The first order of business was to head over and finish loading up the Coaster and then load the kayak on top of the trailer.
That took an hour or more and then it was finally time to head off and hope that on this trip, the Coaster would behave itself.
The drive was fairly straight forward. Out to Pinjarra, up into the hills, through Dwellingup and then finally to Boddington.
The RV rest area can accommodate about 6 rigs and there were a couple of spaces when we got there.
After a quick lunch it was time to explore the town.
Boddington was always a place we passed through quickly and to be honest, there was never much to see.
Well all that has now changed. The caravan park has been upgraded and the area alongside the river has been turned into a beautiful park with an amazing playground for children.
The facilities are excellent and there are BBQs and shelters along the river making it a very attractive place to sit, relax and enjoy the view.
A weir helps keep up the river level so that there is a lot more water that there would be without it.
As we were there in October, the river was still flowing strongly and the river level was nice and high.
Walking through town we spotted various interesting sculptures and it seems that the former sculpture park has now been split up and the various items have been scattered through the town.
It is an interesting challenge to see how many of these interesting sculptures you can find. When we checked later we discovered that we had missed quite a few.
In the evening there was a bit of a social gathering with the other motorhomers and it turned into a shared meal and was a really enjoyable time that reminded me of time spent many years ago when we were on the road full-time.
Because we run most of our trips to a schedule and look for quiet places to stay in order to be able to film more easily, it is rare these days to stop in a place where there are other like minded campers who love to share stories about their travels.
We didn't hurry away but still managed to be on the road soon after 9am.
We had a choice of routes. Either head a little north and get on to the Albany Highway and then go south east to Williams or back-track a bit and head down the Pinjarra-Williams road through Quindanning.
We chose the latter option as there would be less traffic and a more relaxed drive.
As Quindanning consists of little more than a church, a hotel and a hall, we didn't stop but continued on to Williams.
We considered refuelling but as prices were $2+ we thought we would hang on and hope to find something a bit cheaper in Narrogin.
By 11am we had arrived at the Narrogin Railway Dam. This is a self-contained RV rest area that allows a maximum of ten rigs and has a maximum stay of 72 hours.
Narrogin Railway Dam
Dogs are allowed and there are nice BBQ and picnic facilities including large shelters.
The site does slope quite a bit so finding a level spot can be more challenging for motorhomes than for caravans but there was only one other van when we pulled in so it didn't take long to find a suitable place.
There is a nice walk trail around the dam and there were a number of birds but we didn't discover much in the way of wildflowers.
The only no-no at the site is swimming in the dam. That is a bit of a shame because the water does look rather inviting when the weather gets a bit warmer.
After a cold night (2 doonas!) and a late start due to the joy of a nice warm bed, we went north into Narrogin town centre to visit the RV rest area by the railway line.
Nowhere near as attractive as the dam but there was a black water dump point and potable water so we made use of those facilities before visiting the Shell station to refuel.
Then it was south towards Wagin and along the way we went through Highbury where there is another RV overnight stop at the rest area.
I can't say this would be preferable to the dam at Narrogin but if you are looking for something and the dam is full (10 rig limit) then this could be a good alternative. Highbury does have the advantage of a toilet at the rest area and a pub just over the road.
We continued to Wagin (check out the historic village there if you have time) and then further south to the turn off to Lake Norring.
There seems to be a real lack of good information when it comes to finding the campsites at Norring so I will repeat here how we got there.
We went south along the Great Southern Highway (what a joke calling this road a highway!) to Lime Lake Road West where we turned right (west) and followed the main unsealed road to a T junction where Lime Lake Road goes right (west) and Andrews Road goes straight ahead (south).
We followed Andrews Road to a gravel road leading right (look for a sign showing information about a walk trail). Follow this road straight (past the farm road on the right) to the campsite right by the lake.
This area is used by water skiers and there are boat launching facilities. There are a number of older disused buildings and some new shelters and a new long drop dunny. The toilet wasn't exactly clean but it was usable.
The area by the lake it large and will accommodate just about any rig. At the time we visited all the access roads were in good condition.
If you were to continue straight on along Andrews Road you will come to another old recreation area that is now unused. There are some shelters but now usable toilet.
There isn't as much room but there are still some nice spots right by the lake.
Hopefully these instructions will help you find these sites as we initially had a bit of a problem and overshot the main campsite.
Only one other van pulled in while we were there but as the wind was blowing strongly, there was no chance on the first day to get the kayak out or send the drone up.
Facilities at this site include the long drop toilet, seats and a table, shelters and a bin. The older buildings are now disused but what looks like an old boat club building could be useful in wet weather even though some of the roof is missing.
Any hopes that the weather would improve were quickly dashed as the wind howled like a demon and the rain poured down in sheets so dense that the other side of the lake vanished from view several times.
