Middle of winter, 2015

29 06 2015

Yesterday was one of those magic winter’s days we get here — clear blue skies, green grass, dry, mild temperatures (about 19C [66F]). I took a few photos through the car window (yes, naughty, I know!) while driving to and from Perth, and a few more quite close to home to show my North American friends, in particular, what winter is like in my part of the world.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)

Forrest Highway, heading south, near Myalup about 4pm

Forrest Highway, heading south, near Myalup about 4pm

Forrest Highway, heading south, near Myalup about 4pm

Forrest Highway, heading south, near Myalup about 4pm

Forrest Highway, heading south, near Myalup about 4pm

Forrest Highway, heading south, near Myalup about 4pm

Near top end of Leschenault Estuary, Western Australia, around 4pm

Near top end of Leschenault Estuary, Western Australia, around 4pm

Cathedral Ave, near top end of Leschenault Estuary, Western Australia, around 4pm

Cathedral Ave, near top end of Leschenault Estuary, Western Australia, around 4pm

Near top end of Leschenault Estuary, Western Australia, around 4pm

Near top end of Leschenault Estuary, Western Australia, around 4pm

Cathedral Ave, near top end of Leschenault Estuary, Western Australia, around 4pm

Cathedral Ave, near top end of Leschenault Estuary, Western Australia, around 4pm

Near top end of Leschenault Estuary, Western Australia, around 4pm

Near top end of Leschenault Estuary, Western Australia, around 4pm

Heading towards Perth on Forrest Highway

Heading towards Perth on Forrest Highway (if you view the photo at full size, you’ll see horses in the paddocks alongside the road)

 





Points upgrade to First Class

6 03 2015

I got my points upgrade to First Class on Qantas for the long leg from Sydney to Dallas.  Woohoo!! And this time I was notified early,  not at the gate on boarding,  which meant I got to experience the First Class Lounge at Sydney airport.

This is an all-day lounge,  meaning you can check in as early as you want on the day you’re flying and take advantage of the services on offer.

I checked in about 9:30am,  had breakfast of Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon,  then had a spa treatment (back massage). Later I had lunch – three tasting plates of salt and pepper squid with green chilli and aoili, buffalo mozzarella with heirloom tomatoes,  black angus minute steak,  followed by pavlova with lychees and raspberries in a glass topped with pashmak. Delicious. And table service too.

A quick shower about an hour before boarding and I’m all ready and relaxed for my 16-hour non-stop flight,  in First Class on an A380.

And we’ve just got the first boarding call…. See you on the flipside….

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Sue’s visit

29 12 2014

Those who follow me on Facebook know that my good friend Sue (from San Diego) flew out to Australia to spend 8 days with me over Christmas 2014. She also spent a couple of days in Sydney and Hawaii on the way to and from Western Australia, but this post is about her summer Christmas visit to the southwest corner of Western Australia.

Here’s a summary of what we did (this is for her information as much as mine, as she didn’t keep a travel journal). I may not have all the dates/places exactly right, but they’re close enough!:

  • Friday 19 Dec – Pick up Sue from Perth airport, visit a friend of mine in Perth, travel home, visit the local kangaroos and watch the sunset over the Leschenault Estuary.
  • Saturday 20 Dec – Big day of touring today — some 400 km of driving. We started with Gnomesville, where Sue left the gnome she brought all the way from California. Next was the Donnnybrook Market and bakery and roadside cherries (to die for!), then Balingup (Tinderbox, Mystic Gems – antique section, lunch at Mushroom Cafe), followed by Bridgetown (where we called in on friends), Karri Gully where we hugged some magnificent big trees, Cambray Sheep Cheese (near Nannup), and Simmo’s Ice Creamery (near Dunsborough) for some ice cream.  Our second last stop was spending an hour or so visiting friends at Yallingup, then getting to the Busselton Jetty just on sunset.
  • Sunday 21 Dec – Bunbury Farmers’ Market, Woolies supermarket (supermarkets in other countries are always interesting — you can see new products and be amazed at how much you recognise from your home country etc.), Bunbury and its beaches.
  • Monday 22 Dec – Coles supermarket, lunch with my parents in Eaton, play some pool at a local tavern.
  • Tuesday 23 Dec – Dolphin Sea Kayak Tour (with Dekked Out Adventures), where we paddled down to where the Collie River empties into the Leschenault Estuary, across the estuary, and out through The Cut into the Indian Ocean. There were heaps of dolphins just around from The Cut (‘The Lounge’), and they swam between us, next to us, under us, and emerged close to us. Just a magical experience!
  • Wednesday 24 Dec – HaVe cheese (Harvey) and camels, shops, Buffalo Beach, and Belvidere on the Leschenault Peninsula.
  • Thursday 25 Dec – Jetty over the estuary, Buffalo Beach
  • Friday 26 Dec – Wellington Dam (near Collie), Big Rock on the Collie River below Wellington Dam, where we were very lucky to see about eight very endangered red-tailed black cockatoos. Sunset excursion to see the local kangaroos.
  • Saturday 27 Dec – Drove back to Perth via Southwest Highway, stopping in at Cohunu Koala Park in Byford, where Sue held a koala and fed and patted kangaroos and wallabies; Fremantle cappuccino strip and Fremantle Markets; Port/Leighton beaches to Cottesloe, Kings Park
  • Sunday 28 Dec – Drop Sue off at the airport for her flight back to Sydney.

