Jeff comments 7 to 8 Jan 2007
Leaving Borden at 9 am which was early for us, and nearly all of the local residents, we travelled along at the most economical speed of between 44 and 50 miles per hour. On passing a Road House at a fork on the road, Sylvia drew my attention to a hand written notice which said 'Beware, nudists crossing'. It woke me up and I bet most drivers will pay particular attention at that point; good on ya the one who thought that one up.
The mountain range soon drew near and at the left hand edge as we entered the range was the road to Bluff Knoll. Having put our National Park payment into the honesty envelope and the tear off bit on view in the front of the cab, we drove high into the hills to the tourist observation point. No caravans were allowed up this road due to the steep hills and sharp bends. Bluff Knoll is 1073 metres above sea level and is the highest peak in the Stirling Range which is over 1,000 million years old. The aborigine custodians of this region named it Bular Mial meaning 'many eyes'. The mountain is well respected and feared as a sacred place.
A walking trail from the observation point takes you to the top of the mountain. The 4 mile round trip should take 3 to 4 hours. We wished well to two separate walkers starting upwards and regretted we did not have the proper walking gear to tackle the assent at what would be the hottest part of the day. There are some bonuses in putting most of our possessions into store. Back at the main road we drove into the mountains and on seeing a sign post for a viewing spot of Mount Trio I turned right. I drove on, and on, and on until we were out of the range and down on the level looking for somewhere to have a coffee, (that wasn't supposed to happen). Signs to a camp site which I decided to visit were misleading as it proved to be much farther away and along a very rough road. I was not the most popular person in the van.
After our coffee and biscuits, consumed in an atmosphere much colder than outside the van, (we did not even have a view of the mountain range), we retraced our steps and on the way came to an un sign posted viewing spot across from a high ridge which had three peaks. Mount Trio really did exist, and not too far from our original road. On reaching the main road we turned right, past a camping spot on top of the hill and travelled on to the low hills. The whole area is much undeveloped and needs promoting and money spending on sealed roads.
Turning right we headed off towards Mount Barker which is town, and a very nice one, but we were a week too soon. Next Saturday is the first day of the wine festival. Being Sunday most of the shops were shut but we had been enjoying the scenery so after taking advantage of the very good Tourist Office which was open, and a nice spot to park and have lunch, we drove east along the Porongurup Range which is, (give or take a few years), 100 million years older than the Stirling Range. After booking in at the Porongurup Tourist Park, a beautiful caravan park, we drove up into the mountains to the 'Tree in a Rock' spot where we parked the van.
We had been told we would see Karri trees, little realising we would hear much more about these magnificent trees during the next two weeks. On the way up we had been met by a kookaburra and during our time here I saw more of these birds than I had ever seen in total in my life. A small walk took us to the 'tree in a rock'. How a karri seed managed to put a root down through this rock and eventually grow into a big karri tree beggars belief, but it is their. The next walk went from the car park up the hill; we soon decided to take the shorter walk down the hill through denser bush, listening carefully as we walked.
Our karri tree knowledge to date consisted of them being a white colour and very tall and straight. A feature of the karri tree, which is one of the red gum trees, is that it sheds its branches as it grows, its bark growing over the wounds as it gets taller. Many notices warned the walker to listen to the forest and to take special care if a cracking sound, often the first warning of a branch falling, is heard. It is surprising how many sounds you hear in a forest if you are listening as carefully as we were.
Back at the site we relaxed in the evening air and was entertained mostly by parrots and kookaburras; tomorrow we will be in Albany which is situated on the coast and is the main town and port of this area.