Giant Trees, Elephant Rocks and Ice Cream – South Western Oz Day 2

greenpools

Day 2, slightly less ground to cover but a million more things to fit in.  It was to be a day filled with cool stone formations, wickedly tall trees and some incredible honey ice cream. Our first stop was the Gap in Torgadirrup National Park, an important place for the Mirnang People as the story that connects them to the Gap reminds them of their connection to the ocean. However, it is also geologically speaking, an interesting corner of the world. The rocks are made of Gneiss and through time, the ocean and earthly pressures the land has created a natural stone bridge and the gap.   

thebridge

As we stood on the rocks looking out over the ocean and at the bridge the wind started to howl and sky began to spit so we hurried back to the van onto our next destination, Green Pools and Elephant RockThankfully the rain had stopped by the time we got there. The wind was still going but it only made the Great Southern Ocean look even more moody, the colours vibrant against the grey sky and it filled the air with the scent of Manuka honey flowers. Almost a forerunner to our next stop. Green Pools and Elephant Cove is part of William Bay National Park in Denmark.  Elephant Cove is named due to the giant rock formations that stand out of the water in a little cove resembling a herd of stone elephants going out for a swim. The largest of them, which also happens to the most visible as you approach the beach is definitely the leader of the herd and you can perfectly see the ears and trunk in the rock. 
  herdofelephantsFrom there we left the seaside behind and headed to the Valley of the Giants. Along the way there though we made a fantastic little stop. Bartholemews Meadery.  Honey is one of my favourite things and this delightful Meadery makes the most delectable honey and flavours! Take you pick! There was cinnamon, chocolate, hazelnut, vanilla bean, chilli, darker honeys and lighter flowery honeys. Then there was the mead itself, scrumptious, and finally to top it all off they used the honey to make their own ice cream. I had honey, date and mead ice cream in a waffle cone nearly died from happiness.    

I finally pulled myself away and we headed further into the forest the Valley of the Giants to walk amongst the giants of Southern Australia, the Tingle Trees.  The tallest in the park reaches nearly 70m! As you leave the visitor centre you slowly climb a metal walkway which at its highest is 40m and snakes through the tree tops for 420m.  It’s pretty humbling, getting a birds eye view of the ground or at the least a monkeys and walking amongst the giants.  Right next to the Valley of the Giants lies the Ancient Empire. 400 year old or more Tingle Trees with giant trunks that in some cases have opened up so much that you can either walk into them or through them. It is enchanting. I have never seen anything like it except for pictures of the Giant Redwood trees in Western Canada.  

Our final tree stop was the Gloucester Tree.  This 58m tall Karri tree was originally used as a fire warden post before the introduction of spotter planes.  On arriving at the tree, my North American health and Safety brain kicked in. To climb it, there are quite literally metal stakes snaking their way around the tree all the way up to the very top, that’s it! It was drizzly and there was no catch net and the space in between the metal stakes to me looked a little far apart and if someone was coming down it while you were going up or vice versa the only thing to do was to move to one side of the stake and imagine yourself invisible while the other person climbed down beside/over you.  Saying all that it was used as a fire post so the stakes are obviously secure and people make it up and down without a problem everyday and the view from the pictures I saw over the Karri forest were unreal!  It reminded me of the view when Bilbo is looking out over Mirkwood just before getting attacked by spiders. It would have been worth getting stuck up at the top.  I made it about ¾ of the way up and then my fear, and the slippery stakes got the better of me.  We stopped and sang Christmas Carols all the way down to keep our minds off the fact that we were climbing a very tall tree. In retrospect I wish I had done it. 
  
By the time we finished in the forest it was time to head to our hostel in Augusta.  We had the run of the place and treated ourselves to a not so amazing bottle of wine but a great BBQ. The only problem with small little trips is that you really only start to get comfortable with everyone and then its time to head back. The next day was our last day and I had decided I would jump off in Busselton and stay an extra day instead of going back to Perth. One of the best decisions I made but that’s an entry on its own and first we still had to see oceans collide, taste some wine along the Margaret River and eat too much free chocolate at a local chocolatier.
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