Perth to Coral Bay

Perth to Coral Bay

Yesterday, in Coral Bay, I swam with the Whale Sharks…a wonderful experience. I’ll put up some photos when I get them, on the next post.

How’s this for a sunset?

IMG_1619

My good friend Wendy Kelly and I have an ongoing photo competition… Unfortunately, though, I have to admit I didn’t take this photo. INichole Oliver did. Merry and I met her in Fremantle and she sent me the photo.

It’s been and interesting few days since my last post. I’ve had my first minor drama…. also I’ve seen some interesting places including a visit to the Hutt River Principality.

I’m now in Coral Bay….CAMPING…impressed?….As you see I’m well set up… and it’s warm here.I reluctantly pitched the tent because a cabin in the camp site costs $280.00 per night.

DSC03346

Monday 22 May

After saying goodbye to Merry, I picked up Azulo (another $750.00) and spent the day with Gordon and Anne. They very kindly took me to a very nice Japanese restaurant.

The next day, Gordon came with me on his scooter (!!!) It was raining again.

I’ve got some new boots. As you see the old ones had passed their used by date

DSC03234

 

Gordon Robertts

Gordon Robertts

After Gordon left I carried on to the Pinnacles Desert some 200 k north of Perth. The sun came out which was lucky as I then found I had a puncture.

A puncture in the middle of nowhere is no fun, especially if it’s the rear wheel. I was doubly annoyed as I had just got new tyres fitted in Perth. They had managed to pinch the inner tube.

First I looked at the Pinnacles which are quite extraordinary

DSC03239DSC03245

Back to my puncture!

I tried pumping up the tyre. It was only 20 K to the next town. No luck. It went flat within minutes.

I then thought about trying to fix the puncture. I removed the wheel but I couldn’t remove the new tyre.

A good Samaritan came to my rescue in the form of a young German, Aljoscha Achilles, Alexander Heeg….Al for short.

He kindly drove me to town (it’s not really a town) where, after an hour or so we found a mechanic . The mechanic wasn’t much help but between the three of us we fixed the puncture and Al drove me back to his very bored friends. It took most of the day!

Mechanic and Al (on right)

Mechanic and Al (on right)

Al (right) and friends

Al (right) and friends

I then  headed for the nearest town, found a bed and a Pub and had a few beers!

The next day was much better. I headed to Geraldton via Dongara.

Dongara

Dongara

Geraldton is a nice town…I visited the Memorial to HMAS Sydney 2 and the Shipwreck Museum where they have some relics from the Dutch Ship Batavia that sank off the Abrolhos Islands in 1629

The Memorial to HMAS Sydney 2 is very impressive and beautifully done.. There was a volunteer guide who explained the memorial.

HMAS Sydney intercepted a disguised German raider Kormoran in November 1941. Both ships were destroyed. There were 645 personnel on the Sydney. There were no survivors.

DSC03248DSC03252

Seagulls... one for each sailor. Very emotional

Seagulls… one for each sailor. Very emotional

A worried woman looking out to sea. You can feel her anguish

A worried woman looking out to sea. You can feel her anguish

The Batavia

DSC03263

The shipwreck museum is excellent and I had a guide explain the amazing story of the Batavia. It’s worth reading about it.

Peter Fitzsimons has written and a good novel but for a quick summary, go to Wikipedia Click this link

Briefly… In 1629 Batavia was heading for Batavia (Jakarta) to pick up spices. It hit a reef on the Abrolhos Islands and sank. Most of the 300 or so passengers and crew  managed to escape to a sandy island nearby.

Captain Francisco Pilsner took one of the longboats and sailed for Batavia to get help

Replica of a Batavia Longboat

Replica of a Batavia Longboat

In his absence, Jeronimus Cornelius and a group of misfits went on a killing spree killing over 100 people.

Palseart returned and brought things under control. Joronimus was executed along with some of his cohorts. Two of the gang were dumped onto the mainland. DNA in the local Aboriginal show Dutch DNA so maybe they survived…there were other Dutch shipwrecks though.

It’s truly a gruesome story…but it’s true!

My next stop was the Principality of Hutt River.

The road to the Principality of Hutt River

The road to the Principality of Hutt River

If you don’t know about this you’ll think its April fools day and I’m making it up.

