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Kalbarri

We only intended to stay 1 night but spent 3 in this hidden treasure of Western Australia.

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There is something for everyone, here, including fishing, as the man on Chinaman’s Point in the picture above shows. Huge waves crashed against his favourite spot and we had been warned about the currents at that opening, so it appeared Kalbarri had its share of adventure-seekers. But let me outline the more sedate experiences we undertook.

Arriving in the afternoon, we made our way to the caravan park then dashed out to see Natural Bridge, Red Bluff, Blue Holes and Shell House Grandstand, all accessible from the main road and then boardwalks. The coastline was dramatic and latticed. You could see why early Dutch explorers thought it uninhabitable.

The next day took us to Nature’s Window and Z-Bend in Kalbarri National Park. Now, there is a very long stretch of corrugated dirt road, so if you have a regular 2-wheel drive like us, you might have the same arguments about how best to get through it. For the record, the best way is to travel about 80km/hr, so you skim over the top of the bumps. If you have a motor home DO NOT ATTEMPT the road unless you have a system for bolting down your crockery. We met people whose crockery lay smashed on the ground, they didn’t know how far it was to go and had to turn back, knowing more destruction was likely.

The views are worth it, even when it is around 35C. You are warned to take 3L of water if you intend walking the loop, as it can get up to 50C in the gorge.

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The latticed rocks and layers of colourful sediment are impressive and while wondering why Z-Bend was called that, we spotted a white dot in the distance and zoomed in as far as we could to catch a goat, perched on the ridge.

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But wait! There’s more. While there, we spotted a goanna and directed a number of international tourists to the creature, that put on quite a display and was about a meter long. We also marvelled at the flowers produced by such barren soil.

Later that day, we headed back to the coast for a look at Chinaman’s Beach, from the top and the shoreline, and Rainbow Jungle – an exotic bird sanctuary.  There are tales to be read of the Zuytdorp shipwreck, after which the cliffs are named and you’ll see gorgeous birds and flora.

On our last day, we took in more of the coastal drives and walks, completing Mushroom Rock Loop and visiting Pot Alley and Eagle Gorge. The visitor centre has maps and information detailing the walks and some stops had signs up. The pipe rocks were pretty amazing – I haven’t seen them anywhere else.

We finished the day with a sunset river cruise, where we learned a great deal about the demise of the cray fishermen and saw some riverbank scenery. It was inexpensive, but a little repetitive.

A memorable place. There are diving activities, quad bike adventures, canoeing, absailing…something for everyone. Good access to a supermarket, playground, take-away and visitor centre. What are you waiting for?

Take a hat, water bottles and good walking shoes.

Safe travels.

Waterwords

When I saw the theme for this week’s photo challenge, I delved straight into my Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) folder, as the Tasmanian gallery is filled with the unusual.

My final choice involved the piece that had an art ignoramus like me transfixed for the longest time. The backdrop is a high wall of what appears to be stone, with two side panels of the same material, creating a 3D frame. This transverses two levels and from a metal beam at the top, where lights are strategically placed, water shoots out at regular intervals, creating different words, that once formed, plunge to oblivion.

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So, in order to take the picture, I had to practice a bit so that I could actually get the word and try to catch the effect. As you see, I finally shot ‘shooting’, which I thought was even more unusual.

The words seem to be unrelated to anything, but maybe if I spent the day there…And what do I call this – a water feature? water words? water wall? waterfall? word fall?

To get the full scale, I put another shot here ( I think the word is smash):

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Look, even if you are not into art, like me, you have to visit this place. So many extraordinary visions will stay with me forever. Tasmania is a picturesque place in itself – see one of my blogs on the Island.

Safe travels. Take a camera, but turn the flash off.

 

Geraldton W.A.

Nestled on the Batavia Coast in Western Australia is the interesting town of Geraldton.

 

A large place, with a population around 40 000, it was cooler than the Coral Coast, 200km to the north and warmer than Perth, 400 km south. There are many attractions, which was fortunate for us, as we had developed some minor car trouble requiring a longer stay than we had planned.

 

Fear not, there is plenty to do and a great variety of scenery.

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Our first stop was the visitor centre, located in the Bill Sewell Complex. A beautiful Victorian structure, it began in the mid 1850’s as the local Victoria Hospital and grew in proportion to the development of the local and neighbouring areas. Now, in colonial times, neighboring areas meant anywhere on the mid-west coast so they serviced a huge area.

Across the capark is the Old Geraldton Gaol and Craft Centre. Originally built as the centre for hiring convict labour, it continued as a gaol until the 1990’s, making it the second oldest gaol in WA (outstripped by Fremantle Prison). Unremarkable from the outside, it is a lofty historical tour on the inside, oddly juxtaposed with local goods for sale in cells that are hired by the crafty.

The Batavia Coast is named after the wreck of the BATAVIA in the early 1600’s, off the featured coast. It is the second oldest wreck in Australian waters and fascinates me, given that we were not colonised until the 1800’s. Clearly the Dutch didn’t see any potential in our rugged shorelines. I believe part of the Batavia is reconstructed in the Geralton museum but we didn’t visit there.

For an unforgettable experience, you have to visit the HMAS Sydney II memorial. I have written about it in another blog, so perhaps go there for more information, but I promise you it will be worth the visit and the view isn’t bad, either.

