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Serpentine National Park

Transperth – or public transport in WA to be more general is NOT brilliant. In Slovakia – a country you wouldn’t expect to have a well organised or easy to use transport far trumps what Perth has to offer. In Slovakia I went on a number of adventures – weekends and day trips, and although sometimes complicated ( there are a number of posts offering examples of this in Slovakia Stories ) they were never impossible. My point being that I have found it incredibly hard – in fact impossible to have adventures that don’t require a set of wheels. Places of interest are simply not served by public transport – or at least they are but require a number of changes, lengthy transits or not enough time to meet connections or return trips. In Slovakia I travelled far and wide on a network of trains, trams and buses and never found anywhere I couldn’t get to.

So on Friday night, after pulling my hair out trying to find somewhere I could get to and spend a reasonable amount of time in – I texted a friend on the off chance they wanted to accompany me on a day out… and drive their car there and back. Fortunately the response was positive, making me very happy to set my alarm early for Saturday morning.
I needn’t have bothered as I was awoken at some antisocial hour by an incredibly loud thunderstorm, that seemed to be directly above my head, shaking my little cabin.

Two hours later, when the thunder, lightning and torrential rain had ceased chariot arrived and we set off for Serpentine Falls.

First stop was Serpentine Dam. A vast expanse of water on the Serpentine river whose catchment is one of the major supplies of drinking water for Perth. Do not quote or correct me on this please – I don’t make notes when I go exploring – I remember and recount information and openly admit to getting it wrong sometimes!

This dam was not on my do list – didn’t even know it was there. We stumbled upon it first of all, missing a turning and completely bypassing the falls. A wrong turn worth taking I believe…

Serpentine Dam

Serpentine Dam

Serpentine Dam

Next came the falls. Entering the national park from the opposite side we pulled up into the central picnic area – a smell of sausages on the barbecues greeting us as we assessed the trail maps. There was a damp, yet pleasant smell in the air – of fresh, green plants – ready to spring into bloom. It reminded me so much of Železná studničk – Bratislava Forest Park – and a wonderful day I had spent hiking there at the beginning of Spring some time ago.

We took an alternative path to get a higher view of the Falls, only to realise that the easier, simpler route led you to a far better viewing platform – purposely built with steps into the upper pool for warmer days when the water invites you for a swim. It wasn’t particularly cold – so with a little more planning ( bikini and a towel ) I could have been persuaded to have a dip. I have had a waterfall swim already which was up near Cairns (QLD) last year, so that box had already been ticked. Thankfully.

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After an ample amount of time taking in the scene and sitting on a rock that plenty of other people wanted to sit on, we headed off on another trail. A 6km, grade 4 hike up to Baldwin’s Bluff. This very much reminded me of my hiking weekend, again in Slovakia – in Terchova where the weather, climate and hiking grades were similar. Yes – it has been 2 years since I have enjoyed a good hike!
Our trail was a steep, stony path up the side of a gorge to a lookout over the waterfalls and Kitty’s Gorge. It was flanked either side with nature’s display of Spring bursting into bloom. The smell was worthy of being bottled – a fragrant reminder that Spring has sprung and Summer will be arriving fairly soon. The humidity and threat of rain enhanced the aroma and as the climb evened out, the flowers grew brighter and smelt fresher.

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I could have joined the masses who stopped to photograph every flower, but I would have bored my companion to tears and I wouldn’t have enjoyed the exhilarating high I got as I sprang onwards – pain in my back or legs totally eradicated as my heightened senses absorbed everything available. I don’t get what they call Runner’s High – but what I feel when I walk or hike in a place of natural beauty is something I imagine can be equated to that feeling.

view from Baldwin's Bluff

Serpentine Falls

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Perth in the distance - 50 km away

Long distance Perth

The walk down had a few slips and slides, but no injuries were obtained other than a large bite I, of course, (wouldn’t be anyone else) received right on the kneecap of my still sore ice skating knee!

I snapped away at a few views and flowers, as an excuse to catch my unfit breath but was disinterested in hiking behind my camera lens so hope the atmosphere has been sufficiently captured from my relatively spontaneous, yet wonderfully rewarding day in the park!

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through the Grampians

En route to Adelaide is the Grampians National Park, a haven of fresh air, breathtaking views and invigorating walks.

Our first stop was Hall’s Gap where we stayed the night. The first challenge was getting into the campsite, as we were too tall to fit under the gate, then we had to find a space big enough and easy enough for me to get in and out of as I couldn’t see to reverse, then we had to get some help actually switching everything on and getting it all to function (by watching our dvd several times, and getting a nice man to help)!

Once installed we settled into our house on wheels and enjoyed our first night in the Grampians. The next morning thanks to the tourist information people we found a route suitable for our van and made our way through the park stopping at The Pinnacles, Balcony looks outs and MacKenzie falls before driving through Horsham to spend the night in Edenhope.

Words are beyond me to describe these views, but this is the Australia I came here for for… the great outdoors. I love driving, I love climbing, walking, seeing, doing: travelling. This weekend was all of those rolled into one. I hope my photos do it justice…

Enjoy!

waterfalls

Waterfalls, waterfalls and waterfalls. 27th June Weather: cloudy Temp: 24C The next day in Cairns was indeed poor weather again. At this point, I had not seen the sun now for days. My money was dripping away but without a hot beach to sit on and not spend it, I decided to spend it and enjoy every moment I had in the “sunshine state”. I hired a car. I met a Polish girl the previous day on my Daintree trip and a Swiss girl in my room the night before. I took the plunge and, so with two new friends, the lonely planet and vague idea of where we were going: I put the Toyota Corolla into Drive and off we went. (I hate automatics)

With ONLY the Lonely Planet for reference (I don’t bother with GPS) we headed out of Cairns hoping we were going south. After a few wrong turns we got onto the Bruce Highway (does anyone else find that funny?) heading towards Gordonvale, took a sharp right and drove up into the hills towards the waterfall circuit. The view was spectacular and although I loathe automatic transmission, It made the hairpin bends, steep hills and frequent road work stops ( due to landslides!) much easier, if a little boring, to handle.

First stop was the Cathedral Fig tree; an ENOURMOUS, ancient tree strangler tree whose root grow down from the top. The first and probably most exciting fall was Malanda falls. We picnicked here, and then, as I hadn’t had a decent swim at the beach, I jumped in! I wasn’t the only one and the water was surprisinglynwarm, so the shock I had prepared myself for as I gingerly stepped in was totally unnecessary. I swam out to the slippery rocks behind the fall, trying not to think of whatever might also have been there, and also avoid thinking about how slippery the rocks were. I hasten to add, this wasn’t a dangerous whimsical swim: there were many others and no snake warnings, hence deeming it safe to swim. As I swam through the fall, I was surprised at how gently the cascading water fell. It really was akin to walking under the shower.

The following falls were each different in their own right. We took left and right turns and guessed our way to some 10 different falls. Some you could hear long before you saw them: some were mere trickles: others pounding, almost deafening demonstrations of water’s power. I enjoyed my day. I loved behind behind the wheel for the day, and was pleased to have seen something much more cheaply than a chartered tour would have allowed. As I handed back the keys, I found myself going back to that familiar dream of buying my own set of wheels and touring around Australia before I leave… Hopefully you can appreciate the difference of each waterfall as I have finally found a way to up load pics…