Thursday, February 25, 2010

- Homeward Bound via the South West -

For those who are unfamiliar with Esperance, it is the last largest town heading east along the coast of Western Australia. Its famous for its beautiful pristine beaches and islands dotted out along its coast, it is also a major port and popular tourist destination. After driving 950km's to Esperance in one day, we were exhausted! We found a cheap little cabin to check into so we could sort out the car, do some washing and have a little more comfort for the night. Once all organised the following morning, we set off to explore!

(View from Tankers Jetty.)

Our first stop was taking a walk along the town jetty (aka Tanker Jetty) where we saw some resident seals chasing each other through the water. We picked up a Coffee from the little van at the end of the jetty and it would honestly be the best coffee we have had along our entire trip!! While savouring every drop of our take away coffee we headed off to begin what is known as the tourist drive loop. 32kms of Beaches, Bays and lookouts that are just breath taking! We were especially lucky with the weather! Not too windy and the sun was just right to enhance the magical colours of the coast!

(Sea Lions.)

(The best coffee EVER!)

(It's a hard life...)

(Great Views from the Car)

We would've spent days in and around Esperance exploring the national parks and camping on the glorious beaches. However we hadn't planned on spending too much time in the South West, rather a taste, so we could come back another time. After all we were now back on home soil!After going back to Coffee Cat for a second round (i know, but it really was that good!), we drove on west and made it to Albany for the night. The following morning we took a quick drive out to the Natural Bridge and The Gap along tourist drive for a look before continuing on towards Denmark and Walpole to visit the Red Tingle Trees which make up the Valley of the Giants.

(The Gap)

These trees are exactly that, GIANT!! Some towering over 80 meters into the sky!! The best way to see these amazing trees is to take a walk into the tree tops! The tree top walk is along a steel truss walkway that meanders through the canopy of the trees about 40 metres off the ground! It was quite a strange feeling looking down to the forest floor, especially if there was a movement on the walkway! So with our feet back on mother earth we wandered through the ancient forest walk which was just as spectacular! Some of the trees would be at least 15 meters around the base, just jaw dropping to look at. Some previous fires have hollowed out the trunks of some trees making for some great photo's and even the pathways that lead straight through the tree trunks!

(Giant Tingle Tree...)

(Tree Top Walk)

We finally said goodbye to the Valley of the Giants and admired the scenery of the Karri Forests as we drove towards Pemberton. While calling past we wanted to check out and climb the Gloucester Tree. The Gloucester Tree and others like it in the area were originally fire lookouts, pegs were hammered into the tree's trunk and spiralled all the way to the top to get a better view of fires in the region. The tree is 72 meters tall, but i think to the actual viewing platform is about 60 meters off the ground!

(The Towering Gloucester Tree)

Standing at the base of the tree, we looked up in awe, and almost immediately began to question whether or not we could do it. A couple, were on their way down and if they took any longer on getting down I reckon Bren would've chickened out for good! But eventually it was our turn and began the climb, another couple had also begun the climb behind us... so there was definitely no chickening out now! Our palms were sweaty against the steel rods, our knees went weak as you looked down to see that you were placing your feet correctly on the next rung. Up and Up we spiralled around the tree. It was hard going and often you had to stop calm yourself down and just breathe! Eventually, huffing and puffing we arrived at the top platform, large enough for 6 people to comfortable enjoy the view! It was amazing looking above all the trees, although a little frightening looking down!! Once we got our breath back, we began the trip back down... which is just as thrilling as the way up... back safely on the ground again we looked back up the length of the tree! We had done it!!!

From the Gloucester Tree in Pemberton we enjoyed the drive through tall forest tree's all the way out to Augusta for the night. The next morning we drove out to the Lighthouse and enjoyed the drive along the coast. We pushed on to Margaret River to check out the surf and enjoy a morning coffee. It's such beautiful country and we could have spent days exploring the number of caves, beaches and forests around the South West. However with the region being part of our "Backyard" we pushed on to visit friends at Busselton and to drop into Mandurah for an afternoon coffee with Brendon's Grandparents. We were planning on stopping the night. However with home, so close we decided to make the familiar drive through to Perth.

(The Augusta Lighthouse.)

(Beautiful drive through the trees.)

(Surf @ Margaret River.)

With the city skyline looming, it was really beginning to hit us that we were back. How we wouldn't be setting up the tent once we stopped, or having to research things to see and do at our next destination. We also began to be reminiscent about the fantastic places and faces we have come across on our travels and the places we would choose to visit again. So you could say there was mixed emotions driving through the city and onto home. HOME, we had made it!

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