Coogee Beach Mini Break

Yesterday we packed up in the morning. Stephen posted Mum’s letters and picked up medication. We left home at about 10.30 a.m. We didn’t hurry to get ready, but there isn’t that much to do when we are going to be staying at a caravan park for three nights. We last stayed at Coogee Beach nearly two years ago when we were still quite new to the Winnie.

Our first destination after the long ride on Leach Highway was Coogee Port shopping centre, which is just north of the caravan park. We had a few necessary things to get, and also got some unnecessary things to enhance our cold meat and salad lunch. The bakery, called Crusty Knob, doesn’t actually sell bread, just everything else. Fortunately, Woollies has a good bakery and we bought rolls and sliced bread.

We were at the caravan park at about 12.00 and fortunately were allowed in. We had been assigned a spot, but it had not been vacated, so we were given a different one. It has some shade, but as the afternoon wore on it was more and more sunny on the ‘patio’ side. We didn’t put out the awning as we felt a bit tired and wind was forecast. It was warmish in the van, 32 degrees, but there was an intermittent cool breeze, plus we had the fan. We rested and read our books after lunch.

Later in the afternoon we went for a walk down to the jetty. There were lots of teenagers there, having a very good time. No one of our age at all. At this stage the wind was strong and we decided to have another walk around sunset. So, back to the van and more resting.

afternoon at the beach (1 of 1)
teenagers enjoying the beach
blooming (1 of 1)
flowering bush near the path
picnic shelter (1 of 1)
They have lots of these nice picnic huts as well as a good shower block, nice lawn, BBQs and a children’s playground. There were lots of people using them during the afternoon.

We brought two cooked meals with us for the evenings, thinking we might by one meal on Saturday or Sunday night when the troops arrive – Marie, Geoff and Glenn. We had an early tea, watched a bit of TV, then went out for our walk. We missed the best of the light, but the wind had died and it was really pleasant out.

We can’t get TV reception here, but ABC iview now livestreams TV over the internet, this is new and very welcome for us as we are more likely to have 3g or 4g than TV reception when we are travelling. Watching TV in real time (WA time at that) is great. We don’t really watch TV a lot, but its good to know it is there if we want it.

At about 8.30 there was a huge wind, a front coming through. We had a little rain, and there was a storm in the distance, we could see lightning but not hear thunder. There doesn’t seem to be any damage from the wind. It only lasted about 15 minutes, and the effect was probably enhanced because we have trees around.

We’ve had a good night’s sleep and are making a slow start this morning. I’ve had coffee and a slice of toast and vegemite and plan on having my shower when Stephen gets back and starts making his elaborate breakfast.

According to Google, the Coogee Beach Cafe stays open until 9.00 p.m. Friday to Sunday nights. However, when we went on our walk at about 7.30 p.m. it was already closed. We will have to check the closing time if we plan to buy an evening meal there.

The shark proof fencing is still in place although the trial was supposed to end in 2017. I wonder if it really does work. I’ve heard of a shark being able to get past the nets.

What I want for Christmas has already happened!

I might not have written this post except for the wonderful events of Friday when schoolchildren across Australia marched to show politicians that they want action on climate change. I feel so proud of them. At least a couple of politicians have been very rude about it, including Morrison (our hopefully very temporary Prime Minister) and I hold him most to blame for the negativity – what he says counts more than the others.

A few months ago we went to a talk by the Greenpeace CEO of Australia. After his disheartening, yet interesting talk, someone said to him that talking to school children about climate change was our only hope. His reply was that by the time the children are old enough to vote it will be much too late to avert climate change disaster. But, the actions of so many kids, obviously with the support of concerned parents, is very heartening indeed. No matter how much they are demeaned and shouted down by politicians, they have done the right and obvious thing. It matters more to them than anyone else.

So, I have had the most precious Christmas Gift I could possibly imagine. Nothing else can come close.

A lot of the reason why we love going travelling in our van is to be closer to nature. Waking up in the bush with no one else around is the ideal, as happened on our second night at Wongan Hills. Yet there is always an undercurrent of: how long can we continue to enjoy these things before extreme weather events and other consequences take hold? Is there any possibility of the children that we see around us being able to have these experiences too? Right now, yes, but by the time they are adults and have their own children, that’s the great unknown. Certainly they won’t be able to if the nations of the world don’t change their policies and take action.


