BACK TO NATURE CARAVAN PARK, Wanerie – $30 per night for 2 adults
Saturday 4th March 2017
Yes, only 2 weeks since our last mini getaway and we’re off on holiday again. I could get used to this!!!
Our destination this time was north again, up the same road as last fortnight, turn right into the same side road, but then turn a left and travel about 18 kms further. It was an easy journey and we chatted happily and peacefully as I drove and David had Marley on his lap.
Finding the sign for the camp site easily, I turned in and we were very surprised to be met with a very stony, bumpy limestone driveway that turned a sharp left and went up a bit of a hill. Even though I was driving cautiously, at about 10 – 15 kph, I was sure my wheels were slipping a bit on the rocks as I climbed the hill. But then we were at the crest, and going down the other side with a view of a tent through a set of gates, but apparently right in the middle of the road!
It wasn’t, of course. The roadway split left and right around the tent, but neither of us would have wanted to camp there!
There were no signs, but we decided that left was as good as anything and I went on round a large grassed area that had a couple of caravans on it, and we could see other vans and tents in amongst the trees on the outer edges of the stony road. The surface under each of these was native bush, so rather sandy and covered with branches and dead leaves. Here’s our van and car as of Tuesday morning once we were completely alone on the grassed area.
At the bottom of the hill was a couple of brick buildings, a small brick paved area just big enough to park on, and a man holding a clip board apparently awaiting our arrival. I wound down my window and he greeted us with a lovely broad (to my ear) Yorkshire accent. He told me he was going to put us on the grass and that I was to drive up the opposite side of the grass, come back down on the left and then park my caravan (Rosie) wheels “exactly where I have my foot on the grass”. Fair enough. Oh, and he said that our van brakes were on too hard and he’d heard us coming from half way down the driveway and that they would be too hot to touch and I wasn’t to use them as I circled the grass and came to where he wanted me to park. OK.
I drove half way around the limestone bumpity roadway, turned onto the grass, and there was my Yorkshireman dancing around, left to right, over an area of about 30 metres. Which exact blade of grass he was indicating by ‘exactly where I have my foot’ would be anybody’s guess, so I headed for his most recent location and pulled up. I couldn’t repeat word for word what he said next but it included “You were going too fast. Way too fast.” [Hadn’t he told me not to use the brakes? Though I had. And ‘too fast’ for what exactly?] And then he said “Can you reverse the van?” I did the ‘iffy’ sign with my hand and face so he instructed me to go around again. I was giggling, thinking that he had a dry sense of humour and was joking. I still couldn’t tell you whether he had a humour or a nasty streak to be truthful, but around I went again.
This time he stayed put to my right as I pulled onto the grass and I was able to aim in only one direction. He had me pull forward, and forward, and forward, until Billie (the car) was half way across the roadway again. Really? It turned out that the tap/power upstand thing serviced 4 sites so I had to be forward of it to allow someone else to come in behind me. News to me, but it meant that now Mr Fun/Grumpy was happy with my positioning we would have to unhitch the car fairly swiftly to move it off the road. Not that it was busy, but… well, one just doesn’t park in a roadway!
In the meantime he went around to Rosie’s wheels and was quite literally poking his fingers in there to feel the brakes that, by his own utterance, would be ‘too hot to touch’. They obviously were no such thing as he had his whole fist in there and held it perfectly still. The whole journey, other than his circling fettish during the past 10 minutes, had involved very little braking at all. He muttered something else about adjusting the brakes, which we did take on board to look at when convenient, and then he went away to let us get settled.
Oh there was one more parting shot. David had put Marley down on the grass. She’s tiny, and old, virtually incapable of taking more than about 10 steps without collapsing in a heap. There were no other tents or vans within 50 metres of us at the very least, and he said “The dog has to be on a lead at all times”. Now this would be fair enough, except I’ll tell you right now, to save me mentioning it later; of all the dogs we saw around the campsite, every single one of them larger and way younger than Marley, not a single one of them had a lead anywhere in sight!!!
Other than that, we set up easily enough. This time David was determined to set the whole annex up, including the side walls. He’d practised during the week in our driveway. And that all went well too. We had a brief wander around the immediate area of the site *with Marley on a lead* and the site was spacious and pleasant, and very quiet. As predicted on a hot day, after 10 steps Marley sat down and refused to budge so David picked her up and carried her the rest of the way.
But it was lunch time and I put together a platter of cheeses, crackers, fresh apple, nuts and dried apricots while David ‘nailed down’ the annex. It was a very pleasant lunch and just as we’d finished a quad bike arrived with Mrs Yorkshire aboard. She’d come for our money. It turned out she was from Cheshire, so perhaps Mr Fun/Grumpy was too. Anyway, she was very nice. Perhaps he was too. I just couldn’t decide.
