Saturday, 22 August 2009

Trams and Trees

Australia Map Esperance

We are now at Esperance, a port on the south western coast, 11,500 driving kms from Cairns.

The main activities in the South West seem to be Wine and Timber. Driving does not go well with wine (nor probably does our appearance and mode of transport when compared to that of the wine lovers who tour the area) so we are concentrating on Timber. The area is known for its massive trees (70 metres tall is common) and

Tall Timber

magnificent forests, many of which were destroyed in the early days of the colony (there is still constant pressure on much of the remainder). However, having recognised the tourist potential of trees,the region now promotes forest walks and tree climbing etc.

The landscape is very different to that we have experienced elsewhere with rolling hills and some trees out in flower now. This is the Black Wattle,

Black Wattle

which lines many of the roads in the region.

The Pemberton Tramway is a small diesel tram which runs from the old

Pemberton Station

timber town of Pemberton through part of the surrounding forest on track which has been used in the past to transport logs. It is the

Pemberton Tram

only train I have been on where the Driver’s kit includes a chainsaw, trees

Drivers Kit

falling across the line being a regular occurrence. The driver provides a

running commentary on the history and importance of timber to the area, the types of hardwood trees in the forest (Jarra, Karri and Marri), their uses etc..

To describe the trees as large is an understatement. 25m around the base is common.

Pat inside a tree

Big Tree 

Nearby is a very tall tree known as the Gloucester Tree which you can climb if you are so minded. At 61m, it is not the tallest climbing tree in the

Centenial Tree

area but it was quite tall enough for me.

Climbing the Gloucester Tree

To get to the top, you climb up 144 metal pegs which have been

Paul near top of tree

hammered into the trunk (arrow points to me nearly at the top). The view from the top, which I had to myself, is quite magnificent (over 40 kms I am told). Having climbed up

(and down!), my thighs took ages to recover from this unusual exercise. There is also a 4WD trail through the forest which we managed to negotiate easily (despite the mud and rain) which enabled us to get very close to some of

Bruce on Heartbreak Trail

these magnificent 300 year old trees. Not everyone of course likes to climb trees and therefore at the “Valley of the Giants”, the park authorities have

Aerial Walkway

created a 600m aerial walkway which ascends to 40m through and

View down from Aerial Walkway

around another forest.  This gives you the chance to look down on big trees and the forest floor with a totally new perspective.

Albany (heavy rain and strong winds) on the coast does however provide us with another set of magnificent moody beach images to remember the South West with.

Moody Sea 1

Moody Sea 2

Our trip now starts to take us eastwards with over 2500 kms to cover during the next few days (including across the Nullarbour Plain) to Adelaide with Dickens, Bill Bryson and Crosswords to keep us entertained.

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