Our next stop is the
Bunbury. This is in
fact the second
largest city in WA. This is yet another very appealing place very much
surrounded by water. In a lot of ways it reminded us of Port Lincoln.
The amount of building and flash sub-divisions is staggering. Right in
the middle of town is a lookout tower. This is a very modern structure
with an internal spiral staircase that has a great view upon reaching
the top. You look down over a thousand (no exaggeration) new homes all
far too big for their blocks of land. Beyond the homes you look over
of the many large harbours that surround the city. It's no wonder there
is such a shortage of tradesmen over here. They must be working day and
night to keep up with this ridiculous demand.
We settled on a nice
caravan park a
few kms out of
town complete with tennis court, putt putt golf, a lovely pool (bit
cold for that caper) and of course the playground. The kids (and us)
had a ball with the putt putt. I was excited because we have been
lugging the putter and golf balls around with us and it was good to see
them in action. The tennis court also had a workout with the Parfitts
carving up the asphalt.
So let the sightseeing
only are there
sheltered waters with a number of huge bays and harbours but also
surf beaches literally in the middle of the city. While exploring we
discovered a very interesting piece of public art. It would appear that
somebody in the Bunbury Council has either a great sense of humour or
some sort of odd ball. Not far from where we are staying is a housing
commission estate and entry to the local primary school which
was obviously a bit dull and needed jazzing up.
The council commissioned a sculpture for the job. The picture says it
all. They must have paid for the art work up front because it appears
nothing was going to stop it happening, not even a fuss made by the
school. No doubt the estate now has a few nick names ie Tittsville,
Mammary Heights or Breast View. There are worse things to look at after
a hard day at the office (nice and pert too!!! Is that you up there
darling?). The town has lots of other pieces of art scattered around
nothing that took my eye like this.
One of Bunbury's famous (world famous apparently) attractions is the Koombana Bay Bottle Nosed Dolphins. These guys, and a fair number of them visit this small beach nearly every morning and are partial to a little human interaction. They have built an excellent 'Dolphin Discovery Centre' at the beach which is very educational, not to mention interesting (not always one and the same unfortunately). No dolphins came in for a pat while we were there as it is apparently their mating season and they were all a bit busy or buggered (half their luck!) to venture in. On our way out to the large ship loading facility we stumbled upon some good sand dunes and 4x4 tracks. For the kids sake of course we tackled a few head on with lots of associated yelling and laughing from the back. Surprisingly Chris was quite relaxed about the whole thing, and might almost have appeared to be enjoying herself.
Next day we did the main street over, did some grocery shopping and then back to the van for an arvo snooze. A bloke needs to de-stress somehow!!!!
Our next stop will be
inland again at
'Lane Poole Reserve' near Dwellingup.
This is a very large
covers about the
size of a
cigarette packet on the Hema Map. There are about 3 different areas
you can get vans into but the very helpful lady at the Dwellingup
Information Centre suggested Nanga Mill camp site. Good choice.
This is a very large open and undulating camp site nestled beside the
rapidly flowing and very noisy Nanga Creek. This creek in turn runs
into the Murray River (not the same one as in the east) about 100
metres from our camp
site (pictured left). This area is popular with canoeists and school
groups (also in canoes). It
is a great camp site, good pit toilets, fresh water, tables and fire
places. The sign says the rangers will collect the fees daily. We saw
Ranger everyday, he waved, we waved and he kept going. He certainly
didn't seem at all interested in collecting any fees and perhaps that
because nobody else was here, at least until
6-00pm Friday night when we were invaded by, we assume, the locals.
Serenity no more, or at least for a few days. I am not sure what we did
with our time here other than Chris giving the males hair cuts but we
had lots of fires, walks and fun (how dare we have fun while you are
all working! Sorry!) We spent a day in Dwellingup, had lunch at one of
the local cafes and then spent a few hours at the 'Heritage Forest
Centre'. This is an amazing Govt run centre in the middle of nowhere
that has great interactive displays all about timber and the forest.
You can also study for the 'Diploma of Fine Furniture' here as
Next stop Perth. On our way to Perth we spent one night at Woodman Point (only a few kms south of Fremantle) to catch up with Gail, Tony and the kids before they make the big dash to Darwin. This was most likely the last time we will see them again on this trip and it was great to catch up.
A total of 43 men and
one woman were
this prison over 114 years. Our tour guide was an ex-prison guard and
the stories he told were fascinating, sad and funny. The tour went for
1-1/2 hours and is a must do if you visit here. We then stayed on for
the 'Escape Tour' which was also fascinating and covered all the
successful and unsuccessful escapes from this prison. It was
that of all prisoners released over 80% wanted to and did return to the
prison. This was the only way of life they knew and they felt
comfortable and safe in this environment.
