Walk around Big Brook Dam

Sunday 30th September, 2018

We woke up to a sunny morning, quite a change from the night. We had switched the fridge off overnight as usual because it freezes everything inside if we leave it on. In the morning we found that we couldn’t actually get the fridge going again, despite trying many times, and switching everything off and on again, changing gas cylinders – absolutely everything. I even read the manual.

sunny morning (1 of 1)

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It meant a slight change of plan for Sunday night, with the need to be able to run the fridge on electricity. It cannot run for long on DC power without draining the battery. We had a look at the Muir Highway again to see if there was a place on the way to Mt Barker for an overnight, but there are no caravan parks on the route. We decided to stay in Manjimup.

We still wanted to do the walk to Big Brook Dam from our campsite. It was supposed to be about a 3 kms walk there, so about 6 kms altogether. When I checked my phone on return it said we had gone 7 kms. It became cloudy on the walk, but no rain, thank goodness. It wasn’t very far to the water and the walk around the dam is bitumen – supposedly for wheelchairs, but also handy for prams. We had a chocolate bar and some almonds which we ate at the ‘beach’ – it looks like sand has been brought in to create a swimming area. That was just over half way around from where we started.

accessible path around the dam (1 of 1)
accessible path

flowers 2 (1 of 1)

the beach (1 of 1)
the beach
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bird hide (1 of 1)
bird hide

There was occasional seating and a couple of bird hides on the route. The first part was overgrown and we couldn’t see the water very much, but the return on the other side had better views.

bird hide2 (1 of 1)

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cut wood (1 of 1)
vivid colours under the bark

We had lunch followed by a rest, then packed up and drove to Manjimup. We are staying in the caravan park in the town. We wanted to do a bit of shopping, but felt too tired to do it after we arrived, so it will have to wait for the morning even though the Woolworths is just across the road from here.

It’s vaguely damp, with very light rain this evening. The temperature inside is quite comfortable, though I should perhaps put out the heater for the morning. Although we enjoy camping without hookups we are really loving our first night with ‘normal’ electricity, town water to the taps and sullage. TV reception isn’t very good, but we were able to watch the news. Then we watched the final episode of ‘Patrick Melrose’, very good drama with one of our favourite actors.

We have our electric hot water system on and have opted to have our showers in the van rather than go the short distance over to the showers. They look clean and nice, but the effort of taking our stuff over doesn’t seem worth it.

Greenbushes to Big Brook Dam Arboretum Camping Area

Saturday 29th September, 2018

It was grey this morning and we did not feel like going for a walk after breakfast. I had quite a bad headache in the night, but some Panadol and massage from Stephen of the affected area worked a miracle and I woke up without a headache and feeling quite well.

We drove to Mandurah where Stephen spent time in the Visitor Centre trying to get information about wildflowers. I asked about a café and we found a lovely place, the Deja Vue Café, with nice drinks and food, plus a wood fire and comfortable lounge style seating. We spent some time there before moving on. I took a photo of the blossom outside on my phone.

wood fire.jpg


We fuelled up, then headed down to Pemberton.

Coming through Bridgetown I was a bit disappointed at how shabby the town appears. Lots of buildings need paint, and there doesn’t appear to be much interest in preserving old buildings or making the town attractive. It is set amongst steep hills. As we continued down towards Pemberton the bush was looking rather dry and dull.

Pemberton, in contrast, is very pretty as you drive along the road and into town. Today was the AFL final with West Coast Eagles playing Collingwood. We parked in town close to the public toilets and set up the TV. There were 26 channels available, and we were able to watch the match, whilst having our lunch. It was very exciting, Collingwood was winning by the time we started watching, but the teams were very evenly matched. Despite a series of points rather than goals, the Eagles pulled off a winning goal at the end. It was great to see the teams so well matched.

After that Stephen went off to the Pemberton Visitor Centre whilst I had a nap. We have to commend the public toilets in both Manjimup and Pemberton, they are clean and modern and quite luxurious. They obviously had them built by the same contractor to the same high standard, and have kept them well maintained.

We have driven to our campsite in the forest. There are quite a few other campers in various types of rigs including one other large motorhome. The rain, which was threatened all day, has finally arrived, but it is still probably quite light, just sounds heavy filtered through the leaves of the trees around us before landing loudly on our roof. We are surrounded by tall trees and it is wonderful. We feel safe with so many people around, yet it is very quiet. There are a few children, but there is so much space that the sound of kids playing wasn’t disturbing.

winnie in the forest (1 of 1)

Stephen sorting out the payment (1 of 1)

There is a long drop toilet here and I went to check it out. Lots of insects and a bit smelly, which is disappointing after last night in Greenbushes. Also, we have used other long drop toilets which have been excellent. As tomorrow is Sunday it seems unlikely that the toilet will be cleaned.

