Category: The half lap

That’s it – trip over

Well folks that’s it and after 6 months on the road experiencing just a fraction of what this fantastic country has to offer we are finally home and already planning the next trip.

For those new to this blog; have a look through it and we hope you enjoy the record of our 6 month trip from Melbourne, up the middle of Australia to Darwin then down the west coast, across the Nullabour back to Melbourne.

We’d love some feedback so please let us know using the comments box on each post. Neil & Merrisa

Apollo Bay

Well, welcome home to Victoria folks! Been away for just over 6 months and we are experiencing our first taste of serious rain! We hit Apollo Bay and it was the first time we had to set-up in the rain. Suppose beggars cannot be choosers (as the saying goes) as we have not experienced rain for the past 193 days of travel.

We have been to Apollo Bay countless times before and love to stay at the Apollo Bay Holiday Park, which is nice and close to town (maplink). The scallop pies at the local bakery were excellent too.

We still managed to do some fishing (no luck there) and take the mandatory walk up to Mariners Lookout as well as take in the shops (several times) and while we were there Green Peace’s Rainbow Warrior pulled into town as part of a protest about oil drilling in the Great Australian Bight.

Carisbrook Waterfall (maplink) was also a picturesque place to visit especially after the heavy rain we had just experienced.

The Great Ocean Road

You cannot travel eastward along the Victorian coast without stopping off at the amazing sites of this piece of coastline. So as we travelled from Port Fairy to Apollo Bay we stopped off at the Bay of Islands and 12 Apostles.

Even though we have done this many times in the past it was still a must do! We just could not believe how popular the 12 Apostles have become; there were literally thousands of people there; a kaleidoscope of humanity.

Some links…

Hopkins Falls (near Warrnambool)

We visited Warrnambool about 15 years ago with our boys for a holiday as well as some EzeScan work for the local Council & Wannon Water so decided to skip Warrnambool this time but just had to go back to Hopkins Falls after visiting it with our boys all those years ago (maplink).

The falls are about 90 meters wide but no that tall. This is a lovely spot and well maintained with plenty of information about the short-finned eels which travel from the Hopkins River all the way to the Coral Sea, near Vanuatu, to mate every year.

On the way back to Port Fairy we looked for and found a piece of artwork created by a Warrnambool local, which is a brilliant piece of wall art depicting a wombat coming out of the wall of a railway bridge. There is a very funny story about this artwork available on YouTube and is worth a look. Check it out below…

Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve

We’d heard a fair bit about Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve so headed out to check it out; only 15km east from Port Fairy (maplink).

Not sure if it was due to the amazing wildlife reserves and parks we had visited over the previous 6 months around Australia but this place was rather underwhelming. It requires an extensive weed eradication program to begin with. Really would not recommend this as a place to visit folks; however the emu’s are pretty cool.

Port Fairy

We arrived in the lovely coastal town of Port Fairy, checking into the Gardens Caravan Park for 3 days, which is in the perfect spot to stroll into town or to the beach (maplink). Really nice park with plenty of space. We just love Port Fairy and it was a must stop destination on our way home.

Took a walk around Griffiths Island which is home to thousands of mutton birds as well a fairy penguins. Checked out the lighthouse, which is not exactly stunning but still worth a look.

Some links…

Nelson VIC

The next stop on the last part of our trek was the small town of Nelson near the SA/VIC border. This is a beautiful little town (population 226) situated on the Glenelg River (maplink).

We pulled into the River-Vu Caravan Park which is right on the Glenelg River with the old heritage pub just over the road – a perfect spot for a couple of days.

Booked a small powerboat from Nelson Boat Hire and went for a tour of the Glenelg River stopping for a fish along the way – ahhh the serenity of it; beautiful.

Six Mile Inn Cairn – Mt Gambia SA

Neil’s sister Janis has been researching the Alexander family tree and discovered a bit of history about our grandmother’s great grandfather, Robert Adams (our great great great grandfather). He built a pub just north of Mount Gambier in 1865; which was demolished in 1901 but there is a memorial cairn acknowledging it on the Riddoch Highway (maplink).

