A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about beaches

Days 23 / 24 / 25 Queensland to Western Australia

Geraldton

large_SAM_0740.jpg

Today, we leave Mullewa and head to the city of Geraldton, the home of some impressive buildings, churches, museums and memorials. Known as either "sun city" or "windy city," it is located on the coast around 424 kms north of Perth.

large_SAM_0575.jpg

Geraldton Information centre

As usual when we are visiting a new town, we find the Tourist Information centre and pick up free maps and tourist information.
The Centre is located in the historic buildings of the Bill Sewell Complex, then off to one side of the complex is the Old Gaol museum.

SAM_0594.jpg

Geraldton's Old Gaol

This gaol was the second longest serving gaol in Western Australia. It was built in 1858 and operated until 1986. Today, all I had to pay was a gold coin donation ($1 or $2) to enter, then I walked through the alley way, peeking in the cell doors to find them occupied by craft people selling their wares. A lot were closed because it was a weekday, better to come on a weekend.

large_SAM_0596.jpg

Art and Craft work included gemstones, lead lighting, crystals. crochet, woodwork, jewellery and fashion accessories, natural soy candles, metal art, designer greeting cards, paintings and much more.

Our caravan park was across the road from the beach, a little way out from the CBD. We liked it there as it was quiet, plus I liked the shared bike/pathways where I cycled in the mornings.

large_SAM_0640.jpg

it was along here I came across the Moore Point Lighthouse which dates back to 1877.
The tower was a prefabricated steel tower made in England and brought to Australia in segments aboard the 'Lady Louisa,' then was bolted together on the new foundations and a light added in 1878. Painted in red and white candy stripes, the Point Moore Lighthouse really stands out! The interpretive plaque provides some interesting facts about the lighthouse, including the knowledge it is the oldest surviving Commonwealth lighthouse in Western Australia.

SAM_0646.jpg

Moore Point Lighthouse

Another find was a large Osprey nest on the ocean side of Marine Terrace, not far away from the Lighthouse. This same nest has been used year after year.
The breeding cycle is in Spring when 1 - 4 eggs are laid over a few days. The incubation period takes between 32 - 40 days with the eggs hatching from late August to October.
They are around this area and if you look, there is a good chance of seeing them plunging into the shallow water to grab fish with their talons. This usually happens early morning or late afternoon.

large_SAM_1674.jpg

Osprey Nest

As I followed the pathway towards the CBD, I came across the port of Geraldton, one of Australia's busiest regional ports and second largest for grain export. Also exported from here is iron ore, fuel, metals, mineral sands, talc, garnet and fertilisers. There is an excellent newish, landscaped viewing area from which the views of the bustling harbour were great. I spent some time watching a Ship come into the Port area and be turned completely around by the Tug Boats and finally settle against the wharf, those little Tugs did a great job and didn't take long either!

large_SAM_0759.jpg

large_SAM_0764.jpg

large_SAM_0760.jpg

My next stop was at the Yamaji Art Emu Egg sculptures located on the foreshore..
The cast bronze shapes of emu eggs were made and then decorated with ceramic mosaic to represent the Aboriginal stories of the Emu in the Sky and the Seven Sisters being chased by Orion, the Hunter. The Aboriginal people see these different shapes and designs in the night sky.
I loved the eight Emu egg halves, so colourful and beautiful sitting in the sand on the foreshore.

large_SAM_0898.jpg

Ceramic Emu Egg Sculptures

If you have been following my journey through WA, then you would remember me mentioning Father Hawes, the architect Priest. In Geraldton is St Francis Xavier Cathedral, designed by the famous Monsignor Hawes (Priest and Architect), who arrived in Geraldton as a parish priest in 1915.
I must say, I became a fan of his architecture, so I didn't want to miss seeing the Cathedral generally regarded as one of his finest works.

large_SAM_0904.jpg

Francis Xavier Cathedral

The foundation stone was laid in 1916, but it took 22 years to complete as it was built in stages.
Romanesque columns, huge arches beneath an octagonal dome and zebra striping of the walls reminded me of St. Georges Church in Bluff Point, Geraldton, only that Church had nothing to do with Monsignor Hawes! The architecture is a blend of many styles.

large_SAM_0872.jpg

Francis Xavier Cathedral

After viewing the church, I walked across the road to see an unusual sundial, known as the Iris Sundial.

SAM_0899.jpg[left]SAM_0903.jpg

Iris Sundial

A visit to the WA Museum was a must for me as it had plenty of information on the four major early shipwrecks located in the region - the Batavia, Gilt Dragon, Zuytdorp, and Zeewijk. Another excellent display was a more recent piece of history - the discovery of HMAS Sydney II - Australia’s greatest naval tragedy.
Entry to the Museum took us into the gift shop where there is a unique range of gifts, many in the nautical range. Souvenirs are related to the region, and there are many books on natural wonders and local history. I bought a couple of nice souvenirs here for quite a reasonable price. As it happened, I didn't find souvenirs anywhere else in Geraldton.

