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.

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Lake Ninan from the lookout with a 70-300mm lens

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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.

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Christmas Tree Rock Walk
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Stephen points out our route marker
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The Rock
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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.
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A channel for water running off the rock. The cable is for power or telecomunications, I think.
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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.

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Rose of the West
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Rose of the West
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Dont know the name
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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
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some whites
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some reds
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the pink painted shelter
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another one I can’t name
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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.

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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.