The Story of our seven-month trip to Broome and around Australia in 2012

Written by Pamela

This is the version without photos; you may view the photos in our 2012 photo page

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On the Beach at Yeppoon 22nd April to 7th May 2012. We have been on the road for  2-3 weeks having driven up through Noosa, Maleny and 1770.  Today and for this week we are in Yeppoon, near Rockhampton.  Our van is right on the beach, which is like a huge horse-shoe shape, which runs for miles and miles.  When we look out to sea, we can see some of the Barrier Reef islands, like Great KeppelI island and Herron Island.  We can see clusters of islands for milesout to sea. Apparently, they do not get cyclones here, which is good to know. The day is sunny, bright, breezy, and beautiful.

The countryside is fabulous in all the rain.  All therivers are full, the dams are overflowing, the grass is six feet higheverywhere and the cows are shiny, contented and lost in the long grass as theylive life to the full.  The mountains are purple and make a wonderfulbackdrop to the countryside.  I wonder how long since the countrysidelooked like this.  Nearly as green as England!  We went to AgnesWaters and 1770 and we did some so called 'freecamping'.   There are some thrifty insects who like free campstoo, and they had their share of me, with bites and stings.  The nights socold that my head was wrapped in my fluffy and warm pink dressing gown to keepit from freezing. 

The photos below are a few we took on the way.

Mackay, Bowen, and Townsville 17th-23rdMay 2012

The countryside near Mackay was so beautiful with the rangeson our left and the sugar cane fields were ripe for harvest and everything wasas green as could possibly be, with all the dams full.  The roads arebeing torn up in many places to make way for the advances of the miningindustry.   We found a quiet place in a secluded valley and on thebeach at Seaforth to "free park" ($21, great hot showersfor 20c, no power). What a friendly group there, mostly from the Central Coast.The terrain consisted of steep, wild, rocky mountains in the valley. I pictured the lucky children who had the opportunity to grow up in such abeautiful place.  We found ourselves caught up in the peak hour trafficcoming into Mackay and glad to get out into the valley and the beach.

O beautiful Bowen.  We spent quite a few days hereenjoying the sparkling ocean of tropical waters which surround this fortunatetown.  It is really like a big country town with wide streets, but becauseit is surrounded on three sides by ocean, it has a beauty all of its own. The beaches were beautiful, with the most fantastic rocks thrown from some hugevolcano once upon a time.  How I would have loved to see it all happening.We were glad to find a smaller version of Woolworths there for supplies. The buildings, many of them are very ancient, were interesting and in fact themovie "Australia" was shot in beautiful Bowen.  Many of thetownsfolk had the opportunity to be extras in the cast.  The buildingswhich were shown to be in Darwin were in Bowen.  It was great to learn allthis as both the "Australia" movie and Bowen are favourites. We wentto church there and the people begged us to stay forever. They enjoyed havingGraeme to play the piano for them for church, they usedrecordings for the Sabbath School hymns. The caravan park there waswonderful, like a boutique van park, with a magnificent pool to swim in, sothat was a great help to us. We were also on the ocean there.

Townsville was to be our next stop. We came this way last yearbut wanted a bit more time to look around.  Some of our best photos weretaken in the National Park north of Townsville.    As youapproach Townsville from the south, you travel past huge, tall, rockymountains, which appeared black as we drove toward and past them. They werecovered with wild forest and would look different in a changing light. We drovepast them for about 40 kms until we reached Townsville.   Strange, wecannot remember them from last year.  Our van park here has a pooland we are once again on the ocean, though it is up the hill from our van, sowe must walk to the top of the park to see the ocean.  It istidal and you can walk out forever and still be in shallow water. Sitting right out there in front of us is Magnetic Island, which conjures upevery romantic and beautiful picture you have ever seen of the tropical watersand beaches with tropical fish to photograph and to swim with. A regular boatruns there frequently during the day and we look forward to a bright sunny daywhen we can go out and explore the island and its enchantment. 

Magnetic Island, Townsville

Yesterday (22nd May 2012) was a day for our visitto Magnetic Island.  With wild romantic notions about this island fromchildhood, we came down to earth to discover that Magnetic Island was a QuarantineStation in the late 1800's.  Not many boats called in there of course, andsometimes the quarantined and their carers waited for many months to see afresh face or to leave the island. There had been scares with Typhoid,Meningitis and the like.  At the turn of the century the station wasbrought to Townsville and the remaining buildings are just a couple ofkilometers down the road from our caravan park.  Like us, I'm sure theresidents listened through the night not only to the ocean rolling in, but alsoto the mournful songs of the many sea birds who cry throughout the night.

 Magnetic island has 4 main tiny centres with about adozen streets each.  There are lots of "dead ends".  Wheredo you go at the end of a road on an island?  The island is made up of amountain range, covered with huge smooth rocks of granite and some stand on topof each other like "The Devils Marbles", but not so dramatic. The mountains are also covered with trees.  There are a few beaches, someare netted for the stingers and there are three Surf Living Clubs there. There are also plenty of wrecks there.  The water has various shades ofblue, which is very pretty.  The beaches are mainly sandy with gentlewater.  We took the ute over on the vehicular ferry and this was pleasant.A trip of about 35 minutes.  Last night two large trucks were loaded onwith us.  They had brought to the island a big crane and the cost of thetransport was about $5,000, just to get the crane and auxiliaryequipment there.   They needed the highest tide to get the ferryhigh enough in the water to take the great load.

Cyclone "Yasi" hit Magnetic Island as well asTownsville (3 Feb 2011). It also took out Mission Beach and blew as far asMt Isa - which is far out west from here.  So, there was destruction onthe roads (fallen into the sea) and the pier was destroyed as well.  Hencethe need for the crane.  We saw a sleepy-looking road worker holding his"lolly pop" sign, but at night all the road workers seemed delightedto be going home to Townsville on our ferry, while teenagers and adultsreturned home to the island from a day at work or school. 

Charters Towers to Richmond 28th-29thMay 2012

We are in Richmond, having travelled on the road for twodays on the way towards  Mt Isa, Katherine, Kununurra and eventually toBroome.  We go north, we go south, we go well out of our way because thereare no straight roads through. Richmond is well and truly part of the Outback.It is a lovely town with a beautiful lake at its heart.  So we are delightedto be in such a great spot.  

This area is called The Dinosaur Trail.  You can dighere for dinosaur bones in several places.  Professionals put the bonestogether and some are on display.  It is well known that between 1/3 and1/2 of Eastern Australia was once a great inland sea.  Lake Ayre wasprobably towards the lower end of the sea and today the rivers from the WhiteMountains NP (near here) still run to Lake Ayre, also to the Gulf ofCarpentaria and back to the east coast near Townsville.

 Today's road from Charters Towers was mostly dry grasswith some Brahman cattle scattered here and there.  At this time of theyear there are dozens of small and larger creeks to cross and also the bigBurdekin River, which well and truly floods up and takes life to many places,wherever it wanders.  We amused ourselves today by watching the beautifulpatterns of clouds in the sky.  Graeme said the wind in the sky must havebeen at 200 kms per hour, so the patterns kept changing. I've been helpingwith the driving for two days.

 Last night we were at Charters Towers.  It was adelightful van park, but to actually see the town was like something off a veryold movie.  They keep the towns old buildings pretty well painted andrestored.  We have included a few pictures of these.  Charters Towerswas once the second largest city in Queensland - around the 1870's. This ofcourse was at gold rush time when they had a population of about 29,000 andalso the Australian Stock Exchange was situated there.  The town is fullof ghost stories, and WWII relics and memorabilia, such as the stores ofweapons, which were hidden under mullock (residual dirt and rock from the goldmining) and were buried into the mountain.  There were also safety bunkersand old disused mines everywhere.

 I am fascinated by the Aussie farming families, whodress up in their best to come to town and each is wearing theirAkubra.  I have noticed that even their young children and babies arebuilt very strongly and the lean and lanky teens in their school shorts (stillwith Akubra’s on their heads) can probably do just about all the jobs on thefarm.  It’s all quite fascinating to see.  I watched a little girlabout 3 who had found her way into the display window of an old furnishingshop.  She checked out everything that was in the window, would duck lowif she saw the shop staff looking in her direction, then she picked up a bookshe found and sat herself down in a big comfortable chair to have a read. The town appears to be deeply religious and many churches and private schoolsare there.