When I asked Sue about some of the highlights (in addition to the stuff we did above), she said: big birds (especially the noisy galahs, cockatoos and others from the parrot family), horizons stretching forever, flat land/undulating land, plantation pine and gum trees, crystal clear blue skies (NO pollution/haze), eucalypts, countryside, farms, cattle, sheep, horses, kangaroos in the wild.

Her one word to sum up our little corner of Australia: ‘pastoral’. Her multiple words said often over the week: ‘Oh. My. Gosh.’

Here are some of the 300+ photos I took during the week — the rest are in a Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/sets/72157649790158916/. Click on a photo to view it larger.

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Arriving in Perth

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Standing among some of the thousands of gnomes at Gnomesville

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Jerome Gnome from San Diego, left by Sue

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Hugging a karri tree (Karri Gully park, between Bridgetown and Nannup)

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Cambray Sheep Cheese — cutting the Manchego wheel

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Busselton Jetty at sunset

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Hugging ‘Mr August’

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Learning about Nuytsia floribunda (Western Australian Christmas Tree)

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Experiencing dolphins up close and personal near Bunbury

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Marvelling at the endless sky, water, horizon, and beach near The Cut on Leschenault Peninsula

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Local Pink and Grey Galahs in a neighbour’s front yard; native grass trees behind

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Buffalo Beach

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Endless summer at Buffalo Beach

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Trying out free motion quilting for the first time! There’s a lot of concentration happening here 😉

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Some of the many local kangaroos (mum and joey emulating a Qantas tailfin logo)

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Emulating a lizard basking in the sun at Big Rock near Wellington Dam

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Getting very up close and personal with ‘William’

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Feeding a wallaby

And here’s a map of some of the places we went: map_of_sues_visit_dec_2014   While Sue thoroughly enjoyed her visit, I also thoroughly enjoyed having her here and seeing parts of my own backyard I hadn’t seen or experienced before.





Point Peron

1 12 2014

We had to go to Perth last week for an appointment in Rockingham. On the way home, we took the scenic route to Mandurah via Shoalwater and Waikiki, detouring into Point Peron.

These are some of the views from the lookout at Point Peron. The first looks back to the suburb of Shoalwater; the second looks out past the reef to the Indian Ocean.

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Sydney Hilton

31 08 2014

I went to Sydney last week to speak at a conference. The conference was held at the Sydney Hilton and that’s where the organisers had booked me for three nights. I was on the 38th floor (an Executive room floor, which meant I had to their excellent ‘Executive Lounge’), and while the room was very nice and the hotel staff were great, I am glad that my usual life is spent at ground level looking out onto greenery and water in the distance. I don’t think I could live that high up, being overlooked by windows in other buildings.

As an aside, what’s with the ‘environmental’ cards asking guests to leave towels etc. hanging up that they don’t want laundered, yet when you do so for three days straight, the housekeeping staff change them every day anyway? They didn’t change my sheets, so that was something, I guess.