Marie took up quilting a few years ago and now that I am retired I am starting to get interested in sewing as well. I did my third class on Monday this week and feel re-inspired to get back to it. I’ve already booked for the first one in February next year. I made a sort of very soft and floppy cushion before we went away as a travel pillow. On our return to Perth Stephen took it over because it was good back support at home and when we are in the Winnie. The passenger seat is more uncomfortable than the driver’s seat even though they are exactly the same. Having the steering wheel to grip makes a difference.

I wasn’t pleased about losing my dear cushion, having become very fond of it over the course of our travels. The photo above is a new cushion in progress. It’s now finished and gifted to Stephen (I even embroidered his name on it). He professes to be quite happy with the exchange. The cushion is a bit puffy at the moment, but easily shaped as needed and will probably get a bit flatter with use.

Of course, there are many other things that one could make besides cushions. However, I have a couple more planned  before Christmas. It’s quite a nice feeling to have a project on the go which I can work on for an hour or so, then leave until I next feel in the mood. The sewing machine has taken over my desk, with other sewing stuff around. We have a folding table in the living area which has become my cutting table and the ironing board is set up in the laundry (making it very crowded as we also dry clothes there). The secret with sewing is having all the equipment ready to go, when I put the sewing machine and other stuff away I simply don’t get back to it. It’s the same if you are learning a musical instrument. When I was learning the violin my teacher told me to leave it out of its case to make it easy to pick up and practice. It worked.

We are in Claremont today. Stephen is rehearsing for a concert tomorrow at Christchurch, Claremont. I came as well because I wanted to get this writing done and have set up at a nearby cafe. In some ways I regret moving away from Claremont, but it is very busy and Stirling Highway is very commercial, I don’t miss that at all. I also don’t miss making almost no progress at all on our $100,000 mortgage as it was during the period when interests rates were at 17.5%.

I do miss being fairly close to the ocean. As we drove through the side streets near to where we used to live I realised why we feel comfortable living in Victoria Park. Many of the houses are similar and there are still places that have not been renovated in any way, with messy, overgrown and neglected looking gardens.

At present I am working my way through the Shetland series by Ann Cleeves, but diverted to read an enchanting French book The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. She is a philosophy teacher as well as a novelist and her characters are wonderfully quirky and philosophical. This was one of the books I bought at the Book Bazaar.

We began with the children marching for action on Climate Change. Will any of the politicians take notice? Will they take action. I think the children may need to keep marching, and we should join them.


Thank you Wongan Hills

We are home now and have mostly unpacked the Winnie. Yesterday after our verticordia (heart turning) experience we visited the lookout at Mt Obrien. The dear fellow at the Vistor’s Centre told us we should have no difficulty getting our van up there, although it was a bit steep.

In fact, we got terribly frightened! I kept my foot on the accelerator in order to keep up the momentum for the steep parts. Sometimes we weren’t sure we would make it. Stephen gave helpful advice as I was struggling to manage. I found it unhelpful at the time.

Mt O'Brien view2 (1 of 1)

At the top we had a nice cup of tea to calm ourselves down. After some shooting (with cameras), we went down the hill again. During out time at the lookout the hill had smoothed itself out and the road got shorter, or so it seemed. It was much easier than coming up, especially as I put the Winnie into manual and could control our speed. We stopped to take some photos of an area close to the bottom with beautiful tall trees with leaves glinting in the sun and a beautiful golden carpet of flowers. The Christmas Tree Rock walk had areas just like it.

distant lake (1 of 1)
Lake Ninan from the lookout with a 70-300mm lens

Mt O'Brien view3 (1 of 1)

Mt O'Brien view4 (1 of 1)
Mt O’Brien
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Mt O’Brien

Near Mt O’Brien our map showed an RV camping area called The Gap. We went to check it out. It’s a large area off the road and was clean and tidy (no rubbish around). We felt it would be a very peaceful place to stay the night. We left the curtains open all night. The moon was so bright that it was almost like having a light at a caravan park. There was no traffic on the road overnight.

Camping at The Gap near Mt O'Brien (1 of 1)
The Winnie at The Gap
Camping at The Gap distant lake (1 of 1)
View over the fields to a lake in the distance near The Gap
Camping at The Gap wheel tracks (1 of 1)
Tracks in a field of grain (barley, wheat?) near The Gap

We woke up at 6.00 a.m. to a beautiful, sunny morning. The nights have been chilly on this trip, despite the fine weather. Our summer doona has been quite adequate to keep us warm which makes us wonder if it really is a summer doona.