 One town we stopped at today was called"Homestead".  When I walked up the stairs to enter the shop, Ifound myself in somebody's living room.  Talk about cosy! It was also theshop.  Graeme said all the petrol bowsers were locked!?  An old mangalloped his beautiful horses up and down nearby.  The shop keeper saidmost of the population were retired folk who like a quiet life. Hummmm....

 Today I caught sight of a Spectacled Hare-Wallaby,hiding in the grass at the White Mountains National Park.   A tinyhare-sized wallaby, a shy little critter who looks like he is wearingspectacles.  The vegetation in this National Park is totally differentfrom everywhere else and is an explosion of colour in Springtime with nativeflowers, shrubs and orchids.  Its a rugged park and you need to beadventurous to camp in there.

Richmond to Mt Isa 30th May to 2ndJune 2012

We made good time to Mt Isa and came a little further thanwe had anticipated.  Mt Isa, on water rations, is nowreceiving light rain.   We are glad to be off the road forfour days rest.  Graeme has taken the car in for service.  This vanpark offered us an en-suite bathroom, which in effect doubled our space, so itsvery nice.  The best feature of all is that we have two resident frogs wholive under the rim of the toilet.  Graeme first spotted the beautifulgreen one with red around his lower body, legs and feet.  I spotted a muchlarger light brown one.  He often hangs his legs way down, after a flushto keep hydrated.   I think they may have been acouple.  When they were ready, they headed off for other people’sbathrooms.

We drove to Julia Creek from Richmond.  You want tomake sure you never get left behind there.  However, the folks were nice,and one man told me that nobody has to lock their houses and nobody wouldfollow you home on a dark night, so it obviously has more advantages than Ifirst saw.  The shop assistants were lovely, one Aboriginal and the otherfrom England, but she keeps coming back to work at Julia Creek.  Thescenery was light brown grass with a few low shrubs for the first 2 hours, butlots of crossing of water ways, which makes for a bumpy ride, as the road givesout where the waters rush across the country in beds or out of them and degradethe earth under the road.

 After Julia Creek the scenery totally changed and aswe left Cloncurry for Mt Isa, it is totally different again and turns intothese fabulous mountains which are probably full or ore, they just look sospecial and the soil is deep, lush red and it is very scenic.  I did aswap from driving with Graeme not far out of Mt Isa and went to sleep,but Graeme called out "camel" and there he was, running inthe opposite direction to us, but quite close to the car.  He was a big,fully grown fellow of light grey and streaked past us, on the grass,fortunately.  Yesterday we also saw many birds of prey includingan Eagle, about 50 cm high, just sitting in the verge beside us as wedrove.  A fabulous specimen in light brown and grey.  O for apicture, but nowhere to stop for about 150 kms.  We saw dozens of BlackFalcons and photographed a couple of Aboriginal boys on motor bikes moving amob of cattle across the road - from one boggy paddock to another.  Theygave us a big grin as they moved the cattle so swiftly.  Lucky to have thecamera in hand for that pic. I was also happy to see a lone emu.

 The church in Isa was having a baptism and we met manylovely people of various nationalities.  The African women were veryslender indeed and dressed in their best "African" clothing. Therewere 20 young children in the group.  They gave us lunch and I was able tocuddle one of the cute little African babies.

Later, we visited Moondarra Dam where the water is storedfor Mt Isa. There is a beautiful contrast between the blue of the water and thered of the cliffs. A big grey kangaroo hopped in front of us out there and wesaw 30 or more very tame peacocks.

Mt Isa to Katherine 3rd to 7th June2012

We have finally reached warm temperatures. Katherine, NT.  We are 350 ks south of Darwin. The nights are sometimescolder than Tumbi Umbi.  The night before we left Mt Isa, there was agreat, noisy brawl in the van park from the back-packer’s accommodation. In the end the Police brought in a little "dog box" as a trailer andcarried off the noisiest one of the groups.  They had previously asked himto leave, but he came back and carried on. So, they gave him fair chance andwere nice and patient with him, according to the neighbours who watchedeverything from their vantage spot.  We eventually all got some sleepafter 1.00 am.

 We put our foot down for the next few days as wetraversed into Queensland and up the centre toward Katherine.  The countryis sometimes just brown grass, but often we have flowering trees and greengrass.  The termite mounds get larger as we go further north.  Howfascinating are the shapes of these mounds?   Some end up lookinglike human figures.  Some of the termites are vegetarians.  Westayed at road-side places as we came through (various homesteads and otherplaces which were not so good).  When we reached the Big 4 Caravan Park atKatherine, at last we were able to have a decent shower and I stayed in therefor ages.  It’s a lovely spot, they call this area, the "LowLevel", as the beautiful Katherine River is low down and we go across alow bridge to cross the river.  The Katherine River has given the townmany large and frightening floods and the river can rise to the top of thecliffs which make up Katherine Gorge".  Anything like that wouldtotally block off our entrance to this area. This van park leaves nothingto be desired, it is well loved and impeccably kept.  Nearby is theSpringvale Homestead where we stayed last year, and I could hardly bear toleave it.  The pink waterlilies and the hundreds of turtles kept me happy. They also have their own hot spring which turns into a giant waterway whichseems to run parallel to the Katherine River.

The property where Springvale Homestead is, became theproperty of Giles, who had done so much on the Overland Telegraph.  TheHomestead was built 132 years ago by his grandson.  It was part of theOverland Telegraph system.   Like similar properties in the NTit had its ups and downs.  Giles drove thousands of sheep up from SA. Thetime it took to drove the sheep was between 12 and 22 months.  You wouldnot find a sheep anywhere near here these days, only big cattle.  The hot spring on Springvale seems to run parallel to the KatherineRiver.  The date is posted for the last crocodile sighting -13/5/12.  We did not go for a swim, we just took photos which is the thingwe most like doing. We hope you like the pictures of the old homestead, stillin use today.

 Along the way we stayed at Mataranka Springs, anotherfavourite spot, and took a dip in the hot springs there.  We also stayedat The Manor Cara Park, where they not only feed the Barramundi by hand, butalso can put their hands down the big fish's gullet and pull him right out ofthe water for a photograph! 

 Katherine has a lot of Aboriginal folk livinghere.  It is one of the few shopping centres Outback.  Darwin is 350ks, Kununurra WA is 500 ks, Mt Isa Qld, is 1200 ks and Townsville Qld is 2400ks.  These are the places where you can buy fresh food orgroceries!    Many of the Aboriginees appear to be in a badstate.  Your heart goes out to them, trying to live in this totallyforeign culture, which we understand.  Some present their children withshoes on their feet and their hair brushed nicely, others have work in thelocal area, many others spend a lot of time out in the parks or on thestreet.  Every one of them is worthy of a photograph and I'm sure everyoneof them has their own story to tell. When you meet them at church, they arebeautifully presented and have a great passion to help their people.

Big Horse Creek and Bungle Bungles (Pernululu) 13th– 14th June 2012

We are slowly crossing WA and are currently in HallsCreek.  The van park is all dirt and a few trees.  People packed inhere for the night and all took off again for another day going north, south,east, and west.  We will have an easy day, we hope, and will visit somebeautiful spots out on the "back road to Kununurra", all dust andcorrugations, but there are hidden gems to find along that road.  Wediscovered some of them in the late afternoon yesterday.

We've been doing a fair bit of free camping.  One stopwas Big Horse Creek on the Victoria River, before Kununurra.  We spentminimal time in Kununurra, just visiting the Christian Broadcasting Station,HCJB, short wave transmissions to the South Pacific and to Asia.  It wasgood to catch up with all they are achieving there.  With the aid of volunteers,it is amazing what they have done putting up the huge towers.  We set outfor Turkey Creek, which, last year was washed away in the floods and thenrebuilt by the government for the Aboriginal people.  It is like aroadhouse and campground and housing for the people who live there. We keptgoing until we reached a free park outside the gate to Mabel Downs, where the Pernululu(Bungle Bungles) domes are.  It is something right out of the box, weflew over it last year, but this year we did the drive into Mabel Downs. It was 75 km of dirt road, corrugations, 15 river crossings. At one stage therewe bumped into the guy who owns and runs the Tow-Ed Training Course business,whom we know.  You never know who you will bump into out in thebush.  "This is what I do", he announced to Graeme.