Our task was to locate the memorial cairn, which we did!

Here is a bit of history about it all…

My great/great/great grandfather Robert Adams was a convict sent to Van Dieman’s land. Robert was from Cheshire in England and was sentenced to 7 years for stealing 60lbs worth of iron worth 2/6d (25c), arriving in Tassie in January 1830.

Robert served five different masters and was not known as a model prisoner. He earned his ticket of leave and was freed into servitude to John Pascoe Fawkner in April 1836 and came back to Melbourne with him. When he had served his time with Fawkner, he went to work for the Learmonth brothers on a Sheep station at Buninyong, near Ballarat in Victoria.

Robert then worked with Joseph Hawdon and Charles Bonney and took the first herd of cattle to Adelaide, arriving in April 1838.

Robert settled in South Australia and settled into farming in the Robe area, Robert bought land at Peweena and built the Six Mile Inn in 1865. It was 6 miles from the centre of Mt Gambier. As well as running the pub he acted as the postmaster for Peweena and the mail coach stopped to pick up the mail bags. His son-in-law Yaxley Height was the last publican before the pub was demolished in 1901. Robert died in 1884.

Beachport SA

While staying in Robe we took a day trip to check out the town of Beachport (maplink) which is a lovely little fishing village built at about the same time as Robe.

On the return trip we stopped off to see the Woakwine Cutting which is said to be Australia’s biggest one-man engineering feat, the cutting was excavated to drain a large swamp for farmland behind the Woakwine Range. It took 2 men approx 3 years to excavate through the cutting making a drain 1 km long and up to 34 meters deep; removing 276,000 cubic metres of material – outstanding effort!

Some links…

Robe SA

We had originally planned to stay at Kingston SE but the caravan park was right on the beach which was full of rank smelling rotting seaweed so we moved onto Robe which turned out to be a great choice. What a lovely place Robe is, with so many historic buildings and cafés.

We selected the Robe Discovery CP located just out of town on long beach (maplink).

A lot of historical buildings were erected in the mid 1800’s and have been restored to their original splendor by the owners and historical society. Robe also has a lot of very expensive looking holiday homes and large mariner with plenty of money moored there.

Took the usual coastal drive to check out things and found the Chinese memorial erected to commemorate 16,500 Chinese who landed at Robe between 1856-1858 and then walked 200 miles (320 km) to the Victorian goldfields in search of gold.

We also discovered the Robe Obelisk, erected erected in 1855 to assist ships and their navigators to the safe entrance into Guichen Bay. The obelisk is a famous landmark and is of special local historical significance.

Some links…

Victor Harbour SA – Day Trip

It was pretty random that our long time friends Keith and Birgit just happened to be in Glenelg at the same time as us; so we teamed up and took a day trip to the seaside town of Victor Harbour (maplink).

We did the walk out to Granite Island and then took the horse drawn tram back.This is a must do when in Victor Harbour.

Then lunch in the Hotel Victor. A great day was had with our special friends.

Some links…

Mt Lofty & Hahndorf SA

We took a trip, from our base in Glenelg, up into the Adelaide Hills to check out Mount Lofty and the historic German village of Hahndorf with our travelling buddies Bob & Michelle (maplink). It was a great day checking out the sights.

From the Mount Lofty Visitors Centre you can see all the way to the coast as well as the Adelaide CBD and Glenelg where we were staying. The view is pretty spectacular to say the least.

We then spent a few hours in the village of Hahndorf. Very pretty place with lots of history. This was a couple of days before Remembrance Day and the locals were planting out hundreds of hand crocheted poppies in the ANZAC memorial park and it was looking great; the lady said they had about another 500 to go – great work.

We dropped into the German Village Shop for a browse. They have the most beautifully hand carved Cuckoo clocks and Pinocchio dolls

Some links…

Port Germein SA

On our road-trip from Whyalla to Glenelg we stopped at the historic town of Port Germein (maplink).

