Sunday, March 31

Lions International Events in Dongara

What a busy weekend.  On Friday Bev and I helped out at the Driver Reviver post about 50 kms south of Dongara at Arrowsmith - a small siding where tea and coffee and a break is offered to drivers travelling on the busy roads - a regular event for the Dongara Lions especially just before a long weekend.

We had a few laughs, and met a few travellers and one of the other ladies and I picked up rubbish from beside the road.  It amazed me how much rubbish is thrown from cars.  Doesn't anyone understand about taking care of their own rubbish?  Mostly drink bottles and cans, iced coffee cartons etc., but such an ugly mess on the side of the road.

Late on Good Friday we went to help load the books and stack them in the Fisherman's Hall at Port Denison - thousands of books to be sold for $1!  Luckily some young blokes came along to help and it was quickly done.

Saturday was Market Day at the Dongara Museum - such wonderful stalls and a lot of fun.

Great exhibition in the Museum - very informative.
Then off to the Art Show for a look at the entries.

Saturday was also Dongara Race Day - the Lions members help with parking and on the gate, as well as sell raffle tickets.  What a day.  I had my first bet for a long time and picked the winner of race two and made a little profit.  Shame I only had $1 each way!  It was a great event and we enjoyed looking at the fashions etc.
I wonder how many people got caught with the RBT just outside the gates of the racetrack????

Then this morning - Easter Sunday it was the Book Sale - when some 1500 + books were sold at a $1 each.  Some good ones too.  Well done, Lions.
The book sale ......

The Sausage Sizzle - and they'd sold out by the time I went for one!

Children having rides on the Lion's train 

Well, my Dongara adventure is coming to a close - I set off tomorrow morning heading north.  Back home to  Brisbane.....

Thursday, March 28

Ellendale Pool and Geraldton

My last visit to Geraldton (though I will pass through next Monday)  - especially to take some photos at Greenough late in the day.  I had my car at Tyre Power at Dongara to check and change the tyres (wearing evenly and they are all changed, and with the right air ready for the next stage of my journey!), and they did it in less time than expected and for less $$$'s than quoted.  Hooray!

It gave me time to go to the Ellendale Pool, which is on the other side of Walkaway (I love the name of that little settlement!), and arrived there and was so pleased to have done so to see the beautiful scenery.

Ellendale Pool is a camping ground (though no water there other than the pool that has warning signs about nasty bugs in it - so not suitable for drinking.  Even if you swim in it it is recommended that you don't open your mouth!).

There's quite a lot of water, though I don't know the depth - but it looks beautiful below the cliffs.  No wonder it is a popular place to visit - for picnickers and campers.  There were probably almost a dozen vans in the park and one bloke came and spoke to me when he saw me taking photos.  He is from Queensland (Shailer Park) and he sends CD's of photos etc back to grandchildren.  We had a bit of a chat - he is headed back to Brisbane via a similar route to me, but taking longer than I am.

There is a sheep property adjacent to the park area and I took a couple of photos of the sheep - they are funny, usually getting up and running away from me.

On the Ellendale Pool Road there were a couple of ruins - adding to my photo collection.

Back onto the Brand Highway I headed north, but stopped to take a photo of the famous Leaning Tree.  There are many such trees along here - the winds from the Indian Ocean are very strong, and any trees are bent.  I think they are a particular species - there are many other trees that appear to withstand the wind much easier.  There is luckily an area to stop and take photos without interrupting the traffic!

The famous Leaning Tree
On into Geraldton - where I visited the Art Gallery to see the latest exhibition.  Art is often weird to me - some of the works really confuse me, and even the winner I had some issues with his paintwork.  Who am I to judge???

Also wanted to take a photo of the huge grain silo on the wharf - it often appears of Geraldton information, but I think I needed a helicopter to get the views that are shown.

The huge grain silos on the wharf at Geraldton
I had visited the HMAS Sydney Memorial on a hill top overlooking Geraldton - to commemorate the loss of lives during WW2.  The wreck was only found in 2008, some distance from the WA coast, and this memorial has been a feature in recent times with the last element completed in 2011.

