Disclaimer: I’m doing this whole trip report off the top of my head and it was a year ago…
It all started on Friday the 13th….
No shit it actually did, I’m not a superstitious person by any stretch of the imagination but I was a bit anxious about this trip, something just didn’t feel right. It was the last day of work for the year I had 4 weeks off in total and was planning on a 2 week trip exploring the South Eastern coastline of Western Australia, the plan was to start off around the Denmark/Albany region and head East from there. A mate pulled out at the last minute so I was travelling solo. I was supposed to be knocking off at 11am, I left work around 3pm and still hadn’t packed the car or got any fuel, food or grog, this meant I wasn’t going to hit the road until 5-530pm and I was going to hit peak hour traffic, I wasn’t too happy about this, but it could be worse right ? Throw in a few more setbacks and it wasn’t until 8:30pm I hit the road. I was pissed! I had at least 5 1/2 hours of driving to get to my planned destination for the night, that meant I would be arriving around 2am. Great.
I hit the road and everything was fine for about an hour and half, but I did notice my engine temps slowly creeping out of it’s normal range on the TM2 (engine block temperature gauge) certainly not getting hot but enough to cause concern. I pulled over and sure enough the overflow bottle was full and it was clear a fair bit of water had been pushed out. There was no bubbling however so I put it down to an airlock in the coolant from not being bled properly when we replaced the water pump a week earlier, I turned the heater on full blast, replaced the litre or so of coolant I had lost and continued on my way.
Other than losing a fuse to the lightbar I had no other issues on the way there, well until I turned off the highway that is. As soon as I slowed my speed to around the 30km’h mark the temps just shot up and she was cooking, I think I saw 114*c at one point on the TM2 before getting out of the car, I popped the bonnet and jump out the car to see boiling hot water literally spurting out the overflow bottle like a tap, probably would have made a good coffee if i added some blend 43 and a bit of milk. I left it idling to let it cool down but the temps just kept sky rocketing so I shut it for for a few minutes, just enough to let the pressure drop enough so I could safely get the radiator cap off, I then started it back up and started slowly pouring the some coolant back in. After 20 mins or so the engine temp had dropped back to around 80*c mark but the coolant was still bubbling, at that stage i was certain i had at the very least blown a head gasket. I was ecstatic… I laid the swag out in some carpark in the middle of no where, exhausted and deflated I passed out thinking the trip was over already.
I woke up to the sound of a car pulling up right near me, my first thought was you inconsiderate bastard, then I remember I didn’t make camp and was in a carpark at a touristy destination so fair game. I jumped out the swag threw it in the car and thought I would atleast have a look around the area before I faced the drama of attempting to limp the Cruiser the 450km home. Turns out I was at a spot called Madfish Bay, and it wasn’t too bad of a spot.
After checking out the beach I went back to see how bad the Cruiser was, I took the radiator cap off and let the car warm up, I wasn’t expecting it to be as bad as the night before but I wasn’t expecting nothing at all. It seemed fine. Maybe it wasn’t bled properly by me the second time either ? I was on the slightest decline so it was possible. This time I was facing up hill so there was no way air could be in there. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for a solid half an hour, I was stoked.
I started heading to a place called Greens Pool nearby to see what all the fuss was about, by this stage it was still only about 6:30am so it was relatively quiet there thankfully. I walked past and got a couple pics from the top but kept heading on to Elephant rocks as I had heard about them from a couple of people too, I gotta say whilst Elephant Rocks is definitely good but greens pool is where it is at!
Not content with looking from a distance I went to check Greens Pool out, it’s a bloody nice spot, put it this way, it’s not often you will see me swimming in the morning but even I went for a dip.
From there I started heading East towards west Cape Howe National park to have a look around, the tracks out here were actually quite soft in spots and some of the dunes were a bit thrashed out so I aired down to make life easy. Things were going well. I found a nice beach that looked liked it would have been whiting heaven. I decided to get the light tackle out, was a waste of time.
