Mini 10 Day, W.A. Southwest Summer Tour. 

20th of January to 29th of January.

By Will.

Feature Photo : First day of the trip. Jenny and Rodgie dog enjoying the cool water at Lake Towerinning on a 40C day.

Found it tough to escape the grip of Mandurah this time, friends who were going to visit and stay over pulled out at the last minute due to changing plans. We found ourselves waiting for high value online purchase deliveries. Lots of visiting the two grandkids and a two night sleep over by Annelise. Finally on Thursday the 20th of January once Jenny finished work we get on the road by 12.15pm. Immediate stress relief !

Prepped the Surly bikes for the trip, we prefer to take them on the camper instead of our “Thorn Nomad” touring bicycles because I stress a lot less about them getting dusted on gravel roads and if they are stolen or damaged the emotional and financial pain will be less.

Our cycling friends who live in Kendenup had recently bought a couple of cheap & cheerful secondhand Dahon folding bicycles which Neville the seller from Bunbury had dropped at our place on his way through to Perth with his wife. I managed to cram the two Dahon’s into the Camper, along with a twin wheeled bicycle trailer for Rodgie dog to use during some rides.

We managed to cram the two Dahon folding bikes into the Reconn2 Camper.

It turned out to be a great little mini break but the first few days were very hot. Ultimately we ended up spending time at Lake Towerinning about 190kms south of Mandurah, stayed at Fred and Wendy place near Kendenup, headed to the south coast staying at Cosy Corner between Albany and Denmark. At Cosy Corner we stumbled across our old hockey buddies Peter and Mel who are on their own 3 week caravan tour. Seeing Pete and Mel proved to be an enjoyable impromptu catch up. To get home it was a couple of random overnighters, one at Muirs Bridge on the Franklin River and the final night at Jaye’s Bridge on the Blackwood River near Boyup Brook.

The major aims of this quick trip is to get in some cycling, spend as little money as possible, so no pub, cafe or restaurant visits. If a camp ground is more than $20 per night it will be avoided. Since we are travelling with a dog, National Parks are off the agenda also. How cheap can a couple with a dog travelling in a diesel powered V8 Toyota Landcruiser, towing 2 tonne of hybrid camper travel for over 10 days. Read through my travel notes or just check out the photos with captions. At the end of this blog the surprising results will be revealed. 

Ok let’s go…

Pretty close representation of the route we took over 10 days, 861kms.

What we forgot:

  • Thermos &/or plastic lidded coffee cups.
  • Missing some cutlery. Tea spoon, knife.
  • Forgot to remove and take out Sea to Summit silicone collapsable pot/plate set.
  • Water filter, like Sawyer or Platypus.
  • Garlic & Ginger granules.
  • Tubes of garlic and ginger for in the fridge.


  • Day 1, Thursday, Date, 20/01/22.
  • From to where: Mandurah to Lake Towerinning (near Darkan).
  • Distance & time:  193kms, 1215-1545, 3.5 hours.
  • Accumulated Distance: 193kms.
  • Fuel: Landcruiser fuel tanks nearly full.
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs: yes we have the Surly Fatties on board.
  • Accom type & cost: $40 (2 nights) Camp ground at Lake Towerinning.
  • Grocery Food $: from home.
  • Beer/Wine/Soda $: from home.
  • Other $: 0
  • Day Total $: $40
  • Rolling Total $: 40
  • Weather: Hot 40C

Notes: Hanging out for this mini break.

Easy enough trip up the hill along the Pinjarra/Williams Road, about 15kms of ok gravel road on the Quindanning/Darkan Road. It was a very hot day and that’s right on top of Wednesday being extra hot. It hit 40C but the 2021 model Landcruiser easily did the job of towing 2 tonne of Camper up the 300m climb of the Darling Scarp.

Once at Towerinning we were advised by the campground manager that we are required to wear face masks in the office, shop and ablution blocks. This is a WA state government Covid 19 directive.