We went here to check out the historic jetty which was officially opened in 1881 and has length of about 1500 metres. It was originally built for loading bags of grain onto sailing ships and destined for ports all over the world. It was once the longest jetty in the southern hemisphere. The jetty is now a great venue for tourists and locals alike.

Some links…

Whyalla SA

We travelled in a Bailey convoy of 3 vans together arriving at the Whyalla Foreshore Caravan Park (maplink) and arranged for 3 sites side by side overlooking the water; which was pretty cool.

Spent 3 days here having a bit of a look around town and hanging out on the beach with our Bailey friends – Neil & Sharon and Bill & Cheryl.

Some links…

Roadtrip to Whyalla SA – Tumby Bay & Arno Bay

We finally left Port Lincoln and headed to Whyalla taking a couple of stops along the way. We were in a Bailey convoy with our friends Neil & Sharon.

First was the wheat silos in Tumby Bay (maplink). It’s amazing how they scale the artwork to fit the silo (check the photos). The artwork was inspired by an Instagram image of two boys jumping for fun and relief off the Tumby Bay jetty. We then drove into town for a look around, saw nothing spectacular so we moved on.

Next stop was Arno Bay which was really just a toilet stop and when we returned to our caravans there was another Bailey parked up next to our two. Seeing 3 Bailey caravans parked up together is a real rarity so we all had a good laugh and introduced ourselves to the newcomers Bill & Cheryl. All three vans then continued in convoy to Whyalla where we stayed for 3 nights.

Some links…

Port Lincoln – Fred’s Marina Tour

We found a very quaint tour called Fred’s Marina Tour where Captain Fred takes 10 people, in his little electric boat, around the fishing harbour in Port Lincoln. Fred talks (for 2 hours) about the different types of fishing fleets and aquaculture that has grown in the Port Lincoln area. It was very informative and finished with a short cruise through the water ways of the Port Lincoln rich and famous.

While we were in the harbour one of the Clean Seas Kingfish processing boats returned from the Kingfish pens with a load of kingfish to be exported. The boat looks amazing with all of it’s pipes and vacuums etc. They unloaded enough fish to fill a semi-trailer, and they do this nearly every day.

Some links…

Port Lincoln Caravan Park

We discovered a really nice caravan park called Port Lincoln Tourist Park right on the water and tiered up the hill so that the majority of sites had a view of the water. This would have to be one of the best laid out parks we had stayed in with magnificent views over Spencer Gulf (maplink).

We actually extended the stay for an extra day as we enjoyed the location, staying there with our Bailey friends Neil & Sharon. Also took in the Friday night market in Port Lincoln and checked out the Makybe Diva statue.

Some links…

Coffin Bay SA

We decided to stop at Coffin Bay for a couple of days and what a great find this was. The Coffin Bay Caravan Park is in a perfect position for doing the coastal walk along the Oyster Walk as well as strolling over to the Beachcomber next door for happy hour – oysters and a few drinks.

The caravan park also has a permanent nightly population of kangaroos and there are plenty of mines to trod on each morning. Totally loved this stay along with Neil & Sharon Morrison.

We took a drive through the Coffin Bay National Park to check out the striking coastline. We also came across a couple of emus along the way.

Some links…

Elliston SA

Moved 127km down the road from Streaky Bay to Elliston (maplink) and booked into the Waterloo Bay CP. A nice little park where we stayed for 2 nights.

Elliston has a great coastal drive which takes in more of the amazing coastline with various art placements from local artists. Some are pretty cool; one even played host to a beehive.

Some links…

Streaky Bay SA – Murphy’s Haystacks

As we left Streaky Bay (SA), travelling to Elliston, we stopped off at a pretty interesting natural phenomenon called “Murphy’s Haystacks”. They are ancient wind-worn pink granite boulders that formed 1500 million years ago. They stand like a crooked set of giant’s molars on a hilltop just 2km off the Flinders Highway. (maplink)

Folklore has them named after a Scottish agricultural expert who spotted the crop of remarkable rocks from the local mail coach. The Scotsman obviously had a fertile imagination. “That man must harrow,” he commented to his fellow travellers. “Look at all the hay he has saved.”

