Friday, June 3, 2011

Rain, big trees and surfing dolphins and castle rock

We were up and out of the house by 9am and on the free bus into town before it had a chance to start raining. Once we hit town, we picked up our car for the next few days – A little Toyota – and then began our drive out of Perth and east towards or first stop. Wave Rock. This is a spectacular wave shaped rock (Australians are good at naming things!!) Its about 100metres long and 11metres high, so we had a good look around before visiting nearby Hippos yawn. (Guess what that looks like) On the way through the local town we also stopped to take a look at some really cool sculptures made out of car parts that tell the story of some of the town old inhabitants.
We were going to camp out tonight, but on the radio we heard a weather warning telling us of 125kmh winds, so we thought a tent would be a bad idea, so headed south ans stayed overnight in the YHA Hostel in Albany. It was a lovely hostel with a great fire in the lounge, so we had a good night stay there, with Cornish pasties for dinner.

In the morning we saw that the weather was better, but still really windy, so we drove a little along the coast to a place called 'The Gap'. This is a 200feet deep gorge in the rocks gouged by the sea, which continues to pound the coast. It was the best place to be toady as the sea was at its best, crashing into the rocks and splashing the sea water over 200 feet into the air. Next to the gap is 'Natural Bridge', where the sea has beaten the rocks into submission and an archway now reaches across the rocks. The spectacular weather made these two sights all the better to visit and we saw them at their best. A little along the coast we saw cable beach, where we actually saw dolphins surfing on the waves towards the beach before jumping and somersaulting away just before hitting the shore. It was amazing to watch and something you wouldn't believe unless you had seen it yourself. I assure you it was real!! On our way back through Albany we stopped to take a picture of Dog Rock. Guess what it looks like!!?

A couple of hours drive north and we hit Porongurup national park, where we spent a good hour climbing up to see balancing rock and castle rock. Balancing rock is a 180ton rock that balances, as you would expect. But castle rock was just great. It is a massive rock atop a large granite hill, but has a clambering route where you climb between the rocks and up a steel ladder to a platform built above and beside the rock itself. You are 500metres up above the valley on a platform bolted into the rock itself. It was fantastic and well worth the climb. However, when we got to the peak, we looked across the valley to see a wall of rain heading our way – so after a few pictures we headed down again before we got soaked.

We were going to camp again tonight, but the weather was just as bad as yesterday and really quite cold, so we moved into the hostel in Pemberton for the next two nights while we explored the area. We were pleasantly surprised to move into a room away from the main hostel. It was actually a room in a nice little house about half a mile up the road, where 3 other people were also staying.
The night was spent around the wood burning fire, chatting to some of the other people in the hostel and enjoying the dry and warmth.

After a great nights sleep listening to the rain hitting the tin roof, we got up after a good lie in and after a run we jumped on the Pemberton Tramway, which travels for 10km through the forest. It was a really mellow and relaxing way to start the day. Looking at the trees and animals whilst passing over rivers and bridges as well as stopping every now and then to take a wander through the forest.

After a pie for lunch from the local bakery we hit the Karri forest discovery trail – A 90 km drive through the forest on roads and dirt tracks. Our first stop was the Gloucester tree – A 61metre high tree with metal rods attached to the sides, that were originally designed for some madman to climb to act as a fire lookout. It is now a tourist attraction and so, as you do, we climbed it – all 61metres of it, no safety equipment. It was mad!! But the view from the top made it worthwhile.

After descending again from the tree, we drove around the discovery trail stopping to see emu's, waterfalls and and one point a really cool fruit and veg stall, unmanned, where an old space invader machine has been utilised as a honesty pay point. I would love to see someone try to steal a space invader machine from the middle of the forest.
We had a great drive around, including Heartbreak track – an old logging track, with near vertical dips and rises, that was a lot of fun to drive around.

Back at the hostel/lodge we prepared a chili for dinner and settled in for the night again.
At the top of castle rock

Look carefully - surfing dolphins

Buffy on top of castle rock

Pemberton forest tram

Driving the tram -honest

Our front room for 2 nights - sweet

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