A Travellerspoint blog

August 2010

18 The Goldfields of W.A.

sunny 19 °C

24th August
We got up early planning to drive the 40Km Great Ocean Drive around Esperance, however, we were very cross that we again had a leak in the food cupboard so we invested the morning in getting some technical advice then some better equipment with which to seal off the whole area adjacent to the leakage. Hopefully that will take care of this issue once and for all. At least we retrieved all the food in time to ensure that we can still use it.

After lunch we headed off into a windy afternoon (nothing new about that in this area of WA) and managed to get some photos of new wildflowers, followed by spectacular windy seascapes along several Kms of cliff and beach. We visited the so-called Pink Lake on the return portion of the trip. It is called Pink because, in certain climatic conditions the particular algae in the lake turns pink! Elementary my dear Watson – I guess.

On our return we found more chatty neighbours had arrived and so shared useful travel intelligence with them. We managed to get some order into Mary’s hundreds of photos so that she could get her hard-copy photo album under way.

25th August
I was awoken early by the most severe leg cramps that I can recall. They were so painful on ongoing that I felt nauseous, however, I finally managed to get rid of them so that we could start the day.

Mary managed to get all our washing done in threatening windy and overcast weather while I cleaned up some problems with the van’s rear lighting. After lunch we headed off into town to take a few photos and to get more of Mary’s photos developed for her album, however, some did not look too great from those machines resulting in looking to get better copies made in Kalgoorlie.
After getting petrol we had an evening of TV.

26th August
Under threatening skies we packed up and headed out just after 0800 heading for our planned stopover at Norseman. The road was generally quite good, but with a few bumpy patches. The rolling hills and changing flora made for a pleasant journey to Salmon Gums (small village by that name) where we stopped for morning tea. What a pleasant surprise greeted us for there were brand new toilets adjacent to a small historical park with small shelter for setting out the cuppa. Inside this shelter were a range of stories and photos of the pioneering families who had come into virgin territory as Government backed settlers many years ago.

The whole complex shows what a difference a few dedicated and resourceful people can make to travellers and locals alike! Met an older couple who were returning to their orchard in NSW and we shared a nice chat-time with them as they headed back for knee and hip surgery in the near future – to be followed by an even more adventurous trip next year.

Arrived in Norseman (named after a horse of that name that apparently located a large gold deposit!) and got some information sheets from the Visitor Information Centre, then had lunch in the adjacent park. We were soon joined by about 30+ other caravaners who arrived from various other points and intending to go to the four corners of the globe after eating!

We decided that as we were feeling quite fresh that we should drive the extra 180 Km to Kalgoorlie Boulder City and arrive a day early. Booked the Park and headed north through increasingly desolate territory, reminiscent of the Pilbara region. Stopped at the Widgiemooltha Road House for a break, and because of some very intriguing photo opportunities!! A statute commemorating a 16 year old lad finding a gold nugget. Nothing particularly interesting about that except, this nugget weighed 32Kgs!! Valued at 11,000 pounds in 1931, but worth millions nowadays.
We arrived at the Top Tourist CP a few moments after Brian and Maureen had arrived from Coolgardie, and they were very surprised to see us.
Checked in and found a very nice park with lots of room and good facilities.

27 August
Kalgoorlie Boulder City
We went to the Visitor Information centre in Kalgoorlie to get updated information on the area, then headed to Boulder to check out the various sights. Sadly a 5+ earthquake had caused serious damage a few of the historical buildings in the CBD. Scaffolding on many properties, however, the repairs were rather slow as the Heritage people, insurers, council and the property owners all haggled over who would pay for what and so on. Very sad.

