GRAYnomad Nature Photography :: The GRAYnomad Chronicles :: #016



While in south west WA we encountered a ranger who was sympathetic to self contained vehicles camping in "No camping" areas, and an entire shire that has areas set aside for self contained vehicles.

It seems reasonable to me that if a vehicle and its occupants leave nothing behind, and take nothing except memories (and maybe the odd photo), then said vehicle and occupants should be allowed to "park" overnight just about anywhere.

I believe there are provisions of this sort in NZ and Europe, so why not here?

It's also my understanding that the CMCA looked into the NZ system and decided it would be too difficult to administer. And in Europe, the requirements for a vehicle to be considered self contained are too stringent.

Then of course you have to get all the local shires on board, a hard enough problem without any vested interests. But when the shire, or one of it's councillors, owns a caravan park there's little chance.

I guess the dream of being able to freely wander around Australia and spend time anywhere you like is just that, a dream. And as we get more and more people doing it, things will get worse in the remaining free spots.

So, my message to all you baby boomers out there thinking about hitting the road is, DON'T DO IT, stay at home.

Otherwise next time I go to camp in a pristine spot with ocean views, you'll be there first.



Till next time then, and remember,

Don't Dream it, Be it!

Sat 1 Feb 2003

We finally leave Perth, up at the crack of nine o'clock, over to the shops for a paper, then we head down the Kwinana freeway.

We've met a lot of nice people while in Fremantle, mostly locals out for their daily walk who stopped for a chat. We got to know one such local, Cliff, fairly well as he rode past just about every day and stopped. Cliff also very kindly allowed me the use of his computer so I could check recent uploads to the site.

And speaking of uploads, I've done a heck of a lot of work on the site while in town and it would not have been possible without the help of Tom and Mary. With the use of their ADSL link, ample supplies of beer, and great sense of humour, I've managed to implement several new features on this site. The customisable photo gallery is one, and soon there will be full-on shopping facilities so you can buy my photos online (start saving now!).

While on the subject of photos, I've purchased a you-beaut scanner and spent a lot of time working with a local bureau, fine tuning the production of my images. The results are fantastic and some are already in a gallery in Tasmania.

All-in-all it's been a productive time here in WA's capital city, but after six weeks being relatively stationary in Fremantle, we're once again on the road.

Not for long though, we only drive to Gooralong Park, near Jarrahdale. According to our camps book it's only good for small rigs, but we didn't read that bit until we squeezed Wothahellizat into a spot.

We have mail waiting in the Mandurah Post Office and they'll be closed over the weekend so we decide to hang out in the forest for a couple of days.

Later in the day a light rain starts. We're parked among some trees and the patter of rain drops on leaves, coupled with the warmth of this beautiful afternoon, cause us both to nod off.

We wake up around tea time, it's getting quite cold so we batten down the shutters. I decide it's actually cold enough for long trousers, the trouble is, where are they? I haven't worn anything more substantial than shorts for over a year, and have no idea where my long pants are stored. Eventually we decide it's all too hard and I stick with the shorts.

Sun 2 Feb

We had a thunder storm last night, complete with the first real rain we've encountered in ages. It was great to just lie in bed and listen to the rain on the roof of the motorhome.

For the rest of the day we just hang out.

Mon 3 Feb

After a late start, and a quick detour into Serpentine falls, we drive into Mandurah. We just pick up our mail, and do a little shopping, then leave town.

We find a great campsite right on the shores of Peel Inlet, but get there the hard way.

Chris spots a track leading off the highway but I don't have enough warning to stop, very soon though we encounter a new housing estate and turn in there instead.

We drive around the near-empty streets, then see a track and realise that it will probably lead us back to the spot we missed a minute ago.

Wothahellizat makes light work of the dirt bank that forms a curb for the new road, and we head along the track.

It quickly turns to soft sand and when we start to dig in I engage six-wheel-drive. Eventually we arrive at a small clearing, right on the banks of the Peel Inlet and tucked in amongst the tee trees.

