The grey skies returned on Monday and we drove to Albany through picturesque countryside, just ahead of the rain. We arrived at Emu Point and set up, just before the storm hit. We waited it out inside the van and then decided to head out for a fish and chip treat for lunch (amazing how fast the kids managed to set up with that as a potential reward!). On our way to Middleton Beach, we drove past Lake Seppings and were treated to the rare sight of numerous Western long necked turtles making their way across the road to lay their eggs. Something about the storm must have triggered them because we only saw the odd one or two on the subsequent trips on that stretch of road. Apparently there can be traffic chaos when the hatchlings emerge during the following winter - they're the size of a 50 cent piece and usually choose to make the dangerous trek back across the road to the river on the worst weather days!
By popular vote, we decided to spend the majority of our one day in Albany in the Torndirrup National Park - a spectacular section of treacherous coastline that forms the protective headland for Albany. First stop - The Gap and Natural Bridge. The kids could have quite happily spent a few hours on the platform stretching out over the water, watching the waves smash up against the cliff face - it was pretty cool! Hoods on, we walked to the nearby Natural Bridge, which as the name suggests, is a natural stone bridge that the waves bark under. The kids were captivated by a story about a South Australian tourist who, in 1978, foolishly climbed down onto the rocks to get a better shot...and got washed out to sea by a freak wave. Luckily for him, a search effort got underway almost immediately and he was rescued by a whale-chasing ship - one of the crew members dived overboard to pluck him from the ocean.
Armed with knowledge about the possibility of freak waves and a new appreciation of the big swell rolling in, we drove on to the Blowholes. They were blowing (Marley was terrified by the noise) but not spouting any water so we stayed for as long as Marley would let us and then hiked back up the hill to the car park.
The kids were keen to visit the Whaling Museum so they joined Roy on a guided tour (Jen can still remember the gory details from last time and didn't care for a repeat!) and Jen headed off to check out the wildlife park and botanic garden (a bit underwhelming!). A couple of hours later, the kids emerged, brimming with facts and bursting with exciting retells of all they'd seen (= validation of money well spent! :-) ).
Given it was early afternoon we chose to head to nearby Misery Beach for our picnic lunch (eaten in the car to escape the wind!) and then walked down to scope out the beach - beautiful little cove which would be delightful on a good weather day. While we were in the area we thought we'd check out Salmon Holes (where Salmon seek out the calm water in season) which was another gorgeous cove with a white sandy beach and clear water - can only imagine how inviting it would be on a warm, sunny day!
Torndirrup done (for today, anyway!), we headed back towards camp with a stop at Brig Amity - a replica of the ship that arrived to colonise what is now known as Albany, on Christmas Day 1826. The entrance fee covers a self guided audio tour which was really fascinating (this time they didn't trust Meg and Marley with a unit, however Finn was deemed ok as "an older one"...entrance manned by elderly volunteers so might depend on the day!). After exploring 3 levels of the ship we left in awe (and grossed out fascination!) about the journey those on board endured as they sailed from Sydney south and then west to establish the first European settlement in the area. One can only imagine what the local Aboriginal people thought of these strange invaders as they landed - some stories recounted on the audio tour give a hint of what it might have been like.
Back to the caravan park with just enough time for playground / jumping pillow fun before dinner (and more rain!).Read more