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.

Kalbarri/wildflower Trip: Days 5 and 6

Marie, Geoff and Glenn came to meet us at the Big River Ranch, then we drove together to the Skywalk. It really is a great idea as a way of showcasing the gorge. We wandered around, had a picnic at one of the tables near the cafe and took lots of photos. There were other people there, but it wasn’t crowded. We could enjoy any vantage point we chose.

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As Nature’s Window is on the same loop we went there afterwards. By then we were feeling the effects of the intense sunshine. We had afternoon tea before Stephen, Geoff and I went off on the walk. It was easy downhill at first and just a bit of clambering over rocks at the end. Nature’s Window is a lot smaller than the arch at Sandstone (London Bridge), but it was interesting to get close to the rock formations. After climbing back we felt pretty tired and went home, feeling we had had a great outing.

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Stephen and I did some hand washing when we got home. Stephen is using the showers at Big River Ranch, but I am still using our own little bathroom. It feels safer. I cooked a simple one pan dinner of mince, vegetables and pasta and we added a bit of salad. We’ve had the same meal with leftovers for lunch and have one meal left for another night.

This morning we had cups of tea and a slice of toast before going for a walk down to the river. It was difficult to find a way down to the river bank with sandy paths and tracks very muddy. When we arrived it was nothing very much, but at least we tried and saw some everlastings on the way.

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We had breakfast and sat around for a couple of hours, then went into town to empty the toilet cassette, fill up with water, and do a little shopping at the local IGA.

I ran into a former colleague in the shop and couldn’t remember her name at the time, but it came to me later. She looks well and says she is still working because she enjoys it. Interesting. She and her husband are still together, which seemed doubtful at one stage when they lost their only child. I was pleased to see them looking happy together.

We’ve spent the afternoon lazing and will meet up with Marie and the others for a takeaway meal later. We find Kalbari quite relaxing – despite being touristy it still feels somewhat underdeveloped and it doesn’t feel especially busy here.

I woke up just after sunrise this morning and stepped out to take some photos.

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Kalbarri/wildflower Trip: Day 4

We stayed in our camping spot by the beach until about 12.00, at which point we felt the urge to get going and set off for Kalbarri. We stopped briefly at a historic site before heading on to Pink Lake for lunch. I didn’t take many photos, but we were able to enjoy a good view of the pink water whilst having lunch, well worth it. I haven’t researched why the lake is pink yet.

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Coming into Kalbarri on the scenic route was wonderful, especially as there is a stopping point overlooking the rivermouth as you arrive and it’s splendid. After a short stop there we bought fuel at the BP, then headed to Big River Ranch. We don’t have a view of the river where we are, but the horses are lovely. It was a bit messy getting our parking space sorted, but we have a nice bay with some lawn and a big tree which, fortunately, doesn’t shade us in the morning (we want warmth and solar power).

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Kalbarri – more beautiful that this photo suggests

The facilities are shabby, but acceptable. The one washing machine looks grubby and the line we are supposed to use had mud underneath it. We are not supposed to set up washing lines at our campsite, but they don’t expressly forbid clothes airers. I washed a shirt last night, hung it on the airer and tied the airer to my heavy camping chair and it survived the strong wind without falling over. I’ve decided to do a few underclothes tonight and hang them on the clothes airer overnight. We can then wait until we go to Western Flora to do a load of washing.

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view from our van

 

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Camp kitchen

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view outside of camp kitchen

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Horse rides are available here and we’ve been told that horses have right of way and we must stop driving if they need to pass us on the driveway.

Kalbarri/Wildflower Trip: Day 3

We felt pretty exhausted after our 3 hour Zoom session with the Mind,Body and Soul programme. We didn’t participate in the exercise program as we would have had to do it outside of the van and we are a bit shy. The rest was basically meditation with a talk on the health benefits and a couple of practice sessions. Lunch was needed, then a short rest before van chores (emptying the toilet cassette and filling up the water tank). We also needed food and headed for the nearest IGA. Of course, we ran into Geoff who was able to tell us about their day, which included going to a little known reserve on the road to/from Mullewa with beautiful wildflowers.

Then we set our navigation for our second free camping spot in Geraldton. It’s actually in an outlying suburb. There are five campervan only bays and no one else was there which meant we could take the best spot with a view to the beach. This is not a good swimming beach with lots of low lying reefs causing rips and unstable water, but it is lovely and the better for being rather wild.

