From Cape Leeuwin we managed another two hours until we’d had enough. Walpole was the spot. 60km’s short of Denmark, where we had been aiming for. Now to find a place to stay. The camper trailer is a bit of a two-man job, so we’d resigned ourselves to the fact that we might have to stay in a few wee cabins, or cheap motel rooms until Erin could walk properly.

The weather was still pretty awful. Cold, windy and raining so I was actually quite happy to have a legitimate excuse not to stay in a tent 😀

A quick enquiry at the tourist office, and we managed to secure a night in secluded log cabin in a forest, by a river, with a huge deck and a log burning stove. It was utter bliss, and we swiftly extended our stay for a couple more days.

The fire alone would have done it. Especially in that cold. We crammed it so full of logs that you were actually roasting in the living room, Katie and I having to run around outside to cool down before plunging back into the furnace inside. It reminded me of home actually.

We caught up on a lot of Katie’s school work, and went to visit the Valley of the Giants, which was the main reason we were in the area in the first place.

The ‘Giants’ are a unique type of Eucalypts called Tingle Trees, that grow up to 70 metres tall, and are only found here, in the Walpole-Nornalup National Park. Like the Gondwana Rainforest we’d visited in Dorrigo, this place is another remnant of the past, having existed for over 600 million years. Climate change is beginning to play its part however, so who knows how much longer they’ll be around for…

We also had a day trip to Denmark, which was beautiful, and we happened to drive past a place that said it produced the best whisky in the world!

I stopped, left the family in the car and wandered in to buy some, returning empty handed a few minutes later as it was $300 a bottle :/

The birth of the ANZACs

Leaving Walpole didn’t mean we’d left the forests behind. They surrounded us pretty much the whole way to Albany, a historic little town nestled on the edge of King George’s Sound – a huge, protected body of water that’s almost as big as Sydney Harbour.

Back in the day it was a whaling centre, and all the old buildings have been extremely well preserved making it a pretty little place to hang out for a few days.

It’s also where the Australian Armed Forces first came in to being, when 40,000 volunteers sailed off to fight in the first world war. There’s a memorial, and a museum dedicated to the ANZACs which we’d heard was amazing, so we took it in turns to visit without the kids, and it was as good as the hype.

38 ships set sail from here in 1914, representing the first of Australia and New Zealand’s contribution to the war. The troops were taken to Egypt for basic training, and then thrown into the fight in Gallipoli, a disastrous, and unsuccessful attempt to secure Constantinople, and a sea route to Russia.

You were given a little card with a soldier’s picture on it, and throughout the exhibition you would discover details of their story, finding out at the end if they made it or not.

The whole experience was inspiring, then depressing and in the end, quite sad. A moving tribute to those who lost their lives.

Albany done, off to Esperance. No time to hang around anywhere these days. We’ve decided it would be a good idea to get back to Sydney before Katie’s school breaks for Christmas. So she can have a couple of weeks reconnecting with her old pals. She’s really looking forward to it now actually.

So, gotta keep moving.

Australia’s only pirate

Esperance itself was OK, but the surrounding area, was unbelievable.

Cape Le Grand National Park is just 30 minutes away, and the colour of the water, combined with the wild, windblown landscape was breathtaking. This part of the coastline used to be attached to Antarctica, and you can easily imagine the two continents being wrenched apart, leaving these enormous rocks sloping down into the ocean.

We built some sand castles in Lucky Bay, but didn’t get in the water as it was freezing, and there are lots of sharks around here. Big Great Whites that have been known to grab surfers now and again. Hmmm… Slightly better than the Crocs, but even still…

On the way back we passed Frenchman’s Peak. I pulled in, and decided to have a go climbing it with the girls. It was two hours up and down, supposedly, so, let’s see how it goes. Erin was happy to sit in the car while we headed up the mountain.

We made it about three quarters of the way, and only turned around because it was getting late. I loved having a good hike with the girls again though, and to ‘almost’ climb a mountain with them, was brilliant.

Just off the coast of Esperance is the Archipelago of the Recherche, and the biggest island in the chain, the rather mundanely named ‘Middle Island, is where Australia’s only pirate lived! A fact I had no idea about, until I got to Esperance.

Black Jack Anderson, as he was known, was an African American whaler whose damaged boat limped into Albany in 1826. He got into a fight, somebody died and he was accused of the crime. So he and a few mates stole a boat and disappeared into the Archipelago, where they lived there for the next 10 years, raiding ships and causing mahem.

Black Jack was murdered by his own crew in the end, and is supposedly buried on the island somewhere, although nobody knows where. Oh for a wee visit to the island, next time.

For now, the Nullarbor beckons…