

 

It was a nice quiet night behind the sports oval and plan 'A' was to head straight for Albany to stock up on some supplies.

Along the way we passed Moingup Springs campsite (DPaW) and since we had never been in to have a look before, we decided to see what it was like.

It is a small site with places for about 7 tent based vehicles and 4 caravans. The caravan sites were clearly marked 'CARAVANS ONLY' but that didn't stop some selfish tent based campers taking up a caravan site when there was still plenty of tent sites available.

 

Moingup Spring campsite

 

Eventually the inevitable happened and a caravan pulled in wanting a site and could not get in.

If a site is marked CARAVANS ONLY it is marked that way to allow people with bigger vehicles to have the chance of getting a site. It is very disappointing to see just how self-centred some campers can be.

The campsite was very pleasant and is set under tall shady trees. There is a brick ablution building with flushing toilets, some BBQs, Seats and tables and some tank water that is signposted 'Not for drinking'.

Even though the campsite is right next to Chester Pass Road, there isn't much traffic at night and it was very quiet.

Normal DPaW rules apply such as fees, no dogs and generators are allowed at this site. There was no phone signal at Moingup though.

 

View from Moingup

 

We headed into Albany and along the way, we found a nice large rest area at Napier Creek. This was once part of the main road but since it was realigned some time in the past, the rest area was developed and there are some seats and tables but nothing else.

It was sad to see that many people are using the far end of the rest area (near the creek) as an open air toilet. The rest of the site was in pretty good condition but I would not recommend parking at the far end due to the filth being left there by inconsiderate travellers.

 

Napier Creek

 

We wanted to do some shopping in Albany but arrived to find that Coles and Woolies don't open on Sundays.

It wasn't a big deal though as there was a great Supa-IGA on North Road. It wasn't all that easy to find a parking spot for the Coaster at these shops but we were glad we made the effort and went in.

The IGA had all sorts of interesting goodies that you don't often see and there was also a good little Asian grocery store in the same complex, so we managed to leave behind a big wad of cash before heading out to Torbay Inlet.

Albany has always been a very progressive place when it comes to camping and 20 years ago we first stayed at the campsite at Torbay Inlet.

It is still there and still FREE! There is a 7 day limit and there is a toilet and rubbish bins. Dogs are allowed on a lead and generators are permitted.

It is a small campsite with just 9 sites. This becomes a problem later in the day as the 'rental mob' arrives and starts to park in non-camping places and in some cases even block in, legally parked campers.

We did see a ranger patrol come through but it was too early in the day to catch all the illegal parking and we do think it would be a good idea to do a patrol after 6pm when most of the rentals turn up.

 

Torbay Inlet campsite

 

It was a very short drive in the morning to reach Cosy Corner East as this is via the next turn south along Lower Denmark Road.

This is another 7 day FREE site that has toilets, seats, tables, rubbish bins, some shady sites and even a black water dump point. There is a water tank but no signs about whether the water is drinkable or not.

As it is right next to the beach, Cosy Corner is possibly the most popular site in the area. If you want to get in, then arrive early, wait at the entrance until someone pulls out and then grab the vacated site. That is exactly what we did and we got a great spot in the large are to the left as you drive in.

The second section (heading straight on) is more suited to camper vans and tents.

 

Cosy Corner

 

The weather started to change during the day and by evening it was obvious that rain was on the way.

We were up early the next day and packed up between the increasing showers. A quick visit to the dump point before making our way to Denmark to fill the water tanks and re-stock some supplies that were running low.

There is a little church Op-Shop in Denmark that we had been to a couple of times before and we dropped in to see if there was anything interesting.

 

Church op-shop

 

I picked up a book, 'Wrong Way Round' by Lorna Hendry. It would turn out to be a really entertaining read about a family who had travelled Australia by 4x4 and camper trailer going clockwise (Ie. What is traditionally thought of as going the wrong way - just like we did from 1997-2001.)

From Denmark the road becomes hilly and twisty, just the kind of terrain the Coaster detests but there was nothing for it but to keep going and look for places to let the motorists that got stranded behind us as we crawled up hills, pass.

Plan 'A' was to stop at the DPaW Shannon campsite for the night. That plan evaporated once we saw what a huge mess the place was. DPaW have developed some really lovely campsites but this certainly isn't one of them.

 

Shannon

 

People who love camping in the bush want to do just that, but this clear-felled, treeless, lifeless place looked just like a caravan park had been transported into the middle of the forest.

Two years back a bushfire damaged the original campsite at Shannon and I would have thought the best thing to do would have been to modernise and replace what had once been there.

The new campsite STILL isn't finished and even when it is, the place is going to be a stark, barren, ugly blot on the landscape. I don't know what DPaW were thinking when they embarked on this nightmare of a campsite plan.

Part of the old campsite was still operating but everything was just messy and ugly so we pressed on to Northcliffe.

Just 4km from Northcliffe we had been told of a place called Sid's Camp. Everyone said it was a great spot and had hot showers, toilets, camp kitchen and a few powered sites.

 

Sids Camp

 

Most of the place was free-form camping in the forest and at just $5 per person per night (power is extra) it was too much of a bargain to pass up.

It turned out to be every bit as good as people had told us. It is situated on a lovely big bush block and there are several walk trails to explore.

We were too tired to do anything the day we arrived so that would have to wait until the next day.

The rain has pretty well stopped so we did some exploring and seeing a sign saying 'short walk - 800m' we followed what we thought was the correct route through the bush.

