Gra Nomad Wanderings

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


St Francis Xavier Cathedral in Geraldton
Natural Bridge out of Kalbarri

Pot Alley Gorge just out of Kalbarri

Left lovely Geraldton and headed for Kalbarri. Hey, weather here is 29 – 30! Eat your hearts out! Lovely summer temps here!

Just a short visit here – time to cycle to several clifftop lookouts, eat out at the great fish places (the Jetty and Finlays), have another look at Nature’s window and do the 8 km loop which is a popular bush walk. They said it was “moderate”. Hhmm… I think I’d have said “…a bit on the tough side”.

We headed off this morning and left the car at 10:06 am. It said 3-4 hours. Everybody knows that capable fit people like us can do that sort of thing in two, maybe two and a half. Right? We did the walk clockwise (while just about everybody else did it anti-clockwise.) It entailed walking (scrambling??) down the stoney precipice to the sandy foreshore of the Murchison River. Then we walked along beside the river. Sounds too easy! Yep, definitely too easy. At one stage as we …. can’t think of another word to describe how we travelled today… we scrambled along the rocks, trying to find the “path”. At the most difficult spot, we really didn’t think we would be able to cross over this quite difficult section. We prayed. Within a minute 2 young German guys appeared coming the other way. They showed us how to cross this tricky section and then waited while we negotiated the rocky section, just managing to avoid slipping into the Murchison River below. Fortunately we can both swim and we didn’t have a camera with us.
The whole circuit took us 3.5 hours! Much longer than we thought it’d take a fit young couple like us! We sure enjoyed the shandy when we arrived back at the Pajero.
Tuesday 27th we leave the coast and head back to Geraldton and then inland as we start our trek back eats to Adelaide and then to Dubbo.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008


It was a fairly easy 440 km drive from northern Perth (Kingston Caravan Centre) to Geraldton. We sat on 90-93 km/h most of the time . Plenty of semis who seem to have more authority on the road than we caravanners. Drove through Greenhough which is famous for its lovely old disused stone buildings and its trees that grow sideways thanks to prevailing winds.

Geraldton has a beautiful memorial to HMS Sydney II. The dome at the memorial (see above photo) is a sculpture made up of 645 seagulls which represents the 645 lives lost when the Sydney II went down on 19 November 1941 following a battle with Kormoran. What an impressive memorial! My photos are not gonna do justice to it I fear.
Organisations and teams have been searching for both vessels over the years but it seems the efforts recently got cranked up a bit. On 12 March 2008 the "finding Sydney" group located the Kormoran. Then 5 days later they located Sydney II in 2,470 metres of water.
At the museum I read about this guy, Bill Smith, aged 21, whose wife Patricia had a baby girl. After getting the news, Bill wrote a love letter to Patricia who was in Kew, Melbourne. He wrote it on 5 October 1941, just six weeks before that fateful day. There was a copy of his letter in the museum, along with the telegram the navy sent his widow when she ship went down.

Today Bill would've turned 88. Yes, he was born on 24 May 1920. (Check out the "findingsydney" site.) It sure is a great display at the museum.

We also checked out the live lobster co-op and the St Francis Xavier Cathedral. Enjoyed both immensely.
Had a beaut time staying with Karen and Marshall, Kaila and Alaina. Great folk. Thanks heaps.

Now... enroute to Kalbarri.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Saw quite a few of these quokkas on the island. Cute little guys. Can you see his claws?

There's never a shortage of pelicans when you're near the water. They are awaiting what the fishermen throw out.

I do love lighthouses. Think there were a couple on the island that we cycled round and found. Lovely clouds here eh?

There were 6 stingrays at the water's edge. We watched them from the pier just above them. As they came into the very shallow water they were mostly out of the water. Then they'd head back away from the water's edge again. Really neat.

Just one of the quokkas who checked out the Bike Fridays,

Wendy did well on the Tikit seeing she'd not ridden for quite some time. It is very user friendly even if it didn't perform for Rodney from Sonshine FM!

Alex and Lucy were on the Bike for Bibles trip 2003. Maybe they'll saddle up again for 2009! It was great to have lunch with them at Cicarello's in Fremantle.

Barb (nee Campbell) and her man Dave Otterman. He's a Canadian! Well, he still talks like one anyway. Barb went through Wagga Teachers College in 1961-62. I started in 1962 and Fay started in 1963. It's hard to beat a good WWTC girl isn't it Dave?
Caught up with Rodney and JD from Sonshine FM today. They're also from the 2003 BFB ride. Great to see them again.
Tomorrow we say farewell to Wendy and head to Ballajura to the Kingston Caravan and Camping World!!! Hope our Matilda is OK. After a sleep there we'll wander north to Geraldton and Kalbarri. Maybe it'll be a bit warmer there.
Diesel fuel prices are ridiculous! Up to $1.829 for a Litre of diesel here in Perth!!! We got some for $1.68 in York thanks to Fuel Watch.
It's been really great catching up with the BFB folk, ex WWTC folk and the Pritchard crew.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008


Still here.

Been bushwalking with Cynthia and Kommer.... some weir near O'Connor's walk.... and near Mundaring. Hope that's right.

Head for Geraldton later this week. Then Kalbarri and then turn right and head for Adelaide. Wow!

Thanks Kingstons for babysitting Matilda. Hope she hasn't caused to much trouble.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


We had a great time in Busselton with the Avans (222 of them). This is the famous Busso jetty - over 2 km in length with an interesting history. Think the shot came out OK.

The Margaret River area is very pretty with many lovely camera spots. This was just one of them - Canal Rocks. Very pretty. We perched ourselves out on some rocks to take a bunch of photos.