The museum also covers the Yamaji history and culture, and the region’s natural landscapes and marine environment. I discovered how European exploration and settlement had developed in the Mid West, the area we had just been, where agriculture, fishing, mining and science industries have been developed in this area.

large_SAM_0795.jpg

W.A. Museum

The first section on display in the W.A. Museum, is the MID- WEST which is split into two sections = Natural & Social History.
In the Natural History section were displays of fossils found from the Mid West's pre-historic past. The Kangaroo standing on its hind legs looks so real, you may be surprised at just how big and tall the big male Kangaroos are when you stand beside it. No way would you want to make one angry in the wild. This was a really good display.

large_SAM_0786.jpg

W.A. Museum

The Social history explored the culture of the local Yamaji people, tales of European exploration and settlers. On display were boomerangs and other hand made utensils. I found the Bush Tucker section very interesting, especially if you have never seen a Witchetty Grub before, you can see them here in the Museum. It is good to know what you can and can't eat if your ever lost in the bush, very handle for survival. We had already seen some of these plants and their fruits growing in the wild.

large_SAM_0773.jpg

W.A. Museum

One of the displays is a Bristol Tourer Biplane.
In December, 1921, three planes set off on their maiden flight to deliver mail to Derby. One of the planes crashed 130kms from Geraldton, killing the pilot and mechanic. A replica plane was made to fly during the 70yr old commemorative flight in 1992, this too crashed, but this time nobody was hurt. The nearby Greenough shire acquired the plane and it was restored by the Mid West Aero Club who when completed, gave it to the W.A. Museum in Geraldton.

large_SAM_0828.jpg

W.A. Museum

The Shipwrecks Gallery is another excellent permanent exhibition. Perhaps you will be like me and quite surprised to learn 1,650 boats have been ship-wrecked off the Western Australian coast - that is a lot of ships!
The gallery has on display artefacts from four local shipwrecks including clay pipes, silver coins, cannons, the original Batavia stone portico and numerous other relics, some of these artefacts had laid under the water for over 300 years, now it's here for all to see!

SAM_0841.jpg

W.A. Museum

The most heard of and most famous shipwreck from the olden days is the "Batavia," Australia’s second oldest known shipwreck (Australia’s oldest known shipwreck is the English East India Company ship Trial lost in 1622.) In June 1629, the VOC ship Batavia was wrecked on the Houtman Abrolhos Islands off the coast of Geraldton, Western Australia. It took another 334 years before fishermen found the wreck of the Batavia.
Another shipwreck was the Zeewijk, this happened 100 years after the Batavia. It was another Dutch ship, carrying 208 men from 13 Nationalities. Its cargo was building materials, provisions for the crew and 10 chests of Gold and Silver bars, small silver and copper coins, quite a valuable cargo that went down with the ship.

You can learn about the famous Batavia mutiny and how the men on the Zeewijk survived and the unknown fate of other European shipwreck survivors stranded on Western Australian shores.

large_SAM_0851.jpg

After I had finished with the Museum, I had some time to kill, so I went around the ocean side hoping to find some seating whilst waiting for my transport. My surprise was seeing the Batavia Longboat replica. This was constructed in 2002 by students of the local technical college and now is in the water beside the WA Museum.
The replica is maintained by a small group of dedicated volunteers forming the not for profit organisation, the Batavia Coast Longboat Replica Association. Public sailing is every Sunday afternoon (except the first Sunday of the month).

large_SAM_0698.jpg

A really magnificent memorial that should be seen by all who come to Geraldton is on top of Mount Scott, an outstanding memorial built in memory of 645 young Australian Sailors who lost their lives when the HMAS Sydney II sank.
This Memorial really amazed me, mainly because of all the thought that had been put into the design, every little element meant something important, it is one of the best I have ever seen.

From the car-park was a pathway with two old bollards from the Port of Geraldton, which would have been used by the Sydney II on her last visit to Geraldton in 1941.

A LITTLE INFORMATION ON HMAS SYDNEY II.

When the HMAS Sydney II was built, she was the pride of the Royal Australian Navy fleet. She was named after Sydney, the capital city of New South Wales. During her time, the ship was involved in enforcing sanctions during the Abyssinian crisis, and later in 1940, was sent to help the British. She sank two Italian warships, participated in multiple shore bombardments, and still returned to Sydney with minimal damage and no casualties.
In 1941, the Sydney resumed convoy escort and patrol duties in home waters.
It was 19th of November 1941, when in the open ocean near Carnarvon, W.A. that the Sydney spotted an unidentified merchant vessel and closed on the vessel requesting identification. The ship was the HSK Kormoran, a disguised German raider, which eventually opened fire and a battle ensued from which neither ship survived.

I can remember the controversy that surrounded the Sydney, mainly because she had superior fire power, so how and why did the Sydney sink without a trace?
The Sydney's loss with all hands compared to the survival of most of the German crew fuelled the controversy, with some alleging that the German commander lured the Sydney into range. Lack of information and wartime censorship on radio broadcasts and the loss of the Sydney not being confirmed by the Prime Minister until 1 December 1941 didn't help matters .

Exactly how and why the Sydney went down with no survivors has remained a mystery.
Most of what is known to date of the battle and the Sydney's last moments was reconstructed from interrogations of the 317 Kormoran survivors, and many questions are still unanswered:

It wasn't until 16 March 2008 the wreck of the Sydney II was found. This brought relief and closure for many families, as well as the Australian Government. The discovery was made by the "Finding Sydney Foundation," which had also found the wreck of the German Raider HSK Kormoran four days earlier. The wrecks rest some 2700 metres down.

The Sydney tragedy is Australia’s largest loss of life in a naval battle.

large_SAM_0710.jpg

HMAS Sydney II Memorial

On reaching the top, there is a domed structure that forms a sanctuary, this is known as the "Dome of Souls."

The Dome came about because of a true incident. In 1998. A large group of people were standing at the site waiting for the dedication of the Memorial to take place, when a large flock of Seagulls flew over as the sun was setting and the Last Post was being played. This inspired the creator of the Dome, to make a filigree of stainless steel in open weave and to include 645 Seagulls, the same number as Sailors lost at sea.
Birds are symbolic as spirits of the dead, soul freed from the body, ascent into heaven and the ability to communicate with God. They depict celestial realm and powers and oppose evil. They are symbolic of the souls of the departed, serene, of spirits flying free, so what an excellent choice for the Dome. The souls of the dead Sailors were believed to be embodied in the Sea gulls.

large_SAM_0708.jpg

HMAS Sydney II Memorial

I loved the Dome, I felt peaceful, my eyes drawn to the many silver Seagulls where the light filtered between each. On a sunny day with a bright blue sky, I thought how clever it was to come up with this idea.
I didn't see it at night, but read it is lit and becomes a Dome of Gold.

