time in West Australia attracts visitors from all over the world.
This area is known as a unique area of biodiversity. We find the
best way to enjoy these wonders is by campervan and thanks to
Campervan rentals we managed to accomplish a lot in a short
period of time!
follows words about various places on our itinerary. It is in
sequence so you might find this helpful when planning your own
journey. And to help you Apollo has a wide range of vehicle types.
The name itself paints a picture of some exotic cruise line
meandering along and visiting enchanting ports. In reality you can
meander along this new sealed road, stop at small coastal
settlements and national parks - enchanting ports they are.
road improvements are superb and one can maintain the speed limit of
110kph in safety. The coastal vegetation was different in that there
were many petite flowers highlighting the deserved fame of this
region for its wildflowers. The road rises occasionally with
tempting ocean views.
Native wild flower
A small fishing town that provides an accommodation base for the
Pinnacles National Park. The camp ground is well sighted bordering
the beach. There are a range of ‘establishments’ to dine at if this
was a late arrival first night as it was for us. We were warned off
the only takeaway, so had the choice of a tavern, motel complex with
restaurant and the local bowls club which, we were told, offered a
seafood plater that people nationwide zeroed in on. We decided that
the $65 for two, serving crayfish, assorted fish fillets, shrimp,
oysters and chips, was worth ‘a punt’. Indeed it was exceptional
value, in a seafood type of way, and was provided in an iconic small
country seaside bowls club environment. Forget the salad bar!
meet the world in such a small place. Whilst setting out to find a
bucket of hot water for some cleaning tasks I soon found the camp
ground laundry room. Upon entry I found ten people huddled inside
looking at a laptop. The weather was cold and blustery and this was
the best venue for them all to view the days photographs in some
warmth. I immediately recognised the Dutch language being spoken and
created sudden surprise when I greeting them in Dutch. My
pronunciation indicated to those assembled that I was not a ‘native’
of the Netherlands and things moved on in English. My bucket was
soon full and I departed with farewells in colloquial Amsterdam
This park is well known to those visiting W.A. for wild flower
season and lives up to this recommendation. The wild flower drive is
an 18km sealed road circuit based on a one-way route. It can take
some time to complete the 18kms if one is with a gardening fanatic!
Writing form a non-gardening perspective the park and its flora is
stunning. Every kilometre, it seems there is some unique plant,
according to the ‘stop now’ commands issued from passenger command
random stops along the side of the road there are two main stopping
areas. The first is a car park that allows access to several walking
trails. The next official stopping area has to be one of the nicest
picnic spots one could imagine.
Diversity of unique
Rest Area – Nambung National Park.
A delightful place to park and wander off into the bush to
explore yet more wild flowers. Simply pull off the road, perhaps
breakfast, or dinner and enjoy.
This place has seen better days. The idea that the name ‘Resort’
could be incorporated into the name is overstating things to a high
degree. Location and ambiance it has, however the lack of attention
to maintenance, cleanliness and overall tidiness lets it down.
No this is not a distillery town, but one has to conclude what a
quaint country town with lovely public amenities in the shape of
public park, open air performance stage and an assortment of
historical buildings. One can get wifi access on the old dongle so
it was an ideal place to check information for the next stage of a
This town is a contradiction in many ways, architecture being
the most prominent. In 1834 The Benedictine order decided, in their
wisdom, they should establish a missionary outpost in order to
‘convert’ the local ‘native’ population. You are immediately struck
by the enormity of the buildings and their complete difference in
architectural style. In Australia we are used to the dominance of
British styles representing our colonial period. To find classical
Spanish is fascinating. There are still Monks within the Monastery,
we saw one! However, I deduce that the economic power of the
Catholic Church has had to brake away from the offerings of the poor
and embrace modern commerce. The official ‘Licensee Notice’ above
the entrance to the bar of the Noria Hotel has the Benedictine order
registered. Then there is the cooperative Beer brewing with Chuck
Hahn and the resultant ‘Abby Ale’. Whilst actually brewed in New
South Wales, its ‘soul’ is here. One had to have a glass from the
tap. Draft Abby is a harder entity to find in the Eastern States and
a hotel such at Hotel Norica even more rare!
deserves time for the walk around and is a worthwhile historical
reference to a time we hope has passed.
