Wednesday, February 20

An Afternoon in Geraldton

I went to Geraldton on Sunday afternoon - it is about 60 kms from Dongara, so about an hour's drive.  There are huge road trains on the road, which has only a couple of bypass lanes along the route, but it is a good road, considering.  I've been to Geraldton on a couple of occasions now, and recently we've been to see movies there as there is no theatre in Dongara.  We've seen Quartet (great movie) and Silver Linings with  Aussie star Jackie Weaver.

During the week it is a bustling place, but Geraldton at the weekend is much quieter.  There was however a terrible wind and it was hot so most folk stayed indoors.

These quirky little toilets/change rooms are on the foreshore, near one of the quieter beaches.

There's a lot of development at Geraldton, including this Marina and surrounding residential complex, and the nearly WA Museum, which has a wonderful display.

The Anglican Cathedral at Geraldton

On the return journey I stopped to take a few photos of Greenough - I have previously been for a walk through the old buildings - there are many in the complex at Greenough, but the area is scattered with the remnants of early settlers.

Monday, February 18


There's a little settlement not far from Dongara called Walkaway. It is in the midst of cropping, and farming area, really just a dot on any map.  I set out on a Monday with my trusty Canon camera.

Along the highway are a number of ruins, including this old house, and the old churches.

An Ant Hill in the old church grounds
I turned off the Brand Highway onto the Walkaway Road, and took the photo below of one of the many leaning trees around this area.  Further along the highway is the famous Leaning Tree where passers by stop to take photos, but in reality there are so many in the area.  It appears to be only one type of tree that is affected by the strong winds of this area, as many other varieties of tree seem unhindered by the winds.

Walkaway itself sleeps on Monday - the Museum in the old Railway Station is not open on a Monday (actually I should have thought of this, as these places are run by volunteers and are often closed on a Monday!)

It is a grand old building and I am sure worthy of a visit.

There was a corner store which was open for business, and a Tavern that opened at 2 pm on Mondays, so I drove on.

The scenery always interests me, and I confess to being a slower driver, as one cannot take in all the scenery driving at 110 kph.

Along the road, I found a friendly emu, that appeared to be fenced in, and I was able to get within a few feet of it, without upsetting it, apparently.

The emu was in the area of the Alinta Wind Farm which stretches for kilometers over the hills in the area.  Cattle grazed apparently undisturbed below the turbines.

The Greenough River runs through Walkaway, though on the day I was there, there was not a drop of water in it, though one could see how high the water flows after a flooding rain.

Can you see the debris which is high in the branches of the trees beside the dry river bed?

I returned to Dongara via an old settlement in Greenough.  The old Hampton Inn (not open on Mondays!), and along the road a rather scary sign.  I did not see any snakes!!!!!

Old Hampton Inn

Pythons???? Eeeek!

The Weather

I recall the many warnings from well meaning friends and acquaintances on hearing about my planned journey, about tacking the venture in summer.  It would be "too hot", or too this or that. As I hate the cold of the south of Australia during winter, for me, it was the best time to travel, but I did so with a little trepidation.

As it turns out, I really have been blessed with good weather.  So far. I am only half way around and I do wonder what will happen in the far north as the cyclone season has so far been very mild, and anything is possible over the next couple of months.

Sure the weather has been hot - up to 44 degrees on a couple of days, but driving in it is not a big issue though it has curbed some of my wanderings.  The car air conditioning in my Mitsubishi Lancer has worked a treat.

Rain?  In nearly three months it has rained on two days I think, and then so insignificant that it has not marred my travels at all.  In fact some days I longed for rain to wash the fine red outback dust from my Lancer!

Here in Dongara it has been hot on several days, but we curbed our outdoor activity and sometimes turned the air conditioner on.  This area of Western Australia does not get much rain.  I am told that in winter, with the rains the area is all green, unlike the dry dusty brown that makes up the landscape at the moment.

One thing that we have seen in the last week or so, is days of  "Sea Fog" - it is visible in the area early in the morning, and by mid morning has gone out to sea and disappeared.

Views in the street - sea fog

Saturday, February 16

The Pinnacles

One place I was really keen to see was The Pinnacles, just out of the seaside town of Cervantes, and I set off on my own, camera in hand ready to witness for myself these outstanding rocks in the midst of the desert in the Nambung National Park.

As I drove down south, I called into the little towns of Green Head, Jurien Bay, and stopped on many occasions to take photos.  It was a hot day - thank goodness for car air conditioning, and the fact that one could drive around on a designated roadway within the national park through the various rock formation.

The weather was wonderful, blue skies but with whisps of cloud traversing the sky often in weird and wonderful shapes and patterns.  The colour of the sand around the pinnacles seemed to change as the sun ducked under clouds and came out again, each time giving a different perspective.  I spent ages there taking close to 100 photographs.

There is an interpretive centre at The Pinnacles with plenty of information about this wonder of nature, along with a little shop to purchase souvenirs of your visit.

On the way back to Dongara I took several photos along the coast.  One place was rather amusing.  Clearly there is an incinerator the local residents to use, and whether there is a problem with it or outsiders have dumped there, I don't know, but I did find it quite amusing to see what rubbish was dumped at its base.

Fires have decimated this area some time ago, and one can see the wonderful new growth as the bush regenerates.


My regular readers may find this somewhat off topic for me and this blog, but for a number of reasons I feel the urge to make comment about it.

Recently, here in Western Australia a lady, who could no long endure the pain and suffering of her illness, took her own life.  She did it alone, so that her loved ones would not be involved in any legal action for helping, participating or not stopping her in what she did.