The rail museum we found to be closed off and repairs to various parts were obvious. Mary found the local international lolly shop and managed to stock up on her choice lollies! They did serve very large icecreams though!
Brian phoned from the Visitor Centre to advise that there was a free concert there in 20 minutes, so, we jumped in the car and headed back to enjoy a concert by various local artists, including an excellent poet. We returned to Boulder to complete our tour of the area then headed home for a quick shower before we all went back to Kalgoorlie to celebrate Maureen’s birthday at the local Dome restaurant. We arrived just after 1800 to see the staff locking up! Brian was not happy as he had asked about dining there that evening and wasn’t told of the Friday closing time.
We soon tracked down Paddy’s Pale Ale restaurant at a nearby pub. Sadly, for an Irish pub/restaurant, they couldn’t spell potatoes correctly!! Never mind, we enjoyed and excellent buffet and finally headed home for a sleep.

28th August
Brian, Mary and I started the day with a Kokoda Track walk that was nearby. An excellent concept, however, the information on where to start, how long the walk was in time and distance, and the heaps of broken bottles and other litter along the track, plus the graffiti on many displays. Otherwise it was an excellent time on a pleasant morning, with sad stories of heroism and disaster.
After lunch Mary, Maureen and Brian went on the Super Pit Tour, and they enjoyed it very much. I went shopping until I was accosted several times by three local drunks, so I sat in the car reading the paper until the others returned.
After the dinner of the previous night we decided on a light tea and then caught up on some of the paperwork before heading to bed.

29th August
Cooked pancakes for breakfast and then got ready for church.
Attended Kalgoorlie Baptist Church had a sizeable group of young people there, and the ‘music’ appeared to reflect their taste! However, the message from Pastor Allan was excellent as he based the message on relationships ancient and modern and touched on the Ten Commandments and the need to honour not only our parents but each other today, and for our children tomorrow. Actually, quite a brave message in this day of permissiveness and the ‘me’ generation! More power to him if this tone continues.

Mary & I then visited the West Australian Museum. It was very interesting because Kalgoorlie Boulder is, after more than a hundred years, still based on their gold mines. In contrast to the prices in the Visitor Information office the items here were very reasonably priced although we resisted the temptation to buy up on gold at US$1320 at today’s prices!

We drove up Mt Charlotte Lookout on the edge of town, the site of the end of the 600+ Kms of pipeline carrying fresh water all the way from Perth to Kalgoorlie, Boulder, Coolgardie and other centres in the Goldfields region. The story of the Engineer-in-Charge, C Y O’Connor, who made history around 1900 when this massive project was completed successfully, is a tribute to his skill as an engineer, and his persuasive powers and vision. Sadly, at the official opening by Mr Forrest, Premier of WA, O’Connor had died just months before that momentous event. For its time it was the world’s longest piped water project in the world. See internet for full details).
Mary & I then experienced the full force of the local economy when we went to buy up fresh bread and some other foodstuffs for the journey across the Nullarbor! Even I could notice the massive differences between capital city supermarkets and here.

Then the clouds thickened and light rain started to fall. Not a good omen for tomorrow’s long journey down to Norseman and on to Fraser Range Station at the edge of the famous Nullarbor. Along the way I have the next three golf holes to play in what may be unpleasant weather – but that is another chapter!

Posted by psstevo 01:20 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

17 The Great Southern Region of W.A. Part 2

rain 16 °C

17th August
Sadly, we had to depart peaceful Pemberton and the lovely CP as we headed for Walpole, WA. The road was good and an enjoyable journey made a change as we travelled through pleasant forests with some farms.

Our arrival into Walpole was accompanied by another rain period, which made our setup rather hectic and unpleasant, especially as our site was a little difficult to back into. That was achieved and we thought that we should take advantage of a lull in the rain and headed off to the nearby Tingle Tree site. The large Tingle trees are an important part of the ecosystem in South Western forests, and make a very pleasant sight to visit. We had hoped to also travel on to Circular Lake, but found the road was closed, so headed back to camp to listen to the rain!

