Wongan Hills Wildflower Trip: Day 2

A lazy day in Beverley

We woke to a mist which took some time to clear, but we were making a late start anyway and it didn’t matter. We spent the morning in and around the van, me blogging, Stephen practising his music, doing exercises and van chores. By midday it was a bit hot and we wanted to move the van into shade. We decided to take it into the town near the railway line where there is deep shade.

Trying out the bakery for lunch seemed a good idea. It was nice, but not really special. We seem to have light appetites at the moment and didn’t try out any cakes after our ‘main course’ of hamburger and zucchini pie. The IGA is just across the road and I bought bananas to fill us up.

We spent the afternoon either resting or walking around the town. Many shops weren’t open and the Red Vault cafe only opens from Wednesday (today) so it wasn’t an option as a place to sit. Stephen found a couch at the Visitor Centre.

We drove back to our camp site in the late afternoon where we had a cup of tea. Later we took a walk in a nearby nature reserve, which was better for exercise than anything else – it was rather scrubby bushland.

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This is the best I could do to make an interesting photo.

We had a beautiful night’s sleep again last night – perhaps because of the fresh air. It seemed colder due to a breeze.

Wongan Hills Wildflower Trip: Day 1

Perth to Beverley

We made a later start to our first day of travel. Beverley is only about 1.5 hours from Perth and hot weather was forecast making a later arrival seem sensible. Let’s get the weather out of the way quickly. There was a cool breeze all day which made it seem cool even here in Beverley and the temperature dropped after sunset making it nice to snuggle under the doona for sleeping.

Our route took us along the Brookton Highway, which meant that we would pass by my sister’s house. I had to beg for us to stop and see them and we had a lovely visit catching up on family news.

We pulled into a parking bay a little way along Brookton Highway and were fortunate that we could walk a little way into the bush on tracks to see wildflowers.

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We arrived here in Beverley around 3.00 pm. Beverley provides free camping just over the bridge from the town. There are clean flushing toilets, bins and a water tap. There is a dump point in town we will take advantage of when we are leaving. We are allowed to stay here 48 hours which is ideal because it gives us a day to explore and get to know the town.

After a rest and afternoon tea we took a walk over the bridge and along the main road. There are many beautiful old buildings. Not many people about, but when we went into the hotel to buy some cider we found many of the good folk of Beverley in the beer garden.

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Back at the van we had found the TV reception a bit spotty and set up the Apple TV so we could watch the news and Australian Story via the internet. We had a meat meal already cooked and I only had to cook some pasta to make a meal. Stephen made us each a bowl of salad. This was followed by herbal teas and a chocolate.

We slept extremely well, for my part only getting up once in the night.

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We had coffee after my uncle’s funeral at this cafe. It was a sad day, but I have good memories of him.

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What do they know that we don’t?

No, I’m not talking about the diagnosis of ‘the leader of the free world’. I’m talking about our local Coles supermarket. Suddenly, they’ve adopted COVIDSAFE checkouts. The staff are behind screens, shoppers are standing about a metre away where we can pay at a sort of remote pay station and we are encouraged to do our own packing. This has happened since I went to Coles last week.

Why would they just do this now? I went to Roleystone Shopping Centre a few months ago during our lockdown LITE and all of the shops had screens and COVIDSAFE plans. Yet, Coles has only just brought it in. Whilst I was shopping I noticed that they were reminding shoppers about social distancing over the intercom, but thought nothing of it until I went through the new checkout system.

The photos are from some of our outings in the past few weeks. We’ve been to Kings Park a couple of times, once with the car and once in the van. Stephen has a choir rehearsal in Basssendean sometimes and I like to take him there in the van as it’s such a lovely place to be. We can take a walk after his rehearsal. It rained on our way back from our walk, but we were close to a sports complex where we could take shelter.

Bassendean, view to the city

Kalbarri Wildflower Trip 2020

We’ve finally finished the video of our wildflower trip. We worked on it together with Stephen doing most of the filming, running around with a Gopro on a small tripod and me editing in Final Cut Pro. After a rough edit Stephen goes through the whole thing giving notes. After that I do a serious edit and we both go through the film again and I make minor changes. Finally, it’s ready to publish.

Kalbarri/wildflower trip: Days 12 and 13

On Sunday afternoon we drove to the Wildflower Farm. It was disappointing in many ways. It was said to have a restaurant, but they weren’t serving food and we arrived hungry. Fortunately, having our campervan with us, of course, we were able to feed ourselves. The showroom was rather tatty, with lots of offerings of cheap, Chinese made artifacts rather than local handicrafts, as I had hoped. No offence to Chinese manufacturers – these goods had apparently been chosen to be cheap and nasty. Most of our goods are made in China to a very high standard.

