don_preacher and I went on our first trip south since his arrival a couple of weeks ago. While haze and Matty were supposed to be joining us, Matty could not make it because he had to work on Monday, and Blake was not feeling well enough to rough it out in the wild. That being said, Preacher was suffering from pneumonia at the time and bought along a bag of medication... the trip appeared to do him some good, as he seemed to feel a lot better by the end of it.
I arrived at his mother/sister's place fashionably late. He was not pleased, but at least I was well prepared. Usually we just rough it, but this time I put careful thought into the packing.. particularly, the packing of the esky. I was not in the mood to eat meat marinated in bloody ice water on the second night, so I actually packaged them in separate waterproof containers. It worked predictably well and made me wonder why I hadn't packed like that in the past.
We stayed at the 'Conto Campground' within the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. Its actually one of the more beautiful national parks in the south-west, but we have neglected and overlooked it for years. It was nice to make its acquaintance again, having been host to a couple of memorable moments in the past... notably the "Bottle of Beer in the Fire" experiment (I nearly shat myself), as well as having been the setting of one of my more extreme temper tantrums at Makan (when we all went for a walk along the cliffs/beach and we somehow lost him, and after hours of looking for him under the hot sun we found him back at the camp, he having gotten a lift back with some fishermen. I've seldom hated him more... perhaps never)
Upon arriving at the site, we found ourselves surrounded by Kookaburras - some of which where acting pretty menacingly. I was weary, as I had been swooped by magpies earlier in the week. Magpies are the true bastards of the bird-world... and yet I feel love for them.
We ate a couple of ham sandwiches and drank deeply of the beer we had bought in Margaret River - Bootleg.
I packed the backpack with a small supply of sun-dried tomatoes, crackers and, in my mind at least - another round of beers. We walked to the beach, via the glorious Cape to Cape Track and sat upon a rocky outcrop, eating, but not drinking, as the sun went down. It would have been romantic, if I had been with Tracy... and if Preacher was less annoyed about the lack of refreshments.
We returned to the campground and tried my new Metho fuelled hikers stove - Trangia - for the first time, in preparation of hour planned 7 day stint on the Overland Track in Tasmania. The stove worked surprisingly well, though I quietly wish I had spent a little extra money and bought the version with the non-stick fry-pan. The chicken kebab marinade caused a think charred layer to be formed which required a good scrubbing before the beef could be cooked. While the pan wasn't non-stick, it was still easy enough to clean though.
We drank some wine, ate the kebab (absolutely horrible... seriously) and some steak. It was a decent evening.
We went to bed. The ground was rather solid, which made for a harsh nights sleep. Preacher was complaining like a little baby girl about my lack of mattresses... but as I always say - its not meant to be the Hilton.
We slept though to 10:15... a almost crazy time by camping standards. The weather had turned on us, but we managed to pack things up before the heavens opened. We made haste for Augusta to gaze upon its famous lighthouse. On the way, doubt was cast on whether we would actually enjoy walking the Cape to Cape in the rain. While the answer is often 'yes', on this occasion it was 'no', and upon leaving Augusta we decided to make for the pass of Mount Frankland National Park instead. It was a good decision, as it paved the way for an enjoyable drive, and an wonderful discovery within the bowels of Bridgetown - a Devonshire Tea house the likes of which I have never before witnessed! It was a fantastic little place, thought its name escapes me... its right next to the train-line crossing, on the main road, heading south, on the left. It was a glorious place, with a lot of interesting 'Bric-a-brac' (?) scattered around to view and buy. The Devonshire tea itself was great as well, as the homemade scones and jams were delicious. We had 3 scones each, and enjoyed a number of cups of tea. Preacher and I also made of the toilets... twice - both charges were dropped, if you know what I mean :-)
We made it down to Mt Frankland and commenced the long walk to its bald, grey head, forcing its way, strikingly, into the clouds 422m above. On the way we met a lovely German tourist whom has been travelling around Australia for a few weeks. He was an interesting fellow, but I liked him. He was a nurse and conversation quickly turned to what his future plans were and if he intended to stay in Oz. As we enjoyed the interrupted views at the summit, talked ranged from permanent-residentcy requirements to nurse registration in Australia. It was rather amusing at the end, when Preacher and I revealed that we work for the Department of Immigration and Health respectively :-) Oh how we laughed.... though in hindsight, I think the German may have thought we were just joking... he has nightmares now. (EDIT: His name was Tino)
I got the guys email address and promised to send him a pic of us three, standing atop the peak. It was, after all, a highlight of all our lives.
Preacher and I returned to the camping grounds and found that one of the Huts (there are two) was unclaimed. I had long desired to sleep in one of those huts, uncomfortable as they are... especially without mats to sleep on.
We gathered firewood in the surrounding Forrest for an elongated period of time and then commenced to create a great fiery magic in the fire-pit. Never before had Preacher and I actually managed to light and maintain a fire... and it nearly didn't happen this time either. I wont go into detail about how we did it, but lets just say that I previously really underestimated the importance of blowing, if you know what I mean... danger danger.. (?)
The evening came, we had a couple of beers, we fired up the hiking stove again and conversationalised our feelings. It was nice. The rain held off. The chicken Breasts I bought along were rather nice, and it made a pleasant change from the usual beef steaks and the crappy kebab we usually have.
We eventually retired into the hut, where I attempted to put on fresh clothes, and ended up taking some manner of 'artistic nude' photographs of myself instead. I was out of practice, and they didn't really work out :-( None the less, it was good to be nude in a hut, in a camping ground... even only briefly.
The wooden bunks were shockingly uncomfortable... I got up at 0800 and got the car ready for departure, and cleaned a little. I was pleased to find rubbish bins on site - something that seems to be rare these days.