We are conserving our battery power a bit as we are not sure how well it will be replenished in the morning with all of the trees around. We will make a decision on what to do tomorrow based on the weather. If it is too wet for walking we may just visit Big Brook Dam, then make our way towards Mt Barker, which is about 180kms from here.

We are paying $6 each per night here as we are in a National Park.

Perth to Greenbushes

I accidentally posted today’s entry to my old blog, rather than this one. I’ve done a copy and paste to this blog. The setup is a bit wonky.

We were supposed to travel a little further today and spend the night near Big Brook Dam at a national park campsite. However, we had a busy week, with lots of preparation to do this morning. The Winnie was camped on the lawn in front of our units, and as I thought of all trips we would have to take carrying stuff down the van I came up with the idea of using our car as a sort of trolley. We packed up the car with all of the food, clothes, drinking water and other gear and drove down to the end of the driveway close to the Winnie. Stephen handed the stuff to me and I distributed it around temporarily until we had time to pack things away.

I’ve been feeling a little unwell this week with a sort of low grade headache. I didn’t want to drive too far feeling this way. Stephen covered some of the driving as well, of course. We took the freeway and Forest Highway before looping back onto the Southwest Highway. We made a slight detour to have lunch in Dardanup, home of the wonderful German Bakery.

Greenbushes has a couple of free camping areas. We are in the one nearest to the highway, which means we have some noise, but the camping area is quite large and we were able to find a spot that is nearly completely level. There are flushing toilets and a water tap for filling containers, but no other facilities.

There is one other campervan here. Camping is allowed for up to seven days.

We took a walk to a nearby dam to enjoy a sunset over the water.

We were entertained by a flock of red tailed cockatoos.

Stephen saw a red breasted wren as well. Curiously, there were no water birds.

We had a difficult drive down with strong, gusty winds. Having a few stops on the way and sharing the driving helped us to manage.

If we had managed to get to our destination we wouldn’t have had any internet, so we are glad to have 2 bars of 4g to listen to internet radio, surf the web, and write this blog.


September 28, 2018

The Winnie and Libraries

We had the Winnie serviced yesterday. It involves getting her to the Iveco service centre on Great Eastern Highway. The service cost was $766.90, not bad for a yearly service. It was a level 1 service, next year will be a level 2 which is more expensive. The service times are 12 monthly or every 40,000 kms. If it was a commercial vehicle that would probably mean 3 services a year, but leisure vehicles typically do a lot less kilometres.

The other interesting thing was looking at the new vehicle brochure and seeing that the Warranty period is 5 years or 200,000 kms. We are still under 200,000 kms after 11 years, and would be out of warranty on time alone, but it is interesting that our vehicle is still within new warranty in terms of kilometres travelled. We hope that we get to travel at least another 80,000 kms in our time with her, but there should be no problem with doing more. This is a very sturdy vehicle indeed. We have spent quite a lot on the ‘house’ part of our motorhome and it seems to be well worth it in terms of how long we can expect the ‘car’ part to last.

We will keep the Winnie at our house until after our Dunsborough gig with Working Voices, then it may be time to take it to its normal home in Roleystone.

My study area at the Victoria Park Library, and a quick view of the sitting area in the round

We went to the the Spring Convocation Meeting at UWA last night. We have been before, but this one was interesting as it was given by the person who runs the libraries at UWA. She was talking about the digitisation of libraries, and what it now means in terms of what a library actually is. We have noticed that our local library, the new Perth City library and the State Library are much more than book collections these days. We often attend little Friday night events here, whether jazz, opera or a talk by the Greenpace Australia CEO. Stephen spends a good deal of time here as well. (I say here, because I have come over to the library to write this blog post.)

I wanted to get some items to take with us on our 11 day holiday next week, especially for the first couple of nights when we won’t have the internet. I’ve bought a little DVD player to use with my laptop as there is still a need for a DVD player sometimes when we go away. It’s a small cheap option and the laptop can output the DVD to a TV over HDMI. I also wanted to log into the library digital collection. I prefer reading on my iPad to physical books, even though I still love actual books. The reading experience is easier on the iPad because I can adjust the backlighting and size of print to suit me.