The Podium is the area underneath the Dome of Souls. Once again, this has been well thought out!
As the Sailors came from all over Australia, the Podium has been composed of cut stone from all the 7 States and Territories of Australia. The design is based on the nautical compass and incorporates symbolic elements based on the Sea gull and Stele motifs.

large_SAM_0711.jpg

HMAS Sydney II Memorial

On a sunny day, filtered light was flowing through and shadows of Sea Gulls were showing on the floor. These shadows are meant to represent a sense of movement, either of clouds or the flight of the Gull.

An inscription set into the black granite reads...
"IN MEMORY OF THE MEN LOST ON HMAS SYDNEY II 19TH NOVERMBER 1941.
LEST WE FORGET."

In the centre is a propeller set in bronze which is used as an Altar. It is here, wreaths are laid during ceremonial occasions. Above the Altar is the Eternal Flame which was lit in King's Park, Perth and then brought to here. Beautiful!

large_SAM_0701.jpg

HMAS Sydney II Memorial

The Wall of Remembrance is the sad part, the black granite semi-circular wall made out of Western Australian black granite, which bears the names, rank and home base of the 645 men who lost their lives. Their life was cut short when they were so young.

The idea of the semi- circular wall, is for it to represent the "encircling arms of a Nation," welcoming home its lost loved ones. It is so large that is has been split in two, allowing a walkway between the two.

Composite images from actual photos have been photo engraved into the black granite. There is one of Sydney II in action and every day scenes of life aboard the ship, including a group photo of the full Ship's company. Other panels gave a detailed history of the Sydney II.
On the wall in another section is a description of every element that I saw at the Memorial.

Lastly, on the final panel are the words. "THE REST IS SILENCE" engraved into the stone.

large_SAM_0713.jpg

HMAS Sydney II Memorial

THE STELE - Wow! This WAS impressive! I really liked it!

The striking shape is the prow of HMAS Sydney II. Its function is a towering symbolic grave marker, built to be imposing and one that can be seen for many miles in many directions. The mast can carry flags and insignia for the Memorial. Water depth markers based upon the actual Sydney II are set into the Prow.

large_SAM_0721.jpg

HMAS Sydney II Memorial

THE WAITING WOMAN

This poignant sculpture brought back memories of how I felt when my son went away with the Australian Army as one of the first Peace Keepers in East Timor. You never know what will happen, if you will ever see them again, it is hard!

This bronze sculpture is very well done and looks quite real. I could nearly feel what she was thinking and wondering, the look on her face was tense, her gaze on the horizon.
Here she was, standing near the edge with the wind blowing her dress, her hand on her hat whilst looking over Geraldton and out to sea.
Who was she? Was she a mother waiting for her son to come home or perhaps her husband, maybe it was her father or perhaps a brother, perhaps a girlfriend of one of the Sailors, it could have been any of them.
She stands there, knowing the Ship has sunk way back in 1941, but she wants the Ship to be found, to have closure, to end the grieving process just as everybody else does to end this tragic chapter in Australian history.

Now, the Waiting Woman waits no more, instead she watches over her loved ones who are now at rest.

large_SAM_0719.jpg

HMAS Sydney II Memorial

The Waiting Woman portrays well the hopelessness, the never ending waiting, the pain of loss and emptiness of the many long years before the wreck of HMAS Sydney II was found.

The Pool of Remembrance was being cleaned the day I was here.
This is the final part of the Memorial, as it was only made when the wreck of HMAS Sydney II was found.
It is designed as a circle within a circle, symbolizing the "circle of life and death," and the concept of eternity and the Infinite. It is designed to be an area where people like you and me can come and sit, reflect and contemplate.

large_SAM_0723.jpg

HMAS Sydney II Memorial

The idea of this shallow pool, is to symbolize the ship resting on the sea floor in 2500 metres of deep water, the war grave of HMAS Sydney II. The floor of the pool forms a map showing the location of HMAS Sydney II. Still following the inspiration of the Sea Gulls used in earlier parts of the Memorial, engraved are images of 644 silver Gull shadows enclosing the pool and the ship. No 645 Gull stands 2 metres high and alone on the co-ordinates of the wreck site in the centre of the pool. At night, LED lighting is used to create a sombre feeling.

large_SAM_0745.jpg

large_SAM_0728.jpg

There are some interesting old buildings around Geraldton and heritage trail to follow.
I came across the Freemason's Hotel, built in the early 1870s in grandiose style on a block of land that cost £9 at the time, quite a lot more than the original sale, reportedly exchanged for a bottle of rum. When people arrived at the Geraldton train station, this was the first Hotel they saw, quite an advantage for the owners of the Hotel. Originally it had a tower where visitors could go and enjoy lovely views over the bay, this was removed through severe earthquake damage in 1973.

large_SAM_0667.jpg

large_SAM_0666.jpg

Located in the Geraldton suburb of Bluff Point is the historic St. George's Anglican Church. My first view of this Church drew me too it, perhaps because it was modelled along the lines of an old English Church and exuded a feeling of loveliness. It really isn't 'that" old, as the foundation stone was laid in 1935, and the Church was consecrated the same year. The church is built out of stone, in-fact a piece of stone on the porch wall was formerly part of a cornice on St. Georges Church in Brede, England. It is said to have come from France and is approx. 1000 years old! The Bell in the Tower was made in England.

large_SAM_0676.jpg

St. George's Anglican Church

A few steps away from St. George's Church and on the Heritage Walking trail is the Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage.