We put Marley into a trolley that David had rigged up for her (picture later) and we walked up the sandy hill at the back of the site as I was guessing the view from up there would be really pretty. It was, but we didn’t have our cameras and the other pathways didn’t appear to lead anywhere of interest so we came back down. We walked by Mr F/G’s caravan and David went to stroke his dog that was underneath it. The guy stopped him and said “Can’t you hear her growling?” and David very honestly said “No!”. He hadn’t got his hearing aids in, but the guy seemed to dismiss David’s ‘no’ as nonsense. Shouldn’t this dog, that was apparently likely to bite, be on a lead??? It’s possible it was, but his other dog definitely wasn’t.
David stood talking to the guy for a while and I hated every minute of it. I wanted to get away from him, but had no way of telling that to David’s back, which is all I could see of him, and I certainly wasn’t going to take Marley closer to that dog! At long last David took the hint that the bloke didn’t want to indulge in small talk and we could finally walk away dragging little Marley in her trolley behind us. We wandered the little sandy footpaths between the trees idly talking to anyone that was fool enough to be there to talk to, and I wondered what on earth we were going to do here for three whole days! It was a long weekend and we were here until Tuesday morning!
It was still hot so we went back into the van to cool off in the air-con and played a couple of card and dice games. Finally the shadows began to lengthen and the heat of the day began to dissipate and I suggested to David that we walk the stone-ridden driveway to the main road and back. I just wanted to stride out. He agreed, and we put Marley into her trolley and bumped along as best we could. Poor Marley would have had her teeth rattled out of her head if she actually had any. At one point the trolley tipped unexpectedly on a scudding rock and she rolled gently out onto her back. Poor soul 🙁 It had been a slow roll and the trolley was low thank goodness. She was fine, and willingly went back in again. It felt good to just walk and get some air in our lungs, though the sun was in our eyes on the way back again. It was 1.7 kms for the round trip, so not a lot.
Then I prepared some ‘coconut flatbread’ and a little salad, and David dry-fried the flatbread and then some fish, and we assembled ourselves a very nice gluten free fish burger. Our treat for the day was a ‘hot maple nut mix’ that was extremely yummy indeed. Just a hint of cayenne that gave a little warmth at the end of each bite.
As we usually do, we watched some videos and viewed the very few photos we’d taken that day, and then it was time for bed. I eagerly anticipated looking at the stars through the skylight, but there were none!
Sunday 5th March
I was awoken with a start by the kettle whistling. And whistling. And whistling. Where on earth was That Dratted-Kettle-Putter-Onerer-Man??? It was 7.15 – an ungodly hour for the times we usually keep – and I struggled out of bed just in time for David to come through the door from the outside. Thank goodness we had the annex or the world would have seen that I sleep in the Emperor’s New Clothes! I fell back onto the bed again with an unimpressed expression on my still half asleep face. I don’t wake up when I wake up. It takes me 5 minutes to even open my eyes usually, much less begin the process of putting foot to floor and weight to foot!
He offered soothing words that impressed me not a jot until he told me there was a thick, deep mist outside. I doubted that very much, but it piqued my interest. He said he’d been pondering whether to wake me and tell me. I guess that decision was removed from his ‘to do list’ now! I decided I’d believe him, so quickly put yesterday’s clothes on, grabbed my camera and went outside.
Wow oh wow!!! We never see mist. Perth doesn’t have it very often, and if it does it’s long gone before we get out of bed. The grass was absolutely sodden, but the view was so beautiful and surreal. I was very happy to be up now, and had a ball taking photos fairly swiftly before the mist began to fade. At one point I was near the entrance gates and could hear a noise which I thought was David bringing Marley in her trolley, but when I looked around he wasn’t there. I realised that it was the constant drip, drip, drip of dew from the trees. It couldn’t have been falling harder or more steadily had it been falling rain! It really was a beautiful experience and I loved it. David came and joined me and took photos too.
The day then stretched ahead of us and we knew that staying here for the whole day was not an option, so we decided to go to Gingin. It was about a half hour drive, which involved passing Willowbrook Farm Caravan Park along the way. They’d said they were booked out, which is why we looked for somewhere else for the weekend. Needless to say we peered into the Willowbrook site to see if this was true. It pretty much was lol They’d have fitted a couple of tents extra, but not our Rosie.
Pulling into Gingin we were so surprised. What a truly beautiful little town!!! There was a tiny old church and a bridge and a really large grassed area with a water wheel. At the far end of the grass was a cafe/restaurant. It was just gorgeous! It was also very hot that day – 39°C / 100°F. Poor Marley. We gave her a drink of water and then loaded her into her trolley and tried to stay under the shade of trees as much as possible.
