The day started off with a bit of a hullabaloo and that was just me being very very excited, only ‘the hottest band in the World …. Kiss’ were due to be playing in Perth imminently so my wife convinced me that this is one of those things that we just had to do, so we only went and bought tickets! I have seen them before when they came to the UK but that was when they were not wearing make up, at Perth they would be giving it the whole show – make up, pyrotechnics, fire breathing … excellent stuff. We even joked with Sue about us getting dressed up for the event!
Well after all of that excitement, we finished up packing and then set off, first though we nipped back to the shops to get some ice. Ice + ice box would now be our own little fridge out on the open road. So now ‘iced up’ we could ‘hit the road’ and head southwards. Early on, the journey was not without it’s more stressful moments as it took us some time to get used to the little idiosyncrasies of the van and Australian sign posting of roads and destinations. In Oz, it appears to be the case that you can travel for miles and miles and miles on a road …. and then all of a sudden you fly by a junction only to see the signpost on the junction itself, informing you that this was where you should have turned – Doh! After a couple of mistakes, we soon got used to slowing down as we neared such intersections so we did not miss turnings on our route.
That aside, the drive was a really nice one, I am not sure what I expected but it was very green and unlike all of the travelling stories we had been told – where kangaroos literally fall out of the trees – on our drive we did not see a single one! We stopped at a place just outside of a small town called Pemberton, to go and see the ‘national monument’ round here called ‘The Gloucester Tree’. This Karri tree had previously been used as the fire lookout station before planes were used to do the job and now it was a visitor attraction. When we got there though the winds were starting to pick up and looking at the height of the tree and the somewhat precarious looking ladder contraption around the outside of it, we decided to give it a miss. So instead we went on the wildflower walk, which sounds far less daring but the flowers were really wild man! Thinking about it now, in Australia it is probably much safer to go for a climb up a tree in a high wind than a walk in the woods where any manner of poisonous things may live!
The perils of the forest overcome, we set off on the open road once more but after travelling only a wee distance down it, we saw a tourist sign and went off to have a look round the falls at Beedleup National Park – Beedleup Falls. This was a really nice little boardwalk walk to a very nice picturesque set of falls. The falls were certainly not the biggest but they were still very nice to see and it was nice to have another stretch of the legs at the same time as well.
After a quick cuppa it was back in the van and this time we picked out a place called Augusta to go to. However, another thing we had still not got used to was the extent of the distances over here. For instance, a trip ‘round the corner’ or ‘down the road’ can be a distance of 100km or so, so although Augusta looked only a short drive away on the map, we started to get far too low on petrol for my liking. When we finally did come across a petrol station it was in the middle of nowhere so it could charge whatever it wanted and so it did! After this sharp shock to the wallet, we promised ourselves that we would fill up whenever we saw cheaper stations and a much more regularly too.
Well we finally made it to Augusta and although it did seem a really nice place, time was now rolling on and the leaflets we had told us that this was the place to find a free camping spot … however, this was far from the truth! The ladies in the information centre even seemed quite put out by us asking if there was anywhere free to camp in the vicinity! Anyhow we took the hint and decided to move on. We hoped that this would not be the way we would be treated everywhere! However, the info-ladies did tell us about a ‘free-ish’ campsite, Boranup Campground which was set in the middle of nowhere and you simply paid into an honesty box. It was a bit of a drive but thankfully we actually managed to find it before it got dark but when I said it was in the middle of nowhere, this does not come close to describing how far out in the wild it seemed to be. It was in the very middle of a forest but strangely enough we were not the only ones, there was another campervan in the park – which somehow seemed even more strange.
The campsite was a bit ‘Blair Witchy’ in an eerie kind of way and here we were out in the outback-ish! It did have toilets though, a definite sign of civilisation and although it was a drop toilet with many a spider round it (poisonous or otherwise!), it was still very much appreciated. We cooked our first meal and we ate like Kings, or at least their very poor relations (Dukes?) but it was great, cooking on our own stove and even having a cuppa or two, which was quite nice after the ‘trauma’ of the day’s driving. During our meal though, we had a couple of unexpected and somewhat surly visitors – Kookaburras. Now I do not know about you, dear reader but my thoughts of Kookaburras come from a song we used to sing at our junior school, which made them out to be cheery birds, singing in a high oak tree or something like that … Anyhow these two were like a couple of angry bouncers, like the crows in Dumbo except more evil, shifty eyed looking. They even had a swoop at our food and then when I chased them off they just looked down moodily at us from the branch they were perched on.
Besides the birds though, the night went really well except that the minute it gets dark out here it really really gets dark. We needed a light, we really do need some light, I cannot even see what I am typxdgech! Strange eh that there should be no light out here in the outback! The surrounding trees were too close to even let that much starlight through to our little camp. It was still all very exciting though, you know wondering whether at any moment a fellow camper will turn out to be a mad axeman and come and try murdering you! Still the bed was nice and comfortable, which I think is always a plus in the event of being murdered but I think it will still take me a few night’s to get used to sleeping on methinks! Day one of travelling by Wicked camper van and we had survived!!