We purposely timed our departure from Norseman for later in the morning purposely so we could visit the dump point at the Norseman Visitor Centre only to arrive to find that someone had driven off with the key the day before and apparently there was no spare and obviously no access to a pair of bolt cutters to remove the padlock. Knowing there was a dump point also at Ravensthorpe we left Norseman heading south toward Esperance.
The country between Norseman and Esperance (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperance,_Western_Australia) is uncleared initially but tends to good farming country the further south one progresses. Around Salmon Gums (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salmon_Gums,_Western_Australia) and Grass Patch (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grass_Patch,_Western_Australia) the country obviously produces good grain and is also used for the grazing of sheep.
We stopped for morning tea at a roadside parking area south of Scaddan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scaddan,_Western_Australia) then drove on to Gibson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gibson,_Western_Australia) where we had proposed to bypass Esperance but due to a lack of local knowledge, signage and the myriad of roads leading to who knew where we found ourselves on the outskirts of the city before we turned west toward Albany (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albany,_Western_Australia).
We arrived in Ravensthorpe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ravensthorpe,_Western_Australia) later in the day only to learn that the dump point in town had been removed to accommodate a new road being constructed so after filling the vehicle with fuel we drove along seeking a site to camp for the evening. We had sussed out a couple of spots from Camps 8 and checked out the first of these just west of Ravensthorpe at the Meridian Rest Stop; however, the site was very small and right on the road so we decided against it and drove on.
Our next planned stop was a further 60 kilometres further on and we arrived there about four o’clock and struggled to find an appropriate place to camp for the evening and after fiddling about with different spots for half an hour we drove on and finally arrived at Jerramungup (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerramungup,_Western_Australia) just on dark and checked into the local caravan park. After ringing the bell the manager appeared took our money and told us to find our own spot – “there’s plenty of room” – before disappearing back into his residence. We set up, went to the local truck stop for food and retired for the evening. Before leaving the park we were able to access the dump point and solve that problem.
Next morning we noticed a tap on the door of the van and looked out the window – nothing; another tap and we opened the door to find a kangaroo seemingly wanting entry; no matter how much we shushed and chased the persistent roo would not depart and it wasn’t until Murray left the van to chase it that it finally left and went on to the next van. We had the heater going on a cool morning and it was hard to know if the roo was chasing the warmth emanating from the door vent or just mooching for a feed.
Leaving Jerramungup we headed off for Kojonup (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kojonup,_Western_Australia) where we had decided to stay for a couple of days along the way passing through some of the “ups” – Ongerup and Gnowangerup (where we stopped for morning tea), before we reached Broomehill then Katanning then turned south west to Kojonup where we arrived around midday.
We are staying at the Kojonup Caravan Park (http://www.kojonupcaravanpark.com.au/) which in the words of the owner can be described as a “quaint rural park”. As well as caravan sites, the park has an eclectic collection of cabins and permanent caravan used for accommodation including a couple of buses converted for accommodation. There is a double decker bus on site which will be converted to storage for the housekeeping items the management currently stores in a donger. The park also has a collection of other curios including a life size fibreglass giraffe and a hippopotamus in the garden at the entrance to the park; old machinery and an old red phone box with a miniature spider man figure in occupation. There is a fire pit where a raging fire has burned each evening we have been here.
After lunch we explored Kojonup to see the sites the small town has to offer. We checked out the commercial area, bought some groceries, bread and jam from a local craft group, then went to the local Apex Park where we found a memorial dedicated to Brigadier Arnold Potts (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold_Potts) who with his men fought a withdrawal along the Kokoda Track after an unsuccessful attempt to retake Kokoda Village from the Japanese during WWII. Potts’ action “so depleted and delayed the Japanese advance, they were forced to start their long withdrawal.” Potts farmed in the Kojonup area.
The Australian Rose Maze is near the Apex Park and “pays tribute to the women of twentieth century Australia”. The website suggests – “Trace the stories of Yoondi, Elizabeth and Maria along the enchanting pathways of the Australian Rose Maze to discover 100 years of Noongar, English and Italian experiences.” Unfortunately it was not the right time of year to see the maze at its best and we were a little disappointed with the display. Adjacent to the maze is The Kodja Place (www.kodjaplace.net.au) which is cited as an example of what can be achieved by cultures working together. We also visited the Information Centre and collected brochures for other locations we will visit on our trip.
Thursday morning we headed off for a look at Katanning (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katanning,_Western_Australia) some 40 kms from Kojonup. Once in Katanning we left the car and walked the commercial area. Katanning is a larger town than Kojonup and boasts 5 banks, several car dealerships and a Woolworth’s grocery store. We had an interesting couple of hours looking around the town and had a coffee at a small coffee shop – The Daily Grind.
Leaving Katanning we headed south to Broomehill (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broomehill,_Western_Australia) with a view to driving back to Kojonup along a different road to that which we travelled this morning. At Broomehill we stopped to take a few photographs and noticed a winery cum café was open and decided to have lunch at the establishment.
Henry Jones Winery & Cafe (http://www.dimmi.com.au/restaurant/henry-jones-winery-and-cafe) is an interesting establishment and well worth a visit, if only for the curiosity value. The building in Broomehill is very large and a good portion of it seems to be filled with antiques and collectibles of all sorts. The actual café includes a good stock of these as well as bottles of wine (obviously) and several large tables (and some smaller ones) where patrons consume the food provided. We ordered food and while waiting for it to arrive read one of the local papers; from the kitchen came a loud altercation between the proprietor and the chef and Margaret suggested perhaps we should leave before the chef did. Meanwhile the proprietor’s wife arrived back from a trip to town, obviously poured oil over troubled waters and delivered our meals to the table with an offer of wine tasting. We enjoyed the meals and tasting and bought a couple of bottles of Wadjekanup River Estate wine before leaving and heading back to Kojonup.
Back in Kojonup we headed off to take a look at the Myrtle Benn Flora & Fauna Sanctuary (http://www.kojonupvisitors.com/Wildflowers/default.htm) on the outskirts of town. Again it was not the right time of year to see the flora in the sanctuary at its best and there also seemed to be a lack of bird life. We drove back to the caravan park past the Old Military Barracks and the Elverd Cottage both local buildings in Kojonup. For a small town (population 2145) Kojonup (http://www.kojonupvisitors.com/) has a lot to offer beside the 1,000,000 + sheep claimed on the welcome to the Shire signs seen when entering the district, and our visit to the area was worthwhile.
Our next destination is Busselton on the coast below Perth and we will stay here for several days as we did not visit Busselton on our previous visit in 2010.