Fish, Family and Freo.


No fish were caught – so we packed up and headed north to Perth.

Our designated camp is, for the first time, not a caravan park, or side of the road, but in the backyard of Julz cousin, Jamie’s house, in the rural suburb of Carmel, about 25 minutes from Perth’s CBD. His home is on a beautiful 11 hectares of natural bushland in the Perth Hills. Jamie and his daughter, Blayz, live there with her black labrador, Pepper.

Jamie, works in the oil industry in Karrartha, so he is away quite often. When we arrive, we are met by Blayz (18) and her lab, Pepper (a playmate for Gypsy!).

We park the van at the side of the house and set up camp, then explore the country side and nearby towns.

Ron (Julz Dad) turned 88 on Friday and we celebrated his birthday with dinner at the local (haunted) Kalamunda Hotel. A great night out was had by all.

Bet and Ron had five children. All five (Julz 3 brothers and 1 sister) had 3 children each (apart from one who had 2). One of our niece’s, Brittney, had been hired by Qantas as an airhostess, to do her training in Perth, so on Saturday we picked her up and explored Freemantle together and explored the Freo Markets, shops, cafes, beaches and the Maritime Museum. We ended the day driving back to Jamie’s home with Brittney, then dinner at the local ‘highly recommended Village Pizza place’ for dinner. Another full, FUN day!

(Julz reflects)


My Dad arrived here at Freemantle on a ship from England, the ‘New Australia’, in 1951, 66 years ago!! As a “ten pound Pom”.

I had not realised the significance of Freemantle to him until he said he wanted to visit the Port Wharf. He turned 88 years young yesterday, and is in extremely good shape for his age – hopefully his genetics are passed on! It was a moving experience for all of us to check the Welcome Wall at the entrance to the Maritime Museum, even though we didn’t find his name. We saw the Australia 2 at the Museum, it bought back memories of the win in the Americas Cup, when I had just given birth to Oriel in Townsville. Mum and Dad had driven up from Brisbane to see us.

Dad’s passion is boats. He has always had one, or gone fishing – always. He is unable to make model boats now, due to the intricacy of the work, as his hands shake too badly.

My childhood memories of Dad’s boating –

As there were 5 kids in our family, and Dad was the only breadwinner, as Mum stayed at home with us, there was not a lot of money for extras. Dad being a ‘tradie’, decided he would make a fishing boat, sell it, and then be able to afford to make one for himself debt-free – debt was not heard of back then, except for house mortgages. So, Dad got his boat!

We always had our school holidays on the Gold Coast, where Dad would fish. He bought his boat back to the caravan park where we stayed at Tweed Heads, and by the time he had cleaned the boat, he had sold all his catch. Mum often complained that we never had a feed of fish for us!

It was a great day, walking Gypsy on our first encounter with a designated Dog Beach, and walking around the Freeo Markets. Great place to visit.

Margaret River to Mandurah

  
Driving from Margaret River was a very windy and rainy journey. We have been fairly lucky with great weather, so we cannot complain too much about the turn. Mind you, it is also colder than it was in Albany (although being Queenslanders we all feel the cold more). We drove through Busselton and Bunbury without stopping (weather was bad) and we continued to our camp site at Mandurah.
We set up and decided to catch a movie. Julz and I went to see “Eddie the Eagle”. Not a bad yarn and a bit of a relax and a laugh. Ron and Bet passed on the movie and had a long walk with Gypsy, the dog.  

Our first day we decided to scope out Mandurah, the third largest city in WA. Population is about 80,000 people, mainly baby boomers and retirees, who have transformed the area surrounded by water and inlets into a – sort of Gold Coast. It is a fast growing area and has a vibrant feel about it. It is about one hour from Perth, so I can see why it is like a Gold Coast “wanna be” of sorts.  

The city centre is fairly bland, nothing to see that excites us. We did have a look through an art gallery that had some awesome photography on display. We also walked around a Marina that has a boardwalk and a nice aspect to it. The sun decided to shine through, so we took a quick half hour drive to a local national park – Serpentine Falls. Julz and I were slightly disappointed with the tiny falls, however, the wildlife and nature, were certainly worth the visit. Friendly kangaroos, parrots galore and wonderful natural bush and trees. We are really enjoying this nomadic lifestyle.  

  
The last day at Mandurah and it is time to do a spot of fishing. Weather is still cold and wet, however, it is decided we do it before moving our caravan to Perth on Friday (tomorrow). 

