Where are we now?

Where are we now?
Where are we now? Tahmoor, NSW. Updated 7th December 2011

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 60. Albany

A day for the birds

After an 8'o'clock sleep in, it was bacon and eggs on the BBQ outside under the awning. It was a beautiful morning. We talked about what we would do today over a second cuppa, and decided to give the bird park a go. Both Shane and Scarlett are quite the 'Bird Nerds' now, they love nothing more than seeing new birds and marking them off in their bird book during an evening together.

So first stop was the Albany Bird Park. It didn't look much from the car park, but it was cheap, and the ladies there were really nice. They gave us all a bowl of fresh fruit and vegies to feed all the birds and animals with. The first aviary we entered was packed with the most beautiful parrots I had ever seen. There were Indian Ringnecks, Eclectus parrots, King parrots, Scalies, Rainbows, and parrots we have never seen before. They were so tame, as soon as we came in the aviary they flew over to us landing on the railing and on our arms to sneak some yummy fruit out of our bowls.

What you looking at?

At one stage I had three beautiful parrots land on me, I didn't know which one to feed first. Scarlett was amazed they would come to her as soon as she held out her hand with food in it. She had a heap of birds land on her arm, head and shoulders. We were in the aviary for ages as the birds were so delightful to just feed and watch them.

We moved on outside and found the biggest pig I ever seen. We gave him some food (like he needed any) and Shane gave him a scratch behind the ears. Shane regretted this straight away, as the pig had been rolling in mud and was putrid. Next to the pig pen were a pair of very friendly donkeys. Shane; trying to show Scarlett it was OK to stand with them for a photo, was nearly pulled back over the fence with them trying to get food from him, Scarlett and I found it very funny.

There were little pony's, emu's and two adorable dingo's. The dingo's were so tame, they came straight over to us for a pat through the fence. Scarlett explored further and found baby chicken's, ducks, rabbits and guinea pigs too. We had a heap of fun playing with the baby guinea pigs, they were so small Scarlett would put them in her little bowl to feed them, she had two at on stage, and was trying to come up with a plan to smuggle them out.

I totally fell in love with a caramel coloured baby bunny rabbit, he was soooo cute, I could easily have taken him home. Scarlett spotted a small pellet of poo stuck to his butt, she was disgusted and wouldn't touch him again after that. It suited me fine, as I had him all to myself after that.

We found a second aviary with more parrots, and Shane had one little fella try with all his might to get his sunglass strap off his head. We laughed so much, this parrot just would not leave poor Shane alone. Scarlett and I again provided food, and ended up having a million parrots landing on us. We loved every minute of it.

After a quick ice cream we were off, what a lovely morning. Thank god we did look further than the car park, Scarlett had the best time ever.

About 12km's down the road was the 'Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve' and I had heard it was home to the best bays around this area so we decided to head there for lunch. We had our picnic at the 'Two Peoples Bay' and it was a lovely spot. There was a little bit of wind though, so Scarlett didn't actually get into the water. However, it was so nice just to sit on the beach and enjoy the view while having lunch there she didn't care.

There was another beach just around the corner from this one called 'Little Beach' and hoping it was a little more sheltered from the wind we moved across to there. Let me just say I know I have raved on about many of the bays and beaches since making it down to this part of the country, and said that they have all been the most beautiful, but this one is my new number one!

'Little Beach'

The water was a beautiful turquoise blue and crystal clear. It had the whitest sand and was back dropped with huge rocky outcrops, this one defiantly takes the cake. It was (so far) the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. I have now decided to start a top 10 beaches for this trip, every time I think I have seen the best beach ever, there is another one the following week that takes my breath away.

We decided on the way home to stop at 'Lake Seppings', a wetland conservation area, and do the 3km round walk and spot some more birds. I must say it was a little bit of a let down, the whole 3kms all we saw were a couple of parrots, a Musk Duck, and a Black Shouldered Kite. It was good exercise though!

My two Bird Nerds (hiding in a 'bird hide')!

We ended the day at the pool, with chicken burgers for dinner. Shane is currently drinking with the grey nomads next door while Scarlett and I are watching 'Home Alone' and eating CC's with melted cheese on top. What a great end to a great day.

Scarlett was very quite (NOT) on the Wetlands walk

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 59. Albany

A day at the museum!

Brig Amity
A windy day greeted us as Scarlett 'rudely' opened all in the windows in the van to wake up both Bec and me at around 7:30am this morning. Bugger!

