Wednesday, 4 April 2018

2017: wrapped up

Finishing off the year at Xmas;

So with a few days break at xmas, then another few days just before new year, it was time to get some more nights under canvas in for the year. Xmas was a leisurely affair, just a visit to Nannup with the family - staying in the house, no nights added to the tally. Being a bit warm, a swim at the local waterhole: Barrabup : was in order

And nothing beats a cold beer and a hot sausage with the family:

Not that there is anything exciting above, its just filling in blog space. Back to work for a few days and I had 4 days to play with come the 30th. Leo decided to come along for the trip and we thought of heading down Walpole way.

Unfortunately I didn't finish work till 1530 on the Saturday and couldn't leave until 1630 at the earliest. We decided to head back to Belvedire to get a head start for the following day. Leo decided he would head down early and secure a spot.

Just as well he did, because at 1400 when he arrived, he got the last site in the place. Such a difference to when we were there early December for the start of "full on at Fish Creek". I arrived around 1800. Just enough time to squeeze the ulti into our small assigned site, get dinner on the go, swap a few xmas pressies and have a drink or two. Sorry no photo's to show here.

Come the morning, we departed for fern Hook falls, north of Walpole. I had warned leo this was a bad time of year, and finding somewhere, especially tonight, being new years eve, was going to be a challenge.

And right I was. Into Fernhook and it was chocka's. We drove out and parked up on the side of the road to discuss our options. Leo had a few sites on his map. Something called 'sweet spot" on wiki, Crystal Springs and a site a bloke at Belvedere had mentioned to me "Banksia camp". I had none of these places on my maps, nor had I ever been there, so I told him to take the lead. And it is here all went to shit.

He had mentioned turning down Ordinance Road, something I explained also wasn't on my maps, but its all good, cause I saw it on the way in and knew where it was. Leo took the lead and I had to hang back a few Km's due to the dust. Turning onto Ordinance, he mentioned over the radio he had turned down Easter Road to check out a potential site. I was told, don't come down here, the bridge is out and I wouldn't be able to turn the trailer around. fair enough. When I met Easter Road, I parked up and waited.

Leo mentioned he was chatting with a group camped there and would be finished soon. I should go back to the Highway and he would meet me there. So we did just that. 8Km of dusty gravel later, we waited, and we waited and we waited. After 20 minutes, I wondered where the hell he was. Had he done a tyre, hit a roo, run off the road?? Dunno, but I decided to head back in case something was wrong. At the very least we would pass each other.

Wrong I was. Arriving back at Easter road, I parked up again and walked to the old bridge. I saw the group he was speaking to and explained I was looking for my mate. They said he left ages ago.

Where the hell did he go??

From my map and the track drawn down ordinance road, it appeared the road would follow the river, getting ever further from the highway. So all I could do, was go back to the Highway and wait. hopefully to meet up again.

Another 1/2 hour passed, time now being 1630, New years Eve. I explained to the family, I suspect he has gone South to one of the spots he mentioned: one of the spots I had no idea where they were. So we could also go South, rooting around trying to fins these spots and him. or we could go North, back to Shannon River Campground - a site that was suggested when we had parked up.

My thoughts on the matter was that the further we go South, the closer to the coast, the busier it would become. And I had to find them once we got in the vicinity. If we went North to Shannon, we stood a higher chance of gaining a spot for the night. So North it was.

Arriving at Shannon, we found the campground deserted. Dpaw have invested huge money in this place, having over 70 individual sites, hot showers, flushing dunnies and all. Quite bizarre considering this place is literally in the middle of nowhere and has nothing to do in the vicinity. Fantastic use of taxpayer funds - Not!.

So it was around 1800 by the time we had set up and hoped leo might take the initiative and head North and we could spend new years Eve together. Unfortunately it didn't happen and we were in bed by 2300.

Next morning we packed up and headed into Walpole. On the way in, I passed Ordinance Road would you believe. It met the highway about a kilometre from bloody Easter Road (where I headed back to the highway, the long way), going by my tracklog would you believe. They mystery had been solved. I now know where he went. Pity he didn't communicate that to us!

Walpole was the first place we got phone reception back after leaving Manjimup. I sent Leo a txt telling him where we were, thinking he would be floating around the area somewhere.