Julz is getting a good opportunity to bond with her Dad and they are trying to catch tonights dinner – Salmon.

As i write this, they have zippy zero. A few dolphins have swum by and we know the fish are here – just not their day – so far….

  

We are on the way ‘UP’ 

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Yes, we have turned the corner and are now on the way UP the west coast of Western Australia.
One observation from many of us ‘Easterners’ whilst travelling across the south western Western Australia (WA) is the amount of townships and properties all ending in the two words – UP.

Examples along the drive have included: Marbellup, Nanarup, Nornalup, Dombakup, Manjimup, Kudardup and Quinninup – so you get the idea.

When we asked a local they said it was to do with being “near water”. However, this turns out to be incorrect (thanks to Wikipedia). It turns out that the ‘UP’ is a suffix originating in the language of the Noongar, a local Indigenous people based around the south west. It means “place of”. Places tended to be named after the distinctive features, whereby the place names could be used to create a ‘mental map’ which allowed Indigenous Australians to determine whether water, food or other raw materials could be found. Fascinating to know. There are almost 100 of these names ending in UP down in the south west.


Last night at Margaret River, we decided to try some quality food at a local gourmet seafood restaurant, as we heard that this town being a world renowned city for birthing some of Australia’s top wine making farms (25% of all Aussie wines are exported from Margaret River). We were all very impressed with the local food and now know why it has such a great reputation. The weird part is that neither Julz, Ron, Bet or I drink any alcohol, let alone wine. But the food was still great with our mineral water, soda, lemon, lime and bitters. 😜

Needless to say we have extended our stay for three nights, as there is plenty to see and do here. Underground caves are prolific along the coast here, so we decided today to visit the Ngilga Caves. 350 steps down into the earth and then we got lost deep in the bowels of the earth. As you can imagine it was stunning.


We need to mention some other observations too. In this south west region we see many Wind Farms. Albany has 18 huge wind turbines as a backdrop to their west.

The national parks are plenty and there is so much space without homes or high urban density. The surf beaches at Margaret River are looking amazing, even though the day we visited with huge winds and grey skies, a few surfers were still out in their wet suits. Impressive I must say.

Today we drove down to the very far tip of Australia’s south west, below the town of Augusta. We went also to check out the fishing spots, as there have not been anything of interest along the way as Ron is a seasoned fisherman and wants to catch some fresh, live fish. Looks like the salmon are running, so we went to throw a line in, however, it was just too wild and windy. The weather has been very overcast and windy, with rain at night, however, our last day today visiting north of Margaret River was Dunsborough – and the sun came out to greet us some more.

We pack up tomorrow night to set up a new camp at Mandurah, just south of Perth, for 3 or 4 nights.

We have been blown away by the endless grape crops and quality restaurants dotted around the whole district (which spans 100 kms). We ate lunch today at a beaut cafe at a local winery which was 10/10 for quality local sourced delights.

Onwards and UPwards we head…

 

Albany, Denmark and arriving at Margaret River

   
   
Staying at a caravan park in Albany on the beach was really lovely. The area we have travelled through to get here has been extremely green, so lots of rainfall and cloudy skies, and a wee bit cool! The sand is very white and fine , however, there is an abundance of seaweed which has prevented us from fishing. Dad has been anxious to drop a line, although the fish you have the possibility of catching here are extremely different from Queensland. We went to a picnic place where an estuary met the beach – beautiful and peaceful… 

It is interesting travelling with a different generation and the foods that we have compromised on eating with both sides. It has been difficult to get fresh fruit and vegetables, as we have not found any specific shops, and have compromised with buying not the freshest at IGA, or starve! (IGA’s are in abundance in the country areas)

Caravan Parks ‘frequenters’ are super friendly and have shared their travelling info freely with us, which has been invaluable and we have visited places through these recommendations that have been extraordinary that we would have unfortunately missed – a bonus!

The Sandalwood Factory was worth a look too.  The Sandalwood trees are a native to WA and the oil is extracted for perfume bases (Chanel etc) and for scenting incense.  This factory exports all over the world from trees grown in northern WA.  

Denmark – a fabulous place which we, being ‘eternal hippies’, fitted in with extremely well. Lots of hip shops, very similar to what we left behind in West End, although the feeling they are struggling as evidenced in signage of ‘business for sale’ in the windows.

Arriving in Margaret River overnight after following an arduous twisted, turning narrow road for some of the time, took a lot longer than we anticipated. We left at 8am and arrived at 4pm, with admittedly a stop at the ‘Valley of the Giants’ tingle trees at Walpole for morning tea – incredible viewing. 

