Wednesday, December 10, 2014

7/12/14. Margaret River up to Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse and back.

7/12/14 Cape Naturaliste scenic drive
We decided to take another scenic drive today and drove northish to Yallingup where there was a Junior Surf Competition, that we thought might be an interesting side trip today. We drove around, and up and down, past some very very nice houses, and around and up and down and past the nice houses some more, in and out of designated car parks, against the arrows, much to the disgust of locals, ("hey, we've got NSW number plates, we're tourists goddamit!  Give us a bit of lee way, show us a bit of love! FFS!"),  and after an attempt beyond He Who Suffers' patience, found it impossible to find a parking spot anywhere within 2 maybe 3 Kms of the beach. There were cars parked everywhere one would fit, some partly on the footpath tail end sticking out impeding the flow of traffic. Sheer madness. So we didn't see the surfing. Bugga. 
I did all the driving, Dora helped, Rod had the day off. 

 But the area is beautiful as is all this side of the continent. I really could become a 'westerner' without too much persuasion. 
We then headed out to the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse, spotting the Bunker Bay turn off on the way, which is where we are going to our niece Emily's wedding on Saturday 13th, which is the reason we decided to do this adventure to WA in the first place. 

But you could only go out there to see it as part of a guided tour. 
I like lighthouses, and one day I'm going to find one I can get out to without totally crippling myself doing it. I thought about getting a little mobility scooter, but the little ones won't take a bum as big and heavy as mine and we'd have to tow a bigger one behind the van. I can just picture us movin, on down the highway . . . . . Mental picture here, - The Mazda, the caravan, the scoot, and the porta potti. ! I wish I could draw! 

So I took a photo of what I could see of the cape Naturaliste Lighthouse from a point as close as I could get to it.

On the return trip from the cape, we turned down to Bunker Bay. What a beautiful spot. So glad we decided to do this without the caravan. The road down to would have been tight and little turn around carpark area at the end of the street would have been impossible to get a caravan around, even tho it did have signs for caravan and motorhome parking. 

Coffee and cake was on the cards at Bunkies Cafe and this is the photo taken from where we were seated. Magic! The restaurant was full, they sat us at the last twosome table. And very noisy. But we've noticed that at every place we've had a meal over here. There was a game of Trivial Pursuit going on at the next table at breakfast the other day. Not a critisism, just something we've noticed.

Look at that, just the perfect place to have a mixed berry muffin and a piece of raspberry rhubarb cheese cake and good coffee and a wee walk along the beach. I'm ok going that way, ^ , it's coming back I have problems because my right leg is now shorter than the left because of the hip and knee damage and the slope of a beach works against me. What shall we do with the drunken sailor,  . . . Etc.

I just couldn't resist it and decided to check out the resort at which the wedding festivities will taking place. The Pullman Resort. Who eee! Talk about swank! This guy met us in the carpark and offered to take our bags. We blocked traffic until he had reached the safety of the garden. Makes me realize that we don't have any suitcases with us, we're going to look like Ma and Pa Kettle arriving at check in on Friday, with our fancy wedding clobber hitched over our shoulder. Didn't go exploring around the resort, but the nice receptionist showed us where our 'studio' is and it's going to have a lovely view of a lake right outside our windows. It will be nice to sleep in a big bed for a couple of nights. I might even treat myself to a spa and massage. And I've just realized, I don't have any makeup or jewelry with me, just a melted lipstick in the glovebox of the car. I'm not really into makeup these days, why put it on when it only sweats off, so I'm not to worried about that, but I might have to buy a pair of blingy earrings to go with my floaty chiffonny top. (3 floaty chiffonny tops bought with me, haven't decided which one yet. All so pretty) I hope there's a pre-wedding party the night before, then I'll at least get to wear two of them, eh. Can this be arranged please Em? 
There are some wonderful glass art works in the atrium/foyer of the resort, some shaped like surfboards with coloured glass inserts. Beautiful play of light thru them. I'd like to own a few, but I'd have to have a beach house to put them in to show them off to their best. 
Ho hum, lottery dreams. 