Once we located the camper in what we thought would be a quiet secluded spot (at 8.30pm 2 car loads of noisey bogans rocked up and parked about 20 metres from us). They set up in the dark while playing their loud shitty rap style crap house music.

Once located it was swim time, very nice to cool off in the lake. Lots of other people camped along the lakes edge most of them have V8 powered ski boats. Rodgie loved the swim and was keen on us throwing the ball out into the lake. There was heaps of blue and black dragonflies.

We spent the afternoon relaxing, having a couple of beers, throwing the ball for Rodgie dog and doing a short bush walk. We also enjoyed some bird watching, splendid blue wrens, red breasted robins and numerous other birds keeping themselves busy as the heat of the day dissipated.

I went off for a shower with my mask on (yeah right) and upon my return noticed the 2 car loads of bogans had decided to set up camp way to close to us…f*ck !!! Hopefully they get the first night excitement out of there systems early and tone it down by 10.30pm. If not then what ?


  • Day 2 Friday, Date, 21/01/22.
  • From to where: Lake Towerinning (near Darkan). Stop over.
  • Distance & time:  0km
  • Accumulated Distance: 193kms.
  • Accom type & cost: pre paid, Lake Towerinning.
  • Grocery Food $: from home.
  • Beer/Wine/Soda $: from home.
  • Other $: 
  • Day Total $: $40
  • Rolling Total $: 40
  • Weather: Hot 40C plus, lots of swimming.

NOTES: Super Hot Day at Towerrinning.

Our neighbours ended up being fuck wits, particularly one of the blokes, they are a group of 4, two blokes in their early 30’s, a woman around the same age and a young teenage boy, maybe 13yo. The dynamics we’re father and son, woman and “Total Tool” of a male. 

Total Tool instigated most of the dramas, verbally abusive to the woman (calling her a mutt, being one of the less offensive names), loud obnoxious music, vomiting, dry reaching. You get the general idea. They didn’t come near us and the next morning we just discussed how crap our night had been, I hope they were embarrassed.

They shifted their camp closer to the lake thank goodness. Jenny, Rodgie and I enjoyed a nice morning walk to the day use area, lots and lots of swimming, afternoon nap in our camp chairs and cooked steak sandwiches on the bbq. In bed and asleep by 9.30pm.


  • Day 3 Saturday, Date, 22/01/22.
  • From to where: Lake Towerinning to Wendy & Fred’s Farm (Kendenup).
  • Distance & time:  147kms, 0945 – 1210, 2 hours 20 minutes.
  • Accumulated Distance: 340kms
  • Accom type & cost: free
  • Grocery Food $: $28 Kojenup IGA.
  • Day Total $: 28
  • Rolling Total $: 68
  • Weather: Hot 38C.

NOTES: Catch up with Fred and Wendy.

Leisurely morning watching the birds and listening to V8 Ski Boats that got started at 5.45am, nice !

I cooked up some bacon and eggs for breakfast, we then walked Rodgie, tidied and packed up camp and were heading out by 9.45am.

Stopped in Kojenup IGA for some basics, I wore a face mask but from now on I won’t bother as no one else seems interested. Albany Highway was extra busy, lots of travellers heading north. It didn’t take long and we arrived at Fred and Wendy’s place near Kendenup. Great to see these two alternative thinking and living friends of ours. Wendy cooked us up some vegetarian Japanese food, the sweet chilli tofu was nice, not usually a fan of tofu but this time it tasted good. 

We chatted until 9pm then retired to the camper.


  • Day 4, Sunday, Date, 23/01/22
  • From to where: Fred & Wendy’s Farm Kendenup.
  • Distance & time:  0.
  • Accumulated Distance: 340km.
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs: yes JC= 13kms, WC= 6km, dog got tired and wouldn’t stay in the bike trailer.
  • Accom type & cost: Free
  • Day Total $: 0
  • Rolling Total $: 68
  • Weather: Hot, 37C

NOTES: Bike Ride.

A relaxing day with our friends, did some cycling. Took Rodgie along for the ride with the with the trailer in tow but she prefers to run and all up only sat in the trailer for 500 metres. It was a bit of a fail, so I headed back to the farm with Rodgie and Jenny carried on along the short 15km gravel road circuit with Fred and Wendy. 