Unfortunately the cottage was closed, never mind, I was able to wander around the outside and read some of the information plaques.
This rather interesting cottage was built in 1876 for the Geraldton lighthouse keeper and his family. The limestone rubble walls have been white-washed, and the roof is now corrugated iron and not shingles like when it was originally built. Out the back was a garden and the outdoor Toilet. It ceased operating as the lighthouse keeper's cottage in 1943 and is now in the hands of the Geraldton Historical Society.

large_SAM_0686.jpg

Also on the Heritage Walking trail is Apex Park, the site of one of Geraldton's first cemeteries which was attached to Francis Xavier Church. All cleaned up and tastefully restored, it was here I found the headstones of Geraldton's earlier residents who died during the late 1800s and early 1900s and of some events like an outbreak of typhoid fever in the Goldfields.
The Centenary of Federation Memorial Wall has attached to it many old headstones. If you like old cemeteries and I do, then do go for a walk around here and read the old headstones. So sad the number of deaths of infants maybe 1 year old or younger.

We enjoyed Geraldton, our only complaint was the strong wind which the city frequently experiences.

Posted by balhannahrise 04:18 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches buildings birds museums australia - western memorials geraldton Comments (6)

Day 26 Queensland to Western Australia

Geraldton to Kalbarri

large_SAM_1046.jpg

Scenery at Northampton

Today, we depart early from Geraldton and head along Highway 1, the NW Coastal Highway to Kalbarri, our destination for a couple of nights.
It is good travelling along a sealed road where we make our first stop a the heritage listed town of Northampton, classified a historic town by the National Trust of Australia in 1993.
It's a country town with country charm and historic character buildings lining the main street, the town itself is surrounded by agricultural land.
I liked what I saw straight away!

large_SAM_1615.jpg

Sheep at Northampton

It was a pity the Visitor Centre was closed, as I wanted to grab a copy of the Hampton Road Heritage Walk. I wasn't the only one caught out, there was myself and a couple from overseas looking in the windows. I could see it had the usual souvenirs, postcards and brochures, what a shame I couldn't pick up the heritage walk which covers 37 heritage sites.

large_SAM_1592.jpg

Northampton Information centre

The Tourist information centre is a big low Victorian Georgian style building which was once the former police station, quarters and courthouse (c1885). The stone and corrugated iron building housed the courthouse and police station for more than 80 years.

large_SAM_1603.jpg

Northampton Newsagent

If you happen to be here on a Saturday, like we were, then take notes that nearly every shop shuts its doors. We didn't realize this and had been looking around town before buying something to eat, that was our mistake.
It was quite a challenge to find a take-away meal, we didn't want a sit down meal. Unbelievably, it was the Newsagent that sold some pastries and did coffees, so this is where bought lunch.

large_SAM_1590.jpg

The Lions Park is situated on a side road right behind the Tourist Information centre. It was here we pulled into to eat our lunch. There was plenty of room for parking, shady trees, picnic tables ,bbqs, a large grassed area with playground and FREE public toilets. A footpath with native plants growing on either side led to the main street and the Info centre.

large_SAM_1608.jpg

Northampton

We couldn't miss the historic Railway Tavern, not with the word "Tavern" written in big bold letters on the roof! The Railway Tavern is a large stone, single storey building with a full width verandah across the front, similar in style to the Info centre. The Tavern was built and opened for business in 1876, in anticipation of the railway's arrival in Northampton.

large_SAM_1083.jpg

Northampton Family Store

The Northampton Family Store building opened for business in 1911. Back then, it consisted of three stores- a general store, a Barber,Tobacconist and Billiard area and a saddler serviced the horse and drays. Today, the heritage listed store hasn't changed much. It is family owned and stocks a range of goods including clothing, Manchester, footwear, giftware haberdashery and craft supplies. The owners pride themselves on quality, old-fashioned service. The lady behind the counter was friendly and welcoming so we had a chat about shops like this one - there aren't many around any more.
This old fashioned shop is crammed full with as much stock as it can take, quite a few nooks and crannies to find lots of interesting things for sale, it was a walk back in time for me.

large_SAM_1078.jpg

Sewing Machine Museum

Located on the mezzanine floor of the Family Store is a Sewing machine museum. It isn't very large, but then the entry is by gold coin donation ($1 or $2)
I guess this is more interesting for women than men, although the men there did seem to enjoy looking at these old machines! The majority were Singer Sewing machines, others were from around the world and included well known and lesser known brands. The sewing machines dated back to the 1800's and went through to the plastic modern era. Most were still in working condition.

large_SAM_1601.jpg

Church of St Mary in Ara Coeli

If you following the "Monsignor John Hawes" trail, then you will come to Northampton to see the Church of St Mary in Ara Coeli that was constructed by him in 1936.
This church is described as "One of the most romantic of Monsignor Hawes' churches with Gothic character,heavily influenced by Arts and Crafts' motives, compared with his other churches in the surrounding region which generally exhibit classical language."
'Arts and Crafts' influence, which I hadn't heard of before, is the circular tower with turret roof and the Dutch gable ends.

large_SAM_1595.jpg

Convent of St. Mary in Ara Coeli
Next door to the "Church of St Mary in Ara Coeli," is the Convent of the Sacred Heart building, another Monsignor Hawes building.
It's a double storied stone building with surrounding timber verandahs, much needed for the hot Australian summers.
It was the home of the Presentation Sisters who played an important role in the education of Catholic and non- Catholic children through-out the district from 1899.

large_SAM_1611.jpg

Canola in flower

In the car again and on our way to Kalbarri, passing by inland scenery and the turn off to the Kalbarri National Park. This is the less scenic of the two routes, we were doing the coastal route on the way back to Geraldton.
The scenery at the start is of rolling hills where wheat and canola crops were growing, this was really pretty. Later on, we came to the National Park area where a large fire must have been through recently. It wasn't very interesting this year, but will grow again and be nice in the future.
Where the fire hadn't been, the wildflowers on the roadside were many and varied, once again more new species not seen before. I found my first Cowslip orchids, Donkey, Bee and the rare greenhood orchid.