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For more photos from my Sydney trip, see: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/sets/72157646639145299/

 

 





Pretty rocks in Sydney

31 08 2014

One of my friends is a big fan of pretty rocks and takes the most amazing micro photographs of them. So, when I saw that a whole floor at the Australian Museum in Sydney was dedicated to rocks and geological stuff I just had to go.

And I can sure see why she is fascinated with them — there are some AMAZING structures and colours below the dirt!

Here are a couple of the photos I took; the rest are in my Flickr page for my recent trip to Sydney (https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/sets/72157646639145299/).

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That line of stones shows the colour variations in sapphires found in Australia. And you thought sapphires were just blue!

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Jim’s ride

7 04 2014

Background

Our friend (let’s call him Jim) has just cycled – yes, on a bike – from Adelaide to Perth. That’s a HUGE undertaking and an amazing journey to do on a bike. I cannot imagine the mental and physical strength required. Jim is from Edmonton in Canada, and his wife (let’s call her Sue) is on teacher exchange in Adelaide. We know Jim and Sue as Jim was on teacher exchange from Edmonton to Perth in 1989 and taught at the school where my husband taught. Some 25 years later, they’re back, and this time Jim is the ‘house spouse’ and Sue is the breadwinner. They didn’t have kids in 1989, and now both their children are grown and have left home. Their son is currently studying at the University of Western Australia in Perth.

Prior to this amazing trip, Jim went on regular 85 km rides in the hills around Adelaide. And when in Edmonton, he cycled very regularly, participating in a 1000 km kids cancer charity ride.

Jim had a three-day break with us almost at the end of his journey, and I took the opportunity to interview him about his amazing ride.

 

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Walking in the front door of our house

 

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The bike before Jim unpacked it

The numbers

  • It’s ~2900 km from Adelaide to Perth going the route Jim took from Adelaide to Perth (i.e. via Esperance). For those in the US, that’s just a bit under 2000 miles… About the distance from New Orleans to San Diego.
  • He rode between 150 and 200 km per day, on average, for about 17 days straight; the longest distance he covered in one day was about 220 km. (Again, for those in the US, 160 km = 100 miles.)
  • He was in the saddle for at least 6.5 hours a day for most days; his longest day was more than 10 hours riding. He would start riding at least one hour before sunrise, and stop around 2pm on most days, in time to organise accommodation and to rest.

The route

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Jim left Adelaide (A on the map) on March 19. His route and timing comprised:

  • 2 days from Adelaide (A) to Port Augusta (B) (1 day off sick in Port Augusta)
  • 3 days from Port Augusta (B) to Ceduna (C) (220 km to Kimber, 90 km to Wirilla)
  • 1 day from Ceduna to Nundroo (D) (roadhouse only, not a town)
  • 1 day from Nundroo to Nullarbor (approx. E) (roadhouse, not a town; with a 26 km round trip detour to the head of the Great Australian Bight)
  • 1 day from Nullarbor to Eucla (F)
  • 1 day from Eucla to Madura (G) (up really early, descended to ocean plain; 65 km to Mundrabilla roadhouse for breakfast, then 115 km to Madura)
  • 1 day from Madura to Caiguna (H) (Cocklebiddy was a nice break point at 90 km, with another 65 km to Caiguna)
  • 1 day from Caiguna to Balladonia (I) (got up early as it was the 90-mile straight stretch of the Eyre Highway across the Nullarbor Plain; 190 km that day)
  • 1 day from Balladonia to Norseman (J) (broke a spoke, spent 30 mins doing running repairs and rebalancing load to account for imbalance from broken spoke, computer logging device stopped working [low battery?]; NOTHING from Balladonia to Norseman – no roadhouses, no nothing)
  • 1 day from Norseman to Esperance (K) (stopped at Salmon Gums for breakfast, then the wind hit; rode 200 km against the wind)
  • 1 day from Esperance to Wagin (L), but on the bus! Wind was expected to be bad, so spent $66 on a one-way ticket to Wagin (included $10 for the carriage of the bike)
  • 1 day from Wagin to Bunbury (M) (Coalfields Highway down from Collie to the Southwest Highway was terrifying – traffic, culverts cut into road to divert water are a real hazard for cyclists as they cut through the shoulder area)
  • 1 hour from Bunbury to our place
  • To come: 2 short days to Perth (N)

