Friday 29 March
It’s Good Friday and we’ve booked a Bed and Breakfast unit at Dunmmoylen House in Albany so don’t have to do too much packing for our Easter weekend away. I’m not planning to do any drawings and have promised Lexie that we’re going to have a proper holiday, nevertheless it still takes most of the morning to get ready and we drive the Pajero out the gate at 11.00 am. I have packed my camera just in case I see some photos that need taking.
|Kojonup Military Barracks|
It’s an uneventful journey to our first fuel stop and lunch stop at Williams except for that flashing light on the side of the road as I pull out to pass some cars as we drive up the Armadale hills. Oh well. Can’t help bad luck. Further on we change drivers at Kojonup and stop at a park where there is spring. On the other side of the creek there is an old building called the Kojonup Military Barracks which we haven’t seen before so we go and inspect. It’s an old whitewashed building that originally housed the soldiers that were needed to protect the townspeople in the late 19th century from the local Aborigines who were putting up spirited resistance to the settlers who were stealing their land. It is now a museum which is open by appointment. The things you see when you take a side road!
We get in to Albany around 6.00 pm and find our B & B which is in Frederick Street and has a commanding view of the harbour. There are two units in the old house and ours faces the road. The unit is excellent and so is the service provided by our host Mandy. After settling in we go and find dinner at the Indian Restaurant which is attached to a motel on Albany Highway. After a great meal we retire to our lodgings.
Saturday 30 March
|Lexie and Val at Art in the Park|
|Joel with the goanna|
We have agreed to meet a friend at the annual Art in the Park exhibition at the Castle Rock carpark in the Porongurup Range, east of Mt Barker, at 11.00 am so after a hearty breakfast and a visit to the local IGA supermarket for supplies he drive down Chester Pass Road to the Porongurups. The Art in Park exhibition is a week long showing of outdoor sculptures set in the bush. We meet up with Val Saggers and walk around the display admiring the various creations. I particularly like the giant goanna that is caught sliding down a tree trunk.
Scotty, who now has a block and a house of sorts near the Porongurups, hasn’t fronted so we view the creations without his expert commentary. I would have liked to take a photo of him with the Spanner Man but settle for a photo of Val instead. The works are engaging and I’m tempted to buy the Born to be Wild sculpture but am daunted by the logistics of collecting it after the show is over. The exhibition is really worth seeing, however.
|Val with the Spanner Man|
Scotty turns up in time for lunch which we have seated at one of the tables near the carpark. I also catch up with my cousin, Brett, and his wife, who have driven in on their motor bikes. It’s great to talk and relax over lunch.
|Lunch with Scotty|
We then drive to the Porongurup hall where there is a display of local Art and Crafts which are always interesting to see. There bare a series of ceramic bowls and platters which have interesting graphic patterns on them and give me some ideas for my own work.
Scotty leaves us to go and clean up his place for his brother’s visit and we follow Val back to her new house out on their farm just outside of Kendanup. We meet up with Tim, Val’s husband, and they show us over the house. It isn’t quite finished but the walls are up, the roof is on and the electricity is connected so it’s just a case of finishing the tiling and getting the plumbing in. It’s a large open house with really wide verandahs, a bit like the sort of house you’d see up on a station in the Kimberley. We really like it and can’t wait to get back for the house opening party when ever it happens.
Val takes us for a drive around the farm showing us where she and Tim have planted lots of native plants to counter the effect of rising salt on the property. We are particularly taken by a paddock of salt bush plants which are growing well. Tim and Val have been harvesting the seeds form their crops of native plants and this is developing into an important source of income. This is an indicator of the potential for alternative ways of farming rural properties. The demand for native seed is there from mining companies which are required to regenerate land that they have mined plus aid in the rehabilitation of degraded land all over the state.
We follow Val back to their place in Kendanup and stop off at the local skate park which Val has been instrumental in getting established. She is now working on a children’s playground that utilizes local materials including the large stump of a Mari Tree taken from a local’s property. It’s not the sort of park that gleams with shiny plastic climbing structures but is infinitely more interesting. There has been some resistance to the idea form the shire bureaucracy but that is to be expected when the main concern is risk evasion. Thankfully local opinion is on her side.
|Salt bush crop|
We enjoy dinner with Tim and Val and lots of conversation. They show us some of the artwork done by Tim’s sister, Heather, which features the local flora and fauna positioned in front of the backdrop of the Stirling range. It appears that people can’t get enough of it and it makes sense. People like art that actually tells them something. Eventually its time to leave and we drive back in to Albany via the Albany Highway. It’s been a great day.