Then it was a trip into Dunsborough to see if we should leave the van there while we swan around for a couple of days at the resort, but although We  ahem, Dora managed to get 'lost' in Dunsbourough which led us to exploring parts of it no other tourist has seen, . . . . .  TWICE, we didn't see a caravan park to our liking and eventually, (by reading road signs) we found our way out and we're off back to Margaret River. On the main road this time. Which we'd already been over before on our trip to Bussleton and back yesterday, so I sort of knew the way and Dora had a rest.
The rest of the day was spent looking around Margaret River township, they're and eclectic bunch of people here, one would never be bored if just sitting doing a bit of people-watching. Then a bit and lazing in and around the van reading (me) or doing soduku (Rod). Once again salad for tea and early to bed. Too cold for a swim. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

6/12/14. Augusta to Margaret River.

6/12/14. Augusta to Margaret River. 
Packed up, hitched up and on the road by 8:00
It's a beautiful day. I've broken out the shorts again. These ones aren't so tight.
Margaret River is  less than an hour away.
Had brain wave last night.  Buy pop up canopy, cheap from Bunnings until awning is fixed. Sounds like a good plan. 

9:15 Too early to move onto site at Margaret River Tourist Park so we went and had bacon and egg breakfast across the road at a tres trendy restaurant/cafe. Now, I don't mind a bit of floral 'garnish' on my plate but all those twigs and lavender was ridiculous. I put it all in the little vase on the table which just happened to have plastic flowers and berries in it. WT?

Very tight site to get into, stone wall across the road adding to difficulty. 
Finally backed in with some guidance and good advise from the truckie next door, and we were all set up by 11:00
We are just across the little road from the amenities, so I don't have to go for anymore long night time strolls, and just two sites away from the pool which will happen if the weather warms up, and there's  a lovely shadey tree beside us on our 'veranda' side. 

The site is paved and edged and very level with gardens separating one site from another. This ^ photo is taken from the veranda of the amenities block. 
Staff very very nice and helpful. A much better choice than the first park I chose from Wikicamps. When we saw that one, neither of us liked it, very hilly and cramped with cottages. But they couldn't fit us , so it turned out well for us. Soon as we saw this park, we liked it before we got in the gate. 
Jus Perfek. 

Went to Bunnings to see if we could get a pop up canopy we had seen on the internet. Not available at Margaret River store but the young chap rang up and told us there were some at Bussleton Bunnings so since that's only a half hour or so away, we went for a drive. Purchased the canopy and some clamps to use to attach the shade cloth sides we already have to it. Won't need it here because it's so shady, but probably will further down the track.

Don't know about Rod,  but I've run out of steam for the day. 
6:00pm I think I'll have a ham salad sandwich and go to bed. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

5/12/14. Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse sightseeing drive.

5/12/14. Augusta. Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. 
Lovely day. Breezey. 
Did a bit of vittles shopping this morning. IGA. 
And went for a drive out to the lighthouse on Cape Leeuwin. 
Beautiful scenery. Very rugged coast. 
ARound the rugged rocks the ragged rascal ran, comes to mind.

Lots and lots of rocks and reefs in the water, way way out there, no wonder they need a lighthouse. This is where the Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean meet. 
We considered doing a guided tour, but the distance to walk out to the lighthouse would have been too far for me, I might have got out there, but I wouldn't have got back, and no way would either of us have been able to get up all those stairs so we just read a few notations under exhibits and missed out on the commentary and just had coffee at the ticket shop. The staff there were very jovial, the ticket sales person could have exhibited a bit more animation. 
I asked about the possibility of mobility scooters and the reason she gave for not having them was that they had no where to store them. Hummmmm. 

So all these little buildings on the lighthouse property must be full of  . . . . .  something? 

On the drive back we stopped for a quick look at the new boat harbour. Very nicely set out, will look a picture once the landscaping is finished. Some nice boats moored. But the rock sea wall was what grabbed our attention. 

A lot of work has gone into that and it's a beautiful example of dry stone wall. Or should I say dry boulder wall. Rod scrambled up so I could take a picture with him in it for size comparison. 
Rod just scrapes in at a smidgen under 6ft. So as you can see, some really big rocks have been put in position.
It's an ongoing development and there are huge adverts around the town.

We were both glad of a quiet day. Both a bit worn out. And it's so nice to sit on the river bank and just watch the Pelicans. 

We sat down to a lovely tea of salad and BBQ d hamburger patties mixed and pattied by my own two hands, as close as I have come to cooking this whole trip. And during tea I choked on a piece of pattie. 

