Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

199911 Australia-WA

Monday 1 November 1999  Driving out to Lake Indoon the radio announces predicted temperatures of 30C today for Geraldton region adding that it is already 31C.  Lake Indoon is a pretty lake used for water sports.  $20 (£8) week, $7 (£2.80) night.  No one else is here so we set up camp near the toilet/shower block and find ourselves a nice spot on the sandy beach.  A workman calls in for his lunch break and assures us that although there are Amoebic Meningitis warning signs there is no problem.  There were heavy rains recently and the lake is flowing.  He tells us of a water ski display at the weekend so we may stay longer.  The water is pleasantly warm and if we could just get rid of the flies it would be a top spot.  Noisy birds at night.  The Kookaburra seems to set all the others off in relay! 
Tuesday 2 November  On the beach before 9.00am as it is so hot.    Exercise by making a few swims out to the buoys about 50m off shore.  3 more vans park up. 
Wednesday 3 November   The 3 vans leave and then Gwen and Roly turn up followed closely by Gerry & Anne setting up camp further round the shore.  Gerry & Anne call for a chat in the afternoon then Roly & Gwen join us for Rummykub in the evening.
Thursday 4 November  Up at 7.00am, on the beach and in the water by 7.30am. Peace is shattered early afternoon when an agricultural college mini bus rolls up.  Term has just finished and the students are here for two days water ski-ing fun.  We relocate to a quiet spot further round the lake.  Gerry & Anne teach us bush rummy in the afternoon and come back in the evening to chat.  They are just a bit older than us and it is nice to chat to people of our age.
Friday 5 November  Woken at 6.00am by the speed boats.  Lie in bed watching the parrots on the nearby tree.  Get up when the ranger calls just before 8.00am.  We all get together for a boules tournament late afternoon. Chilli Pasta for 6 and a game of Scattergories to follow.
Saturday 6 November  Breezy day with a few clouds.  A few boats arrive and bomb around the lake.  Gerry & Anne join us for cards in the evening and before we know it is after 12.00.
Sunday 7 November  Clear blue sky and a calm lake for the skiers.  Lake Indoon Fun Day includes beach volley ball and fun games but the turn out is poor.  We have a ringside view in front of the van and watch some water ski stunts including a pyramid formation.  Spend more time with Gerry & Anne in the evening and learn how to eat a Tim Tam (Penguin type) biscuit Aussie style.  You use it as a straw in your coffee.  First take a small bite out of a corner then another out of the diagonal corner.  Use the biscuit to suck up the coffee and the minute the coffee gets to your mouth you gobble the biscuit whole.  Disgusting but yummy. 
Monday 8 November  Hit the road heading South down the coast.  Breakfast in Greenhead at Point Louise with a good view of the coast.  Dynamite Bay is almost a complete circle.  Fill up on water and head to Jurien Bay.  A nice holiday resort with a good beach but very exposed to the wind.  Reach Cervantes and having made a quick detour to Lake Thetis and Hansen Bay lookout it’s mid day.  The fisherman’s basket is great value at $8 (£3.20).  We share one and enjoy 1 long crab stick, 3 fish, 2 prawns, 2 calamari, 2 scallops and chips.   Into Nambung National Park with a stop at Hangover Bay.  Take a siesta before checking out the beach where someone has made a Telly Tubby in the sand.  Just inland is the Pinnacles Desert and it’s brilliant.  We drive a 3.5km loop through the desert between thousands of small jutting out rocks.  The different sizes, shapes and colours make a wonderful sight, so good that we go around the loop a second time.   Phone Mum and find out that she is making very good progress but still a bit sore.  Claire is getting weary and wants the birth to hurry up – reckon she might change her mind once she is getting up in the night!  Park just outside town at the Tuart Reserve.
The water we put in is awful and smells and tastes like T.C.P. but we believe it is the Australian chlorine which everyone complains about.
Tuesday 9 November  We are now in the Midlands region which is mainly a wheat growing area.  Turn inland to Moora where the Shire caravan park $15 (£6) has free washing machines and dryers.  I spend a manic day washing everything washable in the van ready for it’s return.