The trip is an extraordinarily rewarding experience of newness. It is always great to get out of your comfort zone to explore, and I am really grateful of the shared experience with my soulmate.

Beautiful bays, killer whale sharks and sperm (whales)

  

  

  

     

 Bremer Bay turns out to be a real treasure. It is 60 kms off the main highway and is a quiet, stunning beach side township. We all admit that it has an amazing feel, so we explore the estuaries and beaches and all the views. The sands are still white, not unlike Espérance further up the coast.
The lush green farmland is quite in contrast to the dry land we have witnessed over the past few weeks. Bremer Bay Caravan Park is the first well lawned park we have stayed in, with the exception to Cummins, back in SA.

Up bright and early the next day to be ready at the main jetty to meet the Naturaliste Charters boat that is taking me for the viewing of the whales. Julz, Bet and Ron all decide to not participate, which is fine, and they allow me to go off on a day adventure, alone.

The boat is 55 foot long and skippered by an ex NZ guy, Matt. The crew of three are friendly and we are joined by a family of four, from Perth, a couple from NZ and a couple from South Australia. We head out at 7.30am towards the Bremer Canyon. This is an Eco hot spot that was found off the coast, not too long ago, that is about 70 kms out to sea, that is a stunningly beautiful, remote habitat with marine wildlife: whaler sharks, sperm whales, giant squid, masses of sea birds and the largest known group of killer whales (Orcas) in the Southern Hemisphere.

They suspect that this wildlife wonderland is created by a massive hydrocarbon pocket under the seabed, which fuses with the surrounding water to create an ice-like reef known as methane hydrate. This in turn sparks a whole food chain involving crustaceans releasing billions of nutrient-rich eggs into the desolate waters.

So we head out to the open ocean, remembering to take my ginger calming tablet and a sea sickness tablet for good measure. We have a fruity morning tea and start to look out for any sign of wildlife. Albatross come into view and a whole bunch of sea birds.

They say this is a good sign, so we keep our eyes open for any killer whales activity.

Another hour later, way out on the horizon, one of the crew has spotted a stream of grey mist. We speed over to discover as close jump of a sperm whale on the top of the water. He (yes they can tell by the side they blow water out from) only stays a few minutes and then, with tale in the air, dives downwards, which we armed told can last up to an hour and a half. We look further and see another blowing water mist and off we go again. After seeing three sperm whales, which are quite rare to see, we look for the Orcas. The boat goes still and we bob around in two metre swells. A few of the guests start downstairs to be sick. The remainder of us, eat lunch and keep looking for wildlife.   

It turned out that we are at the tale end of the season for killer whales. None show, after three hours, we head back to shore. Not disappointed, as the day is stunning, to be out on the ocean and we get to see wild seal lions on a little island heading back to shore. I highly recommend this tour to anyone venturing to this part of Australia.

We arrive back about 3 in the arvo and hook up with Julz, Ron and Bet and Gypsy.
They have explored the whole of Bremer Bay and rave about its beauty. This is, b y far, the nicest little beach town we have uncovered so far on our adventure.

We pack up the next day and head off to our next stop, Albany. Albany is a late port city, 420km SE of Perth, the state capital. Albany, with a population of 30,000 is the oldest permanently settled town in Western Australia, pre dating Perth and Fremantle by over two years. We are off today to explore Albany…….along with Denmark, approximately 50 kms drive from Albany.   

Surfing at Wave Rock and discovering Espèrance (hope)

   
   
Julz was determined to do some fossicking whilst in Kalgoorlie, so we trotted off to the Dept. of Mines to pay our $25 for a lifetime “Miners right”. In Western Australia, to do any prospecting or fossicking you require a “pass” to dig. Only on crown land I might add, unless you get specific approval from a property owner.With picks, sieves and buckets in tow, we drove off 80 kms south of Kalgoorlie to the middle of nowhere, just north of Widgiemootha.

The bush land is untouched, except for the road side garbage that is thrown from passing “pigs” in cars and trucks.

Julz, Ron and I explore into rugged, but beautiful, bush to scrape, like chooks in a hen yard, through a range of gem stones. I think I found a diamond, not sure as yet, and Julz has a bucket load of beaut, coloured stones. Bet stayed back at the camp with the dog, Gypsy, to have some time alone.

We packed up and left Kalgoorlie early this morning, heading on the road to Southern Cross and then south to a place called Hyden – Wave Rock.