The day was all adventure.  We took many lovely photosand the flowering trees were out in full bloom to give a lovely foreground tothe beautiful Bungle Bungles.  The road from Kununurra is called TheSavannah Way when it starts out, and that is what it is, Savannah country, butit soon turns into the most wonderful rocky mountains of various hues, whichreminded me of Palestine or Afghanistan.  They just kept going and theBungles were hidden in the heart somewhere deep in those mountains, or so itseemed.  So, well are they hidden, that few people knew about them untilrecent times.  The Aborigines knew and the few Station owners who live outthere.  The properties here are vast.  The grass was green, itseemed like The Garden of Eden for cattle.  Breathtaking andbeautiful.   Too bad they meet an untimely end.   I saw abull who has managed to escape muster for his life and still has his big hornsand had a black head and neck and a beautiful brown, shiny coat for therest.  He was such a specimen and still running free.  Good luck tohim.      We saw a big black snake on the road and abrown one, both about six feet long.   Graeme walked into Cathedral Chasm,but it was so vast he felt disappointed that he could not photograph it. I took a gentler way and was just surrounded by the big bee-hive-shapeddomes.  I kept snapping away as the light changed on the domes.  Itwas a magnificent day of adventure, never to be forgotten.  The clouds inthe sky were so beautiful to add to the beauty.

When we leave here for Halls Creek and FitzroyCrossing. This area is called "The East Kimberley’s".  We are one-fifth of the way across WA.  At last we found warm weather, 32degrees today and no heater last night needed.  This is the first night wehave not needed the heater.     We rejoiced in a van parkwhere we could have air-conditioning, washing machine, water (not to drink, butgood for a swimming pool and a shower), clean clothes, which are enjoyed fromtime to time and even some shops to replenish supplies and a Post Office. Mostly Aboriginal people are in these western towns.

Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing 17-18th June2012

Halls Creek is another Aboriginal town with a small varietyof shops. Despite the dusty and arid van park, we did enjoy their refreshingpool for a few swims.  We drove out to see the China Wall, which was awall of quartz, about 30 feet high.  You just wonder how such things gotthere!  We were travelling on dirt roads.  We also found a realbillabong there with beautiful river gums.  We drove on and foundCaroline's Pool. In his hey-day Halls Creek was the gold capital of WA. Gold was first found in WA at this place in the 1800's and up sprung a largetown.  The river is still flowing beautifully there, and all isgreen.  The old town was fascinating, and we saw the building that used tobe the Post Office, a large building made of mud brick, still standing with itsornate fire place also of mud brick. There is a strong history there of TheInland Mission and the clinics that the nurses ran for the mission.  Thereis a rather destitute caravan park still out there. The sun was setting, and wecame back the next day to try and get a few photos in daylight. Caroline's pool used to be the picnic and recreation centre for the old town ofHalls Creek.  It was incredibly beautiful.  I do not think we quitecaptured the feeling in our photos.  It is a large, deep expanse ofriver water, which dries up a bit in summer.  People were camped therewith vans on the sandy creek bed.  No crocs, apparently. and people wereenjoying a swim.

 We bravely carried on to a romantic sounding placecalls Palm Springs.  Well, it was a bit of a surprise, not what weexpected, with half a dozen young folk swimming there, then Aborigines came andhad a dip there also.  The road was pretty bad, and on the way home we gota flat tyre. Graeme did not know how to get the spare from under the truck,where it lives.  Within seconds of us stopping, two couples stopped tohelp us and took over the job, got the spare out, changed the wheel over, whilethe two girls chatted to me and kept me company. They were Jehovah’s Witnessesand we were glad of their kindness.  They also suggested where we shouldstay at The Lodge, Fitzroy Crossing.   We had the tyre repaired; weneed stronger tyres for the outback roads.

 At Fitzroy Crossing we found TheLodge, which is about 5-star accommodation.  Everything is builtup high off the ground because the Fitzroy River floods up extremely high andit is on at least one side of the van park.

It is a delightful place to stay.  We firstly took offto cross the Fitzroy Crossing, which is on one of the boundary roads to TheLodge.  We continued to the barge which carried us gleefully down theGeikie Gorge. It is a wonder all its own.  The walls stand extremely highand at the base the walls are pure white (an old coral reef from past times)and above the white are the Kimberley reds and browns towering evenhigher.  There are about 400 crocks in this part of the river.  Theyignored us for the most part.  They are friendly, smaller than some wehave seen.   A note about crocks:  When the hatchling crocodilesescape their eggs, they make a noise which alerts all the female crocks thatthey have arrived.  Any female will come and hunt them off down to thewater.  However, many things like to eat little crocks includingBarramundi if they catch one. 

The Geikie Gorge was absolutely wonderful to behold. Well worth the trip to come and travel on it. We hope our photos will convey alittle of it to you. The visitors' shed shows the heights the river has floodedto in various years.   It must be unimaginable to see it in flood. 

Something fascinated me here.  It was the big modernservice station.  It has been built of rammedearth.  This is both outside and inside.  The roof overthe petrol pumps is held up by four huge logs.  Inside it is as clean asthe most newly built modern supermarket would be. The Aborigines seem to be thebest customers. The servo also has two houses built in the same manner, but Icould not get a photo of them.  What a cool way to build.

Derby - Windjana Gorge & Tunnel Creek  21st June 2012

Derby is a small Aboriginal town. The Aborigines seem to bewell integrated into society, though there are always problems.  All wholive there, agree it is a very social town and many prefer to work in Broomefor the week and drive home to Derby.  A lifeguard travels twice aweek from Derby to Broome to go on Lifesaving duty on Cable Beach (220 kms). He oversees the nurses at Derby Hospital. I found a beautiful pool to swimin at Derby.  I was there with about a dozen or so Afghan Detainees fromthe Curtin Air Force Base, which is currently acting as a Detention Centre (800detainees).  The runways there are 5 km long, to take the biggestplanes.  They are increasing the size of the Detention Centre.  Inwar time, I am sure they would quickly be evacuated if the base was needed forwar. They detainees had four guards with them, one a young woman who had aBronze Medallion, as most of the Afghans don’t swim well, so they received alifesaving device around their waists.   It was hot and they allenjoyed themselves at the pool and were happy to chat and practice theirEnglish.  All were about 22 years of age and looked like nice young men.

 The biggest shock at Derby was the ocean isred.   It is 50% Kimberley red mud mixed in with ocean water.  Itis not safe to get into it.  Derby has the highest tides in the World at13 metres. This means the town is surrounded by mud flats where the tidespreads out all over the place when it is high tide.  It looked a littlebit like Wyndham where five rivers empty out into the sea and the mud flats goas far as the eye can see.  There are islands beyond Derby where the onceagain returns to blue and the ships go out for weeks at a time to fish. There is a French fish and chip shop on the long promenade out to the shippingterminal where they serve yummy food.  Their Air Conditioning systemconsists of hundreds of tiny sprinkler heads around the roof of the building,which spray the clients every two seconds with cool water. It works very well.

Graeme decided to take a bus tour out to Windjana Gorge andTunnel Creek.  The bus was a big and sturdy 4WD vehicle, which cantackle the Gibb River Road.  He had a great day out there and the pictureswill tell the story.  The Prison trees were used by the Police in oldentimes to hold mostly Aborigines, as a resting place,overnight.   What a terrible experience for them - all chained up,some by the neck.  Some of them were taken as divers for the pearlinginterests in the earliest times.  Derby used the Boab trees as streetplantings down the main street.

Broome and Bust  22ndJune to 5th August 2012

We arrived in Broom via tow truck.  The ute burntout the front diff. due to a malfunction in the controller.  We brokedown about 60kms from Broome where there is no mobile reception.  Fortunately, Graeme had purchased a satellitephone and had practiced using it before we left.  He had the NRMA phone numbers in the phoneready to use, so we were able to get help from the NRMA to tow us to Broome. Themain controller and wiring harness for the front diff are not available inAustralia, and they must be manufactured overseas which is an indictment onMazda and Ford. In the meantime, the local dealer has not yet lodged ourWarranty claim, so nothing else can be done until that is done.  We arestill in our van near Cable Beach. Our booking is for two weeks, then we willprobably have to move.  Population of Broome is normally 10,000, but now,in the tourist season, it is 20,000.

 EXTRA!   EXTRA!   Today,Monday, we received permission from Ford's Warranty Manager to approve the workthat needs to be done on our ute.  He rang the local company and gave themthe precious Warranty approval number, so now we can move to step 2, to orderthe parts needed to do the job. The local company is not coping with the hugeinflux of jobs, with the tourists, and the staff seems to be taking it inturns to have nervous breakdowns!

