A Day out to Bunbury
A Day out in Bunbury
Apologies dear reader for the fact the photos flew to the blog sight without my permission and without the text.
After a fortnight languishing around the farm we decided it was time for a day out to Bunbury to research the place as a possible stopover for Zoonie when we eventually sail westwards and then north up the west coast of Australia. By the time we get there we will have passed Cape Leeuwin and entered the Indian Ocean, the penultimate ocean of our circumnavigation.
We needed a break from the literary task we had taken on since our arrival at Te Opu; Rob has been dictating to me the book I am using while writing my own book comparing our two voyages; that of the Teddy back in the early thirties and of course ours. We were two thirds of the way through and my typing fingers needed a rest. I had decided the old book needed an airing by being re-published as it is a book full with human interest written by a warm hearted man with an immense spirit of adventure and a wholly brave and supportive wife. Also I liked the idea of it appearing in the world of readership at about the same time as mine so they might enhance each other.
We sped westwards with the pent up excitement of a couple of school kids. The parched, lifeless ground gradually becoming greener as we approached the coast where rainfall from the ocean is more generous.
The Premier coal mine at Collie was vast and the air acrid with the bituminic stench of recently exposed coal. We scanned the ugly site while chatting to an elderly gent who was equally awed by the gaping hole and had recently moved to the area to live.
Many farmers are still doing burn offs on their land so there was a smoke haze until we arrived at Bunbury town and I remained outside the Dome Café while Rob bought the coffees because lockdown was still quite strict about café culture back then.
The bronze bust is of Captain Baudin, whom I have mentioned before in our travels across the south coast when he met Captain Matthew Flinders purely by chance at Endurance Bay near Kangaroo Island in 1802.
Baudin was leading a four year expedition (1800-1804) from Le Havre to thoroughly explore the west and south coast of Australia and fill in the gaps on the charts drawn up by Dutch explorers who preceded him. Over 200,000 specimens of flora and fauna were collected and stored on his ship the Geographe and his expedition was the first to transport live Australian animals to Europe where they lived out their lives at Empress Josephine’s Summer Palace zoo near Paris. Baudin died of tuberculosis on their way home while in Mauritius, where Flinders had the misfortune of being imprisoned for a number of years by a cruel and vindictive Governor disliked even by his own men.
Back to our day out.
After the long drive we decided to do Bunbury on foot, it was a beautiful day anyway and soon we arrived at the Koombaba Bay Sailing Club, where it was evident most of the yachts were kept in the pound and launched by tractor when the owners decided to go for a sail. There were a few mooring buoys offshore and we asked a likely chap if a visiting yacht could pick one up.
He was very positive and suggested the furthest ones out were in deeper water and more frequently checked than those nearer the shore. He explained that the area is very much a summer sailing location as the storms that come in from the NW in the winter have wrecked many a vessel in the harbour over the years. Hence keeping the existing fleet out of the water. As you can read Bunbury is the only town in Aussie to have its town plan based on a shipwreck!
So that was very useful and we told Jeremy and Kathy about it as they are now making their way around there in San Dorago in search of warmer weather. Mid-winter is approaching here and so far most days have been like lovely summer days in England. But that could all change of course.
We found our way to the Marlston Hill Lookout with its tower and fine all round views and now have a clear picture in our minds of where to head should we turn in here. Certainly not to the right unless it cannot be avoided as there is the Department of Transport Marina with its infamous recent history. The chap at the yacht club told us of how a visiting yacht was turned back into a storm because it didn’t have the right insurance. As if a test of that decision was needed the yacht foundered on the shore further north and was a total loss. The irate owners kicked up such a furore that the WA government were shamed into buying the owner a new yacht and make a few changes to their policies. Laissez faire (leave well alone) when it comes to DoT Marinas we think. Augusta might be an exception if the weather turns against us before the Cape.
After a snack lunch overlooking the Ocean we found a different way back towards the giant Jarra tree. That little side track also took us past a kangaroo convalescent home and then back on to the main road through a beautiful green and undulating valley just like rural Devon. In fact I strongly suspect people from the Westcountry in the UK settled there because of the preponderance of Devon Cattle suckling herds. Olive groves, an Emu farm, vineyards (the dead looking vines are often fine but just resting without water because of the shortage of rainfall), plantations, natural forest and the first lambs skipping and snoozing in the sunshine. Lambing takes place in the autumn here instead of the spring, so the critters can thrive on the new grass growing after the dry, parched summer and with the autumn and winter rains. If they arrive that is. Makes sense doesn’t it.
Near a place called Wilga we drove alongside a vast plantation and on the other side a bush fire was raging sending clouds of black and grey smoke eastwards. The season for them is not yet over and a small burn can easily get out of control when the wind gets up. We were nearly home before we lost sight of the lurid grey/orange sky.