The Principality of Hutt River declared independence from Australia in 1970.

DSC03277

The issue was about wheat quotas and Leonard Casley thought he had been screwed by the State Government. He dug up various laws and wrote many letters to the Government, Prime Minister and even the Queen. He must have been a serial pest.

HRH Prince Leonard with a letter from the Queen

HRH Prince Leonard with a letter from the Queen

DSC03278

Anyway, The Hutt River Principality today claims it is independent of Australia. Quite what that means I’m unsure but he doesn’t pay tax and is having all sorts of issues with the Tax department.

The “Principality” is ruled now by HRH Prince Graeme. HRH Prince Leonard, the founder is in his 90’s and still going strong but has abdicated.. I had a long chat with Prince Leonard. He is very sharp and must have been formidable in his day..

I also met HRH Prince Richard. Prince Leonards wife, Princess Shirley died in 2013.

Photo – Prince Richard signed my visa.

HRH Prince Richard...He stamped my visa!

HRH Prince Richard…He stamped my visa!

Azulo has a new sticker…

DSC03349

Google has more…It’s quite a story!

Next I visited the Pink Lake. It’s pinker than it looks in the photos.

DSC03271DSC03272

My last stop before Coral Bay was Carnarvon.

Carnarvon was the location for a tracking station for the Apollo Space Missions. (actually much more but that’s it’s main claim to fame) It has a great space museum.

DSC03321

The battle between Sydney and Kormoran took place near Carnarvon. Both ships have a memorial

Carnarvon Memorial to HMAS Sydney 2

Carnarvon Memorial to HMAS Sydney 2

Kormoran Memorial... Sydney nearby

Kormoran Memorial… Sydney nearby

DSC03329

The countryside here is very flat and sparse. These ant hills were near Coral Bay

DSC03342DSC03340DSC03303

Thank you for your messages. I apologise for not answering all of them yet.I will do so when I can. Please keep the messages coming…I love them

I continue to have WiFi problems… I’m having to do this post on my hotspot. The WiFi either doesn’t exist in many places or is very poor so it is making it hard to do the blog this trip. I’ll keep trying though.

I’m now heading for Karunjie National Park near Tom Price. It is very remote and there is no mobile signasl and definitely no wifi! I’ll also have to camp again…ugh!

 

South West WA with Merry

A week in South West, WA… by car!

Merry and I have spent the last week touring South West WA. It’s wonderful for me to have Merry here and also good to have a rest from riding Azulo. The quality of food and lodging has also improved significantly.

This is just a quick update …not much commentary. Just a few photos from our trip for the record.

We spent our first night in Eaton, near Bunbury with my cousin (once removed) Alex and his wife Rachel. We phoned Juliet, my cousin in England. Alex and Rachel have a lovely home in Eaton and a 6 acre block in the hills nearby, Currently they have a shed and 9 Alpacas on the property, but their dream house is in the planning phase!

Alex and Rachel Thornton

Alex and Rachel Thornton

Alex and Rachel's country retreat

Alex and Rachel’s country retreat

IMG_0748

Photo – Busselton Pier… It’s very long…2 kilometres!

DSC03105

Photos: Vasse Félix Vineyard in the Margaret River district

DSC03109 DSC03108

We saw some lovely beaches… this one is Hamlyn Beach

DSC03119

The Karri Tree forests are superb. The trees grow up to 80 metres!

DSC03132

We visited a 500 year old Jarrah tree… it was saved in the nick of time from being cut down!

DSC03143 DSC03142

We visited the Jewel Cave… there are many others but one was enough! It is spectacular. We chose well!

DSC03121

DSC03127 DSC03126

We visited a Truffle Farm, the largest in Australia and one of the largest in the world. They have Labrador dogs to sniff out the truffles and tours are possible but unfortunately the season starts in June.

DSC03139

We stayed in a variety of places from a very nice Airbnb in Fremantle to comfy a cottage near Nanup

DSC03131

IMG_0736 [2434345]

It was pizza night in Nanup. The local café lays it on every now and then. There was loud live music of very doubtful quality but the pizza was terrific. As you see they made a fuss of us with the table sign

IMG_0732 [2434357]

We saw this sign outside a beach shop which amused us (sign enlarged on second photo below).