18the August
We were not surprised that it rained this morning, however, in view of our limited time here, we decided to travel the 17 Kms to see the Valley of the Giants – a reference to the giant Tingle and Karri trees in the National Park. Light rain was falling as we arrived but, we paid our entrance fee and headed up the Tree-Top Walkway that takes one 40 meters above ground on a ‘walk’ through the treetops. As the walkway swayed somewhat I was not too happy, but Mary went around twice. Sadly, because of the rain we decided not to attempt the ground walk and headed back to camp. A visit to the local Visitor Information Office yielded more information, however, time was running out so we made a brief circular drive around the foreshore adjacent to camp and then decided to call it a day.

As an aside, we have been overwhelmed by the very high standard of Visitor Information Offices throughout WA. They have been sizable, even in small towns, very well presented, and always helpful with information, not only local but throughout the rest of WA.

19th August
Walpole to Albany today.
A beautiful blue sky today, but the roads were quite wet from the rain. This was a pleasant trip via Denmark on a good road to Albany. Denmark was a very pleasant small town famous because of Dr Bolle’s world famous 13 meter high (?) barometer. Very interesting exhibit to see. Lots of forests along the roadside but enjoyable to have the variety after the hundreds of kilometres on boring straight roads further north!

We arrived in Albany about noon and got set up very quickly as we had a system problem with the car. We managed to get it booked in at the local garage for the Friday for the necessary investigation while we walked the short distance into town to get some of Mary’s photos printed and a coffee.

Walked home again and settled in for the evening with an pre-dinner shower as taking showers in the morning meant coping with the cold weather and the possibility of a cold shower to go with it. Too old for that stuff now I fear!

20th August
We took the car to the garage and then walked around the CBD taking a few photos of the old (1800’s) buildings that remained. Albany is an older community, in Australian terms, and was settled around 1800 by sealers, whalers and a range of misfits. Later it became a site for criminal exports from England, then it was settled by English settlers.

The Old Gaol, the brig Amity, Anzac Peace Park, the Old railway Station, Dog Rock and the Historical Museum all contributed to a most interesting morning. The Anzac Peace Park was recently inaugurated to commemorate the sailing from Albany of very large numbers of Australian and New Zealand troops to WWI.

The Museum housed a quite small but absolutely brilliant series of photos of a German photographer whose name eludes me. He had published a book that really deserves to sell very well because of his artistic endeavours.

Mary was excited to get her first 50 photos and immediately decided to get another 50 later photos to add to her album (which she still hasn’t bought). We then returned for the remaining 50 photos and then walked back to collect the car. However, the mechanic (who had generously agreed to take us as an overbooking) was only just starting work on it. Mary walked back to the Park and I waited for some time until Dr Mechanic told me that all was now well, and if I paid some money I could drive away in my car with new oil sensors that worked! Problem resolved.

21st August
We were up quite early and drove into town to obtain fresh vegetables at the Saturday Farmer’s Markets.

Mary and I then headed out on the tourist road to see the Natural Arch, Blow Holes, The Gap, Frenchman’s Bay and Middleton Bay sights. The seascape was spectacular, especially with a strong Indian Ocean wind behind it. The giant waves and showers of spray would have scared even the most determined mariner. The rock formations, etched and changed over the years by ocean and wind were well worth the visit.

When we arrived at Middleton Bay, on the other side of the city, we saw a whale doing ‘headstands’ just off the beautiful sandy beach. We jumped in the car and drove back up to the Lookout and saw at least five whales nearby, just resting for a time, then a few spectacular moves. Then the rain persuaded us to return home. A most fascinating time.

22nd August
Albany to Ravensthorpe
A wet start to the day with showers intermittently made this a rather less pleasant journey. The highway (?) was rather substandard and when I said to Mary that I was driving much slower than desired she told me that she had placed tonight’s dinner (in the slow-cooker) in a bucket on the van floor. On checking at a rest stop she found that we now had a Curried Caravan. Curry was all over the floor and it took quite some time, with the help of Jif, to get cleaned up and then catch up with Maureen and Brian along the road.

Passing hundreds of hectares of yellow-flowering canola made for a different trip to normal. At the morning tea stop we found even more wildflowers to photograph.

We lunched in the freezing wind at Jeeramungup and later arrived at Ravensthorpe as the rain arrived also. The Park was only a two-star affair, so we made the most of what was there.