Tuesday back to
Fremantle again and
this time to
'Maritime Museum'. This is a very impressive building situated in the
the Fremantle Port area. It houses a huge exhibit of all things to do
with the sea both old and new. Australia II in all its glory is a
popular exhibit and its sheer size surprised us.
I think for all of us the highlight of the day was doing a tour of the 'HMAS Ovens' which is a 295 foot long submarine that was on active duty until 3 years ago. This 2 hour tour covered every bit of the sub and gave us all a new respect for submariners. The inside is amazing. If you are into buttons, dials, levers and guages this is heaven. To think that so many lived aboard this boat in such a confined space for so long is amazing. In the Australian Navy nobody is made to go on a submarine. It is purely voluntary and believe it or not there is a waiting list to get on. You would have to be joking!!!
A few facts and figures that I found interesting. It had a crew of 55 sailors and 7 officers. It had a cruising speed of 15 knots on the surface and 17 knots submerged. It has the capacity to carry 30 tonnes of fresh water, 10 tonnes of distilled water, 66,000 litres of lubricating oil equivalent to 2 road tankers and 396,000 litres of diesel equivalent to 12 road tankers. The boat is run by two large electric motors powered by 30 tonnes of batteries equivalent to 94,000 car batteries. These are kept charged by 2- 16 cylinder diesel engine generators. It has 6 bow weapon tubes capable of firing both anti-ship and anti- submarine wire guided torpedoes and missiles. The new Collins class subs are smaller but more roomy than the HMAS Ovens due to modern electronics.
Wednesday was Zoo day
and we were
ready and waiting at opening time. Once again this was an all day
affair and even though this is a small zoo compared to those in the
East there was plenty to see and do. We managed to track down most of
the animals from both 'Madagascar' and the 'Lion King' and a few more.
Without a doubt our favorite was the Orangutans that had us in stitches
with all their antics. The things you can do with an old hessian bag
amazing. I am sure the more we laughed at them the more they performed.
Who does that sound like??? This is the first Zoo either of the boys
have been to and the amazement and excitement on their faces was
priceless. This was a day they will remember for a long time.
Now this was one of
that I must say I had my
doubts about. For the last 12 months whenever I spoke of Perth, Chris
mentioned Rottnest. Her intention was always that we not only went over
for a trip but that we would stay there overnight. Honestly how could
it compare to Fraser, Moreton and Stradbroke Islands?? How good could
an island be that's only 19km from Perth, that the Dutch named "Rats
(translated Rottsnest) when they discovered it? Well it looked like I
was about to find out regardless of how many obstacles I put in place.
Firstly I complained it was expensive to get over. I still say it is at
$146-00 a family. For goodness sake, people swim over there. Then I
started on the accommodation prices. Well I fell flat on my face there.
We had a lovely self contained cabin with ensuite for $105-00 for the
first night then $55-00 per night thereafter. One more card up my
sleeve. Bike hire. That was going to cost $110-00 for the 2 days. Then
we discover we could take all our bikes over for only $33-00. I
think I was fighting a loosing battle. If we were going to do it, it
to be before Easter. This place is so popular that for the Easter and
Christmas holidays you go into a ballot. We booked it all and headed
Thursday morning returning late in the afternoon on Good Friday.
And the verdict- It was without a doubt one of my better ideas!!!
It really is a lovely
are hundreds of
rooms for rent
scattered all over the island ranging from tent sites to small houses
with views to die for. All the accommodation is owned and managed by
Rottnest Island Authority (WA Govt). There are no private homes at all.
The only cars or trucks are the service vehicles and everybody walks or
rides push bikes. Most of the buildings are very old (1800's) and it
has a very Mediterranean feel about it. The island is well serviced
pubs, cafes, supermarket, bakery, Red Rooster(can you believe it) and
touristy shops. The biggest surprise was that the prices at all the
shops were reasonable and in line with the mainland. Now that's a nice
change. The island has 3 full time police officers and a Health clinic
and Ambulance run by 3 Registered Nurses. You could easily spend a week
exploring the scores of beautiful secluded bays, snorkeling amongst the
coral and tropical fish (yes, coral due to the warm Leewuin Current),
playing tennis, cricket and football or just relaxing. They even have a
small picture theatre and fun park for the kids.
This place is unique
and we have
nothing that is
even similar in the
East. When we arrived on Thursday the place was empty. Only a couple of
private boats moored out the front and most of the accommodation empty.