After breakfast we packed up and went to do the Christmas Tree Rock Walk. It took us about an hour and part of the time we were in full sun, and increasing numbers of flies, so it wasn’t altogether comfortable. The rock itself is a granite outcrop. The walk had information displayed at various points along the way as well as marks on posts or on the ground to show us where to go.

Christmas Rock Walk (1 of 1)
Christmas Tree Rock Walk
Christmas Rock Walk3 (1 of 1)
Stephen points out our route marker
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The Rock
Christmas Rock Walk4 (1 of 1)
There were lots of flowers on the walk, mostly very small. This was a rare large one. We could hear bird calls, but only saw them in the distance.
Christmas Rock Walk7 (1 of 1)
A channel for water running off the rock. The cable is for power or telecomunications, I think.
Christmas Rock Walk10 (1 of 1)
Pink tape was also used extensively on the walk to indicate where to go.

After the walk we felt we deserved a visit to the cafe/bakery where we had hot drinks, lots of water, and a long rest. On our way out of town we refuelled. We felt we owed the community for providing such good facilities (free camping, water and a dump point, and information on various activities to enjoy in the area). We haven’t done everything – there are still possibilities for a future visit. But, we might not go up to the lookout again!

We enjoyed the drive home, opting to take the Great Eastern Highway route home. We found nice roadside places for lunch and afternoon tea on the way. Stephen drove about 60 kms and I did the rest.

A lot of the time we have been driving through farmlands which a few weeks ago were green or golden in the case of canola, now everything is already harvested or almost ready for harvest. This is the closest we came to harvesting. The video clips were taken with my phone whilst Stepen was driving.

Wongan Hills Adventures

We took the route through Bolgart, where we had lunch, turning right at Kalingiri, then on to Lake Ninan where we took a break. Lake Ninan was the first place we encountered flies and other small insects, which made walking around quite challenging. Stephen got out his fly net, but I was too busy taking photos. It probably would have looked lovely in the evening light.

Avon River from Dunbarton Bridge (1 of 1)
The Avon River yesterday morning
Bolgart Bell Tower. This was built when the Bell Tower in Perth was being built and Richard Court travelled to Bolgart to open it.


On arriving in Wongan Hills, we immediately spotted Cherry’s van, in shade parking off the main street. When we caught up, she suggested overnighting just outside the town. Of course, our attempts at stealth camping are offset by the size of the van. We ended up finding a level spot in the Wongan Hills Arboretum, with fields and on one side and the road a little distance away. No one came to tell us off. Cherry parked in another side road close by. We had afternoon tea together, then she came over after tea. We connected again this morning before going off to persue our own interests.

Wongan Hills Arboretum6 (1 of 1)
Rose of the West
Wongan Hills Arboretum4 (1 of 1)
Rose of the West
Wongan Hills Arboretum8 (1 of 1)
Dont know the name
Wongan Hills Arboretum3 (1 of 1)
There was some parking for the Arboretum, plus this picnic table. There is a plan to put a roof over it.
Wongan Hills Arboretum2 (1 of 1)
Sunsetset at the Arboretum, our view from the van
Wongan Hills Arboretum (1 of 1)
A tree near us

Cherry and I had met up at the shopping centre on Wednesday morning and in discussion, realised we would be heading in the same direction. We didn’t have a set plan to meet up, but it worked out very well indeed. With our slide in the ‘out’ position we can have one or two guests sitting in folding chairs inside the van.

This morning we are revisiting Reynolds Reserve. The flowers are amazing and we now realise why the entry sign is in pink and white, plus why the little information bay is painted pink. This made no sense without the verticordias. We have very good internet here and the sun is high. Stephen walked all around the reserve, but I decided that being inside, away from the sun, strong wind and flies, working on my photos, was the sensible place to be after 10 minutes or so. I have views down the lake on one side and across the flowers on the other.

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Sign is the colour of the pink and white flowers here
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the pinks
Reynolds Reserve revisited 22 (1 of 1)
some whites
Reynolds Reserve revisited 13 (1 of 1)
some reds
Reynolds Reserve revisited 17 (1 of 1)
the pink painted shelter
Reynolds Reserve revisited 18 (1 of 1)
another one I can’t name
Reynolds Reserve revisited 15 (1 of 1)
all pinks
The whites resemble cauliflours with very tightly packed flowers which were a bit tricky to photograph because of the lack of contrast

Wongan Hills Wildflower Trip

On Saturday we went to the Book Bazaar. It was one of their sales and we took advantage to buy all of these second hand books. Wow! We went a little crazy. The Explore Australia 2013 book is a gift from Eversley. We caught up over lunch at the Wembley Foodhall afterwards. It was a chance to discuss some ideas for our trip to England next year.

