5th November to 8th November
We set out a tad earlier today knowing that our drive was a little longer than usual, about 400km. Our intended destination was a free camp just before Albany called East Bay, it had been recommended by someone, somewhere, sometime ago…..we can’t recall actually. Just as well too as when we got there we were not really impressed, it didn’t help that the weather had turned overcast and windy, but the campground itself was small, pokey, open to the elements and already had at least 4 separate campers there. So we decided to continue on to another free camp that I had read a lot about, Cosy Corner, in between Albany and Denmark. After another hour on the road we pulled into yet another pokey campground Cosy Corner, about 4:30pm, only to spot a sign out the front stating it was full……crap, after driving for nearly 6 hours with gusty strong crosswinds, our driver had had enough. So with no other options we drove back into town with our tail between our legs to pay a bank robbing amount of $80 per night to stay in a caravan park. We had planned on staying a week in Albany, but at these prices we quickly poo-pooed that idea. We booked in for 3 nights and sat and figured out our busy itinerary.
The next day we were up early and had started school by 8:30, with the girls making good progress, with just over a week to report writing, we are trying to get as much done before Monday so we can send off a few modules via express post. After lunch it was time to play tourist, so with nasty grey clouds ahead we headed off to the National Anzac Centre up on Mt Adelaide, which had spectacular views of King George Sound. We arrived at the centre just as the threatening clouds opened up and the rain started. After paying we each received a card with a photo and the name of an ANZAC on it, which we then placed on different screens throughout the centre, to read and learn about their involvement in the war. In addition we were given a pen like listening device that we could scan over certain areas and holding it to our ear we could individually listen to different ANZACS (including the one on our card) or people involved in WW1 without bothering other people around us.
I think overall we spent about 2 hours in there, even Jess remained enthusiastic until at least the 90 minute mark. We began at the beginning, trying to figure out and explain to the kids all about the different allegiances between European countries and Great Britain, which led to WW1 and ultimately to Australia’s involvement. From there we learnt about the first and second convoy of ANZACS that were deployed from King George Sound, Albany, less than a kilometre from where we were standing, to the infamous landing at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli in 1915, onto the many battles of the Western Front and Egypt. We then learnt about the ‘armistice’ and what happened on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day of the eleventh month and what the kids know as Remembrance Day. The last part of the tour wraps up with information about the huge deployment efforts and the many mental and emotional problems that the soldiers endured on their return home. Then to conclude the whole self guided tour you can place your card on the final screen and learn what become of your ANZAC, Jesse was lucky enough to have Charles Bean who survived the war and returned home to dedicate a large part of his life to the development of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, whilst I had Bugler Otto Siefken, 11th Battalion, AIF, who sadly became a POW and perished during the war at the age of 24.
The ANZAC Centre was well worth the entrance fee and the girls, Nik and I gained so much from the interactive tour, the girls were constantly coming up to Nik and I saying you have to listen to this person or that person. Whilst a lot probably went over their heads they were able to recall the main key features of the war, which I’m sure they will still be able to vaguely remember in years to come if they study it within the school curriculum. Sadly due to the abhorrent wet weather we were unable to do the many walks around the outside of the centre, but didn’t feel as if we had missed out. If anything it makes me more determined to visit the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, something that’s been on my bucket list for a while.
Our last day in Albany involved another morning of schoolwork followed by an afternoon at the Historic Whaling Museum. ‘Whale World’ is a heritage listed tourist attraction, that was Australia’s last operating whaling station, with operations ceasing only a mere 36 years ago, hard to believe that this type of inhumane act was actually still occurring within my lifetime. We didn’t really know what to expect from our afternoon, we had worded up the kids (and ourselves) that it maybe quite depressing and confronting so we went in with our eyes open. However we ended up having a great afternoon, we found the initial tour focus was on the gruesome details about whaling, however after the big ‘skeleton museum shed’ the tour then focused on the plight and conservation of these large gentle giants. We marvelled at the sheer size of the bones and skeletons, in particular the pigmy blue whale at a mere 22 meters long. When the tour finished we then went through and watched a few movies, a 3D one on the whales and another one about sharks and how important they actually are to the marine ecosystem. The sharks seem to have had a bit of a raw deal these days and are not as popular as the whales, but they too need to be protected just as much as the whales, especially the Grey Nurse shark, as scientists predict it will become extinct in a few years time.
After the movies the girls didn’t fancy having another look at the skeleton museum so we headed over to the whaler chaser ‘Cheynes IV’, which is now up on land and open to tourists, and spent a quite a while going up and down and in and out the labyrinth of cabins and corridors, below deck and above deck. From the captains cabin to the walkway down to the harpoon (the captain was the only one who was allowed to shoot the harpoon and grenade), further on down to the engine room. After a while I decided to let Nik and the girls continue playing chasey and hide and seek and sat outside waiting as I was getting quite claustrophobic inside, clearly I’m no sailor!!!! As it was getting late in the day we naturally then headed to the café for coffee and milkshakes whilst looking out at the wonderful view of King George Sound.
After a busy few wet and cold days in Albany we decided, OK the ridiculous prices for accommodation decided, that it was time to move on, so on yet another grey and dull day we packed up and headed off to our next adventure and destination on our OZLAP……………………