We desperately needed to get some shopping done, so Bec volunteered to visit the local shopping mall to get the supplies (more like therapy), and I took Scarlett down to the Albany waterfront to explore the brig "Amity", and visit a branch of the Western Australian Museum. Bec dropped Scarlett and I off, and she quickly disappeared around the nearest corner. Meanwhile, Scarlett and I watched a passing goods train, before boarding the 'Amity'.

First a quick history lesson:

The arrival of the original brig into Princess Royal Harbour back in 1826 marked the beginning of Western Australia's colonial history. Under instructions from the British Government, the 'Amity' brought the first European settlers to these shores to establish a military post. The settlement's initial name of Frederickstown never took hold, and in 1832, it was re-named Albany. For several decades, however, it continued to be known as King George Sound.

Scarlett loved exploring this sailing ship from top to bottom, and we even played "pirates" sailing the seven seas and 'collecting' hordes of treasure. She was a little spooked by the creaking sounds deep down in the hold of the 'Amity' (speakers and sounds replicating the sound of the ship at sea), but braved the unknown and even returned after more exploring!

Learning at the museum
Next we went into a branch of the Western Australian Museum and explored the recent history of Albany, as well as sampling the interactive displays they have here for children on the local marine life and wildlife. Scarlett was in heaven! We had the place all to ourselves, and we saw live turtles, sea horses, clown fish, hermit crabs, and numerous insects/creepy crawlies. I think it was a good idea that Bec skipped this one, as she probably wouldn't of enjoyed the creepy crawly insects so much!

We spent hours doing heaps of crafts including making mushrooms with clay, colouring in, painting plaster star fish, and reading books. It was well after lunchtime by the time I had any chance of dragging Scarlett away from this treasure-trove of fun, exploring, and learning! It was a great morning, and I think I almost enjoyed it as much as she did!

Painting Star Fish
Western Pygmy Possum
The afternoon was spent back in the pool and spa, exploring along the beach which is literally on the other side of the sand dunes from the caravan park here at Middleton Beach, playing games in the van parks games room (Scarlett beat me at a game of Pool!), and I even took Scarlett to the two adjacent kids playgrounds near the caravan park to let Bec watch some TV and have some 'girl time'.

Dog Rock

Unfortunately, it was getting very windy and cold by this time, and Scarlett and I had to eventually return to the van for dinner and a hot shower. I think the day was a success for all of us...

Beach behind the caravan park

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 58. Bremer Bay to Albany

A rich ANZAC heritage

We left Bremer Bay this morning with heavy hearts, and just like our mood to be leaving this beautiful place the clouds rolled in and it pretty much drizzled most of the way to Albany. We didn't bother stopping anywhere on the way to Albany as the weather was so miserable, there wasn't much point.

We have decided to treat Scarlett and book into a Big 4 park for this stop. There were hardly no kids at the last park in Bremer Bay, and this park is so child friendly it guaranteed to have kids. Being $43.20 a night it's the most expensive park we have paid for on the trip so far. It is however literally right on the beach, has a heated pool, spa, two playgrounds and games room. There is no way she can get bored here!

We went into town and did the usual information centre visit, and picked up a million pamphlets. There is quite a bit to do here, so we have decided to stay for five nights. This Saturday, Shane and Scarlett have tickets to see a dinosaur show here at the entertainment centre, so we've decided to stay till Sunday.

We took a drive up Mt Clarence to take in the 360 deg views, and see one of the many sites Albany has honouring it's ANZAC history. This memorial is so significant, I wanted to explain the whole story, so I pulled the following information off Wikipedia;

"The Desert Mounted Corps Memorial stands near the summit of Mount Clarence, and is a 9-metre bronze statue of an Australian mounted soldier assisting a New Zealand soldier whose horse has been wounded. The memorial was originally erected at Port Said, Egypt in 1916, by Brigadier General J.R. Royston, the commander of the 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade. He suggested that a memorial be erected at Port Said in honour of Australian and New Zealand mounted soldiers killed in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign.

The memorial was funded by the Australian Government, the New Zealand Government and surviving mounted soldiers. It was erected in Port Said in 1932 and was inscribed to the memory of members of the Australian Light Horse, New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade and Imperial Camel Corps (all part of the Desert Mounted Corps) who died in Egypt, Palestine and Syria between 1916 and 1918.

