Our trip from Pemberton to Albany on Thursday was a pleasant touring day. Easy driving, and stops at a few major sites with interesting things to see.
This area of WA is largely forested with some giant trees. The largest of them are the Tingle Trees, another variety of Eucalypt. Those trees are quite shallow rooted and grow to 75 metres tall. Their trunk is quite even and is often looks to be nearly as thick at the crown as it is at the base. Some, however, develop quite wide buttress shape at their base. The ‘Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk’, gave us an opportunity to get high into the crowns of these trees and look down, or at least out on them. Its elevated walkway was 42 metes above the ground at its highest point and was a challenging activity for those in our group who were uncomfortable with heights,
We stopped for lunch in the tiny town of Walpole and from there the remainder of our trip tp Albany was through a costal environment. This is also a wine growing area with a number of well known winemakers. Surprisingly, the amount of wine produced here is larger than that produced in the Margaret River area. A fuel stop in Denmark (not the Europen one) set us up for the rest of the trip.
Near Denmark is the beautiful beach at Green Pool in Williams Bay National Park. The granite rocks at the beach create interesting big rocks like marbles and the water is indeed green – a beautiful shade of aqua. The weather wasn’t hot, but there were a good number of people swimming at the time we were there. This area is well worth a visit, even if it is just for an hour or so.
We arrived in Albany at about 5.00 pm and settled into our hotel which is right opposite the ‘Dog Rock’ – lump of granite that is easy to see as the head of a dog. It even has a collar painted around it. I was trying to remember when I was last here, and it came to me that we were having breakfast one morning to hear the news that Julia Gillard had ‘rolled’ Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister, so it must have been in 2010.
Yesterday (Friday) the weather closed in and it began to rain. In exposed places the wind was almost strong enough to blow you off your feet. The day did begin on a bright note for me as I was able to catch up with Diane, on of my fellow walkers on the Kokoda Track in 2002. She is now married to Peter, a local politician. We were able to find enough time to have breakfast together. Diane is an author of books for children and young adults and we will be looking forward to reading some of her stories with our grand children, Audrey and Violet after we return home.
We tried to get the the Desert Memorial at the top of Mt Clarence (behind the town) but it is closed for renovations. Albany was the departure point for the first Australian troops in WW1 and some 30,000 of them, including the famous Light Horse Regiment left from the harbour here. The Desert Memorial recognises their contribution in places such as Palestine and Beer Sheba where they conducted the last mass cavalry charge that ever took place in the world. It is being renovated in preparation for the 100th Anniversary of their departure next year. We were, however, able to take a little walk around to a large granite outcrop and look over the bay where the convoy had assembled in 1914 to take them to war.
Our first visit of the day was a very interesting one to the old whaling station on the other side of the bay. This station operated until 1977 and is apparently the most intact whaling station now remaining in the world. It must have been a very gruesome job while working on the flensing deck as around 1000 whales were cut up and processed each year. The large tanks that once held millions of litres of whale oil have now been converted into theatres and show interesting movies of life as a whaler. Other parts of the processing plant are still intact and some of the machinery is able to move sufficiently to illustrate the process. You really need a couple of hours to see everything here, including a look around the little whale chaser that is now aground on the beach.
We wound our way back to town along the rugged ocean coast, stopping to see places such as the Blowholes, The Gap and the Natural Bridge. The wild weather added some exhilaration to the grandeur of these locations. Here at the ‘Gap’ found a very high inlet with a raging sea pounding into the cliffs some 40 metres below. It took a strong grip on the rail of the lookout area to be able to look down and take any photos in the strong wind.
Further long the coast was a wind farm that provides 80% of the electricity for the town. Eighteen turbines (as I counted them) were spinning in the wind. I know that some people don’t like these structures, but I think that they are quite majestic. The towers are 65 metres high and each blade is about 23 metres long. At this place you can walk through the turbines to look at wild flowers on a defined nature trail.
Our group has eaten in a variety of places over the two nights that we have stayed here. Last night, Jill and I decided to eat in the Motel restaurant. While the motel is a fairly uninspiring place, the restaurant is paradoxically superb – probably the best in the region. It has an extensive list if local wines and a creative selection of choices on the menu that made it hard to chose what to eat. It would easily compete with any of the best restaurants in the major cities. Jill had pork with figs and blue cheese n a bed of celeriac mash while my venison came with asparagus and sweet potato chips.