I got a call back pretty quick, unfortunately, where ever he was, reception was not good. A quick convo followed, him bagging me stating "I told you we were going to go to crystal Springs", myself replying I told you I didn't know where that was, hence why I said take the lead. And that was the end of the call - also the last time I ever heard from him again.

And that was the end of our journeys together. For all I know, he is still driving around out there, because I have not heard from him since. Some 3 months after the event as I write this

There was a really good map in Walpole and I found where both Crystal Springs and Banksia Camp were located. All off Mandalay Beach Road, which I recall passing. I sent a txt stating we were now heading to Banksia Camp, he should come meet us. Well as you can imagine, that never happened.

Personally, I am stunned. Obviously just a communication screw up, one of those events that you pull the piss out of each other for years to come, although he doesn't see it that way. Somehow he thinks I either deliberately left him in the lurch, or attacked him personally.

So if that is what mateship constitutes, you are on your own buddy. Who needs mates like that!

A rather sour end to 2017 and start to 2018.

So with the family we headed out to Banksia for our last night (the first night under canvas for 2018). When we arrived around 1400 we found the hut unaccompanied, so commandeered the prime position. this allowed us to sit in comfort in the "Banksia Lodge"

What a great little place this was. We wandered down the beach for a play:

Back at camp, more people came in and filled the campground over the afternoon. I'm surprised no one wanted to share the facilities with us. A quiet night down, we packed for home the next morning, still wondering how the hell it all went wrong - as I still do.

lets hope it's not an omen for the state of play for 2018.

Trip Stats:

Finishing up with 48 nights under canvas for 2017

with 1 night under canvas for 2018

On this Walpole trip:
1075km travelled
160L fuel used
for an average of  14.9 L/100Km (noting the ulti was in tow)
cost of fuel $227
camp fees $17

And wrapping up 2017:

Full on at Fish Creek

01st-06th December

Another 5 days off saw me heading South once again. Playing a bit closer to home for a couple of days and then venturing further South, Continuing the journey east of where my last trip "Wandering down the Warren" left off.

Leaving home early afternoon on a Friday, I was once again stunned by the traffic that is the Perth freeway, a freeway in name, not in stature. All was fine until the city, where the traffic banked up considerably, and then took me an hour to travel a further 30Km's. 2 hours from home to Ankatell Rd, normally a 50 minute drive. I had caught up with Leo on the freeway part way down.

We headed into Belvedire campground, a place I had reconnoitred previously but not camped at previously. Finding the place nearly empty was a bonus, and finding a fire ring with a couple of logs ready for splitting was a bonus. So with a later entry into camp, it was time to get down to business - dinner, a fire and a glass of red.

There wasn't much need for lighting this night, what with a full moon casting its beams over the area. interestingly, we spied a cheeky fox, coming in quite close to us at the fire, obviously slunking around to do a snatch and grab of any food we may have left out. Unlucky for him, we always pack out stuff away.

The following morning after coffee and breakfast, we headed onto Bufallo Beach for the 30Km run up the coast to Preston Beach. Arriving at the water was amazing. Today was one of those handful of days with no wind. The ocean was a mill pond and it made you appreciate where we actually live to be able to do things like this in such pristine conditions.

First port of call was Myalup. It was getting hot and so too was the tranny temps. Such a long way in 2/3rd low range, with a torque converter constantly unlocked, generated a lot of heat in both tranny and engine coolant. I've never experienced the torque converter being unlocked so often and it only made me want to investigate a torque converter lockup kit even more.

Into Myalup we went, stopping off at the general store for a bite to eat for lunch and finishing off with a nice ice cream on a hot day, gave the chance for our Paj's to cool down and have a rest, much like ourselves. But still only halfway to Preston Beach, we had more sand to go. The temperature was getting hot now, greater than 32 degrees and the vehicles were working hard in the hot dry sand. Leo's engine mounted DCDC Pro shut down from over temperature, something he had not seen before.