The memorial was damaged in anti- British riots during the Suez Crisis of 1956, and in 1959, the United Arab Republic agreed to send the memorial back to Australia arriving in Albany in 1960. A copy of the statue was made and this was erected on Mount Clarence in 1964.

Back view of statue
 Albany is associated with the Desert Mounted Corps in that the mounted troops and the rest of the first detachment of the Australian Imperial Force and the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (later know collectively as ANZACs) left Albany in a convoy of ships in November 1914 to join World War I."

There is a rich ANZAC history here and we will be trying to visit as many sites as possible. Albany is Australia's ANZAC capital as it was the first departure point for ANZAC troops to Gallipoli in 1914. This departure consisted of 30,000 Aust and NZ troops, 7,500 horses and supplies on a fleet of 40 transport ships and 5 naval escort vehicles.

The day the convoy embarked to Egypt and Turkey, a Reverend Arthur White conducted a service for the men before dawn broke. The fleet then sailed out of King George Sound early on 1st Nov 1914. This then made Albany the last sighting of Australia for those who fought and died at Gallipoli, in France or in the Middle East. Albany is recognised the world over as the site of the first dawn service, I am hoping this ANZAC day I might be able to bring Shane back here so he can experience a dawn service at this very important site.

We spent the afternoon relaxing at the van and after dinner popped down to the spa for a quick soak. The water in the pool was so cold Shane put his toe in and nearly died. Scarlett was her usual crazy self jumping from the cold pool, then into the spa, she is so mad.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 57. Bremer Bay

A beautiful and memorable sunset...

6am - Shane's wake up!
My sleep is broken by the the morning call of an Osprey (a type of sea eagle). The Osprey calls out again and again! It's music to my ears, and I think to myself; "I really could get use to waking up to this every morning".

6:05am - Rebecca's wake up!
BLOODY BIRDS! Will I ever get to sleep in?

Another magical morning in Bremer Bay. Scarlett's up by 7:05am, but keeps quiet and plays in her bed by herself until after 7:30am. She lets us know that she's up by calling out; "The suns up - wake up mum and dad!"

A nice and relaxing morning! I know I could get use to this. Bremer Bay has been fantastic! The weather, the coastline, and the company I've shared the experience with!

This morning we have decided to head over to the "Fitzgerald River National Park", and take our swimming gear to hit the waves at Point Ann - a local hot spot for spotting Southern Right Whales during the calving season every winter. Unfortunately for us, its the wrong time of year, but we wanted to have a look at this 'Biosphere'.

Well... about 80 km's later following dirt tracks and the worst corrugated roads imaginable, we made it! The drive out was certainly a shake up, as even trying to talk was impossible. We couldn't hear each other over the shaking vehicle around us, but we would try and talk and all we were able to do was a kind of weird stutter that really did sound like we were stuttering. Scarlett loved it! She was in stitches! By the time we stopped, my body ached, my arms were tingling, and my hands and fingers had pins and needles.

The views were magic, but there were a few Rips on the beach so we didn't want to risk a swim. Scarlett was not impressed! So we went for a walk along the beach instead, and followed it into 'Mary's Inlet', where we followed all sorts of animal tracks. Bec took a photo of a 'King's Skink' (about 30cm long) that was found lazing around inside the local camp toilet.

After morning tea, we headed back the way we came. We stopped to take a photo or two of Mt Bland and West Mt Barren, when what should take off in flight beside the Pajero - but 6 to 8 Short-billed (White tailed) Black Cockatoos! They screeched and squawked and made a hell of a racket as they took off, but they were still beautiful. A rare treat indeed, and who would of guessed that they would be at the exact spot we decided to stop to take photo's?

A late lunch was had back at the van, and all Bec and I wanted to do was sleep as we were very sore after our morning exploring - but Scarlett had other ideas. We ended up doing glitter glue paintings, playing hiding go seek, and even a game or two of tag! I eventually talked her into coming inside to watch some cartoons (so I was able to steal a little rest), before Bec had us packed and out the door to continue exploring! What the...?

We found a great lookout at the top of a hill at the end of a dirt track which had an assortment of communication antennas on it.The views were superb, and we discovered some very large sand dunes further inland than we would of expected, but it was getting late, and the surrounding countryside was looking very misty and a little grey.

