Albany to Denmark Western Australia
6 Feb 2007
|Sylvia's Comments 12 Jan to 15 Jan 2007.
We left the campsite and headed into Albany to the internet café we had discovered, after that we called in at the book exchange to swap books we had read for some new ones. We then drove to Mt. Adelaide and Mt. Clarence where the memorial to the Desert Mounted Corps stands. You park about half way up and then proceed to climb 100 steps to view the memorial; from there you can walk up the path to the top for some stunning views over the town. A number of walking trails head off into the bush and ever mindful of the snakes and other creepy crawlies we followed one that lead around the hillside, giving different views over Albany, and eventually returned to the car park. We drove down to the jetty and parked with a lovely sea view for lunch.
After lunch we set of for our next destination along the coast to a town called Denmark. This small town was established on the Denmark River by Europeans in 1895 as a timber mill town. The Aboriginal name for river is 'koorabup'. Mokare, an Aboriginal who was renowned as a man of peace, led Lt Thomas Braidwood Wilson R.N. through the district and it was Wilson who named the river in 1829 in honour of his colleague Dr Alexander Denmark.
The town is surrounded by tall Karri trees, rolling hills and lush farmland. As I mentioned above it was originally a timber mill town but as the timber resources dwindled, fishing, fruit and vegetable growing along with beef and dairy farming became the economic mainstay. Today tourism and wine making are currently the new growth industries.
The river Denmark flows into the Wilson Inlet which is a nice large sheltered area suitable for fishing, sailing or just sitting and watching the abundant bird life.
When we arrived at the town we had a choice of two sites, one at the mouth of the river and the other more inland but still on the river. As it is the Australian holiday period we thought the river mouth one would be full so we opted for the other. We found the site to be a nice one and was situated in amongst trees with the river flowing around it; it was also a nice small one with places for about 12 vans and a field for un-powered sites. We later discovered the other site, which was a large one, with the vans crowded in, so we knew we had chosen wisely.
After tea on our first night we went for a walk around the site and met the owner down by the river emptying his marron cages. We stopped to chat and he told us that the marron season had opened today at 1pm and only lasted for three weeks. He was not allowed to catch more than ten marron a day and they all had to be above a certain size, this is part of the conservation of the fish. You require a licence to fish for marron and you are not allowed to sell them. Marron is a fresh water fish similar to crayfish, and we are led to believe they taste much nicer. He had caught three so far and as he checked his other nets he found them empty.
The river was a dark brown colour and reminded me of the peat streams in Scotland. It gets its discolouration from the tannin secreted from the vegetation of the karri trees.
On Saturday morning we set off down the well sign posted Scottsdale Tourist Drive (State Tourist Drive 255) only to discover it was a wine trail. We had not realised that until we reached our first winery within 300 yards of starting the trail (see Tipples with Sylvia Part 8). Apart from all the wineries there is also a wild life park, walking trails, nice restaurants and lots of lovely karri trees to see. We learnt more about the karri trees a few days later when we visited the Forest of the Giants.
After an enjoyable day we returned to the town where we had a walk around and did some shopping. We learnt there was to be a community market tomorrow in the town so decided we would check it out. We returned to our site and were soon joined by new neighbours, Julie and her two grand-daughters, Jessie and Hayley. Julie is over from England visiting her son who lives near Perth and was on a short trip with the girls. They spent a little time talking to us before going off to prepare tea, she was back shortly asking if we knew where in town she could get her gas bottle re-filled. It seems she hadn't tightened it properly and the gas had been leaking. As it was well after 7pm we thought she would not get any and remembering how much help we had received at New Year when our gas had been faulty, offered her the bottle we use for the barbeque. Jeff went across to help her but as her van was quite old the bottle would not fit the connection, the site owner came by and he got involved also in trying to fix it. Meanwhile the girls were hungry so I used our microwave oven to cook their tea. Eventually we had the problem sorted, a gas bottle had been found and they would be able to cook breakfast in the morning.
The following day we visited the market where local crafts and produce was on sale. Our policy is to by local rather than the big supermarkets so we had a lot of choice. The local blueberry farm had a stall selling all things made from the fruit such as ice cream, salad dressing, jam and chutney. There was also a bottle labelled Blueberry Velvet but with no information as to what you would use it for. When it was my turn to be served I asked the man what I would use it for and his answer was "I'll start with the erotic uses". Jeff immediately said "we'll have a bottle", my answer is not printable, but we bought a bottle, to put over ice cream, what else did you think I would use it for? Having stocked our larder we set off in search of the lovely beaches.
Stretching along the Southern Ocean is magnificent coastal scenery of secluded beaches, rugged rocks, rock pools and imposing headlands all waiting to be visited. Our first stop was at Ocean Beach but the car park was so full we had to drive back a little way and park at the river and walk up. We sat for a while watching the surfers catching the waves, most of them made it look so easy, but the odd one or two demonstrated that it was not as they fell off time and again. As it was a popular beach the life savers were out with their dinghies and jet skies, they were not required, thankfully, so they used the time to practise their skills and that was interesting to watch.
It is in the middle of the Australian holiday period so there were lots of families on the beach, most of the children had body boards and were out playing in the smaller waves. Some of the brave young male Aussies were jogging along the beach demonstrating either their fitness or foolhardiness as it was very hot, but most people were just relaxing.
We returned to the van and had lunch then drove further along the coast to Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks which we had been recommended to visit by the site owner. Both beaches are in the William Bay National Park
Elephant Rocks consist of huge round boulders set in a cove, you follow a path from the car park which brings you to a view point over the bay. We went down the steps and through a small gap in the rocks to reach the beach and walked around the bay to sit on the rocks and watch the swimmers. On returning to the steps I realised it was quite a stretch for my little legs but a little boy of 4 made it up so I just had to do it even if it was not a dignified sight. We walked around the headland to Greens Pool, which had a large sheltered rock pool which was ideal for children, swimming and snorkelling. It was very crowded and had little shade so we climbed up the steps to find an ice cream van at the top.
We returned to our site tired and ready for tea.