Another hour or so on the sand and as we approached Preston, we came across a Suzuki, full of young folk, stranded on the sand. It appears it has burnt its clutch out and wasn't going anywhere. We were going to offer to pull them to the blacktop, but they asked for a lift into town so they could get their "recovery vehicle". Upon arrival, and looking at the state of their gear and the recovery vehicle, we deemed it safest to tow them home with our gear and our vehicles. So back to the zuk we went. I suggested before we started prepping for the pull home, they give the zuk another go under its own steam. My theory was that the clutch wasn't burnt, just cooked, and the hour or so of rest may have enabled it too cool. And right I was, reducing the tyre pressures, the zuk started and drove its way out. The clutch not totally shagged, just too hot to perform. A win all round. So we aired back up I the carpark and headed to my old favourite, martins tank for the evening.

The old pissums were at their mischievous best, trying to raid out food crates and rubbish bags, whilst we were sitting next to them. Around 1800, a couple arrived in the site next door, erected a double swag and subsequently took off again. I guess they went into Preston for dinner at the resort.

Arriving back at about 2030, Leo and myself were enjoying a quiet drink, trying to shoo the Pissum thus mentioned away from out stuff. Every now and then, a strange sort of noise could be heard in the distance. I got up to investigate but couldn't find the source. Leo retired early, and the ZZ's started flowing whilst I sat up at the table with my glass of red. The noise continued, and in between bouts of snoring from leo's camp, I discovered the source. It was coming (literally) from the double swag next door. Female moans and groans. The dirty bastard..........I couldn't go to bed, another red was order of the night. No poles required for my swag tonight......

Sunday morning came around. The couple next door packed up quick and buggered off whilst I held my secret smile in check. Leo was out of there pretty quick too, his trip was done, and had to return home for work the next day. I hung around a bit longer. I had arranged to meet Trevor on the highway at 1000, so we could continue the journey South.

As luck would have it, Trevor raised me on the radio and I arrived at the highway turnoff just as he passed. Perfect timing. A pub lunch and a beer in Manjimup, with a fuel top off had us heading for Callcup Hill (WA's largest dune). The flexible plan was to camp at the top of Callcup, and have a crack at ascending it in the morning. But when we arrived at ground zero, it was still early afternoon, so we made the decision to have a crack at Callcup today. I stayed at the top as a recovery vehicle, whilst Trev attempted Callcup for the first time. The D-max pissed it in. With trev sporting a big grin, I had to show him what the Paj was capable of. And I failed miserably. Almost bogged at the turn around point, I had 2 cracks to no avail. D-max 1, Paj 0. That said, Trev had another crack at it and failed miserably too. I know from experience here, I need to run super low pressures, and to be honest, I couldn't be bothered, so we decided to head down to the Warren River to see if we could cross.

Crossing the Warren was again a no-go. Not without partly driving in ocean washup. Nothing neither Trev or myself was keen on. Trev was extremely keen on sleeping on the beach, what with the little wind about (something of a rarity for us), so venturing on past the Callcup track, we found a suitable spot for the evening.

We sat back with a couple of drinks watching the sun set over the ocean. Trev had a bottle of Grey Goose vodka and tried repeatedly to get me to try some. In the end, I gave in. Not being a vodka drinker at all, I was surprised how refreshing Vodka, lime and soda was. Too easy to drink.

So much so, by 2000, sitting on the edge of the dune in the dark, I suggested I couldn't be bothered cooking dinner now. So we polished off the bottle ;) Both a little wobbly booted, Trev went to bed whilst I had another glass of red for a nightcap.

Trev didn't fare so well in the morning. Mentioning that he had lost a few carrots out the side of his swag during the night. Unable to make himself a coffee, I had to look after the poor blokes welfare and made him a special brew. Unfortunately the hot milk and coffee brew didn't last in his stomach for long. Poor bloke :)

But some food made him come good and we hit the sand venturing further South for an exit at the Summertime track. Trev veered of a few times checking tracks heading away from the beach. One particular track, in typical Trev fashion, had me swearing and cursing as the sounds of the vegetation scraping down the sides of the Paj was akin to nails on a blackboard. But a magic little spot we found, the upper reaches of the Meerup River. Certainly one to put in the memory banks for another time. Light rain now starting to fall.

Back onto the beach and we find the Meerup cuts the beach, just like the Warren does further North. Stopping high on the beach and we are worried. The sand is like quicksand a good 20m from the water. It's even softer in the water. Not a good prospect, so we spend quite a while looking for a suitable place to cross.

