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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Our last WA Trip Post from Esperance

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We have had a fantastic trip through the coast of WA! The things we've done and the places and animals we have seen and experienced have been truly amazing.

Tomorrow we set off for our last great adventure for this trip in WA - we start the Nullabor Plain!

We spent 4 wonderful nights at Quaalup Station, an experience I won't ever forget and hopefully the kids won't either. We arrived on Sunday and stayed there until Wednesday morning. 4 nights with only one neighbour for 3 of those nights and the owners of the station for only 2 nights. We were left to "lock up". Can you think of places where that would still happen? I struggle to myself.

One of the most memorable experiences I have ever had was with Edna. For those of you reading this and know my background with painting emus, you will maybe get a glimpse of how I felt when Edna the Emu, a resident at Quaalup, decided I was the person to follow around. The below is a photo of Edna.

She was a constant companion for me, around the camping area and while I went bird watching and was even my "guide on the local Flora and Fauna walk. She seemed rather miffed when we packed up and left.

The resident kookaburra also thought they should advertise the Nature walk!Although the flowers and the information were spectacular:

We also had kangaroos for company although every now and then they felt the need to show off who was the bravest! There were a few mums with joeys that came to feed next to our camp but the boys tended to stay a safe distance except at nightfall when they would happily graze nearby.At nights, Annie would read the kids some of "The Hobbit" in the van while I sat outside under the stars. We have some video of the emu and the kangaroos sitting down next to me outside, calmly listening to the story. It really was a special place.
The following photo is a shot of some of the buildings, the original stone ruins date to 1858, and the mountain nearby early in the morning, so it wasn't just the (wild)life that enchanted us:

Although there was that Splendid Wren whistling away on top of the Banksia:

We did manage to get across to Cape Anne, which was very picturesque:We have thought about camping here, but had decided the Station was a better idea. After running across this guy in the camping area, we were both glad we did:

We eventually left Edna and Quaalup behind, and headed to Esperance. Cape LeGrande (Lucky Bay pictured below) was beautiful and we really needed to spend a week here we didn't have.

In Esperance itself the kids and Annie discovered one of the locals, Sammy the Seal. Not exactly dying of hunger but cute nevertheless and a huge hit with the kids:
Even though we feel quite sad our WA experience has come to an end, there are murmurings within the family such as "I couldn't learn anything more or read any more right now" or "I love Esperance." Why is that Moses? "It has lots of playgrounds!" or "I have really enjoyed WA but I miss my friends and school!" or "I really want to play cricket with my friends and ride my ripstick!"

I'll leave it to you to work out who said what.

So thank you to those who have read this blog over the past 3 months. We hope you have have gained an insight into our travels.

We wish all a safe and merry christmas and hope to see all of you soon.

For those Twitchers in the world, we are probably going to make to 180 birds in WA, but we are not over the line yet.

For those looking for things to do on long trips, we have a new game called "Twitch". It starts off... "I went to the nird (sorry this was a typo but I left it in, it should of course say "bird") hide and I saw a ....." Annie and I love the fact our kids say things like "Red-eared Firetail" rather than a magpie or a sparrow!

Signing off now,


Friday, December 3, 2010

Two Days in Denmark

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After deciding to hang around Denmark for at least 2 nights, we spent yesterday and today visiting all that we could manage of the local attractions. But before I launch into that, the previous days drive was interspersed with rather a lot of discussion about the Peregrine Falcon, mainly as seen on the Shanley's blog. The fact that the Peregrine is the fastest raptor through the air has created a huge quandary in the boys' mind: - do we go for the biggest bird as our favourite, or the fastest? And, how fast was the falcon going when it captured it's prey, and how did it hold it onto the wall, and did it eat it there or did it eat it on the wing? Thanks Pete for providing the children with another subject packed full of questions neither of us can answer, because, well, for me anyway, it is not as though we haven't had enough ie if a white pointer and a tiger shark had a fight, would the white pointer win? Any comments regarding the answering of these types of questions would be greatly appreciated, as after over 3 months of not working, my brain fails to compute these sorts of things.

So, we are now into our last 10 days of actual WA experience before the great Nullarbor Trek, although we have found out that there are two bird obser vatories in WA: the first is Broome, ahhhh we missed that one!; and the second is the Eyre Bird Observatory, between Norseman and the WA/SA border, and we will be stopping there for a visit.

So, back to Denmark.

After leaving Walpole, we hit the hustings and made our way to Dinosaur Park, which was a place which had some impressive dinosaur skeleton replicas, as well as snakes and lizards (we got to handle bearded dragons and a carpet python, and then see some more wonderful parrots, including a few from overseas. Ruby got to hand feed the Papua New Guinean lorrikeet that then promptly took a chunk out of another man's finger - lucky Ruby had food!
From the dinosaur/reptile/parrot place we headed to a Toffee place, followed by a Honey place and finally a Chocolate place, We managed to buy toffee, honey and chocolate for everyone for Christmas but alas the Toffee was too hard, the honey too runny and the chocolate looked like it was going to be too soft so we had to eat it all ourselves. Sorry, but we were thinking of you all and it is the thought that counts, or so we've been told.