This man, Rod, my hero and my love, saved my life, again. I was in a really bad way, beyond a cough and a drink of water, and he did the Heimlich Manouver on me. Before you say anything about this procedure being out dated, he's saved me a few years ago with this manouver and it worked then when it was in favour and it worked again tonight. A slap or two on the back, as is now suggested to replace the Heimlich would not have worked. 
Off to bed. I'm all wrung out. 

4/12/14. Albany to Augusta, with a diversion in the middle.

4/12/14. Albany to Augusta.
And the time is 6:45 . . . . . . . Jeez! That's the middle of the night for me! It's not even 7 o'clock yet! 
And we're on our way to Denmark, the first stop on the road to Augusta. Will check out Walpole and Pemberton along the way, but I think we will end up in Augusta for the night. 
We decided to take the scenic route to Denmark. 

The road is very scary to me. It's making me very nervous. It's very narrow, quite often with a drop from the bitumen to the gravel of 3-6 inches and no room for error should you run off into that dirt. Big trees, much as I love the, growing very close to the road. Sometimes the road curves around them!  Most of the vehicles coming the other way seem to be hugging the center double lines and don't want to get over till the last min. Beautiful scenery, lots of trees, but scaring the crap out of me, really badly.

On the road from Denmark to Augusta we notice a variety of business enterprises. Lots of signs, simple and elaborate advertising local property's products. Here's a list: Licensed chocolate lounge, that had us wondering, but it's not open yet, Ice creameries, toffee makers, meaderies,  cheese factories, wineries, leather works, glass, pottery, wood turning and carving studios, Maron farm, lamb, deer, alpacas, olives. Beads. Truffles. Chestnuts and daffodil farm. 
We had another Bacon and Egg breakfast at the Walpole Bakery. Once again some very nice locally made sausages.

The sun comes and goes with drizzle but it's not too bad. A recently met friend, from an Internet caravanning group, Gerrit, suggested we visit the Valley of the Giants, Tree Top Walk. As you can see, Beryl insisted on seeing this, where she comes from there's not many trees, but Plukka stayed in the van, he's too much trouble. We got there ahead of opening and jumped the chain to find some shelter down at the kiosk, so we were first on to the walk. Pleased we were because we were nearly finished before a very noisy bus group started their walk. Spoiled the magic. 

 Oh my! How gobsmackingly beautiful. 

Most of them are tingle trees which they think means red in the local aboriginal dialect. Most of the trees have split trunks at the point they enter the ground which would provide great hideyholes for man or beast. 

The walkway is very well built but still wobbles a bit as you walk along it. Made me feel quite uneasy even tho I knew I was safe. I kept loosing my balance, a most unsettling feeling.  Beryl begged me to hold on most of the way. It's the first treetop walkway built in Australia and recently had its 18th birthday. All other similar walkways are based on this one. It's quite an engineering feat. Beautiful in itself.

The walk at its highest point is 40 meters high and the trees still tower above you. Beryl gazes upwards in awe! 

It is listed as Wheelchair accessible but I think you would skin your knuckles very easily if your chair was any thing wider than usual. And I imagine some big mobility scooters would not make it.

10:00 am. raining again.

I am not having a good day. As I said before, the road has scared the shit out of me and I got the wobbles on the walkway. 
Then I get a message on the iPad telling me if I do not report to Center Link today I will loose my Jobsearch payment. This worries me as I thought I had this sorted out before we left Dubbo. So, we stop in Pemberton to see if they have a CL where I can report. Nope, we'll have to go to Manjimup, where we didn't go to before because we turned off to Pemberton before we got there. Back tracking, into Manjimup. We find the CL office but it's just an agency. Three women are working there. One of them listens to what I'm trying to explain and puts me in front of a computer terminal that I know nothing about and tells me "you'll be right mate" and things can only get worse, and they do. I still don't know if I'll write the story of My Manjimup Meltdown. But, those three women left me wondering how some people manage to dress themselves of a morning. Surely they feel guilty for collecting a wage for a job they don't do because they don't know what they are doing? Anyway, Cutting a loooooong story short, nearly two hours later, I finally get it all sorted (by phone) and still upset, say to Rod, "get me to a loo and lets get out of this f hick town". He's been patiently waiting in the car for me all this time filling up his soduku book. 
As we pull away from curb, I'm looking in the mirrors to see how we're going clearing a lamp post, looks good to me, when I see that side of the van go up, sway toward the road and then go down and sways back the other way towards the footpath and you guessed it,. . . .It hits the lamppost.  When we get out to see what the damage is, I spot a big lump of roadway pushed up in the gutter, we have missed it with the car wheels on coming into the parallel parking but the van wheel has run up and down it on pulling out. Result, we have riped off the awning strut and opened up some of the crimping along the seam of the left corner of the caravan. 
In hindsight if I'd been thinking a bit clearer, I should have taken a photo to add to our claim or maybe sued Manjimup for repairs. 