DSC03155

DSC03154

Our last three nights were spent in Fremantle. I am really impressed with Fremantle. It’s got lots of character and is full of life, restaurants, lovely old buildings etc.

We took the “hop on tram” ….an amazing coincidence happened…The tram driver RECOGNISED ME….He said… “You were in the same hotel as me in Kalgoorlie… just a few days ago… you set the smoke alarm off burning your toast didn’t you.”

It turned out that I even slept in the same room as him…Don’t worry, he left a day earlier than me. Just to complete the coincidence, his name is also Geoff.

Tram driver Geoff...I met him also in Kalgoorlie.

Tram driver Geoff…I met him also in Kalgoorlie.

DSC03173

DSC03183DSC03178

Cicerello"s Fish Restaurant. Famous in Fremantle

Cicerello’s Fish Restaurant. Famous in Fremantle

We visited the Gaol which has been welcoming guests since 1850’s and only closed in 1991. It was built by the convicts.

DSC03164

DSC03159

DSC03160 DSC03162

Some more photos of “Freo”

DSC03191

DSC03188

Swan River Cruise to Perth and Perth hop on bus

Merry and I are very impressed with the quality of the infrastructure here. The trains and stations are clean, the busses are excellent…there is a free bus service called the CAT They are building a superb new Football/Cricket stadium which looks impressive. There are good roads and more!….Also there is very little graffiti!

DSC03204 DSC03203 DSC03200

DSC03198

They had a free wine tasting on board..

DSC03192

 

Perth hop on bus

Perth hop on bus

DSC03223  DSC03213

DSC03212

Magnificent meals

Naturally, we’ve had lots of good food and wine on this trip… as always!

Perhaps the pick of the restaurants’ though is “Bread in Common” in Fremantle.

It is modern and the food is fantastic. Food prices are reasonable but wine is expensive.

It is packed out all day from breakfast till dinner. You must go there if you are in Fremantle!

DSC03157

IMG_0808 [2434338] IMG_0807 [2434339]

Now sadly Merry leaves and I start the journey again. Merry will meet me again in Darwin in three weeks. I’m looking forward to that already!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Esperance and Albany

This may be the last post for about 10 days or so as Merry arrives on Monday 15th and we are spending a week touring the Margaret River, south of Perth

I’m in Perth now staying with my old mate Gordon Roberts. Gordon rode with me in my trip to Nepal, India and Bhutan.

AZULO has performed magnificently but I need new tyres and the speedo and GPS fixed. This will all be done next week whilst Merry and I have a good break.

Kalgoorlie – the final word

I forgot to mention in the last post something I found amusing. I hope you do too!

This is how the 19th Century Kalgoorlie Politicians solved the difficult problem of the “unsavoury behaviour” in what is now Hay Street, Kalgoorlie.

Broockman Street, Kalgoorlie, in the late 19th Century had some 30 brothels. As you can imagine, it must have been hopping!

DSC02795

Photo – The last “old” brothel in Kalgoorlie

The “gentle” people of Kalgoorlie wanted them closed down yet the politicians and many more including 99% of the miners felt they provided a very important service to the town!

Broockman street  had a “good” and “bad” end so the solution was simple…. just change the name of the bad end…. Hey presto, problem solved.

So, they split Broockman street in two and re-named the “bad” end Hay Street. A notice appeared in the newspaper saying there were now no brothels in Broockman Street!

Esperance

Esperance is a pleasant seaside town with magnificent beaches in a beautiful setting.

It’s hard to avoid references to the early seafarers who sailed past in the late 18th Century

Esperance was named after the French Ship L’Esperance.

IMG_0081

In 1792, two French ships, L’Esperance and Recherche nearly foundered amongst the many islands and reefs here. The ships were saved by the lookout, “Monsieur Le Grande” who at the last minute spotted a channel.

Esperance, as said above was named after the ship.

The nearby peninsula, now a National Park was named Le Grand and the whole archipelago named Recherche Archipelago.

Whilst I’m boring you with some potted history, I found this story in the museum interesting

Matthew Flinders, who was the first person to circumnavigate Australia, passed by Esperance twice. In 1803, he too had a near disaster.