A visit to Point Moore Lighthouse will also take you to the beach and a refreshing swim if it is hot. The tower itself was unremarkable, save for the stripes.

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Geraldton is a coastal town, so there are views to be had and water activities but if, like us, you are there when it is a bit cool, you can enjoy a coffee at one of the many DOME restaurants, that recreate a 1920’s feel. In fact, their not being present in SA, my husband and I asked if the original building was a train station, having been renovated so beautifully. The waiter was a bit confused at first and then informed us that all DOME cafes have the same look.

St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral is quite surprising. An impressive building on the outer, the paintwork has to be seen to be believed. Apparently the builder of the cathedral is responsible for several other unusual structures.

The Iris Sundial, across the park from the cathedral, was built by Bill Newbold and named after his wife. It is very interesting and I spent some time using the directions to check its accuracy – was that the teacher or the maths teacher in me? I couldn’t get over how complicated something like that would be to build. It is quite attractive, though, despite my poor photograph of it.

We walked extensively (yes, partly due to the car being repaired), the gentle hills of the town not overtaxing us and saw a great deal. The main street is neat and long, with everything you need.

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The above photo was of an old cinema, so 1920’s I couldn’t resist, but there are a great many styles and eras represented in the architecture.

Safe travels. Don’t forget the hat and water.

Gawler

Approximately 50km north of Adelaide, in South Australia, lies the town of Gawler. Established in 1836, it was the only other town planned by Col. William Light (the other being Adelaide, the capital city of SA). Unlike the square plan of the capital, however, the city of Gawler has a triangular centre.

 

Arriving by train, my brother and I decided to do one of the walks available from the visitor centre, and ended up doing a mix of the Cultural Walk and the Church Hill Walk. The whole thing took us 2 hours, including a half hour lunch by the river and  a dash to the train for our return journey. There are many places to eat, but I can recommend Cafe on Jacob, with its homemade fare and warm atmosphere.

If one of Adelaide’s titles is ‘City of Churches’, then Gawler is a mini city. Church Hill has four churches, positioned almost squarely, and the history was very interesting, representing not only differences in faith but often language and trade.  Gawler was surrounded by mining, farming and industry. The lovely buildings and cottages nearby don’t all face the centres of worship, but it is impossible to walk the area and miss any. The old convent is near the Catholic Church and would make a great scene for a movie.

There is some very nice architecture, quaint buildings and, generally, a pleasant ambiance. The history on plaques or in the walking guides required a bit of reading time, but was well worth it.

The main street has altered over the years, with some of the charm of a big country town lost with progress. There remains many delightful buildings and it is still a point through which travellers make their way to the famous Barossa or Clare Valleys. Very decent hotels, cafes, bakeries and parks add to the value of a visit here. There are supermarkets, a cinema, outdoor pool and caravan park, all within easy reach of the train station so if you have to dash to get home it isn’t far. The one hour (approx) train journey from Adelaide will take you through suburbs, farmland and industry, as well as past schools, the football oval and the heritage Gawler train station. You actually get off at Gawler Central which is the last stop on the line.

Visit the Information Centre for maps, or go online to download them earlier. The original owners, the Kaurna (pronounced Garna) people, are located along the Adelaide plains and lived in the Gawler area for at least 40 000 years.

The river has flooded, with water lapping over the bridges in 1992, which is a lot of water, but generally it is a dry area.

Head off from here to Whispering Wall or one of the major wine regions. A very pleasant day trip.

Take water, hat and camera.

Safe travels.

Passenger in time

I had wanted to visit Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement since I was in primary school and my friend not only sent a letter (gone are those days) but brought back photographs. Constantly lost in my imagination (those days aren’t gone) it took me back in time and brought to life the television programs of the day – Whiplash, for example.

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Forty years or so later, and with a few pioneer villages under our hats, my husband and I travelled to the river region of Victoria and New South Wales and stopped at the BIG4 Riverside caravan park. It is an excellent park, with good facilities and a great location. It is right next to the Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement, separated by a gate and a short walk.

The settlement is delightful, with a carefully planned township that is accessible and historical. Gardens, shops, homes, faith, education, industry and transport, you are carried back, to life in the mid- to late- 1800’s and early 1900’s in Australia. Being a young Nation (on the oldest continent) that is about as far back as European settlement goes in the area.

Transport options abound, as they once did, and you can be a passenger aboard a horse drawn carriage, steam train, riverboat or vintage automobile. Other forms are on display, but you cannot ride them, such as a penny farthing bicycle and horses.

Treat yourself to an afternoon of discovery as you walk the streets, taste the fare and make sure you visit the Kaiser Stereoscopic Theatre, where a person once may have imagined they were a passenger on far away journeys.

 

Due to flooding and a very high river level, the famous Laser Light Show was immersed, so we missed that, but there is plenty to do in the area.

Safe travels. Don’t forget the hat and water (and maybe an umbrella).

 

Passing time in Albany

img_4137.jpgWe have long since done away with the stocks, but was it an opportunity for a miscreant to pass the time, contemplating their wrongdoings and planning a transition to a new way of life?

This symbol of the 18th and 19th Century legal system is in amazing Albany, Western Australia. It is across the road from the Albany Court House, in Sterling Terrace and is my entry in this week’s photo challenge – Delta.