We put the strut into the van, grab some rope and tie the end of the awning roller up so it doesn't come unrolled and duct tape the 'wound'. I rang CIL our van insurers and the very helpful lady there gives me good advice and repairer contacts in Bussleton and calms me down with her being so nice and all. We are both very upset but relieved that it doesn't look too major and a solution to possible repairs is just up the road so to speak. So we head to the public loos. In a park, very nice setting.
I'm in urgent need by now so I hurry into the first loo and have a wee, only to find no paper. Should have known I thought. I usually check and the first time I don't there's none. So I do the flick and wiggle and head to the basin to wash my hands, push the button on the soap dispenser,  . . . Nothing, push a bit harder,  . . . . . and soap goes squirting all over the place, up the wall, down the wall, sideways across the bench! Giggling, I daintily wipe some off the wall and go to turn on the tap,  . . . . . . and the handle comes off in my hand! By now I'm laughing hysterically and looking around for the hidden camera, sure I'm the star in a prank video. Rod finds it difficult to understand me cause I'm coughing choking so much with laughter. From crying with frustration to laughing hysterically in a matter of mins is very very tiring and I yawn the rest of the way into Augusta. All in all, the trip from Albany to Augusta has taken us more than five hours. 
We book in for two nights at another Wikicamps choice, Turner's Caravan Park. It's a very nice grassy setting right on the river with acess to the river walk and a boat ramp from the park. Not an orderly tourist park like in Albany. We like both types of parks. And this is nice.

Lots of shrubbery and gardens breaking up the sites, a few permanent residents. Both human and feathered variety. These two let me get fairly close to their combined broods before warning me off very nicely. Gotta remember to scrape your shoes before getting in the van. Lots of duck poop around, no wonder the gardens are so lush! 

The Turner's Caravan Park Consultation Committee, inspect and discuss our damage at length. And since I vented to The Internet group EVERYTHING CARAVANNING AND CAMPING shortly after the accident, we are getting lots of advice, and sympathy. A few people on both sides speak well of a certain Caravan Doctor in Bussleton, so I think we will be paying him a visit, when we get there. He's very popular and has a good reputation. Meanwhile it's decided that it's not too serious, and we could probably finish our journey before we get it fixed. This is a relief. 
Went for dinner, at the local pub, nice view, but both of us are so tired we are barely able to finish our meal and we are back at the van and in bed by 7:30 pm . 
Both needed a cuddle after that day. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

3/12/14. Albany. Sightseeing at the ANZAC Fleet Memorial Museum.

3/12/14. Albany. ANZAC Memorial Museum

A beautiful day here. No rain. Wonderful surf sound when I wake up. 
Legs ache from yesterday's exercise. Might be getting fit? 
Dave the Pommy Inventor in the other Freedom pulls  out. 

Off we go, 9:30.

Great building, fabulous view out over the harbour all the ships of both fleets were assembled in. Maybe you saw the special coverage recently on ABC TV of the Memorial March in Albany to commemorate the two fleets that stopped off here, the last patch of their world, on the way to WW1 a hundred years ago. 
There are a number of interactive displays and many static displays of memorabilia. A fabulous presentation for adults and older children who already know a bit of the history, but I can't see it holding the attention of young children..  

But then there are some guns and things they might like to use as jungle gyms not far from the car park. No restraints seemed to be placed on these, they were just sitting there, when we came out there was about a dozen kids and adults climbing all over them. And there's a number of fort buildings to wander around, but the only one open was the guard house that was being used as an info centre. I was a bit disappointed we could not wander thru the barracks and officers quarters. Couldn't even see in the windows. 

This is one of the little cards they issue to every customer. I was given one with the details of one of the nurses around whom the recent ABC TV show was based. You put the symbol side of the card against an electronic reader at certain points in the display and it tells you about the person on your card. You follow their story as you progress thru the museum. It's a very good idea. At the end of the 'journey' around the museum you have to opportunity to leave a message on an interactive wall, and you can send messages to the family of the person on your card. I did. 

