Our very enthusiastic friend Deb, from the Visitor Centre in Gero, had given us a comprehensive list of activities to do on our journey south, along with free places to camp.
After the impressive Northampton we were eager to see another historic village and pulled in to the National Trust owned village of Greenough. It was an extremely odd place. It had been inhabited until the 1960s but the buildings and their contents had been backdated to their earliest appearances from the late 19th century in most cases, which was quite peculiar and seemed a bit contrived.It also had a random herd of Alpacas roaming around which amused some of the tourists greatly. After a slightly befuddled tour we visited the Greenough Wildlife and Bird Park, which is essentially the local animal rescue centre and completely mad. The woman who runs it is also the local snake catcher and she really loves snakes, there are loads of them in the reception area, which made James fairly dubious about going in. At AUD12 each it was actually pretty steep for people who have tried to pay for nothing but we just had to give it a whirl. It was just as mental as we expected it to be. There is a large saltwater crocodile, at least 100 kangaroos and lots and lots of birds, all of which have been rehabilitated. The placing of the dingo pen immediately next to the pen of extremely nervous looking sheep was particularly fun, as was the irritable ostrich that followed us around the park looking sinister. The thing is, these are people who clearly care and are doing their bit and you have to be a little bit nuts to do that. We don’t begrudge them a cent of our AUD24 if it helps them keep doing it.We camped in a free site that night at North Cliffs. It was extremely windy, covering all our belongings in a nice coat of white dust, but it was free and therefore excellent. We were both properly cold overnight for the first time, hiking socks in bed kind of cold, Heidi is glorious but she is also a fiberglass and canvass box with absolutely no heat retention capability.
We had a busy day ahead and made straight for Stockyard Gully, another cave that you can wander around in the pitch darkness with absolutely no consideration for health and safety. As you approach the cave entrance there are signs warning about feral bees. There is something distinctly chilling about the word feral when associated with creatures that have a habit of swarming and brings to mind some sort of sci-fi situation in which bees take over the planet. Even if you don’t possess an overactive imagination you can’t help but be a little bit apprehensive as the buzzing noise reaches a decibel level akin to that of a motorcycle. It turns out that even on our second cave adventure we are still massive wimps; James jumped out of his skin when birds came swooping out of the cave mouth and Caro nearly had a heart attack when a lizard crawled slowly in front of her.We stopped at Green Head and stomped our way through the wind on the 3 bays walk with a vague plan of doing some snorkelling at Dynamite Bay. Apparently, this is a popular snorkelling spot but the water appeared to be about 2 feet deep so we decided to give that a miss and retraced our steps back to Heidi.The walk was perfectly nice and we were happy for an excuse to stretch our legs but as this was all that Green Head had to offer us we continued on our way to Sandy Cape, our campsite for the night.Sandy Cape is absolutely beautiful, a white sand beach backed by sand dunes and an absolute treat of a camping site. We searched in vain for a spot out of the wind before giving up and accepting that we were going to get a bit sand blasted. James tested his resilience to breaking point by taking a stroll on the beach and coming back very exfoliated, although with the added bonus of having spotted a sea lion. The wind died down as the afternoon went on and we were able to stroll along the beach at sunset with a couple of plastic tumblers of wine.The following morning didn’t start all too well for James as he managed to pour coffee granules all over the floor of Heidi. He tidied it up and attempted, unsuccessfully, to put the lid back on the jar only to pour coffee all over the floor for a second time.So, it was a pretty grumpy start to the day but we managed to restore good moods by running up and down the sand dunes and going for a snorkel before the wind got up.As we were intending to snorkel at our next stop it was time for another of our carpark changing acts and a 20-minute drive in sarongs to Jurien Bay, where we quickly swapped back in to swimsuits ready to hit the water again. We were intercepted on the way by an aussie chap who wanted to tell us all about the area and discuss London house prices and Brexit. This was fine with us as we have enjoyed our chats with complete strangers but it was a bit odd doing it in a carpark wearing swimsuits and carrying fins. Our new friend merrily informed us that the snorkelling was crap before bidding us farewell and we trudged down to the water with fairly low expectations. Which was good, because the snorkelling really is crap. Hats off to the town of Jurien Bay for the effort, they are attempting to build a snorkelling site around the old jetty, but the concrete balls that they have submerged to create the reef are too deep to see and the murky water just adds to the challenge. Perhaps it will be worth a look in another 10 years when everything has settled a bit more but, sadly, we cannot recommend it now. We also both managed to get stung by jellyfish so we beat a rapid retreat from the water and epitomised middle-class problems by standing in the car park pouring balsamic vinegar over our arms watched by a bemused 600-year old man who was having his lunch in the truck next to us.
We decided to head straight for Cervantes and set up camp so piled back in to Heidi smelling vaguely of salad dressing and made our way there. We pitched up at the RAC campsite, which was excellent and we would highly recommend to anyone. The WiFi was better than what we’d had at home and the kitchen facilities wouldn’t look out of place in a professional restaurant.Cervantes itself is small and, if you don’t fancy lobster from the Lobster Shack, there isn’t a huge amount to see so, after a quick tour and some more fabulous ice-creams, we set up shop in the rec room for several hours of internet usage. Whilst making breakfast the following morning we were joined in the kitchen by a woman who was wearing a summer dress, a pinny, a baseball cap and Crocs and who was cooking up lamb chops and onions for breakfast. We looked down at our attire and eggs on toast, re-assessed our lives, found them severely wanting and pledged to by a trip pinny and breakfast steaks.
Quick hair tip from Caro, please feel free to skip if you aren’t interested or don’t have hair: Having had to manage the combination of very long, very thick hair and swimming for many years, I have made my peace with the hours required to wash and brush out the matted mess it becomes after even the slightest exposure to water. This trip seemed like a good opportunity to try and find a way to make it more manageable and I have struck gold with coconut oil. By brushing coconut oil through my hair and french plaiting it before swimming I can brush it out easily before and after washing, even many hours later. This is a complete revelation to me and has made my life 100 times easier. Please note that I have no idea about the health benefits or implications of using coconut oil on your hair, all I know is that it works.