David woke at 7.30 and myself at 8.30. I hadn’t really had a true sleep at all, just what I would describe as ‘heavy rest’ most of the night. I had just been able to hear one vehicle go down the main highway at some point. David had still been bothered by the trees dripping on the roof and I was sad that he couldn’t enjoy that sound the way I did. This was true every night and I won’t bother you with that fact over and over. David prepared some chicken and tinned sweet corn again in the dream pot so we’d have dinner cooked when we got home later and we had raisin toast spread thickly with butter for breakfast. We don’t usually eat breakfast. Or bread. But that’s what holidays are for 😀
I haven’t mentioned until now but every morning, when we looked out of the dining room window, the sun shone directly, left to right, across the small meadow between us and the dam. We were in the shadow of all the trees, but as the sun shone brightly it caught the raindrops hanging from the leaves and branches and sparkled crystal rainbows by the thousands. I was in raptures as it was incredibly beautiful. Nobody needs jewels with sights such as these to hand. Unfortunately the photos can’t do it justice, but I hope you can imagine the sun glistening on every drop.
For today’s excitement we decided to attempt to find Goblin Swamp. We’d been told about the place by someone who had never been, but understood it was a difficult place to find. Forewarned, I’d looked it up on maps and done my research and it appeared to be about a hundred metres to the right on the highway from our cabin, take a left turn down Boat Landing Rd, then a right into Flybrook Road. These showed as very poor-quality tracks on the map.
We saw one turn-off that I could only call a fire break, but nothing more for quite a distance, so we came back to the fire break again. The track – it was barely that! – headed up a bit of a hill. You could see the 2 sandy tracks where the tyres of a vehicle go, but it had obviously been some time since anything travelled this way. There were saplings between the tracks, as much as 6 feet tall, and we were having to drive straight over them; thud, scrunch, rattle under the car. Kangaroos were scattering left and right, obviously unaccustomed to sharing their peaceful woodland with anything mechanical. Hopefully you can see 2 roos here in the centre of the track? These were the tail end of about a dozen who had run for their lives.
David had to get out at one point to move a fallen branch so that we could continue, and the track got narrower and narrower. We reached a place where there was no choice but to turn left and, as the earth began to get softer, I began to get more uneasy. If we got stuck we’d have to walk back to the highway and hope that one of the few passing motorists would help. Or walk all the way back to the cabin. It was probably only a few kilometres, but David wasn’t supposed to walk far really. And if I went alone would there even be anyone there to help? A little further along and the track presented a steep downward slope. As I was about to say “Ummm, no please” David stopped and also said that he felt it was time to give up. Unless I disagreed. Are you joking? He’d seen a slight clearing to one side of the track a few metres back and managed to turn around. I wasn’t happy during that manoeuvre, the earth was very soft, but I do trust David’s soft-ground-driving skills because of his building site experience. Fortunately it all went well, and it felt good to be retracing our steps. Even better when we could see the tarmac of the highway ahead.
Straight across the highway was another track, rather more used, and David asked for about the fifth time if we shouldn’t have turned right instead of left. No, no, and no, the map most *definitely* said left. But as we’d done some exploring already… The far side was surprising in that suddenly, after a steep but short downwards, rutted, muddy slope, we saw a large dam with a wide, graded soil road along one side. This looked very out of place! We stopped and took a few photos, more because that’s what you do than because there was anything worth photographing, and then continued further along the original track.
Before we knew it, this track was getting narrower too, and to avoid the huge ruts in the earth David was keeping close to the right of the track and scratching Monty on all the stray branches. There was water flowing down the track from the recent rain and, as we drove along, the water became more plentiful. We began to laugh uneasily that we were actually driving up a waterfall and not a road at all, and soon enough decided that this was not fun. To the left was a steep mud-and-bushes embankment upwards, and to the right, just behind the scratchy row of bushes was a steep drop down to the dam. No place to turn around at all so David had to reverse back for about a kilometre before finding a spot to turn. He kept even more tightly to the right than he had on the way up and I kept asking him to keep away from the scratchy bushes. We finally reached a place where David felt that he could turn Monty but I wasn’t impressed with this spot at all and it looked far more like a mud trap than anywhere suitable to support, and more importantly then *release* a vehicle. But it did, after a bit of wheel spin (help!) and we scurried back to the safety of the small highway vowing never to go off-road again.
