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)

Wireless Hill-flower5 (1 of 1)
I can’t identify all of the flowers, but these delightful ones are called Granny’s Bonnets
Wireless Hill-flower8 (1 of 1)
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

Wireless Hill-flower18 (1 of 1)


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


Moora to home base

We woke up to a very cold morning, it was difficult to get out of bed. We used the heater for a while whilst we had showers. We were feeling relaxed about the journey home and didn’t feel we had to hurry to get ready.

The journey home was a bit more challenging once we were on the Great Northern Highway, with quite a lot of traffic, including trucks. New Norcia is now on a bypass and has a good parking area for tourists near the museum. There were new toilets. A young woman in a campervan asked if I would like some of her food as she had to give the van back, we scored some cooking oil, rice and peanut butter. I found a powerpoint and used it to grind some beans.

Due the bypass, we weren’t expecting the service station to be doing well, but it was looking quite smart and the cafe has been renovated. They still offer powered sites for caravans.

Back on the road we looked forward to our stop in Bindoon to visit the bakery.

Bindoon (1 of 1)

Bindoon2 (1 of 1)
We decided on takeaway soup as it was $4.00 cheaper than having it in the cafe. We also bought some bread and a cake to share.

We had another stop at a pleasant rest area where we took a short stroll.

We had another stop at Gingers to refuel, then a short distance away pulled off to have afternoon tea. The rest of the drive went smoothly and we were home by about 4.30 p.m.

We had time to do a little unpacking and have scrambled eggs on toast before going to choir. It was a small gathering, about 10 in total, but somehow it worked better for singing. No viable as we don’t make enough money to pay our choir director for the night however. We need 17 people to break even.

We are still feeling somewhat relaxed from our lovely experience. Stephen did quite a lot of the driving and I’m becoming more comfortable with him at the wheel. This will be very helpful for later trips away.

I’ve done the washing today and we finished unpacking.

Mingenew to Moora

Today has been a day of travel. We dropped in at the Mingenew bakery to buy bread, rolls and a slice to have later for morning tea. At Three Springs we had coffee and the slice, Stephen went to the Visitor Centre and I took some photos of the murals.

We went out to a community farm for lunch in Coorow, then on to Moora where we are staying the night at the RV short stay park. It’s not as conveniently located as the caravan park where we have stayed with Marie and Geoff, but it is free. It is basically a large car park with no bays marked and caravans and campervans are parked around the edges.

We enjoyed the drive through the country which is so beautiful at this time of year.

Pindar to Mingenew

We don’t really choose destination according to bakeries. We did quite a lot of sightseeing today and Mingenew was reachable setting out mid afternoon. That’s our story, anyway. Plus it has a free camping site, and a dump point with separate drinking water tap and bin.

We are with a big group tonight, but managed to snag a spot with a view. The camping site is a little way along the Mingenew-Morawa road.

view from our window this evening (1 of 1)

our spot just out of Mingenew (1 of 1)

Today has been particularly wonderful. We had a very peaceful night at Pindar and had our best night of sleep so far. The only light was moonlight. We woke up refreshed and were on our way by about 9.30 a.m., our best so far. We drove out along the road to the wreath flowers. This site is so predictable that they have signs, but also have put flags out so that people don’t just drive past. The road was gravel and quite corrugated. There was a roadwork team working and where they had been, the road was much better.

marker for wreath flowers (1 of 1)

wreath flower and Stephen (1 of 1)

wreath flower and me (1 of 1)

wreath flower detail (1 of 1)

wreath flower detail plus (1 of 1)

near wreath flowers5 (1 of 1)

wreath flower first (1 of 1)

It was sort of Caravan Centrale at the site 10 kms in. All grey nomads like us. The wreath flowers were along the verges, we were entranced by the first one we saw, then realised they were pretty thick on the ground. This morning was cloudy and cool, with intermittent sunshine, ideal for exploring the area. We stayed there, walking about, for quite a while.

Back in Pindar, we took a look at the old hotel and read some information about the area before moving down the road towards Mullewa. On the way we found a rest area ideally located where there was a big show of everlastings. This doesn’t usually happen and we spent some time there too.

old Pub Pindan2 (1 of 1)

wildflowers outside Mullewa (1 of 1)

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wildflowers outside Mullewa4 (1 of 1)

wildflowers outside Mullewa5 (1 of 1)

wildflowers outside Mullewa6 (1 of 1)

In Mullewa we wanted to find a cafe with home made cakes for morning tea. We found a pop up art cafe which served decent coffee and rather nice cake. We shared a piece as it was 12.00 and we wanted to have an appetite for lunch.

We went to a lookout where Stephen had been told there were orchids. We spent some time there, walking on the trail, and found two types, donkey orchids and spider orchids.

donkey orchid (1 of 1)

spider orchid (1 of 1)

Then we went down the interesting church where we parked up and had lunch and a rest, before walking around. The church was unfortunately closed because of lack of volunteers, but we were able to read the signage about Monsignor Hawes, the architect and builder. He is the one who built the church in Geraldton, as well as many others. He was much in demand because of his style and often built the churches himself.

church Mullewa (1 of 1)

church Mullewa2 (1 of 1)

We then tootled down to Mingenew enjoying the lovely scenery along the way. On arrival, we did our dumping and filling up, then drove out to this campsite. We’ve had scrambled eggs, toast and rose for tea, and sampled the new honey we bought a few stops back.

At Pindar and here we have good internet, 3/4 bars of 4g, which makes doing the blog easy. If the internet is slow I can still blog, but do it on the ipad – which can result in more spelling errors than usual.

Perenjori to Pindar

After our usual leisurely breakfast we went into town to get some information on wildflowers. We were tempted again with the promise of wreath flowers close to Pindar and decided that even if we arrive home on Thursday we can get to choir. Pindar is almost 500 kms from home.

At Morowa on the way  we were able to dump the tanks, get fresh water, refuel and do some shopping. All along the route there were patches of everlastings and other flowers. We also enjoyed the rolling landscape of green fields.

everlastings2 (1 of 1)

We made a stop at Canna, a sort of hamlet, with a volunteer run campground for caravans. For a $10 donation you have the use of a campers kitchen, flushing toilets, hot showers and power. I took advantage of 10 amp socket in the campers kitchen to grind more coffee beans. There were a few caravans there, but we wanted to push on to Pindar so that we would finish the day within 10 kms of where we would find wreath flowers.

Canna lunchtime (1 of 1)

canna wildflower walk2 (1 of 1)
we went for a short walk at Canna

Once again Wikicamps has suggested a place to stay. The area is quite large and is near another tiny hamlet, with one house and a lovely old pub that isn’t operating as a pub, but as a cafe that is only open during the day and not every day at that. It won’t be open tomorrow.

This is our first overnight stay that is not in a town.

We took a shortcut to bypass Mullewa on a gravel road for about 34 kms. It was mostly OK, but had some bad patches which made me wonder if things would fall off or be damaged. Our rugs, rubbish bin, a box and a bag of shopping that we had on the floor had moved and everything looked pretty messy when we arrived. A few minutes of sorting was all it took. And we don’t appear to have sustained any damage.

Pindar camping (1 of 1)
selfie with the Winnie at Pindar
Pindar camping2 (1 of 1)
sunset at Pindar