Down near the ocean, we find the only place where the sand isn't like jelly. It has a small soft section in the water itself and in all reality, it's the only place we can cross. We spend quite a bit of time here checking out all the options, testing the water, discussing recovery options should it be required. In the end, it was time to attempt the crossing. Edging in and out to test for sinkage, it was time to just do it. So through I went, no drama's at all. Trev followed and we were across. A bit nerve wracking at the time, but time spent in preparation is well worth spent.

Then an easy run down to the Sumertime track to find the exit was pretty chewed up. Again, time spent in preparation proved its worth. Trev unfortunately didn't put his wheels where I suggested and had to have a few cracks at ascending off the beach. I went up first go:

D-max 1: Paj 1

At the end of the summertime track, it was time to air up for the blacktop run into Windy Harbour.

Some spectacular scenery to be had around Windy harbour. The view from the top of Mt Chudalup was pretty amazing, allowing us to see the dunes from where we had just come. It also allowed Trev to call home to make sure everything was A-Ok.

The cliff top views from Windy Harbour are also worth a visit.

Leaving the little village of Windy harbour behind , we headed out to the Gardiner River along a sandy track. At one point, the sand becoming quite soft, it was time yet again for tyre pressure adjustment.

Upon reaching the river, we found there was no way to cross and could see some DPAW buildings on the other side of the river. So we made our way to the Lower Gardiner River road and found a nice little campsite just to the North of those buildings.

The following morning (no duty free vodka left, thank goodness says Trev), we decided to head for Moores Hut/Fish creek. It wasn't long before our first obstacle became apparent. Again, not wanting to just plunge in, we walked, we analysed, we prepared to do it properly. Again, no drama's to be had, just an opportunity to wash all the beach sand off.

This road was quite wet and numerous holes were presented along the way:

None of them presented any drama's though. In wetter times, this track would be quite challenging. the track skirts a large area of wetland and would be inundated in a wet winter.

Reaching Chesapeake Rd,  we find a diversion due to a closed bridge. having to cross the Gardiner River at a causeway also presented no challenge. However, in winter, no doubt this wont be the case:

Stopping at the bridge for a photo session, I had the window down and could hear an alarming noise coming from the right hand rear. Subsequent investigation showed a piece of wood had wedged between my rim and caliper. Luckily, it appears no damage was done apart from a few scrapes inside the rim:

Checking out the Shannon River before going into Fish creek area, Trev decided to remodel my windscreen with the famous South West ball bearing gravel. that's what you get I suppose driving too close trying to get some footage. Grrrrrr.

Turning off onto Moore's track, we headed to the Hut. Having never been here before, I was stunned at the quality of the restored shack. It was simply brilliant. I will have to come back here again.

So we now have a choice: drive the inland track to fish Creek, some 17Km's away or head down to Coodamurup beach. We chose the latter:

Fish Creek via the beach from here is the shortest way to go, so we decided on a beach run. Unfortunately, a few Km's from Fish creek, the beach narrowed and as I cruised along, I came to a grinding halt and sunk. And what a job that was to be extracted. As the video show's, it was scary soft....hahahaha.

But eventually I was out. Another group had come along and they we not going to let the beach beat them, so they picked a line about a meter higher than I had took and were through easy. Mind you, the speed they traversed was scary. I looked at Trev, he looked at me and we said stuff it, lets do it. So we were both through without issue. Its amazing what difference a meter can make.

However, we were all thwarted at the next narrow point. it was just too narrow and we all had to turn back. back through my bog point, the wheel tracks now washed away from the surf, which proved the urgency of getting me out of that place pronto.

So with the run back to Moore's hut, coupled with the 17Km inland track, we eventually reached Fish Creek (West Cliff head):

There is the most beautiful spot to camp here, grass and all one dune from the beach, offering wind protection. However, it was full, there must have been 6 or more cars in that small area. So Trev and myself went in search of another place and found a spot in the dunes. it was bloody soft to get in, I had to reduce pressures below 10PSI. But in we got. The wind was pretty crappy and we huddled behind the cars for protection:

When we woke in the morning, the weather looked very daunting. Rain was imminent. A decision was made to skip breakfast and get packed and on the road before we got wet. We made it just in time. Not without it's issues though.

