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  • Writer's pictureClaire

12/01/24 Mandurah to Perth Hills

Our last day in the van, and the sun is enough to burn your eye out. I hasten to add that is most definitely not a complaint. Merely a statement of fact, and one that I wholeheartedly approve of. With no need to hang around we left the campsite on Mandurah and made for the beach. Absolutely bloody gorgeous, the only downside being that the sea seemed to drop off really sharply which put me off a bit.,I know, I know I'm in the most beautiful country in the world and Im moaning about the sea, but, well you know me and water. It was really busy and there were lots of people walking their dogs, and swimming just off the beach. The bay was marked off and had several people swimming lengths of it. It did make me think, it must be nice to be able swim like a fish. It was a fleeting thought that left my head almost as fast as it entered it ...

There is something very calming about the beach and the ocean. The ocean itself is wild, untamed and untameable. It utterly fascinates and terrifies me at the same time. I can honestly say i love the beach in the summer and the winter, but more so in the winter because the power and wildness of it is unleashed, and I guess it makes me feel free. It also reaffirms to me what a tiny insignificant piece of the picture mankind is.

The town beach was , as i say gorgeous, stretching as far as the eye could see, if not for the drop off it would have been utter perfection. After drinking our fill, we loaded back into the van and got on the coastal road. We stopped off in the wonderful Safety bay and had a picnic breakfast. looking out over the beach watching pople walk in the shallows, launching their boats, and generally just watching the world go by. Do you know what? nectarines have never tasted so bloody good and once they'd been demolished Si went and got hot drinks from the little cafe opposite to wash it down. The best part of that stop was the toilets.,to get in you had to press a button after which the door slid open. A recoded message from a very well spoken gentleman then gave instructions on how to close and lock the door. Then the same voice announced that a ten minute time frame was allowed for you to do your business. Just as I was about to acknowledge the voice (why I felt the need to say Thankyou to an automated message is anybodies guess) music started to play over the speakers!! What fresh hell is this? There must be a sensor on the toilet because while I was looking around for the flush, back comes the voice advising me that the toilet would flush once I started to wash my hands. That was me done. Tiny mind ... blown completely! Best toilet ever! Carrying on with our day, we stayed on the coastal road to Rockingham.

Rockingham is lush, but is spoiled a little by the grain silos on the noth shore of it. I say spoiled ,but maybe thats going a little too far, it certainly takes something away from the place though.. On the other hand when youre exporting grain, its gotta go from somewhere right! All along the shoreline are vast grass areas, complete with sun shelters, and kids adventure playgrounds. i know the climate helps but, there is just so much to do for kids and there is no need to be stuck inside.

Out of nowhere, and just on a roundabout, we came across a mobile dog washing van. Talk about seeing a gap in the market! It was quite busy and i figure people dont want sandy mutts in their cars, so why not get sandy pups dog wash to get rid of it before going home? Outstanding. Due to the export sites, there were a lot of road trains on the road ,not just with the grain, but also gas tankers and other goods, its just buzzing with activity. The road signs are something of an inigma to us. where as at home we have direction signs of where the next place is coming up and where to turn off, over here.... they dont. The first sign Post is right on the junction of the turn off that you need to take. We've turned around more times on this last 10 days than we ever have I think. Driving around on an adventure is better than driving to somewhere you have to be by a set time, brcause it doesn't matter if you go the wrong way, as it only takes a few minutes to get back on track again. No dramas!

From Rockingham, we continued on the costal road to Freemantle, I love the place, its another of my favourites , and lots of history to it. .The maritime museum is fascinating and also there is the freemantle jail. Being the school summer holidays, it was heaving, so we didnt get out just drove around played spot the building and then googled it to see what it was. The yacht club is massive and the number of boats of all shapes and sizes that are literally stacked up on shelves were too many to count.

By midday it was over 43 degrees and we were wilting to put it mildly. Our camp for the final night on this part of the adventure was in the Perth foothills, and it had a pool. We couldn't check in until 1300 hours because they were closed for lunch, so we went on a magical mystery tour and ended up in Lesmurdie. The quietest little village with a shopping centre complete with a podiatrist, bottle shop and supermarket. It snuck up on us and took us by complete surprise however we were glad it did. In the shopping centre, with some extremely efficient air conditioning, there was a great little cafe called the king and spoon. It was really busy, lots of grandparents wth the grand kids treating them to whatever they wanted. Then there was us, we were just looking for cake. We found it along with an interesting tasting green smoothie, which despite its revolting colour, tasted really good. Better yet it was full of healthy stuff, spirullina, kale passionfruit and a tump of other things. Si had a Matcha tea, that was a bit odd, tasted a lot like grass, and smelt of feet. Regardless of how it tasted, due to the complete healthiness of the drinks we felt we had balanced out the millionaires shortbread and rocky road in an excellent fashion. Balanced diet right there.,

The decor was eclectic today the least. There was an old manual singer sewing machine on the shelf and a set of vintage weighing scales with books and signs. It was seriously quirky, therefore I liked it.

Our last rest place was only a few minutes away, and as we pulled off the highway the view over Perth and the suburbs was spectacular. A short way down the road we found our site, Crystal brook campground.. There were again, lots of permanent residential caravans parked up, and a few empty pitches for people like us. (Disorganised and winging it) As soon as we parked up, we plugged into the electric hook up for the fridge to keep our food cool, got into our swimmers and went straight to the pool.. It was shaded at one end and easy to get into. The temperature felt a bit cool initially but that was only because it was so hot and humid outside. The pool was AWESOME and we could have stayed in there for ages as it bought our body temperature back to a normal level. The peace and quiet was wonderful right up until little people rocked up and joined us. It's s not like there wasn't plenty of room, it was just that it was a lot fuller with them in it. When a big stingy thing, that was flying around the pool got me, and didn't even have the decency to die after doing so, it was definately time to get out. Our fingers were starting to crinkle and we were hungry. Again.

We packed up most of the van, and just left out what we needed, before consuming a random picnic tea using up whatever we had left in the fridge. This time we were parked quite a way from the facilities and the track to them was way to far to walk so we decided it would be ok to stink. We'd had a swim so that would do, and tomorrow night we are back in an hotel and intend to make the most of it.

The humidity was unusually high and it wasnt cooling down much, so we were relieved when we saw some clouds roll in. The most amazing scenes developed on front of our eyes, the skies were indescribable, the clouds all colours and quite mysterious. The sunset was gorgeous, but long after the sun had gone down the clouds were contantly changing in texture and could have been balls of fluff. The first clap of thunder took us by surprise, and the lightning that swiftly followed it lit up the skies. We videoed it for a while, and the indignation when the first spots of rain fell was severe!! We moved into the van to watch it play out and istened to the rain beating down on the van roof, soooo loud ! We'd left the top windows open, to try and get some air flowing through the van, and were happy when the wind picked up, finally bringing the temperature down to a more comfortable level. Our pleasure was shortlived because the wind increased rapidly and the van was rocking like a crazy thing. We were immensely relieved to be in a van and not a tent!!!

much love


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