Off on a ride, turns out to be 15kms for Fred, Jenny and Wendy. Rodgie refuses to stay in the dog trailer so after about 3km I turn back with her and return to base (spot the dog).


  • Day 5, Monday, Date, 24/01/22
  • From to where: Wendy & Fred’s Farm, Kendenup.
  • Distance & time:  22kms, JC went into Mount Barker and return.
  • Accumulated Distance: 362kms
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs: yes 20km by WC to Kendenup and back.
  • Fuel $: 115 diesel at Mount Barker.
  • Litres: 70L @163.9cpl (~17 litres per 100kms)
  • Accom type & cost: Free
  • Grocery Food $: $42 Mount Barker IGA.
  • Take away food $: $15
  • Beer/Wine/Soda $: $75, beer and wine.
  • Day Total $: $247
  • Rolling Total $: 315
  • Weather: Cooler 21C, strong SE winds, some light drizzle in the morning l

NOTES: Let’s Ride !

Our last day visiting Wendy and Fred, I went for a bicycle ride with them to Kendenup and back. Jenny took the dog for a walk. Later Jenny went into Mount Barker to stock up, we also caught up on clothes washing. Pretty casual day overall.

Typical type of road for todays ride, gravel, corrugated and some good hill climbs. Go Wendy !


  • Day 6 Tuesday, Date, 25/01/22
  • From to where: Fred & Wendy’s Farm (Kendenup) to Cosy Corner.
  • Distance & time:  69kms, 1015-1140, 1hr, 25min.
  • Accumulated Distance: 431km
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs: no
  • Accom type & cost: Free @ Cosy Corner x2 nights.
  • Day Total $: 0
  • Rolling Total $: 315
  • Weather: 21C max, light drizzle most of the morning.
Fred farms honey, I think he mentioned he has about 20 hives (?), as a parting gift he gives us a jar of the Stirling Range Honey. I’ve now tasted it and can confirm it tastes great. Check it out on Instagram, ” One Hive Honey”

NOTES: Time to move on.

Cruisey morning with Wendy and Fred, packed up and headed off to the south coast by 10.15am. The weather has changed and cooler, milder conditions are here. Easy drive along gravel back roads. At Cosy Corner it was quite full but we found a spot to park our camper.

Beach walks with Rodgie, it rained most of the night and because it was so windy we were to nervous to roll out our awning.

Pretty windy and only a max temp of 21C the day we arrive.


  • Day 7, Wednesday, Date, 26/01/22.
  • From to where: Staying at Cosy Corner.
  • Distance & time:  0 .
  • Accumulated Distance: 431km.
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs: lots of walking
  • Accom type & cost: free
  • Day Total $: 0.
  • Rolling Total $: 315.
  • Weather: Max 20C, damp morning cloudy, some wind.

NOTES: Aussie Day, Oi…

Caught up with Peter and Mel Mullins, met Steve (& Deb) from Victoria who are permanently living on the road and occasionally picking up work. More beach walks, very relaxing. Decided to put out awning. Just a chilled out Australia Day for team wiljen. So happy to have the external shower with a gas water heater.


  • Day 8, Thursday, Date, 27/01/22.
  • From to where: Cosy Corner to Muir Bridge, Franklin River.
  • Distance & time:  140kms, 1040 – 1330, 3hrs via Nornalup Rd, 60kms of gravel roads.
  • Accumulated Distance: 571kms.
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs: no
  • Accom type & cost: Free camp
  • Day Total $: 0
  • Rolling Total $: 315
  • Weather: Cool clouding morning but fined up as we travelled north west. 24C

NOTES: Some driving along the Munda Biddi Trail.

An easy morning, short beach walk with the dog, packed up, farewelled Peter and Mel then headed off towards Denmark. 

