Blog 197 Amongst Giants 27th – 29th December 2011


After we said goodbye and thank you to Barry and Tina we pointed the bike south toward Albany but there were many things to see before we got there. Riding out on an old mining route to the coast we then followed a glorious road through the forests, it was here we saw the evidence of the recent Margaret River fires. Fires are part of the life cycle here and have been for thousands of years, some plants will not regenerate until burnt by fire. In modern times there has been a need to control bush fires to prevent loss of life and property, part of this process is called controlled burning. Areas are burnt at cooler times of the year in a controlled way to prevent fuel build up e.g long dry grass, leaf litter etc which make bush fires more likely. This fire was started as a controlled burn back in September but by November had got out of control sadly with tragic consequences. The photos below show what the native bush looked like before and the aftermath. There was an eerie silence, no birds or crickets but the Black boys were already rejuvenating and sprouting.

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We stopped at Beedelup falls, there was little water flowing but it was a pleasant walk. One of the paths was signposted to the walk through tree, this we had to see. It was a fairly strenuous walk but eventually we found ourselves at the foot of a giant Karri tree. Stepping up half a metre we could climb into what was most probably a knot in the trees growth now finished off by chainsaw. To stand inside this massive giant with many tonnes of tree above was surreal.The first and second photos are top and bottom of this giant.

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Along our lovely wiggly back road past farming land we came upon an old cheese factory now housing an art and craft store which was a maze of uneven rooms full to overflowing with paintings, woodwork, crafts, furniture you name it, it was here. We went through some interesting towns such as Nannup where our GPS Doris gave us a laugh trying to pronounce the road names. Many place names round here end in up which in Aborignal means place of, we tried to avoid travelling through Nornalup – place of tiger snakes and instead wished to travel to Yallingup – place of love.

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Next stop was the Gloucester tree standing at over 60 metres tall it was used as a fire lookout tree which amazingly given the current health and safety paranoia we were still allowed to climb. Given it was 153 rungs to the top I had been fairly convinced that I wouldn’t even get half way but seeing two small children scramble up I was determined to try. I was strangely unfazed at the top and even managed to take photos on the way down. Boofle made it all the way to the top but insisted on a photo to prove it. Kev was suffering a little from land legs after being on the boat but I must have been swaying in sync with the tree as I felt invigorated.

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Very close by was the Diamond tree a karri tree and another fire lookout that is still used as a backup. The tower at the top was first constructed in 1939. Kev had rigged up a neck strap for his camera and wanted photos I declined to climb this one opting to take the ground shots as it was easier to stand further back and get the scale of the tree.We had a close shave as we were leaving the carpark almost running over a poisonous Dugite snake.

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Our route onward was via the great forest drive a 14km detour on what can only be described as ball bearing gravel, it is made up of almost perfectly round stones making stopping in a straight line interesting let alone cornering.
We camped amongst the big trees that night, a magnificent backdrop marred only by the mozzies which had a sharp painful bite even through long trousers.

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We woke to a cacophony of bird song but as soon as we tried to record it they went silent only to resume when the camera was safely away. How do they know ? We gave the bike a really thorough service in Perth and it had been running really well but our battery was getting weak and we have had to jump start it for the first start of the day a few times. This morning it was the same and we had to bump start her, luckily I reminded Kev to park at the top of the slope. We made a mental note to sort out a new battery in Albany.

We were in a lookout stop when two overland bikes rode past, they stopped and turned around and when they pulled alongside us the first rider killed the bike and said “hello again”. We had no idea who it was until they pulled off their full face helmets and goggles to reveal Morgan and Duncan the guys we met in Freo. They were out on their Christmas holidays for small trip away. We had a good catch up chat and then decided to ride together for the day. Peeling off the tarmac onto Hilltop road (a gravel track) we went up to a red tingle forest which are the largest girthed eucalypt in the world. One measured 24metres in girth and some are over 400yrs old.

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We got some good pictures before heading on to circular pool, it was a hot day so we all stripped down to our swimmers and jumped in. Morgan had a waterproof case for his go pro camera so much messing about ensued as Morgan filmed Duncan scrabbling up the slippery waterfall much to everyone’s amusement. Once we had dried off and got changed we headed into town to get fuel and water and while we were there met and got talking to several people including some other bikers.

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Then we were off to the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk which was excellent, the walkway literally is amongst the treetops as it crosses a valley and isn’t for the faint hearted either as it sways as you walk. Morgan waited for us in the car park as he had done this before and Duncan was tree’d out by the time he had finished the walkway but we persevered and went round the tree glen afterwards and were rewarded with some good pictures of the variety of giant tree’s which grow in this area. Mainly Karri oaks and Red Tingles which can grow up to 75m tall and 20m in girth are recognisable by their large hollowed out bases created by fire, fungal and insect attact which decay the inside. The also have shallow roots and get all their nutrients from the forest fall only requiring 1200mm of rainfall a year to survive.

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We shared lunch together in the car park before agreeing to ride together until Denmark. We messed up slightly and missed a turn as we left the park and by the time we realised and doubled back we couldn’t catch the lads, I did wonder what the hooting was about now we knew. It didn’t matter too much as we were parting ways shortly and we had already swapped phone numbers. Heading back through the forest we found our way to greens pool, this was a coastal bay sheltered by a row of huge rocks just off shore which made a perfect swimming and recreation beach with turquoise water. It was the busiest we have ever seen a beach, mainly because it was still the Christmas holidays. We had a snorkel around the rocks and sunbathed for a while to dry out before heading back to the bike to ride the remaining distance to Albany. We had a contact to stay with here, Ken got in touch almost a year ago when he saw a post about us on Aigor (Australian internet Guzzi owners register) We emailed him a few weeks ago to see if he remembered who we were and to see if it was convenient to stay which happily he did and it was.

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Next up : Albany

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