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

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

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Photos: Vasse Félix Vineyard in the Margaret River district

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We saw some lovely beaches… this one is Hamlyn Beach

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

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

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

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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.

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

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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

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

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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.

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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.

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Some more photos of “Freo”

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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!

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They had a free wine tasting on board..

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Perth hop on bus

Perth hop on bus

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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!

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 thoughts on “South West WA with Merry

  1. What is the giant donut in the first picture and the rainbow of shipping containers?
    Freemantle looks lovely and is now on my places to visit if we come back to Oz.
    What a fun coincidence bumping into Geoff!
    Karen x

  2. Terrific photos again, Geoff, they paint such a wonderful picture of your travels.
    So glad you and Merry had such a great week together, it was good to catch up
    with her this morning. Coffee and travel stories are always most enjoyable.
    Ride safely.
    Love,
    Wendy and Rod.

  3. Looks like great weather, and the photos are marvellous. W A is such a beautiful place , a good time ‘had by all’. Keep up the good work…..thanks Geoff.

    • Hi Margartet
      Actually the weather hasn’t been terrific…cold with showers. i just managed to take most of the photos when there was blue sky!

  4. Those caves look fantastic; love to see them in the “flesh”
    I don’t think you mentioned anything about setting of the smoke alarm in an earlier blog; what else are you keeping to yourself! But what a coincidence.
    Very impressed with the photos of the prison; Gill has always wanted to visit a prison with “real” inmates.
    You seemed to be doing all right with the wine tasting – 5 glasses on the table and one in your hand, together with a satisfied grin!
    But, time to stop enjoying yourself – get back on the bike!
    Love to you and Merry.
    Vic & Gill

  5. WA is a great place and the SW is really special with the trees etc.
    I hope you enjoy your ride up north – there is some fantastic scenery to see and very different to what you have been through. The Kimberleys are our favourite place in the world – unique!.
    Look forward to your next post.

  6. Brings back many happy memories of a wonderful part of Australia with so much to see and do
    Wineries are sensational!
    Glad you both have had a great week together
    Hearty Cheers

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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

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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

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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

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

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A very beautiful and emotional statue

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The old Guard House

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

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Other things I saw in Albany in between heavy showers…

The Gaol House

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The Whaling station. It was closed in 1978

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

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Again, the pictures don’t do justice to this

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 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

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Some company on the course. Gordon and friend

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Some “Cockies” in Gordon’s garden

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

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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!

 

 

 

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19 thoughts on “Esperance and Albany

  1. Hi Geoff, Seems as though my message disappeared somewhere. Loved your commentary
    and had a good chuckle re some of it. Love the history of WA…..great shots again.
    Loved the cows at Cowarmarup ? country girl coming out!
    Hope you both enjoy Margaret River area. Keep it rolling, great stuff.
    Take care, safe travels.
    Margaret

  2. Hi Geoff……I’m a bit late with a reply, but enjoyed it all again immensely. Had a chuckle about a few
    things in your commentary. All good stuff. Hope you enjoy Margaret River, I loved the cows at
    Cowarmarup? hope that’s correct spelling.
    Take care and enjoy your time in WA. Thanks Geoff.
    Margaret

  3. I’m so glad to see you properly dressed to play golf – very British keeping up the Standards!
    Love the story about renaming the street(s); real outside-the-box stuff.
    Great photos again – David Bailey would be proud!
    Keep the blogs coming.

  4. Margaret River is where my great, great grandparents settled, firstly at Ellensbrook now national Trust, just up the road. they were part of the Bussell family. Hence Bussellton. I love that part of the world. Hope you both have fun!
    Robyn

  5. Hi Geoff – Great pictures and story-telling as ever; it’s always a joy to be on your pillion. We’re learning so much! And I really loved that walkway at the Gap! We’re certain that you’ll have a great time after meeting up with Merry. I wondered what the Margaret River would be like so I looked it up – I should have guessed! The web site says “world class wineries and award-winning restaurants”. Hope you can get back on the bike afterwards!!!!
    Enjoy – and go well!
    Wendy and Alan

  6. Hello So glad your trip is going without too many hiccups (the diesel moment !!!!) Have a lovely time with merri so glad she is totally repaired. Look forward to next post and wonderful pictures.
    Yvonne and Norman Swan
    Sandy Bay Probus Club Sandringham

    • Hi Yvonne and Norman
      I really can do without the hiccups but I suppose it’s all part of it.. they are what you remember later.
      We’re in Margaret River now having a rest

  7. Great photos Geoff, I really look forward to them. But we never expected to see one of Stonehenge in Oz! Maybe some Druids around somewhere…..
    Hope you and Merry have a really good break together. xx Val Nev

    • H Val and Nev
      Spent last night with Juliets son Alex and his wife Rachel in Bunbury. We rang Juliet which was nice. We’re now in Margaret River sampling the food and wine
      Love G

  8. For us uneducated “Poms” what is OMO sand? I looked it up and all I got was Unilever Omo washing conditioner and a weird artists Facebook page…..
    The sand looks amazing with all those wavy lines in.
    That Stonehenge is in a much better condition than the one here and doesn’t have any barriers either!
    The politicians have good ideas there – now trying to imagine what Theresa May and Jeremy Corbin would come up with….
    Enjoy golf with Gordon while I try and find out more about Black Jack Anderson as he sounds a character!
    PS – over the “senior” moment – Phil did that about 8 years ago so if you don’t like saying it’s a senior moment use the same reason he did – bad labelling! 😉
    Have a fabulous time with Merry too. Love Karen, Phil and the boys x

    • Hi Karen
      Don’t you have OMO washing powder in UK?
      It’s meant to wash whiter than white!
      That’s what I meant… the sand could have been washed with OMO!

