Kalbarri/wildflower trip: Days 12 and 13

On Sunday afternoon we drove to the Wildflower Farm. It was disappointing in many ways. It was said to have a restaurant, but they weren’t serving food and we arrived hungry. Fortunately, having our campervan with us, of course, we were able to feed ourselves. The showroom was rather tatty, with lots of offerings of cheap, Chinese made artifacts rather than local handicrafts, as I had hoped. No offence to Chinese manufacturers – these goods had apparently been chosen to be cheap and nasty. Most of our goods are made in China to a very high standard.

We watched a Leyland Brothers made DVD about wildflowers of Western Australia, which was quite good apart from the annoying music chosen. That was our only sight of living wildflowers, we were shown the drying shed and told a little about the process, but did not go out into the fields where the flowers are grown. I’m not sure why and we didn’t ask.

The positve highlight was our hostess’s grand daughter, we think about 10 years of age. She was delightful and able to answer our questions. It was she who set us down with a cup of tea to watch the video whilst we waited for her grandmother to show us around. She was so gentle and charming that it made the visit quite well worthwhile.

We returned to Moora and took up residence in the free RV parking site near the centre of town. We actually chose the same site we have stayed at before due to being next to a garden and quite flat. There was a food van nearby and after Stephen had wandered around for a bit, it seemed the best option for an evening meal. We had steakburgers on brioche style buns. Apart from being slightly sweet the buns are a good choice as they don’t have the stodgy effect of normal buns. We had fruit and yogurt afterwards and I went to bed early, very tired. There was some rain, but not very heavy. I don’t think it would have been as much as the farmers were wanting thought it left puddles in the car park.

Stephen suggested going home via Wannamal for wildflowers and the Bindoon Bakery for pies and pastries for lunch. Both good choices. We stopped at the camping and rest area in Wannamal, which was very good for wildflowers. The little creek was dry, unfortunately.

We didn’t feel our pies were quite up to scratch at the bakery, but we shared a nut tart which was excellent. Stephen bought us some fruit from the adjacent growers market afterwards. The day continued cloudy, with some showers.

On our drive home Google Maps put us on the Tonkin Highway, rather than going through the Swan Valley. It was pretty fast and furious. At one point I was worried that we had a flat tyre, or something wrong with the steering and we stopped to check. The van had been buffeted by winds generated by passing traffic which rebounded off a wall alongside the highway. This highway has a cycle track, but I wouldn’t recommend that section as you could be thrown off a bike I think.

Anyway, it got us home quite quickly – in time for afternoon tea at 3.00 p.m.

I’ve made a list of all the tasks I need to do and assigned them to different days and weeks ahead. I was feeling overwhelmed, but this process always helps to make things feel for manageable. I’m already ticking things off the list and it’s only lunchtime!

Kalbarri/wildflower Trip: Day 10

Lesueur National Park

This was our main destination for yesterday and did not disappoint. It was about 90 kms from Western Flora and we had one stop on the way at Eneabba for fuel. Nevertheless, we arrived at the parking area to explore the park after 12.00. It was bright and sunny and we didn’t want to walk too far in the middle of the day.

There are gravel roads leading into the park, but the road to the top is bituminised, probably to avoid erosion. A gravel road would take a lot of maintenance. There were pullouts with interpretive signs on the way, but we were focussed on getting to the top and only stopped once.

We had lunch, despite a severe tilt in the van due to a parking area that was all slopes. It was beautiful and the air was especially fresh. We enjoyed the little bit of walking and there is a paved, wheelchair friendly path to the first lookout.

On the way out of the park we stopped at a wooded gully with a bridge over a dry creek. There are many walking trails in the park and two of them start here.

We had decided against the national park camping area as there is no phone signal. We stayed overnight at Banksia Reserve, the least pretty of our bush camps this trip, but we had a quiet night and a short walk up the hill around sunset meant we could see the sea in the distance at Cervantes.

Stephen wants to go to the wildflower Farm at Moora before we go home. We will stay at Dandaragan for one night on the way because the camping place sounds so nice, then stay at the free campsite in Moora on Sunday night.

Kalbarri/wildflower Trip: Day 7

When we arrived back from having tea with the family we found someone camped on our spot. After fiddling around a bit we pulled into the empty place next to them. On arrival we had found reception didn’t seem to know what was available up the hill and we were fortunate that most people had left and there were plenty of free spaces.

In the morning we filled up our water tank and drinking water containers. That was about it for getting ready, apart from the van life shuffle where everything from the living area gets moved to the bed area for the day. Reverse process at night.

We stopped at the Kalbarri lookout. There is a wide, paved walkway which is ideal for prams and wheelchairs, toilets and a picnic shelter. There is also a longer walk if you are feeling up to it. We enjoyed the views before heading off through the park towards the Great Northern Highway. We drove along the Highway, then veered of, taking the Chapman Valley Road towards the Geraldton-Mt Magnet Road where there is a small nature reserve. The weather was windy with light rain at times which continued for the rest of the day.