The seagulls in the dome each represent one of the 644 Australians who lost their lives on the vessel.  If you every visit Geraldton, it is a must see.  The photo below was take from the side of the path up to the memorial, with the Rosemary bushes close to the camera. 
The HMS Sydney Memorial overlooking Geraldton

The latest addition to the Memorial.

Tuesday, March 26

Cook's Tours Booklets

Going to WA?  There are two little books that are so helpful for the traveller in WA - one is the "Beautiful South"  and the other is the "Amazing North".  You can check the website here for more information.  The books are distributed free via Visitor Information Centres, though I think you can send for them via the website.

The booklet "Amazing North" is going to be my constant companion over the next few months as this one has a plethora of information about the north of Western Australia, Northern Territory and northern Queensland, all parts of Australia that I will be passing through over the next few months.

There are maps, details about the places to visit, and much more, so it has been my source of information as I plan the return journey back to Brisbane.

I am going to stay at Kalbarri  but first I will have called in at Oakabella Homestead, (supposedly the most haunted house in Australia and the Hutt Principality on my way.

  I am really looking forward to the latter - it is an amazing story of the small principality which seceded from Australia back in the 1970's.

The booklet is a handy size with enough information to make travelling easy - I have piles of large brochures which I use to research, but this small book will sit beside me as I drive, and I can check on things as I go.

(The photos above were taken from the Cook's Tours website - I am sure they don't mind!)

Sunday, March 24

Conservation Park Info

On my return journey from Perth to Dongara on the 12th March I did a number of things that I have not reported on.  Thought I'd do so today.

After my detour through Gingin and the Western Bamboo property, I made my way back onto the Brand Highway.  I'd taken some more photos of Grass Trees, and then found this old deserted house.  I drove past, but then backed up safely to get out of the car and take the photo.  There was not a lot of traffic at the time which was good.

I continued on to Cataby, where I stopped for a bit to eat and a rest - not that I was particularly tired, but didn't think I would have to stop between there and Dongara.  Taking my drink and food to the seating area at the side of the service station I sat alone - only for a few minutes!

Soon I had many green feathered friends, who sat on my table and ate the crumbs from my hand.  There were quite a few of them that sqwarked and flew around, politely eating what I had left out for them at the table.  The last time I was at Cataby was a year or so ago, when violent thunderstorms were seen in the west - I remember it well as we tried to get ahead of the storms on our way to Perth.  Much more pleasant visit this time.

Onwards from Cataby, I was keen to find some flowers that I had taken photos of previously and these are the photos that I lost when my camera had a hissy fit.

I have not been able to find the name of these flowers - they are like delicate clouds floating on the side of the road.

There was a park that I had wanted to see too - and I soon came to the turn off, and turned in.  I had seen other vehicles there as I passed previously, but on this day I was the only one in the park.  Coomallo Park is a wonderful conservation area.

The signs suggested that on the 15 minute walk around the park I might be lucky enough to see kangaroos or emus, so camera in hand I set off.  There was a warning about rogue bees, which alarmed me as I am allergic to bees, but I cautiously wandered on - I encountered no bees, kangaroos, or emus.  In fact no wildlife, but the landscape was very beautiful.

It was my last stop before safely arriving in Dongara late in the afternoon.

Saturday, March 23

We are in the Guardian!!!!

Last week Bev and I were interviewed by Darcy Hay, reporter wit h The Geraldton Guardian, sitting in a small cell of the now closed Geraldton Gaol.  We did not know that the story had appeared in the Guardian until last night when we went to the Denison Bowls Club for dinner - Friday night's fish and chips!

A few people commented that they had seen the article - and we chatted with some folk about it, our friendship and my travels.  So this morning on our morning walk after exercising on the neighbour's vibration machine which we do every morning at 6.15 am.

