Sunday 7th January – A Fail and a Wobble

Early morning wake up as usual thanks to the bright yellow of the tent amplifying the sun’s rays. Thankfully I didn’t feel too seedy from all the beer and Sheldan seemed to have come out alright as well. I suggested he make breakfast while I did some writing and he produced some bacon and egg rolls. I’d had the usual dreams about getting caught in an illegal camp which I shared with Sheldan as we ate.

We went through packup and dishes and with most things put away, I figured I’d start the car to get the fridge running. I turned the key only to hear “Click, click, click.” Shit, flat battery. Sheldan had been charging his phone off the car for a while last night but the fridge had also been running so it wasn’t really that surprising that she wouldn’t go. Not to worry, we’d brought along a spare battery just for this situation! I lugged the heavy battery out of the boot with the jumper cables and gave it a whir. The only improvement was slightly more of a whirring noise, but sill no dice. Bugger. I called Dad to make sure it wasn’t something I didn’t know about the car’s known starter motor issue, but he agreed that we’d managed to flatten the battery and our spare was nothing more than weight ballast.

RAC then. Using Mum’s membership card, I called for roadside assistance. The lady I spoke to on the phone was very helpful, giving me every confidence in their system. And so, we waited in our beautiful forest. Sheldan watched a movie on his laptop while I tried to make a hammock out of a towel and two ropes then resorted to reading a magazine when that failed. 1.5 hours later, I was texting Mum back and forth and she convinced me to call back for an ETA since I’d never received one. According to their notes, they were due to arrive any minute! Sure enough, barely a minute after I’d hung up we heard the sound of another human being.

It had taken the RAC man a good half hour of driving in circles to find us which is a shame considering it took all of thirty seconds to sort out our problem. I signed a paper and he went on his way. Soon after, we were also on our way! It was just before noon so not too much time lost, all part of the adventure!

We drove into Margaret River for a stop in at the visitor’s centre where we found out about a few wineries that offered free tastings on our route south. With Sheldan as my navigator, we drove in to Leeuwin Estate, thinking how underdressed we were for such a posh place. After perusing the art gallery downstairs, we stood at the bar for the complimentary selection of wines and mostly talked banter with the two wine servers instead of mulling over the wine. They were interesting people to talk to, but we made our exit once the complimentary fluid stopped flowing.

One more winery on our tour south was Mr Barvel’s that offered live music as well as wine. The cellar door was modestly not much more than a house with people sitting under umbrellas and on beanbags out on the back lawn. I liked the vibe of the place with a trio of guys jamming in the corner on a simple drum set and a couple of saxes. No free wine tasting and Sheldan wasn’t keen so we moved on.

We were both hungry for lunch but figured we’d go on down to Augusta and eat there at a Fish & Chip shop Mum had recommended. Unfortunately when we reached the river inlet town and parked up, the fishery had just closed. No matter, Sheldan found us some public barbeques around the corner and we had burgers for a second time. Great for an easy cleanup!

We didn’t explore much around Augusta thanks to Sheldan’s low energy stores so we drove on to Cape Leeuwin stopping in at Flinders Bay en route. The colour of the water on this side of the country is just beautiful and even a little jetty goes a long way in adding to the scenery.

Onwards to Cape Leeuwin, we could see the tallest lighthouse in Australia as we approached. Before getting there we stopped at the Water Wheel which I was super impressed with. It had been used to pump fresh water from a nearby spring to the lighthouse but having long been out of commission, the wheel has almost become a part of nature.

I couldn’t believe such a thing would be so close to the ocean but it looked perfectly historic.

We drove on as far as we could only to get to the entrance gate and turn around, not willing to pay $20 for the privilege of seeing the lighthouse up close. Cheapskates, I know.

Nothing to do now but start heading south east. I drove as Sheldan napped until we came to the turn off for Jasper Lake. The map told us the road in was dirt and maybe 4WD only so when we saw a couple of 4WDs stopped on the side of the road coming out, I pulled up and asked about the condtion of the road. A very friendly German couple straight up told us we wouldn’t manage in our car, which was sound advice. And so, we gave up on that plan and carried on.

We pulled in for a look at Beedelup Falls which were a disappointing trickle but the swinging bridge provided the entertainment. As engineers, we felt responsible for testing the structural integrity of such a bridge and did so the only way we knew how, by swinging it violently from side to side and up and down. He he, it was the highlight of our day.

Now it was time to hunt for a camp. We spent about an hour touring around the Beedelup National Park but we weren’t getting a good vibe and couldn’t find a single clearing suitable for camping. Instead of forking out $16 for an official site, Sheldan got on to WikiCamps and found something twenty minutes away. It was nearly 7pm by this stage so I was a little nervous, but when we eventually found the pullout that was Connelly’s Flat, it was a perfectly ok place to camp. It was better for the bus and caravan already there and not really meant for tenting thanks to the lack of bathroom facilities, but it would do.

Sheldan got straight onto dinner, cooking up some rice, broccolini and chicken with black bean sauce as I got to know our neighbour. I have no idea what he was, but he was a sad, diseased looking marsupial munching around in the bushes for some fresh greens. He didn’t at all seem phased by our presence which made me think he was blind or just plain stupid. He would have been cute if it wasn’t for the gouges on his back that had stripped him of some fur.

We didn’t hang around outside too long because the mossies came out and Mr. Fuzzball insisted on lingering about near us so Sheldan retreated to the car for some movie watching while I huddled in the tent writing and reading.

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