  9. Glad that you survived Kalgoorlie without getting into too much trouble Geoff and great photos of the landscape.
    Hope you and Merry have a great time touring. Presumably Azulo won’t mind a few days off as well.
    Rod & Wendy

  10. Whatever the disasters you face, Geoff, you always seem to land on your feet. Such resilience. Some magnificent scenery as always from a Master Photographer. Not to mention the history lessons. Pleased to hear that Merri is arriving to supervise your trip to Margaret River.

    • Hi Peter
      Thanks for your confidence in my ability to get out of trouble. My problem though is that I manage to get into trouble in the first place!

  11. Hello my friend. Glad to hear Azulo has been such a good boy. Loving the photos. John and I visited Albany years ago and loved it. Sitting in my window seat looking out over the bay whilst reading a travel brochure on Mongolia and Russia. Say hi to Merry. Shirley

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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!

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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)

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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.

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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!

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

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

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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.

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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:

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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.

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

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There were over 30 brothels too.

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

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

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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

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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:

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This truck carries 225 tons and cost $4.4 million

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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!

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31 thoughts on “The Nullarbor and Kalgoorlie

  1. Great stuff. Really good read. Keep it coming! Have been away with no fi-wi access, so haven’t been able to comment for some time. Love to Merry when you see her. Vic & Gill

  2. Great Stuff Geoff. Would you believe that I crossed the Nullabor in 1957 in the Mobilgas Round Australia rally in a Renault Dauphine. The car gave up by the time we got to Broome and we had to limp home with our exhaust pipe between our legs.
    I am enjoying the luxury of travelling in the comfort of my study, and am certainly loving the great photos and descriptions. Pity about the lack of photos from skimpy night.

    • John
      Amazing! What was the road like then? What a journey you had. Mine is very tame by comparison
      I’ve booked for the whale sharks at Coral Bay. I’m really looking forward to that
      Geoff

    • Hi Moon
      Glad you’re enjoying the blog. How do you like your new President? He looks good but seems odd to me he can get elected with no party and not much experience. Don’t think that can happen here or UK with the Westminster system. Interesting.
      Geoff

  3. Hi Geoff,
    Excellent photos great the camera is working well
    You trip brings back memories of our travels across the never ending Nullarbor but as you said the scenery does change
    Happy travels

  4. Really glad you found your camera! As usual your photos are great, Alex in particular loves the trucks, I love the sea.
    Alex looked up the tree and found the red river gum, or Eucalyptus cameldulmensis so wonders if it’s that. I love the choice of places on that sign – particularly Cocklebiddy. Looking at our map following your journey I’m convinced town names in Australia had a sense of humour! Stay out the way of those trucks! Karen and Alex x

    • Thanks Alex!
      The Turks don’t look as big in pictures as they do in reality. They are absolutely huge. A rookie truck driver gets paid $70,000 (45,000 pounds) Not bad for starters. They are always looking for workers so there is an opportunity for Alex or Tom?
      Love Geoff

  5. Am enjoying travelling with you from the comfort of an armchair. Would you be surprised if I said I would prefer to be riding pillion with you?? Ha, ha – don’t think so! Once again, great pics.
    Looking forward to next week and a more comfortable way of travel.
    Xxxx. M

  6. So glad you found your camera. Loved the Head of Bight & Bunda cliffs……..spectacular.
    Haven’t been to the places on your ride……so something to look forward to at some stage.
    Must be very tiring riding solo, you are amazing.
    Population of Kalgoorlie? Looks very interesting!!!
    Thanks again Geoff……..safe riding, keep enjoying. Look forward to the next one.

    • Hi Margaret
      Yes it does get lonely, probably more so on this trip. The comments on the blog really help me and give me company!
      I did feel my age after riding 1500 k in two days. Too much for me now! This getting old stuff is not recommexded!

  7. As always, an absorbing selection of photos, Geoff. Great stuff. Can hardly wait to see your next post.

  8. Fantastic, Geoff, we love reading your blog and great photos…as always!!
    So lucky to find your camera, your “Good Angel” is doing a fine job.
    Cold, wet and windy here in Melbourne…enjoy the warm, sunny weather
    in Western Australia.
    Love,
    Wendy and Rod.

  9. Great Pictures and stories. How lucky to have found camera. Hope the weather keeps shining for you. Keep safe look forward to next blog. Yvonne and Norman x

  10. Hi Geoff, we were getting twitchy about the lack of blog and pictures. Glad everything is OK but most importantly that you found your camera. The pictures are superb and getting the background story to the area is really great. Just one thing, what is that Dalek doing on the platform in the last picture? Are they Dr. Who fans or escapees from the BBC? May the sun continue to shine, no repeats of Lower Slaughter!! Love Wendy and Alan

  11. Ah, so lovely to have my armchair travel again! Thank you, Geoff for the pics and story.
    Those Kalgoorlie pubs look fabulous. What a lovely looking town. Happy trails to you! x Shirley

    • Hi Shirley
      Great to have you pillion again
      I hope you’re feeling better.
      It’s been too long since we saw you and John. We must fix that on my return
      Love G

    • Thanks Rob. Those gum trees look sunburned. I don’t think I’ve seen them in Victoria but I’m not really big on trees!

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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..

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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

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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.

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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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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)

 

 

 

 

33 thoughts on “Journey to the Outback

  1. Hi Geoff,

    Australia’s a big country!

    Thought Lake Eyre would have more water after the recent big wet.

    Unbelievable report-looking forward to the next one.

    Kindest regards,

    • Hi Peter
      Thanks for your message. I thought Lake Eyre would have more water too but it takes months for the Queensland rains to work their way down. Need to go back around Xmas!