Wednesday 10 November  Early start with the first stop the monastic town of New Norcia.  Quite a few big impressive buildings which used to be colleges.  Toodyay has an interesting tourist office in Connors Mill but little else of interest to us.  A quiet stop for a siesta and lunch at Northam cemetery.  Northam is the biggest inland town and has the longest suspension footbridge in Australia crossing the Avon River.  A homesick Brit. brought some white swans over and they still breed on the river banks.  Drive the historical waking trail but compared to Europe nothing is very old and the buildings are far apart.  Pick up a 12kg (27lb) sack of oranges $8 (£3.20) at a roadside stall in Bindoon.   York is our favourite town in the area as the main street has a concentration of old buildings and looks a bit like Disney.  Gwambygine Park is a good overnight stop with toilets, water, BBQ’s and walking trails but also the obligatory flies.  Juice making begins and I use about 1/3 sack to make 2 litres. 
Thursday 11 November   Beverley is next and we drive through admiring the 2 Art Deco buildings and 2 planes in the main street.  (Much prefer the English versions of York & Beverley).  Start to drive the historical trail in Narrogin and pull up quickly when we spot a garden full of strange scarecrow characters with teddy bear heads.  Ray sees us with the camera and comes out to welcome us.  He’s a bit eccentric but tells us some funny tales.  We see lots of old cottages with pretty rose gardens and a fairly interesting main street but for us Australia is more about the outback, natural scenery and people.  Arrive in Collie late afternoon where we have come to visit Colin & Dot.  They part own Eden Park Par 3 golf course and we first met them in June when Sandra was travelling with us.  Colin had an accident some years ago and now they work the golf course in the summer and travel in the winter.  A daughter and son have 1/4 shares and look after it when they are away.  It’s a lovely spot on the banks of the Collie River.  Daughter in law Maralyn calls round. She came from Sedgley near Wolverhampton but has lived here for 17 years. Lots of reminiscing follows.
Friday 12 November  Steve helps Colin by looking after the shop whilst Dot & I go shopping.  Return to find them both taking a "smoko" (tea break) having had no customers.  Have a go around the 9 hole course which for some reason they claim to be par 3!   It’s a pretty riverside course with lots of wildflowers including Kangaroo Paw.  Dot’s friend Bernice joins us all for an excellent Chinese at the local restaurant.  I drive back as everyone is rather merry – Steve gets a shock when he tries to walk through the patio doors which are closed!
Saturday 13 November  Colin takes us for a drive around.  Harris Dam was created when the water at Wellington Dam became salty.  Minnimup Pool near town would make a great camping spot were we not already fixed up.  At Wellington Dam we spot Lee & Gayleen whom we previously met near Kings Canyon and in Darwin.  It’s amazing how often we bump into people despite the size of the country.  The quarry created when the dam wall was built is now used as an outdoor theatre and today people are rock climbing the sides.  Downstream we see white water rafting and it whets our appetite for our planned adventures in New Zealand.  Call in to Honeymoon Pool and Potters Gorge which are also great camping spots.  Steve thoroughly enjoys being chauffeured.  Late afternoon daughter Karen calls round and her children Jordan and Jack spend time in the van with us.  Enjoy a BBQ in the evening.
Sunday 14 November  Karen’s husband Graham takes us out to Premier open cast coal mine where he works.  The machinery is enormous and we both ride in a Euclid R260 240 ton trucks which can carry loads up to 300 tons.  The tyres alone are higher than Steve and we climb 3 flights of stairs to reach the balcony area where the cab is.  Visit the computer control centre where every vehicle is monitored.  Sit in a P&H 2800 electric rope shovel where only 4 scoops are needed to fill a Euclid truck.   News from England that David is now in Luxembourg and everyone is well.  Return and find a picture pushed under the door from Jack and Jordan which makes us think about Daniel.  Colin BBQ’s some steak in the evening.  They have a wood burner on the patio which also acts as a BBQ and heats the water too.  They have no mains water here and pump river water for washing and collect rain water for drinking which tastes heaps better than the chlorinated stuff. 
Monday 15 November  Steve makes another attempt to get round the golf course and is much quicker without me.  Dot drops us in town and we spend a few hours sorting out our European Christmas cards and diary letter.  Call at their son Andrew’s in the afternoon to look at his video studio.  Shame we hadn’t been here a couple of weeks ago to do a better job of editing our tape.  My turn to cook for us all and the now "world famous" Chilli Pasta is on the menu again.