After lunch and a brief rest we were able to dodge the showers to take a walk through everlastings and other wildflowers to a ridge overlooking the river. We also walked down to the river. Marie and Geoff came here on their way to Kalbarri and Marie had told me it was a hard slog in the hot sun. On this cloudy day I recreated those conditions in my rain proof jacket which helped me to overheat on the climb back. But, it was refreshing anyway as we had alternating sunshine and clouds.

Our camping spot for the night was only about 23 kms back towards Geraldton. We are at the Bringo Lookout. There are gravel sites, none level, of course. After deciding on a good camping spot we used chocks to reduce the 4 degree sideways slope to 3 degrees, a bit uncomfortable, but bearable.

We have a view across farmland towards Geraldton in the distance and can see the road and a railway below us. We have watched several very long goods trains pass through.

This slideshow was created in Videoloop, a programme for iPads that was recommended by Benji.

Vanlife in York

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This was our first visit to Cherry’s ‘new’ house in York. She has been there a couple of years now. Although she makes weekly trips to Perth to visit friends and pick up grandkids for babysitting, she still finds she has plenty of time to herself, which was the aim of moving there. At first she said she wasn’t much involved in the local community, but she has been along to a couple of choirs and is presently participating in a book club as well as running Yoga classes.

When she was looking for a property she told the agent the land was more important than the house, consequently she is surprised that she has ended up with such a large house. However, it is handy for having children and grandchildren to stay and by not adding too much furniture she is able to take advantage of the generous kitchen/dining/living area. She has 4.6 acres on a sloping hillside, with an inner fenced area containing the house, large verandahs, shed and chicken run. In the cooler weather we have had for the last couple of days it was a very lovely place to be. There are a few large trees, but mostly smaller trees and shrubs. She has done a lot of work to tidy things up and plant more trees and bushes. She has pleasant view both uphill and downhill and the slope is quite gentle.

We parked on a flat space beside the house. It turned out to have quite a lot of morning shade, but I didn’t worry about the battery as we were driving home yesterday, which would give it a good charge. She invited us to an evening meal, so we left the food we had taken for our Friday evening meal and had it for lunch on Saturday.

We spent time in the morning sitting outside talking and enjoying the view down towards the river. She rarely has flow in her section of the river, but it seems to be quite moist, promoting thick undergrowth and lots of trees. She has glimpses of the grain storate beyond, but it doesn’t spoil the view, rather adding to the interest of the location.

In the late morning we drove up to Mt Brown to enjoy the views, then went to check out the new free camping area in town near the river. Cherry has invited us to come and stay at her place at any time, even if she is away. I was hoping the camping space, which is new, would have lots of trees and shaded areas, but it is rather regimented and there is only one really shady spot, which was taken. We had our lunch and a cup of tea before driving home. We had some shade, but although the temperature was pleasant, with a cool breeze most of the time, it was still better to be in shade rather than sun. Thereore, if we a going her way in future staying at her place is much the nicest option. We won’t over do it, most of the summer is likely to be very hot and it wouldn’t be much fun being in the van.

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Evening at Cherry’s

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Looking down towards the river

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Cherry showed us around her large front and rear yards.

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Mt Brown view

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Viewing point rocks with what looks like bitumen holding them together

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More bitumen holding rocks together at Mt Brown

Stephen and I took turns with the driving. We were waiting for an opportunity for Stephen to get used to driving the van away from city traffic.

 

The Winnie at home

Our neighbours left for a two week holiday on Thursday. We already had the Winnie booked in to try to find out why our fridge emits an odour when we are using it on gas, so we picked it up on Tuesday evening, stored it on the vacant lot nearby during the day, then in a parking bay in our street for the night.

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Ken Peachy Caravans said that our fridge did not have a flue, and as there were no gas leaks, this must be why the odour was coming back into the ‘house’. They put in a flue and I tested it, there is a certainly a great improvement. However, as I was looking for a smell I was able to detect it lightly. Mike also said he would get us a quote for repairing the damage to the rear panel. It may be quite expensive and we are still waiting. When we get the quote we can work out whether it is worthwhile to claim it on our insurance.

When cleaning the windscreen yesterday I was able to confirm that a mark on the outside is in fact a small crack. These days they can be repaired without having to replace the whole windscreen, so it has gone on my list of things to do.

Having the Winnie at home gave us the opportunity to take it out for a picnic meal yesterday evening. We decided on a visit to the North Mole at Fremantle. That worked well although I did not want to take it past the section of road that has two lanes. There was a strong wind which made walking along the Mole quite challenging. It felt like my cameras were bouncing all over the place, but I still managed to get some photos that I am happy with.

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A different view of Cottesloe, taken on the 70-300mm lens and using the dehaze feature in Lightroom to get some clarity. There were no clouds, but there was quite a lot of haze. The setting sun changed shape from round to square because of the haze distortion.

