Two days back in Erskine and Perth were spent repacking, most of one day in Fiona Stanley Hospital having my monthly infusion, while Peter did some business visiting and negotiating, doing some last-minute shopping, and enjoying some relaxing moments before packing the car, and, together with Tim and Moira, setting out on the second half of our adventure. Tim and Moira are travelling as far as the Northern Territory with us then returning through the middle of WA to home, while we continue across Queensland and back home.
I could relax quite a lot more as we set out, as Tim had completed the accommodation planning for the two weeks we are travelling together. This was great. Tim and Moira’s expertise through their own travelling experiences as far as what to take, where to visit, and destination suggestions has been a marvelous help for us and travelling together has been so much fun.
We set out on Friday morning – destination Dongara. Tim and Moira recommended a drive through Swan Valley. It is Western Australia’s oldest wine district. A very pretty area with more than vineyards, our first stop was at Whistlers Chocolate Factory, because where else do you go first thing in the morning! The showroom and restaurant were beautifully presented. Unfortunately, we were unable to see inside the factory as it is still being rebuilt on the current site, having been moved in the last six months. We came away with an appropriate size bag of chocolates to keep us going on our trip for quite a while, including Turkish delight, choc coated liquorice, freckles, coconut rough and rocky road – very yummy.
On our next stop, after two futile attempts at visiting other places, we found a beautiful vineyard called Sittella. Our assumption was that it was a family name, but it is actually named after a small local bird, a Varied Sittella. It is a small family company, and we had to support them, of course. The arbour outside, in its autumn colours, was spectacular.
We travelled further north and out to the coast and eventually reached our first destination – The Pinnacles Desert, just south of Cervantes. To access the area, you leave the highway and travel inland for 14 km. The landscape remains the same as where we were travelling until you drive over a rise and spread before you is a desert-like landscape dotted with the Pinnacles. To say I was awe-struck by the first sighting is probably an understatement. Mr Google tells me that the Pinnacles are amazing natural limestone structures, formed approximately 25,000 to 30,000 years ago after the sea receded and left deposits of seashells. Over time, coastal winds removed the surrounding sand, leaving the pillars exposed to the elements. The Pinnacles range in height and dimension – some stand as high as 3.5m! Thank you, Mr Google. We drove around the area, stopping to get out at different points and the further we went the more there were. It was a never-ending parade of different sizes and shapes, different colours, different amounts of weathering, some incredible characters and just overwhelming amazement at the vista.
From there, we travelled into Cervantes for a short drive around before continuing north again. As we drove, we became aware that we were about to witness our first WA sunset over the sea. We very luckily found a turnoff to a beach called Cliff Head. As we arrived and got out of the car we were confronted by part of a skeleton of a large humpback that had beached itself back in 2012. As well, we followed the flight of an osprey that had been fishing (with success) and returning to its nest to feed its young. It then kept guard. By then, the sun began to set in earnest and we weren’t disappointed.
Eventually, we left and completed our journey for the day at Dongara Caravan Park where we stayed in a lovely little cabin high on the hill with a view of the sea. I was lucky to capture the last rays of the sun as it lit up the sky with some incredible colours.