We had a contact to stay with in Busselton, we met Barry by complete chance in a shopping centre in Carnarvon, he is a builder and was re-roofing the store when he saw us pull in. He came sprinting down the ladder for a chat as he and his wife Tina are planning to drive from England back to Australia in a classic Peugeot car they have purchased in the U.K. They are both laid back friendly people and we are sure they will get along fine, Barry’s pretty organised already but we were able to help with a few hints, tips and contacts as they plan to take roughly the same route.
Trace (Tina’s brother) came over that evening on his bike, he is a long term biker and part ran Alf’s motorcycles in Worthing (not far from where we lived) for many years before emigrating out here.
Barry and his son Nathan took us out on their boat to meet up with a load of their workmates. They were having a works christmas party on another boat at Meelup (the next bay along) so we went out to meet them. Theirs was an ex dive charter boat so it was pretty large and powerful. It had two big Iveco inboard diesel engines and fairly shifted along, we enjoyed the ride despite the fact that neither of us are sailors. It was a very Aussie do lots of Eskies (cool boxes) of beer and a bbq and a good social. Two guys came by jet ski to join the fun and someone else swam out from the beach with his wallet and phone in a dry bag. We jumped off the back of the boat and had a snorkel around for a while too, a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon. When it was time to leave the jet ski wouldn’t start so we had to give it a tow home much to its owners disgust.
Josie our radio interviewer also lived in Busselton and we popped over one evening for a delicious dinner, it was nice to be able to meet her husband Lyndsay too. Their house was in a woodland looking out over their bilabong and was an oasis of calm. It was great to catch up again. Here are some pictures.
Barry suggested we might like to stay on his boat for a few days, it was moored not too far away in a calm bay and would be a different experience for us. After stocking up with food we made the boat our home. Barry had a mate who lived right next to the beach where the boat was moored so we could leave the bike in safety and there was an inflatable tender to take us and our stuff too and fro from the beach. Neither of us have much experience on boats but I have to say it was a lovely way to spend a few days, the sea around this coast is crystal clear and the beaches are beautiful. Even though we were only anchored a few hundred metres offshore it felt like we had left the world behind. It was probably good timing too as it was only days to Christmas and silly season had already started. Being an ex dive charter boat it had plenty of room with a galley, bbq, double bed, lounge, shower and toilet. We ran the onboard generator for an hour each day to top up the batteries and heat the water for the shower and the boat had everything we needed. Most days were spent exploring the area on the bike and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We slept really well and only felt giddy when we got back on dry land and stood still, the world was still gently swaying and it took a couple of days to wear off.
Here are some pictures of us on the boat.
There was lots to explore on this peninsula and our first trip out was to Yalingup then Meelup beach (from the land side this time), the water around there is stunning turquoise blue and the beaches are white white sand. We went for a quick dip as the water looked so inviting. We also decided it would be a good opportunity to try out our waterproof video camera unfortunately the bubbles coming out of it were not a good sign and it died a death, as we had bought it second hand there was nothing we could do regards a replacement. Karen held onto it and said when she got a chance she would take it apart in the hopes it could be cleaned and we could squeek some more life out of it. It’s the nature of the beast you have to take a leap of faith at some point. The snorkle was worth it though and we swam quite a long way before returning to the bike and heading to Cape Naturaliste. Here there was a lighthouse and bush walks along the coast, we almost bumped into a family of kangaroos as they crossed the path. The male (what Aussies call a Boomer) looked straight into my eyes when he was stood up he was that big.
Another day out on the bike took us to Cape Leeuwin, here the Southern and Indian oceans meet. We walked down to the beach and got some nice pictures before backtracking slightly to the picturesque old water wheel. Built in 1895 a natural spring was diverted down the leat onto the overshot wheel, where a piston water pump was connected to the wheel on an eccentric cam and pumped the water from the trough up to the lighthouse for free. It was well and truly calcreted up now and modern mains plumbing has replaced it but it was very clever.
This region had many caves you can visit so we stopped at Jewel Cave and took a tour around. We have seen some spectacular caves before in Europe but this was just as good covering three levels, it had some delicate straw formations on the ceilings and beautiful veils, curtains, columns, stalactites and stalacmites.
On the way there and back we encountered some good biking roads with twists and bends, we rode through the beautiful Boranup Karri forest, amazingly these are actually regrowth the whole forest was clear felled between 1884 and 1913. This is the furthest west Karri trees will grow and some reach 60m metres or more, they are the third tallest growing tree in the world. Many trees down here are huge and some are really old. This area is probably the coolest and wettest in Australia and the flora and fauna are very different to the rest of the country.
We also passed Hamelin Bay which Barry had told us was worth a look, it had the remains of an old jetty on the beach which was very picturesque. This was used to load Karri onto ships for export to the commonwealth. Many streets of London were paved with Karri logs from Boranup and Karridale forests near here. Stingrays and Eaglerays came right into the beach there and the fisherman gave us fish offal to feed to them. Some are so tame you can literally hand feed them, rays generally interact quite happily with humans and didn’t seem seem to mind being stroked whilst being fed. They are by nature scavengers and clean up scraps from the sea floor.
As we got back to Busselton fairly late we decided to finish the day taking a stroll along its famous jetty. Built in ten stages starting in 1865 it is the longest timber piled jetty in the southern hemisphere. At one stage it was 2.1km long but has now reduced slightly to 1.8km, it has had its fare share of calamities over the years having being damaged by fire and boring toledo worms. During the day they charge to go on but in the evenings it’s free as it’s a really popular spot to fish from, it looked better at dusk anyway. It also meant we could ride home with our Christmas lights on.
On Christmas day itself we woke up at first light on the boat, it was the easiest sunrise we have ever watched as we simply opened a hatch and stood up in bed to take a photo before going back to bed for another hour or two. At a more reasonable hour we sailed the dinghy ashore and rode over to Tina and Barry’s for Christmas Day. It was lovely to spend it with a family rather than on our own and it was a very sociable day. Tina cooked a lovely Christmas dinner and spoilt us all rotten and we all had a good time. Here are some pictures and we hope all our followers had a good Christmas as well.
Next up: Big trees and Albany