SAM_1092.jpgSAM_1099.jpgSAM_1105.jpg
If you want to see wildflowers, then have your driver slow down so you can spot and stop when necessary.

That was the end of our travelling for the day.

We arrived in Kalbarri with our Caravan in tow and no booking, didn't even think of booking as Kabarri is over 600kms from Perth. It turns out, Kalbarri is very popular in the Winter months as it has a warm climate, so people from Perth and further south come to Kalbarri for the warmth. We were very lucky there was a cancellation about 10mins before we arrived, so I was given a site, the last available one at the Murchison River Caravan park.
DO BOOK IF COMING TO KALBARRI.

large_SAM_1216.jpg

Kalbarri

We set up and then had a rest before going for a walk. Kalbarri is a small fishing town where the shops and accommodation is spread along the long esplanade. Across the road, is parkland and beach alongside the Murchison river which enters the Indian Ocean in Kalbarri township. Even though a lot of people were staying in Kalbarri, hardly anybody was here, I think they must have been at the Kalbarri National Park, this was in late August.

The Esplanade parklands is such a nice area to sit back with a book, do some reading and to watch life go by. No wonder this is a popular winter time destination. The weather is warm and perfect then!

Posted by balhannahrise 04:18 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches churches buildings fishing australia scenery western historic wildflowers Comments (0)

Day 28 Queensland to Western Australia

Kalbarri National Park to Chapman Valley near Geraldton

Time to pack up and start heading to Perth, but I wasn't in any hurry to leave this lovely spot.

large_SAM_1237.jpg

Pelican feeding

I had spotted a notice that Pelican feeding takes place daily at 8.45am and is run by volunteers who feed the Pelicans fish. All you have to do is wait near that sign for the wild Pelicans to waddle up from the water to be fed. A small crowd of people had gathered, unfortunately the Pelican group was small too, only five! A couple were rather nervous and flew back to the water, later they plucked up courage to come closer again. If you have never seen an Australian Pelican up close, then this is a great chance to see one, and there are plenty of photo opportunities. For me, it was disappointing that more Pelicans hadn't zoomed in on the free feeding like they have done elsewhere in Australia.

large_SAM_1243.jpg

Kalbarri

I decided to take one last stroll along the esplanade. Feeling lazy, I dawdled along taking in the pretty scene, the deserted picnic area, a fisherman and a couple kayaking. So quiet now, later it would be a lot busier, but still not too busy as many people go to the Kalbarri National Park.
The Esplanade parklands is such a nice area to sit back with a book, do some reading and to watch life go by. No wonder this is a popular winter time destination. The weather is warm and perfect then!

Caravan packed and hooked up, we were going to head south to Perth, but along the way would be making many stops.

large_SAM_1250.jpg

Murchison river entrance

Our day began in Kalbarri, at Chinaman's Rock Look-out from where we had views of the Murchison River mouth entering the Indian Ocean. The Murchison River flows for 820kms, making it the second longest river in Western Australia. At the free car park, trails led to view points, Chinaman's Beach and to Chinaman's Rock, other trails led to sheltered picnic areas. We sat here for quite a while watching the waves and looking for Dolphins, no luck with the Dolphins, then I went for a walk along the trail, not right to Chinaman's Rock look-out as I was feeling tired after a day of walking in the heat, but I did walk far enough to see and enjoy watching the rolling surf hitting the sandbar at the River entrance.

large_SAM_1253.jpg

Kalbarri coastline

Back on the road again, this time leave Kalbarri and follow the coastal road (Red Bluff Road), noticing tourist signs along the way. We begin at the first and follow everyone we see.

The first tourist sign is to Blue Holes, an area which is part of the inshore coastal limestone reef system, parts are permanently submerged by the ocean and others are exposed and have rock pools at low tide - I love exploring these. This area is a fish sanctuary, so fishing wasn't allowed, this meant an abundance of sea creatures.

Jake's Point was our next stop. It turned out Jake's Point beach was a national Surfing Reserve. As I am not a surfer, all I can tell you is what I read ....." Jake's Point is home to the iconic left-hander. Jakes breaks from two foot and up are best ridden by experienced surfers only."
Lots of the locals are surfers and people come here as it is one of Western Australia's remotest surfing breaks. Bottlenose dolphins are frequently seen playing in the water, once again, I didn't see any!

large_SAM_1269.jpg

Red Bluff

A little further along Red Bluff road was the turn-off to Red Bluff Beach. A short drive and we were at the carpark, and once again in Kalbarri National Park. Red Bluff beach is located in a small cove, with brilliant deep red rocks and cliffs surrounding it, the flat rocks in the ocean are the same colour, stunning scenery!
Above the beach is the actual "Red Bluff" which you can walk to from the beach, be warned, it is a steep and rocky climb of 1.8km return. I took the easy way and drove to the Bluff.

large_SAM_1281.jpg

Red Bluff Look-out

From the Red Bluff parking area I walked to Red Bluff Look-out. At the start of the paved footpath was an interpretive board with a map, details about Red Bluff and how to be safe, as these high cliffs have undercut edges and can be unstable, so you must keep to the track and always watch your children, its a long way to the bottom!

large_SAM_1293.jpg

Kalbarri coastline

Halfway along was more interpretive signage and an amazing view of the high cliffs along the coastline - What a dramatic coastline, no wonder there were so many shipwrecks!