This trip was the maiden voyage for my mew Kumho KM51's.I replaced the Toyo opat's due to finding the sidewalls just didn't have the strength I needed.  To be honest, I wasn't overly happy with the KM 51's in the sand. The Paj (although it weighs more than the D-max) sure didn't perform as well. Maybe I just need a bit more sand experience with these tyres. But when I woke I was properly deflated......and so was my Left hand rear. Suspecting another sidewall stake, I re-inflated the tyre to see what happens. It seemed to hold pressure, so I took the gamble to drive out and check out the damage in a place more tyre changing friendly. It was still at the same pressure????/

So we drove back out to Chesapeake Rd, our re-inflation point. The tyre still holding, we inflated back to road pressure. Checking frequently on the drive back to Manji, there was no change. So it seems, with the low pressure and the tight manoeuvring in the camp behind the dune, I must have popped the bead enough to deflate the tyre but not unseat it. So in a way that was a relief, but I've never popped a bead before and that in itself makes me worry into the future.

Arriving in Manjimup, we had our breakfast, then hit the road for home. A thoroughly enjoyable trip done and dusted, ready for the next one.

Trip Stats:

5 nights under canvas
1753km travelled
71L fuel used @ Manjimup (477Km's - 14.9L/100)
119L fuel used remainder of trip (819Km - 14.5L/100)
1296Km in total
for an average of  14.66L/100Km
cost of fuel $253
camp fees $20

The running tally of nights under canvas now stands at 46

Vids for the trip

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Wandering down to the Warren

18-23rd November

Well after being cooked at Kunanalling, Warren decided he hadn't had enough of me and wanted to join in the fun of another 6 days away. Being November, going South was the only option. Leo also took the opportunity to get one night in with us and see some bits of the south West he hadn't seen before.

So I decided we would head down to Augusta, then follow the coast east from there. Where we ended up, we ended up. And seeing we had no real plan in place, I thought I may as well get some caching in too. Both Warren and leo hadn't seen what it was all about, so it was a good thing to show them as well.

Meeting at the "Ice Cream Cones" on Forrest highway,  I quickly showed the boys what this geocaching thing was about. A tricky little cache, Warren actually found how to open this hide. Not a bad effort for a first timer.

Slowly making our way South, stopping off at some pre saved caches filled in the day quite well. I picked up a couple of trackables and geo coins to be moved on later in the trip

Pretty sad, when we got to Fergus the Bull, he was having an ear replaced. Apparently, some of the lower IQ people in our society think its a great game to steal his horns, break his ears or just otherwise be a dick.

Some more caching whilst heading South and we arrived in Dunsborough. And here I came up with a good thought - Who wants an ice cream at Simmo's?

Well we all do. It was reasonably warm, we had time up our sleeve, so why not. It had been years since I had been there, so I went with the old favourite : A Liquorish ice-cream. Sounds terrible hey, but wait till you taste it:

From there we headed out towards Yallingup. A cache near here sounded interesting and I was hoping it might provide a camp for the night. Unfortunately it didn't. The South west corner here is absolutely magnificent. Brilliant coast, Wineries and breweries galore, a real tourist mecca. The Achilles heal is the lack of camping facilities. There is very little unless you want to spend +$30 per night in some commercial venture.

So out with the maps and we decided to head to Cranebrake Pool. I said it will probably be busy and seeing its a small place, we may not get in. Only one way to find out I guess.

So on the way, we come across more evidence of some of the diminished gene pool in the area. This thing was still smoking and hot. It hadn't been torched much before hand. A great way to find your pride and joy hey.

Upon arrival, as suspected, all sites were taken and it appeared like bogan central. So that was a win. We made our way to the overflow area and found we had it to ourself. Awesome. A pleasant quiet night was had by all.

Day 2 and after breakfast, Leo hit the road for home, Warren and myself headed further south.

More caches along the way took us to some obscure sites, this fire tower, we wouldn't have known about otherwise:

Warren actually found the cache before I had even got out the car. Mind you, it was pretty exposed, but I guess with a days training up his sleeve, he was well on the way to becoming level: Expert in geocaching.

Then slowly meandering our way further South, we stopped in at Margaret River falls. A pretty little place, but the cache here had us stumped. Mind you, the tree cover didn't help with the location accuracy of the GPS.

And eventually we made Augusta. Cape Leeuwin in the background:

Checking out the new marina, and wasting a couple of hours getting some more geocaching tally's we headed for Alexandra bridge. A pretty little place it is too, mind you, I would hate to have to rely on solar here, the tree canopy making an awesome shaded spot to camp.