We had time for a rest when we got home before Matt arrived. After the usual, after some gardening with Stephen, Matt came in to keep me company (help) whilst I cooked tea. We made enough food for several meals as we wanted to have pre cooked meals for our trip to Wongan Hills to see wildflowers.

Yesterday we spent the morning packing up (I did a lot of reading and got through my first book from the new collection). We then drove to Roleystone and had a leisurely afternoon tea with Marie and Geoff. Marie was feeling tired after having driven part of the way home from Albany and she had already had a visit from her kids, but she didn’t hurry us away. We ended up leaving at about 4.30 p.m. on our way to a free camping area close to Toodyay. We travelled through the back ways to Toodyay road, fueled up at Gidgie and made it to the camping area by about 6.00 p.m. There was still enough light for some sunset photos.

for some unknown reason, these sunset photos are upside down – adds some interest perhaps?


Dumbarton Bridge, near Toodyay. The river is the Avon.

We had a little bit of internet, one bar of 3g last night. This morning we have made a bee line to the Toodyay Bakery for coffee, bread and rolls, and internet access. We travelled about 100 kms yesterday and it’s now only about another 100 kms to Wongan Hills.


Benefits of keeping a blog

A personal view

I’ve been keeping a blog for a few years now. I began it because although I had been documenting our life and travels for a long time Stephen pointed out that the narrative was missing. When we travelled ‘around the world’ I kept a journal in pencil in a notebook, and that has been something I treasured, but seldom read after the first few years. Just recently, I wanted to check on a couple of trips we made this year and the ability to search for key words and places is quite wonderful.

It also highlights how much we forget, especially if doing a lot of trips during the year. Stephen remembers different places and events to me, and being able to refer back to the photos and narrative means that we have a chance to relive good experiences, whilst perhaps also remembering things that were difficult and challenging.

I back up all of our photos online using Flickr, as well as Apple Photos. Having the photos in order of date taken and easily searchable allows me to relive the experiences over and over again. But it is the blog which really provides a repository of memorable adventures.

I began a blog called ‘caravanning adventures’ in September, 2013. We took our small Starcraft caravan to the Eastern States in 2014 and we have a full blog of that trip. I finished that blog in March, 2016, switching to a more photography oriented blog ‘’. I began that blog in December, 2013, documenting our home exchange trip to San Francisco. A new blog was needed because it wasn’t about caravanning.

Future writing plans

I plan to continue writing this blog, for the rest of my life if possible. I don’t always write about travel, sometimes it is all about significant events.

We also have a family Youtube channel. This is mostly for Matthew’s benefit as he really enjoys watching movies about us. I love capturing his happy moments as we do ordinary things together and joke around. I also enjoy capturing my husband on film, whether singing or enjoying activites such as looking for wildflowers. I work my way through video editing tutorials, but only when my simple knowledge of the progrom doesn’t allow me to solve a particular problem.

When we are travelling it is easiest to write a short blog entry with photos at the end of each day. It takes some discipline, and an internet connection, but I am always glad when I take the effort. The only time it was really difficult to do was when we were with a tour group in China. I made very few entries because we were so busy and finding time to myself was difficult. I was usually too tired by the end of the evening.

I don’t plan to ‘grow’ the blog or make money from it. If people want to read it, then I’m happy, but I don’t need more readers to motivate me to write. I have 58 ‘followers’, but not many actually read the blog. Checking my Statistics page on WordPress gives this information.

I don’t plan to turn it into a book. It would take a lot of work to make the stories interesting to other people. It is enough to have a reason to blog – to help preserve memories of our life and travells.

cropped bird2 (1 of 1)




A visit to Dardanup on our way home

The people in a tent were woken up by a ranger at about 8.00 am. Silly them, because the other campers we suspected were not fully self contained got away early to avoid the humiliation. We had a good nights sleep and a leisurely breakfast. After a visit to the dump point we headed off for Dardanup.

Of course, we had only one thing on our minds.

But after morning tea, we walked down the street and found the visitors centre. We had a discussion with a lovely woman who grew up on a dairy farm in the area.

She told us all about the local attractions of the Ferguson Valley.

Then, it was up the Forest Highway and Freeway to home. We had a break for lunch and later a break for afternoon tea and arrived home at about 4.00 pm.