23rd August
Ravensthorpe to Esperance
Brian and Maureen were headed north to Hyden and Wave Rock while Mary and I headed for Esperance, on the south coast.

It was a beautiful clear day, but very cold, as we headed through lovely rolling hills, plenty of natural bush and forestry, along with sheep, cattle and more canola. Again, the road was rather rough but didn’t slow us too much.
More wildflowers along the way that begged us to stop and photograph.

Arriving at Esperance at lunchtime we managed to get set-up before the wind and rain caught up with us again. Very windy generally but our Top Tourist CP was quite well sheltered from the worst weather. We walked into town and viewed a few of the central sights before heading home to a wamr shower and some decent TV reception.

Posted by psstevo 04:37 Archived in Australia Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

16 The Great Southern Region of W.A. Part 1

storm 12 °C

9th August
To Bunbury. An early and very cold start to the Monday morning – only 3 degrees! However, we managed a quick hook-up for the van and headed off to the RAC garage at Balcatta for the van brake-light repairs. Brian & Maureen remained in Perth to spend more time with Brian’s Perth relatives, as they planned to join us in Busselton.
The very helpful lady mechanic quickly found that the initial installation of the towing electrical cable had low quality clamps to connect the wiring rather than the professional solder and tape method. She soon had us back on the road again with a full set of rear lighting at last!

We navigated the various southbound freeways as far as Mandurah where we turned off for a cuppa to warm us up. Sadly, the W.A. roadside stopping points are generally inferior to the N.T. ones that had a sheltered table and seats and usually toilets as well. The cold winds ensured that the stopover was brief and then headed south to Bunbury.
We arrived in Bunbury about noon and found the van repair place to get the water inlet connection fixed, and then found the Top Tourist CP just outside the main town area. A rather older Park but kept well so no problems with plenty of hot shower water as there were not too many other travellers there.

After setting up and having lunch we headed into town to see some of the sights, however, apart from a lighthouse with no access there was very little to do there. Mary had some time looking for shells on a nice beach then we drove back into the CBD area only to find that even the shopping mall car parks (such as they were) were under the vigilant control of the local council rangers who were in evidence everywhere it seemed. Left it all behind and returned to camp.

10th August
After a chat with some of our ‘neighbours’ we headed out to find the Tuart Tree walk, which we accidently found with no help from the local map. A pleasant walk among tall trees, with some wildflowers, but not overly exciting at all. We then ran across the advertised Maidens Forest Walk with a nice park attached. Apparently the name came from passing sailors who claimed that some of the low hills had certain features that were obviously female! Anyway, we enjoyed our packed lunch then set off foe walk that took us to the high sand dunes adjacent to the sea. A pleasant walk with more wildflowers. Then we headed back in to the CBD and took a few photos of the limited older buildings that we saw. Included was a former church (either Anglican or Presbyterian) that was now a ‘cultural’ centre – and painted in vibrant pink. I wonder what the church founders from the 1800’s would think of it now!

11th August
To Busselton. The short journey took us through some interesting rolling low hills with more trees and paddocks than we had seen for many weeks. Eventually we found the Kookaburra CP after we found that the navigator had loaded the Bussell Highway into Tom Tom instead of the actual street address. We set up camp quickly as the light rain started falling, however, the rain soon turned into strong wind gusts with heavier rain.

During a rain break we headed into the centre of town nearby to look at the shops. However, upon seeing an Australian Electoral Polling Booth open we decided to vote early if not often. I managed to get a haircut from a former resident of the Persian Gulf who cheerfully told me that the previous two weeks had been wind and rain free. We returned to camp to find that Brian & Maureen with Brian’s brother from Perth, Mervyn, had arrived and got settled in among the raindrops, and in the maximum shelter behind other campers.

We took down the van awning due to the increasingly bad weather, however, late at night the wind had become much stronger so we dropped to pop-top to reduce wind resistance. The CP was adjacent to the sea and there was little to provide a windbreak for protection. This CP was a nice one with a couple who had built it up over twenty years and had now sold it so that they could have more family time.

