Windy Harbour, Walpole and on to Denmark, South West Australia

Windy Harbour Beach on a stunning day

Windy Harbour Beach on a stunning day

The journey from Northcliffe to Windy Harbour on Friday was 27km along the Windy Harbour Road. The road is bordered on one side by the D’Entrecasteaux National Park and on the other by the Boorara-Gardner National Park. Driver attention is a must as the road drops off on either side by 2 metres into deep drains or swampland. There would be no getting back onto the road if you slipped off the soft sides. We experienced another first during the short trip to Windy Harbour in that we came across a group of 12 to 15 wild emu on the road. We have seen them in ones and twos in the wild but never this many in one group. They are very skittish animals so never hung round long enough for the navigator to get a good shot.

The weather was almost perfect at Windy Harbour so we ended up by staying two nights. The Harbour is surrounded by the D’Entrecasteaux National Park and is a holiday fishing village that reveals a now rare, traditional way of life on the coast. There was no network power source, no water supply, no telephone service or cellphone service. There is one solar powered telephone box for emergencies. At a quick count there seemed to be about 50 family fishing shacks at the Harbour all with their own power supplies and water tanks. If you are heading this way do not be put off. The camping area is all grass and has good drive through sites for rigs of all sizes. They provide 230v solar power, toilets and showers if needed and all for the princely sum of $19 per night.

Dearne searching for lost treasures with her ‘gold machine’ at Windy Harbour Beach

There is a lot to do at Windy Harbour. There are four or five formal walking trails of various distances and there are always plenty of fishing opportunities. If just hanging out on the beach or swimming is your thing, then of course there is a lot of that to be done. On Friday after setting up camp we took ourselves off and did the 4km walk from Windy Harbour through Cathedral Bay to Cathedral Rock and back. This walk is along the beach and we found the going pretty tough at times. The sand was like talcum powder so with each step you sunk in above your ankles. The carrot that spurred us on was that is was going to be 5 o’clock when we got back so we were both looking forward to relaxing with a wine.

On Saturday we took a drive in the jeep and visited a number of the favourite spots in the area. Salmon Beach, about 6km from Windy Harbour is a very popular surfing beach and also famous for salmon fishing from April to June each year. There are plenty of dangers for swimmers as the beach is known for its strong ocean currents and rips. A walk along the beach was enough for us. From Salmon Beach we followed the coast in an easterly direction to Point D’Entrecasteaux. It is a cliff top location so there was no getting down to the beaches but a good opportunity to get some class shots. From the Point we made our way back to Windy Harbour and the motorhome. The plan was to have a few quiet ones with our neighbours however by the end of the day a strong cold wind off the sea drove everyone indoors and a quiet night was had by all.

The walkway high in the canopy of the Valley of the Giants

The walkway high in the canopy of the Valley of the Giants

Sunday morning saw us departing Windy Harbour and heading east along the Western Highway toward Walpole. The journey to Walpole was approximately 120km through three stunning National Parks – Jane National Park, Shannon National Park and Walpole-Nornalup National Park where Walpole is situated. We just love the way Australian National Park roads have been built to wind their way around the trees rather than cutting them down so motorist can drive in the straight line. It makes the journey so much more relaxing and interesting. Walpole is situated on the edge of the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets Marine Park and is generally seen as a farming area. Its farming area grew out of the depression era when families were selected and sent to the area to carve farmland out of the native forests. We parked up for the night at the only camp close to the village at Rest Point and on the Walpole Inlet. For those following, the camp is 3km from the village centre, has good drive through sites and all the amenities.

The main reason for our visit to Walpole was to experience the Tree Tops Walk. The walk is in the Valley of the Giants, a forest of 400-year-old red tingle trees just east of Walpole. A 600 metre walkway is suspended 40 metres above the forest floor and weaves its way through the canopy of the forests tingle trees. The navigator struggled at the start of our walk as she is not too good with heights and the walkway ‘swayed’ as you walked along its path. We found by walking about 10 metres apart, the sway was considerably less. It was a great experience and certainly worthy of an overnight stop.

Dearne conquering the tingle tree canopy walkway

Dearne conquering the tingle tree canopy walkway

This morning we continued east along the South Coast Highway to Denmark. Denmark was first settled around 1895 with the purpose of developing a karri forest and timber industry. However the rapid depletion of the resource soon resulted in a total collapse of the industry. While some dabbled in the farming for the next 50 years, it was not until the 1960’s that Denmark became attractive to alternative life-stylers and early retirees. Intensive agriculturists such as wine growers had discovered the value of the rich karri loam for their vineyards. Riesling and Chardonnay were the first grapes grown here soon followed by other varieties. We have of course ensured we have a bottle of two of the regions fine product in the motorhome.

We are tucked into a small camp where the Demark River flows into the Wilson Inlet on the south coast. The camp has plenty of room for big rigs and has all the amenities. Our plan was to depart here tomorrow (Tuesday) and head into Albany however we have been encouraged to stay on another night by fellow travellers to take part in tomorrows Melbourne Cup celebrations in the camp. Why not – there is not too much difference between a Tuesday and a Wednesday anyway!

We have to mention the flys in this part of Australia – they are horrific. Before one goes outside, one must be adequately prepared. Any bare skin should be covered with fly repellant (they bite) and a fly net is beneficial. We had been told that wind keeps them away – rubbish!. They seem to enjoy flying with the wind to give themselves a better attacking speed. No orifice is safe!


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