 

Physical challenges

  • Heat stroke on Day 1, when it was 38C (100F) coming out of Adelaide, resulting in headaches, stomach cramps, etc. He had a rest day the next day to deal with that.
  • Hills. Although as he said, ‘there’s always a top, and sometimes there’s a down too’, so hills aren’t really a big deal to Jim (he does cycle in the Rockies at home…)
  • Wind. Constant, relentless, sometimes behind you, sometimes in front, often buffeting you at the sides. Unlike hills, there’s no ‘top’, and you don’t know when it will get worse or calm down.
  • Traffic. Big trucks on the highway. If one was coming from behind and one from in front at the same time, he pulled off the road and stopped to let them pass. Likewise, if going up a hill and a truck was coming from behind, he stopped to let it go past so that it wouldn’t have to swerve out on the crest of a hill. So he did the right thing by the traffic.
  • Broken spoke somewhere between Balladonia and Norseman. Created imbalance, so had to rebalance his load, and do some running repairs enough to get to Esperance where he got it fixed at the local bike shop.
  • Crap on the road shoulders. Lots of debris that can make cycling dangerous – bolts and screws, broken glass, sticks, small rocks, etc.
  • Variable road shoulders. Shoulder widths vary from up to a metre wide to absolutely nothing, when you have to mix it with the traffic. And the state of the shoulders varies greatly too, with lots of breakaways at the edges, unrepaired potholes, sharp drop-offs etc.

 

Mental challenges

  • ‘Why am I doing this?’ – he still doesn’t know why!
  • Handling the frustration and anxiety as a result of the broken spoke
  • Loneliness and being by yourself. Strips away everything and all the normal barriers you put up to thinking; you become more pure in your thinking, more emotional, and more emotionally vulnerable.

 

Logistics

Although he carried a small tent and blow up mattress, he only camped out for one night, when the South Australian town he was in was closed up (it was a Sunday…). Other nights were spent in roadhouse motel rooms, on-site caravans, small hotels, etc. It was basic accommodation (though often expensive because it was the only accommodation for a couple of hundred km), but a bed, a shower, fridge, and toilet facilities were all he needed.

Everything was packed onto the bike, except for the stuff he mailed ahead to himself. His main water supply was his ‘Camelback’ strapped to his body and with a mouth tube. He carried ~4.25 L water – 2 L in the Camelback, and 3x 750 mL bottles, each of which also contained powdered electrolyte. He would only drink from the bottles when he stopped, and would sip from the Camelback about 4x per hour. He never ran out of water. He also started cycling very early in the day, and as it was cool in the mornings, he wasn’t drinking too much water.

 