We wandered around the grassed area and took photos of the wheel, the river and the bridge, and then set off to cross the road and buy some food for Marley, as what we’d brought with us was running out fast. The shops were quaint and typical Country. The food store offered doggy polony knobs only in 3 kg size, tinned food, or tiny gourmet servings. Marley wouldn’t get half way through 3 kgs in a week, and she’s never had tinned food so I got her some gourmet. Lucky doggie!!!
We noticed that the church service was being held in the park under the trees and went to look at the church itself. There was a big sign on the door ‘Service being held in the park due to bees’. You really could hear them buzzing away, but we both felt safe to go into the church and look inside.
Then we explored the little river on the other side of the bridge and took some more photos. I tried to capture shots of the dragonflies but got nothing thrilling. But by now it was time for food so we crossed the road and went to the cafe. It was named CU@Park. Nearly everything in Gingin seemed to be called @-something. How modern for such a quaint town!
Anyway, the cafe had a really relaxed feel and we found a table in the shade of a tree and got Marley another fresh drink. I had a frittata and David had… David??? He couldn’t remember either, but thanks to the photos it looks like an Eggs Benedict. He also had a lemongrass tea and it was almost a dollhouse-sized teapot, we had a bit of a laugh about how tiny it was. But it was a very nice meal, location and pleasant staff, and it was good to be out doing something.
After this I got David to go to the car and get an umbrella and we rigged it up above Marley’s trolley so that she had some shade, enabling us to walk and see the photography exhibition that was apparently being held at the old train station. It really was hot, and pulling Marley’s trolley up the bit of hill towards the railway line made me puff. But it wasn’t too far to the Old Gingin Railway Station thankfully. Even one car pulled over to comment on Marley’s queenly conveyance. We took it in turns to sit under the verandah with Marley while the other went inside to view the photos. They were very good, and of an extremely wide variety of animals and birds!
Heading back, we realised we could diagonally cross another grassed area, a much cooler walk than the road had been, and quicker too. We didn’t explore the back streets, as we would normally do, but instead decided to head back to Rosie. For half of the homeward journey we were held up behind 2 vehicles in convoy doing well under the speed limit for no apparent reason, and the narrow country road went up and down so much it was not safe to pass for about 15 minutes. Oh well. We were on holidays, not in a rush.
Once back to Rosie, even though it was still quite warm, we decided to walk the stone trail back to the main road again. It was a pleasant walk, and we wore hats to shield our eyes on the way back this time. We were also very, very careful to hold Marley’s trolley with more determination to keep it upright now we knew the dangers.
As we’d eaten lunch out we ended up having a 3-course dinner, so we had the fennel strawberry salad, that was to have been lunch, as an entree, crispy coconut chicken in mango dipping sauce for mains and then banana cherry ice cream with chocolate topping for dessert. All freshly made by us and dairy-free. Lucky us eh?
After this, the sun was starting to set so we went up the sandy hill with our cameras to see if we could get a lovely sunset. The hill was already well occupied, but we had a chat with a nice couple. The sunset was prettier on some clouds to the south, but some tall people came up the hill at the last minute and stood right in the way of any hope of photographing them. David walked around in front of them, but I stayed where I was with Marley because there were not-on-a-lead dogs all over the place and Marley can occasionally be grumpy with others.
Our evening was spent as usual, and still no stars through the skylight. There were a couple of massive ones in the middle of the night, but I had to hang my head out of bed to see them, so that didn’t last long as you can imagine 😉
Monday 6th March
Did we want to stay in the caravan park for the day? No we did not. We decided to go left out of the site driveway, left again and then along the main road, but branching off to see a couple of small towns, and one larger one.
It was quite a big surprise to find that Bennies Road became gravel in no time flat after we’d turned into it. But it wasn’t loose gravel, and not even bumpy – just dusty. Dust billowed copiously behind us as David drove along at a very sensible speed. But then we were delighted to see some sheep being mustered in a field on our left by a man in a ute, instructing 2 dogs. What happened to mustering on horseback? The romanticism has all gone. But whatever, we were both sure he’d be crossing the road with them any moment and decided to make it a photo opportunity. Yeah, yeah, city folk, I know 🙂
The first town we visited was named Seabird and was actually a cute little place. I was most taken by the sunflowers around a tiny park on the top of a hill. They had a caravan park and we went up the side street to have a peek. It said ‘No Pets’ on the gate so that’s out for any future holiday. And be warned… don’t ever take a caravan down that side street unless you’re booked into the site. We were hard pressed to turn our car around!!! You’d never do it with a van behind you.