Just after dinner, glass of red in hand, Warren and myself were sitting under my awning. I hear a noise above and felt wet. Bloody possums: Grrr. It had decided to piss all over my awning and I copped its spray...Grrrr. Lucky, it was only a light shower.

However later on, the furry bag of piss dumped a whole bucket load on my awning. I couldn't believe so much fur could hold so much liquid. Eventually it buggered off in the tree canopy to annoy some other poor hapless bastard. It didn't return for the rest of  night, thank goodness.

Out with the nanopresso in the morning, I made myself and a fellow camper a good brew:

It was a late start today, getting underway about 1030. We didn't have far to travel, only about 120 odd Km's, so it was nice getting a late start in. the target for today, Black Point. I knew it was a bit of a sandy track in, and this could slow us down, but we should arrive in plenty of time for camp.

And a slow trip in it was, but I'm sure Warren was loving it. Arriving at Black point about 1430, the weather had taken a turn and it wasn't looking great. We hung around Surfers cove for a bit to see what the weather was going to do. A few light showers passed and an hour or so later we drove to the other side: Stepping Stones. There was a cache about 1.5Km's hike up the beach, but the weather still looked very daunting, so I decided to leave this cache for another day

We took a look around both campgrounds: no one was here: And decided on the Seal Cove site. It had some timber left behind from a previous group, so that will come in handy. It also allowed us to have the campfire Olympics:

A nice night ensued around a cosy fire. Unfortunately a couple of hours in, the heavens opened up. We retreated under the awnings until it stopped, then came back out and finished the fire off - with another glass of red no doubt.

Morning dawned nice and sunny. The bad weather now gone:

My coffee clobber seems to grow every trip:

I thought I should take Warren to lake jasper seeing as we are passing by. But first I conned him down to jasper beach:

Getting down and on the beach wasn't a problem, but warren started to worry when I couldn't get off the beach. A bit more adjustment of tyre pressures and I was up on the second attempt. Warren took 2 goes too.

From there we headed out to lone karri beach. Stuffed if I know where the karri is:

And now having no plan on where we are to both travel and stay, we ventured into lake Jasper. There is bugger all camp spots here now, due to all the anti-social behaviour of previous years, Dpaw in their wisdom have made it low key, low volume.

It was only about 1300, a bit early to camp. So we had some lunch and pushed on. Some time later, bac on the blacktop, we ventured into a nice little place: Snottygobble campground. Now well later in the afternoon, timing was just right to make this out camp for the evening. A nice little fire in the fire ring topped it off.

For our last day on the ground, we just went exploring. No plans had been laid, we would just see where we ended up. First stop being Beedelup Falls where I managed to pick up another 2 caches:

From there we headed out to Lake Yeagerup and another cache I could not find:

And seeing we were in Yeagerup, it was time to hit the dunes and head for Yeagerup beach:

On the way out we took a back road for yet another cache:

It was a killer. In open shoes, peeling back vegetation in true tiger snake country. I almost quit 20m from the cache, it got that bad. But I couldn't let it go and soon enough, determination paid off with another find:

From there we headed to Drafty's camp. There was no sites available that was suitable for our set ups. I just don't get Dpaw. Lots these days have camper trailers and most Dpaw sites you go to are for tent based camping - they are either very small or you have to walk your gear in. No room for either camper trailers or a vehicle with an awning. Of course, when we arrived at Drafty's, the only couple of spots out of all the sites in the place suitable for us were taken.

So we ventured further on to Warren campsite. Again all the sites too small and no room for us. However, the carpark for river access had the room. With no "no camping" signage, we took the opportunity and set up or the night.

Here we met Verena, a German cycling across the world. Telling us her tales of cycling the Gibb River Road, she earnt our respect. What a champion. Warren and myself had another awesome little campfire to sit by tonight.

Unfortunately morning came around too quick. Some coffee and a last chat with Verena, and we were on the way for home. It had been a great 6 days and I thank Warren for being there.

Trip Stats:

5 nights under canvas
1153km travelled
144L fuel used
for an average of  12.5 L/100Km
cost of fuel $195
camp fees $42

The running tally of nights under canvas now stands at 41

And the trip vids below: