New Norcia to Bunbury

We were up at 6 am, dressed and made our beds with the fresh linen from the cupboard as instructed by the notice in our room. A little before 7 am we were eating breakfast which was the same as yesterday except that our toast was the loaf Majella had bought yesterday with sultanas and walnuts.

After breakfast we returned to our room to finish packing. By 7:30 am we were packing the car and were soon heading north and west with Majella driving.

Our route to the Pinnacles took us first toward Gillingarra. The road was mostly good though we did encounter stretches of gravel road which fortunately was mostly in good condition. Much of the countryside was cultivated with a variety of crops and we saw a few flocks of sheep. Where there was native vegetation it was mostly low scrub but we did pass through some stands of taller trees. The roadside throughout was brightened by a variety of wildflowers. We saw a few small rabbits and narrowly missed a wallaby.

We reached the Brand Highway and drove north on that until we turned west onto Mimegarra Road toward Indian Ocean Drive. As we approached the coast we saw a sign for a photo point and pulled in for the short walk to a view over the coastal scrub toward a village, some dunes, and the ocean. The walk was paved and lined with wildflowers.

From there we drove on to the Pinnacles Desert National Park. There were cars queued for entry but once we reached the control point our pass got us through quickly. Majella drove us onto the sandy track that circles through the park. In contrast to the brilliant white dunes we had seen as we approached the park, the sand among the pinnacles was dark golden. We stopped soon after entering the track and again at the lookout to enjoy the view. The pinnacles are remarkable limestone pillars with no agreed explanation for their formation. One possibility is that they were formed from trunks of trees into which material from shells was infused to make limestone. However they formed, the multitude of shapes makes for a fascinating landscape. Scattered among the pinnacles were a variety of low shrubs, many in flower and attracting chirping honeyeaters.

After finishing the circuit we went to the information centre and spent some time among the displays of plants, animals, and geology. We had hoped to find coffee but there was only a self serve machine so we passed and had chocolate paddle pops to tide us over until we could find sustenance elsewhere.

We headed south on Indian Ocean Drive. The scenery varied. At times we could see the ocean but the road sometimes ran inland through cultivation and paddocks with sheep or cattle. We passed a couple of small settlements but nothing of size until we reached Yanchep.

As she drove, Majella remarked that it was like driving through a garden. The banks on either side of the road and the median strip, where it existed, were dotted with vibrant wildflowers. They were native to the area but appeared to have been planted to beautify the highway. She had come to see wildflowers but the experience was much more than she had expected.

When Lynne and John asked about refreshment stops on the way south the woman at the Pinnacles information centre had recommended the Yanchep Inn for lunch. It is set in the Yanchep National Park and our pass would give us access.

We arrived there around noon and found the mock Tudor inn. For lunch Majella, John, and I ate toasted panini with chips while Lynne had grilled fish with salad. We had the mid-morning coffees we had missed with our lunch. As we left the inn we saw an Australian ring neck helping itself to leftovers on one of the outside tables.

Because we needed to exchange our rental car for a larger one and clear Perth before the afternoon rush we did not have time to explore the National Park. It did look worth a visit and will be on our list for a future trip to the west.

Not far after leaving the inn we turned onto the freeway toward Perth. It was three lanes each way with two electric rail lines in the median. We saw several trains heading north as we went south and passed several stations that had bus stations overhead and ample parking for cars. Despite those options for commuters there was plenty of traffic on the road but it flowed freely.

I had set navigation for a service station I had selected for a lower price using the Simples app. While waiting to fill up John and I used the available squeegees and water to remove the worst of the Pinnacles dust.

At Ace Lynne and John stepped through the process of upgrading our white Mazda CX 3 to a deep blue Mazda CX 5. Majella drove it alongside the CX 3 and we transferred our baggage with room to spare. Inside was more spacious and more comfortable with air conditioning to the rear seat as well as the front. It had more driver support too, including radar cruise control and lane assist.

As with the previous vehicle there was no inbuilt navigation and the screen was driven by control knob rather than touch. With the benefit of experience over the past couple of days I was able to quickly get navigation from my iPhone onto the screen and Majella headed onto the road following directions to our accommodation in Bunbury.

The roads were excellent but there was heavy traffic at first. We were delayed by an accident on the freeway leaving Perth but otherwise had a clear run. Our one stop was at a highway McDonald’s for Lynne to get à decaf coffee. Eventually we left Perth and the traffic behind and were out in the flat countryside where we saw occasional sheep, cattle, and cultivated land.

We arrived at the Rose Hotel and Motel in Bunbury a few minutes before 5 pm, checked in, and were pleasantly surprised when the receptionist gave us a $25 voucher for each room to be used in the front bar for drinks or meals.

After parking and putting our baggage in our rooms we walked to the nearby Coles to buy provisions for breakfast and some snacks along the road. The layout of the store was reasonably similar to our familiar shopping place so we easily managed to find what we needed.

For dinner at 6 pm we ate at the hotel restaurant using the $25 vouchers to offset the cost. Because we had eaten lunch at Yancheng Inn, none of us was especially hungry. We opted for two smallish pizzas to share, Margherita for Majella and me and meat lovers for Lynne and John. Majella had a cider and I had a local pale ale.

Soon after 7 pm we were back in our rooms. Majella played a card game with Lynne and John while I completed this and processed the few photos I had taken earlier today.


2 Responses

  1. Interesting post, Peter. One small thing – both Mazda CX3 and CX5 come with navigation. My CX3 (a 2019 model) has it, and I’m pretty sure the CX5 does as well. Maybe it’s deleted in the rentals. Google maps is actually easier to use and up to date, whereas the Mazda system has to be updated from time to time.

    • Attempts to activate navigation in both cars brought up a message about navigation being available as an extra. Evidently it is not included or is deleted for rental cars. It was the same with the Toyota Corolla we had in France in June. I used to carry my own TomTom for such occasions but I now use Apple Maps, Google Maps, or The latter is my backup for when we do not have network connectivity though I have to plan ahead and download the relevant maps.