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.


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.

13 Days and Nights

Stephen and I were guessing how long we had been home. We thought nearly two weeks. We had a few days of not much happening, just settling in, unpacking and shopping for food. I went with Marie to see Mum on the Wednesday, after three nights at home. We had a Working Voices Choir committee meeting on the Thursday evening, then went to see Marie and Geoff to catch up on Friday afternoon. G, our exchangee came to pick up the keys for his Croydon apartment on Saturday morning and we went to the Stadium to check out where we would meet Matt on Sunday. There was a great sunset as we walked back to Albany Highway to get our bus home.


On Sunday afternoon we went to the football with Matt. We all went back to our place afterwards for tea. We travelled by wheelchair taxi after catching public transport to the Stadium.


On Monday Marie and I did a Tilda Workshop together. I have taken on a quite challenging project which should keep me going for a while. If it doesn’t become a UFO (unfinished object).

We went to the State Libary on Tuesday to see some short documentaries as part of NAIDOC week, then had lunch at the senior citizens centre at City Place. Stephen and I took Mum to the Parky Pub on Wednesday. It was a sunny day, but cold, and they had an open fire in the dining room. We sat close to it.

In the evening we went to a talk at our local libary with the CEO of Greenpeace. It was an interview type talk and very interesting, and scary, of course. His message is that although it is good to get on board with recylcing, without systemic change it won’t make a lot of difference to global warming. It is a matter of the government shifting the responsibility on to citizens – and we are not the main polluters. We asked what we could possibly do and he reminded us that social change has to come from ‘we the people’ – our choir has a song about that. Stephen mentioned the choir when he asked a question at the end. He had prepared some slips of paper as business cards and there were a few people interested, including one man.

Yesterday I met with Glenda, Jackie, Lesley, Scott and Matt at a cafe at Dog Swamp shopping centre to discuss his goal plan. He has a very interesting and fulfilling life. Thank goodness. Stephen shopped whilst I was out.

Today we went to another lunchtime film event at the State Library. The films were documentaries celebrating Aboriginal artists and musicians. We went to City Place for lunch and ran into Jeff Carroll.

At the moment I am ensconced in a cafe just around the corner from our place. It is new, and styles itself as a Dairy Cafe, with products such as icecream, milk, yogurt and cream from Sunnydale Dairies (Waroona). The coffee is OK, but better is that I have it almost to myself, apart from Lesley, the owner. There are two other cafes close by, but they are sometimes so busy that I don’t feel tempted to go in. I’m pretty sure this one will take off as well.



Home at Last

On Saturday morning we had a sort of private taxi to the airport. It was very quick and we had help with our suitcases, which we much appreciated. We checked in and went through security. The security section was quite pleasant, with lots of pods open and no waiting. They did not require as much sorting out of stuff as in China, and had the special screening machines for people, which meant they didn’t actually touch us.

After that, we went to one of the cafes for breakfast. I had a bowl of porridge and shared it with Stephen as it was quite big. Our flight was at 9.30 a.m. and we assumed (rightly) that we would not be fed immediately on getting onboard. The photo at the top was taken at the cafe.

It was a relatively pleasant 12.5 hour flight. We were served two meals, a brunch and an evening meal. In between, which was quite a long time, they served little savoury rolls and other snacks and drinks on demand. The staff were lovely and always behaved as if it was their pleasure to look after us. It was a day flight for us, and we didn’t try to sleep, just rested. Although we were sick of being cooped up by the end we agreed that we were well looked after and it was as enjoyable as it possibly could have been.

At Singapore we were transferring in the same Terminal. It was still quite a long way to our next gate, and we even caught a little train, but somehow not as frenetic as some of our transfers have been. The 5 hour flight to Perth wasn’t quite as nice as the previous one, we mainly had male flight attendants and they simply didn’t appear to be enjoying themselves looking after us. The food wasn’t quite as good either. I guess it depends on the contractor doing the meals, as much as the actual airline.

Stephen hadn’t eaten on the flight, so after coming through the automatic passport check and customs we went to a cafe for coffee and snacks. I was still feeling OK, with very little sleep, but Stephen was feeling pretty sleep deprived.

Much as it is a security feature to have someone in the house when we are away, it is still disconcerting to find things in different places, etc. I felt well enough to go and do a little bit of shopping for food for dinner and breakfast. We went shopping again yesterday (Monday) for extra groceries.

This morning I spent time finishing unpacking and sorting out my study. I did some washing yesterday and it was still pretty damp this morning. I’m feeling that there may be less dust from the building site next door and have put the washing outside to dry. We thought that the building might have progressed more than it has, but they appear to have done all of the foundations.

