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CAMPING IN THE SOUTH WEST



We got off to a fairly early start and packed the last bits and pieces in to the Coaster.

The weather was warm and sunny and we made good time getting to Busselton by about 10:30am.

We wanted to check out Vasse Village shopping centre as we had never been in there before but we did have some difficulty finding parking big enough for the Coaster.

You would think that in a touristy area someone would have planned things a bit better and provided some big rig parking. After a bit of searching we did find a spot to park down a side road.

We bought some things that would have been much better for our health to have left on the shelf and then continued south through Cowaramup to the turn off to Olive Hill Farm at Osmington Road.

Just past the brewery on the right was the unsealed road we were looking for - Bramley River Road.

We selected a site, had some lunch and then dropped the trailer off before going for a bit of an explore further along Osmington Road.

Eventually we found ourselves at Rosa Brook and decided to finally make the effort to stop and have a look in the little shop that we had driven past so many times.

The shop has a lovely old world feel to it with all sorts of (not for sale) memorabilia scattered around the shelves.

 

Rosa Brook Store
Rosa Brook Store

 

We bought some jerky and some local chocolate ginger and then continued west to the turn off to Ten Mile Dam.

The dam is thought to have been named as being 10 miles from the coast and there is a pleasant picnic area with free BBQ, seats, tables and a shelter.

There are a couple of options for walk trails with the longest heading all the way to Rotary Park in Margaret River town. This is said to take three hours one way and there is another shorter loop you can take but there was no information on just how long that is expected to compplete.

 

Ten Mile Brook
Ten Mile Brook Walk

 

By this time it was getting to be late afternoon and after a quick walk and a look around the picnic facilities we made our way back to the campsite at Olive Hill.

We had a quick chat to the camp hosts and found that Covid19 was still having a detrimental effect in the area and the sampling of haggis, the sale of products made on the farm and the get togethers and game sessions that had been a feature of our last visit some years ago had all been put on hold.

With nothing much else to do we settled down to cook dinner and got on with some housekeeping chores such as downloading footage, charging batteries and updating this journal.

Being a Sunday morning we were in no hurry to get up and go anywhere so it was a rather slow start to the day and it was 10 am before we were ready to do anything.

We decided on a walk down to the river through what once was a lovely woodland. Thanks to the stupidity of the local shire, most of the trees that used to surround the walk have now been cut down because they were a 'fire hazard'. What an utter load of nonsense. There are stands of bush all around the area that are much more dense than these plantation trees and yet nothing is done about cutting those down! The utter stupidity of local councils just boggles my mind sometimes.

Anyway we made our way down through this now rather barren and decimated landscape to the river and then followed the fence line to a gazebo where Dorothy tried in vain to get photos of the varigated (or red wing?) wrens that there darting in and out of the bushes.

 

River at Olive Hill Farm
River at Olive Hill Farm

 

It would have been a good idea to take a picnic lunch down to the river but we didn't think about that until we got there.

By the time we got back to the campsite it was already past lunch time so we settled for a coffee and a piece of cheesecake that we had bought at Vasse Village.

Although we could have gone out somewhere in the afternoon we decided to continue just relaxing and enjoying the peace and quiet of the farm.

The first things to get done on day three were the chores. First of those was a visit to the black water dump point in Margaret River. This is just off of Walcliffe Road heading west from town and it is sign posted.

There was some construction going on but the dump point was still in operating but the water refill station was nowhere to be seen.

We needed a few items from the shops so it was off to Woolies and then we went south to Karridale to fuel up.

With all that done we went west along Brockman Highway to Alexandra Bridge.

This is a very popular campsite and has good facilities.

Luckily a few vans had just pulled out and we settled in on site 18.

 

Alexandra Bridge Campsite
Alexandra Bridge Campsite

 

The cost is $10 per adult per night and as the facilities include drinking water, flushing toilets, seats, shelters and a free BBQ, it is worth the money.