We headed back past our cabin towards Pemberton. I can’t remember now if we were planning anything or just driving. As we passed Beedelup Falls one of us noticed a road named Flybrook Road. Well that had been an instruction to get to Goblin Swamp!!! This was well and truly the wrong direction, but perhaps it went round to Goblin, so we thought we’d give it a go. The road was wide, well-graded crushed limestone with forest some distance away on both sides. It was a surprise when we suddenly came upon signs telling us it was a logging area and no private vehicles were allowed. It would have been helpful if they’d said that at the beginning! So back we went. After that we did arrive in Pemberton and followed signs to the left towards Big Brook Dam. This was listed as a tourist attraction and therefor worth a look. There were quite a few turns to make, some of them not very well signposted, but we found our way. There was a brewery/restaurant sign that looked rather appealing as a place for refreshment, but the sign at the gate said ‘Closed’ with no further information and we kept driving. Looking at the map as I write this, I think it would have been Jarrah Jacks Brewery, and the 2 Google reviews are good, so I’m sorry we missed it. On second thoughts, I’ve just read a selection of TripAdvisor reviews. Thank goodness we missed it!!! LOL
Big Brook Dam wasn’t much further and we parked, gathered our cameras and decided that normal footwear would be fine. It was, but my goodness, the wind was absolutely *freezing*, and strong too! The dam overflow was quite pretty, watching the patterns that the water made as the wind blew waves of it over the top of the overflow. But it wasn’t really our idea of a tourist attraction. The apparent 4 km walk round the dam was probably very pleasant, but it was so cold that we decided not to bother. I guess the exercise would have warmed us a bit, but that was our decision. Next stop, further down the road was apparently Big Brook Arboretum.
The road quickly became a track with a few potholes, lots of slippery gravel and no more signposts to tell us we were where we needed to be, or how much further we had to travel. I was reaching the point where I was happy to turn around again, when we suddenly reached a turning to the left and a sign, hooray!!! The track got narrower, and muddy, and we passed a small, uninhabited camp ground with some toilets. Then a little further on the road came to an end and there were 2 big signs. One said ‘Bibbulmen Track’ and the other ‘Big Brook Arboretum’. Ummmm… Where? What? There was one really tall tree in the distance with masses of yellow flowers at the top. There was one fir tree of some description that was obviously the local favourite of the moss community; it was absolutely dripping with it, but… well, I’ve no idea. We both stood and laughed our heads off. Neither of us could answer why we’d driven the past 5 kms (for a guess).
To save bringing the subject up again later, suffice to say that we’ve since discovered that an arboretum consists of trees from around the world, planted to see how they thrive (or not) in local conditions. We’d have been grateful for a sign somewhere to have told us that at the time. Apparently there is even a ‘grove of sequoias (American redwoods)’ here, but we hadn’t known to look for them, or where, or what they look like, which is a shame.
Back the way we came, having felt that we’d wasted our time. It was a bit of a disappointing morning all round actually, and we were hungry too. I have a glimmer of a feeling that the brewery/restaurant may perhaps have been open as we drove back past it, but I half noticed, too late, and yeah, like I said – the reviews suggest we were saved by my lack of attention.
Back in Pemberton, we’d seen signs for a Tramway ride and decided to be brave and check out how much this would cost. I was expecting the price to be ridiculous and we’d be on our way again, but we were happily surprised that it was $24 each for the 1 hour 45 minute trip. When David rounded it up to ‘2 hours’ the lady in the booking office was very careful to correct him. Actually, the lady in the booking office was really gorgeous and we chatted happily about her receipt system (Kalamazoo that I used years ago in office work), arboretums (she was a little hurt I think when I told her we’d laughed at the Big Brook one) and a whole heap of other things. One of those ladies who feels instantly like an old friend that you feel drawn to speak with nineteen-to-the-dozen.
We asked about food and were told that there was a bakery back in town (just about 200 metres from where we stood), and we could buy food and were welcome to eat it on the tram. That’s different! We had about 15 minutes to go, buy, and return, but were assured that once we’d bought our tickets the tram wouldn’t leave without us. The staff were all so kind!