On Sunday night we had difficulty sleeping. We got up at 1.30 a.m. and had hot milk and toast, then went back to bed. We slept in, despite the workers having commenced at about 7.00 a.m. Last night we went to bed later, at about 11.00 p.m. and pretty much slept until 7.00 a.m. when we were woken by the noise from the building site. As a consequence we feel somewhat better today.


Repair list for Winnie

The featured image is from our trip south, one of the many photos I took from our walks in the Stirling Ranges National Park. Remembering.

We dropped the Winnie off with Ken Peachy this morning. They were unable to quickly release the deadlock on the door. The following is my list of things for them to look at:


With paint chips on the bonnet, Jason said he will contact a friend down the road to come to have a look and give us a quote. The grey water hose and loose screw on the top panel are easily fixed, but we may have to wait for a new deadlock for the door. I asked about getting rid of some stains on the body of the Winnie, which are still there after our cleaning. Jason said that it is safe to use cream cleanser.


I haven’t yet cleaned the interior of the Winnie, apart from a quick clean I did at our last stopover on the road. We have had various tasks in the mornings, which are usually the only time when it is cool enough to work in the Winnie. I could use the airconditioner, but would rather work with windows and doors open.

We went for a swim yesterday morning, which made an excellent start to the day, though Stephen felt pretty tired afterwards, and didn’t go to choir in the evening. We are trying to schedule a regular day, Mondays will work until Trinity School for Seniors starts in a couple of weeks. It also depends on whether Stepher is going to try to work on two languages at once, German and Mandarin. If he drops the German we can continue to go Monday mornings which has worked out in previous years as being a good choice.

I posted 6 tins of level 4 milk formula to China for Yaxuan and bought a new sunscreeen for the Subaru. Our old one has been gradually falling apart.

Stephen has been sorting out his study and has a few bags of stuff to take to Good Sammies. I added a few things this morning. I still have lots of sorting to do. I’ve made a list this morning, but probably need to break it down into smaller steps. Otherwise, its hard to get started.

I’m keeping the sewing machine set up ready to go in my study, but haven’t yet done my next task, which is to take up the hems on my jeans. That is on my list of tasks as well.



South: Esperance 2nd day

We found the local caravan repair specialist on Google and went for a visit this morning. We were able to make an appointment for 1:30 pm, so went and spent time at the Dome cafe working on our stuff, me photos, Stephen Mandarin.

It took about half an hour to fix the problem and they really seemed to know their stuff. Afterwards Stephen visited the Museum to learn some local history whilst I read. I’m reading a book written by a girl who escaped from North Korea. The book is called ‘In Order to Live’ and tells of the hardships endured by herself and her family after they escaped North Korea because of the cruelty of the people smugglers.

We went and had wonderful ice creams in waffle cones afterwards.

There is a model railway on the foreshore, with a dear little clock tower that chimes on the hour, well sort of, the chimes happened five minutes after the hour, even by its own telling. There is a small marina, with a bathing beach where the water is shallow and calm.

We went back to the caravan park to sit outside for awhile before tea. We are working through ‘The Crown” on Netflix, one episode each night. Theoretically we should be able to watch TV live, but our aerial only works reliably in cities, and just occasionally in a small towns.

There were two pavilions near the train station with upturned eves which looked rather Chinese.

South: Ravensthorpe to Esperance

We feel very satisfied to have reached Esperance today, the final eastwards destination of our trip. We thought we might spend a night at Stokes Inlet at a National parks campground, but when we turned off there was a sign saying the campground was full. We pulled over to have lunch shortly afterwards. We made one phone call to a caravan park on the beach at Esperance and managed to get a birth for the night. There is free camping about 20kms to the north if we can’t get another night here. We will want to go out in the van exploring anyway.

After a cup of tea we went for a walk along the beachfront. There was a lot of erosion, so they have built up the beach front with rocks and made some little groins, all from an attractive reddish stone. There are fresh green lawns and Norfolk pines, some with very thick trunks. There is an old jetty and islands in the bay that make this area very attractive indeed. We explored a lookout which gave us quite a different point of view. I took the short video from that vantage point.

This was taken from a lookout.

South: Popanyinning to Dumbleyung

The featured photo is of Lake Dumbleyung. It is the largest lake in WA. (It has an area of 52 square kilometres.) I found it difficult to actually show in photos or video just how large it is. I wanted to take photos in the evening, but we are tired and it is quite a long drive back there from town.

Campsite Popanyinning (1 of 1)
Our campsite at Popanyinning

I braved the shower this morning. The water wasn’t super hot, but about the ideal temperature for me. There was power to blow dry my hair. I went across to the General Store to buy a $3.50 coffee. We didn’t have power or water on our site, but everything else and we felt grateful to this little town for providing it.