The owner of the land was Denis Murphy, and faster than you could shout “mine’s a Guinness!” the Murphy’s Haystacks nickname had stuck. Of course they’ve nothing to do with haymaking and are in fact great examples of weathered granite inselberg formations (German for “island-mountain”). They’re part of a larger mass called the Hiltaba Granite, named for the Hiltaba Station in the southwest Gawler Ranges, under which much of the mass lies. Ayers Rock is an inselberg.

The granite was originally hidden deep in the Earth’s crust, probably some 7-10 km below the surface, but over eons the overlying rocks have worn to be transported and deposited on the surrounding continental shelf and inland basins.

Some links…

Streaky Bay SA – Point Labatt Seals

The second coastal drive from Streaky Bay was to Point Labatt to check out the seal colony and view more of the striking coastline. (maplink)

We found lazy seals, just kickin’ back doing nothing, and energetic seals who were frolicking in the rock pools. It was a great trip.

Found in no other country in the world, the Australian sea-lion is one of Australia’s most endangered marine mammals and rarest seals. Point Labatt is the only place on the mainland where Australian seal pups can be seen learning to swim, play and rest on the beach. It is also one of the few places in and around Australia where they are protected from land predators and which provides a safe environment for the sea-lion pups to develop.

Some links…

Streaky Bay – Razorfish gathering

Streaky Bay is a beautiful place to stay and the caravan park is right on the beach. One of our neighbours “Fast Eddy” took me out to gather some Razorfish.

Razorfish (also known as razorshell, razor clam, common razor and pod razor) are a range of bivalve mollusc species common around the Eyre Peninsula coastline. They are an edible species of shellfish which gets their common name from their resemblance to an old fashioned cut throat razor.

You need to wear protective footwear and gloves as they will cut through your skin very easily (why they are called Razorfish). They are like flattened cones and are about 300mm in length with the pointy end embedded in the sand and the “mouth” just poking out of the seabed. You just pull them out, crack them open and remove the “heart” which looks like a scallop. Cook them just like a scallop too. Limit is 25 per person per day.

Here is a video I found on YouTube showing how Razorfish are cleaned…

Streaky Bay – Cape Bauer Loop Coastal Drive

The Cape Bauer Loop drive is a 39 km coastal scenic drive from Streaky Bay, on the western side of the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. It is a good quality dirt road, very little traffic, lovely coastal scenery and easy access from Streaky Bay.

Cape Bauer is a limestone headland that marks the northernmost point of Corvisart Bay. The eastern side falls away to the sheltered waters of the Gibson Peninsula coastal wetlands, while beautiful beaches stretch southwards.

The drive is still classified as being part of the Great Australian Bight. Taking the drive out of Streaky Bay we visited several locations along the way including the blow hole and whistling rocks along with many scenic lookouts.

Some links…

Crossing the Nullarbor

Our trip across the Nullarbor was taken over 3 days…

  • day 1 was 709 km from Kalgoorlie WA to Madura Pass WA (route map)
    • we pulled into a free camp at the end of day 1 but the only other people there were a bit strange so we decided to move on and eventually got to Madura Pass just on dark.
  • day 2 was 522 km from Madura Pass WA to Nundroo SA (route map)
  • day 3 262 km from Nundroo SA to Streaky Bay SA (route map)

What an amazing drive this is as it has many aspects to discover such as the magnificent views, the 90km straight, the kangaroos watching us pass-by at dusk on day 1 (a bit scary) and the fact there are trees on the Nullarbor.

Some links…

Kalgoorlie Super Pit

The Kalgoorlie Super Pit, run by Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines Pty Ltd (KCGM), is the largest open-cut gold mine & 3rd largest open-cut mine in the world. KCGM was created by Alan Bond in the 1989 when he consolidated a heap of mining leases to allow the open cut to begin.