We did all the filming we needed to do and had intended to stay for 2 nights but one of Dorothy's fillings fell out and as there was no phone reception at the campsite we decided to cut the stay short so that she could phone the dentist the next day.

As it was a week night the campsite was nice a quiet despite most sites being occupied.

 

Blackwood River at Alexandra Bridge
Blackwood River at Alexandra Bridge

 

We had booked a night at Glenbrae Gardens (situated on Rosa Glen Road) and were due to check in after 11am.

To kill a bit of time we dropped in to have a look at the recreation area at Warner Glen (or is it Chapman Pool). This is a DPaW site with both day use and camping facilities.

There were only a handful of campers at that site and we had a look for sites suitable for the Coaster just in case we decided to go back and camp there.

 

Chapman Pool / Warner Glen
Chapman Pool / Warner Glen

 

Sites 2 and 3 looked like they would do nicely and at the time they were unoccupied.

By 11am we had arrived at Glenbrae Gardens and drove around the back to park up in the large grassed area available.

The gardens are beautiful and worth checking out but if you are going to stay overnight (self-contained vehicles only) you will need some levelling blocks as the whole site is on the side of a hill.

 

Glenbrae Gardens
Glenbrae Gardens

 

We were hoping to photograph a few different bird species at Glenbrae but despite hearing them calling, they just weren't coming out where we could see them.

Perhaps the heat was keeping them in the shade the same way it was us.

We decided not to hang around as the sun was warming up the Coaster to an uncomfortable degree so we drove to the Berry Farm and did some tourist spending on a bottle of licorice liqueur. Very nice but rather expensive. (It turned out to be nothing to what I would spend the following day though!)

As the cottage cafe gardens were nice and shady we ordered some tea, coffee and scones and then relaxed for a while. There was plenty of bird life to watch but they were all species that we have taken pictures of many times before.

 

The Berry Farm
The Berry Farm

 

We did think about having lunch at the Berry Farm too but in the end opted to head in to town and make up our own lunch platter at Woolies.

It ended up costing about the same but lasted three days not just one so it was better value.

We went to Gracetown hoping that there was a nice breeze blowing along the coast and it would be a bit of a cooler spot to have lunch. As it turned out the breeze was on holiday too and it was just too hot to sit the Coaster in the sun.

Heading north along Caves Road we found a shady roadside stop with a seat and table so that was were we had our cheese and meat platter for lunch.

By the time we had finished it was late afternoon and so we found Metricup Road and made our way to our campsite for the night.

Peaceful Park is at 310 Metricup Road and turned out to be the cheapest campsite of the trip. At $15 a night for 2 people it was rather remarkable for this area and really shows up the local caravan parks that are continually price gouging. You have to have a self-contained rig as there are no facilities but for us this is just ideal as we don't need anything that we don't already have on board.

There are some shady areas at the campsite as well as a large open space and plenty of room foro quite a few rigs to park up without being cramped.

 

Peaceful Park
Peaceful Park

 

Morning saw us up and off to Cowaramup to dump black water, fill drinking water and stock up on some real money. You need that when camping at these alternative campsites are were using during this trip.

The dump point at Cowaramup was easy to find but the water tap requires a tap-key and is a bit far from where vehicles would sit while using the dump point.

I opted to use a container to put some water in to the Coaster tanks instead of unpacking the hose in the hope that it may have reached.

 

Cowaramup dump point and water pickup
Cowaramup dump point and water pickup

 

We had a quick wander around town and discovered the op-shop by the park was open so it goes without saying that we paid a visit there and Dorothy came away with some treasures.

Then it was time to go and hit a couple of tourist spots and we started with The Colony bee experience.

There certainly are a lot of products based on bees in this place and we bought a jar of honey mixed with chocolate and another with chai. I also did a tasting for $12 of the meads that are available and that $12 eventually skyrocketed to previously unimaginable heights when I bought a bottle of their best aged mead.

