DATE: March 6th to March 13th
TRIP LEADER – Robert McPherson.
CO-TOURERS– Bob & Bridget, Peter Cole, Bruce & Judith Brinkley
TRIP NOTES – Peter with Judith’s in Italics
Peter – Following the disappointment of having to postpone the Israelite Bay Explorer due to the closure of most of the National Parks areas east of the bay after the unseasonal storms in February, Bob and Bridget were determined to go camping and came up with an alternative plan further west on the coast. With date changes, most of the original Israelite Bay trippers couldn’t re-arrange plans so it was with only three vehicles that the new trip started on Monday March 6th.
All met in Armadale and headed south looking forward to a cooler week than had been forecast for home. A relaxed lunch at the Donnybrook Arboretum, then checked out the free campsites listed in Wikicamps before deciding on Shannon NP for the first night. Perhaps as an indicator of how flexible we were going to have to be, the Shannon NP overnight area was closed for renovation ! Back to the road and a few more kilometres and we found a very comfortable and incredibly beautiful forest camping area at Fernhook Falls.
DPaW have done a great job in setting out the area, and not being a weekend, we had the choice of most of the campsites. Although no campfires were allowed at this time, we were able to enjoy a mild evening in this quiet forest camp and even a very light evening shower did not dampen spirits , although I must admit I had some concerns about the rest of the week as I was camping with the club’s two most “rain attracting’ family members”.
Judith -Dusk at Fernhook Falls Campground was a great spot despite the sites all being individually spaced. Huts to sleep in if we’d wanted and fire rings.. of course unable to be used. Camp is on the Weld River good for swimming and a takeoff point for small boating. Takeoff point for March flies too.! Ok it was March..! Could our arrival disturb and hatch them all in one go? One March fly is an annoyance.. 7 on your legs bare or covered, stinging or lining up to sting, that’s aggravation.
Peter – Bridget entertained the crowd with her novice attempts at carving a toy rocking horse out of a piece of wood – it’s called “wood carving” not “whittling” Bruce !!
Judith -During the trip, in each quiet sitting time, Bridget would get out her latest hobby… wood carving. Her horse really does look like a horse.!! It’s impressive. But her practice sample piece she also proudly showed us was ….“interesting” . Aaah the eye of the beholder….always sees something different from that seen by the eye of the intent carver… we saw the quite well carved phallic shape clutched in her hand…can’t remember what Bridget thought she’d carved.. it was lost in laughter)
Peter – Next morning everyone enjoyed a walk around the surrounding forest, including the Falls area and Rowells Pool, which would have been a lot more impressive with actual running water. After a leisurely pack-up we headed out for a look at Broke Inlet before turning to Fish Creek for the next night.
Just after leaving Fernhook Falls camp, on a short cut to the highway along Ordnance Rd we encountered a huge fallen tree that had burned through at the base of the trunk and collapsed, fortunately falling away from the road. The fires had apparently gone through the area several weeks before and the tree had been slowly and quietly burning away inside.
Turning off the main road, and bolstered by the warning signs on Broke Inlet Rd, we drove along to investigate the “shack” village at Signal Pt on Broke Inlet. Such a shame to see the steps that local people were driven to take to keep vandals from damaging properties in such a pristine spot. Leaving the village, we set off west along Chesapeake Rd towards our next camp, planned for Fish Creek.
Driving through these wonderful large forest areas is such a privilege we should all do what we can to support DPaW efforts in preserving the natural environment. Has anyone ever driven through a damp forest with windows wide open and compared the smell to “cats pxxx” ?
The track down to Fish Creek Hut was much the same as it was four years ago when Bob and Bridget ran a similar trip out of Northcliffe, sandy and interesting all the way.
This time we entertained ourselves with a creek crossing and then some vehicle modifications on the Brinkley ride after the underside bash plate decided to start ploughing the sandy track. At least the girls thought it was funny to see how many tools had to be unpacked and used on “such a simple job”.
