Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Stirling Ranges

We left Parry Beach and its so-so weather on the only day in a week which wasn't wet. We'd been wearing jeans and jumpers for over a month and hadn't stayed anywhere longer than 4 days. The Uyhuis had travel fatigue and at the end of seven months of tripping around we had finally turned 'the Australian corner' and were heading east for home. But with three months of this crazy trip left, homesickness arrived.

After glimpsing the Stirling Ranges on our Porongurup adventure with the McGary’s, we'd made the decision to make this our first stop on the long return trip across Australia. These mountains pop up out of the flat farmlands like ancient giants, stuck suddenly waist deep in some enormous fertile bog, now a patchwork of wheat and yellow canola. The Stirlings are also incredibly important as a flora and fauna reserve and is on the National Heritage List for its biodiversity. Spider orchids and mountain bells are every where.
Spider orchid found on the road into our camp spot.

 We stayed at the National Park campground and luckily turned up relatively early in the day (1 pm) as sites were very limited and in an amazing turn around for the region's weather of the last month, it was sunny. We zoomed through our set up, plopped down in our chairs in the sun overlooking those amazing mountains of the Stirling Ranges and tucked into a Vasse Felix chardonnay (Thanks Mum!) and a heap of cheese, dolmades and salami courtesy of the Denmark Cheese Company.  Now this was holiday! I don't know if it was the warm sunshine, the afternoon wine or the stunning scenery, but what had we been thinking? Homesickness Shmickness!
The first afternoon of sunshine in weeks.
Play time. 

The next day we walked Mt Trio (865m), a 3.5 km trail.  Did I write walk? I meant climbed. We'd chosen this walk to do as it was the shortest of all the walks and whilst it was described as' steep' I think 'vertical' would have been a better word choice. Anyhoo, the climb was worth it for the views are spectacular, especially of those showers of rain heading this way, fast. So after a brief and exultant look around, we hot footed it back down. Actually Fiela hot footed it down while I couched Marguerite down one step after another. Luckily we had the umbrella.
The only time when red lollipops are allowed- as bribery to get to the top and energy for the way down!
The view from Mt Trio, shower of rain to the left.
Mt Trio.

The rest of the day was spent huddled in the camper, drinking hot chocolate and assessing the weather which was very wet and very cold. Oh for that warm dry house of ours in Sunrise Beach
Mt Trio view.

On the way back down Mt Trio.
We packed up in the morning (dry and cold) and decided to try one last walk. The description was still using the 'steep' adjective but not as much, surely this would be an easier walk? Fiela wasn't convinced but then he just wanted to make a bee line for our next coastal campsite and its promise of fishing greatness.  But I would not be swayed. I was tired of compromising on things I wanted to do for the sake of the possibility of maybe perhaps having some fish for dinner. To be sure, one of my finer moments, especially since we had to drive 20 kilometres out of the way and we were all still fairly fatigued from the previous day's efforts.
Mountain bells.

Steep, dangerous, slippery, vertical,  ridiculous. Perhaps these would have been better descriptors. Talyuberup is a 2.6km return walk starting in a benign enough fashion through a lightly sloping wood, though soon enough we were scrambling up a trail on loose shale,  marvelling at the view and the summit which, whilst getting closer, was definitely becoming more and more elusive.  In fact with every few metres I became increasingly concerned, not with how we'd reach the top, but how we were going to get back down since we had no rock climbing gear, little feet were slipping going up and Caesar had not stopped screaming for the last 10 minutes. The decision was made perhaps 300 metres from the summit, 90 minutes into the walk, to turn around.

We'd completed every walk we'd set out on over the past seven months and I felt a deep sense of failure. For about five minutes. Fiela had had the good grace not to "I told you so" all the way back down the mountain so I moved on too.

Onwards but perhaps not upwards, we got to the bottom and drove on to our next camp, Cape Riche.
The view from Talyerberup, the Porongurup's in the background.

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