Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Half Lap Day 100: Karlgarin -> Esperance

The sun was out when we got up in the morning and the whole area was quite pretty, lots of wattle trees with their blossoms shining in the early morning sun. It was also very very cold, with a layer of ice over the car and the tent, and frozen pools of water on top of our trailer cover. Tony got another fire going, and the kids gradually emerged out into the cold and sat around the fire before having breakfast. The kids rescued a little skink from the fire and played around the campground. Millie was keen to leave, she didn’t like the place at all. I’d hoped to get up and going early, we were all moving pretty slowly though and it was 10.30 by the time we had everything ready to go.

On our way to Wave Rock (only another 30km) we saw a pig farm, with lots of big pigs and a group of very cute little piglets. There had been a war memorial at our campground and as we drove I noticed that many of the road names were the same as the names on the war memorial – I guess they would have been farmers around this area, and I don’t know if the roads were named after the family who lived there, or in memory of the men who fought in the war. We got petrol in Hyden, which had cool decorations around the town. The old railway platform was covered in iron sculptures of people and seats and equipment – as if they were all waiting for the train to come.

Wave Rock is somewhere that I’ve wanted to go since I was a kid, and I didn’t think we’d be able to fit it in to this trip. When we looked at the best way to get home though, it worked quite nicely as a stopover on our way to Esperance (if we are willing to skip Kalgoorlie. I would have liked to see it too, but Wave Rock and Esperance seemed more exciting). We paid our entry fee and when the lady gave me all the information about the area I briefly wished we’d stayed at the rock instead of where we did, so we could spend more time there – then figured it wasn’t worth worrying about what we could have done if we’d had more information, and just to enjoy what we did do.

We rugged up, there was a wind blowing and it was pretty cold. We walked around to the Wave and it was very very cool. So weird to see a rock curving out like that, and it was high and long and quite impressive, well worth the drive out to see it. The kids climbed up the slope as far as they could, and slid down again, We wandered along it’s length, reading about how it was formed and the geography of this area – it’s a very rocky part of the world, and Wave Rock is the most famous of a great number of cool rock formations around here. I wasn’t expecting the colours on the rock, lots of vertical stripes of black and orange and yellowy colours, caused by water and lichen and cyanobacteria, which made it look even cooler.

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Past the end of the wave we were able to walk along the side of Hyden Rock (the larger rock that Wave Rock is a part of, and start to climb up behind the wave. There was a dam here, they had built a dam wall to catch the runoff from Hyden Rock, and that supplies the town of Hyden with its water. So cool to see sensible usage of rain water. Walking along the rock up above the wave was pretty cool, Hyden Rock rose up a lot higher behind it, and there were rock pools, wildflowers, trees and boulders scattered across the rock. There was a concrete wall built along the length of the wave, 20m or so from the edge, to stop people going to the top of it. We decided to do the short walk across Hyden Rock, which took us the length of the wave – then we had to climb over the concrete wall and walk down the sloping rock to the ground. It seemed a bit ludicrous, but that’s the way the trail went, and the climb down was fine. Cool to see yet another view of the wave (from the side as we sloped down next to it).

Back at the car we got some lunch ready, then finally headed off around 12.30. The countryside was beautiful as we drove south east. Lots of crops, green and yellow, lots of sheep and occasionally cattle. Wildflowers here and there, hills in the distance. The land was undulating, with areas of flat ground as well. There were lots of low lying areas that obviously filled with water when it rained – many of them were full now – with dead trees throughout them. As we’ve been driving around Australia we’ve seen lots of cleared paths running from the road into the trees or bush to the side, then suddenly stopping, and we couldn’t figure out what they were for. Here, those cleared areas were full of water, so it looks like they are drainage channels to help keep the water off the road when it rains.

The little towns we past through all looked interesting. Lots of them had done interesting things with their now out-of-use railway stations. One town (Lake King I think) had a tractor museum (a large open shed full of tractors).  We stopped in Ravensthorpe to go to the toilet, then drove mainly east from there – eyeing off the black clouds to the south and hoping we’d get to Esperance in time to set up before that rain rolled in from the ocean.

With a forecast for gales and lots of rain, we decided to stay at a caravan park that wasn’t right on the beach. I’d found the one that claimed to be the cheapest, and when I went to book in the girl said it would be $60 for unpowered – the kids were $10 each! That’s the 2nd highest amount we’ve paid ANYWHERE, and by far the most for unpowered. I went back out to the car to discuss with Tony – the wind was picking up and it was feeling more urgent to get a spot and get the tent up, but we’re also still needing to be careful of our spending. I rang another caravan park and while they were giving me a price (which was even higher!) the girl came out and said that seeing as we had 3 kids, she’d only charge $5 each. So that made it affordable and we were happy to stay. She also said that there wasn’t much demand for the unpowered sites at the moment, no one else was game enough. She said we could pick either of the corner sites, whichever we thought would give us more protection from the wind.

When we got to the unpowered area, we were the only people using it. There was a fence surrounding most of the area, on 3 sides, so we were able to set up in a corner with a fence on 2 sides of us, and were mainly protected from the wind. We got the tent up as quickly as we could, and managed it before the rain started. I set up the beds while Tony and the kids went to the camp kitchen to start getting dinner ready.

The rain was quite steady throughout the evening, easing off occasionally, when we could make quick dashes over to the car or tent if we needed anything. We watched the Olympics and some ABC3 shows, ate a fantastic butter chicken dinner, filled in our Census form and hung out in the (slightly warmer – there was still a breeze coming through above the windows, its really just an enclosed shed) kitchen area for the rest of the evening. Tony, Caitlin and LiAM went and had a shower before bed, Millie was asleep before they came back and we snuggled into our beds – it was warmer than last night but the rain made it feel less comfortable.

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