I was pleased that my blog address was in the article, so if there are any new readers who have come to visit my blog as a result of the article, I welcome you.  Please feel free to write a comment below.

I leave Dongara on Easter Monday heading north on my return journey to Brisbane via Broome, Darwin, Tennant Creek, Mt Isa etc - have had an awesome time with Bev, and have met some wonderful people.  I could easily move to Dongara to live, but it is too far from my children and grandchildren in Queensland.  I couldn't do that.  So I will just have to visit often.

Thank you to all the folk I have met at Dongara and around these parts who have made me feel welcome.  Special thanks to Bev who has put me up, and put up with me during my stay here.

Friday, March 22

Grass Trees at Gingin

I am amazed to see so many thousands of these grass trees in Western Australia.  The numbers of them are awesome dotted in the bush, and across vast fields and over hills and clinging to rocky landscape.   I found these not long after I left the Western Bamboo property at Gingin.

It is not always easy to get close for a photograph and I walked gingerly through long grass to take these.  (I am always mindful that this is snake territory!!!!)

Bamboo at Gingin

Weeks earlier on my way down to Perth from Dongara I called in at the Bindoon Bakery for a coffee break, and found a newspaper with detailed information about Western Bamboo at Gingin.  I had hoped to call in on my return to Dongara, but it wasn't until my next trip to Perth that I was able to do so.

Peter Jones, the owner and manager of Western Bamboo has some incredible challenges growing bamboo in sand, for around WA much of the 'soil' is in fact sand.  Through trial and error, Peter has been able to create quite a spectacle in the the area, and with his knowledge and experience is a great asset for those who wish to grow bamboo in Western Australia.

Bamboo Shoot

Bamboo shoots reaching for the sky in sandy soil
Peter had given me instructions on how to get there (saying by GPS would not do it), though I noticed later that the street etc did show up on my Garmin, however, I managed to arrive by following the directions given to me.

Perhaps readers will see in the photos that there are hens wandering around the bamboo - Peter took me for a walk in amongst his poultry (chooks, ducks and geese) that seem to have a wonderful life of much freedom here midst the bamboo and they seem to love it.

He regaled me with wonderful stories about his bamboo, but one that I love is the bamboo flavoured kangaroo.  Not many folk know that bamboo is good fodder for grass eating animals, (and the 'preferred' food of China's panda's) and even fewer would know that here in the sandy bushland of Gingin, kangaroos enjoy a feast on the bamboo.  The two dogs that live there are supposed to chase the 'roos away, but somehow they manage to get past the dogs and munch on the bamboo.  Peter and his family also shoot the occasional kangaroo and eat the meat, and on one occasion he took kangaroo meat to a BBQ.  People at the BBQ commented on the wonderfully different taste of the meat - bamboo flavoured kangaroo?  Now if only kangaroo's could be rounded up and in a paddock fed bamboo before they made the journey to the butcher, there could be an exciting new gourmet food to promote.  As it is unlikely to happen, perhaps Peter and his friends are going to be the only ones to enjoy this delicacy.

I was so impressed with Peter's enthusiasm, knowledge and hilarious stories about life at Western Bamboo.  If you want to know how to grow bamboo in the west, he's the guy to talk with.  Western Bamboo is at Gingin, not far from the Brand Highway.  His number is (08) 9575 7507!  

Western Bamboo supplies:

  • bamboo plants for farms
  • bamboo plants for pots and gardens
  • bamboo plants and grasses for windbreaks

and is pleased to also provide:

  • bamboo delivery and planting services
  • bamboo identification services
  • bamboo remedial services 
  • bamboo advice.

Wednesday, March 20

Dingo - the Australian wolf.

I first met Phil Thurn on the beachfront at Port Denison two years ago - when he was taking two of his dingoes for a walk along the waterfront, and we stopped and chatted with him and looked on a little warily of the two animals he was walking.  It was a brief chat, but today I went to visit Phil and the dingoes at his property on the Brand Highway at Dongara.

