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.