  2. Great journey Geoff.
    Please do not “dispense with care”!!
    Looking forward to hearing/seeing more.
    Safe travels & best wishes,

    Simon & Barbara Appel

  3. Hi Geoff, so glad you are not the disappearing man and great to get your blog and the super photos. Like Bill I nearly rang Merry to ask! Wi-Fi use out in those vast empty spaces must be quite a problem. Perhaps you do need a dongle whatever that is! Valx

  4. As interesting as usual. We really do look forward to receiving the latest news.
    What interesting people you find!
    Don’t forget to say something really English when you leave; like “toodle pip” !
    Vic & Gill

  5. Great pihotos Geoff, the Flinders Ranges are spectacular. You will be acclimatised now for the cold nights in the desert. Stay well and safe. Ken & Margie

  6. Great pictures Geoff. Is Lake Eyre salty? I assume so because there seems to be no vegetation round it. Keep trucking on! love J.

    • Hi Juliet
      Thanks. We’re looking forward to seeing Alex and Rachel on 15th. Seems so far away from where I am now though!

  7. Wow, more great pics…….some remind me of Albert Namatjira ‘s paintings years ago (not sure of
    correct spelling).
    All sounds fabulous, keep enjoying and safe travelling.

  8. Thanks for the great photos Geoff. Hanife and I love the outback and get a great kick out of reliving our trips through your blog. Take care and continue to have a grand adventure around OZ. John and Hanife B.

  9. Hi, didn’t get another blog so had to ring Merry to hear how you were. She said you were having trouble getting the internet and you were OK. Glad you managed to get to the Flinders Ranges as had a wonderful week there a few years ago. Keep blogging !!! Bill

  10. We loved reading your latest installment, Bill sounds like he has had a colourful life. Alex particularly likes the photos from Lake Eyre, and says the red one looks like volcanic rock! (his favourite thing).
    I hope the weather (and wifi) improve for you too.
    Karen and Alex
    PS – we went to Bunnings at the weekend and met an Aussie who was visiting relatives up North but came down here purely to see Bunnings!

    • Alex is right it does look like volcanic rock. What do think of Bunnings? Glad you like the blog… it was a long time coming.

      • I loved it! Phil wasn’t too sure the first time he went (I’ve not forgiven him yet for going without me!) as he said the aisles are narrower and as its a warehouse the shelves are stacked to the ceiling, which is unlike our DIY stores. However, they had a HUGE range of products, all really good prices, and a lot said they were from Australia too! Their customer service was absolutely excellent, and not what we’re used to in a DIY store! And the sausages were good……

  11. Good to have you back in touch with us all again, Geoff, very frustrating for a champion Blogger not to be able to share his adventures!!! We are so pleased you were able to fly over Lake Eyre after making your big detour,
    wonderful photos as usual.
    Love,
    Wendy and Rod.

  12. Nice to see the photos. Flinders Ranges sure are spectacular. Did you go to the MCG. (Maree Cricket Ground)

  13. Great pics. Glad you have managed to get wi-fi, even if you had to travel as far as Ceduna to get it. The Siberians and South Americans need to give the Aussie govt. a few lessons in up to date wi-fi coverage! Safe (and dry) travels. Watch out for the roos and road trains. Xxx

    • Thanks Merry. I probably should have bought a dongle… can you ask Stu what he thinks… I could get one in Esperance maybe?

  14. I was just thinking last night ” i wonder where Geoff is at, hope nothing bad has happened” Good to hear you’re ok mate and thanks for the great pics.

    Moon

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Around Australia trip begins – 24/25th April

Azulo is rearing to go!

He should be rearing to go as his service cost me $1000! …By the way…Azulo, if you haven’t followed my adventures before, is my trusty Kawasaki KLR 650.

Azulo and I are now doing our fourth trip together. Azulo is showing signs of old age. Fingers crossed he makes it around what I expect will be some 20,000 kilometres.

Actually I’m getting a bit long it the tooth also. Merry even bought me some Pilates vouchers for Christmas as she jokingly thought I might have trouble getting on the bike! You’ll be pleased to know I proved her wrong.

Here is roughly my route. I’m heading clockwise around. Merry meets me in Perth and again in Darwin which will be great.

Azulo and Geoff's route 2017 - Copy

It was a lovely day but rain is forecast for Western Victoria.  After a coffee and croissant with Merry, we head out.

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Normally I don’t book anywhere to stay in advance but since this is the first day I had booked a motel in Portland, Western Victoria.

Big mistake! Not because of the motel but because of the rain. The first 200k are lovely but then it rains cats and dogs.

I arrive in Portland absolutely soaked. My feet are sloshing around in my boots and my wet weather gear is totally useless as I’m soaked. In all my travels I haven’t got so drenched.

Luckily the motel has a drier and I have a cask of red wine so I’m soon feeling better. There is a Kentucky Chicken place next door so that is tea fixed.

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Things get better still when my footy team, Richmond Tigers win their fifth game of the season

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My Portland Motel

This is all I saw of Portland. It looks quite a nice place but the rain doesn’t help14

The forecast for 25th wasn’t great. Actually it was terrible. Hail and rain were forecast.

I stopped for petrol and thought it might be a good idea to anticipate the worst and put my useless wet weather gear on. Now, if you’re an aging biker like me you’ll understand that getting the wet weather trousers on is quite a struggle. It’s a lot easier if you have a chair otherwise its nearly impossible!

So, I asked the girl at the counter if I could borrow  a chair…” No we don’t have any chairs” she said emphatically and extremely helpfully.

I was therefore left with no option but to balance on the ice cream fridge and struggle to get the wretched wet weather trousers on.