We took the 2.5 hour Super Pit tour with Kalgoorlie Tours & Charters which was pretty good. We learnt a lot about the super pit and the massive scope of operations required to extract and process gold from the mine. The Super Pit…

  • is 3.9 km long and 1.6 km at its widest point
  • covers 35,000 hectares and is approx 600 metres deep
  • produces around 700,000 ounces of gold per year from around 15 million tonnes of extracted rock
  • the big dredges and trucks last about 7 years and are then replaced
  • they use 5 to 6 million litres of diesel fuel per month and store 700,000 litres onsite
  • KCGM expected gold processing to finish at the mine in 2021, however it now plans to extend ore processing until 2029

Some links…

Kalgoorlie Town Tour

We booked into the Gold Town Discovery Tour, which provided a great insight of Kalgoorlie’s history. We visited…

Kalgoorlie – Questa Casa Brothel Tour

Whilst in Kalgoorlie we took a tour of the famous Hay Street Brothel called Questa Casa which is reputed to be Australia’s oldest brothel run by an 80 year old madam by the name of Carmal.

The tour group sat around in a circle whilst Carmal’s daughter told us the history of prostitution in Kalgoorlie from the earliest days to the present. It was a fascinating tale to be told. If you are ever in Kalgoorlie this is actually a really good tour to do.

We then had a guided tour through the brothel seeing the working girls rooms and the “dominatrix” room with all it’s whips are very scary looking sex toys.

Some links…

What’s Up Downunder (YouTube) with Frankie J Holden

Kalgoorlie – Ancient Rome display at Museum of the Goldfields

While visiting the Kalgoorlie Museum of the Goldfields we found a special exhibit about ancient Rome with working example of some of the inventions they created including…

  • The first land odometer
  • The first naval odometer
  • How they built their roads
  • The Groma – used by surveyors to lay out land boundaries
  • The abacus
  • Meridian Sundial
  • Water Wheel

Kalgoorlie – Museum of the Goldfields

The Kalgoorlie Museum of the Goldfields was quite interesting place to visit. We learnt a lot about the goldfields and history of gold exploration in the area.

The basement vault contains replicas of historic gold nugget finds and explains the costly process of extracting the precious metal, for example…

  • The gold produced for a single gold wedding ring may require the removal of over 20 tonnes of rock!
  • Gold mining produces more waste rock per gram of metal than any other metal
  • The production process is known to release toxic metals into the environment and uses large amounts of energy

Esperance – Cape Le Grand National Park

Cape Le Grand NP is a short 46km drive from Esperance (maplink) and wow is it worth it! The landscape changes from massive granite outcrops to freshwater pools and unbelievably white sandy beaches with views over many islands. We spent the day here having a look around and visited (maplink)…

  • Hellfire Bay – a scenic, secluded bay nestled between sea-swept rocky headlands
  • Whistling Rock – as the name suggests; there is a large rock that whistles in the wind. Must have been blowing in the wrong direction when we were here as we heard nothing and it was windy enough to blow you hat off. Still a beautiful place with lots of granite, wildflowers and crystal clear water
  • Thistle Cove – Captain Matthew Flinders named Thistle Cove in 1802 after the ship’s master John Thistle
  • Frenchman Peak – just had a look at it as it’s a 3 hour return hike rated as a level 5.
  • Lucky Bay – the star of the trip. The water is the most azure blue and sand the whitest you could ever find, and of course it squeaks! This was voted the best beach in WA and it is easy to understand why. We drove down onto the beach and had lunch next to the car (out of the wind) just up from the Lucky Bean Cafe van. Kangaroos also came down onto the beach to say hi to everyone – pretty cool.

Some links…

Around Esperance

It was quite a long 530km drive from Denmark to Esperance (maplink) but the location we selected to stay at, Seaside Caravan Park made the distance worth it. The CP is located right on the beach with ocean views out of our van’s front windows. As in previous stops we will use this as our base for the next 3 days.