(Judith – Did I happen to mention from Fernhook Falls this route is lovely country and great 4WDing.
Bob’s engine light caused concern when it came on. Not good.
Peter’s car gave concern when it started to lose water. Not Good.
and Bruce’s bashplates..umm…fell off…?
A stick hit under the Brinkley car about the same time we could smell burning as the oven bag had split for the tiny lamb roast we had cooking in our 12v oven. While we stopped to check the roast, Peter coming up behind pointed out we were dragging something big underneath..looks like a plate…a plate underneath..plate? Hmmm. Bash Plates!!
Much humour plus a bit of self flagellation from the Brinkley driver who’d recently removed and not quite fully replaced them previous week.
Many thanks to Bob for somehow fitting in under the car but over the track hump and removing both sections. Stowed them securely atop his roof rack too. For the rest of the trip they were useful for deflecting branches or low flying ducks..!
It then took 3 of them to re-secure the load on the Brinkley vehicle since straps had been snaffled to secure the bash plates.
Bush mechanics and mobile ladders…entertainment for Bridget and I.
What a Trip Leader.!
Bob’s engine light..turned off.
Peter found the water to have been caught in an obscure pocket after our water crossing. All good)
Peter- On arrival at the Fish Creek Hut we were greeted with a very fresh and cool southerly breeze and after a walk around the hut and its bay we decided to stay the night in the lee of the hut and take advantage of the windbreak. For whatever reason the hut and it’s surrounds appeared to be less well maintained than our previous visit and we wondered how long the site would remain battling against the elements. Still, it did provide a comfortable place to set up camp and enjoy the evening, again without a campfire. A fluoro camplight with red cellophane around the bulb just doesn’t quite create the same atmosphere ?.
Next morning we all took a lot of care with breakfast in order to keep off the many mice that have made a nice home under the hut. I had to tip one out of the tent bag before I packed up otherwise he would have travelled much further than he might have intended.
In 2013 we had been unable to negotiate the beach along at Fish Creek due to storm damage and a high tide but this time we had a lower tide and a wide expanse of beach to drive on. At this time our decision to camp up at the hut was highlighted by the very stiff breeze at the beach campsites, I don’t like gritty dinner !
After a couple of false exits we managed to find the proper one and set out for Northcliffe and a refuel and morno’s stop. Along the way we encountered the Boorara Tree, an old fire lookout tree, and enjoyed lunch there instead of the town.
After a quick refuel in Northcliffe and with high hopes of some good beach fishing the next camp was planned for the DPaW site at the mouth of the Gardner River. With a quick drive down the bitumen to Windy Harbour, and ignoring the (small) new sign post, we cruised through the small townsite to find the beach access track had been closed off, obviously to cut down on through traffic. So with a quick backtrack to the (small) new sign we aired down and headed east to the Gardner River. This track is very soft in places and low tyre pressures are the way to go. You arrive at the protected campsite before the river, and we had the whole site to ourselves. After setting up, we walked through to the river and found some very new and modern “shacks” next to the older original ones. We surmised that these must be new Department buildings available for hire, but with no google access we were unable to confirm our theory. Even though this camp was protected by a higher dune area the evening wind encouraged all to have an early night. There were a couple of showers during the night, not enough to flood the camp area but enough to have a laugh at the expense of the McPhersons and Brinkleys at breakfast.
Once we crested over the dune line it was immediately obvious that fishing was not going to be very pleasant. There was no way you could have gotten any bait seawards in the near gale force wind. The main entertainment was to see Bob walking the river crossing, and realising half way over where his car keys and phone were (in his pocket), followed by an investigation into the mysterious gas bubbles coming up from the sand at one point in the river estuary. a long walk along the windswept beach we returned to camp for a late lunch and an afternoon of conversation and solar power research with Bruce’s folding solar blanket, even though it was quite cloudy.