Tuesday 16 November  Back to the coast at Australind and up the Old Coast Road to Mandurah.  Quite a shock to come upon such a big town.  The housing is spread over a huge area, one part highly salubrious with houses having their own moorings on man made canals.  Very much like Port Grimaud in the South of France.  Don and Joyce Skirrow live here and they phoned us up earlier in the year when they read our swap letter.  They come from Yorkshire and although not in a position to swap they ask us to visit for a chat.  In their mid 70’s they are real characters and now travel with a 4WD basic campervan.  Enjoy local fish and chips and an evening of travel talk.  
Wednesday 17 November  Leave after breakfast accompanied by light rain.  As we reach Rockingham the rain has stopped and the sun is fighting it’s way through the clouds.  Check out Warnbro nudist beach which has lovely fine sand, clean sea and possibilities for us to free camp in the car park.  The beach runs all around the coast to Point Peron where we stop for lunch.  The war lookout is here and gives us a superb view all around and over Garden Island with the Navy base.  Rockingham centre is most attractive with an esplanade which has BBQ’s, toilets, showers, playgrounds and picnic benches.  A real holiday feel to the place.  End up at the huge shopping mall before heading to Waikiki area to visit Geoff & Mavis Marsh an English couple from Cheshire whom we first met when driving through the centre.  Mavis’s Uncle Ron is visiting from England.  In his 80’s he goes out each morning for a swim followed by a walk until late afternoon.  Stay for a BBQ in the evening and spend the night on their drive.
Thursday 18 November   Breakfast is prepared for us yet again – we are being spoilt at the moment.  Mavis says they would like to do a swap with us in the future but as they only have a basic caravan it would not suit our needs.  If  we visit Western Australia again we would want a 4WD to enable us to explore the alternative roads.  She also says that if we want to rent their home at any stage for a nominal fee it would suit them as they don’t like to leave it empty when they go away.  Out to Warnbro beach where we stay on the beach until early afternoon when it starts to cloud over and the "Fremantle Doctor" wind starts up.  Ten pin bowling is fun $19.80 (£8.00) – Steve gets 159, 193, 166 and I score 113,158, 126.  Back to Warnbro car park for overnight.
Friday 19 November  Gerry & Anne are now camped with friends at Armadale but phone us to see if they could join us for their first visit to a nudist beach.  Enjoy sunbathing and power walking the 900m  beach before lunch.  Afternoon boules completes the exercise programme and a seagull joins in by trying to take the jack mistaking it for food!  Fred’s daughter Angela phones and we hear that Fred and Maureen are now having a week in Singapore and not arriving back until 10th December.  Sadly this means we won’t get chance to meet them again.
Saturday 20 November  Hear a few squealing car noises in the night but fortunately no one comes onto the car park.  During breakfast a car arrives and a man asks us if we saw anything last night as his wife’s car was stolen and joy riders had crashed it in the next street.  On the beach before 9.00am and again the dolphins swim past as we are walking along.  Leave the beach at 12.30 to head into town for the Rockingham Spring Festival.  A lot of new housing development here.  In Australia you buy the plot of land and then buy a package designed house from another company.   On the estates plots are relatively small and nearly everyone builds a bungalow taking up almost all the land.  Apparently Australians are not bothered about having big gardens as there are so many recreation areas with BBQ’s which they can use.  Occasionally we spot a magnificent 2 story designer house in amongst the run of the mill ones.  Here plots near the beach start at $35,000 (£14,000) and a nice 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom bungalow would be around $60,000 (£24,000) – very cheap by our standards.  Anyway I’m loosing the plot so back to the Festival.  Lots of stands on the oval and a sky diving display.  We both do stress and health checks with excellent results.  Everyone congregates on the esplanade for the evening fireworks.  The place is heaving with families using the free BBQ’s, bringing their own picnic or take away.  The naval band plays jazz music and at 8.00pm the fireworks start.  Reckon we would be safer parked somewhere else tonight and I suggest the car park by the Police station but instead we drive out to Point Peron and park by the Naval Club for the night.  It is well lit and there are just a couple of cars left when we settle to bed.
Sunday 21 November  Wake to find the car park full of cars with trailers.  They have already launched their boats and it is only 7.00am.  Pick up a newspaper and find that there were riots in Rockingham last night with 200 youths storming the Police station!  Back to the beach until mid afternoon.  Stay up late watching "Twister" and listening the wind building up around the van!