I crossed the border near Mount Gambier. As you see this farmer proudly supports his footy team the “Crows”

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Mount Gambier is famous for it’s “Blue Lake” This is a volcanic crater filled with water. The water is meant to be a deep blue.

It wasn’t very blue today but it is still impressive and the big crater is virtually in the town itself!

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This is my arty shot!

April 25th is Anzac Day. For your information, if you’re not an Aussie or Kiwi, Anzac Day is our remembrance day for those killed in all the wars. The significance of April 25th is because on 25th April 1915 the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on the beaches of Gallipoli

Every town in Australia and New Zealand commemorate this day with dawn services and marches.

I attended the Mt Gambier march. The proud old soldier in the photo below was the only one left to march in his section. It brought a tear to my eyes and everybody was clapping him. Good on him.

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This old soldier was the only one left in his section. It doesn’t look like it in the photo but he is in the march

Mt Gambia is a pretty town with some lovely colonial buildings

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The rest of the day was spent dodging the rain showers and meandering along the pretty South Australian Coast through some nice little towns such as Beachport and Robe

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The Pier, Beachport

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Robe

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The Customs House Robe

Tomorrow I head towards the Flinders Ranges and the outback. I hope to do a flight to Lake Eyre.

 

 

 

 

39 thoughts on “Around Australia trip begins – 24/25th April

  1. Well done Geoff braving the elements………what a pity it turned on a wet ‘welcome’ to your
    start of the journey. Anyway, your photography is up to your amazing standard.
    I was born in the Western district……….10 miles out of Colac on a farm right on the Princes Highway…..towards Camperdown.
    Lived in Warrnambool too…………a wonderful place.
    Safe travels and take care! Hope the weather improves.

  2. I’m back on board – or should I say getting saddle sore on the pillion.
    Your Oz blog takes a LONG time to download.
    Britain is in turmoil, as we prepare for a unexpected election Well, you predicted it.
    Keep dry and keep safe

  3. Alex now wants to go to Mt Gambier to see the blue lake, being a big fan of volcanoes. Hope if you need your wet weather clothes again there is a chair available. Enjoy Lake Eyre. Karen (and Alex)

    • Yes, Alex as a volcano expert would like Mt Gambia. Looks like you better save the pennies for the flight over?

  4. Looks like a great trip – Saw the perfect biker patch the other day that made me think of you.. “Sons of Arthritis”… At this point you could be a charter member of the Nurofen Chapter! so the image of you trying to put on your wet weather togs brought that image right back… May your seat stay comfortable and never ride faster than your angel can fly!!

    Andy

  5. Good effort soldiering on through the rain, Geoff. Hope you found some newspaper for your boots!!
    Love your arty shot, and all your terrific photos. Looking forward to a few months of your entertaining blog again. Ride safely.
    Love,
    Wendy and Rod.
    PS …go Tiges!!!

    • Glad you like the arty photo. I have to try and stay in the photo comp!
      Wilpena Pound tomorrow hopefully, I’ll look for your painting

  6. There’s no doubt about you, Geoff…. wet as a shag, boots full of water and yet you still manage to generate perfect photo shoots and professional commentary !!!
    We love following your travels – keep up the excellent work, travel safely and stay dry – if possible.
    Love & best wishes – Di & Stevo.

  7. Bon Voyage Geoff.
    An interesting diversion from Kalgoorlie is north to Menzies,about 50 k, then west about 20 k to Lake Ballard, a salt lake with weird sculptures.
    Another remarkable place we have experienced is Mill Stream/ Chichester National Park, an historic sheep/cattle station – a couple of hours inland from Karatha.
    As you are ” going past”! they may fit into your itinerary.

    • Thanks Alan and Robyn
      Appreciate the input I’ll see how I’m going and if time permits I’ll go…. I don’t dare be late for Merry!

    • HI Maggie
      Thanks for looking…. we visited Mt Gambier in 1970. It wasn’t blue then either
      Yes I hope the weather improves. It’s not much fun on a bike in the wet and cold. This is Australia though so I’m sure it won t last long!

  8. Hi Geoff

    Great to see you and Azulu back on the road for another grand adventure
    Best wishes for a safe and fun trip
    Hope to catch up when you make North Queensland

    Cheers
    Rob

  9. Sorry about the rain Geoff. Poor Azulu! Your touching photo of the Anzac veteran mirrored the scene at St.Heliers parade yesterday. Really hot calm day, several young flag bearers keeled over in the heat. Nev marched in support of the vets, so few of them left., a 100 year old being pushed in a wheelchair. Great fly past at 11am. Drive well, xx

  10. Hi Geoff, sorry you got so wet. Look after Azulo, that machine has a personality all of its own and also a fan club! We feel that the local TV and newspapers should be informed of this journey, there are not many people who can complete this epic trip. The pictures are good and we are checking out each of your destinations. I am currently doing Aboriginal art with the class…..spots everywhere, including all over me. Take care, Wendy & Alan

  11. Surely the weather can only become drier!
    Fascinating to see parts of Oz that I haven’t even heard of.
    But it’s good to read your blog again – keep it up.
    Vic & Gill

  12. We can just picture it Geoff – fighting the wet weather gear on an ice cream fridge! Our imagination went into overdrive!!! Hope the weather improves. Go well and best wishes from St Albans

  13. Great Geoff you have braved the elements early!
    And OH arriving at Portland and having a glass of Red Wine certainly makes it all well worth while
    All the best in your travels

  14. Great Geoff you have braved the elemements early!
    And OH arriving at Portlandcabd having a glass of Red Wine certainly makes it all well worth while
    All the best in your travels

  15. Geoff, I half expected you to delay your departure in view of the ominous weather forecast. But, having perservered, you may dreive some comfort from that old adage : pleasure through adversity!! Yes??

