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  • Writer's pictureClaire

06/01/24 Esperance to Manypeaks

Another good nights sleep, and I could have slept longer! This van life agrees with me. We'd decided that we'd leave early this morning because we wanted to drive the Great Ocean Dive to see the beaches. At 0730 we were on the road and started the 40km long trail. Our first stop off was Esperance jetty, and from there we followed the road past the Port towards West Beach. A truly stunning beach, at least it looked fabulous from the viewing point! The water on the South west Coast is the most amazing turquoise colour and the sand is so white and also micro fine that when you walk on it, it squeaks. Actually, that might be something to do with the way we walk. Around the headland from West Beach is Twilight Bay and Fourth Beach, the road here is above the ocean and the lookout points give a lovely view. Twilight Beach, at the other end of the bay has a surf club and the beach is regarded as one that it is safe to swim. As long as you keep within the flags. Also the fact there are lifeguards helps I'm sure. Twilight beach also boasts toilets and picnic tables, which I imagine on a sunny day would be really busy. Sadly for our trip along the coast, it was overcast and dull with occasional spots of rain. In all honesty, the weather doesn't detract from the beauty of the area in the slightest, with the diffused light, it's easier to get better photographs. Although the water wasn't as illuminated as it would be if it was brilliant sunshine.

The next stop along, was Observatory Point and the end nearest Twilight Beach is suitable for vehicles, I'm guessing only for 4x4's. Even though the sand is pretty firm and compacted in the main, there are still soft bits and I'm pretty sure we would have got stuck had we attempted it. Also .... not allowed off roading.

The Observatory Beach is again suitable for vehicles, and there were numerous tracks breaking up the white sand. The originally named 9mile Beach adjoins on to 10 Mile Lagoon, which is really pretty, the stretch is on what's called Butty Harbour. Finally before turning back Inland we hit 11 Mile Beach, there were people fishing off the rocks and walking their dogs. Wooden steps led down to the beach but there were an awful lot of them and it was a VERY long way. Besides, I was more than happy to watch the waves roll over the rocks, in the drizzle, and take a few photos. The water looked positively arctic to my eyes, therefore far too cold for my delicate self.

A few kms inland was Pink Lake. Now, I have to say this was something of a disappointment to me because it's no longer pink!!! It's really pretty, and very clear, but the composition of it has changed over the years and the lack of salt and addition of fresh water run off into it have changed it significantly. There is a chance that the pink colour will return, but that's down to Mother Nature, and who knows what the eco system will be like in 10 years time. The other side of the Lake is a nature reserve, and another Lake, Lake Warden is situated in another reserve. From the Pink lake we were able to get onto The South Coast Highway and 83 kms down the road we were In Munglinup. A little town with a truck stop, toilet and shower. We didn't require a shower but a drink wasn't to be sneezed at. Because we've spent so many hours driving, and the rest stops are few and far between we've not been drinking as much water as usual. As a result of this we're both a little dehydrated. In the truck stop I found a vitamin drink with electrolytes and hopefully have managed to rehydrate. We've got water on board, but I'm reluctant to drink it due to the toilet situation . This is something we'll need to think about on the next leg of the trip from Melbourne. Bucket maybe? With a lid obviously!

With the weather improving every km we drove. By the time we reached Ravensthorpe is was toasty and blue skies. Having stopped in Ravensthorpe on the way to Esperance we carried on down the highway, through Fitzgerald, past Guna Do and stopped in Jerramungup. We have had better mileage to the gallon today, we think it's because the last two days have been really windy and the van has been fighting the wind every step of the way. As we've travelled further West the wind dropped so when we reached Jerramungup we only needed to top up.

As we were there we had a quick brew in the little cafe. The girl behind the counter was from up North (uk up north) and it was a surprise to hear that accent amongst broad Australian. She looked about twelve, and, I'm pretty sure that I think she was so young because I'm now old!