One does have to make an appointment to see them, and we did, arriving a few minutes early to find no one at home.  Minutes later he arrived though, with one of the dogs back from the morning beach walk.  We'd rung the door bell on his home/office and I could hear the howl of a dog, and wasn't sure if the ringtone on the door bell was fashioned to sound like a dingo howling, or that there was one in or near the house that had heard the door bell.  We were to learn that it IS the ringtone of the door bell.  Clever.

Kal - is he smiling?

A good place on a hot day for Kal

Kal - bothered by strangers in her yard?  No way!

Up close and personal with a dingo.

Phil took us to the back yard where he asked us to wait near a high wire fence, and his favourite dingo Kal came to greet us.  Phil went in the yard, put Kal on a chain, and then opened the gate to let us in, and we walked into the enclosure and soon Kal was free to roam.

We went onto a cement area, and Kal came and made friends with us, just as if he was a house dog - not a dingo.  We were able to pat him, pose for photos etc - Kal clearly loves Phil, and when we left the enclosure with Phil, leaving him alone, he was clearly upset and howled.

Phil took us to another enclosure where there were two more dingoes - a male and a female, and initially they too were chained, until we went in the enclosure and they were allowed to roam and make friends with us.  It was an awesome experience.

In the same pen with dingoes!!!  Phil has an infectious enthusiasm about the dingo, and his beloved mates as the calls them, and they clearly love and respect him.  His knowledge about the dingo is most interesting and I suspect he can talk for many hours on the topic.

The information we learned about the great Australian dingo, and the facts that he shared are impressive and he is working to make the property a greater haven for dingoes and the education of the public about this much maligned Australian icon.

At the moment there is only a coin donation required to attend the Dingoes of Dongara exhibit, and one must make a booking before visiting the property.  It is a exceptional experience, and I would recommend everyone visit!  You can book by phoning (08)  9927 1585 or 0412 543 297.  The property is right on the Brand Highway so easily accessible.  There are time restrictions, and they are not on view when it is very hot, so it is important to check and book!

I am so thrilled that I went - and now know so much more about the dingo!!!!

Monday, March 18

Greenough – Hampton Arms Inn and more

We set off early for the markets at Greenough – the amazing little historical township between Dongara and Geraldton, and were disappointed as when we arrived that there were few people in the markets (not as many stalls as we had hoped - we were early birds), so we wandered around and chatted, not buying anything but raffle tickets at the Uncle Ann’s Writers Group stall, and eventually decided to have a  coffee in the tea rooms – and we sat outside in the courtyard enjoying the fabulous coffee and the scenery.  It was very peaceful, but we were somewhat early as we were headed to the Hampton Arms, a very old Inn also at Greenough, but on another road.
(I cringed at the many spelling errors in the stalls – loved the ‘stainless steal” book mark one!)

The Hampton Arms is an old inn, “the surviving remnant of the town of Hampton, which was established in 1863, not long after the Greenough Front Flats.  As the district’s first hotel, it was a focal point for Greenough settlers for social gatherings, balls and political meetings.
It also provided shelter during times of flooding when settlers on the western side of the Greenough River were cut off from settlement on the eastern site.”
The two-storey stone and iron building, which had single storey wings each side of the main section and a stone stable block, was an excellent example of the Victorian Regency style.
Unlike other surviving buildings which once functioned as inns, the Hampton Arms was a purpose-built hotel”
Frances Pearson, who designed and built the first smelter in Western Australia and was a key figure in the early settlement of the Mid-West, built the hotel in 1863 with his two sons.
The Hampton Arms was officially opened on May 1st, 1863and named after John Hampton, Governor of the day.  The district’s first ploughing match was held in 1868 here.”

(The above information in italics was taken from the Hampton Arms Inn flyer)

There is a bookshop there with the most amazing collection of second hand books, and there is an Antique and Collectibles shop as well as a dress shop, so plenty to do while we wandered around the inn.  I bought a book on patchwork, which has some ideas that I might just use one day!