Hotel, to this writer, is a gem! If you can’t contemplate the idea
of shared bathrooms this is not for you. Built in the 1920’s as a
Monastery Hostel it was changed to a hotel in 1955. However,
ensuites have not been introduced. To compensate one has a classical
European ‘Tropical’ designed building in solid stone (think cool)
with a wide grand staircase! Each room opens to the expansive upper
balcony, very ‘Rustic Raj’ one could say.
Norcia and its Spanish Colonial architecture
The ‘old road’ to Perth, described in research literature as one
of the most beautiful rural drives in W.A. is an apt statement. This
is not a sealed route so this can put some people off, consequently
we encountered only two cars on our travels and one big snake!
pleasing rural agrarian scenes of wheat fields and rolling hills,
interspersed with native tree lined nature strips and many ‘nature
reserves’ exhibiting native wild flowers and other vegetation.
W.A. certainly boasts a good selection of well restored and
maintained townscapes from yesteryear. Tooganyak is no exception and
is certainly a magnet for classic car and motorbike car club outings
over a weekend.
charming town could be your accommodation hub with many areas of
wildflowers in the area. The local tourism information centre is a
good place to seek a ‘local update’ as to where the flowers are
‘out’. This can change yearly so local knowledge will save you time.
You can also stock up on a jar of ‘Wildflower Honey’, a distinct
Flower Honey from ‘Busy Bees’.
This writer is a honey lover and where others may collect a cat
figure, or thimble, for their collection I like to take home a bit
of honey. As you can imagine my collection is every diminishing and
needs regular replacement. The wildflower season provides an ideal
time to collect something a bit different so if you are ‘in season’
keep an eye out for this tasty food and remember you can take honey
‘out’ of Western Australia, but not ‘into’.
Gorge National Park
We chose to explore the nearby Avon Gorge National Park and camp
in one of the simple bush camps within the park. The park is
pleasant, with many wildflowers if you are ‘in season’. The park
cannot, in my opinion, be considered stunning, or ‘very different’,
but if one is camping it is a nice venue. There are self composting
loos and tank water, otherwise you must be self contained.
This old collection contains some significant vehicles. Of
immediate note is the oldest known drivable Volkswagen Beetle, 1946
was its birth date and still going strong. 1946, being just after
WW2 was the model where the original and distinctive curved top body
was reinstated after the open toped light officer transport
manufactured for war use. If you look at the floor and gear stick in
both the WW2 Kübelwagen and the post war
VW family car you will see no difference. Despite the incessant
bombing campaign inflicted upon Germany they were able to keep a
substantial part of their industry working. Therefore the quick
ability to switch to domestic production, with export as well, was
fast considering the damage done. In addition, despite horrific
human losses they still had an engineering workforce to call upon.
also an example of the first Subaru produced for public use, a small
car by today’s standards and with a two cylinder engine quite slow.
However, again born form war ruins, this time Japan, we see today
the levels to which Subaru has risen.
Bentley which completed the 2004 Beijing to Paris rally is a
testimony to, ‘Well Built’, ‘Well Maintained’, ‘Quality Materials’
and superb design.
If you can
allocate time for this little gem there are models, children’s
peddle cars, racing cars and the compulsory Model T Ford or two.
folk of York have recognised that their building facades are
attractive and have done something about preserving them for the
future. That preservation is most attractive and draws visitors from
afar. We did note a large percentage of motorbike riders in town.
The object of their desire soon became evident, the Triumph
Motorbike Café – as one would expect this was suitably attired with
motorbike themes, capped off with a full size Triumph as a central
display feature. Yes, the coffee is good as well.
Beijing to Paris Bentley
A continuous ribbon of roads cut through endless wheat fields.
The roads are bordered by continuous runs of wild flowers along with
stunning stands of local gum trees. As we creep ever closer to Wave
Rock the sun sinks, with the evening light highlighting more of the
beauty of the trees and their unique bark.
