Walpole to Albany

Trip Start Apr 30, 2004
Trip End Jan 28, 2005

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Saturday, November 13, 2004

Day 194 - Sun November 7th
Renes birthday started poorly with 2 hours of dismal World Service sport. Forest and Liverpool both losing. Things could only get better.

Leaving our accommodation in Nornalup we followed the knoll scenic drive, which is supposed to give panoramic views of both inlets, but the Karri forest was so dense we barely caught a glimpse. It was a one way loop and we kept thinking there'll be a clearing in a moment, but there wasn't. By all accounts its lovely though.

3km east of Nornalup is the start of the road which leads to the 'Valley of the Giants'. The valley contains dozens of 60m tingle trees. In 1989 visitors to the area reached 100,000 and because tingles can't survive if the soil around their roots is compacted one of the most famous trees collapsed. Something had to be done and C.A.L.M began work on a management plan for Walpole - Nornalup Nationa lPArk in 1990. The solution, opened in 1996, is the multi award winning Tree top walk.

Made up of 6 lightweight bridge spans, each 60m long and 4m wide, its supported between guyed pylons. The walkway rises gently (wheelchair friendly) over terrain that falls to a deep valley. At its highest point the walkway is 40m above ground. The trusses were pre-fabricated in 6m sections, bolted together on site and hoisted into place with little disturbance to the forest and amazingly the 600m walkway occupies only 3 square metres of forest floor.

Gigantic trees and state of the art design and engineering are a heady mix for a meccano loving woodbutcher. Rene was also ni awe as we slowly made our way through the treetops with the walkway gently swaying and birds flying below us. Beyond the walkway an area known as the Ancient Empire trail has boardwalks surrounding and protecting all the remaining giants.

Back on the south coast highway we continued towards the town of Denmark but turned off about 15km short to visit the William Bay National PArk. More spectacular scenery with massive rounded boulders added to the WA coastal staples of white sand and clear turquoise water. At Green Pools the boulders extend 100m out to sea, creating a reef that protects the beach. Round the headland Elephant Rocks, 100 tonne granite meteorites crowd the shallows. The wind was again blowing hard, so despite the sunshine it was zipped up tracksuit tops all round as we walked the headland.

In order that Rene didn't spend all her birthday driving we bypassed Denmark and drove straight to Albany. We booked into Middleton Beach caravan park, who were offering cabins with jacuzzi baths . After months of showers Rene insisted on a bath for her birthday. With lunch in the belly, food, and more importantly on your birthday, wine in the fridge, we took the coast road with its exceptional panoramic views across the King George Sound and Princess Royal Harbour to Torndirrup National PArk.

With the National PArks seemingly playing Natural Wonderments Top Trumps, Torndirrup had a lot to live up to. But it did and then some. Our first stop was 'The GAp'. Picture a vast exposed granite cliff face, with a 15m wide, 30m deep piece removed, leaving this dramatic square edged gap; a bizarre sight indeed. But 100m away was the even more bizarre 'Natural Bridge', a monumental span of granite, bridging two cliffs with the oocean visible through the arch below. All the granite was weather smoothed, cracked and fissured and resembled rhino hide.

Further along the coast we walked down 80 steps to reach 'The Blowholes' a series of fissures in the granite cliffs which, when the waves are big enough, water is forced through at great pressure, creating a hissing geyser of sea water. Unfortunately despite the wind, the swell wasn't up to much so there was no hissing or spitting to see but again, the surrounding coastline was spectacular.

From wowing, and nursing an exhasted weary camera, we headed back to Middleton Beach Caravan Park to celebrate Renes birthday with a jacuzzi, pizza, wine and Australian Pop Bone Idol. Down to the last 3 so surely it cant drag on much longer.

Expenses: Accom 106.20, treetops 12, wine 29.10, lunch 13.90, dinner 15

Day 195 - Mon November 8th
Albany was first settled in 1826, 2 years before Perth. On Boxing Day in 1826, Major Edmund Lockyer and a party of soldiers and convicts from Sydney, came ashore in Princess Royal Harbour to establish a penal outpost. Albany was officially proclaimed a city on 1 July 1998 and now has a population of over 30,000.

Boasting one of the worlds best natural harbours, incredible scenery and the states most temperate climate, its a great place to spend some time. Unfortunately with the car having to be back in Perth on Saturday and our determination to visit Esperance and Kalgoorlie, we must move on.

A move on of 500km took us from Albany to Esperance and absorbed our day. Courtney will be scanning the situations vacant columns this week after his eviction from pop idle.

Expenses: Accom 60.30 Fuel 46.15, inet 3.30, food and wine 45.95
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