12th August
Margaret River. Today I drove all five of us down to Margaret River to see the sights, meanwhile passing many sheep and cattle farms and large vineyards. And what sights they have there! We stopped at two cheese factories to road-test their cheese, and were impressed enough to buy some (probably at above city prices – but, hey, it was delicious!).

Then we found the fudge factory in town, so a lengthy tasting session later we emerged from that shop with some very nice samples and a lovely taste in our mouths. On the way back to camp we found a chocolate factory that specialised in gourmet (read ‘expensive’) chocolates, which we had to sample and get sucked into buying some delicious chocolates also.

Eventually we arrived back at camp, suitably weary in body, mind and wallet!

13th August (Friday 13th – but who cares!)
Cape Naturaliste. Gathering the clan together in our car I drove down to the nearby Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse. The journey was pleasant and not too long so we arrived in short time to be greeted by a strong wind – what’s new, after all this is Western Australia subject to the Indian Ocean weather.

The very pleasant Margaret was in charge of the office and soon took us on a conducted tour of the still-working Lighthouse. Now it is powered electrically but when it was constructed in 1903 the power for the light was from kerosene power and everything took three permanent staff all day and night to keep it working. You can read the fascinating statistics on the appropriate WA website if interested. We clambered up the staircase on the original Jarrah hardwood slats that had been installed over 100 years ago. We were then invited to step outside onto the platform to ‘enjoy’ the view. Even though the wind had moderated somewhat, it was very strong and, as we edged round the top into the full blast it was really difficult to maintain one’s balance, hold onto any belongings, and move round the circle platform, without suffering serious damage. My vertigo managed the interesting ordeal so we were all happy to be back inside the protection of the dome as we descended.

While there, Margaret advised us that just two nights prior the wind had reached 100 Kph, the same night that we dropped to van top.

After a late morning tea we headed off out into the cold wind to take in two of the various fairly short walks. We saw numerous wildflowers species and some unknown (to us) birds. The walks were really enjoyable as we observed the powerful Indian Ocean waves pounding the cliffs and rocks. On the Whale-watch walk we did not see any whales but did see a number of seals (sea lions?) on the rocks below us. This location is very close to the site where a young man was taken by a shark this week.
We enjoyed a very late lunch at nearby Bunker Bay before driving through the small village of Dunsborough and back to camp.

14th August
To Pemberton. Today a short journey from lovely Busselton to Pemberton.
The journey was pleasant as we travelled south, through Margaret River (without stops!) to the Voyager Vineyard Estate. What a magnificent scene as we approached this large white set of buildings in the style of the up-market South African vineyards. Very expensive too, even the non-alcoholic wine that I bought. Still, an eye-opener as to how some live in Australia today.

We arrived at the lovely small village of Pemberton and were given a very friendly welcome by the staff at the caravan park. Set among giant trees, with flocks of parrots and a few ducks we immediately set up camp. A bit of a stroll around to check out the sights and decided on the Tram (Train) ride through the forest for the next morning. A cold night.

15th August
We arose to a very cool morning and got ready for the tram ride which turned out to be on old style trams from Fremantle at the turn of the 19th century. That means that they were fully air-conditioned- the drive cam round each carriage and folded up the plastic windows so that we could really enjoy both the scenery and the cold bush air. Our driver certainly kept up a torrent of information as we travelled along a tram/train track that had been built prior to the 1930’s recession, but never fully completed.

After our return Mary & I had lunch and then drove out to the nearby Beedalup Falls to check the place out. We had an interesting walk around the very well-maintained walkway approach to the falls. Then we headed off into the forest, enjoying the magnificent creation around us of trees, ferns and birds. We visited the ‘walk-through’ tree which a bit of a disappointment as it was nearly as difficult to get through as the manholes on the submarine in Fremantle. However, with no rain and a cool day, it was an enjoyable workout that we both needed.