He only managed to save the ship by cutting the ropes on two anchors which were lost until 1969.

DSC02859

In 1969 the two anchors were discovered and salvaged.

The home made wooden aeroplane in the photo above was used to search for the anchors. it was a sort of “submarine”. The plane was lowered in the water, a diver hung onto it and they were then dragged along the sea bottom by a boat. It apparently speeded up the search!

The anchors once recovered, were spirited away from Esperance. One is in Canberra and the other in Adelaide. Poor Esperance got the aeroplane submarine and nothing else!

Enough of that!

Esperance and the whole coastline is extremely beautiful. The beaches are stunning.  Some, like “Lucky Bay” have “OMO  white” sand and the sea appears a bright turquoise colour. The photos don’t do them justice. Lucky Bay by the way is in the Le Grand National Park some 40 k away and was named by Matthew Flinders who stopped there after his near death experience.

Lucky Bay has Kangaroos on the beach at certain times of the day. Unfortunately I was there at the wrong time. No Kangaroos!

DSC02907

DSC02951 DSC02948 DSC02947 DSC02946 DSC02944 DSC02929  DSC02926

On my way to Lucky Bay I saw a very strange site….

DSC02876

DSC02880

Yes, Stonehenge!

It’s a full sized replica of what Stonehenge looked like 5000 years ago! The stone was  quarried nearby. I’m not sure quite why anyone would think of rebuilding Stonehenge but someone has!

I stayed at and Airbnb which was excellent but I made a bit of a fool of myself. I tipped over the bike as I was about to leave. The family kindly helped me lift it. It’s much too heavy for me but the two kids of Fiona and Brendon, my hosts, made Azulo look like it was made of feathers!  I must be getting old and feeble.

Photo : Charming Airbnb owners Fiona nada Brendon

DSC02954

Albany

The 450 ride to Albany was rather boring.

Unfortunately the weather was bad in Albany and I once again got soaked a few times and had to dodge the many showers. At times like this I wish I was in a car!

Albany is in a magnificent setting in King George Sound. It’s Western Australia’s oldest town, founded in 1826.

The little ship Amity sailed from Sydney in 1826 with a few soldiers and convicts and set up the settlement. They didn’t want the French to get there first!

This is a replica of the Amity in the photo below

DSC02958

The most impressive thing in Albany is the Anzac Memorial and Museum. The ships taking the Australian and New Zealand Corps and their thousands of horses to Egypt in 1914 sailed from here. This was the last Port of call for those poor soldiers (and horses)

Here are some photos but as you see the weather wasn’t very kind to me!

All the ships lined up in the Sound. It must have been an impressive sight

DSC02967

DSC02968

DSC02991

I love this sculpture of an Anzac giving his horse water.

DSC02972

A very beautiful and emotional statue

DSC02965

The old Guard House

DSC02975

Below – The Anzac Memorial ….Typical…why are monuments always under repair when I’m there!. This is an impressive monument to the Anzacs,

DSC02993

Other things I saw in Albany in between heavy showers…

The Gaol House

DSC03022 - Copy (2)

The Whaling station. It was closed in 1978

DSC03026DSC03028DSC03032

The Gap…This is a very impressive structure over a gap in the cliffs.

DSC02994

Again, the pictures don’t do justice to this

DSC03015

 There is one other piece of interesting history here…..

Australia’s very own pirate – Black Jack Anderson

This story fascinated me. My brother in law Cam told me about it, There’s a book on it and it’s apparently all true…. but there is nothing on him to be found here, although the people in the museum know about him.

I think Albany is missing a magnificent tourist opportunity!

Black Jack Anderson was a big Negro Whaler from Massachusetts who in the early 1830’s found himself in Albany. He killed someone in a brawl in the pub and ran away stealing the whale boat.

He set himself up on nearby Middle Island and over some 10 years terrorised the passing ships. He was very cruel but must have had charisma as he kept several Aboriginal “wives” and even a white woman. He made a lot of money which has never been found.

Eventually he was killed by his own men.

Why does Albany fail to cash in on this amazing story! It beats me!  Sorry, no photos.

Off to Perth …the final leg of “stage 1″of this trip

I left Albany to ride the 400 easy kilometres to Perth. It was a good ride and the weather had improved.

