Well, just as we were starting to settle in to our holiday, it was time to pack up and head home. It was raining a little today, but quite a bit warmer than the previous days.
We decided to head home on a different route – the Great Southern Highway, because, quite frankly, Albany Highway was a little boring. This route took us back past the Stirling Ranges so we got to have one last look at the beautiful scenery. In the misty morning light, they looked even better.
We drove through the small town of Gnowangerup and on to Katanning where we stopped for a coffee and a house made sausage roll which was actually quite good. It’s not an Australian round trip if you don’t have at least one type of flaky pastry product.
From Katanning it was on to Wagin where we were promised a giant ram. It did not disappoint.
After a disappointing bakery stop in Narrogin, we stopped at a corner store in a tiny town called Popanyinning for icecreams.
And then it was on to home. All in all a successful trip. A few more days would’ve been nice but we came to climb Bluff Knoll and that is what we did.
We woke up a bit tired and sore today. Our leg muscles were aching…but….we had another hike we wanted to do. Castle Rock. So we had to push through the pain. Castle Rock is in the Porongurups ranges, which as we discovered are some of the oldest mountain ranges in the world. Ever. Crazy hey?
We were staying just up the road so it was a quick drive to the start of the trail.
It was an easier hike up Castle Rock, but still quite a climb, which given the state of our calves and quads, made us wince in pain several times.
We got there quite early so luckily it wasn’t very busy, but we could tell already that as the day went on, it was going to get quite busy.
At the top of the hike, you have to clamber up some rocks and then there is a ladder up to a skywalk with views across the ranges. Blainie went up the ladder, and yes, it was a little scary. Steve attempted to climb up but aborted the mission after two rings of the ladder. It was really windy up on the skywalk, nice views though.
We walked around a bit more, and had some morning tea before heading back.
We decided that after all that, some chill time on a beach was in order. We headed off in search of Little Beach near Albany. It was rumoured to be quite lovely, and when we found it, it did not disappoint.
We had our lunch on the beach and spent the rest of the day chilling and wandering around there. It was so lovely there.
We eventually dragged ourselves away (it was difficult) and headed back to Albany in search of some better fish and chips. Luckily we found it at Ocean and Paddock. Steve had local Nanagai fish with prawns and squid and Blainie had a Snapper burger. It was delcious and restored our faith that fish and chips CAN actually be delicious if it is cooked properly.
We headed back to Porongurup and back to Castle Rock and did a short walk there in the evening and saw several kangaroos who watched us suspiciously.
We got up early…it was freezing….! Had breakfast and got ready to tackle Bluff Knoll. Ok, maybe it’s not the biggest mountain in the world, but it’s the biggest in the South West and the 2nd biggest in Western Australia, so it’s still quite big. It was a beautiful clear day – perfect climbing conditions.
It’s about a 45 minute drive from Porongurup to the car park of Bluff knoll. It was quite a scenic drive as the Stirling Ranges came in to view.
The turnoff to Bluff Knoll had a sign for not only kangaroos, but emus too. Now we know we are in the country.
We drove up to carpark and set off
The hike itself is not THAT far but it is uphill all the way. Once the steps start they don’t stop until you reach the top. It’s quite the workout.
It was such a clear day so the views were nothing short of spectacular. Look, here’s some photos for you to enjoy.
I’m not really sure how long it took, but we eventually made it to the top. The last 600m were the longest 600m we had ever walked. It was quite busy at top with lots of people.
We had some snacks we had packed and chilled for a while, enjoying the views and preparing for the trip back down.
And then it was time to head back down again. Walking down is easier but does make your legs a little wobbly. Also Steve is afraid of heights so didn’t enjoy the downhill views. They were awesome though.
And then, before we knew it we were back down again. Tired but happy.
After a bit of a rest we headed in to Albany in search of dinner. We had a well deserved bevvie at a random bar and after realising the place we had planned to have dinner at was closed, settled for some rather average fish and chips. They were ok I guess, but sooooo greasy. We are not used to eating things like that.
We were tired after that. Check out how many flights of stairs we climbed (amount of steps is less impressive)
After dinner we headed back to our accommodation in Porongurup (saw a field with thousands of kangaroos on the way – sorry no photos) and promptly passed out.
So…2020 hey? What a stupid year it’s been. I don’t think we really need to mention it anymore as we are sure everyone feels the same.
Living in Western Australia, we can’t really complain too much, other than not being able to leave the state (and a short stint of lockdown earlier in the year) life is mostly normal here. It was still disappointing that we had to cancel our trip to Japan in April though, but really, what can you do?
On most weekends over Winter we have been going out hiking in the hills and surrounding areas. One day we decided that what we really need to do was to climb Bluff Knoll, and that’s how this trip was planned. Steve had climbed Bluff Knoll once before – 25 years or so ago when he first visited WA. Blainie had never even seen it. Luckily we are allowed to travel around our state, something a lot of other Australians can’t do at the moment.
We hired a car and headed off bound for Porongurup which would be our base for 3 nights. Blainie made muffins (and we packed almost our entire house to take with us)
We headed straight down Albany Hwy, had a quick stop for some snacks at Sullivan’s Rock, and then another brief stop at the town of Williams.
Not the most scenic drive along Albany Hwy but it gets you to your destination. After a couple more brief stops at Kojonup and Mt Barker to stretch our legs we made it to our accommodation in Porongurup. We went to check in and were informed that the cottage we had booked for our stay just had a rabbit die under it and thus smelled badly and we wouldn’t be able to stay in it. Luckily they managed to find another spot for us but it was sans kitchenette. Disappointing as we had planned to cook our dinners during our stay. The owner managed to get us a little portable cook top and some pots and pans but it wasn’t really ideal. We managed to cook up some cheese toasties for dinner.