SAM_1289.jpg

Kalbarri coastline

The red rock landscape of Red Bluff is something I cannot get enough of, the colour is amazing and even more amazing is its been around for 400 million years. These cliffs were discovered by Dutch Explorer, "Willem de Vlamingh" in 1697 and run along the coastline of the Kalbarri National park for 13 km. The Dutch named it "Roode Hooge." when translated meant "red high" an important landmark for early Explorers to use as their guide.

SAM_1301.jpg

Kalbarri coastline

From the look-out I could see for miles, including many of the beaches we had called into on our way here. Looking to the north was Wittecarra Creek believed to be the site of the first "permanent" landing of Europeans in Australia. The 100metre high cliffs would make it easy to spot a Humpback Whale in the ocean below.

large_SAM_1274.jpg

Wildflowers

Even though the top of the cliffs have a harsh sandstone & limestone surface, 71 native plants have been found. That was a lot, so I walked slowly and looked carefully for flowers but didn't find many, one of the prettiest was a Thryptomene in flower.

SAM_1317.jpg

Next, we pulled into the Mushroom Rock Trail car-park where an Interpretive sign told me it was 1.5km trail or 3km loop that would take me to Rainbow Valley, approx. 2hours to do. The Australian classification for this trail was a Class 4 which means it is one of the more difficult to do. My husband left me here and went to the other end to pick me up - That made life easy!

large_SAM_1329.jpg

Mushroom rock trail

Beginning from the car-park was the easy part, walking along a dirt track and in amongst some different wildflowers, all I had to look for were the white posts, really didn't need them as here I was on a well worn pathway. It was different when I reached the rocky gorge where I had to walk along the rocks, cross the gorge and do the same on the other side, eventually clambering to the top and out of the gorge. This is where I saw Mushroom rock, a rock so windswept it looks like a Mushroom. I saw plenty of unusual rock creations formed by the strong winds and water erosion around here.

large_SAM_1365.jpg

Mushroom Rock

I sat there for a while watching the crashing waves making their way onto the brilliant dark red rocks, I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere, it was lovely. If you come here, and your fit, do this walk as it's an excellent one!

large_SAM_1362.jpg

Rainbow Valley

I continued along the trail from Mushroom rock to Rainbow Valley and was blown away by what I saw!

large_SAM_1375.jpg

Rainbow Valley

What attracted me first, was the colours of minerals that had compacted and weathered to make a rainbow formation in the stone, although this apparently isn't why it's named Rainbow Valley, it's the Rainbows seen in the mist is where the name comes from.
I marveled at the amazing colours in Rainbow Valley, lucky there was an information board nearby to give me some information.

large_SAM_1382.jpg

Rainbow Valley

The formations along this part of the coast are made of Tumblagooda Sandstone, deposited here approx. 420 million years ago during the Silurian period when the Earth underwent considerable changes. As a result, layers of silt, sand and minerals have compacted and formed layer upon layer of different colours. It is an amazing sight to see, one I had only previously seen at Natures Window in the Kalbarri National Park

large_SAM_1386.jpg

Rainbow Valley

I went closer for a look and felt wet sand beneath my feet. Wondering where the water came from as I was quite a distance from the sea, I looked up to find a rocky overhang where water was dripping over making what looked like small Stalactites forming. I guess there is a proper name for these, but this is best I can do for description.

large_SAM_1403.jpg

Rainbow Valley

They were wet and dripping just like Stalactites in Caves, and on the ground where the drip landed, a small formation like a Stalagmite was beginning to form. This and the colours were amazing!
This would be one of the most beautiful and different natural sites I have ever seen.

large_SAM_1412.jpg

Rainbow Valley

What is the good news, is you don't have to do the whole walk like I did to see this, you can come here from the car park at this end. Don't be discouraged and think nothing is there, as you have to walk down the steps to see the coloured cliffs. Once there you will be blown away with what you see. My photos are ok, but they are nothing compared to seeing this area "in the flesh" so to speak.

large_SAM_1458.jpg

Rainbow Valley

Would you believe there is still more to see in Rainbow Valley and this was something I have never seen elsewhere either.

Have you heard of a Skolithos? Well I hadn't! The rocks in Rainbow valley are riddled with what looks like tubes or straws, once the home of the ancient worm Skolithos. They are everywhere and are in all different shapes and sizes, colours, another interesting amazing formation .

large_SAM_1491.jpg
Eagle Gorge

Still travelling along Red Bluff Road in the Kalbarri National Park, I notice a name change to George Grey Drive. It's on this section of road, where we take another turn off towards the ocean to see Eagle Gorge where wedge-tailed eagles live in the gorge and can often be seen in nests and soaring in the sky on a look-out for food.
From the proper look- out platform, I looked down onto a small beach and at the beautiful coloured rugged cliffs. The beach can be reached by foot, I didn't do this though.

Natural Bridge is a 1.4kms return walk along a proper boardwalk to a viewing platform look-out area from where there a fantastic views. This is one of many Natural Bridge's around Australia and the world.

large_SAM_1505.jpg
Natural Bridge

Here the forces of the ocean, the wind, waves and even salt spray has sculptured these landforms into a Sea-Stack and a Natural Bridge. The cliffs aren't the usual red I had been seeing, instead the beige/cream Tumblagooda coloured sandstone that is 480 million years old. Different colours of sand and silt has formed layers in different colours, then has compacted. The tops of the cliffs are a made of 2 million old white rock made from Tamala limestone. This was made from wind blown sand dunes which later converted to limestone. All of this information I found on interpretive signage at the site

large_SAM_1503.jpg

Castle cove was another 300metre return walk to where there is another proper lookout over Island Rock. It was lovely here, especially seeing it was very quiet and hardly a tourist here.
Between June - November, this is one of the good places to look for some of the 22,000 Hump-back Whales that pass by here.

