OUR AUSTRALIAN ROAD TRIP – WEEK 2
The second week of our road trip has been full of laughs, meeting some lovely locals and photographers and some unbelievable scenery. Tiffany has earned herself a couple of new nicknames on this leg of the journey, Skippy and Pebbles, and still have us laughing and hopefully will continue to have us laughing for the foreseeable future.
We packed up our camp in the Stirling Ranges and made our way to Albany, one of my favourite spots in the Great Southern of West Australia. I often compare Albany to the Sydney area without all the people and buildings, which makes it an absolutely stunning region of the state to visit and explore.
We set up camp in Albany at the Big 4 Caravan Park at Middleton Beach in record time, and I didn’t even need to have the Peg Master directing me on the million pegs to hold our tent down in the event of a cyclone. We headed off to grab some groceries for the next few days then off to the Albany Wind farm to meet with some photographers from the Albany Photographic Society for a landscape photography walk.
The rain was pouring down for the better part of the day, and the wind was blowing a gale, especially as we walked down to the boardwalk near the wind farm. I made an executive decision that this was not going to work as we would have no chance of keeping our tripods stable, so the girls decided that the Princess Royal Sailing Club would be better, and it was. I spent about an hour with the girls with composition shooting the jetty then we headed over to practice shooting city lights at night. It was great to meet with them and we definitely had some laughs, even thought the conditions were not ideal.
Princess Royal Sailing Club
On our second day the Peg Master and I decided to head back to the Princess Royal Sailing Club to get some shots of our own at sunset. It was a dark and gloomy evening, and the clouds were very dramatic, making it fantastic for photography. There was not a lot of colour, but with the drama in the sky I knew the images would work well in black and white.
Lower King in Oyster Harbour
We were guided to Lower King in Oyster harbour the morning after our Beginners Photoshop Workshop by Vicki and Carol. There are some abandoned jetties in a really calm and tranquil bay. There wasn’t much happening on the morning that offered a lot of inspiration photographically, except I got fixated on this one Pelican sitting on a pole out in the water. I’m not sure why, sometimes we just have brain fades, and I didn’t end up shooting anything of great interest on the morning. But it was great company and we all headed out for a coffee and chat and a local coffee shop along the esplanade.
Whaling Cove is a beautiful little cove I had visited previously. It’s located along Quaranup Road, and the last turn off before you reach the camp on your right hand side. I believe this beach is a nudist beach, at least that’s the excuse I used to get all of my gear off before Tiff yelled at me to get it all back on…..kidding!.
The beach at Whaling Cove in King George Sound is a beautiful white soft sand almost like talcum powder that squeaks under your feet. Tiff and I were there for about 15 minutes surveying the surrounds when another photographer was making her way down the beach, it was Vicki again. Vicki is challenging herself to shoot sunrise every day for three months, what a great challenge. Again we didn’t get a lot of colour, except the beautiful turquoise colours of the sound. We did have about 10 minutes after sunrise when the sun was shooting off sunrays through the clouds, so I threw on my 70-200 lens to get a better perspective of the sunrays and use the ship in the harbour to balance my image.
We didn’t’ spend a lot of time in Albany as I have photographed this beautiful area on several occasions in the past and I wanted to move on to an area I hadn’t explored previously in Esperance. I did take Tiff out to see the beautiful area around Two Peoples Bay and in particular Little Beach (pictured below) before we made our journey to Esperance. Areas of interest for photography in Albany, on top of those mentioned above are Frenchman’s Bay, Salmon Holes, The Gap and many more, not forgetting the stunning area of Denmark which is only a few kilometres down the road and also well worth a visit.
Albany to Esperance
The tent is getting easier to pack up and in 30 min we had packed everything in the car and we headed off from Albany towards Esperance approximately a 5 hour drive. Arriving in Esperance, finding a caravan park was difficult, we drove into 3 of them and didn’t seem overly excited about their facilities. We had heard from campers the night before in Albany that they had some of their gear stolen out of their van whilst staying here in Esperance so the paranoia had set in. We finally came across the Pink Lake Tourist Park and it seemed more suitable. The manager Debbie was very helpful and welcoming, she allowed us to have a look around at the facilities before we booked in, she also reassured us about safety here in the park. We felt comfortable, booked in and can highly recommend the park
We didn’t do sunset the first night, we settled in went shopping and actually splashed out and decided to have a few quiet drinks with dinner and after dinner and thoroughly enjoyed it. Needless to say we didn’t rise early for a sunrise!!!
