Our most recent drama had been when the Crampervan horn decided to throw a fit whilst we were driving. Yes this actually happened and typically it was when I was at the wheel. I'd indicated left to let the oncoming ‘wide load’ road train (yes they stack them as wide as they do long) know that I was moving over to straddle the side of the road. Engaging the indicator had caused the horn to sound which was odd. Neither of us were prepared for the din that was about to follow! Moving over the white line had resulted in a handful of erratic horn outbursts of varying lengths at the point we were about to pass the oncoming truck. The driver must have wondered what I was doing, especially when the horn then decided to lock on and continually sound whilst we passed each other. Trying to communicate with L, in a non panicked fashion, about what on earth was happening and how to get it stop it, proved unachievable over the din. Luckily after managing to pull off the road it was just a quick 5 minute fix with some gaffe tape which we used to create a new barrier between the two metal contact plates (the old foam barrier had completely disintegrated). This put an end to the ear bleeding drama. 

Having missed the opportunity to see the Field of Light installation at Uluru (blog post #57) we were super excited to hear that British Artist Bruce Monroe had chosen Albany for another installation of his Field of Light. The display at Uluru required pre-booked tickets for the official coach tour and unfortunately all seats were booked up in advance for more nights than we had intended to stay in the area. Albany’s display on the other hand, was free and you could walk around it at your own leisure. It would seem serendipity had placed L and myself in the right part of Australia at the right time. The Field of Light, on the top of Mt Clarence, marked the 100 year anniversary since the end of WWI and it felt quite moving to watch 16,000 glass globes slowly sway and change colour under the night sky.

Prior to the Field of Light being illuminated, L and I had plodded off to look around the top of the hill and came across some pretty big war time relics. You can imagine L’s delight when he realised one of the anti-aircraft guns was still partially operational, allowing him to rotate the turntable and adjust the rise and fall of the gun. The sun seemed to set pretty quickly after that discovery.

‘The Gap’, a break in the cliffs with an overhanging steel walkway, is featured on the front cover of Western Australia’s 2018 National Parks booklet. Having repeatedly seen the cover image when using the booklet over the last couple of months, it was fair to say that I was quite excited to be finally looking out over those railings. The excitement didn’t last long because disappointingly The Gap looked more dramatic in the arial photograph, than it did from on the ground. The same could be said about a number of other places L and I had visited on our trip and this was one of the arguments in recent deliberations for buying a drone. The topic remains open. 

As it turned out we didn’t need to look any further than Albany’s Tourist information centre to experience those arial views because waiting for us on a counter in the ‘centre of the centre’ were two, virtual reality head sets! Life we had come to realise is all about new experiences, this was one of those. The lady behind the counter was quick to come across and explain how they worked. What followed was incredible. We were taken on a journey which began as we flew over The Gap and along the stunning cliffs of the south west corner before being dropped into the depths of the ocean below where we brushed past whales, sharks and more. I image we both looked quite hilarious, stood in the middle of the room gazing 360 degrees around whilst gasping in wonder. Since leaving the T.I.C the talk of drones and whether or not to buy one had been replaced with the talk of virtual reality head sets and how we absolutely needed some!

Esperance, known for bays of white sands and turquoise water was the next big town along our route and only a few days away. The weather hadn’t been doing anything special for the last few days. It had been mostly overcast and in the low twenties which wasn’t great for beachy views or swimming but it did make for a comfortable temperature when hiking up to the Granite Skywalk on Castle Rock at Porongurup National Park. 

After a day in the NP and having witnessed a rare sighting of Kim Jong-Un (see above) only a few steps ahead of us on a bush walk wearing his usual black attire and possibly hiding suspicious artefacts under his blazer (…turned out not be him after all and just a rucksack) we stopped overnight at a pull off from the road with awesome views over the Stirling Ranges. Bluff Knoll, the tallest peak in the Stirling ranges, had been on L’s radar for a number of weeks and so we hung around for the best part of the morning hoping for the clouds covering the peak to dissipate. They did.

A coastal road called the Great Ocean Drive, not to be confused with the Great Ocean Road in Victoria (I’d only heard of the latter and so this had me completely confused) brought us into Esperance via some great coastal scenery which would have looked even better if it hadn’t been overcast. We stopped two nights at a free camp in the tiny town of Condingup which turned out to be in the parking area of the community hall. The free camp was well placed for us to explore Cape Arid National Park on the first day and Cape Le Grand NP on the second. The thought of cramping in the community centre’s parking area on a Friday night wasn’t something either of us had given any thought to. This changed when utes started parking up around us, the community centre burst into life and when the both of us heard a strange crashing sound outside. The crash although we didn’t see it, was oddly identifiable yet not a sound either of us had heard before… It was that of someone driving their vehicle, at speed, into a wheelie bin! The following morning a sad looking wheel bin lay on the dusty grass with it’s contents strewn around it.

To build on strange happenings, I mustn’t forget to mention the hilarious sight of 11 people getting out of a standard 4x4. Uncertain if their vehicle was a Tardis or if they’d just performed a successful magic trick, L and I stood curtain twitching from the Crampervan, counting and recounting 11 Chinese teenagers.

Back in Margret River, L and I had shared our backyard campground with three French travellers in their rough but undeniably road-trip-ready Ford transit van and since that time, we’d bumped into them at some point almost every day. After I accused them of stalking us (luckily my sarcasm bridged language differences) we learned that they were headed for Adelaide in South Australia at much the same pace as ourselves. L and I planned to take an extra detour to visit an alluring gold rush town of Kalgoorlie-Boulder before venturing east across the Nullarbor plain into South Aus and so we waved goodbye to our French stalkers one last time, not knowing when we’d next bump into them. 

(Photo: Rabbit Proof Fence).

NEXT UP: Leaving the state of Western Australia and arriving in South Australia after four days of crossing the Nullarbor Plain!