  16. You are now entering holy ground – the Western District of Victoria, my stamping ground. Born in Hamilton in 1940 and travelled to Portland and Port Fairy on a regular basis throughout my teenage years. Enjoy.

  17. Good Luck drive safely and hopefully we hope to see you again at the Sandy Bay Probus Club Sandringham again next year. We will be following you journey.

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just for kicks

The next big trip starts on April 24th 2017, This year Azulo and I are riding around Australia ..heading West

Merry is meeting me in Perth and again in Darwin.

I hope you’ll all come with me again and send me messages!

Take a look at this video…it will bring back memories for all old bikers!

You’ll need to turn the sound up LOUD!…The song was recorded by Mike Sane back about 1963

17 thoughts on “just for kicks

  1. Geoff,
    My family and I will be coming to Australia this June 30th-July 10th. We will mostly be in Sydney as my son is attending the Hillsong United conference.
    How long is your big trip around Australia going to take you?
    Cheers, Bryan.

  2. Hope your first day has gone really well and you’ve enjoyed the views. We’re all looking forward to your first post. Karen, Phil and boys x

  3. I can’t wait to log on and catch up with a feed of photo’s (including video), stories & adventure, looking forward to hearing about the Australian version of plover Geoff
    I will be off on a less ambitious ride myself from May 19th till early June at the Ulysses AGM in Port Macauarie, I have a new BMW 1600 cruiser to do it in comfort….Happy riding Geoff,

    • That’ll be a nice ride Stuart on your new bike. Azulo is getting a bit long in the tooth now so I hope he hangs in there!

  4. We’ve printed off our map and red pen is at the ready for Alex to draw out your route as you go. We can’t wait for your next adventure to start!

    • Thanks Juliet. Lucy is heading for England soon… she’s in Nepal doing voluntary acupuncture. Loving it I think

  5. Well I ain’t THAT old Geoff mate! but I’ll surely be following you around Oz. Hope you have a great trip.

    MooN

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37 thoughts on “Azulo’s next trip!

  1. Hey Geoff: Getting close to the STARTING LINE!!
    Is all set for the flag down? Sounds a mighty big circumnavigation but guess that’s Oz. Have you got a Union Jack sticker on Azulo?

    Have fun – don’t get dizzy – Good to hear Merry is joining with you for a part of the route! Even by car.
    Go safely and mind the Roos and the Smokeys this time!!!
    I think Andrew is going to have to sail a long way to meet up with you in 2017?
    The Hobbs in Barkshire near Queen Liz’s shack!!

  2. It was over 50 years ago you did your first big bike road trip, (round Europe). Didn’t get to go with you then. Glad to be there this time.

  3. Hi Geoff. Enjoyed sharing some of your Sth American travels at the Probus meeting and look forward to hearing about some more of your adventures. Enjoy your travels around OZ. Lots to see and do. Have a safe and trouble free trip. Regards Cathy

  4. Goeff –
    Looks like an amazing trip around Australia! We have done some of your route, started in Albany and headed up the west coast through Perth, Broom and Darwin. Only difference is we flew, and weren’t on a motorcycle!
    Have a wonderful trip and we look forward to “traveling with you.”

    • Hi Maria and Bruce

      I hope you are both well. Pity we had to cancel USA trip. Merry still not the best but coming along. it was a bad ankle break
      She’ll meet me in Perth and Darwin
      I start at the end of April. Look forward to you both as my pillions!
      Love Geoff

  5. Looks like quite a ride and I imagine you’ll encounter some different climates BUT at least it is still home!! Should make it easier searching accomodation etc. It’s about time you truly explored your own country. Have a great trip and keep the post and pics coming please!

  6. Depending on your start date, if soon an anticlockwise direction will give you the best weather.
    Wallaroo is good advice and l can give you a good pub. Talk to you soon. Paul

  7. All the best Geoff, looks fantastic. When do you leave.?
    Safe travelling, will be following your trip with great interest.
    Cheers, Margaret

      • Hi Geoff, I sure will be a pillion passenger….. all the best, take care, travel safely and enjoy.
        Probus would like you to come again after your travels in October or November if that is
        possible please!
        Look forward to seeing it all.
        Cheers………Margaret

  8. All the best Geoff, looks fantastic. Safe travelling…..when do you leave?

    Take care, will be watching you all the way.
    Cheers, Margaret

  9. Can’t quite work out the route on the south west; Albany – Margaret River – Perth.
    Looks like an enormous round-about, and the only way to cover all would be to go over some of the same route twice. Have you chosen poorly ?

    • Hi Vic

      The reason for the roundabout in WA is because Merry meets me in Perth and we hire a car and visit the wine are of Margaret River. I think the distance will be close to 20,000 kms on the clock
      Geoff

  10. Good to see you’re getting out again. Haven’t been to Australia, though the prevailing wisdom is that it’s much larger than visitors anticipate… After all, it’s a Continent, not just a country. Good luck!

    • Of course, after the fact I realized you’re an Aussie anyway, so you’re not straying too far from home… Exploring the Big Back Yard.

      • Hi Francis
        How nice to hear from you. I enjoyed your book and loved Nova Scotia. I would like to come back one day with my wife Merry
        Hope you are well
        Geoff

    • Hi Ron
      Good to hear from you
      I hope the motorcycle moving business is going well. My dear old bike is getting long in the tooth but hopefully will cope with the next ride!. Thanks for commenting
      Geoff

  11. If you wish to avoid Port Augusta which is not much of a place (The Gutter) You can short cut on the ferry to Wallaroo.

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Journeys end

I’m home in Melbourne now. I flew out of LA on Monday 27th July. Azulo is waiting for a ship home!