Broome is beautifully warm with blue skies every day, andfew signs of clouds.  Sometimes the nights are chilly (15 degrees). Weswim each day at the town pool. However, the beach is the most beautiful shadeof turquoise as you will see from the photos.  Many people go to watch thesun disappearing over the western horizon, as it travels on its merry way tosome other place.  The camels take riders at 3pm and at sunset. It issuch a ritual here.  The 4 WD vehicles drive down on to the beach by thehundreds to watch the sunset and the camels. There is a nudist beach at the farend of the camel ride! Cable Beach is pure white sand and is in a bighorse-shoe shape.   Lots of sand and lots of extremely hightides.  Staircase to the moon happens this week. They seem to be expectingthousands to come for that, even though it happens each month.

Broome is on a peninsula and there are two main beaches,Town Beach and Cable Beach. There is also a shipping terminal on the Town Beachside.  We saw many trucks arriving with hundreds, or more beasts to beshipped overseas as live exports.  The huge trucks, double story and with2 or 3 trailers behind, drive right down the pier and can turn around there, asthey unload the animals.  Lilies: Lying on the ground we see thesebeautiful lilies. The plants they grow on, look like Gymea Lily plants, butwhen the strong stem grows tall, it falls over and the flower heads may bequite a distance from the mother plant.  This means that you see theselively lilies lying in the most unexpected places on the ground and you thinkthey must be plastic, until you realize where they have come from.  Birds:We have seen lots of beautiful birds. We don't know really what the birds are,you can inform us if you like.  I just felt the "CuckooBird" looks like a face that only a mother could love, and he makes melaugh.

We have had the most fabulous support from everybody aroundus, firstly here at the van park but mainly at the church, where theyoffered us a vehicle to use, a place to park our van and a hoist with 3mechanics to take care of our car.  However, without the spare parts, we cannotdo anything very much.

The history of the Pearling industry here is especiallyimportant.  It has a checkered history, between the Chinese, the Japanese,and the whites.  There are pearl shops everywhere. Now there are only 20pearling luggers left. There used to be hundreds after the pearl shell, but nowthe oysters are seeded, the pearl itself has become the main object of beautyand desirability. Broome also suffered Japanese bombing attack on 3rdMarch 1942 and 140 people were killed.

Broome - sunset, Moon rise, and China town 1st–5thJuly 2012

Yes, we are still sitting tight in Broome.  Anotherbeautiful, sunny day, however it was a cold and windy start.  Lastnight we captured Staircase to the Moon for your enjoyment. Fortunately, we did a dry run the night before and found out we needed lots ofwarm clothes on.  So last night we had everything we needed and watchedeverybody else wish they had more clothes on as well as a tripod for theircamera in the nearly dark conditions.  I think everyone was amazed towatch the lovely spectacle of the rising full moon reflecting off theexposed mud flats at extremely low tide, creating the illusion of stairsreaching to the moon.  The spectacle will be repeated tonight and tomorrownight, an hour later each night.  The event occurs between March andOctober along the coastline of Roebuck Bay, Broome.  The local market stallholders will be there for two nights, some serving up beautiful Asian meals.

The place we watched from is a tiny finger of land reachingout into the sea.  Everyone crowds on to this little promontory, as wellas scattering along other places of the coast to watch the event. There is alovely water park there for the children to play in, a nice cafe and an oldcemetery on the highest point.  Other viewing spots are the Mango Hoteland the golf course.

We have been fortunate to be loaned a little old car for ouruse from one of the church members.  Firstly we had a new stop lightfitted to it and it has a wondrous way of getting into reverse that we have notseen before and the blinkers are on the LHS and it has a few little dings init.  Nevertheless, Graeme is becoming adept at driving a manualcar and we are so grateful.

We had a phone call from NRMA today and they will bepaying our rent at the SDA Overflow van parkuntil nearly the end of July, or however long it takes to get our Utefixed.  We will move there on Monday morning.  Now, we can thinkabout visiting some of the tourist attractions and taking a beautiful flight tothe Horizontal Falls and other places.  So, keep tuned for the nextexciting adventure.

We also had the comforting information that one of spare partswill come at the end of next week and the others a week or two later, so we areenjoying some peace of mind that something is being done to get our vehicleback on the road.

Broome to Horizontal Falls and Cape Leveque 10thJuly 2012

The days are sunny and glorious every single day, with coolnights.  It is a fine place to be stuck for a while.  We shop andswim at the pool and generally muddle about most of the day with meals etc.

Yesterday we went to The Horizontal Falls and Cape Leveque. It is a full day from 5 am to 5.30 pm. It starts with a 2-hour trip on a floatplane that takes off from the airport.  We land on the water at TheHorizontal Falls.  There are many pontoons and all different kinds ofboats and hospitality areas, shark and fish feeding cages, jet stream boats(600 hp), with sea planes (on skis) coming and going throughout the day. It wasthe best organised thing we have ever seen. Nobody is idle for a moment ashundreds of tourists fly in and on and out.  The staff feed large colourfulfish by hand.  The area is made up of the mainland, and hundredsof islands sitting like islands of meringue on the beautiful aqua bluewaters. The scene is breathtaking, reminding me of Alaska in many ways. Thereis complete serenity.  Even the large sharks which swim around thepontoons continuously, do not seem dangerous, although they are.  The food and hospitality are beautiful.  We were taken up a couple ofrivers to see the cliffs, some at 90 degrees to the water when they were thrustup from under the ocean many eons ago.  The day moved in quickorder. 

The Horizontal Falls are caused by a massive build-up ofwater between the mountains at high tide.  The water is forced attremendous pressure through a narrow gap in the mountains to let it out. We rode up and down one of these three times.  They could not do thesmaller one while we were there, due to the higher water being about six foothigher than lower water, with a narrow opening, it was much too dangerous totake us through.  Later in the day it would have been quite accessible asthe tide fell.  We flew over the Buccaneer Archipelago, a very scenicflight with many islands in the beautiful ocean below, landing at One ArmPoint, and being driven a short distance to Cape Leveque. We photographed thelovely beaches with the yellow wattles and the fine white sand surrounding thevery blue ocean.  We were provided with a lovely lunch, then it was timeto take the 4 WD vehicle to Beagle Bay ("Bran Nu Day" fame) followedby the 3-hour drive back to Broome.   The road was red bull dust withsome corrugations and bumps.  It was cut deeply down into the earth and Iam sure in the Wet, it would be a raging river.  We had two hours on thebumpy road and glad to finally get to Broome.  It was an adventure all itsown, really.  The crowd we were with were delightful company (ten peoplein our group).

We got some photos of Town Beach at high tide, showing offthe lovely colours of the scene. We lunched with the church family overlookingTown Beach and, in the evening, we celebrated SolomonIslands Independence Day, which was fun.

 Right now, it seems that the ship is taking the livecattle trade animals at the long, narrow wharf.  Approximately 18,000cattle go out at one time and it takes 36 hours to load them.  They arewell looked after, and on-lookers are not permitted too close.  Tonight,we saw a destroyer and an accompanying smaller vessel running down the WACoastline.  Perhaps they were looking for Boat People.

Finally, driving south to Port Hedland 16th August 2012

Ah, what a sweet relief it was to receive our Ute back. Itis going well and without any problems. We left Broome about two weeks ago anddrove to 80-mile beach, about 360 kms south. All this driving was pretty muchacross The Great Sandy Desert. We drove about 12 kms on a dirt road to get to80 Mile Beach. It is pretty much strictly for fishermen and women with lots ofpretty shells on the beach. There are people here from all over Australia, whostay for up to six months here and then have six months at home. Most peoplesay there are not a lot of fish this year. There are, however, lots of sharks,large sea snakes and large jelly fish which the fishermen do not like. It seemsto almost be forbidden to get into the water. The beach is pure white and goesas far as the eye can see, on a firm base. Some kindly folk accompanied us four-wheeldriving on the beach, which was fun.

We then stopped in Port Hedland for a few days. It is anabsolute ruin of a place. It is entirely under reconstruction. The 100-year-oldmain street is all fenced off and the shops are not operating except for the POand the Information Centre. People say there are no ladies dress shops here. Wehave not seen one. The main part of the town is a wasteland which fills withocean water when there is a cyclone. So, Port Hedland is built up on a ridge betweenthe ocean and the wasteland. There is another town called South Hedland. Totalpopulation is 40,000. There are lots if big He-men here, but not so many women.I think it is just work, work, work, pick up your fat pay packet and back towork again.