Monday 22 November  Another morning on the beach joined later by Gerry & Anne.  Lunch in the van then round to Safety Bay for a shower and to sit on the grass.  The beach becomes intolerable when the wind starts as the sand is very fine and the wind swirls it around.  Pick up 2 large pizzas at Dominoes $10 (£4) on the way back to Warnbro car park.  Chat and play cards until late.  Gerry and Anne leave me a birthday card and a packet of Tim Tams plus a big bar of Cadbury’s chocolate – they’ve soon got to know me!
Tuesday 23 November  Call at the petrol station for gas and find an Internet coin operated machine.  Mum writes to tell us that Fred & Maureen have been to see her and she has shown them our photos.  Heading North towards Perth we check out Cable Water Ski park but the swimming pool and slides are poor.  Adventure World is nearby and for $25 (£10) we have unlimited use of the rides and water park.  Not up to Alton Towers standard but good value for money and perfect on a hot day.  Almost no queues and we go on lots of dry rides before checking out the water park area.  Tunnel of Terror is great with two people sharing a tube for a dark ride.  There is also a mini zoo and as the only people for the 1.30pm Koala bear feeding we get invited into the compound to take close up pictures.  Leave at 4.30pm and realise we are close to Lesley & John’s so decide to call on them rather than phone up.  Although Lesley has a friend staying for tea they insist we join them for a BBQ.  I seem to be suffering badly with hay fever, my eyes are streaming and my head throbbing.  Park in the Morris Buzacott Reserve but don’t sleep well.  A Security Car calls round but doesn’t disturb us.
Wednesday 24 November    I wake up tired and cranky which is not helped by the battery problem re surfacing.   Heated debate about what to do and we finally head to the nearest caravan park at Jandakot.  No good as there is no pool and only one very shady site left.  Out to a couple more sites on the coast and eventually to Woodman Point caravan park $18  (£7.20).  Start by cleaning the outside of the van as we are calling at Fred’s daughter on Sunday and although we intend giving the van a thorough clean before returning it we want it to look reasonable when we go round.  Temperatures of 36C are predicted today and Steve takes his first swim in the pool by 10.00am whilst I slave away doing the washing.  Each time we speak we rub each other up the wrong way so we resort to silence.  I swim mid afternoon and hear that the temperature was 35C at noon, now the wind is appreciated.
Thursday 25 November  Drive into Perth for my 10.30 hair appointment at Setting Trends owned by  John & Lesley’s daughters Kelli & Rebecca.  Riverton is a suburb and the salon in a small shopping centre.  Rebecca does a good job producing a style that doesn’t need blow drying, doesn’t need much attention and doesn’t need a regular trim and no I didn’t end up with my head shaved but a sort of short layered bob.  Next we planned to visit Lesley at the warehouse but when we phone she is at home sick.  Sit in the van revising our plans and saying we would love to see Patrick and Sharyn.  I say that we should find an Internet cafe to send them a message.  I suddenly begin to shout and scream and Steve thinks there has been a road accident.  In reality I have just spotted Patrick going past on the recumbent trike!  Just how small a world and how much of a coincidence can that be?  Sharyn follows and once we are over the shock we retire to the van for lunch.  They have family living near here and were out for a ride.  Nice to have fellow travellers to chat to as most of our talk wouldn’t appeal to "normal" people.  Arrange to meet over the weekend.  Can’t decide what to do now and this just causes arguments.  Not a problem when we are on the road with no deadlines.  It all revolves around us having to be in certain places all over Perth at certain times and knowing where to go in the interim. Guess we have got used to being free spirits.  Out to Midland to check out the car wreckers as we need a door catch to replace the one ripped off in the wind – no luck.  Park in nearby John Forrest national park where the ranger says we can stay overnight.  Can’t understand why I have had almost continuous headaches and sinus problems for over 2 years but I can confirm that when I get uptight they are much worse!  Steve says I should see someone about it but that is much easier said than done – another cue for a row!
Friday 26 November  Arrive at Sunseekers Club at 8.30am and we are stripped off and in the swing of things by 8.35am.  Geoff & Wendy have been travelling for 2 years and shipped their motorhome from New Zealand.  They lend us lots of books and offer us advice.  Having arranged to meet Sharyn and Patrick tomorrow night for a dinner dance we now also get offers to go to a party at friends of Bob & Noreen and another invite to join everyone for a meal at the club!  I chat to Fred & Pat and Banjo & Gwen whom we last met in Broome whilst Steve has made himself scarce!  Enjoy watching "Sound of Music" on TV in the evening as we visited Salzburg in May 98 and recognise many scenes.