No stopping in the town of Denmark since we have enough supplies to make it to home on Saturday. Also Jenny and I have commenced our personal boycott of avoiding businesses that will enforce the governments Covid strategy of vaccine passport checks, QR codes and face masks. Occasionally we will need to comply but we will avoid contributing any more money or effort than needed during this dystopian period of Western Australia’s history. It’s our way of protesting the restrictions forced on the population for what is turning out to be a mild flu for >99% of the population.

You may think we are just punishing the businesses and ourselves but if enough people stop spending and contributing to the economy then the WA Labor Government may eventually be pressured enough to back down on it’s vaccine coercion, hard borders and other extreme mandates. 

Keep in mind that we were told once we reached a double vaccination rate of 90% our freedoms and liberties would be returned. That 90% target has been reached and the restrictions have been expanded and toughened upon the general public. The more you give the more they take. We have been blatantly suckered and lied to. That is why team wiljen are opting out. (I only keep these opinions in the blog for future reference. Right or wrong it’s an indication of how we felt at a precise point in time, we may very well read these comments sometime in the future and think we overreacted, or not).

After Denmark we turned north onto Tindale Road, which is dirt, that eventually turned into Nornalup road, part of which is the Munda Biddi and we cycled back in late April 2021. Some mild high range four wheel driving was required along the softer sand sections. The Landcruiser and Reconn2 camper handled the conditions fine. Eventually after 60Kms of average dirt road we were back on the Muir Highway. 

Four Wheel Drive vehicle only ? Hmmm, once upon a time Holden Kingswoods and Ford Falcon drivers would have scratched their heads while trying not to spill their beer and wondered what all the fuss was about. A year ago Jenny, Allan, Julie and I cycled it, gee our old Ford Focus could get through in the current conditions (the world is full of fear).

Our first option for tonight’s camp was Muir’s Bridge located on the Franklin River. We explored the area on foot and found a spot about 500 metres from the main rest area where the original wooden Muir’s Bridge was located. All that remains is a remnant of road, some concrete footings and wooden pylons. Quiet and secluded, this will do us for the night. Tomorrow we will head onto what was option B, Jaye’s Bridge and if it’s ok we will do an overnighter there also.


  • Day 9, Friday, Date, 28/01/22
  • From to where: Muirs Bridge to Jaye’s Bridge (12kms east of Boyup Brook) via Unicup and Wingebellup roads.
  • Distance & time:  90kms, about 30kms of gravel. 1000-1200. 2hrs.
  • Accumulated Distance: 661kms.
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs: no
  • Accom type & cost: Free camping on Blackwood River.
  • Day Total $: 0
  • Rolling Total $: $315.
  • Weather: max temp 32C, fine and sunny.

NOTES: Checking out the backroads close to home.

Another relaxing morning, Jenny had a sleep in, Rodgie and I went for a walk. We also picked up a bag of rubbish discarded by some inconsiderate people and recently left in the open fire. Why can’t some people do the appropriate thing and take their rubbish with them ?

Yes i did pick it all up and put in the bin, if everyone just went the extra yard and cleaned up some rubbish whether in the bush or at the local park Australia would be a better place and team wiljen would be proud of you. 🙏

While eating breakfast and enjoying an instant coffee we watched the numerous birds, lots of blue wrens, honey eaters and other small birds zooming around in the scrub.

Muirs Bridge, mostly made of wood. on the Franklin River, near Rocky Gulley.

At 10am we were packed up and on our way, we took the backroads which bypassed the country towns, no point stopping in towns anymore unless you require fuel, food, water or need to dump waste. Jenny and I are determined to not show our vaccination status (FYI we are both fully vaccinated for nearly everything including Covid 19 but we have never been jabbed for rabies). We’re going to avoid wearing masks, and checking into premises as often as possible. If that means avoiding them than so be it.

Jaye’s Bridge is ok, good swimming for the dog. Two other campers here when we arrived and by 4pm there was a total of 5 vans including us. There is an average long drop toilet, the area is clean and tidy but there are no bins so take your rubbish with you. Camp fires are not permitted between October and April in this area so bring a gas cooker or similar.