I know there are risks legalising euthanasia, but I do feel that with the clever legal people that we have these days, a system could be created so that those people who really do want to stop the pain, discomfort and indignity of the health problems might do so in a more pleasant way.  I know nursing homes also are home to many people who would prefer to depart this world rather than endure what they have to, and I know that (silently) there are nursing people who, like me, wonder at the waste, cost, indignity etc etc, of people who are surviving (not living) beyond their use by date.

Dr Phillip Nitsche has long promoted the discussion on Euthanasia and I do read his newsletters and website from time to time.  His organisation Exit International is very interesting to read.

Another person who was enduring great pain and discomfort from an incurable illness took his own life in a most horrific way, details of which I will not go into here and now, but it is another example of the need to look at things differently.  I know there are religious views on this topic, and I am glad that there is, but for those people whose lives really are not worth enduring, I think we need to look at other options so that they can die with dignity.

In Australia the major political parties are too scared to open the topic for wider discussion, but I do think it is time we did.  We don't have enough nurses and doctors, and nursing home beds are in short supply, and in any case no one should have to be kept alive in pain, (mental or physical) longer than they can endure.

Perhaps we should not be keen to "put down" humans as quickly as we do animals, but it is inhumane to do what we are doing.

I can only suggest that people write to their local political reprsentative asking for a public discussion, and change of law in Australia.  People are doing it in bizarre ways now, much of which is not reported publicly to respect the family, but it is about time we at least discussed it openly.

RIP Barbara Harrison.

Another Adventure in Dongara

It was planned to visit a winery not far from Dongara, but first we had lunch on the foreshore at Port Denison.  I had made Spring Rolls with prawns, cucumber and carrot batons, show pea shoots, spring onion, lettuce, onion, and we had them packed in plastic food containers, one each.

There was a slight breeze on the waterfront, and it was most pleasant sitting under one of the shelters (built by Lions members) overlooking the cray fishing fleet.  There were a few seagulls quietly resting on the sands, and we noticed one with a droopy wing nearby.  We threw it some prawn tail that we had, and it ate them enthusiastically one by one.  Then it appeared to become quite aggressive and set out to protect its “patch” much to our amusement.  Any other bird that came by was given strong marching orders!!!!  It must have been a bad day for seagulls as shortly after there was a major altercation between two of them down on the sand.  One had another by the neck, and there was much screeching and fluttering of wings and feathers, before they gave up their fight further up on the lawn.

We left shortly afterwards, and after visiting Dongara to do a few chores we set off for the winery, and for a number of reasons won’t go into detail about a very rewarding visit there with friends, and we returned to Dongara after a taste of some wine, and with a few gifts that were completely unexpected, but most welcome.  The winery is not operating at the moment.

We headed back to Dongara in a very happy mood – until just over the bridge that crosses the Irwin River, we were pulled over to a RBT.  OMG.  We had been drinking wine!  I had of course been mindful that I was the driver and over several hours only sipped about one glass of wine.  It was the second time that I had faced the RBT in a week, but this time I HAD been drinking, so I was a bit apprehensive when I was asked to ‘Blow, blow, blow.” The policemen asked me if I had been drinking, and I replied that I had, during a visit to the winery.  Luckily the machine only registered that I had been drinking, but the level had not eached anything to be concerned about.  Phew!!!

My passenger thought she was a bit tipsy though, and we had a few laughs on the short drive to her place.

Wednesday, February 13

Ruins around Western Australia

I have a fascination for ruins - throughout Australia, and in particular in South Australia and Western Australia there are hundreds of ruins of small houses or buildings, long since deserted, and either in total disrepair or falling into disrepair.  I do like to take photos of them, and have quite a collection now of these buildings.

Often the building is reduced to a pile of bricks sitting forlornly in a paddock.

These are some of the photos I have taken since Perth - between Perth and Geraldton.

Old Anglican Church near Greenough

(The shed for the lawn mower - can you see it? At Walkaway, WA)

New Norcia

I had been looking forward to visiting New Norcia, and headed off from Perth in my car, alone, with my destination Dongara/Port Denison, but to visit New Norcia along the way.  I had pondered also visiting one or two of the many wineries along the Swan Valley too, but resisted, and kept going.

When I drove through Bindoon, the story of the orphanage there and the children who were brought out from England.  There has been much written about, and filmed about this dark period of UK and Australian history and the poor treatment of the children who were supposedly brought here to a better life.

Nowdays "The majority of training and selection for the Australian Special Air Service Regiment takes place at Bindoon. Some of the facilities include live-firing ranges and the Brigade Special Training Facilities (MOUT)." from Wikipedia.

I do have plans to return to Bindoon and explore further, but as usual time did not allow me to do justice to the town and its Museum, and I headed on to New Norcia.  I had seen a brochure about New Norcia, and did imagine it to be somewhat different, but what amazed me is that after driving through farming land and bush, the first thing I saw was the hotel - quite a bizarre sight set back from the main road in the midst of a dry and start landscape.

New Norcia Hotel

The Visitors Centre
The day that I was there it was relatively quiet, and I was able to find a spot under the shade to park my car before I entered the Visitor Information Centre and Art Gallery.  There was a small fee to pay to let me visit various places around the town, Australia's only Monastic town with an extra ordinary history and the gallery was filled with incredible works of art.

I had missed the tour of the town, as one tour I missed and the other was later in the afternoon so didn't suit me (so have put it on my list of things to do if/when I get back!), but after spending a long time in the museum and art gallery I drove around to the various buildings and had a look inside.

The Old Police Station

The Old Mill

Inside the old hotel

Near the Visitor's Centre

The Old Blacksmith's Shop
There are many other buildings of note to explore, including the Guest House, the Church, etc, so I will have to go back.  I went into the hotel, and bought a couple of postcards, before setting off again.

Also there is a bakery, where bread is still baked on a daily basis, and is available from the little shop in the Visitors Centre.

I had a fair drive to Dongara ahead of me.