Tuesday, 28 October 2014

20 Million Reasons to Visit Pemberton.

Karri Tree.
Our next stop after Margaret River was so loved by the UysHuis that we did it twice, and both times in the freezing cold, with wild wind and rain. Where is this vortex of crap weather and magical wonder? Sleepy Pemberton, oh you gorgeous little thing.
Karrri Forest.

The drive from Margaret River to Pemberton was well worth it in itself. Forests of coastal eucalypts give way to the karris with their towering and enormous trunks. And just to make sure you don't forget how small and insignificant you are, every now and then the road opens up and an emerald green paddock with a tiny house will reveal itself suddenly from behind the trees, a human attempt at forcing back the forest so it can stand with its menacing sentries on the barbed wire fence.
Pemberton, a little drier the second time around.

The weather when we went with the McGary's was all of the above with the added inclusion of torrential rain. It was quite busy, and since we wanted to have two sites together, those allocated to us were at the bottom of the barrel, and not particularly aesthetically pleasing, its main attraction being a view of an electricity box.   But just down there, in the hollow next to the raging creek was a tonne of sites looking awesome. Did I mention the cold, the wind, the rain, the creek? I'm no girl scout, but I'm sensible enough to know that camping in the wet near a creek with the forecast set to bucket down is probs a bad idea. And after a fairly heated discussion with my beloved on this very point which ended with my last rather ridiculous point being: "You're putting all of our lives at risk!!!" we set up, down there. More on that later.
Fluffy ducks.

The temperature plummeted, but we were all still on a high after lunch at Silkwood Winery, a place of alright wines but pretty amazing food. Actually, it was awesome food. (We went back here with my parents, and Mum in her infinite wisdom ordered the tasting plate which will forever be known as The Best Tasting Plate I've Ever Tasted. I'm annoyed I didn't take a photo.) Anyway, even as the temperature dropped to single digits and our fire seemed to emit more light than warmth, there was something about Pemberton that was just lovely. Maybe it was the baby ducks, the brooding forests towering over the town, the whispering torrent or the little houses with their chimneys and thin strips of smoke smudging an already grey sky, or perhaps the loud rustle of the treetops as the wind whipped around them. Maybe it was because I was verging on hypothermia, but Pemberton has that romantic vibe about it that makes you want to stay.
Parrots and the Boet Bird Man.

There's a mountain bike track running passed the town, the Munda Biddi track,  and the 1000 km Bibbulman walking track also goes through it. Next to the caravan park is a "natural" swimming pool akin to the one in which I learnt to swim at Bangalow, that is to say a creek with a cement pylon at the downstream end to stop you from floating off into the never never.  There's also a bike track with professionally built jumps, a park,  a tramway taking you through the hills, a trout farm, cooking school, art galleries, wineries,  road side stalls with eggs for $4 a dozen and the creamiest avocados at $2 for 4... And that beautiful forest is never far away.

It was all made a little more romantic by the weather, though this didn't transfer all that well into the Uyshuis, especially as on our first morning there we had to wade through water to get back in the camper after a trip to the toilet. It was so wet that the water would seep up through the ground sheet as we walked across it. The McGary's  had had the sense to move to higher ground in their wheeled mansion, but we were stuck in the muck, unwilling to go through the rigmarole of packing everything up only to move a few metres. I felt justifiably self righteous, and luckily our friends, and later my parents, were gracious enough to let us into their massive, warm and mostly dry motorhomes so we could be reasonably comfortable during the lengthy, heavy and frustratingly regular downpours. Camping really does suck in the cold rain.
At the bottom of the Gloucester Tree.

The 'steps'.
So through all of this, we still loved Pemberton. We climbed the Gloucester tree, a Karri with spikes driven into it all the way to the top 61 metres above the ground. I'll admit to getting to the very top and fighting the urge to lie face down on the platform while I hyperventilated. The view was amazing, but when a big gust of wind came through and the tree started to sway, I took my photos and scrambled carefully back down. Of course, this being the first real bit of exercise I'd completed since running up and down dunes at Warroora, walking anywhere over the next few days became pretty problematic.
The view from the top...
...and down to the bottom

With Mum and Dad we went out to the Bicentennial tree in the Warren National Park and Fiela climbed up its 71 but I got to the first platform 20 metres up,  and feeling the tree sway already in the wind decided that that was far enough. We went for a walk down to the Warren River lookout which was lovely, the trees and forest wonderous in its size and quiet.
Walking at Warren National Park.

Fiela and I also managed to get to a few of the wineries courtesy of the Nana and Poppy Babysitting Service, our favourite hands down being the Lost Lake Winery: every wine here was a winner and their chardonnay was awesome. The winemakers were actually doing the tastings,  so it all got a bit technical and there was a moment where the discussion of tannins made my eyes glaze over, but it was nice to meet people being incredibly passionate about what they do. I'd highly recommend a visit here, they also do local tasting platters and lots of outside areas for kids.
The Bicentennial Tree.

Are you convinced yet? At Manjimup we went to the Truffle  Company,  where black truffles, the most expensive fungus in the world are harvested by cute dogs you aren't allowed to go anywhere near lest you ruin their delicate noses. More great wine and food here, along with some information on how this tiny industry is overtaking the French one in quantity and quality.

When it was time to move further east, both times the weather had been incredibly disappointing, but like everywhere we’d been thus far in the South West region of Australia,  we'll be back when it's warmer and drier.
A day trip from Pemberton to nearby Windy Harbour. As the name suggests, it was windy.


The Bicentennial Tree.

Pemberton Pool looking a bit more user friendly than its Bangalow cousin...

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