Notes of a traveller

Alan Dodds – photographer (among other things)

Notes of a traveller

Perth, Fremantle and the Great Southern Coast

Posted on Friday, August 3rd, 2018 at 11:20 am

Perth and Fremantle

This part of our journey is a trip down memory lane. It is not only a chance to catch up with old friends, but a chance to review at least a part of our passage into our seventies. Wow, how did we get here?

Helen and Michael’s wedding takes place in the grounds of the John Forrest National Park, just as our own did some thirty-odd years ago. It is a rainy day but this does not dampen the sprits of all who are there. May you two have a wonderful life together!

We had forgotten just how beautiful a city Perth can be, especially around the Swan River, which runs through its heart and is kilometres wide in places as it flows out to the Indian Ocean via Fremantle.

An image of Jacqui sitting on a bench on the Crawley fareshore looking across the Swan River to the Perth CBD

Just across the road from the University of Western Australia we were both regular visitors to the beautiful Crawley foreshore.

We catch up with friends in Perth and Fremantle, in particular Chris and Richard, and then Michael and Patricia with whom we stay for a few days. Thank you, thank you for such good company and delicious food!

Image of Fremantle high street

Fremantle has managed to retain much of it’s heritage, but the resulting lack of development may have been at some cost to it’s inhabitants.
The red dingo painted of the front of the Dingo flour mill

The Dingo flour mill is still in operation in North Fremantle after many decades in business.


Now it is time to turn to the South West of Western Australia and return to Albany, Torbay and Denmark to see how things are down here. We spent more than fifteen years in this area, and Max, Zoe and Pippa spent much of their childhoods on this wild and remote southern coast.

We are extremely lucky to be offered the keys to good friends Jonathan and Pam’s house in Little Grove, across the Princess Royal Harbour from Albany town. J & P are currently in Scandinavia, so it is a pity we will not see them; however it is a pleasure to be able to stay in their beautiful house for ten days and keep their home fires burning.

Of course, everybody tells us that the weather has been almost like summer in the week before we arrive. This is not our experience since a series of cold fronts begins their procession along the south coast just in time for our arrival.

An image of a rainbow across Princess Royal Harbour as seen from Albany.

Our arrival in Albany is greeted by a rainbow, generally not a good sign on this coast. However, at the end of this particular rainbow is our pot of gold in the shape of Jonathan and Pam’s house.
An image of the Old Post Office building on Stirling Terrace in Albany.

The Old Post Office building stands on Stirling Terrace like a fantasy castle and is now occupied by the University of Western Australia. I spent many years working in this building.
An image of the recently built Albany Entertainment Centre with its striking lines.

The Entertainment Centre has arrived since we moved away from Albany. I am not sure what I think about it’s appearance, although I understand that it is well used.
An image of Albany as seen across the Princess Royal Harbour from Little Grove

The town of Albany nestles into hills across the harbour from Little Grove

As always we feel the need to revisit the coastline around the harbours and along the southern ocean. The scenery here is spectacular and we never get tired of admiring it’s rugged beauty. Along the peninsular out from Little Grove is the old whaling station, now a tourist attraction to show the slaughter that was carried on here in past times.

The series of cold fronts passing along the coast are making for some serious swell on the ocean and we delight in watching huge waves hurl themselves on the rocks all along the coastline, and which provide lots if opportunities for those brave enough to ride them. We visit a number of the beaches being careful not to get caught by the tide.

The view across Frenchmans Bay from the beach out towards the Waling Station.

Frenchmans Bay is full of whales at this time of the year to the delight of the tourists on the whale watching cruises. The whaling station is in the distance.
An image of the rock formation know as the Gap with a huge wave crashing ove the car park.

Waves have to be enormous for the spray at the Gap to reach these heights.
An image showing the tyre tracks onto Nanarup beach some twenty kilometers west of Albany

Nanarup is popular with fishermen and surfers and those who just fancy a drive on the beach.
An image of the inlet at Nanarup with reflections of the paperbarks.

Reflections at sundown over Nanarup inlet. I guess sometimes you just get lucky!
An image of a marbled sky reflected in the Kalgan river near Albany

The Kalgan river reflects the late afternoon sky.


It is interesting to remember that it was the very remoteness of this southern shore that attracted us in the first place and, in the end, moved us on. We shared the excitement of building our home on the Wolery ecological community in the nineteen eighties while working as craftspeople; Jacqui with her ceramics and me making baskets.

We are lucky to to be invited to a Wolery shared meal, which is a great opportunity to catch up with friends whom we haven’t seen for many years. The Wolery itself, has matured into a settled community with some families having three generations living there. Thank you all for a lovely evening!

While we are in Denmark we also manage to catch up with a number of other friends and exchange our stories and see what they are doing.