Day 2 started rather wet, as for really the first time since we left Alice Springs, we copped a full watering by nature, as opposed to the Fremantle floods from the very rare sprinkler bird (we have a few of these types, the insulation bird, the shrub kangaroo, the stick lizard, all of which have either been photographed, or nearly been photographed). We had managed to have the forethought to get the protective ends up over the beds (which we have decided against doing previously and been rained on a little bit), but this morning was not only wet but very cold. We headed off to the Visitor Centre here at Denmark, which is one of the nicest we've been to, and yes, we have been to a lot, we normally visit these when we pull into a new major town, and this one had the World's Largest Barometer, now there's something we didn't think we would see. There is a great display about barometers and the history of what was made when, which was great to show the kids in a practical sense and they understood better how things worked, if not why people would use them anyway. Next stop was a wood-turning shop next door and we watched while an elderly gent finished off the body of a wooden dragonfly, which was about the size of a chair leg. We then saw some other amazing wood carvings and lathe-turned pieces including a goblet that would only fit a drop of liquid, not so good if you want a drink, but amazing craftmanship. We finally headed out of town and ended up at the Cheese Shop. As impelling as it was to ask if they had any Jarlsberg, I refrained, and we managed to buy more consumables, including some delicious Raspberry Chocolate Fudge, locally made cheeses and some local Olive Oil.
We then headed off to find a particular bird, supposedly common in a particular spot, but as with 2 previous "certainty spots", we lucked out. We have decided this will be the last time we "chase a particular bird".
Back to the Caravan Park for a quick lunch then off to the Alpaca Farm. Maybe not quite Aunty Val's farm, but still pretty special as we all got to feed baby animals including calves, lambs, kids (goat-variety), as well as feed kangaroos, emus (they are actually quite gentle when they do peck at foor), a camel, a donkey as well as the alpacas and rabbits. There were also ferrets, a byson, a pony and llamas there. Great fun for the kids and Annie gave us all a sense of what grandad's clothes used to smell like with the ferrets. We saw racing pigeons be set free and they had their own race around a tree (?) not sure what that was about, and the kids got to hold a joey and pat the koala.

From there it was a trip back to Denmark and Annie had some retail therapy in the Alpaca shop and a tea-room bookshop, surely her ultimate shopping destination, while the kids had a play on the playground. Moses in particular is needing a little bit of time out doing normal things like go to more playgrounds, rather than get in the car and go to yet another "boring" place of interest.

Tomorrow we are heading off to Albany, followed by Fitzgerald River and at this stage, through Esperance to Cape LeGrand and then back to Esperance but things may change, depending on weather conditions and how much we like the places we are staying.

We all feel as though we are almost at an end to the new experiences of our time away. With Melbourne only 2 weeks away, and 5 or so days of travel to get there, we are trying to fit everything in we can. It seems we all agree that Denmark is a place we would like to come back to as it has a lot of great features including the beach, the inlet, the river, the hills and the karri forests, national parks as well as a lot of really interesting places to go. We didn't manage to get to the Leather place, and a winery hasn't been visited here either even though Mad Fish is 7 kms from town. The town has a very friendly feel with people around the shops and lots of arts and crafts as well as horse riding and sporting clubs, not to mention the great bird-watching areas both here and nearby.

Photos to follow at a later post.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pemberton to Walpole

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We have had more fantastic wildlife experiences over the past few days. Below is a video from a week ago while we were at the Eagle's Heritage park.

Banjo holding a Black Kite

Today we went to the Treetop Walk, which is an amazing suspended walking platform that is over 40 metres above the ground at certain points, and sways in the wind. Hopefully the following video will give you an idea of the experience we had:

We have also seen a few unusual animals, the quenda
and the brush-tailed phascigole,

as well as another snake on the road, although this one was probably injured as it didn't seem to be able to do much other than raise it's head. We were wondering what to do in such circumstances, as we both felt we should probably do something to help it, but it was gone by the time we drove back.

Walks around the campground and into Walpole occurred yesterday and then we drove part of the Big Trees Tourist drive. The Karri, Jarrah and Marri trees are very impressive and today we went to see the Tingle Trees. There is so much green Kangaroo Paw flowering at the moment that as with a few other things during the trip, makes us laugh how we screeched the car and van to a halt to stop and take photos of Kangaroo Paw a few weeks ago. We now have a growing list of "boabs" - our codeword for "seen enough of those not to get excited now" and I think we are ready to add Kangaroo Paw to the list.

2 days ago we went for a walk in Shannon National Park, and as we came to the first sign, Moses was looking curiously at the sign. "Daddy, .... does that say "Walk Trail"?" As you can imagine, the interest in reading signs has increased. I have a suspicion he may have been spurred on by Banjo's ability to read "Scones, Jam and Cream" at one of the wineries we visited! Anyway, very exciting.

The kids are very keen photographers now, and are learning the tricks of how the camera works, what makes a good photo, and with some help from Annie, have even worked out how to add audio to a photo. Moses has taken a lovely photo of a Kookaburra here at Walpole and then recorded his own version of "Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree." We can only hope it doesn't create issues with Men at Work!

At the suggestion of the Shanleys, we made it to Greens Pool and Elephant rocks today. It is truly beautiful as you guys suggested, although a bit cool for a dip. The weather has been very kind to us for our trip, but we are starting to feel the cool days down in the south of Western Australia. Another place visited today, only the second one (well, 2nd that I am aware of anyway) during the trip, the first being at Broome, was a Bead Shop. The strangest place, it was a real shop but it was on a farm, and on the main highway, and when you drive in you aren't really sure if you should enter any of the buildings as there are no signs. Anyway, it was good enough to spend 45 minutes in there for some of us. I hope you have all asked Santa for an anklet or the like!

Our time seems to be slipping by rather fast now and we are finding it difficult to fit all the places we want to visit in before we set off on our very exciting adventure across the Nullarbor. In the next little while we hope to go and stay at Denmark (tomorrow), Albany, Fitzgerald River, Cape LeGrande and then back to Esperance. The more we read, the more we want to see, and the kids have been wonderful embracing all the activities we suggest.

We hope Greatie had a wonderful birthday and are thinking of Mum and Geoff, as well as both Shirley and Bob.

Until next time,