Wednesday, October 21, 2015

"Life is either a great adventure or nothing." - Helen Keller

Ahhhh, where to begin?? I have a lot of catching up to do, so hopefully you won't get too bored with my ramblings. Andrew had planned a getaway for us to the Great Southern region of Australia. And yes, he drove, what a guy!! We set off from Atwell bright and early (7:30 am) on Saturday morning - destination Stirling Range. This is a place that Kathryn and Tim recommended and where they both conquered Bluff Knoll, the highest peak in southwestern Australia. We wound our way south, stopping at 'Williams Woolshed' (think major tourist trap on the main road), arriving in Kojonup around noon where we wandered around a rose maze and had a bite to eat. Our first destination was Castle Rock and Granite Skywalk (570 m above sea level) for an afternoon hike, part of the Porongurup Range. We managed to hit the trail by 2:30, quickly finding out the difficulty rating was 4 out of a possible 5. I wasn't too excited about that, but needing to stretch the legs we set off, determined to accomplish this one as a precursor to Sunday's more challenging Bluff Knoll. By the time we got to the top I thought I was going to lose that 'world famous' pastie I ate for lunch. But I was happy we did it and the view from the top was incredible. I was just praying the legs would recoup enough for Sunday's climb.

Ready to set out with a Volvo 850. Sarah, you thought the Accord was old!!!

A beautiful rose maze in Kojunup weaves together the story of 3 women: a Noongar (aboriginal), an Englishwoman, and an Italian. This creatively reflects the history of the town.

If a tree falls in the forest, does anybody hear?

 The Balancing Rock near the top of our hike. Andrew was feeling good; me, not so good. 

 The final section was a vertical ladder leading to the skywalk. I debated on whether to do this final climb.

 And this is how I felt when I got to the top - I recovered fairly quickly and enjoyed the stunning views but then realized the climb down was next!!

 Treetops and granite and beautiful blue sky.

 The happy couple hoping the skywalk holds.

 A different perspective of the massive granite rock.

 These cleats in the rocks were helpful in navigating my way down, probably would have landed face first on the granite if they weren't there.

 A view as we approach the Stirling Range. These mountains are looking rather daunting!!

 And my chef trying to cook a McCains pizza on a gas BBQ because there was no oven in our living space. We finally ended up microwaving it - we were hungry so it didn't taste too bad.

Our rammed earth cabin at the Stirling Range Retreat. The cabin was basically a concrete bunker which did not meet my high expectations. Bluff Knoll, tomorrow's challenge, looms in the background.

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