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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Kalbarri/wildflower Trip: Day 1

Yesterday we travelled from home to a campsite just south of Badgingarra. The worst part, of course, is getting out of the city and past Midland. Then we took the Great Northern Highway and went slowly through to the Brand Highway turnoff following a large mining vehicle being transported with full complement of pilot vehicles. As we passed Ginger’s it reminded us of meeting Robyne there on the way up to Mum’s or going up to Western Flora. We didn’t stop there this time.

The Brand Highway turnoff has changed and at first we were worried that we were going the wrong way, but eventually came across a welcome sign showing we were on the right road.

For lunch we wanted a really nice spot, and we were in luck. At Regans Ford there is a rest area near the river. It was a beautiful day, about 25 with a cool breeze and we stayed there about three hours, having lunch and a rest, and taking short walks.

We then had about a 40 minute drive to our camping area. We fiddled about a bit to try to find the best spot, basically level and in the sun. We had to raise the front wheel slightly, but were pleased with our place overlooking a view of the surrounding area. There were three other campers, two caravans and a big motorhome, which gave us a sense of being in a little community without losing much privacy.

We have slow internet here and that means I will have to add photos later.

I was very stressed getting ready for this trip even though I had the whole of Tuesday to get ready and load up the van. Once on the road the stress gradually dissipated, especially when we were at Regan’s Ford.

We have about 240 kms to go to reach Geraldton where we will meet up with Marie, Geoff and Glenn. We started our trip a day after them and they’ve already had a night there. Eversley is also around as she is doing a wildflower tour in this region with a base in Dongara. She has already been to Coalseam National Park and says the wildflowers are wonderful.

We have lots of wildflowers here at our campsite, the usual shy little flowers that you have to get close to to appreciate. I thought I found an orchid, but Stephen says it isn’t as it doesn’t have the right number of petals.

This morning we found lots more of the flowers and confirmed that they are the cowslip orchid.

Friendly galah at Drummond’s Reserve

Regan’s Ford, lunchtime stop

Regan’s Ford lunchtime stopover

Drummond’s reserve

Carmel Cider

Arrival Thursday 6th at 12.30 p.m., departure Saturday 8th at about 11.00 a.m.

We were searching for places near Perth to go for a night or two. We loved staying at the Olive Hill Farm near Bussleton and we were looking for that kind of experience, parking amongst fruit trees, with a possible campers’ toilet, no power hookups and a small shop. Carmel Cider appeared to offer what we wanted. We only had a small window of opportunity during our week and even then we had a 3 hour Zoom session on one morning and Stephen had to get to a choir rehearsal on the second day. We went anyway.

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We had rather cold and windy weather, especially the second night when there wasn’t enough sun during the day to warm up the van. We closed everything up and went to bed early. We woke later to a very stuffy van and had to get up an open some windows and the skylight. We always switch off the gas before sleeping so we don’t have to worry about perhaps going to sleep forever even when there is no air coming into the van.

When we arrived and were escorted to a possible camping spot we realised that forgetting the levellers was a big mistake as we couldn’t find a level spot. Stephen was able to commandeer some foam slabs which helped a bit, but the slope took time to adjust to and meant I had to watch liquids carefully when cooking. However, our bodies did adjust and we didn’t really notice the slope after a few hours.

We had an ensuite site, sort of. There was a flushing toilet next to a dilapidated house close to us.

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We have to take each outing as an adventure, not aiming for a perfectly wonderful experience. There were no walking trails within walking distance of the farm and our walks were quite short. We sampled the cider, and bought some cans for our stay. The owner of the farm was very quietly spoken and we had to listen carefully. He has only been operating about six years and is developing a variety of brews. If only we didn’t mind getting drunk we could have had a great time sampling.

We’ve had some parties around our neighbourhood lately and it was disappointing on our second night (Friday) to have a caravan arrive with people who lit a large fire outside and had thumping music playing. Mind you, that was the night it was very cold and the van was completely shut off. I went to sleep by about 9.00 p.m. despite the noise. It would help to go away during the week as places close to Perth will attract people getting away at weekends.