Judith -Day 3 & 4 Campsite: Trip leaders were disappointed as the intended campsite near the original hut sites is now gated off and new huts are constructed through the bush. Where we did camp though was lovely. A sheltered spot, treed, soft leafy carpet underfoot, more clean drop toilets and only us there. The advantage of its being the week following school holidays? On the beach, windy overcast and cold. So much for being prepared for surf and sun. Isn’t that the Australian ideal. ..Beach towel, swimsuit, hat, cool drink and book to read.
Peter – After another cool night we packed up camp and returned to Windy Harbour, or rather to the turn off on the main road, to air up and move off towards Black Point, the next point of interest. We had decided to call into Northcliffe again for fuel, fresh produce and morno’s but with our leisurely pace we arrived at the perfect time to have lunch in the bakery. Good planning Bob. Heading west out of town towards Pemberton, we by-passed that town drove through the Warren NP and linked up with the Vasse Highway. Turning off at Scott Rd and continuing to the Wapet Track, past Lake Jasper and down to the coastal track. This is a beautiful track, with several challenging parts along the way which we all managed without any drama.
We arrived at the Black Point entry to be greeted by wonderful bright sunshine which was still accompanied by a stiff breeze from the South Pole !.
After a quick peek at the reason it is called Black Point, we commandeered the closest campsite and unpacked. With clever use of the Brinkley awning and side walls we managed to stay up a bit later than we had been. I don’t know who came up with the idea of taking a moonlight walk to the point lookout as a way to warm up, but it was worth it for a brilliant moonlight view of the beach and surf. It was even worth it after Bob surprised a small, but very deadly, dugite crossing the track in front of us. No wandering in the dark after that moment.
Our second day at Black Point was a brilliant day, and even a little warmer than we expected. Compared to most of the previous days this was warm enough to take a long walk along the beach to the last headland in summer wear.
This is an amazing beach with such an unusual assortment of rocks, sand and water life that does make you appreciate the benefit of digital photography – you can take so many different shots without having to change film !!! It was noted that the general store in Northcliffe still advertises film for sale to tourists. Lots of photos taken here, but only room for so very few to report with.
With the second night here being a Saturday, we were aware of how popular this place is with locals. Quite a few more 4WDrivers arriving for a night of celebration and fishing too, but sadly it was obvious from the engine sounds that there needs to be a lot more education on the benefits of reducing tyre pressures on sandy tracks ! The track out showed signs of heavy wear due to the right foot being used instead of a tyre deflator.
Judith – Day 5 & 6 Campsite: We set up under trees for 2 nights in Seal Cove a 10 site campground closest to the cliff. We really did have the 3 best spots in the whole area. Humpback Hollow has 20 sites. Was a longish walk to the cliff tops with wooden steps down to the rocks, rocks to hop for a hundred metres or so then a short climb down and you are on the sandy beach. Still windy and cold at night but bright sun during the day.
A young French couple set up near us, so during the weekend at times the seasoned off roaders in our group wandered over to impart their tips (Aussie advice x 3 )
Peter- The Sunday plan was that Bob, Bridget and I were heading off to home, with Bruce and Judith staying out another night before they were to head home. The track out along the coast towards Augusta (or at least the estuary side) , Woodarburrup Road changed from a windy sandy track through more forest into a well graded gravel road at the Milyeannup Coast Rd and then to bitumen when we cam to the Scott River Rd. At this intersection we aired up tyres for road pressures and said farewell to the Brinkleys and headed off home.
Peter, Bob and Bridget headed north separately to be home by nightfall.
Bruce and I thought to explore and camp the Scott River Rd area the other side of the river from Augusta. But with a storm coming and nowhere in that area to camp, night time found us also comfortable under our roof in Perth)
Peter – After a wonderful week with much cooler weather than had been experienced in Perth we arrived home in time for the huge storm that struck the metro area in the mid afternoon on Sunday. At least I had the car washed before I got home this time.
Thanks Bob and Bridget for a great trip with great sights and enjoyable company.