Rio Tinto and associated friends are the King Pins here andmulti billions of dollars are being spent for the mining companies, but not forthe town. The town folk just want them to pack up and go away as they lose alltheir memories to the mining. The mines are putting in a new loading bay forthe massive ships, 3.5 km out in the ocean. It will fill 8 massive shipssimultaneously with iron ore for China, where it will be processed into ironand we then buy it back. There are 500 km of railway tracks, the trains are upto 4 km long and some contain 120+ carriages of ore. The way they havetransformed the earth is unbelievable, its the big "take-over" allright. The devastation is as big as the money that has been spent. Rent on atiny cottage in the van park is $2,000 to $3,000 per week for a foremancontractor. 

The prettiest thing in the town, and maybe the only thing,is the Olympic Swimming Pool together with a diving pool and wonderfulchildren's pool with a car sitting in the pool for the children to play in. TheCouncil is really trying to improve the town.

We found some lovely young couples at the church in PortHedland and one couple knew us from Kanwal days and now they have threechildren. There were about 50/50 whites and Aboriginal folk there. We weretaken four wheel driving out on reclaimed sand from the ocean floor towards theend of the day, where we had an enjoyable time together. 

Karijini 20th August 2012

We drove to Karijini National Park from Port Hedland, about270 km. It was more or less a very arid region, little rain, but we ended up inthe Hammersley Ranges. Of course, this is where Tom Price and the huge iron orebodies are. Although they keep the mine sites well hidden, yet behind the hillsand all around the area the Iron ore bodies, hidden in the red rocks of theHammersley Range are enormous. This ore is carried to Port Hedland where it isslightly crushed and shipped to China for further processing. There are over500 ks of railway lines to transport the ore to Hedland. The roads areconstantly closed to allow large loads through on enormous trucks. Some loadsare very wide, some extremely high like platforms and others downrightdangerous explosives in unbelievable quantities. These trucks try and pass oneanother on the road when they can.

We ended up at Karijini National Park which is under thecontrol of the Aborigines. There is no power or water. You must carryeverything including food and water. Pit toilets are there and are veryfunctional and work well. There is even a shower for $2. It is very nicely setout, but with vast distances between everything. We started out at Dales Gorge.There was a waterfall amongst the iron ore rocks and this was contained in agorge which ran along for a way until it ended up in a circular pool in a deepgorge. If you are nimble enough to climb into the gorge you can also see FernPool, which is attractive. 

Swimming is allowed in these places. Apparently, nocrocodiles get this far inland! We also drove to about 3 or 4 other gorges ondirt roads with fair distances between each spot. There are no rails to hold onto when climbing, so it is quite challenging to climb into the gorges and someare near impossible as they are so deep and cavernous. There was running waterand waterfalls in all the gorges we visited. We did not visit them all. We wereglad of a $2 shower by the time we were through. Everyone had their own littleprivate camping area and we made friends with the couple next door and now wekeep running into them as we travel down the coast.

We had a book of photographs on Karijini before we went inthere. These photos, of course, taken by a professional who had abseiled intothe gorges, were pure magic and probably were taken in the wet season. I wasdisappointed that the reality was not quite like the book. 

Following this effort, it was a 750 km drive to Exmouth. Alldesert country again, like a stony desert. Graeme was a brick as he did thedriving. We did one free camp which was fun, with lots of nice people. Oureventual journey brought us to Exmouth through even more desert country. Thesun shines 360 days a year in Exmouth. Once again it is a peninsula with a roadup one side and down the other. Its a likeable little town with a smallshopping centre. 

18 - Exmouth, Coral Bay & Carnarvon 25th August 2012

We arrived in Exmouth from Tom Price. Exmouth is on anotherpeninsula. On the right hand side is the Exmouth Gulf and Exmouth, and youdrive around the North West Cape and down the other side of the Peninsula tomany beautiful spots where people can camp and place their vans. On this sideof the peninsula is the Ningaloo Marine Park which runs as far as Coral Bay.There is no direct road out of Coral Bay to travel south, so you must driveback to Exmouth to get out. In the middle of the peninsula is the Cape RangeNational Park, which looked astonishingly dry with small shrubs and low drygrasses. 

However, hiding in there was Yardie Creek Gorgeand we went for a lovely boat ride up the gorge to observe the rock wallabiesand birds and the canyon. We thoroughly enjoyed this pleasant trip.Sometimes the water from the gorge connects to the incoming ocean and it isrefreshed with fresh sea water.

Driving back up the road to Exmouth are many beautifulturquoise beaches including Turquoise Bay where we tried some snorkelling onthe reef, but the current was a bit strong, but the colour of the water,beautiful. We also drove to the old lighthouse each night to watch the whalesat sunset. They were easy to see, way out in the ocean and many were in closeand were breaching. It was just lovely there. 

We also took a whale watch cruise to the outer reef and watched quite a fewwhales and babies close-up. They often have an escort whale with them to keepthem safe along the way, which was interesting to know. The caravan park westayed at had a huge, luxury swimming pool which we enjoyed.

One day while looking around we found the Exmouth harbour.There was a very large boat there that we could not recognise and about 20other smaller versions of the same type of boat. So, I asked the crew about theboats. One was the mother and the other were the children, so to speak. Theywere large as well. These are the ships that service the oil and gas platformswhich are not far from Australia. They can reach the rigs and get back to portin one day. We were given the full tour of inspection of one of the boats, by acongenial young captain. Oh, it was really fun and astonishing to see how theyall live on the ships - five weeks on and five weeks off. They have their ownlaundry, beautiful dining area and kitchen, the whole thing was fantastic. Theycan do all kinds of sea rescues, like choppers coming down, or moving staff onand off the rigs (40 staff on each). They even had a call the night before,where a man was stranded on top of an old ship-wreck called the Mildura (from100 years ago) and he wasn't game to swim back to shore due to the sharks inthe water, so they went in and rescued him from the part of the wreck that isstanding out of the water.

We moved on to Coral Bay. Oh, it was heaven. It really feltlike we were on holidays, so relaxing. No fresh water there (extremely little).You must take all your own water in. Showers were bore water like diluted seawater. Coral Bay, like Exmouth, is surrounded by salmon coloured desert sandswith some dry grasses on them. The sand hills just roll on wave after wave. Afew sheep graze on the grasses and the new-born sheep have trouble keepingtheir coats white out there. The sheep seem to thrive. Of course, 100 yearsago, sheep were big business out in these parts. Unfortunately, WA is interrible drought, so not so many wildflowers. In Coral Bay we went on a glassbottom boat to the outer reef and did some snorkelling. It was sorelaxing. We saw a turtle, an octopus, some saw sharks and other things. It wasall lovely and snorkelling is one of our favourite things in thewhole world to do.

We are now in Carnarvon where much produce is grown, fruitand vegetables. They have the big Gascoyne River here. It looks dry, but itflows underground to conserve its water (held in natural aquifers) and fromthis, the farms grow wonderful food for the Perth markets. The paw paws aremonsters and there are tropical and subtropical fruits of every kind. I had ablack sapote ice cream which tasted like chocolate. You can get all kinds offruit flavours here and its real fruit. The strawberries are enormous. What ajoy to see so much beautiful produce. The dish that helped keep track of thespace trips to the moon is here, no longer used. Population here is 9,000 with2,000 on the farms. Like Port Hedland, it is under construction and has a longhistory back to the late 1800s. The climate is 10 degrees warmer than Perth inwinter and 10 degrees cooler in summer, so it’s great for winter holidays atleast.

Wildlife has been abundant, 20 emus, dozens of goats, dozensof kangaroos, 2 big lizards - they look funny running across the roads withtheir tails and heads held high in the air.

19 Carnarvon to Shark Bay 30th August 2012

Our the final day in Carnarvon we drove out to the two roadson either side of the Gascoyne River. These two roads run for about 4 or5 kilometres each. They are all farms and we wanted to visitBumbaks (get your bum back to Carnarvon) where there arebeautiful jams, preserves, ice cream, soaps and beauty products made by alovely young woman, who is trained as a school teacher. She must have the giftof creativity and the nous to make the whole enterprise so successful. I wantedto try her banana jam, but as usual, ended up with mango jam, which isdelicious.

Following that, we visited an old farmer who showed usaround his mixed fruit and vegetable property. It is very labour intensive. Wewere given the most beautiful beans which grow up on tall sticks. We also satdown and had a good chat about the problems the farmers face. Two years agothere was a massive flood in Carnarvon which carried off a pub and a frig fullof beer. At another time of the year the grasshoppers came in and ate everygreen thing they could find. This year, the Gascoyne River's undergroundaquifers are full of salty water, which is no good for the crops at all.