Miscellaneous

  • As he was travelling from east to west, he didn’t wear sunscreen or lip balm, and often not sunglasses either because the sun was at his back for much of the time. However, some mornings he wore sleeve things to cover his arms from the sun (and the cold in some places!).
  • The relentless nature of the wind coming from Norseman to Esperance and especially after Salmon Gums, plus a spoke that had broken causing the balance to be off, resulted in him catching the bus from Esperance to Wagin (some 500 km).
  • He lost perhaps 2 kg the whole trip from Adelaide to Bunbury! One reason perhaps is that he didn’t get his heart rate up into the burn zone – instead of riding hard and fast for the 180 km in a day, he took it at a pace that allowed him to manage the distance without burning too much.
  • Regular stops. He got into a routine of stopping every 50 km for about 10-15 minutes break.
  • Most cycling was done from 6 to 11 am, with a bit more from 11 am to 2 pm, which is when he tried to finish most days.
  • Food. He ate roadhouse food, as greasy and fatty as he could get, for the calorific value. And had a couple of beers each night where he could get them. The worst food he had was a tough-as-old-boots beef schnitzel he had at Nundroo. He supplemented his food with gel energy packs.
  • Roadkill. Kangaroos, emus, a feral cat, a camel! Stench…. Didn’t see many live animals – just a couple of foxes, a couple of dingoes, some emus, and one rabbit.
  • No flat tires at all! However, he wasn’t using standard tires with inner tubes. From how Jim described it, he had these special tires and the ‘tube’ contained some sort of sealant that expanded and closed the hole if a puncture was detected.
  • Signage sucks, especially close to towns as assumes local knowledge which tourists don’t have.
  • Phones. He carried two phones – his iPhone (WiFi only), and a Telstra ‘burn’ phone – and a camera (though he said he really didn’t need the camera as he should’ve used just his iPhone camera). Telstra had coverage for almost everywhere he stayed (exception: Nundroo, where there was a pay phone).
  • Supplies. Prior to leaving Adelaide he had mailed packages of electrolyte powder, Hammer gel energy packs, etc. to Ceduna and Balladonia and had contacted them by phone to book accommodation and let them know about the packages on their way. However, as he was running a day late because of illness on the first day, he had to call to change his accommodation dates. He said the packages were waiting for him when he arrived at both places. He also mailed clothing to our place so he had something decent and clean to wear when he got here.
  • Routine at the end of each day’s riding – would finish around 2-3 pm to avoid the worst heat of the day and would try to get accommodation straight away before there were no vacancies for the night. Accommodation varied from roadhouse motel units (of varying degrees from fleapits to OK, varying costs — $90 to $130 per night, and varying facilities, though most had air conditioning, fridge, and a TV), to old-style hotels (Wagin, Bunbury), to on-site caravans ($50-$100/night; Port Augusta, Ceduna, Norseman, Esperance; some with own bathroom, but most with shared ablution block; fridge, TV), and only one night did he have to sleep in his tent/sleeping bag. He would keep his bike in his room, even in the upstairs rooms at some of the older hotels. He would partially unpack the bike, and his first priority after checking in and unpacking the bike would be to get some food as he rarely had breakfast or lunch. The first food would be junk food, potato chips (crisps), choc milk or iced coffee or lemon squash (loads of sugar), but no Coke or Pepsi. Then he’d shower and relax a bit, sometimes sleep for an hour, then get up and have his main meal of the day – often a counter meal at a pub, a couple of beers (rarely more than two) if there was a bar, then stock up on snacks (e.g. more hot chips [fries] with lots of salt and vinegar) and drinks for the evening. During the evening he’d watch a bit of TV, and charge up his devices – camera, phones (he carried two), battery backup for his devices, head and tail lights for the bike (all charged via USB into a power outlet adaptor). And sleep.
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Most of contents of toolkit

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Basic repair tools and compressed air for tires

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‘To hand’ pack, toolkit below, foot for Polar computer device on handlebar

 

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‘To hand’ pack on top of bar, pump, toolkit below bar

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Emergency ‘food’ pack contents in case of no food options for purchase (e.g. places closed for the night)

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Gel energy supplements

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The 3 water bottles to supplement the Camelback

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After 3 days rest, prepping the bike the day before the final ride into Perth

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Final prep for the final push; bike all loaded up with gear

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I’m outta here!





Albany and Esperance December 2013

21 12 2013

I have a birthday in mid-December, and we usually go away then to beat the peak rates and influx of holidaymakers at Christmas. This year we took a 5-day weekend and spent it travelling to and from Albany and Esperance in Western Australia, staying overnight in Albany on the Friday and Monday, and in Esperance on the Saturday and Sunday. It’s a long drive — about 4 hours to Albany and another 5 hours to Esperance from Albany, and then back again.

The map below shows where we went. The total trip was about 1800 km (about 1100 miles for those in North America). All photos I took on the trip are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/sets/72157638871854344/

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Friday 13 December: We left home about 11:30 am.  It was already pretty hot and was only going to get hotter. We headed east to Collie where we stopped briefly to eat the sandwiches I’d made earlier that day. Then we travelled even further east to hit Albany highway at Arthur River. There we turned right and continued south to the southern ocean at Albany. The drive was uneventful and took about 4 hours. Saw very little wildlife — no doubt it was too hot for them too. Almost all the fields had been harvested and there were a lot of grain trucks on the road carrying the best grain harvest the state has had in many years.

We arrived in Albany late in the afternoon and checked into our accommodation at the Dog Rock Motel. Free wifi! though the connection in the room we were in (Room 15) was a bit flaky. It was almost 5 pm, so there was no time for shopping so we just chilled out in the air conditioning until we were due at Rustlers Steakhouse in Albany.