Narrogin Town Hall (1 of 1)
Narrogin Town Hall

We were told about a camping area out of town near a dam. When we got there, it said it was day use only. We weren’t sure we would have been brave enough to camp there overnight.

We passed through a couple of small villages, plus Narrogin and Wagin, on our way to Dumbleyung. We took time in both towns to look at the buildings and get a feel for the towns. In Wagin we had a cooked breakfast for lunch at one of the cafes. I was looking for a good coffee, and it wasn’t too bad.

Wagin Ram (1 of 1)
Wagin Ram

We spent time at Lake Dumbleyung at the lookout and memorial to Donald Campbell breaking the World Speed record in 1964.

We have two camping options here in Dumbleyung, but after our day of exploring we opted for the most comfortable choice of the council run caravan park. It is $25 per night with power, water and toilets and showers, versus free at the showgrounds with toilets only. I feel as though I’ve had far too much sun exposure today even though I enjoyed walking around and exploring each place where we stopped.

We will go for a short walk before our evening meal of Christmas ham and salad. Below is a short video of us driving along Lake Dumbleyung.


South: Perth to Popanyinning

We took our time getting ready to leave this morning. I still forgot a couple of things, but nothing too important. I can get G, our housesitter, to follow up. We left shortly before 11.00 a.m. We stopped after about 45 kms to have lunch, then on to Brookton where we had afternoon tea. We enjoyed walking around the park near the station.

We arrrived here at around 4.00 p.m. With the longer days we could have kept driving, but were feeling tired. We used Wikicamps to find out about this overnight place. We are in the town (very small), in a parking area that is probably used as a day use area as well. There is a shower in the disabled toilet. The toilets are clean and well maintained.

Stephen had a shower, the water is solar heated and probably hottest at the end of a sunny day. There is what appears to be drinking water available, but given the quantities, we think it may be more for trucks than caravans and motorhomes. There is a payment system, but it seems very reasonable.

On the way down we experimented with having a little camera attached to the windscreen to film short clips when we saw something interesting. The co pilot was in charge of this part, of course.

1899 (1 of 1)
Brookton established in 1899


Travels with the Winnie: Day 54

The Australian Workers Heritage Centre, Barcaldine (Barcy)

We enjoyed a slow start this morning. Roy arrived at about 9.30 a.m. and spent a good hour or so fiddling under the van. The leak, of course, was trickier to fix than it should have been. He was riding a bicycle, so didn’t have his full toolbox, but he had brought a couple of tools with him. We are, of course, incredibly grateful for his kindness. He said to ‘pass it forward’ and help someone else along the way.

After he left I did some handwashing of our clothes. There was a stiff breeze all morning, but it dropped in the afternoon and most of the things were dry, but a couple of items were still slightly damp when we got back. Stephen put tie downs on our awning which will help in the morning if it is windy.

It was lunchtime by the time we were ready to leave, so we went to the Union Hotel for a meal. The restaurant is called the ‘Witches Kitchen’, but their roast chicken lunch was quite down to earth, good, and cheap.

Lunch at the Witches Kitchen Union Hotel (1 of 1)
Witches Kitchen

We talked with the young waitress who is a local girl and went to school with Roy’s daughter. We told her about Roy helping us, and that we thought he was a lovely man. We hope this gets back to him and in this small town it is quite possible that it will.

Then we walked to the Australian Workers Heritage Centre, taking in the little clock tower and tourist information centre.

clock tower (1 of 1)
Clock Tower

Post Office (1 of 1)
the Post Office

Australian Workers Heritage Centre (1 of 1)
The Australian Workers Heritage Centre

The story of the shearers’ strike is the subject of one of our Working Voices songs:

The Ballad of 1891

Clicking on the title will take you to the page where the words, music, and sung version are available.

Bicentenial Theatre (1 of 1)
Bicentenial Theatre

Bicentenial Theatre interior (1 of 1)

Station at the Australian Workers Heritage Centre (1 of 1)
An old station and train carriage

the garden with billabong (1 of 1)
The garden and billabong. The young woman we spoke with at the Witches Kitchen said her graduation photo was taken here.

Tree of Knowledge son (1 of 1)
Son of ‘The Tree of Knowledge’. This little tree was cloned from the original tree after it was deliberately poisoned.

shearer pledging to the union (1 of 1)
Statue respresenting a shearer swearing loyalty to the union cause

Some of the union members were involved in setting up the Labor Party in Australia.

first vanilla slice sample (1 of 1)
Vanilla slices. We like to judge the vanilla slices in eastern states country towns. We decided that this one deserved about a 2 out of 5. In this case, we both came up with the same score. To be continued…

Tomorrow we continue our journey down to Warwick, and plan to stay overnight in a free camping spot near Tembo. Tembo has something very special to offer, more in the next blog entry.