Smithsdownunder
Our journeys around Australia

Western Australia at the start of our journey

25-Oct-2004
   
We have turned the corner at the bottom left hand side of Australia and turned our backs to the Indian Ocean and have started heading east. It's another shortish journey to stay in the timber village of Pemberton. This is a lively little town set in the heart of the karri forest and is home to one of the largest timber mills in the country.
One of the sites just outside of the town is the Gloucester Tree. This is an old karri tree that was used as a fire watchtower. The tree is about 60mtrs high with a platform at the top and the public are free to climb to the top. To get to the top, you had to climb up metal bars that had been driven into the trunk.

The Gloucester Tree

The Gloucester Tree
Climbing the Gloucester Tree

I managed to climb to the top and get back down again. The view from the top was magnificent. Ali wouldn't bring the camera up though!

Yours truly climbing the Gloucester tree. Can you imagine the Forestry Commission letting you do this in the UK? No fall arrestors or safety nets and some of the spikes were a bit wobbly! There were a couple of other trees that could be climbed as well.

Going up

We were joined for dinner by some of the locals - ringed neck parrots (or Port Lincoln or 28"²ers depending on where you live in Oz!)

Ring Neck Parrots

Ring Neck Parrots
The edge of the dunes

The next day we went on a tag-along 4 wheel drive tour. There was the guide in his Toyota 'Troupy' with 6 passengers and us tagging along behind. He gave us a UHF radio so that we could hear his commentary. The tour took us through some very contrasting countryside. We started off in the Warren State Forest and drove along some 'interesting' tracks to a lake. The lake had been formed by a very large inland sand dune that is slowly moving eastwards and cutting off the rivers. We then moved on into the D'Entrecasteaux National Park and over the Yeagarup Dune, which is 13km long and 3.4km wide. The dune is slowly consuming the forest. The next picture shows the leading edge of the dune.

The leading edge of the sand dune

The pure white sand looked really strange against the green forest and blue lake.

It looked like snow except it was much warmer. The dune is 30mtrs high and after letting the tyres down, it took me a few attempts to get to the top with some excellent tuition from Graeme, our guide.

Lake Yeagarup

Yeagarup Lake
Soft going on the sand dunes

Soft going in the sand dune As you can see, the going was a bit soft in places! Stood on top of the dunes, it was difficult to believe that there might be trees beneath us.

On top of the sand dune

After crossing the dunes, we travelled a further 5km along some very sandy tracks before reaching the coastal dunes and the beach. Our journey back across the dunes was not entirely without incident! I learnt a lot about driving on sand and how the car performed. I think the biggest lesson I learnt was to avoid sand dunes although Graeme said that a lot of the problems I was experiencing was due to the wrong type of tyres. I think he was being diplomatic. What's needed is more practice so I suggested to Ali that we come back on our own the next day and get used to it but she thought it would be better if we did something different! On top of the dune