Looking at the clouds in the back of the car as Julz drives us, resembling artistic brush strokes sweeping across the stunning blue skies. The landscape starts to change, quite dramatically, to paddocks filled with, what looks like, golden wheat or grain. We stop at a little stop in the middle of “whoop whoop” to find a service station selling diesel and discover to our surprise it is the best price so far on our travels.
We travel to our destination at Wave Rock, set up camp and wonder over to view the Wave Rock area. Our camp is set up only three minutes walk to see this amazing granite “wave” a frozen surf wave in rock. Quite a unique sacred space. We then visited the “Hippo’s yawn”, which is a very large gaping wide granite rock which resembles a Hippo yawning (funny that!).
The next day we ventured out to view a local ancient indigenous rock cave, called Mulka’s Cave, which showcases a host of hands within a granite cave. These are said to be approx 40,000 years old. This whole area is fascinating and definitely is worth exploring. We saw more granite features, including the Humps and the breakers trail. Fascinating how these huge lumps of granite take form in the middle of “whoop whoop” without any other sign of granite anywhere else.

We also ran down to Kulin (about 200 kms return trip) to see the Tin can highway. This is a whole load of tin horse art made out of recycled tin materials made by local farmers. It stretches some 20 plus kms and breaks up the boredom of endless wheat farms.

We left Wave Rock after a two day stay and headed south to the coast in Western Australia. We almost didn’t come to Esperance, (Espérance is French for ‘hope’) as it is so far away from anywhere else. However, now that we have explored this little township, population 13,500, we realised what all the fuss is about. Stunning white sand beaches with clean, crystal clear water.
Lots of them too. We are here for two nights to relax and take it all in. In the morning we head off to Bremer Bay for two nights, where I get the, once In a lifetime opportunity, to see Orca whales (Killer Whales) close up and personal (not in captivity, but free as ..um…whales).

1893 – three Irishmen find gold – the rest is history.

Welcome to the Golden town of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, West Australia.
We decide to stay four nights – the longest time, so far, in one town.

The drive from Norseman to Kalgoorlie is quite drab. Not much to view except endless bush and the odd small (almost) deserted township. However, Kalgoorlie-Boulder (two merged townships) form a large city set against a HUGE big, long lump of excavated ore. 

This town was formed back in 1893, when three Irishmen, stumbled over a large nugget of gold, which set off the GOLD RUSH in this area of Australia.

Fast track to 1985, an Perth based entrepreneur, Alan Bond, bought up small underground gold mining leases with a view to consolidate all the mines to form one big open pit conglomerate. 

By 1989, Ålan Bond and his companies were having financial challenges and he ended up bankrupt and in jail for fraud. 

His vision eventually became the Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines Pty Ltd and is now called – “The Super Pit” (3.5 kms long, 1.5 kms wide and 570 metres deep). 

Kalgoorlie-Boulder has a population of 30,000 who depend on the mining for gold or tourism. So we came as a tourist, with fossicking on Julz mind. Not for gold, for gemstones and crystals only. So, today we paid for a mining right to fossick in and around the area. We will keep you posted on the success of this endeavour over the next few days.

We have explored the area and visited the viewing area into the “Super Pit”. It shocked us to see how deep this gold mine is and what lengths people or companies do to dig out 15 million tonnes of ore to end up with 850,000 ounces (28 tonnes) of Gold per year. The environmental damage in this area is obvious, however, it seems that gold, like diamonds, make rich people richer and it isn’t going to change anytime soon from what we observe here. 

 We spent our next day visiting a small town, 133 kms north, called Menzies, that was started in 1894, buzzing with over 10,000 people back in 1900, in the “gold rush”, however, today it has a population of 51. It does have “real coffee” and cakes, do we tasted the local delights and then travelled another 50kms on a dirt road to some salt lakes called Lake Ballard. The big attraction to these salt lakes is the unique art instillation commissioned in 2003, by UK artist, Antony Gormley, which is 51 sculptures (representing each person living in Menzies) over an area of 10 square kilometres (4 sq miles). We were pleased to see that a tree was draped in muddy soled shoes that we could borrow to walk on the salt lakes, so we did no damage to our own shoes.

After a great picnic lunch we drove back to a wet Kalgoorlie (rain was much appreciated by the towns folk).

Gypsy, the dog, is enjoying her time also on the road, although she spends most of her days asleep in the back of the car. She has had a visit to the Vet yesterday to discover she has an ear infection.  

We have another two nights here in Kalgoorlie and our next stop looks like Esperance (back to the beach at last!! ).