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Published: September 17th 2018
Leaving England about 3 weeks ago I wondered what I was doing going away for such a long time ( about 5 months ) again and so far away but once in the air and on my 3 day stopover in Dubai I knew I was happy to be on the road again.
Staying with Suzanne and Kristy in Dubai and with August temperatures in the 40s Dubai isn’t pleasant ...so one has to find indoor air conditioned pursuits and so it was one day in Abu Dhabi at the Louvre Museum. A beautiful building by the water on Yas Island and well presented artefacts from many different cultures it was interesting to see what was allowed to be displayed in this Middle Eastern culture. Nothing like the Botticelli Venus was to be seen but a there were a few male nude sculptures with fig leaf .All world religions were represented with some beautiful ancient copies of the Koran alongside a Madonna by Bellini... Greek and Egyptian Chinese and Japanese art works too. On my last day there was a surprise , the girls took me for afternoon tea to Atmosphere ( said to be the highest restaurant in the
world) on the 122 floor of the Burj Khalifa .. thats what you call a “ high tea “ and with amazing views.
So next stop was PERTH and to be met after a long flight by friends Adrian and Judi is bliss, stayed up till normal bedtime and then after a good nights sleep I was now on Aussie time. Judi made sure I was kept awake by walking me down by the Swan river with views to the city and drove me to a few of Perth’s beaches where sunshine, fresh air and bracing winds did just the trick to get me over any jet lag !! Colleen and Peter arrived with the UTE and camper trailer ready to whisk me off to the Outback for a camping trip we had planned last year while we we’re in Italy together. We were joined by Libby another friend of Colleen so there we were “Five go Camping in the Australian Outback” ... 5 ? you ask ... well Beeny of course was with us.
The weather at this point was a bit inclement you might say ... windy and showers ... so we were very happy to
be heading off to Peter’s brother‘s farm near Eneabba for a couple of nights and stopping on the way at the Pinnacles National Park... yellow limestone ? towers all different sizes scattered on a flat plain with various explanations of how they were formed. Of note was this was the last place we saw the tourist hordes we were going off the beaten track from now on.
What a way to start travels in the Outback...down on the farm. We were welcomed by John and Judy with cups of tea and Anzac biscuits,of course . In their lovely farmhouse with a massive kitchen table and a fire blazing we sat down to dinner with a very large leg of lamb ...straight from the farm you might say!! Other visitors joined us and Judy managed to feed 9 of us splendidly in the 2 days we were there. Western Australia was settled and developed much later than the East Coast so it was so interesting to hear stories from everyone about where their ancestors had come from and how farmland was cleared and townships developed. It seemed like everyone had connections and knew who was who in the area. John
had perfect control of his 4 sheepdogs and took us out in the UTE for a tour around this 4000 acre farm, mainly sheep . The dogs enjoyed herding sheep around with shouts and whistles from John ...was such fun to see this . Work must go on down on the farm of course so Libby and I trooped off with the guys to a remote corner of the farm where wild pigs had been spotted worrying the sheep and the plan was to make a pig trap with some rather large metal fencing . We had a big yellow CAT thingy vehicle ( don’t know what would call it ) and the girls job was to hold the fence bits in place while Peter and Jim wired in the next bit, and sometimes I handed the pliers to Peter ...am sure our help was invaluable !!!! So I hope they catch the pigs. After 2 days on the farm we set off again North to Geraldton where we still didn’t have to camp as another friend had offered us her house to stay . We spent those 2 days stocking up on food, water and fuel, doing laundry and
exploring the town as well as making cakes and more Anzac biscuits to keep us going. Oh and by the way fields with sheep,or cattle or crops in are called paddocks out here....got to get the terminology correct!!
A complete surprise to me was the cathedral in Geradlton with a wonderful little museum about the priest and architect Monsignor Hawes who built several churches all around Western Australia and ended his life as a bit of a hermit. Not only did he design the buildings but he was always there working getting his hands dirty with the locals. Obviously a man with a deep religious faith and sincerity. We also visited his church and a trail to the Priests house at Mullawa . If you are ever in Geraldton go to Skeetas on the marina for lunch ...great food And drive up to the Sydney memorial commemorating a WW2 disaster where everyone lost their lives when the ships went down. And the ship had been built in Newcastle on Tyne , my hometown.
One of the main reasons to come to Western Australia at this time was to see the wildflowers and I will do a separated blog
with photos for that ...it’s been stunning to see vast areas with flowers as far as the eye can see. Now we had left the coast behind and we were driving on red dust unsealed roads always something to see and stop for a photo shoot .... flowers , half buried truck sculptures and Mesas in Chapman Valley, wild flower walks and perfect picnic places in Coal Seam Park, the little coffee shop and gallery in Mullawa where we bought beautiful summer wraps designed by the lady in the shop. Wreath flowers in Pindar and old broken down buildings , wheat storage bins and glimpses of the wildlife .... kangaroos of course, an emu dad with several offspring, a large lizardy thing a Bungara ( about 1 m long ) took his time crossing the road in front of us with his tongue shooting out tasting the air, and a couple more little reptiles hiding in the bushes.... all of these happenings and sights were the details along the way which made out travels so interesting. With signs that said STRAY ANIMALS NEXT 200 KM we had to keep our eyes peeled.
Libby and Colleen have great botanical knowledge
would spot a tree , bush or flower and Peter would stop and we would pile out of the UTE and explore . Then there was always the stop for coffee, in the trailer we would pull out a drawer and it would turn into the kitchen like magic ...with our food supplies (the anzacs of course) and hob to boil a kettle . Sometimes there was a town ( well hardly a town but any collection of buildings here is called a town) or a roadhouse and we’d have a flat white and sometimes a sausages roll since they were supposed to be quite famous sausage rolls and the coffee as the sign said was the best for the next 400kms !
For our first camping night we had planned to go to Wolleen Station ( no that’s nothing to do with trains ...here in Oz it means its a bloody big farm with cattle or sheep grazing out in the 1000s of acres of bush). This was marketed in the brochures as a great place for camping and was returning the land to its native state which we thought would be good to see. Colleen had called
the night before but they didn’t return her call so we just turned up to be told there was ‘no room at the inn ‘ ????? We were rather shocked when there seems to be mile after mile of bush and nothing there but trees and shrubs and the odd cow. A visit to the loos confirmed that it wasn’t the best in renovation for visitors...so off we went again. The Famous Five would not give up and neither would we. And it turned out that after driving a few more KM we found a spot by the Murchison River after Meerberrie station , which in the end we decided had been our most favourite camping site.... there were water pools , huge big white gum trees, no flies, heaps of firewood for the campfire. Libby , Peter and Colleen were very patient with me as I found the rhythm of sweeping the site , putting up the tent , hammering in tent pegs, making up the bed , fetching firewood and then we’d have the campfire and the kitchen would come out of the trailer ready for the chef of the day . We would sit round the campfire
and i would have lashings of ginger beer ( what else do the famous five drink!!) ...well this five also drink wine and beer and Peter had a stash of Port which certainly helps you sleep. The starry skies were wonderful and I would drift off to sleep in the silence of the darkest night with the Milky Way above us , wrapped up costly in doonas ( duvets)
That’s all for now folks ...sorry it took so long to write the blog ,.as you can imagine there’s not much WIFI in The Outback and i really didn’t have any spare time ...it’s full on When you are down on the farm or camping .
Chapter 2 coming up ... Five Cross the Tropic of Cancer
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