We were racing the clock to reach wave rock n order to climb and
witness the sunset. On entering Hayton I dutifully slowed to the
requisite 50km per hour. And there standing behind a tree in the
centre of the town was the local policeman with a hand held speed
gun. This was the first time I had seen a policeman in W.A. My wife
said, ‘aha to catch the tourist rushing for the sunset’. Hmm said I.
We eventually reached the approach road to the rock and were
immediately struck by the number of cars parked along the verge of
the approach road. Good grief, that many people are here for the
sunset! Car after car greeted us, where to park we thought and then
a long walk to the rock! However, as we got closer (no reduction in
car numbers), we heard pounding rock music and saw that the campsite
had been transformed to a ‘festival’! Entry to the ‘tourist’ car
park was without hassle and we were soon scrambling up the sides of
the rock with throngs of festival patrons The crest of the rock
brought a scene of ‘fire swingers’, the waft of ‘reefers’ and aptly
dressed ‘trendy’ types.
was ‘nice’, but nothing out of the ordinary. I think the physical
location has more to do with the magic of these sunsets. We drove
well out of town to find a quite camp ground, which had a local
history museum incorporated into the office area. Who would have
Wave Rock Festival
The topography driving south from Wave Rock to Albany takes you
through a series of salt lakes, Lake Grace being the main name in
the area. Whilst salt lakes are not a rare sight in Australia the
fact that you drive so easily past many is what makes this special.
No corrugated dusty roads in a four wheel drive, not one massive
lake the size of Belgium, but a quite country drive on a sealed
Roadside Art - farm
Botanists from all over the world come to this specific location
quoted the chief navigator. Our arrival at the Bluff Lookout
coincided with a group from the University of West Australia hiking
clubs concluding their three day hike. This was a great opportunity
to gather information about hiking in this stunning environment.
Each person carried ten litres of water for the journey, just in
case no water was available from one natural source on route. Just
as well they did as that source was a ‘trickle’. It was wonderful to
see that University hiking clubs are still alive and well in this
day of social media laced activities. No doubt individuals stories
and pictures would soon be ‘up’ on various social media sites,
hopefully enthusing others to get out and be active.
entering this compact national park I was immediately struck by a
similarity with the profile of Table Mountain at Cape Town. We had
seen the silhouette of the range of hills (65km in length) loom up
on the horizon as we drove south. This was certainly a distinctive
feature on an otherwise flat horizon. It is also interesting to note
that this is the only place in Western Australia that snow has been
known to fall!
One of the gemstones of Australia! Perth may carry the crown of
being the most remote Capital in Australia, Albany can claim most
remote idyllic small city in the world!
Clarence ANZAC Memorial
Mt Clarence was the gathering point in 1914 for the local
population and visiting family members to witness the departure of
the 1st and 2nd ANZAC troop convoys. More
significantly the 1st convoy conveyed troops, some of
whom were ultimately destined for the debacle known as Gallipoli.
From this magnificent vantage point they could see the armada of
troop ships setting off from their anchorages. Many on board, native
to Australia would have seen her shores for the last time. New
Zealand troop ships had set sail from Wellington and met up with
their Australian compatriots in the sheltered harbour of Albany.
Ships from all main cities of Australia also gathered, as this was
the port with the large coal supplies required for the long passage
The dramatic statue at the top of Mt Clarence, which forms the
ANZAC memorial, originated form the ruined memorial to the ANZAC
Desert Corps. Erected at Port Said in Egypt in 1916 it suffered
major damage during the Suez Crisis of 1955. The remains were
rescued by Australian authorities and transported to Albany.
Avenue of Trees
initial segment of the road ascending Mr Clarence is a spectacular
avenue of memorial trees, sentinels of recognition for those from
the area that paid the supreme sacrifice in service of their
country. WW1 and WW2 are thus remembered. Reading the small, well
kept, plaques you see familiar locations, Gallipoli, Belgium, PNG,
Western Desert and bleak inscriptions such as, Presumed Dead POW.
