Day 16 Esperance to Salmon Gums

Righto, time for Steve to hop back on the bike, and for me to get back to a bit more art making. A quick look at the weather report tells us it is going to be a tough day for Steve: Salmon Gums has a top of 38 degrees predicted and the wind is a northerly – and that is the way he is headed, straight into a strong headwind. He set off around 9 am – really too late in the day for those sort of conditions, but hey, we are still getting into the swing of things.


Departing Esperance


Steve has relented on the side of safety and decided to invest in a mirror on his helmet – because sometimes he doesn’t hear what is coming! Phew, makes me happy anyway, I am a very risk adverse kinda gal so like things to be as safe as possible.

 As I hadn’t really done a drawing for Esperance (the one out at Frenchman’s Peak is quite a way out, and I think I need a beach scene given the beauty of the beaches and bays hereabouts) I head down to where the old Castletown Jetty is still visible, and which is close by to where we have stayed while in Esperance. I decide on a pastel today – oh but it is so hard to reproduce the amazing colours of the sea so am somewhat frustrated in my attempts! I am going to end up with a whole heap of unfinished pieces that will keep me well and truly off the streets completing once we return to Perth next year…


Old Castletown Jetty


After a couple of hours I pack it in and chase after Steve. The shallow salty/sandy lakes and low scrub give way to woodlands as we head north, and about 40 km up the road we hit the burnt out areas following November’s fires. The small town of Scadden was right in the middle of the 25km front that jumped the highway, and the small local school has only just reopened a month later. Luckily it escaped mainly unscathed, but all the water pipes needed replacing before it could reopen.




I catch up with Steve about 60km along the road, still in the burnt out area. He is pretty hot and struggling with the wind, but in good spirits. After a half hour refreshment break we are both back on the road and I make good time to Salmon Gums arriving at the same time as the postie – fortunately as I needed to post in a cheque donation and he only picks up the post once a week! It’s a pretty small town, population about 40 in town and increasing to 200 for the surrounding area, which is mainly grain cropping and beef production.


Short Break


The town’s only shop was pretty interesting – a more rundown, ramshackle place is hard to imagine, and the shop owners were true characters. After sending off my mail and purchasing some stamps (which caused great conniptions for the man behind the counter as he searched around under the piles of paperwork and assorted mess to find his book of stamps), I left to find the Community Caravan Park.



Our camp at Salmon Gums


What a great spot! Lovely gardens full of succulents, clean amenities, shade and a very friendly local, Laraine, who voluntarily looks after the place when there isn’t a caretaker – the last one took off during the fires and hasn’t yet returned. We got chatting and I discovered that she had lived in the area for 48 years moving there from Perth after marrying her husband. Perfect! I had wanted to meet people that were part of the landscape they lived in and she seemed like a great example, so I interviewed her and took some photos so that I can hopefully do a painting of her amongst the gardens and trees of the Caravan Park.




By the time I’d done that Steve arrived, pretty hot and bothered as the temperature soared. We discovered that the pub opened at 3.30pm so set up camp, Steve cooled down in a cold shower and then we retired to the pub for a few beers as it was just too hot to do anything else for the afternoon. Another pair of interesting locals owned the pub, though they are only short-term residents planning on selling up next year – so if you’re in the market for a pub in an out of the way place…

Arriving at Salmon Gums caravan park



Back at camp the wind had swung round to bring cooling coastal breezes so after dinner and a bit of chat to some French tourists we were able to get to bed early so Steve could start at a more sensible time for what was promising to be another hot day in the saddle: Norseman’s predicted top, 42 degrees celsius! And 20km/hr northerly winds with gusts up to 25 km/hr – yikes!



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