We departed Augusta after breakfast, deciding not to swim. We had a lot of rain in the night and it passed through leaving clear skies, but a cold on- shore southeasterly, so swimming definitely not as attractive as yesterday. However, our fire still had embers glowing – the remains of the dragon!
We went through the town and then headed inland, following the forest trails towards Pemberton. Our selected campsite was to be Fonty’s Pool (note: NOT Pontypool!) just south of Manjimup, where there was a spring fed swimming pool and very good campsite reviews. We were taking a roundabout route to see the forest scenery, and of course to check out some wineries!
Our first stop was at a little town called Nannup – a pretty little timber town, with a few stores, a post office and some cafes. We posted mums post cards, then stopped for a coffee in a lovely little outdoor cafe, which had one of the best coffees I have had on the west side! Then we found the visitor information shop, full of info and some fabulous local goodies and tourist tat. We bought some locally made venison chorizo, kangaroo and emu chorizo and duck rillettes, and Mum had a tee shirt she liked for her birthday! A good system shopping in Nannup.
Back into Pilgrim for a rattle and roll down the forest highway, and next stop was a vineyard, Donelly River Estate, where the guy mowing the lawn, turned off the mower to come and do the tasting for us. Again, we were the only visitors, so again, we had five star service. These were some of the cheapest wines we had seen, but some great Chardonnay, a delightful liqueur muscat, and some methode champenois. We couldn’t agree on the reds as we all liked different ones, so we bought one of each! We also got a recommendation of a local place for lunch, called Holy Smoke, so that’s where we headed next.
As we approached Pemberton, we turned off a tiny little side road with some fantastic wooden houses, and then a gallery, with the cafe attached. We went through the beautiful, cottage style garden, to find the cafe with some chooks scratching around the outdoor tables, shaded by trees. We had a lovely lunch of the smoked produce, and picked up some avocados from the stall across the way, selling lemons, avos and eggs on an honesty box basis. We dropped into the local IGA to pick up some sausages for dinner, then headed off through more Karri forest towards the campsite.
Fonty’s Pool campground was delightful, manicured lawns, beautiful trees and shrubs and a huge, spring fed freshwater swimming pool, complete with inner tubes for floating on. Pete and I went straight in for a dip as soon as the camp was set, and then we relaxed in the late afternoon sun, with drinks and nibbles. Eventually we went to cook our dinner at the camp kitchen, and finally to bed, under our first sighting of the moon in a clear sky, which of course meant a very cold night.
Thursday 13th December dawned clear, sunny and warm. We all wished dad a happy birthday and gave him presents and cards. We the cooked bacon and eggs in the camp kitchen, and had a hearty breakfast before the days adventures. A quick swim in the pool for Pete and I, then we were on the road for our first destination.
The Diamond Tree was a huge Karri in a beautiful stand of similar trees, but this had a built in climbing frame of giant nails, spiralling up the trunk. On its crown, it had a wooden shack, built thereto allow bush fire spotting from 57 meters above the ground. It was hard to not look up at the huge trees towering overhead in awesome splendour, but we had a go at climbing the Diamond Tree. Dad and I didn’t get so far, but Pete made it up to the rest platform. He could not bring himself to make the climb to the lookout shed, as his legs started to wobble!
We had a half hour drive from the Tree, through majestic forests of Karri, to Beedelup Falls, a pretty cascade nestled in a green glade. We did a short walk down to a little suspension bridge over the river, which allowed a perfect view of the falls, as long as you were the only one on the bridge. More than one, and the whole lot wobbled about! We saw a couple of kookaburras, then as we got back to the car park, a couple of western green parrots came to say hi!
From here, it was time to head for our lunch venue, to help dad celebrate his birthday. We went to Hidden Valley Winery, where we were the only diners, and we had a lovely lunch looking out over a valley with a small dam at the base. There were horses in the field, some sheep, chooks and guinea fowl wandering about the place, and Sage the dog also came to say hello. We finished our lunch with birthday afogatto, on the deck beside the old tram car dining room. It was such a peaceful location, we were not in a rush to leave.
Departing eventually, we went back through Pemberton, to the Marron farm and bought 3 Marron to try, as we had not seen them on any menus yet. We also picked up birthday cake and stopped for fuel, before returning to camp. It was the warmest day we had yet had, and so back at camp we all retired to the pool for a swim and float on inner Tubes! Finally, we opened the methode champenoise, while Pete cooked Marron, which we ate at sunset. It was very delicate, but we all agreed the claws were the highlight. And to finish the day, we had a birthday Pavlova, complete with candles, and because we couldnt quite eat the whole thing, we shared with our camp kitchen friends from Perth. A very enjoyable day.