66. TICK BITES, BEE ATTACKS, EMUS, ROOS & BREATHTAKING VIEWS...HELLO AVON VALLEY!
When it comes to warning signs, Australia has plenty and most of them appear near water. There are crocodile warning signs, stinger warning signs, stonefish warning signs, shark warning signs, the list goes on but here in York... there’s a warning sign that neither of us have encountered before!…
Leaving Perth we’d headed east, taking the Crampervan on a tour around the Perth Hills before ultimately winding up at the Workaway we’d arranged in the Avon Valley. A couple of days into our Perth Hills tour we landed in York, obviously a ‘must’ for a couple of ‘Yorkshire wanderers’. As you can imagine the both of us had high hopes for York and first impressions were good. The architecture was fun, the stuff of old wild west cowboy films and distant music drew us towards a free open air concert in one York’s many grassy parks. Perfect. Unfortunately as we literally stepped foot on the grass to face the stage, the music stopped and the chap called over the mic to thank everyone for a great weekend. That was that. The inhabitants of York packed away their folding chairs and picnic blankets and the musicians started to unplug their equipment. A wander around the town was equally unsuccessful, we had forgotten it was Sunday and everything had closed early. L and I called it a day and drove a little south of town to a free camping area. After repositioning the Crampervan twice due to parking on a moving floor of bull ants, we finally settled on a mostly flat area perfectly in line for watching the sunset through the trees.
So there we were, back in York the following morning and parked up overlooking the river and picnic area facing a sign that warned: “No swimming, amoebic meningitis present in water.” Australia really was full of surprises!
Even if the little Cavalier King Charles had been able to read the sign warning the humans not to swim in the river, I doubt it would have stopped him from jumping in. The little dog was called Freckles. I know this because his despairing owner was continually shouting his name in an effort to summon little freckles, who was paying no attention and instead making his own fun, splashing around in the meningitis water.
Whilst I sat tapping away on the laptop overlooking the meningitis river, L lost himself in York’s motor museum… for almost 3 hours! He eventually rocked up at the Crampervan with a huge block of caramel slice. I’m uncertain if he genuinely got lost inside the museum (we all know his sense of direction is diabolical) but he insists it was the amazing exhibits which held him captivated for so long. Apparently comparable in quality to those at his beloved Coventry Transport Museum. One things for sure, he found a good bakery on the way out. The caramel slice didn’t last long!
7kms of driveway wound us a few hundred meters up into the hills from the road below and terminated at a set of gates marking the entrance to ‘Moondyne’ an 1,800 acre property which L and I would call home for at least the next week. The recently flattened track had made the steep climb a little easier on the Crampervan but it hadn’t worked out so well for the road grader operator who we later heard had needed to jump out of his vehicle as it slipped over the edge of the track. Luckily the expensive piece of kit had become wedged up-against some trees almost immediately after sliding over the edge, opposed to rolling uncontrollably down the hillside into the valley below. I can only imagine how the chap went about breaking the bad news to his superior “Boss, we’re going to need to recover the grader it went over the edge but...it could be worse.”
The main project waiting for us at our Moondyne Workaway was to paint and generally spruce up the outside pool area of the homestead. Unlike all the previous Workaways L and I weren’t staying in the homestay with our hosts, instead we were provided with a 3 bedroom cottage further down the valley! Once I’d gotten over our rather roomy cottage’s asbestos prefab nature (surprisingly still common in Australia) I could begin to appreciate the wraparound veranda and panoramic views we had overlooking the national park. (On a related note, If you haven’t heard about the town that sadly killed most of it’s inhabitants, google Wittenoom.) Moondyne had links with Moondyne Joe, one of Western Australia’s most infamous outlaws who was a repeat escapee from prison and our cottage looked out over the spring and his hideout.
In exchange for our hours painting, L and I got to explore 1800 acres of arguably the best part of the Avon Valley National Park which isn't accessible to the public. Our host lead us across fields and tracks to one particular look out which offered panoramic views down two valleys and from here we watched the sun set.
Land Rover regularly use Moondyne to host experience days so new buyers can get to grips with their new purchases around a technical course on the property. These tracks wound around the property and L and I found ourselves taking the Crampervan out for a bit of off-road fun on more than one occasion. On one particular day we discovered an abandoned assault course in the middle of the woods on the northern perimeter edge. We wondered if at one stage it had been used by the military, it was very eerie. (For fans of the tv series ‘Lost’ think Dharma Initiative).
In addition to the homestead and our cottage, there lived on the property, a general handyman and bringer of fresh eggs. He was a friendly chap and had adopted an interesting al fresco living arrangement in an open fronted agricultural shed. His son who’d originally come to visit for 5 days...last December, was leaving for QLD towards the end of our stay and so a goodbye BBQ was on the cards. The BBQ was held at the top of yet another hill which was home to the conference centre and accommodation, this was our host’s main focus of business. Son who arrived drunk to his farewell bbq, didn’t actually eat anything but instead made some hilarious jokes. The best about how “his pop’s ute didn’t have one of those rain alarms.” This was in reference to my surprise at the apocalyptic thunder storm two nights previous which had set off the Crampervan’s alarm in the middle of the night. The views across the valley from up at the centre were quite something, especially around sunset and so L and I had taken it upon ourselves to amble up there on a few evenings to watch the sun set and to make use of the games room afterwards.
During our time at Moondyne: a foal was born, L and I both received our first ever tick bites (yes... you can get paralysis from ticks over on the east coast but not from the ones on the west, PHEW!) and L got chased and attacked by a bee! Caught on film, this hilarious episode will be shared on our FB page at some point in the not so distant future.
A family of wild emus along with a gazillion Kangaroos, some of which were the biggest we’d seen yet, also collectively called Moondyne their home. Trying to capture the ‘perfect’ photo of both species, I found the emus out performed the roos who didn’t allow me to get within 200ft of them before the whole mob would bounce away in the opposite direction.