Choir in the evening. To our classes at MALA this morning.

The Winnie is unpacked, but dirty inside and out. There was a bit of sealing out of place up on the Luton peak and I went up on a ladder to push it back. Hopefully we can get by without resealing it for the time being.

We feel a bit strange to be living back in our house again. The noise of the builders seem particularly loud this morning.

School Chapel, Dardanup.

Bears who RV…

Tembo Ted (Reuben) and Caravan Ted enjoying a good seat in the RV

We were having a relaxing morning in the Jarrahdene Forest when up rocked a car and caravan to claim our spot. I didn’t realise that we had to be out by 10.00 a.m. and it was our bad luck that in a nearly empty camping area they had booked our spot. After asking us to ‘prove’ that we were legitimate the woman got on the phone to parkstays and to try to get another site and said there was a chance of a fistfight with us over the spot. Not surprisingly we saw a ranger come in a bit later. I hope this won’t result in us being banned from staying in National Parks.

We moved, of course. There was nowhere to actually park and Stephen’s idea of having a half hour walk before we left was shelved. We were at the dump station when I saw a ranger drive in. We had chosen Jarrahdene partly because of the dump point, but it is not far from Contos and we wished we had stayed there for our second night.

We stopped at Witchcliff to refuel and Stephen found that there was a little forest walk nearby. He went for a walk and I went to a cafe. Everyone happy again!

We decided to aim for Capel to stay the night. There is a dump station with potable water also available. Plus there are three RV parking spaces where we can stay the night. We weren’t sure of getting one of the three, but I located an alternative – about 18 kms away, but it sounds pretty nice with a waterfall. However, when we arrived we felt that perhaps we had travelled far enough. After filling up with water we were able to claim the second spot and another RV has since claimed the third. A full house. We are a little out of town. RVs have to be fully self contained to stay here and we have a 24 hour stay, so no pressure in the morning.

It is cloudy, a bit smoky and very windy here, not the sort of evening that we want to be outside. Fortunately we have an indoor kitchen, unlike our neighbours in the next bay. We are not sure that they qualify as fully self contained, but surely even a portable cassette toilet is enough. There is now a tent – they must be planning to get away early in the morning before the ranger comes.

Capel sunset (1 of 1)

Capel sunset3 (1 of 1)

On our way here we stopped for lunch on Sue’s Road – actually on a side road (George Road). Stephen found an orchid almost immediately, and we found lots of other wildflowers too. So, as well as enjoying lunch, we walked around taking photos. The flowers had a shyness about them, it was only by walking around with our eyes on the ground that we realised what a rich diversity of flowers were within a short distance.

faded spider orchid2 (1 of 1)
spider orchid
there were lots of these orchids (1 of 1)
tiny donkey orchids
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pretty, don’t know the name
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pea family flower
pretty flowers5 (1 of 1)
beautiful colours
we don't know what this is (1 of 1)
white flowers
Capel sunset4 (1 of 1)
Good Night

Red Gate Beach to Swallows Gallery to Jarrahdene(Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park)

Here’s the Winnie at our home for tonight at Jarrahdene Campsite.

The top image is from Red Gate Beach. We got up rather late this morning and after a walk to see some flowers we drove to Red Gate Beach. We had a good parking spot looking out over rock pools to the ocean. It was windy when we arrived, but blowing pretty much a gale by the time we left at about 2.00 pm. We walked around taking photos and had our lunch there.

Our next port of call was near Witchcliff. The gallery is owned by the illustrator of one of Stephen’s wildflower books. She has a little gallery of her illustrations in a mud brick chapel dedicated to all religions. I noticed nearby an English style garden. Pat Negus IS English though she came here when she was 23 and has lived most of her life here.

At our campsite this morning. We don’t know the name of this yet.

We bought a couple of books, one of orchids and one a children’s story about sugar possums. She likes doing all kinds of illustrations. She took us into her garden and put bird food on a beach for me to take photos of some of her ‘neighbours’.

On the way to our campsite we passed through the 100 year Forrest and couldn’t resist stopping for a walk into the trees.

All of the photos are straight from the camera to the iPad and some could do with a little editing. It has been such a lovely day with so many lovely things to experience. I’ve taken lots and lots of photos.

Red Gate Beach

And now we get to sleep in a forest! There are no other campers here, we had a little bit of noise in the evening at our precious campsite, but not enough to bother us. This time we will just have the sound of wind in the trees and bird calls.