By mid-afternoon the bad weather was lifting and we decided we had been at Lake Norring long enough. After a quick pack up we headed off to have a look at Norring south campsite.
The area is quite limited at Norring south but at least the facilities have been replaced after many years of being completely absent.
There is a toilet, shelter seats and tables but still the lack of space at this site makes it difficult if there are other campers already there.
We had decided to head to Queeraecup Lake and had to go a rather round-a -bout way to get there as Queerarecup Road from the north does not go thorough to the campsite on the south side of the lake.
Although we had visited the campsite many years ago, we had forgotten just what a sloping site it is and it took some time to find a place that was even close to level.
Other than that the facilities at Queerarecup are good with several seats and tables with shelters, two BBQs and two toilets plus untreated tank water and bins. There is also a boat ramp as this is another skiing lake.
There is Telstra signal but it isn't strong and internet access is quite dodgy. We did have good signal at Norring north.
After doing some filming and photography I settled down to download and edit the latest footage.
I was part way though editing some still shots when the computer froze and on re-booting I discovered that YET ANOTHER Seagate portable hard drive had failed!
I had been slack and hadn't yet backed anything up so ALL out footage and ALL our photos from that past few days of this trip is now stuck on a drive that I cannot access.
My own stupid fault for not backing up earlier but really heartbreaking to lose so much from this trip. My only hope is that Seagate will come to the rescue as the did once before and try to recover the stranded files for us.
I was in the process of removing a micro SD card from the Gopro we use to film through the windscreen of the Coaster as we drive when the card got stuck. I tapped the Gopro on the table and the card shot out and promptly VANISHED!
We have pulled the rear section of the Coaster to bits trying to find out where it went but so far, we have had no luck so even more footage is also currently beyond our grasp.
To say this had been a really crap day would be an understatement!
Even if we do manage to recover the footage from the Seagate drive, it will be a long drawn out process so this series is now likely to be held up for some time and may end up only being partially completed.
We spent a rest day at Queerarecup Lake and the weather continued to be unpleasant. The wind and heavy showers continued almost until evening but we did manage to get the Weber out and cook a roast pork lunch.
There was little else to do than take pictures of birds when the weather allowed and mostly relax in the Coaster the rest of the time.
The plan to move on was to visit halls at Boscobel and Changerup and then head over to Zulu's Patch. If that was unoccupied we would spend the night there and if it is occupied we would probably go to Eulin Crossing.
After that we would need to visit a town and the closest would be Boyup Brook to refill the water tanks.
A really early start saw us up and away very quickly. Queerarecup Lake is a lovely spot but the wind and rain hadn't let up since we arrived and we were just keen to get moving to a new location.
The clouds hadn't quite given up but at least there were some patches of blue appearing as we made our way to Kenmare Hall.
We visited the old hall once before but I didn't take any video and I'm not sure if we went inside.
This hall is open to the public and has some interesting historic information for those who would like to know more about it.
I was rather taken by a photograph of the first teacher at the Kenmare school. She had been there from 1921 to 1924 so she was teaching there 100 years ago! What a different world she would have seen and how amazed would she have been if she saw all the modern gadgets we travel with today.
Kenmare has a public toilet and I will always remember it is the place I saw toilet paper with Tony Abbot's and Julia Gillard's faces on it.
Our next stop was at Martup rest area on Albany Highway. We have stopped in before on our way to Albany and I think we even had lunch there once. I had no idea that there was a great little campsite hidden away on a track that leads along the river.
As I wasn't sure just what the track was like I walked it before we took the Coaster in but it was fine and would be suitable for most vehicles. There was one rather deep muddy pool but the Coaster made short work of it even though the mud left a number of reminders of its presence on the sides of our bus.
The campsite is at a spot marked on the map as Woodanilling Pool. It is far enough back from Albany Highway for road noise to be less of an issue and with the river level up, it is a very attractive location.
The track is supposed to continue on to Robinson West Road but we decided to go out the way we had come in, just in case.
Driving south on Albany Highway we discovered that what was once Creepy Hollow has now reverted to a normal roadhouse so we stopped for fuel and grabbed a couple of ham and cheese toasties.
Just north of the Boscabel rest area we turned west and followed the road to Boscabel Hall.
The old hall is looking a bit sad these days but it would make a good overnight stop.
The toilets were not working when we visited so I'm not sure if this is temporary or if they are permanently out of commission now.
Almost hidden nearby is a shed that used to act as the local tennis club. It could be useful as a place to sit and relax during wet weather and it is still in reasonably good condition.
There is an occupied house near to the shed so that may account for the lack of vandalism at this site.
There is plenty of space around the hall and behind it for anyone wanting to stop overnight.
The last place we wanted to investigate for the day was Changerup Hall. This is a little south west of Boscabel and is a more substantial brick hall.