The bakery was absolutely massive. And unusual. Can you see what’s over in the corner of the seating area? We giggled about that. I truly don’t know if it’s decorative, or staff parking.
There wasn’t a huge range of food, though it was 1:45 so perhaps they’d sold most of the stock by then. I chose a Moroccan chicken pie and David a beef, mushroom and bacon pie. We also caved and chose a custard tart and a vanilla slice, and then hurried back to the tram carpark. We still had time to eat the pies before boarding. David ate his custard tart but I saved my vanilla slice for when we returned which was a shame, because 90% of the icing was stuck to the paper bag by then. Is that called compulsory dieting?
People were starting to get on the tram so we went over to join them. It turned out there was one small group of folks with 2 carers, and David and myself. That was it. We made small talk with the driver and his off-sider, who turned out to be training the driver, and then we were on our way.
The tram ride was so laid-back and peaceful. We travelled slowly and had a commentary along the way. One part that I loved happened very soon. We pulled up at a pole with a box by the side of the track and the driver stopped, reached into the box and pulled a lever, or switched a switch or something like that, and the boom gates began to ring their warning and close across the main street of Pemberton. I love that it was hand operated! The tram trundled across the road and stopped at a box on the far side to get the road open for traffic again. I’m guessing they’d be rather unpopular if they forgot this step, but pretty sure folks nearby know how to fix the problem themselves. The gates and the tramline were very near to the Old Mill Café where we’d had the coffee and carrot cake the day before.
The driver told us that the small row of wooden houses we were just passing had all been built with planks from a single tree. Amazing, but believable! A man in the window of the last one waved to us all as we passed. The commentary told us many things about the local flora and fauna. The profusion of pink wild flowers along the track were apparently ‘Watsonia’ originally from South Africa, and he pointed out peppermint trees and explained what the Aboriginal peoples used them for. We were shown the difference between karri and redwoods, and shown black wattle. He informed us cheerfully that karri trees are dangerous because small branches fall to the ground and, because of the extreme height they fall from, they land like spears. Or that large branches fall and usually bring others down with them. I tried not to take this news to heart! He told us that we have most of the world’s poisonous and dangerous snakes in Australia. Not a man I’ll be inviting to dinner any time soon 😉 He also told us about a plant that I will report on later, because we saw one, and you may be surprised at its name.
Soon we came to the location of the one stop, The Cascades. The driver said that we could go down the steps and pathway to see the waterfall and he’d blow the whistle a few minutes before he was ready to leave. The falls were very similar to Beedelup. Pretty, but the light was coming from the wrong direction for good photos.
We went over quite a few little old wooden bridges. None of them looked too safe, and they were reasonably high too!
And then we reached this one, which I think is Warren Bridge. The reason for the stop sign? Yes, the bridge is unsafe. Awesome!!! This was our ‘turn around point’, though of course we didn’t turn, the driver just went to the other end and went back the other way.
Below to the left was a large grassy area with a picnic table and benches, and a kookaburra sitting high up in a tree. We were looking down on him from the height of the bridge.
On the way back, David had mentioned to the driver that he’d missed getting a photo of the 2 kinds of tree next to each other – the (white barked) karri and the (dark) red gum – and the driver deliberately stopped in the best possible spot and waited for David to say he’d got a good photo before we moved on.
As we sped along (fast for a tram anyway) I had a go at photographing the stillness of the things inside the tram vs the movement outside the window. It was fun, and I was happy with my final shot.
Back at the station, we had a look around the many abandoned engines and carriages, and David asked me to lay down in front of the biggest one. The ground was simply oooozing water, and anywhere you put your foot became an instant puddle, so I was not going to ‘lay down’ for anyone! So here’s my plank over the tracks for him, and he can think himself lucky LOL
Almost back to our cottage and we decided to have a look at the Karri Valley Resort. It seemed an interesting sort of place. Apparently they had a restaurant that we could have eaten in, but we already had our ‘dream pot’ back at the cottage with our meal in it. In the field along one side of the resort driveway were emus and roos. There were also enclosures closer to the actual Resort with goats and llama and quite a ‘petting zoo’.
Then we went home, and you can already guess the rest. Fire, coffee, meal, listen to the heavy rain which had just begun, look at today’s photos, TV, crochet and search David’s camera menu for some function that we never did find.
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