Well didn't all that change on Good Friday. By 10-00am the streets were
full of people, all the rooms full and hundreds and hundreds of private
boats now moored in the numerous bays ( see photo on 'Cover Page'). It
went from peaceful to
chaotic within hours. Boy have we been spoilt since school went back in
January having most places to ourselves. I am not sure I like this
having to share.
This island is also home to thousands of Quokkas which are small possum like marsupials. Very cute until they let themselves into our room and ate our dinner. Not so cute then, let me tell you.
So in summary we had a
recommend it as a
holiday destination and would even consider flying over just to have a
week or two there. You would not be disappointed.
Well that is it for now. We still have a week in Perth and lots to do.
It was great getting
the bulk of the
things done before the
school holidays commenced because everything became so busy and
crowded. Our second week in Perth just seemed to disappear.
On Easter Monday we had arranged to meet up with Ray, Jane and the kids who live in Perth. We met these guys 4 years ago in Cairns when they were on a 6 month trip around the block. In fact it was meeting and talking to them that inspired us to do this trip. We have kept in touch since and it was really good to see them all again. Ray and Jane haven't changed one single bit in those years. Must be the clean air in the west that does it. We had a great day meeting at Whiteman Park which is a huge parkland in the Swan Valley and then moving onto the 'Swan Valley Oasis Resort' for lunch and a game of 'Supa Golf'. This Supa Golf is a WA concept that is very family orientated and lots of fun for all ages. The golf ball is about tennis ball size (plastic though) and you use big plastic clubs. The fairways are still reasonably long with most being par 3-4. We all had a good laugh and managed to play some very impressive golf. They are coming back to QLD this Christmas and we have arranged to meet up with them again which will be great. When you are away from home for a long time it is really exciting to see a familiar face.
On Tuesday I was busy
doing boy jobs
and the boys did
journal work. The car needed it's 40,000km service and we wanted to put
4 new tyres on before heading north. Such simple things and
something you would just take for granted when home. The car would have
automatically gone off to Trullo for the service and to Waltons for the
tyres and I would have been confident that we wouldn't be ripped off
and that a good job would be done. Not so simple when you have no
After a fair bit of shopping around and a bit of luck we fell on our feet with both issues. On Peter Walton's advice before leaving home I was searching for the best price I could get for "BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A's. The best price I could find and extremely good service was from a local Bob Jane TMart. As for the car service that was a little more difficult. I got quotes from a number of mechanical workshops and from a few Nissan agents. Once again luck was on my side and almost by chance I discovered a mechanic close by who turned out to be excellent. Nissan quoted $700.00 and this guy actually did more than the scheduled service required for $429.00. And on top of that he gave us a car to use for the day and a free pen. Almost as good as the service we get from Trullo (has he ever given me a pen or just a terrible calendar!!!). On both counts we were happy to part with our money all for a bit of good old fashioned service.
So the rest of the week we finished off doing a few must see things.
One day we caught the
bus and train
into the city
and spent the day at
'Kings Park'. This is 'Perth's Botanical Gardens' perched up high on a
hill overlooking the city and the Swan River. I have seen a lot of
Botanical Gardens and this is as good if not better than any we have
seen. It is 1004 acres in size along the Swan River with numerous
playgrounds, a tree top walk, water gardens and a War Memorial
overlooking the river. The lawns throughout are better than you see on
a bowling green with not a weed or a blemish to be seen. Kings Park is
another must see when in Perth.
The next day again saw us take the bus and train into the city and then a boat trip to Fremantle. We then had a good look around and explored the famous Fremantle Markets and the Cappuccino Strip. We have never seen so many coffee shops all in one spot and all so busy. Amazing. While we were on the free Fremantle bus we met a lovely couple with a few kids who are currently living in Exmouth. Jack works for the American Air Force based in Exmouth with his wife Danielle and their 3 small children. It is funny how you just hit it off with some people. We exchanged phone numbers and will definitely be looking them up when in Exmouth. Jack has access to a fairly big boat through his work and has offered to take us out fishing. Sounds good to us.