 Campsite on the shores of Peel Inlet

Tue 4 Feb

We just drive for a couple of hours then turn off the highway to a camping spot mentioned in a brochure we picked up the other day.

It's a very steep and narrow dirt road, we prune a few trees but eventually find the site, just behind the dunes. Quite pleasant, but probably not worth the drive.

 Campsite at Myalup, just north of Australind

Wed 5 Feb

We continue on through Australind, Bunbury and Busselton. All three appear to be very nice places, particularly some of the blocks for sale along the Leschenault Inlet just north of Australind.

While walking around Busselton's main street I stumble apon one of Christian Fletcher's galleries. He's a very good photographer and I spend quite some time browsing the prints.

Thu 6 Feb

We drive through Dunsborough and out to the national park near Eagle Bay. We find a spot to park then get a bike out to explore the area.

After a couple of hours riding to Bunker Bay, Sugarloaf Rock, and around Dunsborough, we decide that the spot we already have is as good as any, so return to the truck.

I then head off to repeat the exercise with camera equipment. At Bunker Bay I find a reasonable photo but the wind is diabolical so I give up. I then go over to Sugarloaf Rock, the wind is still bad but I manage to find a sheltered spot with a good view of the rock.

 Part of Sugarloaf Rock after sunset

After dark I finally return to the truck. There's been no trouble from rangers so I have a beer and some dinner, then promptly fall asleep in my recliner.

Fri 7 Feb

We move over to Sugarload Rock today, I'd seen dolphins here yesterday and Chris was keen to see them as well.

Right on que they arrived just after we get settled.

Some are surfing, breaking through the back of a wave and leaping clear into the air.

Chris spends the day watching dolphins, and I spend it taking photos. I return to Bunker Bay and find that there's hardly any wind, so make the photographs that were not possible yesterday.

 Trees overlooking Bunker Bay on a rare wind-free day.

I then return to Sugarloaf Rock and spend the rest of the afternoon perched on top of the boulders, waiting for the sunset.

 Wolf Rock (top left, it looks more like a wolf from other angles) and part of Sugarloaf Rock

When the sun has gone I clamber down and return to the truck, fortunately, unlike last night when I had to dodge the kangaroos on a dark country road, tonight all I have to do is walk across the carpark.

After dinner we turn the lights out and watch the surf in the moonlight. All days should be like this.

Sat 8 Feb

Up at 5AM to be in place for a photo before dawn. I refuse a coffee thinking I am running short of time, then spend over an hour freezing my bum off sitting on a cliff in the wind.

 Cray boat does whatever it is cray boats do, in the early morning

After breakfast I'm sitting in the lounge, typing on the computer, when my eye is caught by the waves down on the beach. I try to ingore them but eventually I grab a 35mm camera and walk down.

 It's not hard to see why this area of Australia is well known for surfing.

The waves do look nice and I get some photos but then receive a real bonus when a pod of dolphins enter the bay and frolic in the waves.

I walk out as far as possible onto the rocks. This actually places me behind the breakers and allows me to photograph the dolphins as they break through the back of the waves.

 Dolphins surfing through the back of the breakers. NOTE: I was a long way away from the dolphins so these two photos are enlarged from the centre of the negatives and therefore not as sharp as usual.

For the rest of the day I'm either lugging camera gear over boulders or climbing to find another view.

 Two contra jour shots, and a weird tree, Sugarloaf Rock

I take my last photo at 6:15PM, just as the sun sets, then collapse into my recliner.

We're done here and will leave tomorrow.

Sun 9 Feb

Leaving Sugarloaf Rock we lunch at Yallingup then park the truck above Smiths Beach. I ride around the district and find a magnificent spot at Wyadup, on top of the cliffs with panoramic views of the beaches and ocean.

 View from near the truck, towards Cape Clairault.