The Shellhouse and Grandstand are more impressive limestone cliff formations that have been shaped by the wind and the force of the Indian Ocean. It's a short easy 200m walk to each lookout to view them.
I didn't do this, but if you have plenty of time, this area is part of the 8km Birgurda trail we begins or ends at Castle Cove and Eagle Gorge, passing by Island Rock, Grandstand and Shellhouse. The trail is named after the Bigurda kangaroo, one I have never seen, and still never did! It's only found in this region.

large_SAM_1512.jpg

Kalbarri coastline

Wow! The scenery around Kalbarri is some of the best I have seen in Australia.

We have decided to make our next stop at the "Principality of Hutt River" also known as "Hutt River Province."
The Principality of Hutt River at Ogilvie Road West, Yallabatharra was founded in 1970 by Leonard Casley and his family, or should I say "Prince Leonard and his late wife "Princess Shirley."
Hutt River Province is a Mirco nation which is not recognized, even though the principality claims to be become an independent sovereign state in 1970, it remains unrecognised by Australia and other nations.
You can buy a visa and have your passport stamped by Prince Leonard, both for entry and exit at the same time. We didn't have passports with us, he said he would still let us in!
There isn't a lot to see here and it had gone into disrepair, just too much for Prince Leonard to look after.

SAM_1558.jpg

Prince Leonard

We met Prince Leonard who told us his story, I was surprised to learn he was a former mathematician and physicist who worked for NASA in the 1950s, and had a star named in his honour.

The Principality of Hutt River has its own stamps, bank notes and coins. There are many postage stamps on display, most of these can be bought unless they are sold out. I bought some for myself, and posted a letter home from here.
If your a stamp or coin collector, then don't miss the Post Office! There is plenty to choose from and it is something different to take home as a souvenir.

The Chapel of Nain in Hutt River Province was officially blessed by the Rector of the Northampton Anglican Church on 29 August 1973.
We were allowed inside and found normal Church pews, religious paintings and many paintings of the Prince. His large chair was their for anybody to sit in and make out they were knighting somebody!

SAM_1570.jpg

In Chapel of Nain

As Prince Leonard produces all his power on the farm, we found the lighting quite dull and learnt their are often black-outs because of lack of power.

large_SAM_1633.jpg

Back in the car and heading back to Geraldton, instead we stopped at a free camp outside of Geraldton in the Chapman Valley, a good spot in a rural area with a few facilities, so we left a donation as asked for by the local council.

SAM_1639.jpg

Posted by balhannahrise 12:59 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes beaches birds park walking australia sunsets national scenic western wildflowers Comments (0)

Day 33 Queensland to Western Australia

Lake Indoon - Green Head - Jurien Bay

We were camped at Lake Indoon, a quiet spot where we saw lots of birdlife, including Water hen, Ducks, Swans and Stilts. This morning was beautiful, fine and sunny with nice lake reflections. After a leisurely breakfast, we packed up and drove to the scenic Indian Ocean Drive, our starting point for heading south towards Perth.
SAM_2389.jpg
Lake Indoon

The start was quite boring scenery, just low lying bush and not much else. After stopping for fuel at Leeman, we found roads leading into seaside communities, the first was Green Head. There are several roads into the coastal town of Green Head, the one we took passed by the whitest of whitest sand hills I think you could ever see! They were beautiful!
SAM_2400.jpg

Just a short 5 minute drive from Green Head is Point Louise, the main surf break, but its also a good spot for snorkelling as the water is very clear and a reef is close by. Point Louise has a car-park and look-out, and a track that leads down to the point, which is an interesting formation made of calcarenite, a form of limestone. This juts out into the sea like a finger. I really liked it here as I like clambering over the rocks and finding rock pools, or just sitting on rock trying to see a fish in the crystal clear water. Well, I didn't see a fish, but my husband saw a Sea lion from the look-out!
The Leeuwin Current that comes here, brings with it tropical sea life as the water is warm, corals and sponges cover the limestone reefs. This is a very healthy area for sea-life to live, so come for a snorkel and see it for yourself.

Point Louise
SAM_2409.jpgSAM_2403.jpg
Green Head is the home of a million-dollar rock lobster industry!
Fisherman's Island, near Green Head, is an Australian Sea Lion breeding colony you can visit on a Sea Lion viewing tour.

SAM_2424.jpgSAM_2423.jpg
Either side of Dynamite Bay

large_SAM_2427.jpg
Dynamite Bay @ Green Head

We thought Green Head was a pleasant place for a beachside holiday, with nice lawned parks, free Toilets, picnic areas and look-outs.

SAM_2463.jpg

After leaving Green Head, we travelled along Indian Ocean drive towards Jurien Bay. Approx 6kms from Jurien Bay, we saw the Brown tourist sign pointing to a road that led to Grigson's Look-out.

Grigson's Lookout is part of Mt Lesueur National Park. At the look-out were notice boards explaining what we were looking at and a stone Cairn built here in 1875. We could see for miles and miles! There was a 45km chain of salt lakes, formed a few thousand years ago when the sea level was much higher and the lakes were lagoons connected to the ocean. In the same area, was Grigson's farm where four generations have lived. The Grigsons bred Draught horses and horses for the Australian 10th Light horse regiment and whom the look-out is named after.

I found more wildflowers and a Quandong tree at the Look-out.

SAM_2452.jpgSAM_2456.jpg
large_SAM_2470.jpg

The Quandong tree is an Australian native that grows in arid and semi-arid regions of all Australian mainland states
If you happen to be lost and starving, this tree would be good to come across as the fruit they produce can be eaten and has good medicinal properties. A Quandong is a native Peach.