Here are a couple of pretty ones in Perth! What lovely girls Eliza and Matilda are. They live over here WA. We even named our Avan after Matilda!!! (Thanks for the lovely luncheon G & R.)

Enjoyed our time in "Kingston Town" and have now made it to Pritchard Country. (They live in Perth suburbs.) Thanks Kingstons for our stay there. Please look after Matilda! Beaut dinner at Pancakes place Fri night. Thanks for that.
Can you tell from the photo above that Wendy and Emily are mother and daughter? This was taken on Mothers' Day.
Our sched this week includes a visit to New Norcia Monday with Wendy and the Chivers team and then maybe we'll head to Rotterdam.... I mean Rottnest Island on Thursday. We're gonna have a busy time I can see that. Oh, I forgot.... BBQ at Kings Park on Wed with Cyn, Kommer, and maybe Otterman family. Let me know if you want to join us at Kings Park. I'll wear a white shirt so you can pick me out of the crowd!!

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Thursday, May 08, 2008


Well... we got here!
Had a great time with the other 221 Avans in Busselton (Busso) from 30 Apr to 6 May. Familiar faces from Vic, Qld & NSW and new faces (to us) from Tassie and WA and even SA. (Photos following.)

In Busso we caught up with Smokes (rode with her Perth to Adelaide back in '03.) Also met up with Pammy in Mandurah and Alex and Lucy in Rockingham. (These places are all south of Perth, capital of Western Australia.) All these folk were on the Bike for Bibles ride from Perth to Adelaide in 2003.

Now we're staying with David and Vicki IN Perth and will head to Wembley (another suburb) to stay with Wendy when the Kingstons get sick of us hanging round.... mightn't be too long eh? Will also catch up with Sue and Tris Chivers who are across from Calgary! An old cricketing mate.

Gotta do's:
  1. visit Rottnest Island
  2. York
  3. New Norcia
  4. Kings Park for BBQ lunch with Cyn and Kommer on Wed
  5. maybe slip back to see Lucy and Alex again.

Once we depart from Perth we'll head to Geraldton and Kalbarri before setting our sights on Adelaide (look out Di Di!). Maybe a week or so there and then off to Dubbo.

Any questions?

Will try and get some photos here shortly.....

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Friday, May 02, 2008


Just a few of the sea lions we swam with (below you donkey!)

Along the Nullarbor

Some beautiful trees in WA

Yep, it's Wave Rock again! Near Hyden.

A bush camp.

Just some of the thousands of gnomes at Gnomesville!

We’ve just completed a most successful crossing of our continent from east to west in April. Our first visit to the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia was a highlight of this trip. Here’s what I wrote about our time at Baird Bay on the Eyre Peninsula:
Wow! Swimming with Australian sea lions and Bottle nose dolphins was an opportunity not to be missed. Actually we only swam with the seas lions. Why didn’t we also have a swim with the dolphins? Water was quite deep, we’d already had a swim with the sea lions and were a bit cool, they only wanted “good” swimmers to do the dolphin bit, but the slight possibility that there could be sharks in the area was definitely a contributing factor! Would you have swum with them?
The sea lions were great! There was an old bull (big bloke), several pregnant cows (who didn’t want to be too active) and a bunch of others…. all up about a dozen or fourteen. All sea lions were in the water where we swam. We certainly got up close and personal. They have big mouths and sharp teeth. We were each provided with mask, snorkel and half wetsuit. The sea lions just wanted to romp around and interact with us. Water was about 6’-8’ deep and the temp was 17! The sea lions are in their natural habitat. They do not get fed by humans (like they do at Monkey Mia I believe). One came head to head with me and then bumped right into my mask gently like a young child sometimes does. Talk about up close and personal! Our guides (Alan and Trish Payne and Troy) were very efficient and effective while watching over us during the swim. Sea lions are very fast in the water and extremely streamlined. The biggest ones were about 6’ long. A mature adult can weigh 250-350 kg. Having them swimming all around us was just so cool. We were instructed not to touch them but the sea lions were always able to touch us.
Only half of the group of 12 of us actually swam with the dolphins, which turned out to be dolphin singular. She was quite cute though quite a size also. She loved to swim in front of the boat as we circled the small group of swimmers. Fay and I watched from the boat. She didn’t stick around for too long.
Thanks Trish, Alan and Troy for the opportunity.
As we travelled across through Sth Aust and into Western Aust we saw quit a bit of wildlife including quite a few emus, a few roos, various parrots, a number of eagles (though some of these could’ve been kites), two dingoes and no camels. There were of course heaps of dead roos due to the people who drive across this country at night. We stayed at some free camp spots here and there and were quite careful where we purchased our fuel. We did see bowsers with diesel prices in excess of $2 a Litre, but we managed to stay under $1.80/Litre. Other stats for our rip were:
v 4,051 km from Dubbo to Busselton
v 13 travelling days (though the last 2 were short days of 76 km and 50 km)
v 558 Litres of fuel used
v $1.67 Average cost per Litre -
v $930.80 total cost of fuel used
v 5 campgrounds we stayed in
v 8 free camps where we stayed overnight
v 2 rest days (Broken Hill and Coffin Bay)
v 312 km average km travelled on each travelling day
v $148 cost of campground accommodation for the trip
So, we’ve made it through to Busselton which is about 230 km south of Perth (capital of WA). We’re here for the annual Avan gathering. This is the 9th rally. Our 4th. There are 222 Avans spread amongst 4 van parks here. All up 430 Avanners including a few folk from USA, Italy and Holland. We’re here till next Wednesday, then we’ll head to Perth to catch up with a bunch of friends there. Good cycling opportunities here so we’ve got Banana Split out and mobile.

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