Anzac dawn Service
At the top of this
hill, in 1916, at the current location of the ANZAC
memorial, the first ANZAC dawn service was held. There
would have been immediate family of some lost the year
before. For Australian modern history this is indeed a
place of significance. Quiet rightly a significant part of the 100th
year commemorations were held in
Albany and this piece of land will once again enter the
Coastal Defence Museum
I have not visited every old coastal defence station, but Albany
rates as one of the best preserved you would hope to find.
Restored, maintained and manned by a very dedicated group of
volunteers their passion and attention to detail is evident at every
part of this national treasure. In 2014 this museum will form part
of the 100th year ANZAC commemorations. Federal funds are
being invested into this facility in 2012 and I am sure the group
behind this museum will extract great value for the nation, based on
their current track record.
and Married quarters buildings
This building shines out most amongst all the well restored
buildings within this museum compound. Its stone walls are beautiful
and one can imagine sitting on the verandas at the end of a days
work. It would fit well into many of Australia’s historical suburbs.
The interior rooms provide exhibition space for the extensive
collection held by the museum.
coastal gun emplacement
The reason for this military fort was coastal defence following
the ‘Russian Threat’ of the late 1890’s. Unfounded, but we still
have the remains of many forts built around Australia. The Albany
fort remained a working defence station until 1956. Naturally it was
very active during both WW1 and WW2. The two gun emplacements are
well restored and you can wander through the underground access
tunnel with its connections to the magazine. Displays enlighten the
visitor to the surroundings and how things worked. You can climb up
onto one of the guns and admire the view the gun barrel encompasses.
order late 19th century horse drawn artillery units.
Of great interest are the two, working order, Boer War era
The Bofor would have had to have been the most popular anti
aircraft gun throughout British and Commonwealth forces. It is
interesting to note that it is a Swedish design and of course Sweden
maintained a ‘Neutral’ position during WW2. Whilst supplying Bofor
guns to the Allies it was sending iron ore to Germany.
Synchronising with the ANZAC history of Mt Clarence the city of
Albany has established an ANZAC Peace Park complex at the site where
the original wharf of Albany first stood. Naturally this was where
the many soldiers who had shore leave would have transited during
their time in Albany before sailing for the war zones of WW1. The
park is well laid out with a feeling of expansiveness, despite a
modest physical area. The landscape gardening incorporates many
local species of flora and of course a cluster of Anzac Pines, are
also part of the park.
Star Brewery Pub.
The White Star Hotel facing the harbour on the road where
assembled troops from all corners of Australia marched and
socialised during shore leave. Today it houses Albany’s only brew
pub and for those interested in the cult of hops and grain a place
too most certainly visit.
Torringap National Park
A short drive out of Albany can find you at a wonderful picnic
spot within Torringap National Park. Frenchman’s Beach is a place to
head for and one can get your vehicle ‘seaside’ depending on the
time of year and how many have got there before you.
On certain days the water of this delightful beach area is an
emerald clear green. Due to a natural barrier of rocks just off
shore the swimming area is protected form the normal surging ocean
as is the norm at a majority of beaches on this coast. Therefore,
the swimming area is calm. Couple this with the white sand and the
emerald colours you have a beautiful place to consume some time.
Naturally for the ‘green’ to be evident the sun has to be shining
and high in the sky. Sunsets are also spectacular
The approach by track to this small bay immediately highlights
the reason for the name. From the highpoint on the track leading
down one can easily recognise the shape of large Elephants. The
track then descends further to a narrow chasm through one can walk
to the beach front itself. You would not be able to make this entry
if it were high tide.
Beach Camp site
A camp site with a slight difference in that, although the land
is owned by the local shire the cam is run by volunteers who’s
desire is to offer a campsite with adequate facilities for those
that desired the more simple bush seaside camps. Amenities
West Australian beach and sky
of the giants. Tingle Trees. Canopy Walk
There are many worthwhile forest and bush walks in Australia.