When we were at the writer’s festival at UWA earlier this year we wandered into the new entrance to the library after walking over to a new cafe. The old entrance is on a walkway, and although as a lover of books and reading you would expect that I would like the library, I always used to feel rather trapped. I would spend time in the more open section at the bottom where the cafe was located rather than in the pychology and anthropology sections, where you would expect to find me.

The new entrance leads to an enchanting place of open study areas, where students can work on their projects individually or in small groups. There is also a large lecture area in the middle, which was not being used when we visited. There are comfy armchairs with footrests where I guess students can nap or read in great comfort.

Which is why I decided to try out our own library as a place to write. We have a little sitting area in the round, plus a couple of booths, as well as more open desk areas. These areas have power points and USB ports. There is free wifi, but it is not password protected, so I prefer to use the internet via wifi on my phone. It is noisier here than in a traditional libary, but I’ve been able to filter it out, apart from when a child was grizzling.

I was feeling tired yesterday and didn’t really want to go to the Convocation Meeting. Stephen is a member, as a graduate of UWA, I have to go as a guest because I didn’t actually graduate there, although I attended for a few years. I actually enjoyed the meeting as the speakers were interesting and there were a couple of people there from our past, including one who was receiving an award for her services to the UWA community, especially Grads, over many, many years. We talked with her afterwards. We had met her husband when we were with Grads as we occastionally went back to their place for after show partys.

The supper and drinks were well done, and the balcony area where we were standing was so well heated that we looked for a place away from heating as soon as we could.


Guildford Songfest 2018

The featured image is of a heritage listed house, just close to St Matthew’s Church, Guildford.

Guildford old house2 (1 of 1)

The houses along this street back onto wetlands and the river. Very nice indeed.

WV at GuildfordSonfest 2018 (1 of 1)

We ended up with 16 of the 21 members of the choir participating in the Songfest. Two people are not actually in this photo, myself and another person who arrived a little later. We were reasonably happy with our performances, though we completely stuffed up one song on on Sunday by not getting our starting notes. We should have stopped and started the song again, but that is easy to say in retrospect, harder to always do what is best when under pressure.

Winnie parked at Guildford (1 of 1)Winnie parked at Guildford with Stephen (1 of 1)

We took the Winnie, with the idea that we might stay overnight, and even if we didn’t, it gave us a place to change in and out of our choir gear, plus we had food for our lunches. In the end, we didn’t stay overnight although we stayed for part of the evening concert. It was a particularly cold night, officially down to 2-3 degrees, and, although we have heating, Stephen was feeling under pressure as the only bass in the choir, and wanted to be sure of having a good night’s sleep. It was still worthwhile having the Winnie there during both days.

On Sunday there was a market set up near the church, which was handy for having coffee after the choir warmup at 10.00 a.m. Stephen and I walked to Guildford Grammar Chapel to hear an opera singer perform as part of the Festival. She had a constant vibrato which did not play well in a church with a lot of reverberation, but her high notes were thrilling, less vibrato and intensely beautiful. We could only stay for three songs as we had to get to back to St Matthew’s to perform, but it was worth it.

We put the fridge on gas on Saturday, despite being on a slope. We came back to the van to find the gas alarm beeping. I checked for a gas leak yesterday, and found that there was a very slow leak from the connecting valve, just needs a little tightening. I had watched someone check for gas leeks on Youtube, it is a bit messy for sure, but easy to do.

On Sunday we left the fridge on DC power, which was bad for the batteries because we were under shade, but Winnie was on a bit of a slope again and we didn’t want to risk setting off the alarm again. The level went down to 12.3 and 12.2 is the lowest they should go. When we plugged in at home later in the day the fan on the battery charger went made for a while, pushing the batteries up over 14. Eventually it settled down. 13.8 is normal for our batteries, whether from the solar or when plugged into mains.

We will have the Winnie serviced this Friday. She is running well at the moment, but the yearly service gives us peace of mind. The only other thing we should have done is to have the slide out serviced, but we have a long trip planned for next year and will probably have a complete ‘house’ service before we go.

We have booked tickets for the National Folk Festival in Canberra next year. We would leave Perth shortly after Matt’s birthday on the 19th March. We may also go to a writer’s festival in Sydney. It’s possible to camp in a national park with full hookups, walk 10 minutes to a train station and take a 20 minute train journey to the centre of the city. Neat! The only thing comparable is when we camped in a caravan park in Paris – all those long years ago when we travelled from England to Munich in a campervan. I wonder if the caravan park in Paris still exists.