It was sunny when we arrived and we were just thinking how lucky we were when the sun went in and we had a few drops of rain, plus an old car with teenagers onboard pulled in with the radio blaring. It almost spoilt things, until they turned the music down a bit and I realised it was quite good music.

We are parked in front of the ablution block and the toilets are clean and quite usuable, in fact the cleaning person arrived in the morning – which suggests they are normally well cared for. The showers are cold water only, not tempting. We didn’t see any lights, but they came on automatically after dark. Fortunately we are parked nose in and our blinds blocked most of the light. We felt a bit safer as well. There was one other campervan, but it didn’t use one of the designated bays, perhaps avoiding the bright light.

An evening walk along the beach revealed the extensive erosion. We thought people building mansions just across a lawn were very brave, especially as they could no longer use the bitumen road near the beach. It does look like one big storm would go right up to the houses and begin to wash them away as well.

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We had a fairly healthy meal of frittata and fresh fruit with only a small amount of rather decadent icecream. We watched our round the world youtube channel for entertainment.

I went to bed early and then had an awake time in the night. It was mostly pleasant as I was happy anticipating more of our trip and going back over the good experiences so far. The waves are very noisy, but it is different to man made noise somehow. It makes me want to live near the sea as I love the colours, the fresh air, and the way it changes over the day.

Some photos from this morning at sunrise.

We are booked into Big River Ranch Kalbarri for three nights and have let them know we will be arriving later today. There are hot showers, toilets, a campers kitchen and there might even be washing machines according to Wikicamps. I will need to do washing by tomorrow and otherwise we can use the laundomat in Kalbarri. We won’t have hookups and are hoping for a sunny camp site.

It might be very crowded which makes us particularly grateful for our overnight here at the John Batten Community Hall. We’ve had a few dog walkers this morning, plus the cleaner coming in, but otherwise we have it to ourselves. As I’ve been writing this blog and uploading yet another family movie I have a view of the sea – ultimate happiness. Stephen is doing some singing practice using a tiny piano keyboard on his iphone. I don’t hear the piano, just his voice sometimes, and he is singing very softly.

Kalbarri/wildflower Trip: Day 2

We left our lovely camping area at about 11.00 a.m. We wanted to enjoy being there as for the next little while we won’t be camping in the bush.

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It was about 240kms to Geraldton. We enjoyed the ride through beautiful farmlands. Travelling after the winter rains means everything is very green, with some fields of canola providing colour contrast. We didn’t break for lunch until about 2.00 p.m. We took the detour through Port Denison. There were places with views of the sea to park up, but nothing in shade. We found a shady, pleasant parking bay about 10 kms north of Dongara.

From there, we arrrived in Geraldton at about 3.30 p.m. We had shared the driving, but it was still quite tiring. We didn’t fill up with water before choosing our parking bay and putting chocks on one side, which meant that we didn’t use our hot water system this morning, but relied on heating water in the kettle. It was fine, and we can fill up before we leave.

Our free parkup is at the Town Beach, next to a working port. It was noisy overnight, but a single, consistent noise that didn’t disturb our sleep.

When we arrived we saw a car parked in one of the designated camping bays. Stephen went to talk to the driver, but said he wasn’t making much sense. At one point the driver took his foot off the break and on the tilted bay his car inched forwards toward our van. I forgot I had a horn and simply shrieked, hoping that Stephen or the other man would notice. We gave up on that spot and moved to the other end of the caravan parking bay area. All of the bays were sloped and it wasn’t actually any worse. The man in the car was drunk and not making any sense. Eventually someone else was able to get him to move. There are only about 9 bays and they all filled up overnight, with late comers missing out.

I contacted Marie and we arranged for the family to visit us at around 5.00 p.m. We sat around on our outdoor chairs for a while before taking a walk along the little marina. They left at tea time and we went to a nearby cafe for takeaway fish and chips. It was some builder’s fences outside, but as it was getting dark we could clearly see it was open. There was outdoor seating where we waited for our food, but then took it back to the van, where we added a bit of salad. Battered fish doesn’t usually have much of it’s own flavour but the fish seemed very fresh. We were hoping it was locally caught.

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This morning we’ve woken up to a foggy morning. Earlier we could even see the sea.

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