Our (supposedly temporary) home for many years is still standing and looking much the same.
An image of the roof of the round house  which became our second home on the Wolery

The roof of “the Pit”, as we knew it, which was our next and much more comfortable home on the Wolery.
An image of a scupture made from assorted bits of metal on the Wolery.

It doesn’t pay to stand still for too long in this climate
An image of eight of the many kangaroos in a paddock on the Wolery

The kangaroos know when they are onto a good thing! Not too many guns around here.

And of course we took the opportunity to visit many of the spectacular beaches which this southern coastline is known for.

A picture of Green Pool fifteen kilometers west of Denmark and the closest beach to the Wolery.

Interesting that in my mind this was called “Green’s Pool”, but now I see why the name is actually “Green Pool”. An oasis from the pounding surf!
An image of Elephant Cove, near Green Pool, with large rocks that resemble a herd of elephants.

We walk across the rocks from Green Pool to the aptly named Elephant Cove.
An image of sunset looking east from Parry Beach.

Parry beach is another old favourite of ours, here in the setting sun.


Our last ten years living in the area were spent in Torbay, living in a house we had built on a five acre block. These blocks of land had been laid out when it was envisaged that there would be a township every ten kilometers of so between Albany and Denmark along the long departed railway line. Few of these settlements actually happened and Torbay was eventually settled by those who wished a quiet semi-rural lifestyle with access to work in either Albany or Denmark. Just like us!

We revisited our old house, at least from the road, and made sure went to our local beaches.

An image of the house in Puls Road in Torbay which was our home for ten years

Our homestead in Puls Road, Torbay.
An image of mutton bird island off the beach near Torbay

Mutton bird beach was a special favourite of Pippa’s. As in many places in times past, mutton birds (or short-tailed shearwaters) were harvested for food.
An image of a flying sea eagle with a freshly caught fish in its talons

Again … sometimes you get lucky, as with this sea eagle.
An image of waves crashing on the rocks at Lowlands Beach in Kronkup near Torbay.

One of our favourite beaches is Lowlands which is a good spot to watch rainbows in the waves.

Time to leave

As with all things, our time on the South Coast must come to an end and as a parting gift to ourselves, we spent a beautiful day camped next to the inlet of the remote Normans Beach, some fifty kilometers west of Albany on the road to Esperance, our next destination.

It was truely a day to remember!

An image of Normans Beach with a cloud lit by the lowering sun.

The sun colours the clouds which cover the granite peak above Normans beach.
An image of two southern right whales with calves at Normans beach.

On our first walk to the beach we are greeted by two southern right whales with their calves who are cruising up and down just over the surf line.
An image of a southern right whale calf jumping for joy

… and this calf was feeling playful!
An image of shells on Normans Beach

What would a beach be without shells!
An image of clouds over Normans beach

A giant white snail cruises over to say farewell!
An image of a duck on the inlet at normans beach

As the sun goes down a small duck in the inlet tries to attract a mate.
An image of footprints along the Normans beach

Not many footsteps on this beach

During our time here, we have especially enjoyed the warm welcome we have received from all our old friends, too numerous to mention individually. It has been heart warming to see people so well and to enjoy a glimpse of their stories since we last met.

Our whole experience of revisiting Western Australia has been a very positive one for us, in spite of the best efforts of the winter weather to dampen our spirits. We can see how living and working both in Perth and on the south coast laid so much of the foundation of our lives today.

I guess it’s time for us to begin our journey back to the east. What adventures await us, I wonder?



28 responses to “Perth, Fremantle and the Great Southern Coast”

  1. Ciarán de Baróid says:

    Hello Mr. Dodds, the last time we met you were an itinerant basket-maker. Almost 40 years ago. How time has flown!
    I’m envious of some of your photos from the 1970s: Afghanistan etc. When Cora and I travelled there, we had a Kodak Instamatic and no money to buy film. However, we’ve made up for it since. Glad to see you didn’t throw away the travelling boots. We kept ours too.

  2. Helen Wilson says:

    Thanks for these gorgeous photos of amazing scenery. Greens Pool and Elephant Cove are very special places. Looks like a fantastic journey you two are having. What constant joy your travels bring. Looking forward to the next episode!

