The next two nights were spent at a shire run campground just outside Pemberton. Our plan was to camp at Shannon NP but the recent bushfires that destroyed over 100,000 hectares of pristine bush meant the campsite and half of the Giant Trees Drive were closed.
So once we completed the northern half of the drive we trundled on towards Pemberton via Northcliffe where I convinced Julian and the boys to come on a 1.2km outdoor art trail walk. There were big and little art pieces along the trail and the admission fee included a MP3 played loaded with interviews with the artists involved for the grown ups and a set of bush based stories for the kids to listen to at 5 strategic “story nooks” along the path.
Northcliffe Understory Art Trail.
We didn’t arrive at Big Brooks Arboretum till about 5pm. We thought it would be deserted, especially given that it has but one long drop dunny, a three-day maximum stay, and nothing else but magnificent tall trees. We were wrong, it was full (once we were shoe-horned into the very last spot).
Big Brooks Arboretum
The boys pleas for play mates were answered with another three families (all ‘lappas’) in residence. Once Sam and James joined the fray there were 8 boys and 2 girls between 6 and 12 running wild. The campsite was undergoing a bit of a clean up and there were a few large piles of felled timber lying around. The kids had a field day constructing a large timber tee-pee/fort complete with roof and flagpole (and apparently, a letter box from one of the girls). It was amazing to see them in action and co-operating moving some pretty large bits of lumber around, all without any adult interference. This kept them very busy for a day and a half.
Boys hard at work.
The finished fort.
We managed to drag the boys away from the campsite long enough to travel on the Pemberton Tram. This reconfigured city tram runs along a now privately owned section of rail line that used to link Walpole to Perth. The views along the way were lovely, especially crossing the wooden bridges over several creeks. The boys did their best puppy impersonations with heads and tongues hanging out the windows!