16th August
This morning, for something to do, Brian, Mervyn and I headed out of town to the King Trout farm for a bit of rainbow trout fishing. We spent about two hours enjoying the peaceful surrounds of the large lake, disrupted only by the persistent rainbow trout interrupting our reverie by getting caught! Briand & I ended up with five trout each (but Brian took the honours with a much larger one than I managed) and Mervyn took two. We paid the man for the privilege of de-stocking his lake and cleaning the fish, and then enjoyed a very nice coffee at their cafe.

Mary & Maureen appeared suitably impressed when the hunters returned with their prey! A BBQ was arranged for that evening and fish was the main item on the menu.

After lunch Mary & I drove out of town to the famous Gloucester Tree and watched a few hare-brained people attempt to climb the 61 meters up to the lookout atop the tree. We had more enjoyment seeing beautiful little blue wrens and other birdlife than at the tree itself. We then embarked on a walk through the forest and arrived back at the car park suitably ready for our next stop – the Lavender Farm that sold lavender ice-creams just along the road. We actually decided on a more suitable berry ice-cream instead, and then returned to camp in readiness for the BBQ.

We managed to have the fish cooked and ready just before dark so that we could eat safely without the threat of choking on the bones. The fish were absolutely delicious and so we spent the next couple of hours with overcoats, beanies and a very hot fire just having a nice chat time.

Posted by psstevo 00:04 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

15 Perth, WA

State Capital of Western Australia

sunny 13 °C

3rd August
A very cold start to the day with 6 degrees in the van, so Brian & Maureen’s canvas van would have been even colder.
First task was to take Mary off for X-rays nearby to verify what injury she had. Some shopping followed and then we drove to the Royal Flying Doctor base at Jandakot airport (south of Perth) so that Mary could finally buy her RFDS T-shirt. Fortunately that shop had what she wanted so at last was happy!

Headed off into the city to find the famous King’s Park to see the sights, especially its view of the Swan River and the CBD of Perth. A beautiful day and so we managed to get some good photos. Of course there was a Park shop so more postcards etc.
Tom tom then got us back home with no problems. A tiring day.

4th August
First task of the day was to return to the doctor to get his verdict on Mary’s X-rays, which was not very conclusive, so, a scan was organised for the Thursday.
Looked in the shops for a while and then headed off to see the Botanical Gardens part of Kings Park, this time by train.

Wow, what a pleasant surprise after so many years of ancient transport in Brisbane. The Perth transport system seems to be streets ahead in terms of modern trains and almost no ancient buses. The Joondalup Line trains that we used were very quiet, modern, and virtually graffiti free. The only vandalism we saw were a few scratched windows (that is bad enough) but no sign of the carving and idiotic scribbles that we see all over Brisbane’s transport vehicles. On this train line the tracks were situated in the median strip between the in and out motorway lanes. An excellent idea indeed.
A brief look at the CBD and then back to camp for an early shower before it got too cold again.

5th August
A few chores and then to the scan place for the next round of medical appointments. I managed to get some silver/grey undercoat spray to provide protection from rust as a result of my backing into a tree back at Denham CP. Just in case of rain starting off the corrosion process.

Booked at the RAC garage, which was next door to the scan clinic, to arrange an appointment to have my van brake lights repaired (again) before we headed off south on the Monday following.
Back at the camp I managed to get three sides of the van properly washed and cleansed of the caked red dust accumulated from the previous several weeks of travelling up north. Rather tiring but the van looked so much better for the facelift.

6th August
A final visit to the doctor revealed that Mary had a few aging problems in her lower vertebra mainly due to aging (!) and about which not much could be done other than take shorter journeys with more short breaks to fix the nerve pain.

Headed off into the city again to check out some of the remaining older buildings. Got some good photos and enjoyed a short ferry ride over the Swan River to South Perth. Had an ice-cream there and then headed back to the CBD. We made an interesting comparison with the Citycat ferries on the Brisbane River in that the Perth ferries carried more passengers with only a skipper on board and no ‘crew person’ to sell/check tickets or assist with mooring the vessel at the dock. Adjacent to the ferry terminal was a Carillon and as we approached across the large park to the terminal we could hear the beautiful music drifting across to us. The bells had originally been a part of the famous London church, St Martin in the Fields (I think).
A tiring but interesting day.

