We awoke Monday morning to a decidedly better day. The rain had stopped overnight and the winds had abated just a bit. Our first work of the day was to clean up the motorhome and the jeep. They had both become slightly mucky after the weekend of bad weather.
Our visit to Bridgetown did not disappoint. Bridgetown is in the Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbush and the centre of a productive agricultural district. Many buildings in the town centre are over a century old and have been beautifully maintained or restored. The area was previously known as Geegelup “the place of spears” until Bridgetown was gazetted in 1868. The town was named after the ship Bridgetown, the first ship to put into Bunbury to uplift wool from Geegelup area.
To put Bridgetown in a basket, we saw it as a boutique town. Lovely cafes, antique shops, chic” fashion stores, specialty stores, jazz and food festivals, From the late 1970s, the area became increasingly attractive as a peaceful and picturesque country town an accessible distance from Perth. Some people, attracted by the rural lifestyle on offer, sought to move to the town permanently, and this resulted in a strong demand for residential sections and hobby farms. Many of the farmers sold up and their land was subdivided. The locals call these newcomers “urban refugees”. The ‘newcomers’ have slowly turned this rural town into the type of town they sought to escape from. Funny that!
The are had a number of excellent walks and with us being perched on the banks of the Blackwood River, we meandered the river walk. Not overly taxing but a very pleasant few kilometres just the same. Would we recommend a visit to the town? Most certainly – it is well worth a few days here.
Tuesday morning we were back on the Western Highway and driving west toward the coast. Tuesday was also our last day in the wheatbelt. We have had a brilliant time visiting some of the small agricultural villages on our way and also having the opportunity to drive through the spectacular countryside. If there are any standouts for us it has to be the friendliness of the people and the vastness of the farms. Thousands of hectares of wheat and sheep grazing, the stands of huge ancient trees that farmers have left on their land as shelter for animals and people. The most widespread and majestic of the trees is the Salmon Gum. It grows to 25 metres high and has a massive canopy. The sandalwood tree is another favourite because of its’ fragrant timber. About a year ago while travelling inland Queensland we said we loved rural Australia. Our view has not changed.
Our first stop of the day on Tuesday was Balingup. Balingup is another one of the rural townships that have turned ‘city’. There are plenty of boutique shops, kooky wines, craft outlets and gourmet foods. We spent an hour or so wandering around the town before setting off and arriving at our second stop of the day, Donnybrook. Donnybrook is located on the banks of the Preston River and prospered during the goldrush of late 1890’s and early 1900. It is now known as the Apple Capital of the Southwest and is a giant in the fruit industry. Refreshing ciders, local wine, farm fresh marron, organic beef and rich olive oils are just some of the locally produced fare. It was midday when we arrived at Donnybrook so we decided to make it our lunch stop. Sampling some of the local produce made our meal somewhat special.
It was around 2pm when we departed Donnybrook and the next decision of the day was ‘where to next’. While we were in Bridgetown we met a couple who suggested that if we were heading down this way we should stop off at one of the church camps 10 kilometres west of Busselton at Vasse. We were advised that the camps were on the beach and relatively inexpensive. We popped the information into the GPS and off we went. When we arrived in the area we found seven campgrounds owned by churches and each had its own guidelines around the behaviours they expected from ‘tenants’. Some stated no alcohol, no smoking, no 5o’clockers, no noise but good holy fun was encouraged!! We chose the most liberal of the group – the Anglican camp.
Today is our second day here and we have no complaints. The camp is very well run, directly on the beach and no fun police. We are booked to stay here until Friday. Our plan is to see more of the Busselton area and just take in and enjoy the peaceful environment.