Western Australia

September 28,  2016 – the evening  was fast approaching …….

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……as we caught our first glimpse of Australia.

In the airport we had to scramble to open our suitcases and dig out our coats.  It was SO cold!  It felt like winter.  Took us totally by surprise.

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The following day (after a fitful sleep), we left the gum trees and meadows behind and headed north to a place with a funny name – Moneky Mia!  Pronounced mon-key-my-a

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We had timed our visit to coincide with the spring flowering season that Western Australia is so well known for.

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The road was long, mostly straight and pretty flat.  Along side the road was low, dry looking brush, often dotted with flowers, giving colour and glow to the landscape.

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Parakeelya & Blue Lechenaultia

When I got out to snap pictures of these jewels among the red earth and bush, I was often bombarded by flies.  Ugg!  So many new experiences 😏

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We had seen a sign for a “roadhouse”, but were not sure what it was until we came across our first one.

dsc_8370Inside, in the dinning area, a wall decorated with pictures of patrons and their tattoos. “To each their own”.

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These Smoke Bush, in clumps along side the road, really lit up the countryside.

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Hills and fields decorated with tiny yellow flowers.

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We took 2 days to cover 860 kms (534 miles), stopping in Geraldton there and back.

The areas of Monkey Mia, Shell Beach and Hamelin Pools are all within the World Heritage area of Shark Bay.

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We spent the next two days, 3 nights in Denham, near the Marine Reserve of Monkey Mia. It looked like something right out of a resort brochure.  Pristine.  White sands and turquoise water.  But it was still cool. Not the warm sun we had expected.

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(Taken with my phone camera, so, sorry not a very good picture)  Feeding the bottlenose  dolphins takes place several times a day, mostly in the morning.

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It is a non-commercial area, with a few shops for supplies and some accommodation.

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“Now listen Squirt, just remember I’m the boss!”

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Jouko wanted to go on a camel ride.  I wasn’t that interested, but decided to join him.

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We ended up really enjoying it.  The guide took us to remote areas and was very informative.  He also seemed to really love his animals.

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Camels were originally brought to Australia from Afghanistan and India to help with exploration and transportation during the early days of the country.  There are now about a 1/2 million wild camels in the center of the country.

Also, did you know that camels and kangaroos (there are some other animals, too, but I can’t remember which ones) can drink salt water?

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“I hope Squirt is watching!”

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Goodness – he is even bullying the Dolphins!

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Sunsets were magical.

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We returned the next day to walk around and enjoy the..

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peacefulness of the area.

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But it is almost impossible, without some very expensive equipment, to convey the largess of the area.  The bays and beaches stretched endlessly and peacefully until they disappeared into the horizon….

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That evening, our last, we decided to take some sandwiches and explore the west coast of the peninsula and watch the sun set from this remote area.

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I loved the pools and sandbars, probably left behind after storms had passed.

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….and then we watched the sun dip into the ocean, and we knew it was going west to shine on relatives and friends in Europe and then on to our dear one in the US. “And I think to myself what a wonderful world!”

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The next day we headed back down the peninsula. Not having a 4 wheel drive vehicle, we could not go “off” road exploring.

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We turned right off the road…

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to visit Eagle Bluff.

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Besides the spectacular colours of the water and sand,

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at certain times one can see sharks, dolphins and other marine life.  It is also rich in coral.

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Our next stop was Shell Beach.  Above, one can see the waves of undulating beach.

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Instead of sand, the 110 km (68 mile) long beach is made up of these tiny cockle shells.

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As the link explains, and the above picture shows, compacted shells were used as building materials.

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The tide was out, so I walked out for quite a way into the bay.  The small puddles of water were warm and the shells were not too hard on my feet.  It was magical being out there, far into the bay.  I loved the isolation; the feeling of being part of the bay…….

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but someone was waiting patiently for me, so I turned back………

“…Shark Bay’s waters, islands and peninsulas….have a number of exceptional natural features, including one of the largest and most diverse seagrass beds in the world. However it is for its stromatolites (colonies of microbial mats that form hard, dome-shaped deposits which are said to be the oldest life forms on earth), that the property is most renowned. The property is also famous for its rich marine life including a large population of dugongs, and provides a refuge for a number of other globally threatened species.”

— Brief synthesis of Shark Bay, Western Australia as inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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Next, we stopped at the café and information center at Hamlin PoolsPlease take the time to read this very important link.

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At the café, Jouko invested in an Aussie hat!

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The boardwalk enabled us to get quite close to these interesting formations.

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Apparently this is one of only 3 areas in the world (all in Western Australia) where stromatolites can be found.

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Very bizarre, fascinating and important formations.

Then it was time to return the way we had come; back onto that long stretch of fascinating roadway, which among the brush had these treasures waiting to be noticed……

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…… by novices like us!

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More opportunities to see interesting wild flowers (Jouko is a saint for indulging me)…

….I’m still trying to find out their names…….

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… and not just the flowers – unusual trees, too.  This is a Grass Tree.  Quite an appropriate name, don’t you agree?

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On the second day, we pulled in to Pinnacles National Park 

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We were not far from the ocean and yet here we were in a desert area with these fascinating formations.  We were starting to absorb what diverse landscapes Australia had to offer,

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as well as flora and fauna!

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Eventually we made our way down through the city of Perth to our next Airbnb apartment.

We were very ready to settle down here for the next week.  It was a lovely “granny flat” adjacent to their house.

The weather was still cold and fairly rainy, which gave us the excuse to stay in and potter around.

The first few nights I was kept awake by what I thought was a puppy winning in the garage next door.  I had to sleep with my Bose headphones on!  Turned out it was a bird.  Australian birds are rather raucous and don’t sound very pretty.  We still don’t know which was the offending foul!

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We did go down as far as Margaret River, but didn’t have enough time to really look around the area. I had suggested it not realizing how far it was ( 500 km – just over 300 miles round trip).  Wow – the distances are vast!  I wish now that instead of staying so close to Perth, that we had come further south for the week.  Oh well, win some. Lose some.

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We drove west along Geographe Bay,

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seeing some gorgeous beaches along the way.dsc_8957

This far south I was seeing another sight – vast numbers of Lily of the Valley.  Under trees, along river banks,

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and occasionally they took over entire wooded areas.  Reminded me of the Cape!

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Another day we went to Kings Park, which gives one the best views over the city.

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Here, looking south toward the area where we were staying.

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KANGAROO PAWS

Unfortunately it started to rain heavily, so we had to cut our visit short.

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Bohemian Fremantle was a short drive away…

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Costtesloe Beach

Another day, we used our host’s bikes to ride along the Canning River which was near the house,

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…to a cute little café for breakfast.  The grassy areas were full of these wild daisies.

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We had figured out by now that we are not that interested in cities, but were more interested in getting out into the countryside.

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Lesmurdie Falls in the hills east of Perth.

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Perhaps a Magpie was the offending bird that kept me awake those first few nights?  Anyway, we were ready to head East, via Sydney and Cooranbong to Uluru.

♦-♦-♦-♦

Next: Cooranbong & Uluru

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