We’ve eaten at Rustlers several times before and it was a great meal as always, but I think I overdid it ;-). We started with a shared serving of six Jalapeno Poppers, followed by our steaks. I had the rib eye (though there was no bone this time) with blue cheese butter. It was a big steak — about 400 grams! My DH had the prime fillet. Both came with a garden salad and fries or baked potato.

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And then my DH ordered TWO desserts for us to share. We rarely have dessert so this was a bit over the top. We had the very tart lemon meringue and the mango and passionfruit tart, both with cream, raspberry coulis and rum and raisin icecream. In my opinion, the icecream didn’t go very well with the lemon meringue… Too many flavours.

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I don’t know what it was in that mix or just the mix itself but I didn’t feel very good for the rest of the evening. I think it was just the combination and sheer quantity of rich food that made me feel very uncomfortable afterwards. I didn’t sleep very well though my DH had no problem.

Saturday 14 December: I must’ve eventually slept OK as I didn’t wake until almost 8 am next day. Breakfast was out of the question after last night’s huge meal! We did a bit of shopping in Albany (to get my DH an update to his wardrobe — we were in and out of the clothing store in 15 minutes and he came away with three new shirts, two pairs of shorts, and new socks… and that 15 minutes included him trying them on!). Then we hit the road for Esperance around 9:30am. Another uneventful drive. It was a super hot day, so thank goodness for car air conditioning. We stopped at the roadhouse at Jerramungup and got a brilliant ham and salad roll for lunch from there — super fresh, big crusty roll, tasty, filled with decent sizes of all sorts of goodies.

We arrived in Esperance about 5 hours after leaving Albany (some 480 km away). The sea breeze was in, thank goodness, but it was still hot. Checked into our motel and crashed. This time my DH wasn’t feeling well and ended up sleeping for about 3 hours. I wasn’t surprised as he’d driven both days and it’s a long drive with lots of road trains to be aware of. And he hadn’t had his usual coffee either day.

We were going to go out to dinner but his headache was really bad so I walked to the local kebab shop and got us some takeaway kebabs for my birthday dinner 😉

Sunday December 15: We slept more than 12 hours! It was very hot today in Esperance. Expected to be 36C or higher (I think it got to 40C). We were on the road just before 9 am heading west to the Esperance reproduction of Stonehenge, of all places! I was surprised how much I was impressed by it. It was pretty spectacular, with some 2500 tonnes of pink granite used to create an exact replica of the real Stonehenge as it would have been in 1950 BC. It’s well worth the side trip if ever you’re in Esperance (it’s about 20 km out of town on a ridge overlooking the Great Southern Ocean), but I wouldn’t drive to Esperance JUST to see it. Admission: $10 per person; $8 for concession card holders.

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Next stop east was Cape Le Grand National Park and the famous Lucky Bay. There were no kangaroos on the beach this time, probably because there were quite a few people on the beach and in the water (Lucky Bay is known for its turquoise water, glaring white sand — and kangaroos that come to the beach). The flies were super friendly…. We also went to Le Grand Beach though we didn’t swim as we didn’t have our bathers with us. It was hot enough though (usually the air and water temperature at Esperance is too cold for swimming… but not this weekend!).

There were heaps of Western Australian Christmas Trees (Nuytsia floribunda) in the national park, and throughout all the areas we travelled. It was good to see them as they are rapidly disappearing from the metro area and south-west as housing developments take over. They are a parasitic tree and only flower for a few weeks a year — but when they do flower, they are just spectacular — really deep orange gold flowers against a dark green background; they are almost a ‘poster child’ for the Australian sporting colours of green and gold.

After our little jaunt to the east, we headed back towards Esperance then north to a tiny dot on the map called Gibson where we stopped for a very ordinary lunch of steak burger and chips at the local pub. The chips were good…

Next was the Pink Lake which wasn’t pink today at all! Then the gorgeous drive along the coast near Esperance, stopping at various bays and beaches to take photos of the impossibly turquoise water and white sandy beaches.

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It was still really hot, so after our drive around the Esperance area it was back to air-conditioned comfort of our motel room. DH still wasn’t feeling good, so he slept away the rest of the afternoon while I read.