This walk rates as one of the best due to the unique trees present
in this corner of the world. You can take the, Tree Top Walkway and
the ground based circular walk. If you have a dislike of heights
then the ground based walk is more than rewarding. Yes there is the
chance to pose and have your picture taken inside the walk through
tunnel in the base of a giant Tingle Tree.
Trees get their unique name from their unique root system. Their
roots are close r to the surface than many tree types of similar
size and are also sensitive to continuous surface pressure from the
likes of humans walking around the base of their trunks. This can
cause the tree to eventually perish. Therefore this walk is on
raised walkways avoiding the root systems extending out form the
road. Giant Tingle Tree and lookout.
The ‘Mother of all Tingles’ is further along the highway and
accessed by a dirt road which operates in a one way driving route, a
good safety measure on such narrow forest tracks.
Bicentennial Tree Climb
This ‘attraction’ is reserved for those more brave than this
writer! It is only when you see this climbing tree in ‘the flesh’
that the impact of its height is truly felt. Photographs can’t give
it full justice! The ‘open’ nature of the steel shaft steps, no
safety cage enveloping the said space, is the first step of faith
for those intent on climbing. Then there is the thought that the
initial system whereby the steps are a form of circular stair
working its way around the tree trunk, becomes vertical after the
midpoint rest platform!!! My intrepid wife headed up, as I squirmed
with concern. She thought a 30 foot climb was enough!! I have since
found out that my neighbour and his daughter had climbed to the top
some years ago, no hesitation. Some people do have the internal
programming allowing this!
A well known small town considered to be the historical centre
of the local forestry industry. The number of restored wooden
cottage houses in the town show that good restoration controls are
in place as all are in the same style without major changes to their
basic design. Sadly there is a lack of good outlets for wooden
souvenir products, a bit of a contradiction it being the centre of
the timber industry.
Yellingup surf beach
Do you want a classic West Australian surf beach? Go no further,
Yellingup is good enough to use in a guide book and probably is. The
campsite is well situated and an easy stroll to the beach itself.
One can enjoy a classic sunset from the camps communal BBQ area. An
early morning walk to the beach will ensure the classic scene of
beach, waves and many wet suited bodies astride surfboards waiting
for ‘the wave’.
The names fame precedes my words! One of Australia’s premier
wine regions there are others attributes. Foremost would be the ever
expanding boutique beer arena. There are ….? Breweries in the region
with …being the oldest establishment. Then there is a ‘venison
farm’, using venison for everything from pate through Chorizo to
marinated kebabs. This author hails from the South Island of New
Zealand and before the onset of farmed venison had only ever tasted
wild venison – believe me there is a radical difference! I was
discussing this topic with the consummate sales lady, who happened
to be the daughter of the farms owner. She was interested in my
comments and said that, although being raised on a venison farm she
had never tasted true wild venison. Another visitor piped up, with a
Kiwi accent. She was originally from the ‘West Coast’ on New Zealand
and concurred with my comments about the radical taste difference.
Enough has and will continue to be written about the wine of this
region. I suggest one looks at the beer, produce and coastal scenery
in concert with wine.
Why does the name itself conjure up an image of England? The
pier is the longest pier in Australia and has a small, but very
informative museum attached to the souvenir shop and ticket office.
The pier has an entrance fee plus the opportunity to travel to the
end of the pier by a small train operating on the original rail
lines used to load ships.
Much has been written about Freemantle, superlatives have been
used far and wide. They must be all true, I could live here.
Compact, with fine restored building facades, history at every turn
and the Little Creatures brewery, strategically positioned for
This well known museum is deserved of its accolades. Divided
into two buildings one has to be careful in allocating enough time
for both, plus the walk between the two. The first ‘wing’ is the
‘Shipwrecks Display’ and is located right next to……….park. Here you
will see the oldest shipwrecks found in Australia. The famous
‘Batavia’ is exhibited here in all its tortuous glory. The expansive
displays pertaining to this Dutch East Indiaman and others is
remarkable. So extensive that the Amsterdam Maritime Museum has seen
fit to allow a selection of its own collection to be displayed here.