From 27th Dec '15 — 3rd Jan '16 Esther, Appin, Sam drove 2320 kms around the South West and Great Southern regions of WA. Here's what happened!

Day 1 — Perth to Fitzgerald River National Park

The day begins by cleaning the house. At 10am Esther is hoovering up Appin's hair.

Finally departed at 11.14am. Odometer 349,475.

Left Perth via Highway 41 (long hill out and up into the hills - the old girl struggled). First stop after two hours at Brookton for Lunch. Crossroads town on Highway 40. Reminds me of Northcliffe. Continued on HWY 40 to Hyden. Shit town. Everything closed.

Refuelled at Lake King. Literally a pub on a crossroads. Lake King to Fitzgerald River National Park (East) arriving at 8pm. All campgrounds full - good - we camped overlooking the inlet instead. Very beautiful. Dinner of gnocchi.

Day 2 — Fitzgerald River National Park to Margaret Cove (Stokes National Park)

Start the day with a breakfast of poached pears and mascarpone. Delicious. Campsite proves to be even better in the light. Hiked up East Mount Barren. Appin unwell and had to turn back. Esther and I embarked on an ill-advised climb to the summit but survived with good photos. Swam at Miley's camp.

Drove to Hopetoun but bottle shop closed. Town pleasant regardless.

Drove to Margaret Cove based on Vicky's excellent notes. Sam suffering with dreadful heartburn. Esther strong. Very, very hot day. Wonderful campsite as described by Walkley.

Dinner of chili washed down with the last of the awful Nebbiolo. Fabulous night sky.

Day 3 — Margaret Cove to Dunn Rock (Cape Le Grand National Park)

Ventured down onto Dead Seal Beach at Margaret Cove. Spectacular beach with rolling swell breaking in shallow water. Throwing huge barrels. Extraordinarily hot; temperature measured at 42°c by the Bureau but we heard 45°c quoted over UHF.

Departed due to stress (heat and wind). Would be all-time if 15° cooler. We will be back. Drove to Esperance and swam in a sheltered haven to the east of the town. Lunch in the shade. Appin resuscitated a thirsty dragonfly.

Ventured into town to resupply and then drove from Wylie Head to Cape Le Grand National Park along the beach. Stunning views of Bay of Isles. Dashed to Dunn Rock for sunset and set up camp. Superb dunes in the distance to the east.

Lots of bugs after sunset, but none after an hour or so. Curry for dinner. Finally drank cold, cold beers. Esperance a nice town and Cape Le Grand has more than meets the eye. Map updated accordingly.

Day 4 — Dunn Rock to Thomas River (Cape Arid National Park)

Rose at 6.40am. B's sleeping. Explored immediate vicinity — wonderful place. Nice swim in crystal clear waters. Washed with sand. Wind coming from everywhere (tent and schwag filled with fine sand overnight). Finally the heat has broken and we're left with an overcast day. Sun still attempting to break through. It is Australia after all.

Leisurely double breakfast then broke camp and drove to Cape Arid via Condingup to refuel. Cookies and cream ice cream. Jumpstarted a stranded local. Hilarious. Very scenic road east to Cape Arid. Found camp site at Thomas River. Friendly camp hosts. Still overcast, still windy. Lunched then walked Tagon cliff walk via Dolphin Cove and Little Tagon Cove. Gorgeous white beaches and turquoise water even without the sun.

Good 6km walk with epic skinny dip at Little T Cove on the return leg. Saw roos and a large monitor (racing horse goanna perhaps?).

Day 5 — Cape Arid National Park (New Years Eve!)

Leisurely breakfast at camp — weather still overcast and cool. Decided to strike out for Mt. Ragged via Balladonia 'Road'. Advised to advise a responsible person of our plans. Did so. The track is notoriously boggy in wet conditions so after 20km with rain looming we turned back. We shall return... Headed back to Thomas River and hot-tobogganed along the beach to Arid Bay.

"We will climb a mountain if it takes us all day"
Rabbitson

Lunched at the base of Mt. Arid and then struck out for the summit. Easy start, steepens. Summit at 15.40. Spectacular views to the West, South and East. Wind.

Glorious skinny dip at the southern end of Yokinup Bay (Jedacorrup Beach?) in the clearest water I have ever encountered. Returned to camp and greeted by Mairéad and Shane, great to have them with us to celebrate the end of the year! Commenced a long evening of festivities. Happy 2016...

Day 6 — Cape Arid National Park (1st January 2016)

Surprisingly not hungover and reasonably early start. Stars last night were amazing and gave hopes of a fine day today but no such luck; still overcast.

Drove back down the beach to find a sheltered spot from the wind. Perfect little fun waves for bodysurfing and handplanes.

Love watching waves break from below (although water not quite as clear as before). Double session. Mairéad hungover but coping admirally! Down to meagre rations of half a cheese sandwich each for lunch! Water running low too, so returned to camp. No food or water there either. Napped, woke, dined. More cards, more shooting stars. No sign of the sun today but tomorrow is another day. 2016 off to an excellent start!

Day 7 — Cape Arid National Park to Esperance to Perth

Early start to refill water at Condingup Tavern after breaking camp. Wonderful early breakfast - Esther has done us proud as breakfast chef. Entered Cape Le Grand NP and headed to lucky bay. Raining. Kangaroos on the beach; extremely picturesque bay — just a shame that there is a sealed road to access!

Rounded corner to Thistle Cove, and then again to Hellfire Cove — perhaps the best of the lot! Swam in the rain in the clearest water of the trip. Clearer than the water from the tap. Glorious. GP action galore! Made difficult decision to return to Perth based on weather conditions. Left Cape Le Grand and drove to Esperance along the beach. Large pod of dolphins having a surf in perfect little dolphin waves!

Resupplied in Esperance and then departed via Great Ocean Road; big scenery. Drove most of the route under clearing skies with driving lights. Very little traffic. Wonderfully delicious dinner, Appin a tremendous dinner chef all week. Arrived in Perth 1am. Odometer 351,795.