Me with Maggie (left) and Mister

Me with Maggie (left) and Mister

Merry has had her second operation on her ankle and is doing well. It’s a bad break and she has had a bone graft. She will have to go to rehab and won’t be home for a while. It’ll be a long haul for her.

San Antonio to Los Angeles

I liked San Antonio. Apart from the Alamo and the other Spanish Missions, the City has a fabulous “Riverwalk” area. This is a sort of an “American Venice”! There are dozens of restaurants lining the narrow river…Maybe it’s a canal…I’m not sure. Anyway it’s excellent

Riverwalk - San Antonio

Riverwalk – San Antonio

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The next day, my journey to LA began in earnest. I decided however to detour a little from the main “Interstate 10” to see some interesting countryside.

I headed South West towards El Paso but detoured South to the Deep Bend National Park which is on the Mexican Border.

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I decided to lash out and stayed in a lovely Hotel called the Gage Hotel in a little place called Marathon. I really could have stayed a few days there!

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That night I had dinner with a father and son who were going camping in the park together. The son, Jack, 15, was driving Brian’s Hummer! Brian asked me if I would like to have a drive! Naturally I said yes but unfortunately we had too much to drink and the moment was lost!

Jack and Brian at the "Gage"

Jack and Brian at the “Gage”

DSC01159I had something called “deep fried chicken” for my main course….Actually it’s not chicken but beef that is “deep fried”….it tasted a bit like schnitzel to me.

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The next day was as long ride of about 700 K. Again, instead of going straight down the I-10 I detoured North towards Albuquerque stopping at Socorro where I headed West through the mountains to Scottsdale near Phoenix. This route had been suggested by my “Travel Agent” – Stuart. It proved a good choice as the road crossed some varied countryside from green mountainous to dry desert. I stopped for breakfast in a little village at a local diner and had the best bacon and eggs in a long while

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Scottsdale

I reached Scottsdale where I stayed with my good friend and ex-business Partner, Jim Josephson and his wife Susan. Jim cooked a fantastic steak on his new and very fancy BBQ. The BBQ had a special “searing element” (I haven’t seen that before???) Anyway the result is that the steak had a tasty charcoal crust which was superb. Why it had a charcoal taste mystifies me as there was no charcoal. Maybe someone can explain that?

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Los Angeles

The next day, Sunday I rode the 600 k to LA. It was a long and hot ride and I arrived around 4.00 pm.

In LA I stayed with my relative Andy Wainwright and his wife Melissa and son Alex. They live not far from Newport Beach and the GPS took me through the Cleveland National Park (I think that’s what it was called) It is a simply fantastic ride through the mountains and a biker paradise. Azulo was in second heaven with lots of long bends. What a great way to end the ride!

Alex (left) me and Andy Wainwright

Alex (left) and Andy Wainwright

We went out to a nice restaurant and later Andy and I polished off a bottle of Port sitting outside on his Patio. It was cool so he lighted a “fire table” (I’ve forgotten what it’s actually called). Again, that was something I hadn’t seen before…It’s a table with a hole in the centre where an element is heated by propane. The element is covered with glass cuttings. The net result is that it feels like you are sitting by a camp fire. I might try and get one of these for our home!

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It was a great way to finish the trip spending my last two nights with friends in their homes

Andy kindly drove with me on Monday to the shipping agent and we said goodbye to Azulo who will now be shipped home to Melbourne for a well-earned rest. Andy then dropped me off at LAX

Melbourne, Australia

It is good to be home. I got home at about 7.00 AM and received absolutely NO welcome from my two dogs! They were fast asleep. Some guard dogs.

Later Stuart and I visited Merry. It was good to see her and she is doing well

Merry - she must be feeling better!

Merry – she must be feeling better!

So, another trip is over and this is the end of the blog.

A word about Azulo, my Kawasaki KLR 650

I must make a tribute to my trusty faithful bike Azulo. He has now covered 60,000 K on my travels around the world. We have gone from Buenos Aires to LA, Vladivostok to London and Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada to LA.Over these trips, I have had no serious mechanical breakdowns. The only issues throughout the journeys have been water on the petrol in Kyrgyzstan, a puncture in Colombia, a broken side stand switch in Siberia and several problems with the pannier struts and foot pegs.

I think Mr Kawasaki should be very proud….. I should tell them!

Goodbye for now. Thank you all for reading my blog and a special thanks for those who have sent me messages.

 

 

 

 

 

23 thoughts on “Journeys end

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Merry falls of her horse

Bad news. Stuart rang and told me that Merry had fallen off her horse, broken her ankle, has some fractures, and is in Hospital

That was late on Saturday night. Since then, she has had an operation on her ankle…She has to have a second operation soon. She was in as good spirits as possible but fuming that she has to cancel our Alaskan Cruise and drive through USA/Canada.

Poor Merry's foot after the first Operation

Poor Merry’s foot after the first Operation

It seems that because of the fractures and the second operation,she will have to go to rehab. So she might not get home for a while.I hope I can get home before her!

I’ve been pondering what to do. I’ll definitely cut my trip short as I want to get home to be with Merry but that’s easier said than done…I have to do something with Azulo. To cut a long story short, trucking the bike to LA wouldn’t save me much time and shipping from Houston is not an option according to the Agent, so I’ll ride faster to LA!

Stuart and Lucy have been fantastic and her friends are rallying around the flag! It gives me much relief to know she is in good hands

My journey from New Orleans

After that news, my journey seems a bit insignificant, but as they say…the show must go on!

I rode hard from New Orleans to Houston but took the long route via Galveston. There is a free Ferry that crosses the Bolivar Peninsula

Houses on stilts along the Gulf shore

Houses on stilts along the Gulf shore

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Houston

My Melbourne friend, Peter Harford had kindly “dobbed” in his son Philip into having me stay whilst in Houston. Poor Philip!