Sadly there were signs of some vandalism at this hall and it looked uncared for and abandoned.
A note pinned to the front door said there was nothing inside and asked people to respect the old building. Hopefully the hall will be left alone and no further damage will be done to it.
There is a lot of flat ground around the hall suitable for an overnight stop but the toilets are not in use and locked up.
Nearby is a small river so this site is nicely in step with the theme of this trip which is Lakes and Rivers.
It was now time to head for our campsite for the night. We had planned to stay at Zulu's Patch if it was unoccupied but there was already someone using it when we arrived and there is only room for one rig.
We continued a short distance to Eulin Crossing and found a nice spot with a view of the river.
The sun started peeking out and the temperature was rising so this was my first chance to get the kayak down and go for a paddle.
It is nice and easy to get the kayak off the trailer and it wasn't long before I paddling away up the big pool that by some accounts if 4 kilometres long.
Dorothy was busy photographing birds and the afternoon quickly turned to evening.
Back the yak went on the trailer and I settled down to download the days footage and pics and settle in for the night.
Eulin Crossing is known as a bit of a hoon hang-out on weekends so we were glad we were there mid-week.
There is good Telstra signal (there was very poor signal at Queerarecup) but unfortunately there were also a few friendly mosquitoes. Even though most of our stops this trip have been near water, mozzies haven't been a real hassle until now and even at Eulin, they weren't a big problem.
The only facility at the campsite is a bench seat and table set in one corner near the river. There are about 5 good spots to camp and a track has been extended to a point near the river crossing road so there are now two entries and exits to the site, not just the road up the hill as there was the last time we stopped here.
After another early start we stopped in Boyup Brook to have a quick look around and to pick up some supplies from the local IGA.
We also dropped in to the tourist info centre and picked up some brochures and enquired about where to get water to fill up the tanks in the Coaster.
Water is available free of charge from the caravan park and we felt as though Boyup Brook was a really friendly place with a great attitude towards travellers.
We have earmarked it as a place to come back and explore properly next year as the area seems interesting, there are a number of free campsites and the wildflowers are plentiful.
After finishing everything we had to do in Boyup, we drove north west on the Donnybrook road and then turned east at Macalinden Road. Eventually we reached a small (make that tiny) hall and dropped in just to check it out.
The hall was fenced off but the gate wasn't locked so we went through to get some pictures.
The hall seems to be disused and the toilets are no longer working but it was next to a small river so we are continuing to find places that align with the intention of our trip.
From the hall it was north towards Collie and to our destination for the day, Lake Kepwari.
This is a DPaW campsite with very good facilities. We were booked in to site 21 which is a nice big campsite right next to one of the many toilet blocks.
There is a big boat ramp and a boat parking area that is huge. I can't imagine how crowded the lake would be if there were enough boats to fill the boat trailer car park.
The first camping area sees as though it is for tents and the one further on (closer to the boat ramp) seems to be set up for caravans and motorhomes.
There is a day use area past the boat ramp away from the campsites but no real provision is made for wheelchair access from the car park. Anyone who wants to use the picnic and BBQ facilities by the lake and has to use a wheelchair needs to be dropped of at the boat ramp where there is a path leading to the first picnic area.
The only problem is, there is then no access from the picnic area to the beach. A bit of a lack of though in the design here I think.
Generally though it is an impressive campground with good facilities and a lot of room.
Unusually for DPaW campsites, dogs on a leash are permitted here. There is also Telstra signal.
We were tossing up which campsite to head to next but the only real option seemed to be Lake Stockton.
In the past we have avoided this site on weekends due to poor behaviour and noise from other campers but since there wasn't another great alternative in the area we thought we would give it a go and hope for the best.
As Stockton is only a few kilometres from Kepwari we weren't in a big hurry and had a last wander along the beach at Kepwari before heading off.
We arrived at Stockton mid-morning and it was pretty much as we remembered it. The toilets were clean and there was quite a bit of room and we quickly found a nice spot by the shore of the lake.
Stockton is a bit unusual due to the chemicals in the water giving it a vivid blue colour. From personal experience in the past I know that long exposure to the water (swimming too long) can make your skin start to tingle and not in a very pleasant way.
Boating on the lake is still permitted and there is a boat launching area (of sorts).
We had a good walk around the campsite and discovered that there is an area available for camping that we had never seen before.
Following the entry road past the camping area on the far side of the lake and then turning right up the hill will bring you to a bush campsite that also has toilets and a skip bin.
This seems to be the area where the 'noisy crowd' hangs out as there was loud music from that direction at night but thankfully the main campsite was reasonably quiet.
Stockton is another DPaW site but dogs are permitted on a leash and the usual camping fees are charged.
It is refreshing to spend a Friday night there with a lot of other campers in the main campsite and still be able to sleep ate a reasonably time with no disturbance.
