Backpacking Pensioners travel blog

Our Lunch Spot on the Ocean Drive

Another view from our lunch spot

Surf Bay on the Ocean Drive

Jeff being swamped by a wave!

Top of Wave Rock

Wave Rock on the top

The Hippo's Yawn Rock

Sculpture depicting the early settlers arriving at Hyden

Some of the sculptures at Hyden

Jeff's Account - Esperance to Wave Rock to Kondinin. 27 and 28 Dec. 2006

It is Wednesday. Our plan is to travel across country to Mandurah, (50 mile below Perth), to join a New Year Campervan Rally on Saturday.

Following a late departure we travelled the scenic route along the coast to the west. The first 30 miles is a scenic route to surpass all I have ever been on.

The road follows the cliff and most beeches have steps down to them. Every turn brought a new magnificent view of the bluest of blue sea, off shore islands, golden beaches and cliff sides. We travelled on what must have been a perfect day, turned inland past yet another pink lake and on towards our next destination of Wave Rock.

Two nights after we left, 'bush campers' at a bay near to the east of Esperance were wakened at 1am and told to get out because of bush fires in the vicinity. From the 3rd of January storms lashed the south coast and Esperance got the worst. A local had told us that flooding was a problem for the town. This time it was high winds and storms plus heavy sustained rain. The nearby airport of Esperance recorded over 170 mils of rain in 24 hours; the previous record was 102. The town was flooded and all power lines down. A bridge 85 miles west was washed away needing a 250 mile detour to reach the town from towns on the south coast. Over 10,000 sheep were drowned and Esperance has been declared a disaster area.

Lunch had been taken at a low down viewing spot on the coast and our journey then continued along major roads once we had left the Esperance area. After a 160 mile journey of bush and wheat fields we arrived at Lake King and decided to stay for the night. The site was small and well managed, the tariff had to be put in an envelope and placed in an honesty box. It had been a hot day; we headed for the Inn. This should have been a treat but the TV was on and yet again the English cricket team was getting a well earned beating.

On return Sylvia met site neighbours who had recently emigrated from Lancashire to Australia and learned his friend played football for Burscough Bridge where she had been brought up. As Sylvia past by he asked her where the pub was. On her way back he tried to solve his immediate dilemma of how to erect his 'pop up expanda type' caravan by asking her advice. She told him she was much better at directing people to pubs.

Next day a 90 minute journey took us to Wave Rock. This proved to be an area where much more time could have been spent than we had available. Wave Rock is along one edge of a large monolith which is one of many in Australia; the best known is Ayres Rock. It stands 15 metres high, stretches 100 metres and is in the shape of a giant wave about to crash over the surrounding bush. Wave Rock came to real prominence when a photographer won an International competition depicting a surf boarder apparently looking as though he was about to be swamped by a giant wave. It was comical to watch the people of different nationalities adopting action poses.

Above Wave Rock is a row of cemented flag stones which channel water off the top of the rock into a dam. Some visitors complain these spoil and detract from the tourist spectacle. The town of Hyden only received mains water in the late 1990s and the dam water is now used for stock. After climbing to the top of the rock we walked over the monolith for some distance, and could have walked much more but it was very hot and we had not taken spare water with us. It is amazing how many wheat fields you can see from this height. We next drove along to the 'Hippo's Yawn, a cave which looks like a giant hippo's mouth, or it would if vegetation didn't get in the way of the camera shot.

At the nearby town of Hyden we searched for the 'internet' outlet and found it to be shut until after the holiday period, so we went shopping. On return to the Van we talked with a man aged about 70 years. He told us that just over 30 years ago he and his brother travelled to speak with 'the big man in Perth' and told him they had a tourist attraction in their home area and it needed developing. They were given permission to go ahead with whatever they wished.

The result is the promotion of a caravan park, wild life park, walking trails, caves (some distance away) with aborigine paintings, and a complex of 3 monoliths. Wave Rock is the main attraction for all of the former. He informed that 74 people are employed in the tourist industry and the town is prospering.

The front street of Hyden has a series of figures and sculptures made from old farming metal depicting stages of the past with the history of the person or scene on a plaque in front of it. The mains water and other improved town amenities owe there being to the areas tourism.

Travel during these two days had been through the 'Wheat Belt'. The brochure describes it as 'a patchwork of golden fields, character townships, pioneering history, fun farm stays, festivals and self-drive experiences. The townships are all proud of their history.

Our night stop was at Kondinin. The site was owned by the council and the key for the amenities had to be collected from a pub. Dam it, but it had to be done. Sylvia came with me to make sure I did not get lost. An hour later we returned to the van, cricket had been on the TV again and the locals enjoyed it much more than me. After tea we sat out in a cool breeze until past dark.

Sylvia should now be in the Guinness Book of Records for the fastest shower of all time; well she would have been if she had let me accompany her and be her witness, but not much chance of that. She had not realised until it was too late she was sharing the shower with a locus, flies and ants. Away, showered and back before she had left; what a record. I put my shower off until the morning.

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