Walking amongst giants in the land of cheese and honey

From Albany, we made our way to Denmark and pitched up at Ocean Beach Caravan Park before addressing the very pressing issue of laundry. We were camped about 500m from all of the facilities and we clocked a fair few steps just going back and forth to re-hang all of our clothes on the line as we had still failed to buy any pegs.IMG_8504We had a full agenda the following day, starting with Monkey Rock. This is just out of town and is another of those walks where the majority of it is fairly ordinary but it has a fun bit at the end where you get to clamber on some rocks and get a cracking view of the surroundings.IMG_2992IMG_8506Denmark has a significant number of vineyards and our next task was to pay some of them a visit. Sadly, there are no wine tours and walking isn’t really an option so one of us had to drive. That being said, there is a lovely scenic drive around the wineries and for those not drinking, there is also cheese, toffee and honey on offer. On our circuit we bought some cheese and a sparkling chardonnay for a bargain AUD20. One thing that we noticed throughout was that everyone was very generous with the tasters, which were free, and there was no obligation or pressure to buy anything afterwards.

Having indulged our cheese addiction, it was time to do something a bit more active again and looped back round to the beach. Our destination was Elephant Rocks and Greens Pool, where James intended to snorkel. Apparently the rocks look like elephants, and once you know that they do sort of appear that way, mostly they are just big rocks on a pretty bay.DSC_0215Greens Pool is just around the corner and the fact that we needed to go back to the car and change out of jumpers and in to swimsuits gives an indication of how cold it was. Snorkeling was taken off the agenda but we were determined to swim and once we were in it was great fun, with a conveniently located rock available for us to leap off in to the water.

Our home for the night was just down the road in Walpole and on the way there we stopped at Caro’s favourite spot by far, Bartholomew’s Meadery, where they sell all things honey.IMG_2994We tasted every single mead and honey on offer before capping it all off with amazing homemade honey ice cream. Caro, as usual, made the best choice with salted honey which was superior to James’s, also delicious, banana flavour. Caro was obviously on a massive honey high at this point and insisted on purchasing some bee leggings, which she can be seen modelling here.IMG_3077Having finished eating and admiring the glass-cased hive, we made a beeline (hehehe) for Walpole and the Valley of the Giants. At first, we didn’t really think much of the Valley of the Giants, the trees didn’t seem that out of the ordinary. That’s because all of the trees are so big so there isn’t really anything to compare it to, once you look properly you realise that the road is aptly named and the trees are absolutely ginormous. We gave the paid walkway in the canopy a miss and headed on to a couple of spots in Nornalup National Park. The first was a short walking track around the large Tingle Trees, one of the local giant species, which are particularly renowned for having large hollow buttresses.IMG_8517It was interesting to look at the giant and large Tingle trees but Caro by this time was craving a campsite to wash the salt out of her hair. James persuaded her to visit one more spot before we settled at a campsite for the night. We carried on through the large trees until we reached Circular Pool, a beautiful river cascade and pool which was a nice place to sit with your feet in the water for a moment.IMG_8530Our campsite at Coalmine Beach was definitely not one of our favourites; presumably James managed to offend the woman on reception in their 30 second interaction because we were directed to an extremely small, extremely moist camping spot. It had thrown it down with rain so everywhere was wet but we seemed to be the soggiest of all and there were an extraordinary number of mosquitoes. There were, however, very powerful hot showers and this is always a huge plus on hair-washing days. Many of our campsites have come complete with local wildlife and this one was no different; in addition to the mosquitoes there were also kangaroos, one of which took such great offence to Caro going for a shower that it actually growled at her.IMG_8521On a more pleasant note our campsite was temporarily adorned with James’s favourite Australian animal, a kookaburra.IMG_3008We dined fabulously that night on bacon and eggs accompanied by a bottle of Ducketts Mill finest fizz which was delightfully refreshing and dry enough to suit even James’s taste.IMG_8522With more rain overnight it felt like weeks since Heidi and her contents had been dry. This brings us to one of the more interesting of Heidi’s traits: when the weather is cold or wet we have to seal her up overnight which causes condensation to form all over the interior of the cabin, particularly around the bed. Being a compact little thing all of the bedding is in contact with the sides and the condensation therefore seeps in to the sheets and makes an already chilly night decidedly colder.  In order to dry everything out you need a few hours of consistently dry and preferably windy weather, which we had not had. The result being that everything around and in Heidi, including us, was consistently slightly damp for a while. This brings us back round to the next morning when we were not inclined to linger and quickly packed up for another busy day.

Our first stop was the Sawbrook art trail which the lady in the visitor centre had informed us was “a lovely walk but don’t bother with the art”.  With such a glowing review, we had to go and, actually, we quite appreciated the art in such a vibrant natural environment. Caro also observed that one of the exhibits was particularly useful as it was made up of a very large reflective surface and many travelers go long periods without standing in front of a full- length mirror.

Our primary aim for the morning was to climb Mount Franklin, the highest local peak and a bushfire observation lookout. There are several walks here so we combined the summit trail and track around the base of the mountain. Both were excellent in their own way. You can see why the bushfire observation station is located there, with uninterrupted views over the forest and for miles around, although it does necessitate another steep climb and some more ladders.IMG_3014The walk through the surrounding forest at the base of the mountain gives you a great appreciation for the vastness of the trees and why the fire risk is so great with the abundance of dry foliage dropped from them.IMG_8526We continued west in search of a suitable location for lunch, pulling in at a couple of spots but rejecting them and moving on until we found a beautiful, peaceful spot at Snake Gully. Here a boardwalk descends over the forest floor and we enjoyed lunch and a cup of tea with just the sounds of nature.IMG_8533Feeling revived, we headed on with the feeling we could get in one more national park, and made a couple of stops in D’Entrecasteaux. The first was Salmon Beach, which is another absolute stunner.  As we were making our way from the carpark we passed a surfer who told us that there was a young sea lion playing in the surf at the far end of the beach. We thanked him and strolled nonchalantly on before giving in to our true characters and running down the beach with the hope of catching a glimpse of it. We need not have worried as the sea lion was happily playing in the surf around the reef and we stood and watched from the beach for 10 minutes or so.

The park is home to another Nature’s Window which was our second stop and we walked the short distance from the car park to enjoy the view.IMG_8547This seemed like the right room for an argument, so we had one and proceeded to our next damp campsite in silence.


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