Friday, October 30, 2015
(Geoff) Pemberton is a small former mill town in the middle of the forest. It looks like time has passed it by, but it was neat as a pin and the small wooden millworkers cottages were well maintained and overrun with flowers. It was a very cute little town that almost kept us a second night.
From town you take a well signed tourist route through karri forests that are truly stunning. On the tour there are three trees that were trimmed and fitted out with fire monitoring cabins on top. Access to the cabins is up a spiral ladder of bolts drilled into the trees. These three trees are no longer used for active fire monitoring, but tourists are allowed to climb them for the view. The Gloucester tree, which we stopped to admire, is 65 metres high, and we both resisted the temptation to scamper up the ladder – unsecured by any safety harness. (I don’t think, in North America, that the liability lawyers would let a tourist anywhere near a tree like this.) Instead we did a ground level hike through the forest to see the trees and the spring wildflowers.
A sign promoting an organic cidery attracted us off the paved road, and we dropped into the Mountford Winery and Cidery to taste, and purchase. We learned that the Pemberton area used to produce almost as much wine grape as Margaret River (we are very skeptical of this claim), but that much of the vine has been pulled up as growers switched to avocado, and the region now produces a large portion of Australia’s crop of that fruit.
Lunch was at a great little café, Holy Smoke, attached to a woodcraft gallery that had some amazing work made by local artisans from the local woods. If we had wanted, we could have picked up a 16-seater dining table made from a single slab of jarrah – $12,000, chairs not included.
Then it was back on the road south, and our first drive through a rainy afternoon.
(Catherine) Up the hill from the Holy Smoke café was the town cemetery, also neat as a pin. I had been horrified by the derelict look of the cemetery in Broome, except for the Chinese Buddhist section which had been vandalized several years ago and is now well cared for with a fence (unfortunately) around that section. But here in Pemberton there is obvious care for each of the denominations, Anglican, Roman Catholic and other. We were pleased to note that in the newer section everyone is together. We were astounded at the number of stillbirths going back to the 19th century and continuing into the 20th century. In 1951 twins, a boy and a girl, were stillborn and in the same family a boy was stillborn in 1954. Those children would have been just a few years younger than us. It left us saddened that one family would experience such a loss.