did intend to leave Perth on Saturday but ended up staying
until Wednesday as we had a few jobs to finish off. The car and caravan
washed and polished and all the van tyres rotated, brakes adjusted and
bearings repacked had us ready to move
on. We would have hit the road on Monday except that when I repacked
the van bearings I discovered that one of the new hubs was faulty and
needed replacing. This meant leaving Monday was out of the question as
I had to chase up parts (boy am I glad this problem was discovered
while we were in Perth and not as a disaster on the side of the road in
the middle of nowhere. Maintanence Stevens, it's all about maintanence)
Tuesday we decided to stay and attend the 'Anzac Day' March in the
Out of bed at 6-00am, to the train station by 8-00am and into the city. The turn-out of people was staggering and the parade was great. It was very moving seeing the old soldiers making the effort on foot or being pushed by. We all had tears in our eyes as did most people there. It is difficult to express your heart felt thanks to these people other than clap and wave your flag but I think they felt the sincere gratitude of the crowd. All of what we all have and enjoy is thanks to them.That was the reason I had tears in my eyes.Owing so much to somebody you don't even know is very humbling. This is the first time we have attended a capital city Anzac Parade and are so glad we did, even though it poured with rain for the last 1/2 hour and we all got soaked. It was interesting that as wet as everybody was, we did not see one person leave or move. That is the sign of true gratitude.
In all we spent over 2
1/2 weeks in
our time here. It is a very pretty city, that has a lot to offer.
It was great having Mick and Kaz so close by and we dropped in to see
them every few days. These guys are sensational and we all feel that we
have known them for years. We will really miss them and have
what we hope will be a long friendship. I'll say it again, the people
meet while on the road is amazing.
So where from here.
Our first stop will be New Norcia which is a small township 130 kms
north of Perth. This town is owned by Benedictine Buddist Monks and
sounds fascinating. If the next photo you see of me is with a bald head
and funny clothes you will know I was impressed. From there, well that
is in the lap of the god or perhaps the Buddists. Until then.
Well didn't I get that
completely wrong. For
some reason I had
firmly implanted in my little brain that we were about to unleash
ourselves on a town full of Buddist Monks. Wrong. Did I read this or
dream it up????? The latter I expect.
What we did discover
after our 130km
east of Perth is
in fact a town completely owned and operated by Monks (I got that bit
right) but Benedictine Catholic
Monks. For all of those travelers that I have misled. Oops.
Regardless, we found this whole place very fascinating. Right next to the Monastery is a large grassy football oval that you are allowed to camp on for free. Although they don't provide you with any facilities we did discover a lovely clean toilet only a short walk from the van. We ended up staying 2 nights and caught up with Wayne, Tracey and Bailey who are a young family traveling for 12 months. They have been on the road since last September and are traveling at about the same pace as us so we will no doubt keep seeing them while traveling North. Bailey and Harry are the same age and are most times inseparable (when not arguing about a truck or two!).
a little bit about New Norcia. Firstly the whole town and a
huge area of farming land surrounding the town is owned and operated by
the Monks. This includes the Hotel, Roadhouse and Information Centre/
Museum. There are no privately owned homes and no private industry.
Everybody is employed by the Monks.
New Norcia was founded
Rosendo Salvado, a
Benedictine Monk in
1846. Salvado, an Italian, was born in Norcia, Italy and named his new
mission 'New Norcia'. Salvado and a handful of other Monks set
about building a mission for the aboriginal people. Then in 1901
decided that the mission required a new focus and that was
to make it a centre of education. In 1908 St Gertrude's boarding
for girls was officially opened and 5 years later in 1913, St
Ildephonsus boarding college for boys was completed. Both of
these new colleges were destined to play an important part throughout
the years in education of young men and women from all parts of the
state.( Two primary schools (segregated) catered for the younger
students, both white and aboriginal.)
Both the boarding
until the mid
buildings are now used only on a casual basis by school groups and
other artistic groups. Today 18 Monks reside in the New Norcia
Monastery where there valuable work in many areas continues today. As
well as this, the Monks also have their own cottage industry producing
and selling a range of goods including their wine, olive oil and 10
different wood-fired breads, which were heavenly!! Pardon the pun!
If you are ever looking for a very unique holiday with a difference you can stay in the 'Monastery Guesthouse' where you will receive three meals a day (lunch and dinner both three courses) complete with Monastery made wine all for a $60-00 a day donation. You can eat with, pray or just chat to the monks or simply relax in the beautiful serene gardens.
The town today consists of buildings with a strong Spanish flavour, 27 of which are classified by the National Trust with the whole town registered on the National Estate. The buildings are stunning and need to be seen up close and personal to really appreciate their beauty.