Bec wanted us to head back to our beach outside the caravan park we are staying to watch the sunset for the last time here; with a bottle of Champagne while enjoying camembert and crackers. On the way back, we detoured and found a great little roadhouse that served up local fish and chips.... Why not! So we soon forgot about the crackers and cheese, and opted for some hot local tucker instead! So.... 10 minutes later we found ourselves back down the beach with table 'n chairs enjoying local fish, scallops and chips; accompanied with a great bottle of champagne! And we made it back in time to watch a fantastic final sunset in Bremer Bay!


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Day 56. Bremer Bay

Just like a big pool, only better!

The day was glorious, the sun was shining, there was no wind and the temperature was in the high 20's, we are loving it. 

We had a late brekkie again, and hung around the caravan and watched the V8's race 2 on the TV outside. With such great weather, I reluctantly decided to knock over another load of washing. Scarlett was playing hide and go seek in the park with some kids for the better part of the morning, but unfortunately they then left, and didn't come back for the rest of the day.

After the racing on TV, we decided to go to the beach and let Scarlett get some snorkeling practice in. The water was amazing, it was so clear and smooth, it was just like we were in a big pool only better. It couldn't have been more perfect conditions for Scarlett's confidence to practice.

There was a swimming pontoon about 100mts out into the bay, so we decided to snorkel out to it. Because of the waters clarity it felt so shallow, when it was probably about 5mtrs deep. There were fish everywhere, and Shane was wishing he brought his fishing rod. Scarlett did so well, she loved the water and didn't want to get out.

We climbed up onto the pontoon and had a little sun bake, while Shane went over to the rocks to look for Leafy Sea Dragon's, they are supposedly found in this area. With no success he returned and we took turns jumping off the pontoon into the water. Unfortunately just as we arrived at the pontoon the underwater camera batteries died, so I have no pics from this point on sorry.

We came back to the van all very tired. We had showers, washed out all our gear, and had a chicken salad for lunch. The afternoon was then spent with Scarlett doing craft, me catching up on Desperate Housewives over the Internet, and Shane watching the F1 on TV outside. We managed to fit in an ice cream break from the park's kiosk too. We normally get a craving after dinner, but the kiosk closes at 5, so we are usually too late.

After a very relaxing afternoon, we decided to have an early dinner and go for a walk around the park. The sites here are huge, and about half the park is dedicated to permanent residents. We found a mob of kangaroos up in the back corner, and Scarlett tried to approach them by pretending she had some food in her hand. They took off, and wouldn't let her get anywhere near them. She was less than impressed, as most of the places she has seen kangaroos at have been very tame.

We are working on Scarlett's treasure map this evening, she has been developing it all afternoon. The obsession of the week is pirates. This might have something to do with the fact that Shane let her watch 'The Pirates of the Carribean'.....

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 55. Bremer Bay

Another day in paradise...

Wow! What a great day in a beautiful place. We woke to another picture perfect day. Clear skies, slight breeze, and mid 20deg. Could the day get any better?

Unfortunately all the kids left this morning, so Scarlett returned to us to play with. No problems. We all woke nice and relaxed, and pretty much veg'd out. We felt like we could achieve anything.

This morning was a day of nothingness. We love it here so much that we had originally only wanted to stay for one night before moving into the National Park, but this morning I went over to the office and paid for another three nights. How good is this. Five days and four nights or peace and quiet - or as close as it gets with Scarlett always wanting to play. Bremer Bay is absolutely beautiful!
Just after lunch we decided to go into town to see what is the go here, and also to get some diesel and beer (a weekend of V8 and F1 racing on the satellite TV requires the essentials).

We then headed up to the headland located behind the caravan park to check out the view, which turned out to be a great idea. The coastline is magical, and we had to promise Scarlett that we will go swimming and snorkeling off the beach tomorrow. Fair call!

Bremer Bay

The afternoon was spent outside the van sipping on a beer and enjoying the F1 qualifying and race 2 of the V8's in Melbourne (via satellite). After the races, I played with Scarlett in the park. What a great way to finish the day.

PS: As I have agreed to snorkel with Scarlett tomorrow, I have decided to shave off the beard that has been growing for the last 4 weeks. Bugger! (I ended up deciding that I shouldn't lose it all, and have kept a small goatie - that way I can still wear a mask and have a seal).