Our journey would take a couple of months and we hope that G, our usual housesitter, will be available.

Wildflowers close to home

For the last two Sundays we have been exploring wildflowers near home. The first Sunday we went to Kings Park where there is the usual display of wildflowers at this time of year. We enjoyed a visit to the cafe afterwards and ran into some friends who were celebrating Father’s Day at the cafe with their two sons, partners, and grand children.

Our next expedition was to Wireless Hill, going by car this time. There is a special wildflower walk and we spent ages walking around. I was working with a macro lens, trying to capture as much as I good, whilst Stephen was just observing.

Here are some of my favourites:

Wireless Hill-flower4 (1 of 1)

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I can’t identify all of the flowers, but these delightful ones are called Granny’s Bonnets
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There were heaps of donkey orchids on the walk and we liked this photo because they contrast with the bark of the tree behind
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the walk
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There were lots of Kangaroo Paws along the walk
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an orchid

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Guest Post: Shakespeare Connections

Shakespeare connections made during a trip to China and England

by Stephen Hastings

Our trip began in China. When asked to think about Shakespeare connections made on the trip, when considering China, my mind registered blank.  This caused me to make a note to research how much was known by Shakespearian England about China.

On reflecting on the England part of our journey I did discovery some connections. Shakespeare was not in our minds as we planned  what we would do on this trip. On earlier trips we had visited Stratford and Bosworth  Field (August 21, 1485) and seen a very amusing Comedy of Errors at the Globe Theatre.

On this trip I was able to make four Shakespeare connections.

Firstly we spent a night in Monmouth, Wales. When you stand in the city centre square you will see a large statue of Charles Rolls, of Rolls Royce fame. Then let your gaze go to the town hall behind and you will see a small bust of Henry V on the wall, about first floor level. The town also has a very ruined castle where he was born.


Charles Rolls
Henry V

Secondly we had a morning tea break in Tewksbury (battle of Tewkesbury 4 may 1471, mentioned in Richard III)  on our way to the Malvern Hills and the birth place of Edward Elgar. Tewksbury is located on the River Severn and we had a delightful short walk along the river bank path, through what is referred to as the Severn Ham. The Norman period Abbey was a highlight with a stunning ceiling.  We took morning tea at the Royal Hop Pole (public house) which according to Wikipedia is mentioned in the Pickwick Papers. I found it to be a very friendly, rambling and comfortable place to enjoy a hot chocolate and I can recommend the toilets.

Norman Period Abbey

On BBC television I saw King Lear with Anthony Hopkins. The cast list included many well known British actors:

Goneril: Emma Thompson

Regan: Emily Watson

Cordelia: Florence Pugh

Earl of Gloucester: Jim Broadbent

Earl of Kent: Jim Carter

Duke of Cornwall: Tobias Menzies

Duke of Albany:  Anthony calf

Oswald : Christopher Ecclestone

I found a review on line,  by James Walton (The Spectator). Here is a short extract.

“Directed by Richard Eyre, the programme opened in what seemed to be present-day Britain under military dictatorship. After a few establishing shots of the Shard, the Gherkin and so on, the camera zoomed into a heavily guarded Tower of London where Lear was about to announce his doomed plan around a shiny conference table.

In fact, for a while, this updating seemed both half-hearted and a bit confusing. If Lear really was a military dictator, why did everyone keep calling him a king? Why were there no modern media in evidence as the country/kingdom fell apart? Why did Goneril live in a contemporary home counties mansion, but Gloucester in an old-style Tudor palace? Why, for that matter, were 21st-century people swearing ‘by Apollo’?

Gradually, though, it became apparent that these inconsistencies were a deliberate attempt to reimagine Shakespeare’s ahistorical world where realism and myth jostle together. Admittedly, even when you did appreciate this, there were some jarring moments. The refugee camp in the storm scene felt like a somewhat desperate stab at shoehorning in some ‘relevance’. The climactic hi-tech battle in the suburbs of Dover (complete with Cordelia in military fatigues) seemed like something that the original military-dictatorship conception meant that Eyre was rather stuck with. Nonetheless, the overall result definitely served to remind us of just what a strange, and at times utterly wild, play this is.”

I enjoyed it.

Lastly, we did succumb to a West End musical … Kiss me Kate. Rather banal dialogue but wonderful, wonderful Cole Porter music. The lady behind summed up the evening when she was overheard to say to her partner:  “I’m so glad you brought me, this is so much fun”.  Of course we sang “Brush Up your Shakespeare” all the way home.

Kiss Me Kate