7th August.
Mary and I made an early start to the nearby Stirling Rail Station, to catch the two trains to Fremantle for a day’s sightseeing. Very easy to manage and enjoyable too.

As we arrived about 0900 and many shops didn’t open till after 9 we ordered a coffee and then looked through the E Shed markets, near the Rail Station. E Shed had been a large wool store in a ‘previous life’ and now housed a range of T-shirt, food, knickknacks and so on.

Then to the WA Maritime Museum for a quick look. Wrong! What a fascinating museum it is, housing Australia II, several famous round world and similar yachts, and tones of maritime memorabilia. As we had booked in for the HMAS Ovens submarine escorted tour we left the other items until after that tour was completed. A Scots chap was our very knowledgeable guide who gave us a detailed insight into a submariner’s life on board Ovens, and similar submarines.

We clambered up steps and into the bowels of this once in-service submarine, seeing how cramped and claustrophobic the working and rest quarters were for the crew. Even the captain’s bunk had an extension through a wall into a working area so that he had enough room for his feet! Vivid descriptions on shipboard life, the torpedoes (various sizes), the massive electrical systems and the absolute need for silence at all times, were explained. Those of us who were taller than ‘normal’ had some interesting time climbing through small doors and up and down ladders. A most memorable visit and one that I would recommend highly to any Fremantle visitor.

We resumed our visit around the many other fascinating exhibits, including lifeboats of significance, a history of naval exploration of Australia, how lighthouses worked – the list was extensive.
We passed by the Round House (previously a nasty prison) with a cannon adjacent that was fired at 1300 each day apparently.

We decided to eat our own lunch rather than obtain the famed fish and chips on offer nearby.
Then came the main Fremantle Prison with its forbidding walls and gates. The admission price to take the ‘inside’ tour was too expensive so we satisfied ourselves with looking through the few rooms not included in the official tour. The Art Gallery had a very sad display of Prison Art of Older Prisoners, mostly from the USA, with many pathetic histories of the special problems for aged prisoners.

The Fremantle Markets nearby proved quite interesting and we bought one or two knickknacks that caught our fancy.
A walk through the old shopping precinct brought us to the WA Shipwreck Museum. Although similar to the excellent one in Geraldton (mentioned above) they had a wide range of historic items for perusal, including the development of the range of navigational tools such as chronometers, and various measuring devices. All with well scripted material and actual items or copies of these instruments. The historical relevance of these developments was also explained. Some exhibits, such as the Batavia ship were similar to Geraldton Museum, but most added a great deal of fascinating information. Another world-class museum not to be missed.

Mary had to check out E Shed again and then back to the trains and so to home and an early night.

8th August
We had decided to attend the North Beach Baptist Church as it was quite near to our van park, and so we managed to obtain a rare car park in time to arrive as the service started.
The whole service was very well presented by quality musicians and singers, meaningful prayer time, and an excellent address by the pastor. A most uplifting time indeed. This church was looking at employing a fourth pastor to their ministry team and was exploring ways to increase services to benefit everyone.

Maureen and Brian had family commitments and so Mary & I headed to North Beach so that Mary could add even more shells to her massive collection! We were persuaded to get a reasonable fish and chip lunch at the local shops, and then Mary spent quite a time beachcombing while I took a photo or two and waited.

Next was the much needed visit to the laser carwash as, with some 11,000 Kms on the trip clock, the car was in desperate need of a makeover. That was accomplished and she looked the better for it, at least for the time being.
Back to camp and I completed washing the awning and the remaining side of the van before a quick shower before it got cold again. A few quick chores completed to prepare for an early start in the morning and then a good night’s sleep.

Posted by psstevo 04:25 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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 Comments (1)

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