After the unsuccessful fishing expedition, I decided to head on to West Cape Howe , while driving there I saw an offroad track marked on my map heading to the beach, would be a crime not to give it a go right ? So I take a right hand turn off the highway and end up heading down towards Bornholm Beach, I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about this as I had read that it was a pretty gnarly entry/exit and one of the most difficult beaches to get on or should I say off anywhere in Aus. I gotta say it was quite steep and soft but nothing low tyre pressures and a bit of common sense couldn’t handle. Was a nice beach but I really didn’t have time to be hanging around, I couldn’t think of a better test for the Cruiser after last nights mishaps though, and the old girl past with flying colours.
From there i went on further into the NP and checked out another spot before heading onto West Cape Howe itself. I had been there once before, but it was during school camp and we had to walk 5km each way in boggy sand to get there. I gotta say i definitely preferred the drive!
After this i hit the road en-route to Cheyne’s Beach, which was one of the highlights from a similar trip last year.
Pic for reference (2012)
On the way there i was cruising down a gravel road towards Cheynes when I noticed my temps sitting too high again, pulled over and first thing I noticed was the water trail I was leaving. This time the temps weren’t high enough to have boiling coolant but there was definitely gasses leaking into the coolant. After hours of driving offroad on boggy beaches and sand dunes it was becoming obvious that the highway driving at constant high rpm was when the pressurising was at it’s worst, but it was still intermittent. I really didn’t know what to think after all I’m not a mechanic, my old man is though, and I knew I would struggle with reception at Bremer Bay so I made the decision to head back to Albany in the morning, by that stage the clouds had rolled in and it looked like I was in for a wet and windy night. I found a campsite behind some dunes out of town bunkered down for the night. No pics from that arvo/evening, think i may have been a little bit pissed off at the time.
In the morning I took my time getting up, cooked a fat feed and gave the fish feed too, one of these days I will actually catch one.
Leaving Cheynes and the sun…
This day was largely wasted from memory, I made my way back to Albany, gave the old man a call, bought a shit load of distilled water and a couple bottles of quick seal as a last resort. while I was there I restocked supplies, topped up the fuel and started heading to Bremer Bay, from memory the engine gave me minimal worries that day, well after the 100km mark anyway, turned into a bit of a habit that the old girl developed, 1hr highway- pull over and refill radiator then fine for the rest of the day, even on the highway, I had dropped my speed to around 90-100km/hr though.
Bremer Bay, unfortunately the weather had really set in, I still went for a cruise up the beach that evening though. From memory I slept at the caravan park that night, really needed a shower, really not a fan of them joints tho.
Next day was quite overcast but no rain around, I checked out of the caravan park and made my down to see if I could find a gutter and catch some fish, it was blowing a gale so I didn’t bother, decided to check out the beaches around the area then start heading further east into the Fitzgerald River NP.
So I started heading east down a track I swore didn’t exist last year, turns out it’s just got a really well hidden entry, I started checking out some of the nicest contrasting landscapes I had seen in a while. Would have been nice to see you how blue that water really was but the overcast sky killed that. It was around now i started to realize how lucky i was on my trip the year before, not only did I get perfect weather almost every day, I had no mechanical issues either.
The Mount Barren’s & the most disgusting looking river I think I have ever seen. It wouldn’t be pollution related down there so it would be interesting to find out why it is so rank.
From there i headed onto a campground called St Mary’s Inlet just east of Point Anne, there is another name for the beach there but my digital mapping doesn’t show it and I lent my map book to a mate. Anyway these would have to be up there with my favorite ‘DEC’allocated campsites. I deliberately chose a small one if any families came but they have a nice range of different sized campsites with decent shelter and good privacy from the other camps, there is nothing worse than going camping within arms reach of the next person in an allocated little pig pen.
Anyway this is one of my favorite spots down here, yet again I had another fish and came away empty handed, I had no bait at this stage and was trying lures with little success. Blowing a gale and starting to spit rain, I went back to camp and cooked up some steak and snaggas and drank a shitload of Jacks, at this stage the car was still pushing coolant but I had it down pat now, I was only losing an hour or so of driving time a day.
Next morning I was up at the sparrows after an early night, I had a little wander got some flicks and packed up my shit ready to start heading on to Esperance, little did I know I would be back here sooner rather than later though.