I'm not even going to mention how much it cost and how carried away I got but you can rest assured that it is only going to be brought out and sipped slightly on very special occasions!

There are some interesting educational things at the bee centre including a video about bee keeping and there is even part of a hive with glass panels that you can have a look at in the seating area.

 

The Colony bee experience
The Colony bee experience

 

Just up the road was Wow Illusion and the nut and muesli place (all one attraction actually).

We bought a packet of wasabi flavoured macadamia nuts and two tickets ($12.50 a head) to go and have a look through the illusion place.

If you have never tried wasabi flavoured macadamia nuts then I suggest you be a bit brave and give them a go. We love them although we did find these particular ones to be a bit lacking in power.

 

Margaret River nuts and cereals
Margaret River nuts and cereals

 

The illusions were mostly interesting with plenty to trick your eyes and some interesting things to try and solve and although we enjoyed wandering through and trying things out, this is really an attraction that the kids will love probably more than adults.

The mirror maze was the most interesting and in case you are wondering, we didn't manage to find our way through it.

 

Wow Illusion
Wow Illusion

 

As it was another pretty warm day, we decided to head for Canal Rocks where we had lunch and then just sat and enjoyed the view while the sea breeze whistled through the open windows of the Coaster and kept us nice and cool for the afternoon.

It had been a rather (very!) expensive but enjoyable day.

 

Canal Rocks
Canal Rocks

 

The plan for the last few days of the trip was to gradually make our way north towards home so that we will only have a short hop on the last day which looked like being the hottest of the trip.

We booked in at what on WikiCamps is called Busselton Farm but on the front sign is called Busselton Turf Farm.

There wasn't much planned for the day besides heading in to Busselton and visiting the Salvation Army Op-Shop.

Again Dorothy managed to find many treasures for the mule (me) to cart around but again, I didn't find anything of interest.

We made our way east to a picnic area near Port Geographe (the marina) and stopped there for lunch. The breeze was rapidly dwindling and we wanted to find somewhere with a nice view and a bit of shade. Unfortunately there just wasn't anything that fit the bill that we could find so we dropped by the dump point and water fill up facility to top up the water tanks.

 

Busselton rest area
Busselton rest area

 

Busselton has done a great job in providing an easily accessible facility for travellers.

There is a pull in behind Busselton Jetty Tourist Park on Adelaide Street where travellers can dump black waste, pick up drinking water and also dump rubbish. The taps have big cages around them and can be padlocked so I don't know if water is available 24/7 or is only available during certain hours of the day.

There is even a water hose provided so you don't need to drag yours out of storage to fill your tanks.

 

Busselton dump point
Busselton dump point

 

As our campsite was back towards Vasse we drove along the coast looking in vain for a nice shady spot to park the Coaster. There was lots of parking and lots of trees but nowhere where the two were available in the same place.

In the end we gave up and headed for the camp and settled in for the night.

As with most of the camps we have stayed at on this trip, there were no facilities and you have to be self-contained. That means having your own shower and toilet.

This campsite was a little closer to being a caravan park as there are site numbers and the area where the vans park looks caravan-parky. The sites are much bigger though so at least people are not squashed together the way they are in the awful sausage factories that charge massive fees for very little return.

There area was all nicely grassed - well I guess it is a turf farm after all so I shouldn't have been too surprised about that!

There wasn't much shade for most sites but luckily the breeze was blowing a bit so it didn't get too warm.

 

Busselton turf farm
Busselton turf farm

 

The weather was warming up and even a 30C day in the Coaster can be fairly uncomfortable.

Next day we took the Busselton bypass and made our way to the old timber mill at Ludlow.

Last time we were there it was a real shambles. Left unprotected it had been vandalised and the buildings were starting to deteriorate badly.

This time it was a very different story. The restoration group has been hard at work putting the buildings back together and securing them and there is even a caretaker on site to keep an eye on things.