First trip was the Great Ocean Drive to the west of Esperance visiting…

  • The Pink Lake – which is no longer Pink due to the construction of a railway line blocking the flow of salt water plus environment changes in the area (more on Wikipedia)
  • 11 Mile Lagoon – vividly blue water and white sands; absolutely stunning
  • The Esperance windfarm has nine turbines positioned at Ten Mile Lagoon. In 2004, six more turbines were built at Nine Mile Beach. The two wind farms now generate enough to meet around 20% of Esperance’s power needs.
  • Observatory Point – were looking for whales but saw none but the view is still pretty good
  • Blue Haven Beach – We had lunch here with amazing azure blue water and stunning white sands as a backdrop along with it’s strange looking granite island.
  • Rotary Lookout – located at Dempster Head, it gives you a 360° view of the town of Esperance

The following day we took a stroll along the foreshore in front of our caravan park and eagle-eye Merrisa spotted dolphins about 5 metres from the shore.

Around Denmark

We were so glad that we selected Denmark as a base to check out the south west part of WA. The Rivermouth Caravan Park is right on the water with Pelican’s cruising past and just a naturally chilled out feeling you get from staying there. Some of the places we visited were…

  • Ocean Beach – lovely place where the mouth of the Harding River reaches the ocean. Love to come back here when the water is warmer!
  • William Bay National Park where we visited…
    • Greens Pool – a striking beach which forms a natural swimming hole protected from the wild seas of the Southern Ocean. The colours are amazing.
    • Elephant Rocks – next door to Greens Pool and looks exactly like a herd of elephants, paddling in the shallow waters.
    • Waterfall Beach – not exactly what we expected with a tiny waterfall running straight onto the beach, but was still worth a look.

It was as we walked down the path to Greens Pool that Merrisa just missed stepping on a Dugite (venomous) Snake. The scream she emitted certainly gave both myself and the snake a terrible fright. Fortunately the snake slithered off between her feet (yep – it was that close). Check out my “photo-shopped” reenactment of the event below.

Albany – Field of Light ANZAC Avenue of Honour

An immersive art installation by Bruce Munro, Field of Light: Avenue of Honour pays homage to the ANZAC’s with 16,000 shining spheres at the ANZAC Memorial on Mt Clarence in Albany. These globes come to light at dusk and symbolise the last sight of home for 41,000 troops who departed from Albany for World War 1. The colours are Yellow, White, Green and Red; symbolising the national flower flowers of Australia & New Zealand – wattle and the kowhai. This installation is in place until 25 June 2019.

Bruce Munro also designed the installation at Uluru where we had dinner in the dessert back in June; called the Field of Light (link to the blog).

Some links…

Day trip to Albany

We visited Albany to have a look at the Gap and Natural Bridge in Torndirrup National Park.

The Gap is a natural wonder enhanced by some very clever engineering with the building of a stainless steel viewing platform 40 metres directly above the surging seas. We were told by a couple of locals that several people have died there trying to sit on the railing above the surging seas and take selfies but have slipped and fell, with no means of getting back they have drowned. We were also told that when the ocean is really big the waves will actually come up through the floor of the platform.

The Natural Bridge is pretty amazing it shows the strength of nature as a group of rocks are suspended over a chasm creating a natural bridge with the ocean surging in below.

Later we went into Albany to find Dog Rock which we photographed when we were here in 1980. It’s now so special that many local business contain “Dog Rock” in their name.

We rounded out the day at the new Field of Light installation in the ANZAC Avenue of Honour – see next blog and then dinner at a top little Italian Restaurant by the name of Venice.

Some links…

YouTube video of the Gap installation…

Denmark – Valley of the Giants

Traveled 326km from Margaret River to Denmark on the WA south coast (maplink). We had many recommendations for Denmark from other travelers, so we booked into the Rivermouth Caravan Park just outside town. We used this as a central base for exploring the area.

First stop was to check out the tree top walk in the Valley of the Giants in the Walpole-Nornalup National Park (maplink). Put this on your bucket list folks as it’s pretty amazing. There are two walks – one along the tree tops walk bridge and then another “the Ancient Empire” through the Tingle trees.

We stopped into Peaceful Bay for lunch on the way back to Denmark then took a stroll through a very pretty parkland in the Denmark township.