The toilet was interesting, just the one, and there was quite the que. A woman with two kids was in front of me, one of them came out the loo and she offered me to go in. But... the little boy was jiggling, and I mean really jiggling, and I was confident I could wait. My confidence in him being able to wait was zero, I think the pained expression on his face was a bit of a giveaway. Bad belly! when they came out, his mother apologised for him using the last of the toilet roll. Now I was prepared for this, but the supply was in the van, if I went to get it I'd have lost my place in the ever growing que. The lovely lady behind me came to my rescue, I guess it was fair, I had despatced a large spider for her after she squealed and jumped a mile. It wasn't a very big one.

Finally back on the road again, we thought about where we were planning to stay. You'll know by now we don't mind winging it in the slightest, but, we hadn't taken into consideration that its peak season and also the school holidays here... fundamental error. When I tried to book us in, we discovered there were minimum of 3 night stays and apart from that they were all booked out. Insert an eye roll of epic proportions here! Then I lucked out, rang the number yes we could camp. So my smug feeling didn't last long, the place I'd rung, we'd passed about 45minutes earlier. To be fair it was a blink and miss it!

The camper company had provided us with a map that also had camp sites marked on it and I found 3 sites close together and they were free. Winner winner chicken dinner. The map was pretty handy because it also had a list of "facilities" available at each site. It was a choice between Betty Bay and East Bay, I decided on East bay because, as its name would suggest it's right on the beach. 10km off the main highway and 6 of that 10 wasn't on a sealed road. It was solid, but just a dirt track. Getting down to the site was an experience, and I'm glad we weren't towing a caravan as I think it would have overtaken us on the way down the hill!

When we arrived, the site was already quite full but we managed to find a spot under a tree. Granted it was on a bit of a camber, but nevertheless it was somewhere to sleep. Yay go us!! After we'd parked up eleven other vehicles pulled up, not all at once, but in the space of an hour or so, all looking for somewhere to lay their weary heads.

The site is located right on the beach, and 4x4 can get on and off it quite easily. The beach itself is beautiful, more squeaky white sand, and clear waters, surrounded by rocks and eucalyptus trees. After we'd eaten we went for a walk on the beach, the sun hot on our faces. We took obligatory Bob photos and I had a very short paddle so I can say I dipped my toes in! Bloody cold mind! There is a toilet, of the drop variety and it's bring your own bog roll. Or wet wipes. No running water, which is fine as we have bottles and no BBQ allowed.

At 1900hrs we went back to the beach, sat on the rocks and watched the sun go down on the day. The last rays of sunlight danced over the waves as the sky turned from blue to white yellow grey orange and pink over half an hour. The tide was in too and there was about a metre of soft sand left. As we were sat there, a 4x4 came from around the other side of the bay, where there were a few more trucks had gathered. Damn I wish we had 4x4!

Sunset from the beach at East Bay campground

As soon as the suns last rays had bathed the sky we made our way back to the van. Si was getting the bed set up ready and I sat outside on a chair just minding my own business. There are a young couple in the tent next to us, and they'd forgotten to bring toilet roll and asked if we had a spare. Luckily for us, I'd snaffled some from the van pickup depot so we had some in stock and generously, I thought, gave them a roll. They were most grateful. We had a brief chat about where we were both going and where we'd both been and he returned to the beach to catch the last of the daylight.

Still sat in the chair minding my own business, something darted across the road in front of me and went by my left hand side at speed. It was a bloody rodent, Si tried to say it was a bird, but even I know that birds don't have long sneaky little tails. My speed of movement exceeded itself, and I may well have uttered some rather ripe swear words as I dived into the camper tucking my feet beneath me so it couldn't eat me!

I'm rather hoping it's not let itself into next doors tent and is not making itself comfortable in their sleeping bags. Or worse, eating their food. Greedy little bugger. If I need the loo in the night I shall be taking my trusty stick and wearing my daps instead of flip flops.

So that's todays journey, early start tomorrow and I will search for a campsite earlier in the day. Ha getting the hang of this now!!

Much love


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