It was quite lovely around there though but man, it was FREAKING FREEZING!!!!
It was raining in Astoria this morning when we woke up. And really foggy over the river. Today we were basically going to be doing yesterday’s trip in reverse. But first, breakfast. We had breakfast at a cafe adjoining our hotel. It was good. Apparently they use all local produce and the like.
After breakfast we went for a bit of a wander around town. The 80’s film The Goonies was filmed in Astoria. But don’t go trying to visit the house used in the movies because the owner will call the police on you (note: this did not happen to us. We only read about it on the internet)
We decided we had to drive over the massive bridge into Washington.
Then we drove back over it again, back in to Oregon.
Coffee stop at Cannon Beach at Insomnia Coffee.
Had some lunch down on the beach. Views of Haystack Rock in the background.
More views on the drive back down the coast.
Apparently there are cougars here (we didn’t get out of the car)
We went back to Tillamook cheese creamery today in the hope that it would be less crowded. It was still busy but not as bad as yesterday so we had a Grilled Cheese sandwich and icecream.
And then it was back to Portland to pack up and get ready for our flights outta here tomorrow
We decided to hire another car and go for a drive to the coast. Look, to be honest, we started getting a bit bored of Portland. It’s cool and all, but really, there is only so many donuts you can eat before your jeans stop fitting you. Besides, the Oregon Coast was calling us and go to it we must.
First stop was Tillamook state forest and visitors centre.
Blainie and Smokey the Bear.
We had planned to stop at the Tillamook cheese factory for lunch, but when we got there it was CRAZY busy. We managed to get a car park and had a look around for a bit, then left and went to a different cheese place up the road that had far less people at it.
After lunch we headed to Cape Meares lighthouse on the coast. Nice views. Tiny lighthouse.
We stopped at a beach for a bit where you had to beware of sneaker waves apparently.
Kept driving up the coast. Stopped at a few places along the way – Rockaway Beach, Seaside and Manzanita.
Then we got to Astoria where we had planned to stay for the night. Astoria is a cool little town with a lot of micro breweries and a very long bridge connecting it to Washington on the other side of the river. We had dinner at Buoy Brewing Company. It had really lovely views out on to the bay. We even saw otters in the water off in the distance.
We went to a Farmers market this morning. The berries, in particular are very good here. We nearly bought some red currants, but then Blainie tried one and it was very, very tart.
Oh and massive Walla Walla onions. They have an onion festival there apparently.
Other things we did throughput the day, included: coffee at Stumptown, lunch at Pine street market and Icecream at Ruby Scoops
In the late afternoon we headed off to Mississippi Street, as we were going to a gig there in the evening. We thought we could check out some cute shops there and get some dinner before. Of course, the one day we have to go to this street, they are having a massive street party and it’s all crazy busy with people everywhere and loud doof doof music blaring. It was really hot too.
Luckily, we realised the venue for the gig was a bit away from all the madness and we found a nice cafe to relax in for a a while.
For dinner we went to a small restaurant and had calamari, sardines and manchego cheese. We also had a glass of wine from Washington.
Then we went to Polaris Hall to see Tyler Ramsey (one time member of Band of Horses) and Carl Broemel (from My Morning Jacket). When we got there, there was only 2 other people there! It got busier by the time they played but it was still a very small and intimate show. Really cool. Not something we’d ever get the chance to see in Perth.
After the gig, we caught the bus back to our hotel. That was kind of fun.
We caught the tram thing up to Washington Park this morning, hoping to catch a glimpse of Mt Hood.
When we got there, we decided to go to the Oregon Zoo instead.
It’s a pretty cool zoo. Quite large.
We saw these eagles. How cool are they? They had large talons.
But the best bit was seeing an elephant swimming.
We liked this porcupine guy too.
After a couple hours at the zoo, we were tired and hungry. So we left the zoo and went to Blue Star Donuts for donuts and coffee. Pictured here, Blueberry Bourbon doughnut and Bacon Maple (for comparison to Voodoo Donuts).
Went for a bit more of a wander around, before finding an awesome large Whole Foods supermarket across the road from our hotel. We bought dinner in there and ate it in our room.
Here’s our hotel, it’s very cool.
There may have been another quick visit to Powell’s books later in the evening.
We walked a lot today. I feel like we didn’t really do too much else. Except eat. So it was probably good that we walked so much.
Breakfast at our hotel in the morning. Steve had oatmeal and Blainie had eggs with bacon and grits. Good, but too much food.
We saw these large duck/geese things down by the waterfront.
We walked around a bit. Saw some things.
Caught the tram/light rail thing to the Alberta district because we wanted to go to Salt and Straw icecream because EVERYONE said we had to go there. It was really delicious. B had wasabi raspberry and salted caramel, S had goats cheese or something and almond praline. Deliciously large servings too.
Next door to Salt and Straw was a pizza place called Via Chicago. Not really interested in their pizza or anything, just like their name. (Wilco reference)
Then we walked to another street, missed a bus because of something that happened last Thursday (we are not sure what), went to a smaller Powell’s books, got hungry because by now it was like 3pm and we’d only had 1/2 kg of icecream for lunch, couldn’t find anywhere we wanted to go for food, caught the tram/light rail thing back to downtown and went to Pine Street Market where we had lunch/dinner(also known as lunner) – a roast pork roll thing, that was quite tasty. And some chips, that we had once again wrongly assumed were going to be actual chips but of course we are in America so they were chips (crisps). We will never learn this lesson. Fries =chips. Chips=crisps. Or something. They were still nice though.
Afternoon coffee at Stumptown and then later we went to Powell’s books and bought all the things.