Some links…

Margaret River Wineries

You cannot visit the Margaret River region without visiting some wineries so we trundled out today to visit just a few…

We finished our little tour at the Margaret River Chocolate Factory (identical to Chocolatier in Vic) followed by the Margaret River Dairy Company. It was a great day spent visiting the region.

South of Margaret River – Tall Forests, Hamelin Bay, Augusta & Cape Leeuwin

Overcast and cool today; headed down to Augusta through the tall Karri Forests in the National Park.

Stopped off at Hamelin Bay which was originally established as a port for exporting of Karri timber. There are 11 shipwrecks in the bay and on July 2nd 1900 a ship  was wrecked in a massive storm which ended the timber export from here due to the hazardous conditions.

The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is the tallest in WA and the 3rd in the country sitting 54 metres above sea level. This is the extreme south-western most point of the Australian continent, and the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Great Southern Ocean.

We also checked out the famous “fossilised water wheel” which was built to help pump water from a spring up to the lighthouse in the late 1800’s.

On the way back to Margaret River we stopped to view the fields of white Arum lily flowers, declared an environmental pest, which grow all over this end of WA. They are literally everywhere you look in the pastures and forests.

North of Margaret River – Yallingup, Dunsborough, Eagle Bay & Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse

Taking Caves Road and driving north along the coast from Margaret River you come across some beautiful places with amazing vistas over the ocean and coastline.

Starting in Yallingup we checked out the surf, watching a couple of guys doing tricks on their boogie boards in close to shore as well as a pod of dolphins surfing through the waves. I was fortunate enough to snap a photo of a dolphin jumping out of a wave – pretty cool.

Had lunch in a nice little cafe in Dunsborough before exploring Eagle Bay (millionaire’s holiday spot) and onto a look at Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse.

Some links…

Busselton Jetty

Took a trip up to Busselton from Margaret River and discovered the Busselton Jetty, which is the longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere stretching 1.8 km into Geographe Bay.

We took the quaint little train out to the end where we took the tour of the underwater observatory. This is another one of those “must do” activities if you are ever in the region.

Some links…

Margaret River – Gracetown WA

We had planned to stay in Prevelly Caravan Park, where we stayed in 1980, but decided to abandon that idea at the last minute based on what we had heard about it (like not being updated since we were last there – from the guy on the phone at the Prevelly CP).

So at the last minute (like 2kms from town) we found Gracetown Caravan Park (maplink) which was absolutely fantastic. Nice bushy park with friendly people and just a good vibe – coffee van visited each morning. We even had a friendly kookaburra come to visit every afternoon trying to share our nibbles; little girl next door called him “Kooky” buy her brother called him “Luigi”.

We found this was a bit of a drive from Margaret River, but in WA you get used to this. Took a drive down to Prevelly Park and had a look at the mouth of the Margaret River. Truly beautiful spot to spend the day.

Some links…

Perth’s Elizabeth Quay and Kings Park

The only time spent in Perth city was to visit Elizabeth Quay and Kings Park which was enough for us as Neil had visited Perth several times when working for EzeScan.

Elizabeth Quay (maplink) is really nice but it’s a bit of a shame that the openness of the place is now being built out by high rise apartments and hotels right on the water’s edge. Took a jet-boat ride out on the Swan River with Wild West Charters which was a bit of a hoot. The guy who runs the show is a real character; he gave these 5 Indian tourists on the trip a recipe for preparing and cooking a “swan” – it was really funny to watch their faces, but not very PC.

Headed off to Kings Park (maplink) for lunch and to have a look at the WA wild flower displays. Absolutely love this place and would always come back to visit when in Perth.

Australian Maritime Museum – Fremantle WA

Spent the day in Fremantle and visited the Maritime Museum. This is a must do if in Perth/Fremantle with a lot of history and they also have the America’s Cup winner Australia II there.

They were also running a virtual reality feature called The Antarctica Experience which we took part in and it was mind-blowing.

Rockingham WA – our Perth base

Rocked up to Rockingham and stayed at the Cee and See Caravan Park which is right on the beach. Nice peaceful location 46kms from Perth (maplink) with mainly permanent sites; which are really quaint with carports, verandahs and gnome gardens – more than you’d be allowed to have at most parks.