Unfortunately I had a “senior moment” at the petrol station…. I filled up Azulo with diesel. Ugh….. My feeble defence is that there was not caution sign on the pump gun.

I managed to borrow a hose and bucket and siphoned out all 30 litres of diesel, not a pleasant taste. I then filled up and continued the journey.

So now I’m having a couple of days off in Perth before Merry arrives. I’m excited about her arrival.

Gordon is a terrific host. We had nine holes at a superb Gold Resort, Joondalup…lots of wine…bacon and eggs and more!

Photo -Joondalup Golf Resort

DSC03086

Some company on the course. Gordon and friend

DSC03082

DSC03064 DSC03060

Some “Cockies” in Gordon’s garden

DSC03091

Sian, Gordon’s daughter with Jack and Gordon looking on.

DSC03087

Bye for now…. If I get time (and Wi-Fi) I’ll put some photos up of the Margaret River and district.

The journey continues again on Tuesday 23 May!

 

 

 

.

 

The Nullarbor and Kalgoorlie

The highlight of the past few days is the Superpit in Kalgoorlie. It’s a simply amazing goldmine that produces 22,000 kilograms of gold per year. The pit is 700 m deep, 1.5 k wide and 3.9 k long. More later!

DSC02840

First though, I rode through the Eyre Peninsula and over the Nillarbor

Journey through the Eyre Peninsula

Near Port Lincoln I stopped at Coffin bay. This is an Oyster producing area. Port Lincoln is a Tuna fishing centre. Coffin Bay is a sweet little place but it’s still the off season and everything was shut!

DSC02547

Photo :Coffin Bay’s Oyster beds

Many of the Bays along those stretch of coastline were named by Matthew Flinders who sailed past here in 1802. Streaky Bay and Smokey Bay are two named by him.

The countryside is pleasant and there are always photos to take.

DSC02548DSC02561

I thought the use of rain tanks as toilets was very creative at this roadside stop.

DSC02550

Just after taking this photo I had a minor drama… My “good angel” came to my rescue.

I rode on from this café about 15 k and for some reason I checked to see that my camera was in its correct spot in my pocket. It wasn’t there. I went back to the café hoping to find the camera but no luck. I thought I had lost my camera. How would I do this blog without a camera! Ok the phone is an option.

Anyway, I rode away dejected but kept an eye on the side of the road in case it had fallen out of my pocket. About 12 k along the road I saw it. How lucky am I.

There it is in the photo below. Luckily it was in its case so no damage.

DSC02551

Near Streaky Bay there are these amazing rocks called Murphy Haystacks. They are 1500 million years old.

DSC02552

DSC02554 DSC02555

The journey across the Nullarbor Plain starts at Ceduna SA and ends at Norseman WA, a distance of 1200 K. The journey must have been horrendous before the road was sealed and before the roadhouses and fuel stations were established. The myth of a difficult journey still continues today but it is actually a very easy journey, albeit  a long ride; The road is excellent, the roadhouses are surprisingly good, there is fuel within easy distances (the longest gap is 200k)

DSC02567

DSC02565DSC02584

DSC02585

I saw just one kangaroo, no camels or wombats however there were plenty of squashed and very dead ones!

The road trains are interesting….The weather for me was good so they weren’t a problem but I heard that in the wet they can blind you with the spray for several seconds as they pass…best to pull over.

DSC02582I had a chat with Rex the Road Train driver at one of the Roadhouses where I found a motel bed. He said he prefers to travel at night as they can see lights ahead. Most of the poor wildlife gets mowed down at night. Rex told me he travels 1200k per day. He is allowed two half hour stops and cannot legally drive more than 14 hours. I thought my 750k was a big achievement. How on earth they stay awake beats me!

Some say its a boring trip. I can see why but it has things to see on the way and the scenery does change slightly!

The highlight along the way is the “Head of Bight” which is a whale watching lookout. This is where the white dunes meet the spectacular Bunda Cliffs. These cliffs are 90 metres high and stretch for 200 kilometres.

DSC02573 DSC02581

DSC02587The photos don’t do justice to the view. Also the sea is a deep blue that is fabulous.I saw one whale but he /she wasn’t doing much and was far out but at least I saw one!

