South Coast Feb 2011

Terry and Christine have slipped away for a quick caravaning trip along the South Coast. We have not visited the area between Esperance and Albany before so we are treating this trip as a bit of an exploration.

Tuesday 1 February 2011
We left Dowerin mid morning and headed to Merredin, stopping at Nungarin along the way for lunch. It was good to be on the road again with our trusty little caravan behind us. The radio news was full of doom and gloom for the Northern Queenslanders with the biggest cyclone in recorded history bearing down on them. We drove East through farming lands with dams full and many trees down following the weekend’s freak thunderstorms.
Our original intent was to head for Esperance via Coolgardie but at Merredin we made a late change and went South to Bruce Rock, Narembeen and Hyden, staying overnight at the Wave Rock Caravan Park. This is a lovely spot with excellent facilities. We even managed a late swim in their swimming pool.


Wednesday 2 February 2011
In the morning, we had a look at the famous Wave Rock. This arguably competes with the Pinnacles and the Bell Tower for the title of most over-rated WA Tourist Attraction. It photographs much better than it presents in the flesh (but then most of us do). We got some backpackers to take the obligatory Wave Rock photo to prove we had been there, took a 1.4km walk to “Hippo’s Yawn” then hitched up the van to drive South through Varley and Lake King to Ravensthorpe.
After lunch at Ravensthorpe, we changed a tyre on the caravan, one giving continual problems with a slow but persistent leak. Then we headed to the coast and Hopetoun. Much of the promised prosperity of Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun has been revived with the reopening of the mine but the signs of over-capitalisation are still visible. The place has amazing potential and the area is rich in visual beauty and natural assets but they still remain off the tourism mainstream.
From Hopetoun, we drove 33kms East along the coast (half unsealed) to Mason’s Bay. Here there is a wonderful camping ground and we managed to get a superb spot right on the water’s edge next to the boat ramp. A short fish only produced one herring and one small salmon but it was easy and fun. Life could be a lot worse.

Thursday 3 February 2011
The day was windy and grey, with water activities looking decidedly unattractive. A tyre on the caravan that had developed a slow leak was still giving trouble and I could not isolate the leakage point so we drove into Hopetoun to look for a tyre fixer.
The man at the tyre place was equally puzzled, with no leaks showing, until he noticed that the air was actually escaping through the back of the rim itself. It certainly didn’t look rusted but it was split somewhere. With the tyre on a new rim, we headed back, checking out the various beaches and spots along the coast. The Southern Ocean was really wild and dangerous looking and fishing was not even considered.
The rest of the day was spent reading, sleeping and talking with fellow campers, a friendly bunch.

Friday 4 February
Today we drove West, through Hopetoun, Ravenswood, Jerramungup and on to Bremer Bay. The scenery along the way was not much to consider and the occasional interesting vista was usually partly obscured anyway with the persistent misting drizzle. It seldom really rained but was seldom totally dry.
Jerramungup was much as we had expected, OK if you don’t have to live there. What was amazing was the amount of green pasture in evidence at this time of year. Obviously, the area has had some good Summer rains. Some paddocks had even been sown with some kind of pasture seed.
Bremer Bay is a quiet place, set on the Wellstead Estuary. It has some wonderful ocean launching facilities and a very protected little anchorage. They seem to have two caravan parks and we stayed in the town facility on the edge of the estuary. The rain persisted so we didn’t do much but set up and stay in the van. The town was quiet, the school holiday crowds having departed but not yet replaced by grey nomads.
Christine tried out our new oven, a glass bowl affair with a halogen powered heating element and fan forced convection. It did a fantastic job with a coupkle of lanb shanks and roast potatoes.

Saturday 5 February
The day was still grey with some drizzle. We decided Bremer Bay held little appeal at this stage so we drove West some 50km to Millers Point, a camping area on the Beaufort Estuary. This is a tiny piece of paradise. Wonderful shady camping spots extend for some distance around the estuary and we selected one where we could sit in camping chairs and fish right out in front. A tiny brilliant blue wren hopped up to almost touching distance and green silvereyes where in abundance.
We checked out two guys fishing just near where we were. They had 4 black bream so we were immediately inspired. Christine caught a nice bream almost straight away while I caught another one that was just around legal size and was released. After several missed runs, we stopped fishing for a spot of lunch. Unfortunately, the fish had gone off the bite when we resumed our efforts after lunch.
We walked for about a kilometre checking out other camping spots and were amazed by the extent of the estuary, which could be seen snaking up the valley well into the distance. Several boats were launched and headed off well upstream. Further down the beach, another fisherman could be seen cleaning a big mullet and a truly massive bream.
With the rain finally gone and the odd bit of blue poking through the clouds, things are looking up.