Hi, we had a lovely time touring the Southwest and the Great Southern from Nov 17-29. Thank you all for your help (especially Melnq8, perfectlyperth and ajk58 who took the time to answer most of my questions) regarding the itineraries, rainwater and leavers' week.
We prebooked most of our accommodation at websites of the various visitor centres listed below -
www.stayz.com.au, www.aspenparks.com.au and www.wotif.com.au.
At the last minute, I realised that I got the flight dates mixed up and managed to reschedule most affected accommodation within an hour via e-mail on Sunday and the last one on Monday morning when the Esperance visitor centre opened. That's very quick and excellent help by the teams at Perth Vineyards Holiday Park, Margaret River visitor centre, Discovery Park Kalgoorlie and Esperance visitor centre. We found all the accommodation we stayed at good, clean and quiet.
My worries about rainwater was unfounded. We had a lovely warm welcome from Gary of Tinglewood Cabins at Walpole. He assured us that the rainwater was sterilised by ultraviolet rays and took the time to show us around the cabin and demostrated how the potbelly fireplace worked. The boys had a wonderful time climbing the log and playing with the swings.
Our ambitious 13D/12N itinerary - 2 nights at Albany, 1 night at Walpole, 2 nights at Margaret River, 1 night at Perth, 1 night at Hyden, 3 nights at Esperance, 1 night at Kalgoorlie, 1 night at Perth - was very tight. We survived :) and saw the highlights of each place but honestly, it was very much like a taster menu, a bit of everything but not enough time to savour it fully.
The gorgeous scenery, wonderful wines and foods, and beautiful beaches of Albany/Denmark/Walpole, Margaret River and Esperance have touted at length by the experts here and they certainly did not disappoint.
We had delicious pies at the Denmark Bakery, Augusta Bakery and Miami Bakery, scrumptious ice-cream at Bartholomews Bakery and Simmos, interesting tours at the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse and Nigiri cave, great wine-tasting at Adinfern and Madfish wineries and saw the Diamond tree and many magnificient coasts. It would be good to add 2 or 3 days each at Albany/Denmark/Walpole, Margaret River and Esperance. I wouldn't mind going back and spending a week at any of these places. :)
Hyden was a surprising hit with my boys, though. Enroute, we stopped at York (pretty, historic town) and climbed the Kokerbin Rock (3rd largest monolithic rock in Australia). It was easy to climb up to the top and the boys had great fun doing that. We were rewarded with the marvellous view of the wheat belt surrounding the rock, although we did get a bit lost coming down. At Hyden, they liked the story of Mulka's Cave and enjoyed climbing the Wave Rock and the Hippo's Yawn immensely. These rocks are really a piece of cake, compared to the Frenchman's Peak at Esperance.
The trial at Frenchman's Peak was well marked. The initial walk was very pleasant, with little wooden bridges and scrubby bushes. I'm afraid I chickened out when we reached the actual rock because it was so steep, sloping (it seems to me) at 45 degree or more incline. The boys and their father ventured a little further, giving up midway to the top because it was steep and windy. Still, going further than Mummy gave the little one (just 5) something to crow about.