Saturday morning was the opportunity to head into Collie and have a look around the main shopping area.
The first port of call was the visitor centre where there is a black water dump point, bins, long vehicle parking and drinking water is available when the visitor centre is open. A gold coin donation for water taken is requested and a tap key is needed to open the tap.
We discovered the Good Shed market was on and ended up buying a few things before continuing our wander around town.
On our way back we passed the railway heritage workshops just as one of the volunteers was going in to get an item he needed. The workshops are usually closed on Saturdays but he asked if we would like a quick look round and we gratefully accepted.
There is some very interesting rolling stock in the workshops that have been, or are in the process of, being restored.
A huge amount a work goes in to restoring the engines and carriages and before we left we put a small donation in the box to do our bit to help with the costs involved.
Outside the shed there is more rolling stock and inside the Good Shed markets is a dining car that has been converted into a restaurant.
The cafe opens every second Sunday (check this!) and is staffed by volunteers who help raise funds for heritage projects.
Again we were lucky as one of the volunteers happened to be at the markets and let us have a quick look inside the dining car.
She mentioned that the breakfasts available are huge and really worth having so we were a little sad that we would not be in town on Sunday when the cafe opened.
After we finished looking around town we headed back to the visitor centre as just across the road is the Collie Museum.
I had been told many times by many people to check out the museum and I am glad I finally got round to doing so.
There are a lot of exhibits but the one that probably made the most impact on me was seeing an XT computer and a Star dot matrix colour printer in the museum. It really makes you feel ancient when the gear you used to write software on turns up in a museum!
The museum was every bit as good as I had been told so it was great to tick that off my 'to do' list.
It was then time to head out to the southern end of Wellington Dam as it is still possible to free camp along the shore of the lake.
As I don't really know that area that well yet and we were in to Coaster, we just made for the area at Grapevine Creek off Blackbutt Road.
None of the roads in the forest actually have signs as far as we can tell but we used Wikicamps to guide us in.
There was no problem getting the Coaster in and there were a number of other campers scattered around the lake already.
I had been waiting to get to this area with the kayak for a long time so as soon as we were set up, off the trailer came the kayak and I was off for a paddle.
The water was nice and flat and there was no wind so it was very enjoyable.
On checking for phone signal we found that neither Telstra or Optus was available so it was just a matter of settling in and enjoying the view.
Sunday was another day of high wind and a lot of cloud.
Despite the wind I did manage to get out in the kayak again and try to get some underwater footage with one of the GoPros.
Sadly the water was just too murky to get much more than an odd fuzzy tree stump and certainly not the fish I had hoped to capture on film.
All the weekenders gradually packed up and headed home and we were left with the ideal peace and quiet you can only seem to get when there are no other people around.
The wind kept up all day but settled once the sun went down so I did manage to get a decent campfire going and I spent some time contemplating the flames and the front of me roasted while my back froze! I loved being outside and listening to the chorus of frogs croaking away by the shore.
Fuel was running a bit low so we stopped and put a drop of diesel in at Dardanup and winced at the $2.32 a litre price tag.
Bloody fuel companies are simply greedy and always price gouging.
We stopped off at Harvey Cheese on the way north and ended up spending more than we had expected but then, that is usually the case when we visit these sort of places.
We had planned to drop in to Stirling Cottage as we usually do but there is ONLY one long vehicle parking bay and since it was occupied, we just kept on going.
A bit north of Harvey we noticed a sign pointing down Honeymoon Road stating that there was a wildflower and picnic area. As we have time to spare we decided to have a look and after a bit of a crawl up a large hill we reached a small parking area (just big enough to turn the Coaster round in) and went for a walk down the trail.
We could see part of Harvey Weir in the valley below and it would be interesting to come back and check out the tracks leading towards it that we could see from the parking area.
After walking down past the wood fire pit and the picnic tables we came out to a spot that gave a really beautiful view along the valley and we were happy that we had decided to come up and have a look.
The view alone was worth it and there were also some nice wildflowers and the track had marker signs indicating that there was probably a lot more of it that we walked.
It was about mid-morning when we arrived at Drakesbrook Dam. This is another 24 hour RV rest area and it normally has flushing toilets available. This time the toilets were undergoing some maintenance so there were a couple of porta loo style toilets on one side of the parking area.
Drakesbrook is a particularly pretty place and the shelters, picnic tables, seats, lighting and bins make it very popular.
There is a short walk at the right side of the car park that commemorates the re-introduction of the noisy scrub bird to the area 72 years after it was believed to be extinct. Unfortunately there is no indication whether the re-introduction was successful or not.
There was nothing much left to do on the last day but to pack up and head home.
The Coaster had behaved itself (finally) and despite the failure of a Seagate portable hard drive that locked up 3 days of photos and footage, the overall trip had been a good one.
Updated October 2022