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14 Heading for Perth

Kalbarri, Geraldton & Cervantes

semi-overcast 18 °C

28th July
Mary & I went to see the Australian Parrot Breeding Centre just out of Kalbarri where they breed mainly endangered parrots. Between us we spent a very enjoyable hour or two there enjoying the many birds on show. There were one or two exotic birds such as South American macaws, but the remainder were Australian breeds. The fantastic range in colour and behaviour kept is clicking away on our cameras and we were surprised when we counted up something like almost 300 photos between us! As with any live creatures they frequently do not stay posed long enough for a photo (although one or two species seemed to enjoy the attention!) and so we had to delete quite a few poor shots. We still have a lot of editing of all our photos taken so far, so the parrots will receive their culling too at some time.

We had looked for a seahorse breeding place next door, however, it seems to have closed down, which was disappointing.
After lunch we went for a very pleasant walk along the beach in the warm sunshine and enjoyed the views from the lookout at Chinaman’s Point.
We arrived back home to news that my mum was unwell, which was not too good to hear, as the medical outcome looked fairly grim at that point.

29th July
We set off for our next destination, Geraldton, a town of some 30,000 people. The trip was pleasant especially nearing Geraldton as we finally encountered green fields with many hectares of newly planted grain crops. The Big 4 Sunset Beach Caravan Park was a very pleasant place to stay with a good range of facilities and was right at the beachfront.

Geraldton is the site of the recently opened HMAS Sydney memorial in memory of the 645 Australian Royal Navy’s greatest loss in any conflict. The Sydney was sunk offshore from the Geraldton area in 1942 by the German warship, posing as a peaceful trader, Kormorant. All hands on Sydney were lost and many German sailors were lost in the fierce battle, but many more made it ashore where they were taken into internment camps until after the war.
The Sydney was only found in 2008 and so families who had lost loved ones at last had some closure. The memorial is on a hilltop looking out over the sea and it is a moving experience to be there with each seaman represented by a seagull in the main feature.

We also visited the Old Geraldton Gaol, which was somewhat disappointing as the numerous cells are usually staffed by volunteer crafts people, but most were closed when we visited. The copies of some of the records kept on treatment of prisoners were rather scary to say the least! Crooks in gaol these days seem to have it made in comparison!
News on mum, when we reached camp again, was not good.

30th July
We were woken by phone calls advising that my mum had passed away at 6am New Zealand time that morning. While not unexpected this shock was not a pleasant one to receive when we were so far away. Checking on driving to Perth and the flight times and costs soon showed that reaching Wellington expeditiously and without breaking the bank were not viable. My passport being at home in Brisbane also added to the potential travel delays and costs.

As our time in Geraldton was limited Mary & I eventually went into town to visit the Batavia Coast Museum, about which we had heard many good reports, including from Brian & Maureen from the previous day.
The main theme of the Museum was the Dutch East India Company’s trading ship, the Batavia that was wrecked on the nearby coast. The horrific story surrounding the mutiny, shipwreck, rape and murder is the stuff of many a film genre, however, the 50 minute DVD re-enacting the events was a very graphic tale indeed and depicted the brutal treatment of those who had caused so much death and pain amongst their fellow survivors.
The many exhibits added to the fantastic tale of ‘justice’ of many who survived and highlighted why the Dutch trading companies to Batavia (now Jakarta/Java) induced seamen and business people alike to take enormous risks in the hope of very rich rewards.

Did you know that, near Geraldton, they mine a particular rock that soon becomes Johnson’s Baby Powder? Neither did I until I saw the details at the Museum. Anyway travelling this way without visiting the Museum misses out on a mass of history from the 1600’s to the present day. Well worth the $5 recommended donation.
A large cruise ship was in port that morning also and many passengers availed themselves of the opportunity to view a magnificent feast of historical material.
This distraction helped us to manage what had started out as a very sad day for both Mary & myself, especially when adding Mary's elderly aunt who died in England exactly one week prior.

