Day 22 of the Around Australia Ride with the Steven Walter Foundation took us a short 400kms from Margaret River to Albany. Today was always going to be a good day as there are many scenic roads, things to go look at, people to visit (for me), and stuff to explore. My day started around 8:00am by conquering the second half of Caves Road down to Cape Leeuwin. I think the second half of that road is better than the first and it certainly got me awake quick smart. The Karri trees along this road are also very impressive towering high above everything.
At Cape Leeuwin I went to the lighthouse – built in 1895 – which is also the most south/western tip of Australia. This is also the location where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean. It was $5 to have a wander around the area and I find myself not minding having to pay as these historic locations need to be upkeep-ed somehow and everything was very well maintained. We were there too early for the lighthouse itself to be open but that suited me fine as I had a few things yet on my itinerary.
From Cape Leeuwin I rode with Fridge and Buttsy for a while until I noticed a turnoff for Beedelup Falls. I had been recommended to go and see them after a call to my friend Adrian who I would be meeting later in the day near Manjimup. Unfortunately it has been a drier than normal season so the falls weren’t exactly exploding with splendor, but it was a nice enough diversion all the same with a 400m loop track taking me down to visit and some photos.
After Beedelup Falls I found a sign to the second of Adrian’s recommendations – the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree. This was to be the highlight of my day. I had been told that the Bicentennial Tree is one of three enormous Karri Trees in the area that people can climb. Adrian mentioned the Gloucestor Tree was one of the more better known ones, but in his opinion was a bit crowded and wasn’t as tall as the Bicentennial Tree (BT). I wasn’t disappointed. The BT is 75m tall and at first, from a distance, looks like an easy enough challenge. It’s not until closer inspection that I saw the way up is via steel rods that have been driven into the side of the tree, going up and around in spiral staircase fashion. With the exception of some mesh on the outside of this staircase there are no other safety features.
Still, I wasn’t going to be deterred and made my way up to the first and only rest platform at 25m. From there it was a long climb to the top platform of 75m. I don’t know if it was my imagination at work, but some of those rods flexed a little too much for my liking. But it was worth it with the view from the top just fantastic as the BT is above the forest canopy and there is nothing but the tops of trees as far as you can see in every direction. By the time I got back to the bottom of the tree my leg were very rubbery with fatigue, I’ll pay for that in the coming days I am sure.
Once the BT was climbed and conquered I went and visited Adrian and Julia and their two kids. It was great to catch up with them and we joked how I had ridden over 10,000kms just for a quick visit and a bite to eat for lunch. Their house is beautiful and is a converted old country school building. Adrian and Julia have put a lot of work into the place with a lot of homegrown vegetables and fruits in evidence.
I had to press on sooner than I would have liked as my next stop was the Valley of the Giants. The giants are Red and Yellow Tingle Trees which while they don’t grow as tall as Karri trees are still very tall and impressive in their own right. Part of the the experience is a suspension bridge walk that takes you 45m up into the canopy. A long way to drop a camera if you’re not careful. At ground level you get to see the huge circumference of these trees, really impressive and a little bit humbling too.
The day was getting on so I hit the last leg for Albany. I had wanted to get there early enough to visit the Great Southern Distilling Company (makers of Limeburners Single Malt Whisky) to sample some Australian made whisky, but it wasn’t to be as I arrived around 5:30pm. I wasn’t disappointed however as their whisky I can buy any time I choose whereas a run down the second half of Caves Road, visting Cape Leeuwin, seeing Beedelup Falls, climbing a huge tree, catching up with Adrian and Julia and walking through the Valley of Giants is not something I will be able to do again any time soon. At dinner that night everyone was very happy and content with the day they had, and I was also pleased to see I was not the only one on quickly unsteady legs from tree climbing. Has to have been right up there with my favorite days.