As we got away from
New Norcia well
after lunch we
pulled into a
free camp 12kms from Cervantes. What a popular little spot. By sunset
there were 7 caravans and 1 motorhome all squashed into one little
Although a little cosy it was a very social night. As we were camped so
to Cervantes and the Pinnacles Chris thought it would be nice to see
them at sunset. What a great idea! Armed with a bottle of wine, two
cameras, a video camera and tripod off we went. The Pinnacle desert
consists of thousands of limestone pillars, up to 4 metres tall that
rise out of a stark landscape of yellow sand. Some are jagged, sharp
edged columns, rising to a point while others resemble tombstones. The
colour of these unusual natural formations at sunset was worth nearly
freezing for. On the subject of the weather yes, it has been cold, in
very bloody cold at night with the inside temperature of the van
dipping to 4 degrees the other morning. The fires every night have been
great. As for the day time temperatures, they have been lovely around
the mid 20's. If nothing else the cold certainly dictates at what speed
you travel north. Already only 3 hours north of Perth we have noticed a
huge difference in the temperature. Travel only 3 hours south of Perth
around Denmark and it is wet and very, very cold at the moment. What a
difference a few hours can
Next day off to Jurien
Bay we went.
This is a
village with a nice caravan park on the beach and looks like a good
spot for a few rest days. Ray, Jane and the kids were on their way
south after having a week in Kalbarri and planned an overnight
stop at Jurien Bay. Our timing was excellent and caught up with them
At the front of the
caravan park is
a nice old
with a lot of places over here Jurien Bay has it's own resident
sea lion. We spent a bit of time on this jetty both attempting to fish
and feeding Sammy the sea lion. On our last night we went to jetty to
watch the sunset.
While we were there an
85 ft cruiser
offshore. A few minutes later their 25 ft tender was heading for the
jetty. It turns out the owner ran out of cigarettes and got his skipper
to bring him to shore. He was so desperate to get to the shops that he
didn't wait for the skipper to tie up the boat before attempting to get
onto the jetty. He had hold of the jetty with his feet still on the
boat. The wind was blowing and the skipper had trouble keeping the boat
against the jetty. You guessed it, the boat moved away and the old
overweight guy was stretched between the jetty and boat. Finally he
fell and was hanging onto the jetty by his fingertips. While he was
yelling that he couldn't swim and dangling 15 ft above the water, me
and another guy grabbed an arm each and tried to hold him up. The boat
came into the jetty again and he managed to get his feet back onto the
boat. Again the boat drifted away from the jetty, he slipped and fell
yet again still hanging on by his fingertips. Now he was really
starting to yell. The skipper was starting to get a bit nervous at the
thought of possibly killing his boss so made another attempt to
back to the jetty this time squashing the old guy between the boat and
the jetty. Boy, now did he let out a yell! He wasn't hurt but wasn't
going to be able to hang on much longer. Finally the skipper
tied up the boat and pulled the old guy aboard. Onto the jetty he
jumped and off to the shop he went, now needing that smoke more than
ever. The poor skipper was just left there shaking his head. See they
are right - Smoking can kill. We laughed and laughed about the comedy
that had just unfolded in front of our eyes. If only we had the video
camera going we definitely would have won $10,000-00 on 'Funniest Home
Videos'. Thought he might have bought me back a bottle of wine for
saving his life but nothing. That must be why he is so rich!!!
So that is it for
April and for us
the end of week
20 on the
road. Things continue to go really well with everyday being an
adventure and with the boys soaking it all up like big sponges. We are
staggered at what Harry can remember and the things that he comes out
with. A few months back in Kalgoorlie the boys asked why some 4x4's
have really tall
aerials with orange flags on them. We explained that these cars worked
the mines and the flag was there so the people driving the dig dump
could see the cars and not run over them. The other day we were in a
shopping centre when Harry saw an old lady go past on a motorised
scooter complete with a tall aerial with an orange flag on it, as they
Harry then yells out that that lady must work at a mine. We nearly wet
ourselves. Alex is loving every minute of life in the great outdoors
with the fire now his TV. Chris has her nose out of joint a little now
that Alex has taken over the role of 'Commander and Chief' of fire
lighting. Our little man is growing up.
So a few travel stats
have now traveled 13,054
kms with we estimate about another 20,000 to go. The car has now
consumed 2,198 litres of diesel costing $2,943. We continue to be under
budget on both fuel (that will change as we go further north) and
accommodation, thanks to a lot of free camping and National Parks. Fuel
cost has averaged around 135.0 cents per/litre but yesterday paid 155.9
per/litre, our highest price yet, apart from one outlet on the
Nullarbor. We expect this to reach over $2.00
per/litre up north. Our fuel economy has averaged 16.72 litres/100km
over the trip so far.
As you can see from the photo we now have a few extra bits on the roof of the car. We now look like real seasoned travelers.
Again a really big
thanks to those
who phone and
email us. It's great to keep in touch.
Until next month!
P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUM!!