Later we took a ride on the local train which runs out for amile on the local pier. The area is known as One Mile Jetty. It was built in1897 and was Carnarvon's only link with the outside world. There was no road toPerth in those days. It has been partially burnt down three times and therepair work is not completed. We had a little "Coffee Pot" Engine. Wetravelled out over the most beautiful turquoise blue waters. Primarily thetrain was for the transport of persons and goods between Perth and Carnarvonvia ship. Many of the old relics of past engines and trains are still there.

The van park in Carnarvon had a bright light just outside mybedroom window, which kept me awake each night. I eventually attacked the lightwith a thick bucket, which I placed over the top of the light. I noticed,however, that the full moon was up, and it was like daylight outside the van,so Graeme suggested I put another bucket over the moon. I think it would justabout have fitted into another bucket.

A further half day's driving brought us to World HeritageArea of Shark Bay and Monkey Mia. The ocean here, which surrounds yet anotherpeninsula, is clear as crystal green and the deeper waters are blue.

Today we walked from the car to Eagle Bluff where thecrystal-clear waters revealed many sharks swimming there, and a little furtherout were the Sea Grass beds with Dugongs feeding or dolphins frolicking. Wealso visited the Ocean Park Aquarium where a marine biologist taught about themany interesting fish there. 

We are just about in the most westerly part of Australia, mostwesterly pub, caravan park, etc. Also, we travelled across the 26th paralleldriving down, but as we drove into the National Park, we once again crossedback over the 26th parallel. This parallel runs through South America, Africaand Australia and several oceans, and is said to be the longest straight linein the World. (check it out on the web, cool!).

Leaving the most Westerly part of Western Australia.

The wildflowers commenced on the drive towards theOverlander Roadhouse and kept up right throughout the Shark Bay World HeritageArea. The World Heritage area is Mallee-type country with lots of red sandbetween the plants, many of which are about to burst into flower. Our van parkis up high on the ocean and has a beautiful outlook. Safer not to get into anyof the surrounding ocean, however. We can see Dirk Hartog Island just acrossthe way, where he nailed his pewter dish in 1616 when he visited fromHolland. 

The feeding of the dolphins at Monkey Mia is on the agendafor 7.30 am tomorrow. This reminded me that I once swam holding on to the tailof a dolphin in Queensland, many years ago, and Darlene, who was about threeyears old, was pulled around in a small boat by the same dolphin. One is notlikely to see these types of activities these days. This is probably a place sounique, it is truly worthy of a visit. It has an enormous number of animals,fish, and plants to qualify it as a World Heritage Site.

20 - Kalbarri - wild weather, majestic cliffs, gorges,and wildflowers - 4th Sept 2012

We drove from Shark Bay to Kalbarri, on the WA coastline. Itis a very pretty place and the National Park is full of Spring flowers, forwhich it is very famous. The sky above was full of threatening and denseclouds. The sun, in its efforts to shine forth for a moment, almost brokethrough the clouds. This caused a rainbow to form around the sun, which lookedlike a stain glass window. Afterwards, the weather changed for wind, rain andcold.

A great pastime was photographing the 3 m swell, monstrouswaves, crashing onto the rocky cliffs of Kalbarri, or breaking on a huge flatrock at the entrance to a peaceful harbour. It is a small town and a verypretty place indeed.

5th Sept 2012. Took a bus into the gorges of the NP. Therewere plenty of flowering shrubs and plants. There were magnificent deep greenand red Kangaroo Paw - stunning. The following photos show the wildflowers, theMurchison River with a special lookout at Nature's window where the bus driverkindly took our photo.

We drove to Port Gregory to the Pink Lake today. Well, it isbeing mined for salt and for beta carotene which is caused by pink algae. Itwas strange to see it and not enjoyable. The small port was freezing, but asyou drive there, wheat fields grow right next to huge white sand dunes and ahistoric convict settlement stands on the shores of the Pink Lake.

We also visited a wonderful Parrot House. World Class,really. Graeme got some good snaps of the parrots. The exhibition was done outso very well and quite extensive.

The icy weather has caused us to jump into our winter gear(three layers of it). Off to Geraldton tomorrow. I used to work there sellingChristian books when I was 20 and still a student at College.

21 - Geraldton to Western Flora Park, Eneabba 7-11th Sept2012
We spent last weekend in Geraldton. The church was having a Regional meeting.There was a good speaker whom we could have listened to all day. A greatdelight. He challenged just about everyone - nonstop.

The following day we took off on 300 fruitless kilometreslooking for wildflowers, firstly to Mullewa where I had preached when I was aCollege student. The town was so dry, everything was shrivelling up and dying.The best we did was a couple of fields of Everlastings, which were about 7 cmtall. We drove through the wheat belt country; it was pretty with someinteresting land formations.

10th September 2012

We left then for Eneabba, a Western Floral Caravan Park. TheManager there is an expert on Botany and the WA wildflowers. We did a long walkwith him in the evening and the following day we did a 4 WD tag-along trip overhill and dale, through sand dunes and roads, until we were exhausted fromphotographing wildflowers. We stopped at about ten places, with differentplants. 

I found the only Black Kangaroo Paw out there. Early in thepiece we pulled over whilst an enormous shower of rain covered the whole area,and we sat there for half an hour until it had rained itself out. Eventually wewere out on the trails under blue skies.

We brought home a treasure-trove of fabulous photos,wildflowers galore. You just need the right guide to take you.  Hope you enjoy our trip with us with a few ofthe wildflowers.

22 - Cervantes, The Pinnacles - 12th Sept 2012

We drove to Cervantes to visit ThePinnacles NP. We found it very interesting. We liked the shotswhere we could photograph the sea behind them. A little boy called Joshua wasrunning up the sands, like it was a giant children's playground. There isan exquisite Interpretative Centre, which is brand new. Nobody knows for surehow the Pinnacles originated, but there are plenty of guesses.

After photographing these monument-like pillars, we drove toJurien Bay, to check it out. The Jurien Bay Marine Park was created toconserve the unique assemblage of tropical and temperate species of fish andreef creatures, and the pristine nature of the marine and coastal environment.The warm currents flow southwards, enabling tropical and temperate forms oflife to live together in harmony.

Somebody is investing billions of dollars in that tiny townand building expensive houses. It's on the beach, has a beautiful marina with a"safe" town beach and two strong breakwaters to guide the Cray boatssafely into harbour. There are many Islands nearby. The residentsare very town proud and while only a small town now, it is going to boom. I sawone small older style cottage for rent at $1,400 per week.

WA has a coastline of 13,500 km from the northern tropics tothe temperate south.

The Stromatolites are living fossils made up of cyanobacteria.The lower level dies and the new generations grows on top. They live at theedge of, or right in, the ocean and lakes. We first came across them near SharkBay.

23 Perth - Kings Park - 14-16th Sept 2012

It has been good to have you journeying along with us on ourtrip. We are still enjoying it a great deal, more so now that we are into newcountry and the distance between interesting spots is not so great aspreviously.

Today was a day for the beautiful Perth Botanical Gardensand the wildflower Exhibition. We arrived early in the morning and I think wephotographed most things in their best light. Being Sunday, we got a head starton almost everybody.

I would say it is similar idea to Floriade, except theplantings are permanent and not changed every year. We had a perfect day. Wealso drove to see Freemantle and connected with some of Perth's beaches andbeauty spots on the Swan River. The River gets very wide indeed in some places,much like Sydney Harbour, I thought. One recreational spot we found had a long,windy sandy spit going all the way out to an island in the middle of the SwanRiver. Many people were walking there. However, I noticed in passing later,that much of the sand had disappeared under water, so people would either bewading, swimming, or getting picked up by boat I expect.

Graeme found the location of his old home in Perth, 1128Albany Road, Bentley Park. The old home was gone, in its place was a SHELLService Station (at least that retained his name!) 

He also visited his old Vic Park School, now RiversideCommunity College, and Vic Park Church, both now catering for a multiculturalpopulation. 

On Sabbath we visited Carmel College Church where they havea dynamic and tasteful musical group leading the singing.  

24 - Aquarium (AQWA) Perth - 18th September 2012

Last week we dropped off the van for service early in themorning. They worked on it all day and did a very thorough service and onlyfinished at closing time, 4 pm. One of the mechanics was having a birthday anddecided to give Graeme a present. He put $100 worth of ball bearings into thevan for him. He did not want to give Graeme back his old ones, which would notbe safe to use. I think it must have been the mechanic's 70th birthday, and hewas good at his job.