We got on our way again, heading south down the Indian Ocean Drive once more, this time heading for Guilderton. Oh man. Do *not* go to Guilderton on a public holiday. We never will again. In actual fact, I doubt we’ll ever go to Guilderton again on any day of the year, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The main point of Guilderton is that the Moore River (occasionally!) breaks out into the ocean here. Otherwise there’s a sandbar between the two, and that’s the more usual view. We’d heard that with our incredibly wet summer it had broken through, so headed in that direction to have a look. So had everyone else by the look of it. We were half way into the carpark and hit a solid traffic jam. We couldn’t even turn around to get back out. We had to sit there, stationary, for around 10 minutes. I’ve never even done that in peak hour traffic in Perth city! As soon as it was possible David chucked a U-ey and we got out of there!
There were a couple of nice modern statues around the place that we grabbed ‘drive-by shootings’ of, and I’d noticed a roadhouse on the way in that was advertising Fresh Fish & Chips. Eating our lunch at a semi-glorified petrol station… no, no, it actually wasn’t glorified in any way whatsoever… was a very long way from what we’d hoped for, but we weren’t fighting the beach crowd for anyone. I went in to look at their menu and then came out to watch Marley while David went in to choose and order. We sat at one of three BBQ benches at the side of their car park, up wind from the petrol bowsers. No food review should *ever* include the words ‘up wind from the petrol bowsers’ should it??? Marley ate a sand-coated chip someone had left on the floor before I saw what was happening. Yuk!!! I grabbed and threw away another one before she could get that.
David reported that the lady behind the counter was telling him how strict the parking inspectors are in town and that one man was only pulling up to let his family out before he went to find a parking spot. Too late, the parking inspector had photographed his car and slapped him with a $100 fine. Apparently he packed his family back in the car and left, never to return. I don’t blame him!
The fish and chips were pleasant enough, once David had run back and borrowed their salt shaker to apply sufficient sea dust for our own taste 🙂 but someone drew up in a diesel vehicle and left it chugging away for about 10 minutes during our meal. The constant noise, and the thought of eating car fumes really didn’t do my appetite any good and the chips got soggy quickly. It was food and I’m grateful, that’s about the only positive thing I could say about it. We got on our way as soon as we could.
Next stop down the coast was Woodridge. Once you turn off the main road there was a cafe and a government building of indeterminate use – it didn’t say what it was – though there was a dear little ‘free library’ on the outside wall. We drove into Woodridge to see what there was to see and it basically seemed to be a huge ring road with side streets, and all of the properties were large blocks. Other than the cafe and whateveritwas building it was only housing. We’d not wasted much day yet. I think it was around 1.30pm so David went into the cafe and ordered a pot of herbal tea each just purely to waste some time. We sat at an outside table to drink our tea and my chair wobbled on wonky brick paving the whole time we drank.
I spent some time photographing the flowers on 2 hibiscus bushes, which was partially a game trying to take shots when the wind briefly stopped blowing!
There was no choice now really but to go back to Rosie, which is what we did. We played some more games and Marley enjoyed the aircon and a long nap. Then we decided to make it a trifecta and walk the lumpy bumpy driveway once more. We forgot our hats so had the sun blinding us on the way back again. Idiots!
David then packed up the annex and everything in it for fear of the heavy dew again in the morning. He wanted to pack everything while it was dry!
Dinner tonight was a white fish lemon risotto where I went a bit mad with the lemon juice, followed by a protein cheesecake which David loved and has had me make again since.
We looked out at the lengthening shadows and, even knowing that almost everyone else had packed up and gone home and we’d have the hill to ourselves, we couldn’t be bothered. There turned out to be no colour in the sky anyway so we’d saved ourselves the bother of climbing up the sand 🙂
Tuesday 7th March
There were only 2 caravans and 1 tent (or something like that) left now. Most people had returned home yesterday to start their work this morning. David wasn’t starting until the afternoon so we’d been able to stay the extra night.
We were packing everything down ready to travel and it was all of 8.30 am when Mr Grumpy rocked up and asked us when we’d be leaving as he was keen to set the sprinklers going on the grass. After what was now two days of such heavy dew and mist we couldn’t see what his rush was, and I said to David ‘I wish he’d make his mind up. First I’m too fast, and now we’re too slow!’ I was joking, but nobody can deny it was based on solid fact!
David had read up on how to test and reset Rosie’s brakes while I’d slept on one of the mornings so we did that at the beginning of our journey home. As we got just a little north of Yanchep I finally remembered to photograph one of these signs that always make me smile, as if the poor trees are dangerous creatures.
And that’s about all there is to report for this holiday. More next time!
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I didn’t write a single note for this holiday and have done it all by memory and from the menu and photos. Who needs notes? 😉