Our last grand adventure Down Under was an extended weekend trip to the south west portion of the state of Western Australia. We had been invited to speak in Sacrament Meeting in the Bridgetown Branch by Brother Mullin. You may remember that the Mullins gave us a huge gift box of food and vegetables when we were new to the mission field, and continued with more “goody boxes” every month or two. They would travel from Bridgetown to Perth every month to attend the temple, a 3-1/2 to 4 hour drive one way. We had developed quite a friendship with them.
We headed south along the coast for our first adventure, the Lighthouse at Cape Naturaliste.
This lighthouse is the shortest in Australia, but sits on a hill overlooking the Indian Ocean, making it inexpensive to construct but extremely visible to ships off the coast.
Replacement of the lens at today’s prices would be well over a million dollars.
We continued south along the coast thru the Margaret River area and the vast fields of vineyards with its wineries offering free samples. (NO! We made it all the way without stopping for a taste!) Our next stop was at the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean.
The Cape is known for its treacherous reefs, rocks, and weather. It is regarded by mariners as one of the most dangerous coastlines in the world. The lighthouse was built in 1895 and today it still uses the original lens that shines a light with the intensity of a million candles that is visible from over 30 miles away.
We stayed in Pemberton and spent a rather chilly night. The next day we took a two hour tour on the Pemberton Tram.
The railway meanders through towering Karri, Marri, and Jarrah forests, over tressle bridges spanning rivers and streams along one of Australia’s most majestic rail lines. During this spring visit, the forest was resplendent with colorful wildflowers. We stopped at Cascade Falls for a breathtaking view.
On our arrival at the Gloucester Tree in the Karri Forest, we were greeted by several of the colourful local residents.
The Gloucester Tree is famous for being the highest fire lookout tree in the world. It soars almost 200 feet above the ground to a lookout platform which has been firmly bolted to its uppermost branches. It was manned for pinpointing forest fires during the tinder dry summer months until the 1980’s. The climb to the top is made using the 153 rungs consisting of alternate wooden karri pegs and steel spikes.
Dad made it about ten feet up!
As we continued southeast out of the dense forests, we reached the southern coast of Western Australia, and were treated to the ocean view near Walpole.
Our next stop gave us this panoramic view of the Denmark inlet.
Further on, we stopped at Elephant Rocks, for another amazing view of the southern coast.
The next day we made our way to the Valley of the Giants with its Tree Top Walk, which is almost 2000 feet in length, and reaches a height of over 130 feet. This suspension walkway is susceptible to swaying as you traverse its many spans. The swaying quickly leads to nausea and a sense of sea-sickness. Quite a feeling while 130 feet off the ground! Not for the sissies! The tiny person in the distance is Mom.
There is also a ground-level walk through a dense grove of uniquely shaped Tingle Trees called “The Ancient Empire.” This led us to “The Red Tingle Tree” which is 250 feet tall, 65 feet around, and over 400 years old. Hollows at the base of these trees are caused by fire, fungal and insect attack.
Sunday we attended church services in Bridgetown. We were favored with a very spiritual Sacrament Meeting, with almost three times their normal attendance during the three hour block of meetings. Members then provided a special farewell luncheon for Elder and Sister Orth, who have completed an 18 month mission and will be returning to Brisbane, Australia.
On our return to Perth we stopped in Fremantle (AGAIN!!!) to board the life-size replica of Captain Cook’s ship, “The Endeavor”, which is on a two year tour around Australia. We were welcomed aboard and given an hour long tour of the Endeavor, with details about life aboard ship during its 2 year journey in the early 1770’s.
WOW! What a GRAND ADVENTURE DOWN UNDER!