It’s our last night, tomorrow we head for home about 2.5 to 3 hours drive north of here. It’s been a fantastic mini break and I wish it could be for longer.


  • Day 10, Saturday, Date, 29/01/22.
  • From to where: Jaye’s Bridge (Boyup Brook) to Mandurah .
  • Distance & time:  195kms, 1030-1400, stop over in Collie.
  • Accumulated Distance: 856km.
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs:  no
  • Fuel $: 130, Liberty Pinjarra, fill up.
  • Litres: 81L Diesel @ 161.9cpl 
  • Accom type & cost: home, free.
  • Day Total $: 130.
  • Rolling Total $: 445.
  • Weather: 38C hot, clear sky’s with storm clouds to the north. No wind.

NOTES: Home Again.

After a cooked breakfast of egg, tomato, salami and avocado all rolled in a wrap, we chatted to fellow camper Clive (65yo) who is recently retired and was from Eaton (north Bunbury). It turned into a long chat. To get home we took the backroads past Glen Mervyn Dam to Collie, stopping at a dog park. 

It was when we were nearly at the dog park we realised that neither of us had stowed the ball and ball thrower. This is not good because these items a difficult to find these days of supply disruptions. We stopped and has luck would have it the blue ball chucker was still on the trailer drawbar but sadly Rodgie’s favourite orange “chuck-it” ball had fallen out and was lost. I’ve been looking for one of these balls for over a year in pet shops but they are always out of stock. The last one we had is now gone. 

That was sort of lucky, at least we didn’t loose the ball chucker.

The rest of the journey home was uneventful, lots of traffic on the South West Highway, before we knew it we were home. Move the little Ford Focus, reverse the Camper Trailer into the backyard, which is a tricky manoeuvre, unpack some stuff and empty fridges. The rest of the clean up jobs can wait until tomorrow.

It was a good little tour, with many random highlights. What really impressed us both is we made a concerted effort not to spend money. Fred and Wendy did cook us 3 dinners which was great but there was no stops at pubs, restaurants, cafes or anything else apart from groceries and fuel. This is good practice for future budget touring.


The Tour Debrief: 10 days, 861kms, $445 spent with 5 seperate stop overs. Two nights at Towerinning Lake, 3 nights at Kendenup, 2 nights at Cosy Corner, 1 night at Muirs Bridge on the Franklin River, 1 night at Jaye’s Bridge on the Blackwood River. Longest travel days were on days 1 and 10 of around 195km each. Average daily kilometres came to 86km.

Jenny and I found it very relaxing just travelling on the cheap, there was less rules to concern ourselves about, not many “Camp Hosts” or “Park Rangers” to deal with. The Rodgie dog could enjoy herself a bit more than usual than being stuck in a strict town Caravan Park. Not sure what our travel plans are for 2022, our options are limited.

Both of us are keen for some more cycle touring, whether that is vehicle based or free range touring. No doubt as winter sets in we will look at a trip to WA’s northwest. Very difficult to make any solid plans at the moment with such a flaccid Australian Federal Government and flip, flopping Western Australian State Government. Remote and free camping seems like the immediate best bet, we’re in a good position to capitalise on this next trend in travel.

The final conclusion is if you travel slow and avoid Pubs, Cafes, Restaurants and Caravan Parks that charge more than $20 per night you can still travel Australia on the cheap while continuing to enjoy yourself. Focus on watching birds, checking out plants, learn about bush tucker, go bush walking, search out the history of towns and districts. There are often interesting plaques and monuments to view and read. Take a bicycle or kayak along for your journey but make sure you use it. Enjoy and experiment with camp cooking. Don’t be to scared or shy to speak with fellow travellers, most of them don’t bite. :-p

Non of these ideas are new and many travellers are aware and already practice some or all of these concepts. The biggest secret for the “economy traveller” is to just slow down and enjoy the moments, more often than not these experiences are a one off !

Thanks for tagging along, until next time, see you on the road. Remember “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum,” (don’t let the bastards grind you down) !

Will, Jenny & Rodgie dog. 🚴‍♀️🚴‍♂️🐕


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