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Stephen suggested that we watch the news whilst eating. We didn’t want to put up the TV antenna in the wind, so tried using it with it flat on the roof. The ABC din’t work well enough to watch the news, but we watched some tennis, then got involved in a movie on a commercial channel. We had a lovely meal of cold chicken, rolls and salads, followed by watermelon. I had other ‘goodies’ but we were quite full, so just had a hot drink.

We stayed until 9.00 p.m. before heading home. We were able to watch the sunset from the van, and I got some photos of yatchs and sea lit by the evening light.

This morning we had a walk before breakfast. The Sunday morning Farmers’ Market was smaller than usual. Cherry, who was having breakfast there, said there was something else on which would have attracted buyers and sellers, and would account for there being less stalls and customers. We enjoyed talking with her for awhile, then headed home for scrambled eggs, toast and coffee.

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bike rack at the Farmers’ Market

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our street corner

Swimming

We met up with Eversley for the movie at the Writers Festival. We had gone to a talk called ‘Looking South’ where we hoped to hear from a botanist, but instead it was taken over by a certain person who is not respected in his own community. Everyone was polite, but we didn’t appreciate our session being hijacked by someone who was not on the program and had nothing of value to add. Eversley was able to give us some background on the person.

We went back to her place for supper and catchup, including with her dogs.

This morning was our swimming day and we went straight to the Riverton pool after our cup of tea. I swam eight laps. Stephen said he is getting more confidence back about being in the water (no seizure), but had forgotten his goggles so could not really swim. Afterwards we went to our favourite cafe – the Canning River Cafe at the Kent Street Weir. Stephen says he does feel that he could do the 5 km walk, but it depends on how he is feeling on the day. We have tentatively decided to do it tomorrow morning.

Stephen went to the library to do some more genealogy research. I did washing. Mum rang twice, the first time to say she has an appointment at St John of God in Midland for Friday 4th March at 9.30 a.m. This conflicts with the China course we are doing with MALA. I was a little confused, but after contacting Mundaring Medical Centre and SJOG Midland, confirmed that she has to go to the outpatient clinic to see a doctor. We think it is to do with the blood tests on Saturday, but it does seem rather quick. It seems odd to have an appointment without having a specific doctor to see.

She rang later to ask if I could bring some books with me on Wednesday. I looked around and we do have some, though not the ones I would prefer to give her. Cozy mysteries for example, which I only have in digital form.

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The seating is under shelter, but basically in the open air

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The Cafe

 

 

The Weekend

I had arranged with Mum that I would pick her up early on Saturday morning and take her down to Mundaring for a blood test. When I rang her at about 6.55 a.m. she did not answer the phone. I continued to try to call her until about 7.20 a.m., then decided just to drive up there. When I arrived she had had a cigarette or two as well as her first coffee of the day, so no blood test possible. She said that she heard the phone, but was ‘confused’. She did seem a little out of it.

She got dressed and we sat around for awhile, then watched the movie ‘Saving Face’. I hadn’t realised there would be a gay relationship between two young women depicted. Not really her cup of tea. The film was about overcoming Chinese prejudices and conservatism, but in a way, it was a testament to Chinese values. Set in NY, but the characters mostly spoke Cantonese I think, though I could understand some words, so it could have been Mandarin, but a dialect.

We had lunch and I left at about 12.00 feeling somewhat frustrated. Mum was talking about being frightened about the incident of the man coming onto her verandah. She said it happened ‘yesterday’, but she had already told Jamie and I about it on Wednesday. Very worrying from our point of view too, as he must realise that she lives alone.

In the evening after tea we went into town for the opening concert for PIAF. Not as spectacular as the previous year with the visiting Giants, but quite good for a homegrown entertainment event on the theme of Home. Tim Minchin disappointed me by singing his terrific song ‘Imperfect’ in standard American rather than in his Australian accent. I looked at a version from 5 years ago on Youtube and he didn’t sing it in American that time. Major fail, especially as the theme of the evening was Australia as home to many different ethnic groups.

Home Concert at Langley Park (PIAF)

Today we spent most of the day at home, then went over to see Matt in the evening. We went outside with him to try out his wheelchair and managed to get him stuck. After using some cardboard and lots of muscle we managed to get him out of it, but he had had enough. I fed him his tea and Stephen played the piano for a little while. The Murrays arrived and talked about Andrew learning to use his powered chair, and the fact that it had taken some time for him, but also helped them in taking him out. Ian suggested getting in touch with Matt’s OT to have some training for Stephen and I, and perhaps his staff, as any training happens outside. Stephen felt that Matt needed structured sessions on learning how to use the controls. Ian also said that the turning circle up the street from Villa 3 was a good place to practice. Very useful. It was lovely to see them.

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Afterwards Stephen and I went down to Brighton Beach for the sunset. We had hamburgers, chips and Pepsi Max for tea. Afterwards we wandered down to Scarborough and found a beautiful salsa session on the steps near the beach. Apparently it happens every Sunday afternoon, with free lessons from 4 – 5, then goes from 5.00 to 9.00 p.m. for $5 per go. A great ending to our evening out.

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Looking out to se

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back over the land

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Looking south