Sunday 31 March
It’s a beautiful day and I get up early and go for a walk along the foreshore. My main goal is the Sculpture in the Sea exhibition located next to the Albany Entertainment Centre. What I discover is a series of sculptures embedded in the sea with identifying plaques on the walkway opposite. It is an interesting walk and I read the plaques with interest. I note that Stuart Elliot is his usual prophetic self with a metaphorical piece that references King Canute attempting to turn back the tide. Good on you Stuart!
|Sculpture in the Sea|
|Sculpture in the Sea|
I then walk on around to photograph the Brig Amity the 1970’s built replica of the sailing ship that brought the first European settlers to Western Australia. I take the required photographs along with seagulls and walk back to pour B&B in time for breakfast.
We have decided to spend the morning taking a drive to Torndirrup National Park which isn’t too far out of Albany. We drive around Princess Royal Harbour and stop in at the various sign-posted beaches and bays where I scramble out and take photos. My main destination is The Gap and the Natural Bridge. Lexie doesn’t want to join all the tourist so I head off and endeavor to get photographs without tourists in them but to no avail. Still these are fairly impressive features and worth stopping and looking at for awhile. The tourists are all over the rocks, some taking risks to get a good view or to sun themselves. Obviously they haven’t seen the signs.
The next stop is the Blowholes and I go for another long walk to the stated site only to find a crack in the rock with a lot of hot air coming up through it. I imagined blowholes like the ones are past Carnarvon so I’m fairly disappointed. It’s not even worth a photograph!
Salmon Holes is the designated fishing spot and it looks like 500 fishermen have got the message. The drive in is stacked with vehicles and after a quick photo we get out of there. It’s a pretty spot but not on an Easter weekend.
We stop in a Whale World Museum for lunch but decline the opportunity to go and look at the collected items from Albany’s whaling past. It might be good for a social studies trip but not something that I’d want to enjoy. Fortunately we think differently these days.
After lunch we visit friends, Jim and Alison Shiner, who live in one of the suburbs where they have a good view of the bay. It’s a chance to talk and find out more of what they’ve been up to. We have mutual friends whose memorial service we attended a month or so ago and it is good to fill in more of the gaps of that story.
On the way back we drive up to the top of Mt Melville where if you’re prepared to climb the steps of the lookout you can get panoramic views of Albany. I think it’s worth it.
|Albany from lookout – The Stirlings|
|Albany from lookout – bay|
Taking the windy road back in to town we have dinner at one of the three or four Chinese Restaurants in the main street. It’s the end of another full day.
Sunday 31 March
|Middleton Beach walkway|
After breakfast and goodbyes we drive around to Middleton beach to get some photographs and I take a pleasant walk on the wooden walk trail. Then we drive out to the Mt Romance factory and display area to look at their range of sandalwood products and see how the professionals do it. The presentation is excellent and Lexie buys two sets of soap dispensers, one for us and one for our friends who we are planning to see at their new house and block near Walpole. Robin has made the big move from Kalamunda to the south west and we’re keen to see what the place is like.
After stopping for a look at the Denmark Visitor Centre we turn off the South Coast Highway and take the William Bay Road in to Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks, important features of the William Bay National Park. I did one of my Way Out West pastel drawings at Elephant Rocks and in fact it was the image that I chose for the cover of my Way Out West book. I’m planning on getting some good digital photographs of both locations and this time, Lexie joins me for the walk to both destinations. Of course it’s Easter and every man and his dog have figured these are two places to be on a warm sunny day. Needless to say I find it difficult to get photographs without people in them and figure that we need to come back at a less busy time.
I get my jeans soaking wet walking between the rocks to get to the beach at Elephant Rocks but it is still worth the view. The patina on the rock’s surface provides a range of yellow, orange and grey colours which lend themselves to photos and of course, drawings, however, there are kids everywhere so after a few photographs we decide this is not the place for us right now and I stumble back bare footed to the car and a change of trousers.
At Bow Bridge we turn off right on the road to the Tree Top Walk and use the iPhone to find our way to Robin’s place. The house is made of large earthen blocks and had a wide verandah around it. She has chosen well. We sit on the verandah and enjoy a view across the valley whilst we have lunch. There are boxes everywhere as Robin has only just arrived but she graciously takes the time to take us on a walk around the block, looking at the orchard, a lake and a couple of goats that came with the purchase. We are offered the opportunity to come back and stay over the June long weekend and jump at it.
Back on the road we stop off at the Walpole Visitor Centre and I leave a copy of my Way Out West book for them to consider stocking in their shop. The road from Walpole through the forest to Manjimup is very windy, but pretty and requires concentrated driving. Eventually we get to the main turn at Boyanup and take the South Western Highway north through Harvey on our way back to Perth. We stop at the Placid Ark Roadhouse outside of Waroona for dinner and then drive through the night until we get home.