SAM_2473.jpgSAM_2472.jpg
Quandong Tree and Quandong Fruit

Quandong fruit can be peeled and made into jams, chutneys and Quandong pies, or perhaps you would like a cup of Quandong tea to drink as a purgative. The leaves can be crushed and mixed with saliva to produce a topical ointment for skin sores and boils and the tree roots can be ground down and used as an infusion for the treatment of rheumatism.
During times of drought and the depression years when money was short, the Quandong was used as a food source a lot.
The flowers form in late summer, then the fruit forms and is ready for harvest in early spring.
When ripe, the fruit turns scarlet and is about 2cm in diameter and contains one large nut or kernel in the centre.

Quandongs have always been known by the Aboriginals and eaten by them.

SAM_2485.jpg
Entrance to Jurien Bay

This was our last stop before driving onto Jurien Bay, a very popular seaside town with families from Perth. We have booked into a Caravan Park for 2 nights, tomorrow we go to see the Pinnacles.

Posted by balhannahrise 21:14 Archived in Australia Tagged lakes beaches birds fishing hiking boating wildflowers Comments (4)

Day 36 Queensland to Western Australia

Gingin - Yanchep National Park - Perth

A violent storm whipped up during the night of our stay at Gingin, Waking up to water sogged ground, my heart went out to those in tents who were up and about trying to dry things. Today we were heading to Perth.

large_SAM_2951.jpg
Two Rocks

Our first detour was into Two Rocks, a seaside town named after the two prominent rocks offshore from Wreck Point. We went for a drive to see the Two Rocks Marina and found it was a good place to get a view of the giant ‘King Neptune’ limestone sculpture who has been a landmark for many years.

SAM_2952.jpg

When driving around town, we noticed the streets were named after yachts from the America's Cup Challenge.

Our next stop was Yanchep National Park. We happened to arrive on a very wet and quite cool day, so our opinions are a little different to the many I read. We didn't get to see the caves and do the walks as it was just too wet.

I could see it would be lovely on a fine and sunny day as there is plenty to do and lots of area for picnics. Yanchep National park is located 50kms north of Perth, we had to show our Parks Pass to get in, then the Ranger gave us a brochure of the Park.
With Umbrella up, I quickly made my way along the paved pathway to where Ness house was located. I was glad I had my walking shoes on which had plenty of grip on the slippery surface!

SAM_2956.jpg
Ness House

Ness House was a sturdy stone building, built in the 1880s as a two-room stone hut, and then later converted into hostel accommodation in 1932. Thank-goodness it had a good porch area where we could wait in the dry until the rain eased.
Inside was a good display of Australian souvenirs, handicrafts and gifts, also information on Yanchep and the surrounding area.
It's here you book for the Crystal Cave, a limestone cave with many formations of stalagmites, helictites, columns and shawls. On bad weather days, like I struck, the tours do not run.

Loch McNess (once named Yanchep Lake) is a freshwater lake, one of a chain of lakes in Yanchep National Park.
This lake is an important part of Aboriginal tradition. The Aboriginal myth is "the lake is inhabited by a Waugal (rainbow serpent) and the activities of the Waugal ensure that the springs that feed the lake continue to flow."
The Aboriginal people used to dig out the tubers of the bulrush from Lake and eat it them, hence the name "Yanchep Lake", means 'place of the bulrush'.

large_SAM_2987.jpg
Western Grey Kangaroo with Joey in pouch

It was too wet for me to do the Wetlands trail where many waterbirds including grebes, swans, pelicans, cormorants, egrets and Kingfishers, and birds in the surrounding bush, parrots, wrens and honeyeaters, to name a few are found. A few Western grey kangaroos were out and about.

Even though I have seen many Koalas, I still walked the specially built 240-metre long boardwalk through the Koala display. As Koalas are nocturnal, you will probably only see them curled up in a ball asleep, that is, unless they are moving to another tree for a nap.

SAM_2993.jpg
Sleeping Koala @ Yanchep National Park

This colony of koalas were originally brought to the Perth Zoo from Victoria, how-ever, they couldn't find enough food to feed them so they were re-located to Yanchep in 1938. The National Park planted thousands of eucalypt trees to provide the koalas with suitable food. A new colony of koalas was established at Yanchep in 1948, unfortunately, the horrible disease, (Clamydia), which decimated the Koalas in the Eastern states, found its way here, therefore the Koalas became infertile. In 1992, a number of koalas were brought from Kangaroo Island in South Australia to here, to establish a disease-free colony. This has worked and they have been breeding since 1994.

We arrived at Karrinyup Waters Caravan park situated on the north side of Perth which suited us fine. Public transport was a short walk away.
It was a big park with 5 Amenitie blocks, some better than others. I liked the block of ensuite amenities where every shower & toilet was in a separate room with own door. In the same block was the laundry with brand new washers and dryers. Other facilities were a heated Spa, heated Lap Pool with children's area, swimming pool, 2 Camper's kitchens, Jumbo Jumping Pillow, 2 Playgrounds. Dump point for caravan and campervans.
This Caravan Park is well maintained and cared for and was quiet because of a strict 10pm quiet time They even have huge pet Rabbits running wild in the Park and friendly Ducks. We would definitely return here.

As we had arrived early and had plenty of time to spare, we decided to check out Sorrento and Hilary's Boat Harbour.

SAM_3004.jpgSAM_3001.jpg
Sorrento Quay and Hillarys Boat Harbour

Hillarys Boat Harbour is a marina and tourist area, one we thought was very nice. We enjoyed coffee and cake in one of the Restaurants overlooking the water, then had a look at the shops and surrounding area before heading back to our caravan park.

Tomorrow, we will explore Perth.

Posted by balhannahrise 21:14 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches animals birds park walking australia national western boating Comments (4)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 5) Page [1]