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Friday, November 26, 2010

Dongara to Pemberton

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Hello All,

it has been a while since the last post and I hope I remember the places we've been.

We left Dongara and stayed a couple of nights at Western Flora, then headed to Jurien bay and then back inland to Willowbank Farm, We stayed there a couple of nights and then went back to the coast to Guilderton, then Yanchep NP and finally hit the big smoke of Fremantle on Monday 15th,

Some of the highlights prior to Fremantle were the flowers and grass trees, more bird watching, and some quiet nights followed by some rather noisier nights due to the A-Van Christmas party being held at Willowbank, then the relaxing walk by the river at Guilderton and then the Lake at Yanchep.

Geraldton had been our first traffic lights since Alice Springs, and so to come into Perth and see roughly 15kms of traffic jam (thankfully on the other side of the road) was a bit of a shock, and then followed traffic lights. It is amazing to think we had travelled 11000 kms and seen so few traffic lights.
The Forrest St Camping Ground was very enjoyable. Andrew and Emily were very kind and hospitable and the kids enjoyed seeing things for the first time in 3 months, like tv, as well as enjoying the arrival of Elwood, or was it Elton, regardless Andrew and Emily's new pup was a big success. Alas the sprinklers came on a couple of times unexpectedly and we were treated to a van cleaning rinse but apart from that we were all a bit sad to leave Fremantle and family. Apart from the tv and the dog, the kids and I enjoyed an afternoon at Adventure Park, a water-based theme park with water slides, while Annie had a relaxing day to herself in the shops of Perth. But probably the best day at Fremantle was the Wednesday when we visited Rottnest Island and we saw the quokkas as well as riding the bikes around the island for the day, the boys especially wanted to just ride and ride.
Andrew and Emily kindly took us out for dinner on the Thursday night for my birthday and then Emily and the kids decorated some cupcakes on Friday morning which we had on Friday night.
Our last farewell saw the introduction of our new best friend, "M", the navman. A very generous gift from the Freo couple (+ Elmo) and we named her "M" after Emily and the James Bond character. She likes to tell us where to go, especially when we veer from her chosen course. We will be forever in debt for her being in our car.

From Fremantle we headed off and down to the Margaret River area and stayed 4 nights at Conto Campground. Toilets and running water but no showers. We all loved this area for its natural surroundings and some very special wildlife. WE visited a few of the caves around this area and there was great excitement at the prospect and then finding of the "motorbike frog". We visited "Eagles Heritage Wildlife Park" and the kids were able to have a Black Kite sit on their arms (with the special handlers gloves). Considering their interest in birds, and for the boys especially, the birds of prey, this was a real treat and hopefully something they will remember for a long time. One of those quirky moments happened here as Banjo raced over to the van from about 100 metres away, almostbreathless telling Annie she "had to come quick". "What is it? Annie asked. Mum, mum, there's a snail over here, I've got photos and a video! We also indulged in the odd winery or two, but were a bit disappointed with the visitor's centre, our first real disappointment in WA of these centres. They have been great but the M.R. one seemed set up for winery tours and not much else. On one of our day trips, this time to Redbank, Banjo was rock hopping and nearly jumped on a snake, luckily the snake decided to disappear into its hole in the rocks.
So on we travelled to Pemberton and the Karri Forests (not to mention the showers!). We have been so fortunate with this trip in that the kids have been so wonderful and keen to experience all we have thrown at them. Travelling through endless trips to see wildflowers and trees may not seem very interesting to kids, but our kids seem to take it all in and then question mum and dad about what tree or what plant or flower or bird or town population .... the list of questions is endless, and it is only when we see the transference of an idea to a concrete thought that we know they are all actually listening and learning. On the way into Pemberton (sorry, this is an example) Moses declared something that Annie and I had a smile about at first, until we realised what he had done. During the trip, we have come across lots of "pied" birds, ie oyster-catchers, butcherbirds etc. As we drove between Margaret River and Pemberton, Moses piped up and said, "look, pied cows!" There were indeed, black and white cows in the paddock.

We have done a few walks and a few drives around pemberton, but tomorrow we will head off into the bush again and Shannon National Park for some more unpowered camping, although this time with showers. The campsite here is a little bit hard to leave for the kids as they have been able to hand-feed the ring-neck parrots ie one on your hand and one on your shoulder and another ready to land on you, as well as Pacific Black ducks and Wood ducks. Yes the adults have indulged in the fun as well.