There were wildflowers including fan-flowers, swamp bottle brush, kangaroo paw and others still blooming and as we walked we found a series of small dams.

 

Sids Camp

 

On we went until it became quite apparent that this was NOT the short 800m walk. We had already reached the point of no return, where you feel that pushing on could not be as bad as turning back, so on we went, on and on and on....

We saw signs pointing back the way we had come so we reasoned that we were on 'a' walk trail, just not the on we had intended to be on.

Eventually we did arrive back at camp to find that we had done the long walk trail backwards. Now here is the hint for anyone doing the walk trails at Sid's. The signs seem very clear, the long walk goes to the left after the dam, the short trail goes to the right, BUT, there are two trails on the right. We had taken the one a little to the left when we should have taken the one going directly right.

The trail a little left, is the returning trail for the long walk. It turned out to be a great walk anyway, even though we were pretty stuffed by the time we had finished.

Later in the day we got the bikes out and also did the short trail and what is called the 'house trail'. The long trail had been by far the most interesting but they were all good and I would love to come back when the wildflowers are in full bloom here.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and enjoying the natural surroundings and mostly recovering from all that unaccustomed exercise.

 

Sids Camp

 

There is good Telstra signal at Sid's Camp for anyone who needs to keep in touch with the outside world.

We thought about going to Windy Harbour after Sid's but at $20 a night (un-powered) it was just too much and too far in the wrong direction. After all, we had been there once before.

After stopping briefly in Northcliffe to refuel and take some pictures we turned north towards Pemberton and then north-west toward Nannup.

The roads continued to be hilly and winding. A lovely drive in an ordinary vehicle but a bit of an effort in the sluggish old Coaster.

At Stewart Road we turned west again and on to a lovely STRAIGHT road. What a joy it was to finally be free of the bends and never-ending hills.

We dropped in to have a look at the Alexandra Bridge Campsite. It is a lovely spot but I would never stay there again on weekends or public holidays as it is the favourite haunt of yobbos and drunks who love to make noise all night long.

It was Friday and was already packed. The campsite has been modified and apparently there are now only 21 sites. The old sites near the river have been closed and a new toilet block erected.

 

Alexandra Bridge Campsite

 

The sites are all crammed together and we just don't like the new caravan park style of cramming campers together with no privacy at all.

On top of that, $10 per person per night is just a bit more than we want to spend for this sort of campsite.

Our target for the day was Jarrahdene campsite. This is a new site recently opened by DPaW and all the usual National Park rules apply,

The campsite is buried quite deep in the forest and there are three loops plus a group camping site.

We had heard that the best sites for big vehicles were from site 29 upward (Barque Loop) but it seems as though there are a scattering of bigger sites in each loop.

There is washing water available at the toilets and camp kitchens, there are free BBQs at the camp kitchens and fire rings at individual sites. Fire bans in place when we visited meant that no open fires could be lit but during the cooler months it is possible to have fires in the rings and some wood was being provided when we visited.

Generators are allowed at this campsite which was just as well for us as we were getting virtually no solar due to the cloudy skies and shade from the trees.

Telstra phone reception is available and this was handy as we had not pre-booked a site - yes, this is another DPaW site where you have to pay online.

There is also a dump point on the way out of the campsite so the facilities provided are very good and unlike Shannon, this is bush camping at its best.

 

Jarrahdene campsite

 

After what tuned out to be the coldest night of the tip we were happy to get going and head north into warmer weather.

By the time we reached the north end of 'the capes' area the sky was blue and the cloudy weather vanished in the rear view mirror.

Our last night was to be at Belvidere campsite on the west side of the Leschenault Estuary.

This is yet another DPaW site and has bins, toilets and is set close to the estuary. There is a day use area with BBQ, seats and tables and there are small wood BBQs in the camp areas but we were there during the time of year when open fires are banned.

The road in (off the end of Buffalo Road) was a bit corrugated but not too bad.

There are a good selection of campsites with some, such as 15 and 18 being suitable for even large caravans.

As we arrived on Sunday there were a number of vacant sites but this place is close to Bunbury so getting a site on Friday or Saturday would probably mean arriving early most summer weekends and the place would be packed on public holidays.

The first time we visited this campsite it was the height of summer and it seemed like a fly-blown hell-hole and we fled with barely a quick look round. Now in better weather and without the swarms of flies, it proved to be a very pleasant campsite.

There is beach access for those with 4x4 vehicles but as we only had the Coaster it wasn't an option on this trip.

 

Belvidere

 

We were up early and back home before 9am. There wasn't much point in delaying the inevitable return to the suburbs and over-all it had been a pretty good trip.

We hadn't visited many places that were new but we did stay a campsites (like Cosy Corner and Belvidere) that we had never stayed at before.

The trip didn't have a theme or much of a plan when we left home but it developed a theme as we travelled. This will be remembered as 'The Bird Trip' since we saw so many bird species along the way and even managed to photograph 5 new species to add to our collection.

 

 

Updated March 2018

Go to the next blog installment Go to the next blog installment

 

 

Places in travel order

Bunbury

Capel

Busselton

Nannup

Manjimup

Rocky Gully

Mount Barker

Borden

Ongerup

Jerramungup

Ravensthorpe

Hopetoun

Mason Bay

Starvation Boat Harbour

Albany

Denmark

Shannon

Northcliffe

Alexandra Bridge Campsite

Australind

 

Southern Emu Wren
Western yellow robin
Red eared firetail finch
Scarlet robin

 

 

 

 

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