Friday, March 25, 2011

Day 54. Jerramungup to Bremer Bay

A Little Jewel in WA's crown

We were up during the night spotlighting for small possums. Shane woke me at 4am alerting me to the fact that there were small possums running all over the roof. After going outside with a torch and looking around, the poor bugger didn't see a thing. So after our little night time adventure, we all had a little sleep in till 8'o'clock - even Scarlett. I decided since we had fresh bread (a little rare) that I would do a cook up of mushrooms and eggs for breakfast, it was so good.

We were the last in the free camp to leave this morning, pretty usual for us lately as there never seems to be any hurry anymore. Scarlett had already been outside and said goodbye to the little mate she made yesterday, and was already starting to ask; were there going to be kids and a pool at today's camp? We headed off; planning to go to a station in the Fitzgerald River National Park to camp. When we got no answer on the phone, we decided to go into Bremer Bay (On the parks outskirts) to have a little look around while waiting for them to call back.

Bremer Bay is absolutely lovely; it's the kind of place you could happily retire at and watch the world go by. We spoke to the lady at one of the caravan parks and she told me the rate was $42 a night - a little steep, but we could understand why. We were so in love with this place, but so close to the end if this weeks budget we decided to call the second park and just find out what their rate was. Shane made the call and was happy to find out that they wouldn't charge for Scarlett and it was only $30 a night. Bargain!

The Bremer Bay Caravan Park is not as new as the other one, but is right on the beach, and has huge grassy sites with big trees creating heaps of shade. Shane and I immediately fell in love with this park, and have now decided to stay at least three nights. Scarlett's also keen as the park's owner gave her a bag of lollies when we arrived, there's a great playground, and kids to play with too.

Scarlett painting little seed pods this afternoon
Shane got his satellite dish working straight away; and the V8's and F1 I have since been told are on all weekend, so not much chance of him moving on now anyway. We moved the TV outside this afternoon to watch the race as it was such a lovely afternoon. We could also see Scarlett in the park at the same time. I tell you I may never leave!

Watching V8's outside
After a yummy BBQ dinner, we decided to go for a walk down to the beach. Scarlett was so busy all afternoon, but was now finally up for it. The bay is beautiful, and there was a wonderful sunset. The water was so mild, if I had my swimmers on I would have gone in for sure. You can drive down onto this beach, and we have decided to bring the car and dinner down tomorrow night. Depending on the racing schedule tomorrow we may, or may not, get into the national park, will keep you posted....


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 53. Hyden (Wave Rock) to Jerramungup

Riding the wave!

Bec woke nice and early to get some sunrise photos of Wave Rock this morning, but the sun didn't want to come out - as it was a little cloudy and misty. However, Bec did get some great shots of this iconic WA rock.

We then went for a short walk to another rock known as "Hippo's Yawn", which was not to far away from the van. Scarlett loved the walk, as it was 'like exploring for treasure', and as soon as we reached the rock that looks a little like a Hippo Yawning, she went exploring up through the back of the cave and out the other side. She's definitely an outdoors girl - which suits both Bec and me just fine!

Across the road from where we had the van, is the Wave Rock Information Centre; which also houses a large collection of other bits and pieces including the Toy Soldier and Military Museum, the Lace Place, cars of yesteryear, and a Wildlife Park, where Scarlett was very impressed to find a dinosaur - which she had to get a photo of. Just up the road is the infamous 'Rabbit Proof Fence' that runs all the way from Esperance in the south, to Port Hedland in the north.

We then travelled about another 20km north to a place called 'The Humps' and 'Mulka's Cave'; which has the largest collection of aboriginal art in south western WA. It was really interesting and it was made even more so when we read and learnt about the aboriginal history and stories behind this place and its paintings.

We stopped in Hyden on the way back south to catch up on a little bit of shopping (which by the way Bec says the fruit and veg was very cheap and reasonable compared to other places already visited), while Scarlett and I explored the local welding sculptures in the park across the road.

We then travelled 300km south west to a free camp just east of Jerramungup on the South Coast Highway. It was a long drive, and both Bec and Scarlett watched a movie or two in the back during the trip, but it was worth it.

This camp area is very relaxing; surrounded by Salmon Gum trees and shrubby Acacia's, and just a short distance from the main road. On arriving here, Scarlett almost immediately found another little girl to play with who she discovered is also travelling around Australia with her family too (might I add that they are also travelling in the same direction - which means we will probably meet up somewhere else along the road).

No TV and no satellite tonight, so we all climbed onto our big bed and watched a movie together before Scarlett went to sleep, leaving Bec and I to read a book or two!

Very quiet, and very relaxing.