There are other things along the way that add some interest!

DSC02594

DSC02602DSC02600

As I neared Norseman there is a forest of gum trees that have rich golden trunks. Maybe someone knows what they are called.

DSC02606

The 90 mile straight road is very straight. It’s quite a shock when suddenly there is a bend

DSC02604

Kalgoorlie

I reached Norseman at 1.30 on my second day. Too early to stop given there isn’t much at Norseman so I headed the extras 190 k to Kalgoorlie. After riding nearly 1500 k in two days I need a rest.

Kalgoorlie is a fascinating place.

DSC02741 DSC02740

DSC02768

It was founded more or less instantly after Gold was found here in 1893 by Paddy Hannon.

The town used to have some 90 Hotels (Pub’s to my UK readers) Some of them are splendid. There are Hotels on every corner. Some have wonderful stories to tell.

Here are a few photos:

DSC02728

DSC02856

DSC02738 DSC02735

The Hotels catered for different clientele

The Exchange Hotel (photo above) was the rough place.

They used to have a “Skimpy of the week competition”. The bar maids were very skimpily clad (actually they still are but I was unable to get a photo, sorry)

The customers all put a coin in the “Titty Kitty” and this was given to the most skimpily clad lady providing she had a nice smile!

The Palace Hotel  opposite was the posh place. Herbert Hoover the US President was here when he was a mining engineer. He had a liaison with a bar maid and later sent a huge mirror to the Hotel (why would he do that????) He also wrote a very romantic poem to his lost sweetheart. Here is a photo of the mirror and his poem.

DSC02748

The town hall has an impressive theatre. There are 1200 cast iron chairs. One can imagine attending a show here.

DSC02730

There were over 30 brothels too.

One of the original brothels remains and is still a working brothel today!

DSC02795

Kalgoorlie has a lot of street artists or did today! They are painting all sorts of pictures on shop windows

DSC02761 DSC02759

Kalgoorlie and Boulder are now one town. Boulder also has some fine buildings and Hotels. It also had the Railway line that brought miners and equipment to town. At one time it was the busiest station in Australia, busier than Flinders St Station in Melbourne

Some photos of Boulder

DSC02825DSC02828DSC02831DSC02833

Now to finish, some more about the Superpit

Alan Bond instigated what is now the Superpit. The Golden Mile as it was called had over 260 separate individual and uneconomic mines. His idea was to buy up the leases and create one open cut mine.

This happened in 1989.

The operation is staggering. The equipment is awe inspiring:

DSC02671

This truck carries 225 tons and cost $4.4 million

DSC02658DSC02698

DSC02647DSC02850

The bucket carries 68 tonne and the machine costs $18.5 million

To finish… you don’t want to get in the way of one of these trucks!

DSC02720

Journey to the Outback

My apologies for such a long time between posts… I’ve been having “Wi-Fi trouble”. It seems many of the places I’ve been staying at either don’t have Wi-Fi or it’s very limited.

Flinders Ranges and beyond

Here is Marree Man…Australia’s version of the “Nasca Lines” albeit it’s only 20 years old…. It’s a scratching in the sand of an Aboriginal man, 4.2 kms tall with a perimeter of 28 kms. It’s caused a heap of controversy…. more later..

DSC02536

I’m now in Ceduna, about to tackle the Nullabor

In the last few days I’ve crossed the Coorong, navigated through the Adelaide Hills, crossed the Flinders Ranges and ventured into the Outback as far as Marree where I flew across Lake Eyre. I then rode south and crossed the Eyre Peninsula. 

The Coorong is a great place for bird watching and fishing, neither of which I did. It’s an interesting ride though, but the cold and miserable weather didn’t really help! After a few hours shivering I weakened and treated myself to a superb bacon and eggs in the Salt Lake café. Well worth a stop if you’re going that way!

I skirted Adelaide and rode through the Adelaide Hills. This is a stunningly beautiful area. It is very varied with a mixture of green, wooded hilly country, pretty vineyards and rugged gorges. It’s got the lot!

My next destination was the Flinders Ranges and Wilpena Sound.