This is an original KIWI hat, before the well known lemon squeezer. 

I took lots of photos of this nurses uniform as that was the person I was following and I have an interest in costume construction, as does a friend, Lorna, The Tailor's Apprentice, who recreates costumes from this era and the patterns for them. 
When we finished wandering around the museum, we expected to be able to wander around inside the fort buildings, but that didn't happen, so we went to the cafe there and planned on sitting out on the veranda and watching the beautiful view of the harbor while we had a coffee. Unfortunately, the best seating for the view was roped off until the evening, and the staff were French who could barely speak or understand English, and their attitude and coffee was dreadful. Such a shame.
All in all a very educational day.

2/12/14. Albany. Whale Station Museum, Frenchmans Bay.

2/12/14. Whale Station, Frenchmans Bay. 

One of the ship/chasers of the fleet that operated out of this station. 

We took a 45 min guided tour that was very informative.

Although there were other whaling stations and fleets in the area for many many years, this Australian owned station was only opened in the fifties, 1955 I think, and closed in 1978. Photos and film of the men who worked this station show them in stubble shorts, bicolour tee shirts, thongs and long hair. The reason the station was closed was because the oil/fuel to run the ships got too expensive, the demand for whale products decreased and, more importantly, the number of whales decreased, mainly because of how 'successful' the station had been in the past. There were a number of protests held on site at the time too, but they were only at the very end of its declining history. (They already knew they were closing before the protesters/greenies/hippies,rentacroweds, turned up). So, all this combined, making the whole business unprofitable, Green,  the guy who owned it all,  gave the whole kit and caboodle to the Albany JayCees who had the museum up and running by 1980. They have done a wonderful job of preservation,  presentation and public access and the narration handles the topic of whale slaughter, then and now for what ever reasons very sensitively. All credit to them.

This skeleton I am gazing in awe at is a Pigmy blue whale, and it's huge! How big were the full size ones! As big as a jumbo jet apparently. Wow! My mind boggles at the possibility of a creature that big. 

This is the deck area and the hatches thru wich the whale flesh was cut off the carcass and put down the hatches into the boilers below. The stench would have been horrific, 

We listened to a recorded sounds and narration of the flensing station and and boiling pots in action. There was historical film to watch too. All very gruesome and in colour. Not recommended for the faint of heart, the weak of stomache or kids that ask too many difficult questions that adults don't want to answer. 
That's a baleen type whale jaw bone archway. 
This is a skeleton of one of the toothed variety of whales.  Sorry, I didn't take notes At the time and have forgotten, but I do know it's not a pilot whale or an orca as this skeleton is too big. 

I have mixed  feelings about the place. I expected it to be very depressing, but it's not. It is very interesting. 
You've got to keep in mind that at the time, before the advent of the crude oil industry, kerosene, synthetic oils and plastics, that whaling was a very necessary industry. Whale oil was the best for so many things, and the Industrial Age used it up by the millions of gallons, as did public and domestic lighting. It would have been a dreadfuly dirty, hard labour industry to be working in and most of the men were very skilled at what they did and highly respected for that skill. They ended up filthy and smelly and even pubs would close there doors when they heard the whalers were coming up the street. There was no such thing as workers compensation because it was considered to be a job so dangerous that no insurer would cover them. There was no easy way or safe way to do the job so OH&S didn't get a look in. And life on board the ships must have been dreadful too, so cramped and never able to get away from the stench. Four hours on and four hours off shifts and all hands on deck when the whales were sighted. Away at see for 6 weeks or more, depending on how successful they were in filling the quota. 
The ten oil storage tanks thru which many many millions of gallons of whale oil went  have all been turned into mini theaters. The 3D animated movie was very well done and quite convincing that you could reach out and touch the creatures as they swam past you. 
There was also a very well made movie about sharks in the area, and another on whaling in general. 
All in all, it's a must see if ever you are in Albany WA.

View from the cafe.

We then did a Brief tour around the peninsular and around town. Saw dog rock. And yes, it really does look like a dog's head. 
I  Should have made more notes, we were both very very tired that night and now three days later, as I write this up from notes I find it hard to recall it all. We did love Albany. Very NZerish. Quite a few there too.