I did not intend to take any photos today, after taking so many at Sugarloaf...but there's some horses and a neat-looking fence just behind us,

 Mummy race horse with foal, and the fence that keeps them in.

and some great light on the rocky outcrops looking towards Canal Rocks,

 Great looking rock formations on the coast

not to mention some interesting affects on the surf as the sun sinks,

 The sun reflects from the water just before sunset

and finally the puffy clouds turn red.

 Clouds do their thing just after sunset

Oh well.

There's a first-quarter moon tonight. It illuminates the landscape quite well, and we sit up in the semi-darkness with the binoculars, looking at the fantastic shapes caused by the reflections on the water.

Thank goodness it's impossible to photograph that as well, or I'd still be out there.

Mon 10 Feb

Up for an early morning walk on the beach, looking at the patterns and colours in the rocks.

 Two rocks on our own "private" beach below our campsite

As we climb the track I notice the great shapes in the grass and pigface near the truck.

 Lovely soft patterns formed by backlighting on the grass.

Chris spots a pod of dolphins swimming behind the waves further down the beach. It becomes apparent that they are heading this way, and I suggest that she should walk out on the cliff to get a better view. I am happy to sit in the lounge, but Chris insists that I get off my bum and bring a camera.

As they reach the bottom of our vantage point they decide to have some fun and start surfing. On several occasions we can see a dozen or so dolphins inside a wave. Often one would break from the pack, swim inside the breaker at high speed then suddenly turn 180 degress and explode from the back of the wave.

 Dolphins at play in the waves.

One of the locals dropped in for a chat this morning on his way for a swim. Ken is an American who got sick of the Californian scene and moved out here. He owns a house, not far away, that overlooks the entire bay.

In the afternoon I went up to Ken's house, it's a very sandy road but worth the trip. The house has outstanding views over the entire coast. Elsewhere on the property can be found a natural amphitheatre, formed by a limestone cliff, and a cave.

The property is on the market, for $3.5 million it's yours. I was tempted but if we bought the place I'd have no money left over for film.

Apparently Ken's agent asked if the house came furnished. "At that price" he said, "they can have the furniture, the clothes, the dog and the beer in the fridge".

Tue 11 Feb

Blowing a gale all day. I went for a brief trip to nearby Injidup beach, and then return to photograph some trees.

 Part of the Cape to Cape walk at Injidup

For the rest of the day we sit in the warmth of the truck, listening to the howling wind.

Wed 12 Feb

We intended leaving Wyadup today but the light is great on the nearby fence,

 Fence at Wyadup, Canal Rocks in the background

and I find a new grove of trees to photograph,

 Great looking trees at Wyadup and Injidup.

while Chris walks along the Cape to Cape trail. Oh well, tomorrow will do.

 Sign on the Cape to Cape walk

In the afternoon I go walking along the rocks, I see a dark mass on the shady side of a rock. As I get closer to investigate the mass leaves the rock, turns into thousands of small fly-like insects, and mobs me. They were so dense I had to hold my breath for fear of inhaling some.

Thu 13 Feb

We don't quite know where to go today. We've been at Wyadup long enough but have no clear idea as to an alternative.

Eventually we just drive down the coast to the Conto campground. On reaching it we drive straight past and along the dirt road that hugs the coast. Eventually we pull into a great spot right on the point at Cape Freycinet, once again with stunning coastal views.

 "Moon over Wothahellizat", Cape Freycinet

Fri 14 Feb

The ranger dropped in this morning, he opened with "Have I seen this on TV?", shortly followed by "You're not supposed to camp here". He was quite sympathetic to self contained vehicles because they leave no mess, but still said we should move up to the official campground.

We've seen the mess left behind by campers with no facilities and realise that's one of the reasons camping is discouraged in many places.

But if you're self contained you should be allowed to camp just about anywhere. The Albany shire has the right idea, many of the sites around there are only available to self contained campers, and they're free.



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