As we were about to order our lunch, my phone rang.  I had won the raffle!! The ladies would come and deliver it to me while we were still there.

Fish and Chips and Bev at the Inn

Alpaca at Greenough
We ordered fish and chips, which were wonderful, and I had a glass of Moscato, which was filled so much, I had to sip off the top so that I could carry it without spilling.  The Host of the Hampton Arms was a cheery and full of personality character called Brian who kept us amused at times!!!

The ladies delivered my prize (which included a St Patrick’s Day apron, and a bottle of Gossip’s Moscato and a few other items that will return to them, as they are of no value to me.

After a really lovely meal, we set off to Geraldton.  Perhaps the Art Gallery – closed on Sundays.  Grrr.  So across the road to McDonalds to have an icecream, before going to the movies.

As we reached the theatre there was a note on the door “Due to techincal problems” the movie would not be shown (that is the movie we wanted to see!!!) When we asked at the ticket office, about the techincal problem, the young lass did not understand us.  A laugh for us, as we turned around and headed back to Dongara.  Despite missing the movie, we had had another great day!!!!!

Sculpture by the Sea at Cottesloe

We visited this exhibition the day before we left for the return trip to Dongara.  This is the ninth annual exhibition of sculptures which are on display on the beachfront at Cottelsoe.  Some of the smaller ones are in the Cottesloe Surf Life Saving Club, but others are on display on the beach, or on the lawns up on street level.

This is  the work of Kathy Allam from WA

A piece created by WA artist Jeannette Vernooij

Allessandra Rossi's creation about wealth and poverty.  

My favourite - 222 bamboo poles

Hard to see in this pic - the double hands, facial features, breasts etc
There are so many wonderful exhibits on the beach, with the catalogue (purchased for $10) explaining details of the artist, price, etc.  Some are whimsical and others make you think - not only about the way the artist has interpreted it, but like the car accident with the kangaroo (see above) which is somewhat confronting.

Do visit the website Sculpture by the Sea

It is free to visit the artworks, but to read all about the items you can purchase a catalogue.  There is parking, but you may have to have a walk as there are so many folk in attendance.

It goes from 8th to 24th, March, 2013.

Sunday, March 17


I remember when I set out, I was determined to take photos of the many ruins that I passed along the way, remembering in particular the  ones that we had passed by on our trips between Broken Hill and Adelaide especially.   And so it is that I stop when I can if I see a good old derelict building.  It is not possible to stop at every one I see, as often I am travelling at 100 kms an hour, and the building just appears, and in particular if I am driving with double lines, I can’t just stop, so pass by.  Sometimes I have done a U-turn and gone back, and having lost the photos on my camera earlier I had taken an opportunity to catch up on some I had taken before.

In WA in particular there are many of them, and I can never pass by without thinking about the folk who had lived there, and what was the reason for moving on.  Clearly some houses have been replaced by others and can be seen nearby, but others have been long deserted and left to continue to deteriorate in the harsh Australian weather.   No doubt drought, and other misfortunes have motivated folk to move on, but I’d love to hear some of the stories.  That is not to be.

The following are just some of those I have collected in my travels thus far, and I am sure that over the next four or five weeks as I traverse the country from Western Australia, across the top end, Northern Territory and back into Queensland I am bound to see a few more.

Here in WA there is much restoration and celebration of the communities of the past, though clearly it is impossible to restore and care for all of them.  Shame really.  Just north of Dongara, on the way to Geraldton is a community called Greenough, which has restored and celebrated the community, and there are several places where one can visit and see how folk lived many years ago.   We will be calling in at Greenough at the weekend, but I already have photos of this place.  Hopefully we will also visit the old hotel where on a few days each week a meal is served.

(These photos were taking in the New Norcia  to Bindoon area.)

I’ve visited the town of New Norcia where most of the buildings are restored, but it is a massive ask – so much work (and it is expensive) to maintain these old buildings.

Not sure if this one is still in use, but it is old.  (not far from Dongara)

Not far from New Norcia