We decided to spend the day at the AQWA - Aquarium of WA. Itwas only about 8.30 am and we had a couple of hours to wait for opening time.Graeme put his head down for a nap and I went exploring. The area near theAquarium is called Hillary’s Boat Harbour. The wind was blowing a fearsome,cold wind and we had had rain in the night. Firstly, there were the mostluxurious cruisers and boats you can imagA group of Aboriginal schoolboysarrived to go fishing off the pier for an hour or so. (must have been sport forschool!) There was the biggest boardwalk of shops imaginable, with luxurious,newish shops, a shop that just sells chocolate for food, etc. Well at that houron a freezing morning, there were not many customers. Some shopkeepers came toopen. They said most of the business is on weekends.

Beyond and through the boardwalk were more expensive boatsmoored and beyond this to the shore was a beautiful family beach. It wasextensive and went out into the water, with platforms and a wharf for aslippery slide into the beach - way out in the centre of the beach. Behind thebeach was a large commercial water playground full of big slides, rock walls toclimb and all manner of entertainment for the children. Behind the beach andacross the road were expensive houses, and we discovered that a block of landthere is $750,000. I think it looked like something out of an Americanmagazine. House and land prices appear to be high here, but businesspeople sayit is the two-tiered economy at work. Those who work on the mines, basically,and those who do not. Some miners work on one week and off one week, ormultiples of weeks on and weeks off. The place appears to be thriving and fullof life.

We did not get many photos as the weather was unpleasant. Imet a couple going on a cruiser (liner?) out to Rottnest Island for the day. Itwas like a small cruise ship with the bow way up out of the water. I could nottake my eyes off it. $75 per day for one person. A beautiful boat. They werefortunate that the weather improved, and it did not rain, even warming up abit. Ah well, it is something to do next time, as I tried hard to get there,but did not make it.

The aquarium was amazing. I have seen a few in the capitalcities, but this was just for the West coast of WA, where the tropical andtemperate waters meet. There are reefs everywhere protecting the beaches.Apparently, all the sand dunes we saw coming down the coast used to be underthe ocean. Also, there are great gorges under the oceans here, deeper, andbigger than the Grand Canyon in the US. All kinds of amazing sea creatures livein those places. We also met most of the very venomous and dangerous seacreatures, like Blue Ringed Octopus, Stone Fish, Sea Snakes - there are plentyof different kinds. We did not see an Irukandji as far as I know. I would liketo go back and do it all again, but Bunbury and Busselton are calling. Thelength of the WA coast from top to bottom is 13,100 kilometres from North toSouth and around to the East as Graeme has added.

23 - To Bunbury and Busselton - 19-25th Sept 2012

A beautiful trip down the road from Perth on a fantastichighway, will bring you to Bunbury. We turned immediately on to the highwayfrom our caravan park. The highway has two lanes each way, a divided road, witha very wide gap between, which is occupied by the train line. To access thetrains, you must walk across a footbridge and on to the train station.Everything seems brand new - road, trains, and lines. There were heavy dutyelectricity poles going everywhere. Multiples of them. Lots happening in theWest. We drove through many beautiful towns with waterways everywhere and eventhough it was a very cold day, the beauty of the areas was obvious. Many ofthem are towns for retirees who want to fish and take their boats out on thewater. When we left the towns behind, we came to the most beautiful countrysideimaginable. There were living green paddocks, lightly treed with wildflowersall over them. Later the flowers changed to exotic flowers as well as natives.There were flowering trees everywhere as well. It looked all the world like anEnglish meadow.

Bunbury has grown to such a size it has absorbed thesurrounding towns into its populace. It is a large and colourful centre indeed.Dolphins are their special interest for tourists, plus orchids growing wild allaround, for everyone to find.

A couple of hours drive further on, brought us to Busselton.The weather has been freezing, windy, menacing grey-black cloud and nearlyblack ocean, which can look quite frightening and rain of course. So, it hasbeen a case of "batten down the hatches" for most of the time here.We have bravely hit the road each day and have visited all the Margaret Riverregion (all picturesque) like we have not seen for many years. There is thegreenest grass and the fattest, happiest dairy cows and livestock. 

There are wildflowers and orchids scattered through the properties andbushland. After so many months of desert it is a real treat to see. The beachesare extensive, and the surfer’s 'breaks' are in layers going out in the ocean,and yes, they are all in there having a ball. Other beaches are full of themost picturesque boulders.

On the day we arrived in Busselton a Wildflower and orchidExhibition opened in the Uniting Church hall, it was amazing with wildflowers collectedby nature lovers from a wide area and put on display for two days.  Hereare just a few we photographed.

Yesterday was the day for visiting the caves. There arehundreds of them. Some were found in the early 1800's, but it was a privilegeto be taken on escorted excursions through the caves. The limestone caves arestanding up just in the bush. They seem to stand about a couple of hundred feetabove the ground and when you are inside them, they are also way down belowyou. 

Early October 2012

The magnificent coastal scenery with two prominent capes,Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin, and green fertile country, contrasts withthe dry and barren land found in much of the state. There are limestone cavesand wineries in the Margaret River area, beautiful wildflowers, and gianteucalypts on the South Coast. The South Western area of the State has a coolerclimate with dark skies, dark seas, rain, wind and cold. Several days have beentwo degrees. 

We were glad for a couple of sunny days where we were ableto visit the 1.8 km pier at Busselton. There is a little train which runs tothe end of the pier where you can find an underwater observatory, showing offthe wide variety of undersea creatures because this is where the Indian and theSouthern oceans collide. The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is an item of beauty,built in 1895 and the surrounding beaches are many beautiful shades of blue.

On 6th December 1801 Captain Mathew FlindersCommander of HMS Investigator sighted Cape Leeuwin and commenced the mapping ofthe Australian coast.

We were invited to go and see the size of the waves at thePrevelly Beach near Margaret River. They were enormous as they crashed down onthe rocks surrounding much of the coast. Graeme and I stood there laughing atthese monstrous waves as each one approached, we were snapping away on ourcameras, unable to stop. The monsters also washed right up the mouth of theMargaret River, with the surfers riding the huge waves right into the rivermouth. The river itself was a calm and sedate affair with a beautiful shape. Aquiet place for a canoe or a swim for the children. All incrediblybeautiful. 

 The river was bounded by a large mountain covered withwildflowers and of course also the remains of the big burn Margaret Riversustained last year during the summer fires. Mainly the area nearer the beachwas burnt plus about 20 houses were lost. Another thing that fascinated me atPrevelly Beach is that the coast stretches around a corner at a 90-degree angleand two oceans flow into that place from two different directions. Seemedunique to me. We were delighted to find a brilliant heated swimming pool atMargaret River and had a most wonderful swim there.

We spent the last two weeks moving around the Margaret Riverregion and visiting so many beautiful places. The countryside looks likesomething you would more likely see in England than Australia. It is verygreen, with its annual rainfall being about one metre of rain. All the dams arefull and overflowing and flowers fill the meadows with sheep and cattlecontentedly enjoying their days. The cool climate vineyards are obviouslyhaving marked success. The entire countryside is very lush and beautiful. Wehave been finding quite a few orchids from tip offs from friends. In Pembertonwe visited the Karri Forest. The trees are about 61 feet high and you arewelcome to climb to the top. The weather has been cold wet and dark, however.In the showers we are joined by some leaches. It has been bitterly cold.

27 Manjimup, Denmark, and Albany mid October 2012

We have been in the land of the giant trees, Jarrah, Marri,and Giant Tingle trees. We did the Tree Top Walk and although we have done manyof them before, we have never seen anything like this one. Please imagine theGiant Tingle Trees being 75m tall, with bases on them of 34 metres around thebase. That is some walk where the trees tower way over your head, even when youare standing 60 metres high. 

Later we walked through the forest, underneath the walk.Some trees we could stand in, some you can drive a car through. They aregracious, stately, beautiful, straight and tall. Some of the Giant Tingle treesalmost have human faces on them. One is considered the grandmother of all theother trees, about 400 years old. You could make an entire comic strip out ofthe Giant Tingles. The trees are easy to photograph as they stand up sostraight and tall for you.

The tall trees grow over a huge area of the state. Trees,trees, and more trees... everywhere you go, with some narrow roads that weshared with logging trucks. Everything was as pretty as a picture wherever we travelledwith the farms brimming full of overflowing dams and contented cows and bulls,plus sheep and vineyards, chocolates, fruit trees, fudge factories and lots ofarts and craft stores including patchwork. I have been reading a book on theearly Teak trade in Burma, many years ago. It is an interesting comparison.Elephants used to do so much of the work in Burma. I learnt Elephants arewonderful, intelligent, loving animals. If a man draws a circle on the groundfor his infant daughter to stay within, when she is crawling, an elephant willpatiently stand there and each time the infant crosses the circle, the elephantwill pick her up and put her back in her prescribed circle. He will do thatmerrily all day long to please his keeper and care for the infant.

