When we left Margaret River it was pouring with rain though we’d managed to get packed up before the rain really hit. As we drove along we hoped that the rain would ease as we’d planned a few stops before camping at Parry Beach tonight.
The first stop was the Gloucester Tree near Pemberton – 53 metres in the air and all you had to climb on were some metal pegs stuck into the trunk of the tree. When we arrived by some miracle the rain had stopped and the tree was open for climbing so we made our way to the base of the tree and looked up – it was so high up that I couldn’t fit the tree in one photo.
The kids made me read the sign at the bottom which quite clearly stated ‘not recommended to climb in wet and windy weather conditions and not recommended for children’ – oops. Miss6 saw the last point as more of a challenge I think and raced up those pegs quick as lightening.
I climbed behind the kids with plans of coming to their resuce and catching them if they fell – though I spent most of the time trying to keep up with them. Playgrounds certainly are a wonderful training ground for small children and big trees. I tried the ‘don’t look down’ theory but found that it was actually pretty interesting to look down and see how small things were getting as we ascended the tree – it was the looking straight ahead at the peg in front of you that sometimes caught me off guard and I felt the need to blink a little to get my depth perception back.
The view from the top was pretty amazing – though we weren’t on fire watch it almost looked like small spot fires in the distance as the clouds were so low and it was so cold that there were small spirals of steam or fog billowing gently from the tops of the trees in the distance.
Being on the bottom for the climb back down was a challenge – I nearly had my hands stood on a few times by Miss6 (aka spider monkey). Back on solid ground and it took us a while to thaw out our hands from the icy cold metal pegs that were still wet from all of the rain. In the car and on our way to the next stop and more tall trees at the Valley of the Giants.
We bought our tickets and headed out onto the bridges through the canopy – as we walked I realised that the bridges aren’t terribly solid and actually rocked as you walked across them which felt a little weird. The view from the tops of the Tingle Trees was pretty spectacular with the highest point still not as high we we’d just climbed at the Gloucester Tree but impressive none the less.
The smaller trees down below almost looked like shrubs and you could hear a creek below well before you could make out any water on the way back down. I think the kids were most impressed with the ground walk through the Tingle Trees, especially the ones you could walk right through – fire had gutted the dead parts of the base of some of the trees making large holes for you to stand in.
Back before the park was built for tourism, people used to drive their cars into the hollowed out bases and take photos – this killed the trees though as they have a shallow root system so now boardwalks protect the root system from human traffic. Some of the trees are over 400 years old and the most impressive old tree was aptly named Grandma which Miss6 thought was funny. We were lucky enough again with the weather in that the rain stopped in time for us to walk through the Valley of Giants but it wasn’t long back on the road before it started raining again.
It had stopped and the sun almost seemed like it was coming out to say hello when we reached Parry Beach campsite so when I paid the fees I also paid an extra $5 for a barrow of wood for the fire. We set up camp under some trees (not as tall as the others we’d seen that day but enough to provide some shelter) and Miss6 was delighted to see a number of rabbits hopping about as we set up, along with a couple of Magpies and Kookaburras.
We did some exploring down at the beach and up into the bush where we found lots of lovely wildflowers and the kids ran around chasing each other all the way back to camp. We lit the fire and sat around it eating our dinner and telling ghost stories trying to scare each other (all Miss6’s idea of course). The rain held off for the night but it was still getting very cold so I made up the hot water bottles to try and keep our beds warm – though we’re in a camper the beds are no different than being in a tent except we’re higher off the ground. Master14 doesn’t seem to feel the cold like I do but I was grateful to hop into bed and have something nice and warm to take the chill out of my bones and toes! We drifted off to sleep with the sounds of the waves crashing onto shore again and I remembered how much I love that sound (even if sometimes it does seem similar to a distant busy highway).