We chose this location so that we could catch up with our friends John & Margaret Auld who live nearby. It also gave us the opportunity to catch up with an old Ocean Grove mate, Greg (Peck) Wynn at his home in South Yunderup.

Spent our time with Auldie at the riding for disabled facility he is volunteering at a new Riding for the Disabled nearby then having a look around the district visiting the naval shipyards where John worked and a look around Freo. Even got to watch the grand final at a sports bar in Rockingham but we won’t talk too much about that one.

Wally the Wombat also came to live with us while we were in Rockingham. Cheeky little wombat keeps turning up in strange places. Look out for him in future photos.

The Pinnacles – Nambung National Park (near Cervantes WA)

We dropped in to check out the “Pinnacles” on our 476km road-trip from Geraldton to Rockingham (near Perth – roadmap). The Pinnacles are part of the Nambung National Park situated near the town of Cervantes.

The area contains thousands of weathered limestone pillars. Some of the tallest pinnacles reach heights of up to 3.5m above the yellow sand base. The different types of formations include ones which are much taller than they are wide and resemble columns suggesting the name of Pinnacles while others are only a meter or so in height and width resembling short tombstones. It is quite fascinating and well visited.

Some links…

Geraldton Sydney II Memorial

There are several worthy tribute memorials along the West Australian coastline to the sinking of HMAS Sydney II by the German Auxiliary Cruiser Kormoran on 19 November 1941 with the loss of 645 Australians

We had already visited the memorials in Carnarvon and Denham but the Geraldton one (maplink) is the most spectacular by far. You can learn more about this important chapter in Australia’s history at the Wall of Remembrance which bears the names of the 645 men who lost their lives. The centre-piece is a dome on seven pillars representing the seven states and territories of Australia.

The dome is made up of 645 silver gulls that form a canopy. Fittingly, a bronze figure of a woman waiting for the return of her loved-one, stands at the memorial looking out to sea.

The fifth and final element was completed for the 70th anniversary in 2011, a simple recessed pool with circular terraced steps leading to the bottom where a map of shipwreck site is engraved. 644 Silver gulls are etched into the granite bottom, with a two metre high vertical silver gull (representing the 645th person) emerging from the pool.

We visited the memorial during daylight hours and returned to check it out at night to see how it looked under lights. On the way back to our caravan checked out St Francis Xavier Cathedral which was all lit up too. Really glad we did the night trip too.

Some links…

Geraldton Lobster Co-operative visit

Geraldton is the home of the Brolos Lobster Fisherman’s Co-operative and we took a tour of their facilities. This was a great tour providing us an insight into the lobster industry in the area.

  • Some facts:
    • Brolos came into being in the 1950’s.
    • 98% of the lobsters caught and processed by the co-op are exported to China
    • The best quality lobsters return $100/kg to the fishermen and sell for up to $500/kg in China
    • The lobsters are chilled down to 5º Celsius before being packed in special wood-shavings for exporting live to China
    • Once in China they are released into holding pens and kept alive until they are reading for cooking in restaurants
    • The day of our visit a truck was loaded with 30 tonne of fresh lobster to be taken to a new processing facility in Welshpool WA, just 4km from Perth’s international airport (so 30,000 kgs x $100 = $3,000,000)
    • All profits are returned to the co-operative and distributed through to the fishermen members

Here are some excellent video’s (from YouTube)…

Wreath Flowers (Mullawa WA)

If you are into wildflowers you must take a trip out to a small town called Mullewa to view a natural phenomenon, which only occurs in one location at Pindar (roadmap), called the Wreath Flowers.

This event only happens over a short period of time and these Wreath Flowers apparently on;y occur after the road verge as been graded (or so we were told). We were fortunate enough to be able to make the short (in WA terms) 280 km return trip spending about 15 minutes on location; but I must say it was worth the effort. The route takes you through so may spectacular displays of WA wildflowers it is absolutely stunning.

Stopped off at the Mullewa Pub for lunch which was a bit of a step back in time (like 1970’s).

Some links…