We watched a Leyland Brothers made DVD about wildflowers of Western Australia, which was quite good apart from the annoying music chosen. That was our only sight of living wildflowers, we were shown the drying shed and told a little about the process, but did not go out into the fields where the flowers are grown. I’m not sure why and we didn’t ask.

The positve highlight was our hostess’s grand daughter, we think about 10 years of age. She was delightful and able to answer our questions. It was she who set us down with a cup of tea to watch the video whilst we waited for her grandmother to show us around. She was so gentle and charming that it made the visit quite well worthwhile.

We returned to Moora and took up residence in the free RV parking site near the centre of town. We actually chose the same site we have stayed at before due to being next to a garden and quite flat. There was a food van nearby and after Stephen had wandered around for a bit, it seemed the best option for an evening meal. We had steakburgers on brioche style buns. Apart from being slightly sweet the buns are a good choice as they don’t have the stodgy effect of normal buns. We had fruit and yogurt afterwards and I went to bed early, very tired. There was some rain, but not very heavy. I don’t think it would have been as much as the farmers were wanting thought it left puddles in the car park.

Stephen suggested going home via Wannamal for wildflowers and the Bindoon Bakery for pies and pastries for lunch. Both good choices. We stopped at the camping and rest area in Wannamal, which was very good for wildflowers. The little creek was dry, unfortunately.

We didn’t feel our pies were quite up to scratch at the bakery, but we shared a nut tart which was excellent. Stephen bought us some fruit from the adjacent growers market afterwards. The day continued cloudy, with some showers.

On our drive home Google Maps put us on the Tonkin Highway, rather than going through the Swan Valley. It was pretty fast and furious. At one point I was worried that we had a flat tyre, or something wrong with the steering and we stopped to check. The van had been buffeted by winds generated by passing traffic which rebounded off a wall alongside the highway. This highway has a cycle track, but I wouldn’t recommend that section as you could be thrown off a bike I think.

Anyway, it got us home quite quickly – in time for afternoon tea at 3.00 p.m.

I’ve made a list of all the tasks I need to do and assigned them to different days and weeks ahead. I was feeling overwhelmed, but this process always helps to make things feel for manageable. I’m already ticking things off the list and it’s only lunchtime!

Kalbarri/wildflower trip: Days 11 and 12

We’ve enjoyed our stay here in Dandaragan. The Transit Park lives up to the hype on WikiCamps, with good toilets and hot showers, a domestic washing machine in the laundry and concrete pads with hookups. There has been one other person staying here as well.

The drive here was very pretty once we crossed the Brand Highway and there was a little picnic place with a wonderful view over fields of canola.

The farms have quite a lot of trees on them and when we were speaking with the store owner on our evening walk he said that the farms had started out being livestock only, then switching to crops, which perhaps explains why so many tress were left standing.

For $20 per night this is hard to beat. It attracts people to this tiny hamlet of about 100 people who might otherwise not come here even in the wildflower season.

We walked down the Main Street in the evening, noting the attractive primary school, historic post office building and General Store and little church that was originally built as a school/church combined. It is made of soapstone quarried locally.

The monthly Anglican service happened this morning, and we decided, with less than an hour for getting ready, to go along. The service was lovely, traditional, run by two priests who are husband and wife and who work at a number of churches in the area.

Afterwards we chatted with local people over morning tea and accepted a gift of a dozen eggs and a lift back to the caravan park. We have also been loaned a book of humorous poems on caravanning which we will drop off to a different person on our way out of town. Our impression of the locals as being friendly, from our discussion with the store owner, has proved true.

There is a local fair happening next weekend and we would like to be able to return here, but we probably have too much happening at home.

There was an organist playing for the hymns and he is a teacher at the Moora School of Music. He was asking for teachers as he said the school is proving very popular at the moment. It highlights that we here in WA are able to live fairly normal lives, whilst keeping the border closed. Even the Prime Minister seems persuaded that our state is making pots of money for the commonwealth through mining and as we don’t have large populations near the border it doesn’t inconvenience people too much. McGowan has the support of an overwhelming majority of West Australians even though there are some people complaining because it impacts on them personally.

We met some alpacas near the church and this baby would only look at us over his mum’s back.

We prayed for rain in church this morning and now feel invested in this local area getting enough rain to help the crops. It feels like it will rain, with heavy clouds and the wind increasing.