Philip has a lovely home with lots of room! ….

Philip Harford outside his lovely Houston home

Philip Harford outside his lovely Houston home

He kindly had me to stay for the weekend. Philip works for BHP and there are a whole bunch of Aussies here!

On Saturday we went to a Wine tasting of Australian and New Zealand wines and then onto a Bar with his Aussie mates.

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Now, as we know, Aussies like a good time and lots to drink….Boy oh boy! By about 9.00 (the wine tasting was at 2.30) I was almost on my ear! They are a great bunch of mates but I wouldn’t like to be here every Saturday night!

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The beer here is strong so I thought I would change to wine. Bad move! They serve wine in tumblers….everything is BIG in Texas!

I was talking to this Harley rider who was there with his two daughters and he had bought a tumbler of wine for one of them but she didn’t want it so he gave it to me…so I had TWO tumblers which it seems make up ONE PINT. The photo of me shows me with my PINT of wine. No, it’s not water!

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On Sunday I had a big hangover but boldly got up early to beat the crowds to visit the Space Centre. The Americans really do this sort of thing very well. There was several films and exhibits etc. and we saw Mission Control. I was hoping to see the OLD Mission Control where they controlled the Apollo Missions but unfortunately that is being refurbished

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New Orion Capsule – next generation…going to Mars in 2030

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Phil and I had a huge steak that night…the best I’ve had in quite a while…then an early night!

Austin

Austin

Austin

On Monday I rode to Austin, Capital of Texas.

Phil had suggested I go via Lockhart where there is a famous “ribs” BBQ restaurant called BLACKS. I went there and sampled the ribs…they are sensational!

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In Austin I visited the State Capital Building which is huge and impressive. They financed it after winning independence from Mexico by selling land…they had no money but lots of land!

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Inside the building is a big painting of David Crockett….Better known to people my age as Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier! There was a terrific movie of that name in the 1950’s. I went to see it five times! Every kid of my age was wearing Davy Crockett hats…I think they are beaver hats with the tail hanging from the hat! The music from the film “Ballad of Davy Crockett” was top of the hit parade for weeks! Davy Crockett was killed at The Alamo in San Antonio. Whenever I feel like irritating Merry I sing the song from the film…”Farewell to the mountains”…..I get kicked very quickly!

The point of all this totally irrelevant information is that the David Crockett in the painting looks NOTHING like the Hollywood version that featured Fess Parker! (Compare the pictures below!)

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David Crockett (Davy Crockett)

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Davy Crockett as we saw him in the Movie (Fess Parker)

Davy Crockett as we saw him in the 1950’s Movie (Fess Parker)

very disappointing don’t you think!

On a more intellectual subject I visited President Lyndon B Johnson’s Library. The LBJ Library is quite superb. Again, the Americans do this so well. It is a fantastic legacy on the life and times of their Presidents and how they carved their place in history. I spent most of the day there and was enthralled

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My last night in Austin I wanted some good Texas Ribs. Stuart kindly looked up a few places and suggested Lambert’s Downtown BBQ. An excellent choice!

Lamberts Downtown BBQ

Lambert’s Downtown BBQ

After Austin my next stop was San Antonio to see the Alamo

San Antonio

The Alamo is incredibly small…..

The Alamo

The Alamo

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The Alamo is right in the middle of town as you see from this photo. Over the years, much of the original property has been built over so it’s a bit hard to get a good perspective of the Alamo as it was in 1836

I also visited one of the other Spanish Missions, The Mission of San Jose.

Mission of San Jose

Mission of San Jose

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I’m not quite sure where I’ll head tomorrow but it will be a long ride so an early start tomorrow!

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Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

I’m in New Orleans now. I’ve just had the best time on the SWAMP TOUR on an Air Boat. Amazing. It’s worth boarding a plane RIGHT NOW!

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Back to the story

The last part of my Elvis pilgrimage was to visit Tupelo, Mississippi, 160 K from Memphis.

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Elvis was born here

Elvis was born there and lived there till he was about 13, I think.

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Elvis was born here

Before doing the Elvis “bit” though, I needed to change  Azulo’s oil. I thought that would be easy but no…Could I find anywhere to do it…No. None of the car service places would help and I couldn’t find any motorcycle places. Eventually the lady in the Tupelo Visitors Centre located the local Honda Dealer so off I went

They immediately took Azulo off to the workshop and I was admiring the Honda bikes in the showroom when the Owner, David Hill came and spoke to me. He then offered to show me the sites while Azulo was being serviced. So off we went in his huge Ford truck. How kind is that!

Elvis came from a very poor family. His father Vernon spent three years in jail for forging cheques which made life very hard. They lived in a tiny “shotgun” house…They call it “shotgun” because if you fire a shotgun through the front door the shrapnel comes out the back door! David told me the Presley’s were a fairly feisty lot, ready to have a fight if you wanted one!

He said that the whole area was devastated first by the civil war and then the Great Depression so it has taken over 150 years for the area to recover and prosper. This is a familiar tale I’ve been hearing throughout the South. I never realised the huge disruption the War caused for the South with their Cotton and Sugar industries devastated when the slaves were released…not to mention the sheer destruction and huge loss of life. Over 600,000 soldiers died in the war

The tiny church where the community gathered has been moved near the house and they have a simply superb movie “re-enactment” of a Pentecostal Service.

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It was so unexpected. I was sitting in the pews and suddenly three screens come down…One in front and one each side. They completely cover the whole interior of the church. There then follows a typical service….shown on all three screens. Having never seen a Pentecostal Service it’s sort of like the Negro Spiritual…All were white in the film but there’s lots of singing and joking and the minister holds forth about the glory of god but in a showman like manner. All great fun. No photos allowed though!

