Busselton - Margaret River - Pemberton - Northcliffe - Windy Harbour - Manjimup - Karridale - Busselton
From the beach to the bush and back again. Punctuated at each end by coffee and a swim at White Elephant Cafe in Gnarabup. Our camps were dwarfed beneath giant karris or tucked under peppermint trees behind the fore dunes of the south coast. Trees were hugged, rivers swam, beaches strolled and walk tracks followed.
Our first night was at Drafty's Camp on the Warren River; one of three campsites along the Heartbreak Trail, a one way gravel road originally created to provide access to the river for fire fighters. Built by hand, the name reflects the hardship of the job. From the camp, we followed part of the 10.5km signposted walk along the riverbank and inland to the Dave Evan's Bicentennial Tree. Pegged in 1988, visitors can climb 75 metres up metal spikes into the crown of the karri tree for views to the ocean. In high winds the lookout tower can sway up to 1.5 metres in each direction. Not for the meek or sufferers of vertigo. In this time of risk assessment and litigation it is refreshing that this challenge remains open to the public.
All that fresh air and tree climbing built up our coffee appetite, which we satisfied in Pemberton with the grey nomads at the Millhouse Cafe. This is marron and trout country, and you can catch your own or sample it on everything from platters to sandwiches and pizza.
We opted for a picnic in the grounds of the town's natural swimming pool. Entry is free and there is no nasty chlorine or even other people to spoil a good dip. A couple of Euro backpackers took one look at the sign that warns of submerged obstacles, currents and poisonous snakes and made a hasty retreat.
Continuing with the fresh water swimming theme, we broadened our margin of leisure at Big Brook Dam. While pleasant on a hot day, it would be a tad nippy most of the year. Built in 1986 to supplement the Pemberton town and trout hatchery water supply, it is now a fantastic recreational facility with picnic and barbeque facilities near a white sand beach. The perfect spot for Tom to break out the paints while I read a few more pages of Walden.