Friends from Manjimup church drove us a hundred kilometresto take us to see a beautiful National Park. It was a lovely day getting toknow the folk. They are just about to open a drug and alcohol clinic where theycan work along with addicts to help them to kick their addiction. It will be alive-in setting. 

We were staying at Fonty’s Pool about 12km from Manjimupwhere they have a large swimming pool fed by a natural spring, and on twomornings the calm conditions were perfect for a beautiful reflection on thedam; one of these photos is included.

We stayed at Walpole, a tiny town on a bay, stopped off atDenmark to take some photographs of Elephant Rocks and Greens Pool. This was atotally amazing sight. Had been hanging out for that place for a long time.

We moved on to Albany, a town of about 30,000 people. It ison the Princess Royal Harbour and King George Sounds, pretty as a picture witha port for industry as well. There were heaps of fertilizer waiting on thewharfs for ship transport. (not smelly, though). Into this strange mix stood anewish Civic Theatre on the wharf. It is made from raw timber of course. Itlooked a bit out of place there.  The town is both old and new, but thething to see here are 3 amazing beauty spots called Natural Bridge, The Gap,and The Blowhole. We only found these in the early evening. It is another oneof those places to be sure to come and see for yourself. It is a part ofAustralia where it used to be joined to Antarctica when they were one land ofGondwana. You must imagine it is the domain of giants, to imagine the sizes ofthe giant stones, gaps, and natural bridges. It would really blow your mind tosee the massive ocean performing its rites into these enormous gaps, underarches and the sound of the blow holes. You need to watch your step - easy toget swept away. It is also a giant's ocean swell as well.

Hooray we found a sunny day yesterday as we visited the oldwhaling station. They have done it up so well it is interesting andentertaining. We meet lovely people everywhere we go. I sat in the cafe forlunch and the magical colours of the sand and the sea, caused me to keeppicking up my camera to keep photographing the waves as they rolled over alarge nearly flat stone. It was just so pretty. 

We found paddocks of land covered with pink and yellowflowers on a back road as we headed toward the wind farm that provideselectricity for Albany. Those giant arms move slowly as they generate thepower. Well, it is quite a place and we will have to move on without havingspent enough time here.

Before we left Albany, the weather turned windy and rainy,so we drove inland to Wave Rock for a couple of days where it was calm andsometimes sunny (340 kms). We have attached one photo from Wave Rock takenabout 6 am.

We are at Esperance, where once again it is raining andmisty. Next week we plan to start our trek home across the Nullarbor and emailsmay be infrequent with limited internet access.

28 Cape Le Grand National Park near Esperance - 19thOctober 2012

We drove from Esperance to Cape Le Grand National Park;about 50 km. Cape Le Grand is heath land and native flowering shrubs. There arebeautiful large rocks, of many different shapes - one wears a Frenchman’s capon the top and there is a large gap at the base of the hat where the sun shinesthrough. There is a mystical feel to the National Park.

When you stumble upon the bays, they stop your breathbecause of the pristine beauty. They certainly remind you of the River of Life,pure and clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of the Father. The sandis pure white, and the colour of the water is so clear and such pale blue, thatit is hard for the camera to photograph it. Beyond the clear water lies an areaof beautiful pale clear turquoise water and beyond that in the deep, the blueis the deepest, bluest water imaginable. 

There are many beautiful rocks at the edge of some of thebays and other rocks, which look like totems of all kinds of shapes and sizes.It is obvious that this place was also very special to the Aboriginal people.It is an area of great significance. There are islands beyond the bays. Thereare wonderful walks and climbs.

A lot of effort has gone into making it comfortable for thevisitors who come, yet it still looks untouched. Cape Le Grand sits on the topof places to visit, together with Shark Bay, Coral Bay, Margaret River Regionand Cape Leeuwin National Park.

29 Esperance Great Ocean Road – 20th October 2012

From Esperance we took a drive along the Great Ocean Roadgoing West. Fortunately, the sun came out and we saw the Bay of Isles, whichEsperance is known as. There are over 120 islands in the harbour and bays. Youneed the sun to be shining to do this magnificent trip. Although it is a tripof only about 40 km, you must keep stopping the car to take photos. The coloursand the beaches give beautiful surprises. We felt privileged to see suchbeauty.

For those of you who have crossed The Great Australian Bightby ship, out there in those thunderous rolling waves which smash over your ship,it is hard to imagine they end on a beautiful colourful shore, gently lappingonto these pristine beaches of the Great South Land.

By the pier, we enjoyed the company of a local sea lion andhis mate, who performed beautifully for us.

Another day whilst out photographing birds in the bush wehad a close encounter with a snake, who turned out to be a harmless tree snake.We have seen a few snakes on this trip.

We admit we had some beautiful days in Esperance and wereglad the sun shone a couple of days so we could get these lovely photographs.

Leaving Esperance, we spent six days crossing the Nullarborand the salt bush desert lands. One day was close to 40 degrees and we did 500km that day. There is little water or power available during that trip. However,for several days, the waters of the Great Australian Bight are close by, aswell as the giant cliffs which comprise the rocky fabric of the coast ofAustralia. They are very high, and the water is way down below. There are a fewplaces where there are lookouts and you can see the cliffs. Other than this youhave little sense of the great ocean being there, as the salt-bush plains areup high on the top of the cliffs. The only way to get a good view of the cliffsis to be on a ship at sea looking toward the coast. Surprisingly, the ocean isa beautiful colour of blue, like all the coastal waters around the WesternAustralia.

We are having a rest in Adelaide now and plan to leaveshortly for a visit to our dear family in Victoria before we eventually arrivehome.

30 Adelaide to Healesville and home 21 Nov 2012

We are at Seymour, having been recently in Healesville. Wedrove back from Wilson's Promontory with the GPS and it brought us acrossGippsland and over the Yarra Ranges. The countryside of Victoria has beenbathed in six months of rain and everything is pristine, ‘picture book’beautiful. We wanted to photograph it all - so beautiful.

We had a breakdown in Vic (out in the beautiful farmlandnear Yambuk) due to a leaking Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valve, resultingin lost radiator water and overheated engine, and had to be towed intoWarrnambool (pop 30,000). We were thinking we did not need this, but unbeknownto us, we did. The Ford repair people fixed the car in two days. 

As we were leaving town, we went to one of their partnercompanies to have the brakes checked on the van, after the tow. As we drove outof their premises there were four mighty bangs as we exited. The mechanics whohad all been watching us leave, hopped under the van in double quick time tosee what had happened. It had nothing to do with them, but the U bolts thathold the axles under the van had loosened and moved out of place and one of theaxles had moved sideways, with one of the right hand wheels against the vanwall. Had we continued with our drive to Geelong, (which is what we weredoing), there would have been a catastrophic accident. We had no idea of coursethat the axles had come lose. So, it was really good that we broke down in theWarrnambool region, because if we had not had that annoying break-down, wewould never have found that our axles on the van were loose and coming adrift.Moral from this story: When things go terribly wrong and annoy you, there mightbe a good reason for it, and it may save your life.

Warrnambool is fascinating. An old town that is totallyloved by its residents. There are the wildest seas, islands with littlepenguins which are guarded by dogs, waterways, and rivers. Highly recommendedfor a visit. We also found the most kind and helpful people there. There isalso an old seafaring village which is exceptionally well done. It looks likethe real thing to me. Most beautiful gardens and roses.

By God's grace, we eventually arrived in Geelong to seefamily and friends. After that we went to Melbourne to see Darlene’s family andthen on to Wilsons Promontory. Unfortunately, it has been devastated by twobushfires and one massive flood. So, it has had a lot of destruction and willtake a long while to heal. The beautiful native animals seemed to be largelygone. Two hundred and fifty people had to be air-lifted in the sudden flood andhad to leave behind their cars, vans, offices. There are marvellous beachesthere, such an interesting place. We found one Echidna and a colourfulkangaroo, who had a good look at us.

It is a tonic to see the beauty here now. We have certainlynever seen Victoria look like this before. So do come and have a look. Theroses and rhododendrons are out - the place is a total picture.

Hope to catch up with further family this week, and then weshould soon be back at our starting place - Tumbi Umbi. Who said"adventure"?

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