  3. Tony Dodds says:

    All good things come to an end unfortunately but so glad you both enjoyed meeting up with your friends from across the land!! I expect a few ‘tinnies ‘ were downed!!
    Now homewood bound, so safe journey and give our love to Pippa and all when you meet up.
    Super pictures as usual and interesting travelogue, helps with our following you.
    Off to a B.B.C now – in the upper 20’s!!
    Tony & Berylxxx

  4. Jac says:

    Photos r wonderful Alan – gosh, spectacular … incl venues. Saw the snail b4 u said, eagle n reflection shots, superb colours n compositions 👏😻 So nice to seeplaces prev heard about. Hope Noosa n SE Qld compares 😉☺️ Safe tripping home 😘

    • Alan says:

      Hi Jac. We are currently camped on a beach in the howling wind and rain. Noosa looks very good from here with a forecast of 25 today. Glad you enjoyed the pics 🙂

  5. Pamela Rumble says:

    It was great to show you both around our nearly completed Eco Village in Denmark! Thanks so much for being interested in this amazing project!! It was also great to look inside “Winny” and see that it’s actually possible to go on holiday and relax and soak up all that beauty in nature. My goodness you got a good taste of everything on your journey, the photos are beautiful and I am happy for you. Best wishes Pam

    • Alan says:

      Hi Pam. Thanks for showing us around the Eco village. Looks like a great project! We hope you can move in soon 🙂

  6. pamela rumble says:

    It was great to show Alan and Jacqui around our nearly completed Eco Village in Denmark! Thanks so much for being interested in our experiences

  7. Marijke Hazelzet says:

    Alan and Jacqui, it was great to meet up on the Wolery after many years. Love your blogs, great photographs and honest interesting comments and observations. Keep on travelling and enjoying life….Love Marijke

    • Alan says:

      Hi Marikje. Good to catch up with you both after so long. Maybe we’ll see you over east sometime! Glad you enjoy the blog … it’s fun putting it together!

  8. Brian East says:

    Alan – what memories that you have shared with us all. I can remember some of the place names you have recently visited in the correspondence over the years, particularly the Wolery. Great to see it in reality.

    • Alan says:

      Hi Brian. We hear you are having a golden summer over there. Not like that here atm … cold, windy and raining here in Streaky Bay. Trust you are both well!

  9. Olly says:

    This chapter was great for me as it covered the only part of Australia that I have ever visited. That said I’m looking forward to the next one and pastures new.

    • Alan says:

      Hi Olly. We remember fondly your visit to Torbay, all those year ago. As I remember you had a few decisions to make at that time 🙂 How are you managing the Spanish summer? We are meeting up with Pippa in a couple of days on her return from the UK.

  10. Sue says:

    Wonderful to read about your adventures in the west and enjoy the fabulous photos. We have just got back from visiting Fiji and am disappointed that we couldn’t catch up. Maybe on your next trip across.

    • Alan says:

      Hi Sue. Fiji sounds good 🙂 I suspect we may not make another journey across. The weather reminded us why we are living in sub-tropical Noosa. Good to hear you are well!

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Wonderful to spend time with you both and now to join in looking at our beautiful south coast environs through your eyes. How could we ever leave?!!

    Safe travelling on the rest of your way home and may Winnie continue to be your trusty ‘steed’.
    E & D

    • Alan says:

      Hi Elizabeth. It was great to see your place and spend some time with you both. The southern coast looks great in the pics, doesn’t it, but we have gone a bit troppo these days and need more of a hot house environment. 🙂

  12. Christina McGuinness says:

    Another wonderful read, but the pictures say it all…especially the reflective pair and the eagle flying free with its meal!
    And of course it was great to see the pair of you…and share a meal!
    Looking forward to next instalment, and news of Pippa.
    Cheers, love, travel safe…Chris XX! Hi from Richard too!

    • Alan says:

      Hi Christina. Yes, it was really good to catch up and find you both well. I tried to make the blog, and especially the images, a bit more “accessibility friendly” for Richard. I would be interested in his comments. Love from us 🙂

  13. Michael Bobrowicz says:

    Another great blog, thank you for sharing

  14. Cathy Howe says:

    Thanks Alan. This stirred great memories, particularly of Albany, for us too! Now I want to go back for a visit again.

    • Alan says:

      Hi Cathy. It was really interesting to go back to Albany. I have to say that although it is very beautiful, we really noticed the remoteness and the weather was really awful for half the time! We may come to visit next year … it’s on our bucket list.

  15. Hanneke And Frank Beijer says:

    Dear Alan, what a super story And beautiful pictures!
    It makes us want to be back in Australia. You should have been here now! Holland is experiencing an Australian summer, that would suit you to for sure.
    We love reading your account of your travels.And it is just good te hear from you two
    With our love, Hanneke And Frank.

    • Alan says:

      Hi Hanneke and Frank. Glad you are enjoying news of our travels. I will be in touch when we get home in September about our visit to you next year. Always great to get your comments!

  16. Kenny Steward says:

    Alan/Jackie, I don’t often get to read your blogs (no excuses), but when I do the photographs with a simple few words are always a joy to immerse yourself in! 😊
    Love: Kenny, Jude, Niamh & Freya,

    • Alan says:

      Hey Kenny. Good to get your comment and know that you are enjoying the occasional viewing of the blog. How are things with you all over there? Enjoying your hot summer?

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