En route I passed through Orroroo… what a great name

DSC02459

Orroroo’s only claim to fame is that it’s on the Godyer Line… just in case you’re unsure what that is…. the Goyder line is a rough line across South Australia… Above the line, rainfall is less than 10 inches per year making it suitable only for grazing. The line was created by George Goyder, Surveyor- General in 1865. It has proved correct and those who plant crops north of the line do so at their peril. The line is a “heritage icon” of the National Trust.

In the Flinders Ranges I stayed in an overpriced cabin at Rawsnsley Park Station but it was a lovely setting. It’s hard to beat the quiet still  evenings in the Aussie Countryside.

DSC02471

DSC02486DSC02464DSC02495DSC02496

The main activities in the Flinders Ranges are walking or four wheel driving so I thought I should do a walk. I even saw some locals

DSC02477

 

DSC02476North of the Flinders Ranges National Park is a little town called Blinman. There’s nothing  much there but it’s typically Australian.

DSC02489DSC02494DSC02492DSC02493

My hope was to do a flight over Lake Eyre. Flights go from various places including Wilpena but my problem is that I’m a single. No luck at Wilpena so I thought I would ride the extra 200 k to Marree. I rang the General Store that handles everything at Marree and was assured I could get a flight, so off I go.

DSC02499DSC02543DSC02542

Marree is a literally a one horse town! It was once on the Ghan railway line but no more. There is really nothing but tourism now at Marree. There is a pub and a general store. I expect there’s a church but I didn’t see it.

DSC02540DSC02501

I met Jenny the Manager of the “Oasis” ( General Store/ Post Office/ Petrol Station/Caravan Park/ Café/ bottle shop) She was a breath of fresh air. I thought she was a Pom as she has an English accent but she said she had been brought up in Whyalla which was “full of Poms” hence the accent.

She showed me to my “Luxury Cabin” which I must say was very comfortable.

DSC02502

Dinner was at 6.30pm. It was “roast night”. Boy did I get a feed… three couses, lots of everything, beef, pork, lamb and to cap it off a bread and butter pudding, all for $15.00. The cracking on the pork was the best I’ve had in years ( even a match for yours, Doug!)

The next day I waited to get a flight. There isn’t much to do in Marree except chat to the locals and the few other visitors. Everybody is very friendly and a conversation that takes two minutes at home lasts for hours.

I met “Bill”, an 83 year old German from Brisbane. He had recently lost his wife and wanted to talk. He left me some “Minties” this morning as he left. I found them on Azulo. Isn’t that sweet. He came to Australia in the 50’s. He called himself a “10 Pound Krout” He had been in Bonegilla Refugee Camp in Victoria (Merry and I and our friends visited Bonegilla at Easter… It’s a fascinating place. Many non-UK  Migrants passed through Bonegilla when they first arrived in Australia)

Jenny and Lyle, the owner of the Oasis and Chef extraordinaire  became good friends! Lyle is a typical country Aussie… gruff, loud and friendly. He has lived his whole life in Marred.

The “Oasis team” also included Laurie the Caravan Park cleaner who sat chatting  with me over dinner and Avail, a 22 year old Queensland girl who answered an advert in Gumtree and drove all the way from Rockhampton to get the job.

She said she needs a job and this was going. There’s a lesson for other unemployed people isn’t there. A little effort and flexibility go along way.
DSC02541

I made a video of Marree but can’t load it onto YouTube which should be easy but won’t work. Very frustrating. If you think you can help me… email me on gbransbury@gmail.com…maybe you can sort out my problem.

I eventually managed to get a flight over Lake Eyre. There isn’t much water in it now so there were no birds, but it is very special.

I’m sorry , the photos don’t do it justice.

DSC02520

DSC02518DSC02523DSC02537DSC02513

Now, back to Marree Man.

He was discovered 20 years ago. Nobody has owned up to doing it. It is controversial because it was done on Aboriginal land without any permission or permits.

Recently, a group of Publicans keen to encourage tourism in the area set about restoring Marree Man and took their tractors and graders onto the site to renovate it.

The Aboriginals are furious and the State Government has imposed bans and Law suits are pending.

Whatever the rights or wrongs, Marree man is an impressive sight and rivals, visually, anything I saw in Peru at the Nazca Lines. (Mind you, the Nazca Lines are a little older …they were created between 500 BC and 500 AD)