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Unfortunately this van parked quite close to us, so we got the full effect of the music on Friday night.

On Saturday we packed up and left by about 11.30 to head to Bayswater where Stephen had an afternoon rehearsal. We chose a park on the river and when Stephen was sent details of the address it turned out we were parked within 300 metres of where he would be rehearsing. We had lunch and a walk before he had to head off, and also went for a walk afterwards. The park is lovely, with a couple of food trucks, some gazebos, a wetlands, and an off lead area for walking dogs. We had some sunshine and it was altogether a lovely find.

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Pelican slide with real pelican in the background

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Friends

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My new normal

This is a blog post for our Lifewriting Group. We meet tomorrow morning and were given this topic as a suggestion.

I’m including a few photos from our recent walks. The photo above is a Zamia plant.

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She was sitting nicely here, blending in with the grey stone. But, by the time I had my phone out she had moved. She let me stroke her and she has amazingling soft and thick fur.

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Near Victoria Park station we saw long lines of trains waiting for the football crowds. Because of social distancing rules they need double the capacity.

There have been quite a few things happening over the past couple of weeks. The situation in Victoria has gone from bad to worse, culminating in a return to Stage Four lockdown in the city of Melbourne. NSW has also seen an increase in community transmission. Although our borders are supposedly closed about 400 people a day come to Western Australia for work or on compassionate grounds. Underlying our good record with no community transmission so far is a good deal of anxiety about whether this will change.

Progress has been made with Matt’s transition to NDIS. After some really poor communication from our Support worker at Integra we had a good conversation on Thursday morning and I’ve signed a Service Agreement with them. I still haven’t heard back from Glenda regarding Matt’s day supports, including support for him to have home visits.

After yesterday I’ve realised a couple of things. We really must return to late afternoon/evening visits. We’ve done this for many years and day visits are disruptive for us and very tiring. The other thing is that weekly visits works better than fortnightly, especially if we want to go away for a week or two. If the visits are more often he adjusts more happily to Facetime catchups. I also find it more emotionally stressful as it seems to raise the stakes for a happy visit, whereas weekly there can be the odd visit where I am less energised when he comes without feeling a bit bad about it. Because Matt will have group activities for which he pays less I’m pretty sure it will work out financially for him.

We are still waiting for the horn on our van to be fixed. It had dawned on us that George Day let us drive away in the van knowing that it wasn’t strictly roadworthy as the fuse for the horn was disabled because of the problem. Fiat Welshpool have on auto electrician who is much in demand and he has only just been firmly assigned to the job today in the hope that he can finish it if he doesn’t have interruptions. Fingers crossed because we want to have a couple of nights away later this week.

We have just started our Mind, Body and Soul program with Connect in Victoria Park. The first Zoom session on Friday went well. I think they are following guidelines on social distancing by only having 35 people attend in person and the rest of us on Zoom. It’s not quite a good for us as actually going there, but at least we don’t have to worry about catching anything.

Stephen is trialling a new singing group which meets on Saturday afternoons. They have a COVID safe plan and his first session on Saturday was in the open air. He wasn’t feeling well on Thursday when Working Voices had their first choir session, but one of the participants was kind enough to set up her phone so that we could join by Facetime. He was in bed, so I joined him and we were teased about using John and Yoko as our model. Shows our age that we knew immediately what she meant.

Stephen and I are working on the videos from our trip. Apparently Matt liked the little clip of drone shots and they have also been watching the couple of other travel videos we have finished. Due to requests from Matt’s house, we took some video yesterday when we celebrated Stephen’s birthday. We are still processing our final Goldfields Trip movie. I do the editing, pass to Stephen, who goes through and makes notes, which I do my best to incorporate before doing a final edit and post to Youtube. It’s not as easy as it looks, of course, and I know understand why Youtubers say they spend hours and hours editing. Still, it’s a creative process and I don’t mind, especially when there are not too many other things to do. I work best in the mornings, but can do a bit of it later in day as well.

My new normal looks much like the old normal I would say, except for the underlying anxiety about the continuing pandemic around the world and the effects of global warming.

Here is our latest video.