I'll try to collate some photos and videos of the last 3 weeks or so for the next post, but thought I should at least get this part done tonight.

Hope all are well, will be looking forward to hearing all your stories when we see or talk to you next.

Shanleys, thank you for all your comments, we love reading them, keep them coming, cracked 160 WA birds today.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kalbarri to Dongara

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We stayed an extra day at Kalbarri as Ruby had picked up a stomach bug and we were planning to stay at Coronation Bay which only had drop toilets so we thought that wouldn't be nice for her or for anyone else who caught the bug.
We eventually left kalbarri and drove through a few places, including Pink Lake, the photo above.
Annie and I had reservations about all the places we visited so we eventually ended up at Dongara-Port Denison yesterday and we'll leave here for Eneabba tomorrow.

One of the amazing sights we saw yesterday was this Osprey which was at one of the places we stopped to check out but didn't like. Did like the Osprey though.

We also saw some wonderful patches of flowers, but when we saw the tree below we had to stop and take this photo. The photo probably doesn't do justice to the vibrant orange of the flowers.

Today we had an enjoyable stroll along the banks of the Irwin River in the morning and then headed out in the afternoon to Mingenew and Coalseam. Mingenew is in the wheat belt and we both had a chuckly over the Giant Grains sculpture and had to have a photo!

After spending a short time at Coalseam Nature Reserve, during which Moses had a huge splinter into his knee, we drove home starting about 45 minutes before dusk and came across this snake on the road. Yes it was alive, yes we were close although stayed in the car, and yes, it did seem rather large!
A close up of the snake's head.

We have made it to 120 WA birds identified and catalogued with photos. Pete, I think Clive is safe! The whole family gets involved with identifying and the kids pore over the bird books in the car, requesting looks at the recently taken photo and then declaring their selections. Moses declared a Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike at about 50 metres at Cape Range, and Banjo picked a Woodswallow as we rushed past in the car doing about 75 km/h. Both were correct. Birds of Prey are of particular interest and we often stop the car if we see some soaring above. We have a saying from the trip "it's a Boab!" which has come from our excitement of seeing our first Boab tree when we were driving across from Katherine to Kununurra, to seeing so many Boabs the excitement wains. Nankeen Kestrels are an example of "a boab" as are Pied Cormorants.

Our next post will be from Fremantle. We will be there on Monday 15th and will be staying with Andrew for about 5 days.
Hope everyone is feeling better today than they were yesterday!


Monday, November 8, 2010

Some Trip "isms"

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We have been away for a while now and along the way we have had a few little moments of mirth. The following is a short collection of statements and sayings by the kids mainly. M is for Moses, B for Banjo, A for Annie:
A: Moses are you looking at the termite mounds?"
M: No (crossly) I'm looking at the ant hills!

B: I never knew my arm would feel so heavy (after taking his cast off)

B: That fish got caught when it went after my squid's testicles! (tentacles)

A: What do you think that is in the distance kids?
M: It's a perch
A: What's a perch?
M: Where people go and talk to God.
(this was coming into Port Hedland and I don't think we ever found out what the building was, but it looked like a very high holding tank of some sort)

B: It's a ... a ... gunfish (trigger fish)

M: Do earthquakes make a salami wave? (tsunami)

B: It's a picfic gull (pacific)

B: It's a grunny's eagle (Gurney's Eagle)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Still at Denham ...

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We all seem to be finding it hard to leave Denham. Possibly because the wind died down, or maybe because we are all relaxed here.

Have spent a few days not doing anything spectacular, although we have been back up the Peron Peninsula and back to Monkey Mia. At this stage, we have decided to stay one more night which brings our total to 7.
Ruby was able to feed the dolphins today, Moses caught a family first ever squid last night (first cast and then thqat was all we caught but it was a decent sized squid), we all had a fish late this afternoon and Moses was again the lucky one to reel in a decent sized flathead and a decent sized whiting which we had for dinner with the calamari.
We continue to see amazing things ech day, a seasnake around the pier where we were squid jigging stands out.
We will probably go from here to Perth in a couple of weeks, but part of that will be the weather.
We are thinking of those who are water-logged around the country and hope all is well in your homes.