Saturday 27 November   A perfect hot day for being here and it’s hard to dress to leave in the evening.  Driving out to Caversham we pass dozens of magnificent Jacaranda trees full of lilac blossom which looks almost luminous in the dusk.  Mulberry Farm is quite posh and the car park full when we arrive.  Originally a vineyard on the Swan River they have now diversified into a restaurant and cruises and it is a very popular spot for weddings.  Sharyn & Patrick are waiting for us and we all pass comment on how well we scrub up and how different we look dressed up smart!  $60 (£24) for an umpteen course smorgasbord, all wine, beer and soft drinks followed by a band to dance to.  Companies are here on their Christmas outing and it reminds of very much of pre Christmas do’s in England.  Everything is first class and we all unwind and have a great time.  We look out onto the lawns leading down to the river where the summer house and trees are floodlit and some tress have fairy lights in them.  The Christmas tree and decorations are inside and Father Christmas even comes round.  The party ends at midnight and we overnight on the car park.
Sunday 28 November  Wake up as the car park is filling with guests for the Sunday breakfast.  Drive back to the coast to meet Fred’s daughter Angela and family.  Arrive early and walk along Hillarys beach which by 10.00 on this glorious morning is heaving.  Walk back behind the dunes where a grassy area is also busy with people cooking on the BBQ’s.  Sorrento Quay is also packed out with people browsing in the boutiques or having breakfast and coffee.  It’s good to see Angela, husband Dudley and children Emma and Samuel again.  Angela and the children went to visit Fred and Maureen in Spain in September so we get to hear a bit about the trip.  Time for the final settling up on van expenses which all goes very smoothly.  Like us Fred has also been jinxed with battery problems.  He took Charlie back to Peter for most of the work and other small jobs and we will be billed when we get back.  They have also had a brilliant time but comment that at times the van has seemed a bit too big – reckon it is not difficult to find the narrow streets especially in France.  Angela says they are now thinking of doing a swap in USA so they must be as pleased as us with the concept.  Back to Perth city centre where we are booked on the paddle steamer "Decoy" afternoon jazz cruise on which our friend Banjo plays.  $15 (£6) seems very reasonable for a 3 hour relaxing cruise towards Fremantle.  The trio come round and play in front of you and Banjo gets the band playing the "Grandma" song for me.  We really feel like tourists on holiday at the moment!  Just getting back in the van when a cyclist comes up to us and says he recognises the van.  He was parked next to us on 19th September at the lakes near Tom Price.  Drive the short way round to Burswood Casino and Hotel.  Owned by the Japanese it is American style and very luxurious.   The casino is like Vegas but lacking in some of the atmosphere despite being very busy.  The hotel is wonderful and we enjoy a ride in the "Guest only" very fast glass elevators.  Hope to come back in the week when it is a bit quieter and they have some special package deals for the casino.  Park en route to Midland at Garvey Park which is a picnic spot on the banks of the Swan River.
Monday 29 November    Walk around admiring the area we are parked in by the Ascot Rowing Club.  A man is parked in a car and recognises us.  Last Wednesday we chatted to him on Warnbro Beach.  He works near here at the airport and having started at 4.00am he came out here for a rest.  Australia may be one of the biggest and least densely populated places but it is a great place for bumping into people.  Call into Midland for shopping then meet Gerry & Anne to take them out to Sunseekers Club.  Another hot start to the day with clouds closing in late afternoon.  Geoff & Wendy show us a video "Nude Zealand" in which they are featured and also some of the people and places we plane to visit.  Gerry & Anne stay for tea and we are so much enjoying ourselves that we suddenly look out and see that every where is dark.  We need a key to let Gerry & Anne out and Steve rushes out to find someone with a light on!  Actually it is only 9.30pm but as I mentioned before Australians seem to like to go to bed and get up early. 
Tuesday 30 November  Intermittent cloudy day with very hot spells in between.  Perfect for sunbathing but not long enough to burn and gaps in which to do a few odd jobs.  Borrow the club video player to watch a Lonely Planet tape on South East Australia.  Crack up laughing when Ian Wright shows how Aussies use Tim Tam biscuits like a straw.  Also watch the partly filled home video tape and again are disappointed that we don’t have the facility to edit it and tidy it up but at the end of the day it will always be a good memory for us of our trip down under.  Hover on the fast forward button anyone who watches it!

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