The next morning we went into the main street and went into the tourist information centre to grab some brochures and our national park passes. We ended up getting a 4 week pass, but if you are planning on spending some time here and are a RAC member purchase them on line as they are half the price. We were unable to do this as they need to be mailed to you, you couldn’t print them off which was disappointing, so full price it was.
We decided to then head off and do the Great Ocean Drive. The drive is approximately 40kms and a must do, introducing you to Esperance’s magnificent shores which provide a captivating journey of serene bays with every colour of blue & turquoise crashing waters, towering cliff sides and gigantic granite boulders rising from the ocean and shore lines. These features make it stunning for landscape photography. Our favourites for photography were Twilight Beach (voted most popular beach in WA ) and Observatory Point & Beach, where we did a sunrise and a sunset at both.
Getting there – You can either start from the well sign posted signs off the Esplanade or start from Pink Lake Road.
Our next destination was Cape Le Grand National Park – 50km east of Esperance, this is a sealed road. We checked out Le Grand beach, Hellfire Bay & did the walk up to Little Hellfire Bay, Thistle Cove, the famous Lucky Bay (voted the whitest beach in Australia where kangaroos are also known to be laying and enjoy the sun and white squeaky sandy beach) and Rossiter Bay. Lucky Bay is actually something spectacular, it’s really hard to describe such beauty and it’s hard to believe that when you are standing on the beach there are kangaroos around you, such a surreal moment. There is a camp ground out there if you want to stay with great facilities, be warned though, make sure you have paid for your camping site and park passes, we witnessed the rangers handing out fines for illegal camping.
The afternoon was looming so we decided to do sunset at Hellfire Bay. It was a spectacular spot with towering rocks, we scaled the rocks and found our spot. Of course my spot and Aaron‘s spot were quite different, yes I’m up high in the safe spot and Aaron is down on the rocks where the massive waves are crashing nearby. Even though the sunset was spectacular, I spent most of my time worrying about Aaron and watching for the nearby waves, he assured he was fine…. Yeah right!!! The drive back to Esperance was high alert, yep I was on kangaroo watch, something to be cautious of when driving at dawn and dusk to Cape Le Grand National Park, Aaron reckons he has never seen so many kangaroos in his life. Hence today’s nickname for me was “skippy”.
Getting there –Head out onto Fisheries Rd turn onto Merivale Rd then right onto Cape Le Grand Rd, you will then see sign posts to the various bays.
A few days later we decide to rise at 4.30am and head out to do Lucky Bay at sunrise, again kangaroo watch was important. We decided to set up at a lookout above the car park so we could get the whole bay in the picture. Aaron is already set up, of course I take a bit longer, so while I grab my camera bag and walk 4 steps to my site I felt my feet slide from under me and next minute I knew I was on my arse. After Aarons initial “omg are you ok” I replied ‘yes’ and sat there laughing with my camera bag on top of me. (You could imagine the site), Aaron proceeds to laugh and we laughed so hard it took all my might to even get up. Hence now my new nickname is “pebbles” thanks to the loose and soft gravel that tripped me up.
Esperance was first discovered in 1792 by French explorers and Esperance was named after their ship L’Esperance which in French means Hope. In 1802 Matthew flinders sailed through the bay of isles and he names several key Esperance locations eg Lucky Bay . The aboriginal name for Esperance is “Kepa Kurl” which means “the place where the waters lay down like a Boomerang” The town was then settled by the Dempster brothers in 1860s and then formally known as a farming and agricultural town, which still exists today but now includes tourism, mining and fishing industries.
Our journey will keep us here in Esperance for a couple of more days as Aaron runs his Photoshop Workshops, then we are off on our way across the Nullarbor into Whyalla and my old home town Port Pirie where we will visit family and friends for a couple of weeks.