This morning after church we brought in the washing, then I made a pot of coffee in the percolator and settled down to write this blog. I feel it is a connection with my mother as she used to have coffee made in a similar percolator with the glass knob on top where you see the water gradually change in colour as it perks. Amazing for $10 from the opp shop near the bookshop where Eversley volunteers. It allows me to use the good coffee beans from Antz and tastes the same as coffee made in an Italian moka pot. What’s more, it works on the inverter when we are relying on battery power.

Kalbarri/wildflower Trip: Day 10

Lesueur National Park

This was our main destination for yesterday and did not disappoint. It was about 90 kms from Western Flora and we had one stop on the way at Eneabba for fuel. Nevertheless, we arrived at the parking area to explore the park after 12.00. It was bright and sunny and we didn’t want to walk too far in the middle of the day.

There are gravel roads leading into the park, but the road to the top is bituminised, probably to avoid erosion. A gravel road would take a lot of maintenance. There were pullouts with interpretive signs on the way, but we were focussed on getting to the top and only stopped once.

We had lunch, despite a severe tilt in the van due to a parking area that was all slopes. It was beautiful and the air was especially fresh. We enjoyed the little bit of walking and there is a paved, wheelchair friendly path to the first lookout.

On the way out of the park we stopped at a wooded gully with a bridge over a dry creek. There are many walking trails in the park and two of them start here.

We had decided against the national park camping area as there is no phone signal. We stayed overnight at Banksia Reserve, the least pretty of our bush camps this trip, but we had a quiet night and a short walk up the hill around sunset meant we could see the sea in the distance at Cervantes.

Stephen wants to go to the wildflower Farm at Moora before we go home. We will stay at Dandaragan for one night on the way because the camping place sounds so nice, then stay at the free campsite in Moora on Sunday night.

Kalbarri/wildflower Trip: Days 8 and 9

Yesterday was a travelling day, tiring, but it was good to arrive at Western Flora and finally be staying at the same place as Marie, Geoff and Glenn. We are parked close to them. On the way we went into Dongara for shopping, to dump our cassette and have lunch, pies and custard tarts from the bakery.

Before we left our hilltop camping area yesterday morning Stephen walked down to the road below to take a photo of the van. I took photos of him as well, one wide, the one telephoto. In the first he is really tiny.

Today we took the walk through to the river and on to the waterfall. We took lots of photos of flowers, mine mostly didn’t turn out well, but the main feature of the walk was the pink bushes along the path. Quite a feature and we felt fortunate to have come when they were in bloom.

It was a partly cloudy day which made for more comfortable walking than if it had been sunshine all the way. Marie and I had thought we would find the full walk difficult, but completed the six kilometres without too much effort. We had snacks half way through, perhaps that helped.

After lunch and a rest we met at the outdoor seating area for drink and nibbles. There was a lovely sunset, but it was getting cold and we dispersed for tea in our vans. Glenn is staying in one of the units in the main mud brick complex, which makes a comfortable berth for him. He didn’t come on the morning walk which was a bit too far for him to enjoy.

Kalbarri/wildflower Trip: Day 7

When we arrived back from having tea with the family we found someone camped on our spot. After fiddling around a bit we pulled into the empty place next to them. On arrival we had found reception didn’t seem to know what was available up the hill and we were fortunate that most people had left and there were plenty of free spaces.

In the morning we filled up our water tank and drinking water containers. That was about it for getting ready, apart from the van life shuffle where everything from the living area gets moved to the bed area for the day. Reverse process at night.

We stopped at the Kalbarri lookout. There is a wide, paved walkway which is ideal for prams and wheelchairs, toilets and a picnic shelter. There is also a longer walk if you are feeling up to it. We enjoyed the views before heading off through the park towards the Great Northern Highway. We drove along the Highway, then veered of, taking the Chapman Valley Road towards the Geraldton-Mt Magnet Road where there is a small nature reserve. The weather was windy with light rain at times which continued for the rest of the day.

After lunch and a brief rest we were able to dodge the showers to take a walk through everlastings and other wildflowers to a ridge overlooking the river. We also walked down to the river. Marie and Geoff came here on their way to Kalbarri and Marie had told me it was a hard slog in the hot sun. On this cloudy day I recreated those conditions in my rain proof jacket which helped me to overheat on the climb back. But, it was refreshing anyway as we had alternating sunshine and clouds.

Our camping spot for the night was only about 23 kms back towards Geraldton. We are at the Bringo Lookout. There are gravel sites, none level, of course. After deciding on a good camping spot we used chocks to reduce the 4 degree sideways slope to 3 degrees, a bit uncomfortable, but bearable.

We have a view across farmland towards Geraldton in the distance and can see the road and a railway below us. We have watched several very long goods trains pass through.

This slideshow was created in Videoloop, a programme for iPads that was recommended by Benji.