It was so good to see the site being brought back to life but I don't know what the plan for the site is going to be once the work has been done. Hopefully it will become a museum of some sort and be open to the public.

 

Ludlow mill
Ludlow mill

 

When we had finished filming a few of the restored buildings we made our way to Forrest Beach. Being a Saturday morning there were already a few people set up on the beach with their gazebos and settling in to enjoy a nice sunny day.

We sat and enjoyed the view for a few hours until lunch time when we decided to go and have a look at a 'picnic site' called James Block in the Tuart National Park.

 

Forest Beach
Forest Beach

 

It really isn't a picnic site at all as there is only a sign board and nothing else in the way of seats, tables and shelters.

There is a walk trail and sadly a LOT of weeds. Obviously weed control isn't much of a priority in this national park.

As the day was still warming up we went to our intended destination for the day, Capel.

Capel is an attractive little town and the IGA supermarket is open 365 days a year. As we were going to make use of the free RV rest area that night we bought some supplies at the IGA which is something we always try to do when staying at a free site provided by the local community.

I'm not quite sure what the rules are at the self contained RV rest area with regard to parking in the grassed dog exercise area. That is something I will follow up with the local shire and get some info on.

As it is there are three marked sites on the bitumen and we pulled in to one and settled down.

It wasn't long before the heat really started to make things uncomfortable so on went the generator and the air conditioner and they didn't go off until about 6pm.

 

Capel RV rest area
Capel RV rest area

 

Our last full day for the trip was quite a long run to Herron Point Campsite. We had decided to stay there for the last night as it is within an hours drive of home and with the weather was still warming up we wanted to be somewhere closer to home for a quick run back the next day.

We don't often stay at Herron Point these days but it was once our favourite camp close to Perth.

Sadly the site is now too well known and is usually crowded and noisy. We had thought that being a Sunday there would be fewer campers but it was still pretty busy and lucky us got the most annoying campers who can't keep their noise to themselves right next to us. I don't know why but there often seems to be one camper that spoils the place for everyone else and just has to play their music so others around them have to listen to it as well. At least on this occasion it wasn't rap music or some equally dreadful racket.

The days of enjoying the peace and quiet at this campsite are long gone.

The new toilet block is a good addition to the site but it doesn't compensate for the over crowing. At one time only 14 or 15 sites were available but now there are 22 and that is really over doing it for such a small campsite.

 

Herron Point
Herron Point

 

You have to book online to reserve a site which at least ensures there is a site for you when you arrive.

Quite a few people were out crabbing with a number obviously taking crabs without even bothering to measure them. It is little wonder that it gets harder and harder every year for those who actually do the right thing to get a few crabs.

At least the campsite was quiet by 10pm and the rest of the night was peaceful.

The last morning of the trip was nothing but a quick breakfast at 5am and a pack up and check around to make sure we hadn't forgotten anything before the run back to Rockingham.

We were home and unpacked by 9am and anther trip was over.

The biggest disappointment of the trip was the terrible Telstra internet in the Margaret River area. You really would expect that in such a popular area, decent internet would be available almost everywhere.

Even in some of the places we stayed that had full signal, the internet was so slow that it was unusable for a number of things including posting pictures and streaming video.

We have been Telstra customers for decades but their lack of service and their total indifference to long standing customers has led us to pretty much abandon them for phone and internet use.

The only remaining items we use are the ones where we need connectivity in more remote places so one mobile phone and one wireless internet gizmo are the only items we run with Telstra now.

Over all though the trip was pretty good. We got to check out a few more attractions in the area and stayed at some new campsites.

Things are certainly improving for those who have self-contained rigs as we no longer are being forced into over crowded over priced caravan parks.

The most we paid per night on the trip was $25 and the cheapest was the free site at Capel. There are so many more choices available now and most of them are reasonably priced. It really is great to have so many good options available for staying in this amazing area.

 

 

Updated January 2023

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