Later, I met this guy who told me Elvis was dead!

I said to him that I didn’t doubt it. He then insisted that HE KNOWS FOR A FACT THAT HE IS DEAD…I asked how he knew and he said because his brother was the Paramedic who picked him up from Graceland! He added that the sheets from the Ambulance were taken and ended up in a bank vault but he didn’t know where they were now!

Azulo was waiting when we returned so off I went. David’s daughter and four Grand kids were there too so they received a koala!

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My next stop was Vicksburg in the Mississippi.

I went down the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Typical of the Natchaz Trace Parkway

Typical of the Natchaz Trace Parkway

Vicksburg Mississippi

The siege and surrender of Vicksburg was a major Union Victory in the war and like Gettysburg was a turning point. By taking Vicksburg the Union controlled the river.

Battle for Vicksburg

Battle for Vicksburg

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There was also a naval battle here and one of the Union Ironclads as they were called was sunk when it hit a mine. USS Cairo as it was known was recovered from river and preserved.

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Natchez

The next day Azulo and I moved on to Natchez. This is a town on the Mississippi where the wealthy Cotton Plantation Owners built their “Scarlet O’Hara” Mansions. There are many to see but I had time for just one…It’s a bit like seeing Churches in Europe…after a while you become “over Churched” Anyway, I visited a House called “Rosalie” which was quite beautiful

Rosalie

RosalIe

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I visited a Native Natchez Indian museum

The Natchez Indians were first discovered by the French explorer La Salle when he went down the Mississippi in 16-something. All went well for a while then there was fisticuffs between the French and the Indians so they evacuated to seek protection from the British

Natchez Indian Wigwam

Natchez Indian Wigwam

I then headed off to see a Sugar Plantation near New Orleans called Oak Ally.

The night before I stayed in a cheap Hotel about 20 k from the Plantation. The whole area is virtually an oil field and there was nowhere to eat except for…..wait for it…..CHUCK LIM’S CHINESE DINER!

Well….what a photo opportunity missed. I didn’t have my camera. Chuck Lim’s place needs a “Gordon Ramsey Makeover” …actually I think even Gordon would give up…

I ordered a Chicken Spicy Curry and Fried Rice for the princely sum of $9.00. When the food arrived I almost fell off my chair….The very large waitress carried two HUGE plates piled high with food. There was too much for 4 teenage boys. She sheepishly said …”I think you’ve ordered too much!

The other problem was that it was almost inedible! I chose poorly!

The Oak Ally Plantation is a gem. Again, the Plantation was devastated by the Civil War and the owners went bankrupt. Somehow the property has survived. A must visit if you’re down this way!

 

Oak Ally Plantation LA

Oak Ally Plantation LA

DSC00951 DSC00957 There was an excellent guided tour of the house. I love the costume and the added plastic bottle! Very authentic!

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New Orleans

I checked into an adequate Hotel in the French Quarter called Andrew Jackson. It’s only $125.00 per night which is great value here. The Hotel is on the site of the old Court House where the great man himself (General Andrew Jackson was fined $1000 for refusing to lift the curfew after the war (not the Civil War, the war of 1812)  That’s a lot of money then!

 

My Hotel..Andrew Jackson

My Hotel..Andrew Jackson

Merry and I visited New Orleans in 1977 and stayed in one of the better Hotels in town, the Royal Sonesta. It’s funny isn’t it that all these years later, I’ve slid down a couple of stars! I suppose in 1977 the A$ was 1.14 to the $US compared to .75c today. Also we both had good jobs and no kids!

Royal Sonesta

Royal Sonesta

New Orleans has changed dramatically since 1977. Then, Bourbon Street was full of Jazz Clubs playing all sorts of Jazz and lots of Dixie. That’s completely gone. Bourbon Street now is a bit seedy with strip clubs and many grotty bars. Apparently the night life has the moved to another part of town near Frenchman Street…No Jazz to speak of though. I guess it’s a sign of the times. It’s still a terrific place and the food is awesome!

It may have no jazz but it’s a great place to see and walk about

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Great Cajun dish. Sorry, not sure what it was but it was terrific

Great Cajun dish. Sorry, not sure what it was but it was terrific

 

My highlight was a SWAMP TOUR in an Air Boat.

I must thank Carrie, Stuarts friend who raved about it!

It was absolutely fantastic. The boat reaches speeds in excess of 75 KPH and swerves around through the swamps. The driver stops to see the Alligators….They’re so tame you can touch them

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There are cedar trees everywhere covered with what they call Spanish Moss. The French called it Spanish Beard and the Spanish called it French Wig!

Spanish Moss...The French call it Spanish beard and the Spanish call it French wig

Spanish Moss…The French call it Spanish beard and the Spanish call it French wig

We were told that Henry Ford used the “moss” as filling for car seats. The moss was put into cedar boxes and shipped to Detroit. The boxes were then used as floorboards for his cars. A good plan you might say…until it turned out the moss was full of bugs and lice and hadn’t been treated properly. The cars had to be recalled when people complained about lice in their cars! The world’s first “recall”! Sounds like a tall story but they claim it is a TRUE story. I’ll have to google that someday!

Sadly I must say goodbye to New Orleans. I wish I had more time here.

Tomorrow I ride to Houston. I’m looking forward to visiting the Space Center from where the Apollo missions were controlled….Remember the famous line from Apollo 13…Houston, we have a problem! 

Note about Comments:

thank you all who have sent comments. It’s your comments that keep me doing the blog so keep the coming

if you wonder why you don’t see any response it’s because I answer every comment (I hope) personally. Your comments come through to my email and I reply to your email but my reply doesn’t appear on the blog

 

 

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