We’d copped a fair bit of rain during our trip down through the Avon Valley and the southern Wheatbelt region. One of the cool things about hiring a campervan is that you can choose to just keep driving, so that’s what we did!
And sometimes you need to see something to put your current situation in perspective. Check out the top right corner for the 1982 flood level marker on the tree!
Don’t let this put you off a visit to this area – the February 1982 flood was a result of the tail end of a tropical cyclone going well out of its way (hopefully a very rare event).
By the time a bit of blue sky appeared we found ourselves in the beautiful Blackwood Valley region.
There’s great drive along the Blackwood River. We started out in Bridgetown then turned down the Nannup – Balingup Rd to follow the river.
Balingup and Nannup are sweet little towns. Both have an “arts and crafts” atmosphere. “Laid back” is an understatement for these 2 towns – you most definitely will not be rushed off your feet!
And Nannup gave us our first taste of some tall timber.
We’d meet the Blackwood River again down at Augusta in the south-western corner of Australia. But in the meantime the sea side beckoned and it was just under an hours drive to Bussellton and Geographe Bay.
At 1.8km, the Busselton Jetty is the longest timber-piled jetty in the southern hemisphere. Being timber, it’s had its moments over the years (fires, cyclones) and the old news reports available in the interpretive centre make really interesting viewing.
Below Busselton is what’s known as the Margaret River Region. Famous for its wines, the scenery along the coast from Cape Naturaliste down to Cape Leeuwin and inland is absolutely spectacular.
A great walk is available around the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse – a beaut array of wildflowers and terrific views out to sea. We spotted our first whales of the trip off Cape Naturaliste.
In fact, if you are feeling fit (and have the time – 6 to 7 days!) you can do a walk from Cape to Cape through the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park. Even just calling in to the seaside town of Yallingup was envigorating – watching the powerful surf roll in from the Indian Ocean was great.
The Caves Road drive starting out of Dunsborough is a great way to head south – indeed Top Gear rate it as one of Australia’s great drives. Coming around the bend near the Boranup Drive turn-off to first see the Karri trees is a real ‘Oh wow!” experience.
Boranup Drive itself is around 14km of dirt road that we found to be in very good condition. The drive through the Karri Forest is terrific.
Caves Road rejoins the main Bussell Highway just above the town of Augusta and it’s then a further 8kms to the Lighthouse at Cape Leeuwin.
As you can imagine, its pretty wild and windy at Cape Leeuwin, but back in Augusta where the Blackwood River eventually meets the sea, the conditions are much more comfortable. The stay in Augusta rates as one of our favourite town experiences on the trip. Perhaps it was because we scored a great spot in the caravan park right next to the river.
To look up from breakfast to see all the activity on the river was really special.
So at this point it was goodbye to the Indian Ocean and time to head east – still plenty of the journey to go! Catch the next blog to see the forests around Pemberton and the trip along the southern coast of WA.
Design Your Own Road Trip!
The trip map and itinerary is available for you to use as a basis for your own trip at Trip Plan Australia. Go ahead and change the Towns in the Route section, and add and remove Via towns. Places, events and attractions in common will be retained in the revised Itinerary. Browse events on during your trip timeframe, and add/remove attractions and accommodation to the itinerary to suit.