Dinner this evening was at the motel’s restaurant ‘Seasons’. I had the fish of the day – a big piece of groper, and my DH had the sirloin steak. We also had the chilli cheese loaf for entree but despite it looking fantastic it didn’t taste much of anything – almost no cheese or chilli flavour and the bread was quite sweet and a bit stodgy. It was disappointing considering how great it looked. My fish was good though, and my DH said his steak was excellent.

Monday 16 December: It was expected to be 40 in Esperance again today, so we were on the road back to Albany by 8:30 am. Albany’s maximum was expected to be about 25 which sounded pretty good to me! Called in briefly to a quilt shop in Ravensthorpe that someone I know owns, but she had gone to Esperance for the day and her daughter was minding the store. Also stopped at Jerramungup again for one of their great ham and salad rolls. We got into Albany around 2 pm and checked back in to the Dog Rock Motel. We had a much nicer room this time (for future reference, it was in the 40 block — I’d asked for a better room for Wifi reception when we stayed overnight on Friday; the new room seemed to be a bigger room and the Wifi was much more stable and strong).

I’d booked us into the motel’s restaurant for dinner (Lime 303) as I had heard good things about it, had read some glowing reviews, and as it had won at least one Gold Plate award. Lime 303 was a real surprise in several ways. The decor indicated 5-star, and the menu was very fancy with an awful lot of stuff and combinations on it I didn’t recognise. We both had the sous vide venison rump, which came on a bed of asparagus spears and a beetroot/blueberry risotto mix. I actually quite liked the dish but my DH hated it – he thought the pink mash looked like mashed brains on CSI! (and looking at the photo I took on my phone [below], I think maybe he had a point…) He’s a steak or chicken person and while he doesn’t mind venison he sure didn’t like the texture of the meat after the sous vide process. He had the cheese plate to finish and I had the trio of sweets. Including the wine and his glass of port the whole meal was $173 for two (!!), and then he wanted to go get a burger or kebab! He’s a man of simple tastes…

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Tuesday December 17. We headed back home today. It was much cooler for driving when we left Albany, but was already pretty hot by the time we got to Mt Barker, only 50 km away. Instead of heading back exactly the way we came, we took the road from near Kojonup that cut across to Darkan. I’d never been on that road before (that I can recall), but my Mum lived in that area as a small child, so it was interesting to see how far out in the boonies her family lived and what sort of countryside she lived in. From Darkan, it was back to the Bunbury area via Collie, and home.

It was a lovely break — and good to get my eyes focusing on stuff in the far distance instead of close up with computer screens.

Don’t forget: All photos I took on the trip are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/sets/72157638871854344/





Some dams are filling up

7 10 2013

After record rainfall in September, some of the dams in the southwest corner of our state are filling up. Wellington Dam (near Collie) has overflowed, and according to the local newspaper about a week ago, Harvey Dam is 80% full and about 80 cm from the lip of the spillway.

We went to Harvey yesterday for lunch with my parents and sister and nephew — it was about halfway between where they all live so was an ideal spot. And before we went to the restaurant, we drove up to Harvey Dam to see how it was looking.

Here’s what it looked like in early July 2013:

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And here’s what it looked like on Sunday 6 October 2013:

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As the photos were taken from a slightly different spot, the most telling difference between the two pictures is the bank on the far side — in July it was quite exposed, but now it is under water. And those small trees in the foreground are almost completely under water too.

So, while this is good news for farmers (this dam is used for irrigation purposes), the main drinking water storage dams surrounding Perth are still only about 38% full.





Kangaroos basking in the spring weather

8 09 2013

On my drive into town, I pass by a few paddocks that are home to several mobs (perhaps just one mob?) of grey kangaroos. These are wild roos, but they eat and laze in the paddocks, sometimes close to horses and houses. They rarely come onto the road, though you may see one on the road at night. If it’s too hot or too cold and wet, they hide up in the bush behind the paddocks and you can’t see them, but most days you can see some along about a 2 km stretch.

These ones were lolling about an empty block of land that’s for sale. The driveway and pad for the house have been established, but the roos have definitely taken over 😉 I’m not sure I’d like to build on that block — the garden would likely be FULL of kangaroo ticks.

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See also: https://rhondabracey.com/2010/09/08/local-kangaroos/