31st August
Geraldton to Cervantes was a relatively short day’s drive and so we enjoyed the opportunity to stop and take a break and a photo from time to time. The last portion was a bit tedious however as we travelled through some apparently boring scrubby trees in the Cervantes National Park.

Arriving at the Cervantes CP we got set up quite quickly and Mary & I set off along the beach as the tide gradually receded. Massive amounts of seagrass were washed up all along the shore and the evidence of serious erosion of the sand dunes was clear for all to see.
We picked up a number of interesting shells to add to the growing collection! It was very peaceful along the lengthy beach with a view of Cervantes Island, just offshore, and within the rocky reef. The island was named after the vessel Cervantes was wrecked there a long time ago, and subsequently the town was named Cervantes also. Although a small village is there today it is quite a vibrant one existing on tourism and lobster fishing primarily.

1st August
Today dawned cool but clear and so, before lunch, we all bundled into our car and headed off south to see the famous Pinnacle Desert in the National Park. The trip was a very pleasant one and we were able to use the new road (only partially completed, but which will take about 2 hours of the Perth to Pinnacles travel time later this year) and entered the Park proper. I had previously visited the Park about 1972 in a 10 seater minibus as we travelled over rocky roads into the main Park area. Today we drove on a sealed road right up to the toilet block! How some things have changed for the better.

After lunch we paid a visit to the ‘Interpretive Centre’ where some information about the Park was presented, and after which one was encouraged to buy very nice artworks and knickknacks at an appropriate price.
We were able to drive over the four kilometre sand road through the pinnacles and stopping places were arranged at frequent intervals. The rest of the team were suitably agog at the huge number of sandstone type pinnacles there were in an area many hectares. That took us some time as we were forever stopping the car and taking more and more photos. When we eventually returned to the Centre we had a cuppa before walking the 1+ Km among the pinnacles with a view to selecting the best spot to take sunset photos (yes, more of them are on the way!).
And so, as sunset approached we watched as the sun sank quite quickly over the pinnacles, the surrounding bush, and the distant waves crashing over the rocky reef out in the Indian Ocean.

As the sun disappeared over the horizon we immediately began the walk back to the car before we lost all sunlight and became lost in a spooky cemetery. The drive home to camp was fairly low-key as we were all tired, and because we had to beware of kangaroos who are notoriously bad at dealing with vehicles in the fading light. Safely back in Cervantes we decided to celebrate, and take advantage of the massive discount on a lobster and seafood dinner. No desserts were called for as we decided that enough was enough! And so to bed.

2nd August
A cold and windy morning greeted us as we prepared to depart Cervantes for Perth. As we got ready to load up Mart noticed that one car tire was quite flat and so I raced around to the garage and checked all the tires on the car and increased the pressure.

The trip was pleasant, apart from the blustery winds that seemed to come from all directions. Rolling hills, wildflowers in their millions, and an almost English countryside welcomed us on our way south. After weeks in which we may only see one or two cars per hour, we rapidly became enmeshed in the rush of urban traffic, and freeways, and traffic lights. The sunny afternoon did not fairly represent how we all felt with this new challenge, however, Tomtom again managed to get to the Top Tourist Karrinyup Waters Resort for check-in. By this time, however, Mary was in agony from pain in her hip and leg, so, after getting the basics set up in the van we raced off to try and find the recommended medical centre, eventually arriving there late to be met by a very nice lady who used to live near us in Brisbane. Money changed hands and then an X-ray for the next morning, followed by another visit to the doctor.

In the meantime the NZ family had been to mum’s funeral. A cold night was looking very likely in Perth that night.

Posted by psstevo 03:51 Archived in Australia

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I attended the funeral of thehusband of Janet Franklin today. He has been unwell for over a year and passed away last week.
Please also remember Lyndon - 2nd surgery on Tuesday 17th for kidney stones, and Connie Ballantyne, surgery today for stomach cancer - Col is really distressed.
We're on the ropes here a bit a present.
Praise the Lord there is a new lady taking interest in visiting at Prionce Charles.

by eutyxus

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