Easter Break this year was 5 days and it coincided with school holidays. So we decided to take the girls, Tame Chef and go camping.
Now we did think about heading "up north" (away from the people with similar plans to us), but as the girl's granny was going to be "down south" and we've not seen her recently we decided, very late on, to change plans.
So late on, in fact, that pretty much everywhere was booked solid :( However, we did get into an unpowered site at the Nannup Caravan Park.
I took half a day off on the Thursday (had some time owing) and set off about 3.30pm. We drove down the South West Highway and stopped for dinner in Donnybrook – quite yummy. We then decided to take the Donnybrook-Capel Road / Jarrahwood Road route rather than the Balingup / Nannup route.
I had forgotten that Jarrahwood Road was a gravel track. By the time we got onto it, it was dark. We decided to let Tame Chef go first in his (very large) 4WD. I'm glad we did because he met a roo in a close & personal (and not good for the roo) way.
We got to the campsite around 8.30pm. Met up with the caretakers who took our money and showed us to our patch of grass. It was quite a nice 6mx6m spot – unfortunately with two large trees in the middle. We managed to arrange the tent and all our stuff so that it fitted in the spot and settled down for a nice cuppa tea.
We decided that we'd do nothing on the Friday. So we just hung around the campsite – did take a walk or two and get the girls on their bikes. Miss 7 was still a bit nervous about her bike initially. Most of the day was spent watching family after family arrive at the campsite and set up. Talk about amusing. It was very, very obvious that a large proportion of the 'campers' had either bought new tents just for this trip or had never been camping in their lives. We did occasionally go and rescue people when it got beyond the amusing and into the 'too painful to watch' stage.
By late evening the campsite was more or less full :( There was a large family group camped near us (by large, I mean 11 tents worth). The caravan park only had three male & three female showers, so it did get challenging at times. Luckily we were pretty self sufficient when it came to cooking and we didn't have to try and use the camp kitchen.
We did think about putting the canoe into the river that ran past the caravan park. That was until we saw the river … stagnant green ponds … yuk! Did I mention how DRY everything was looking?
On the Saturday we decided to take a drive and do some sightseeing. There was a "Barrabup pool" sign-posted just up the road from the campsite so we went up there first and discovered quite a nice picnic spot.
There was water in the pool but it was very deep right from the edges so the girls weren't too keen on getting in. They did also said something about the water being cold, but I think that was just an excuse. Tame Chef and I took a walk to another "pool" – apparently it was only 1.2kms away – felt like that coming back, but for some reason, it felt a lot further on the way there … strange.
After lunch, we decided to take a drive across a road we'd never been on before to Balingup. It was a nice road, however, again we couldn't get over how dry the whole area was. On the way we stopped at a Cheese Factory. I LOVE cheese, but I was so full from lunch that I couldn't even face tasting it :( Miss 7 convinced me to buy some local honey (Karri) and we had a cuppa. Miss 9 and Tame Chef faced the cheese and LOVED all of the ones on offer. However we resisted temptation and didn't buy any.
In Balingup we checked out a winery. And bought a quite pleasant red. Then went to the Tinderbox – which stock the best "herb sprinkles" (a nice mix of herbs to use in cooking) and did a tasting of the latest offerings (well all the offerings) at the Fruit Winery. Then looked for coffee, but everywhere was shut :(
We thought we'd give the Old Cheese Factory a try for a cuppa on the way out, but they had closed down their café, so we spent an hour wandering through the shop looking at all of the wood products / antiques and other things they have there.
We headed back to camp along the Balingup / Nannup road. This road is my favourite road. It winds up and down through some of the most beautiful countryside. Well, normally anyway. Everything unfortunately was just so dry it was depressing. We did however see a large number of kangaroos on the way back.
Tame Chef offered to buy Fish & Chips for dinner. We ended up with Chicken & Chips which was very tasty.
That night the weather changed. I really shouldn't have complained about how dry everything was because the rain came down with a vengeance! There was lightening and thunder too. We ended up having to cover the girls' tent with another tarp to keep them dry. Our tent survived okay (even though it's really a summer tent).
It had stopped raining by morning and we went out to survey the damage. The large family group, I mentioned earlier, were bailing out three of their tents. They had placed them at the base of a small hill and the water, of course, ran down the hill and straight into the tents.
Other than that, not too much damage but power apparently was pretty tenuous for the rest of the day (this didn't affect us as we were running off batteries and using gas for cooking).
On the Sunday we were meeting up with Granny and her husband in Bridgetown. We drove there via the Brockman Highway and ended up taking a detour up the Maranup Ford road. I've spent a lot of time in this area but have never driven up that road before. It's pretty stunning and there's a quite little caravan park right at the top of the hill. So I've made a note of it for the next time we decide to go camping in the area. This road took us to Kirup, so we headed back down the highway into Bridgetown.
Mum had invited us to lunch at the Red Panda, which is a great place if you're looking for good priced, tasty food and good service. After lunch we headed to the river and put the canoes in for the girls to play with.
After a nice afternoon (and a yummy Easter Cake made by Granny) and a detour via the Cidery we headed back to camp.
On the Monday we packed up (with wet tents), even though the Tuesday was a holiday, and headed home via Balingup.
We stopped at a cheese factory that we hadn't discovered before and they had the BEST marinated chili feta you have ever eaten (so we had to buy that), and some of their garlic & chili feta and, at the request of Miss 9, their Romano.
In Balingup, stopped for lunch which was a bit of a mistake as it was CROWDED due to our arrival coinciding with the local ANZAC service finishing. And while the pies at the Magic Mushroom were tasty the service was a bit um, not-so-good.
We then took a detour through Dardanup before heading to the 'HaVe' cheese factory just outside Harvey where we sampled the ice-cream and watched cheese being made (and yes, sampled the cheese too!).
Then it was back home to the unpacking and six loads of washing :(
Map of the area:
We decided to come home on the Monday as the girls started a 'basketball camp' on the Tuesday (6 hours of basketball a day), I think they will be tired out as the week progresses :)
[UPDATE] A pic: