Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas as they do it in Melbourne

The following three photos are of suburban houses in Glen Waverly lit up in the Xmas spirit. They were visited by many many people and were very spectacular.

I think this is the same house.

Another house.
And this is a culinary spectacle - the Christmas anipasto platter at the out-laws house - Penny and Doug Thomson in Healesville. Parents of my son-in-law.
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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Great Ocean Road, Victoria

The best known feature on the Great Ocean Road, the 12 Apostles. You can only see a few of them in any one shot.

I loved the GOR and all the various views. I thought the Apostles were over-rated compared to some of the other sights but you cannot exclude a shot of them when mentioning the GOR.

The Grotto is one of my favourites. A hole in the limestone made by the continuing action of the water.

Another favourite, the entrance to the Thunder Cave.

And just another set of limestone sculptures on the GOR. It is a wonderful drive.
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Last glimpses of SA

This has been a very rushed visit to this lovely small state, on account of Christmas demands on our time. We had time to briefly visit the Clare Valley as the photo above shows, and we quickly sampled some of the great reds there. We had to give the Barossa and McLaren Valley a miss and I reserved the right to go there on another visit.

The Blue Lake at Mount Gambier. For reasons that scientist can't fathom, the lake turns blue in November and stays that colour until March when it returns to the normal colour of a lake. We were lucky to catch its blue phase. It is a startling blue as the photo shows.

This is the Umpherston Sinkhole also in Mt Gambier. The whole town sits on an extinct volcano and there are several large and small sinkholes around the city. The sinkholes were originally the source of water for the settlers. The Blue Lake is now the source of the city's water supply.

The Umpherston Sinkhole has been made into a very lovely garden. There is even a gas barbecue there.

This is the Cave Garden sinkhole in the centre of the city. During the winter, storm water run-off makes its way into the cave forming a spectacular waterfall. It eventually enters the underground water system which possibly feeds into the Blue Lake.

There is actually an eloborate cave system under the city and it is very popular with cavers.
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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Coffin Bay, SA

A view of Coffin Bay on the Eyre Peninsula. Coffin Bay was so named by Matthew Flinders in 1802 in honour of his friend Sir Isaac Coffin.

The oyster beds. Coffin Bay is famous for its oysters Australia wide. We had a dozen unshucked oysters for $7.50 for lunch. It is just as well I have been training myself to get to like raw oysters
A pelican resting on one of the boats in the bay.

I just had to take this shot of the view at our free rest area in Camps Australia 4.

We are now on our way to Healesville for Christmas so the pace of travel has to pick up a little. The rest of SA will have to wait for another time. Had another excellent coffee at Coffin Bay.
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Friday, December 11, 2009

In South Australia now

This is a typical view of the coastline around the very lovely Eyre Peninsula.

We loved WA, but we knew we had arrived in SA when we went to an ordinary cafe in an ordinary town and ordered, and received good, strong, hot and reasonably priced coffee. Yes!!!!!

At the biggest protected fur seal colony in Australia, near Streaky Bay.

Murphy's Haystacks also near Streaky Bay. These are a unique outcrop of pink granite boulders (inselbergs) that are purported to be over 1500 million years old. The huge rocks, these are some of the smaller ones, occur in numerous places on the Peninsula.

These rather Stalinesque sculptures are the remains of a sculpture competition on the scenic ocean drive around Elliston. They look rather good against the picturesque backdrop of the rugged coastline and blue ocean.
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Crossing the Nullarbor

Camels played an important part in all the industries on and around the Nullarbor and they are commemorated in Norseman by the camel sculptures made of tin in the town. Norseman is considered the beginning of the road adventure known as crossing the Nullarbor.

The Nullarbor Plain would cover England, Belgium, Netherlands and Switzerland and still have 7,000 sq kms left over. The Plain is bordered by the Great Victoria Desert, the Great Australian Bight’s Southern Ocena and SA’s Eyre Peninsula. It is a harsh unique landscape and day-time temperatures can be very high in summer. We drove at a good speed and we took 2 and a half days to cross and we were very fortunate that the temperatures were cool. A fortnight earlier the temperature reached 47C we were told. The Nullarbor is the driest karst (limestone) area in the world. It is not a boring drive by any means with blowholes to see and hear, and the longest stretch of straight sealed road in Australia between Balladonia and Caiguna (146.6 kms).

Another WA road sign that amused us. Our last WA road sign by the way. Good-bye WA after 5 months - we loved you lots.

This is on the SA's side of the Nullarbor. Note the emu has changed to a wombat.
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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Boulder WA

Boulder is Kalgoorlie's sister city, a bit like Albury Wodonga. This is the Boulder Town Hall, one of the historic buildings in the town.

This is the Philip Goatcher curtain that was commissioned in 1908 when the town hall was built. Goatcher was a wold famous scene painter with his works resting in London, Paris, New York and other cities overseas. The Bay of Naples curtain at the Boulder Town Hall is shown to the public on certain days of the week. It is thought that the scene was chosen to honour the many Italian migrants working in the goalfields in Kalgoorlie and Boulder. It is painted as a drop-canvas to complement and close the picture fram stage at the town hall.

This is another old hotel the Court Hotel in Boulder that has been charmingly restored and maintained.

We visited the home basis of the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Boulder. This is a map of Great Britain superimposed on a map of Australia that illustrates the difference in size of the two countries.
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Monday, December 7, 2009

Kalgoorlie WA

We are in Kalgoorlie which is a town I have never been to and Andrew suggested I would like to see it. He was right. It is a very pleasant, prosperous town with many historic buildings. We will be playing bridge here tomorrow before leaving for the Nullarbor.

The building above is the former city market building, now a shopping complex. The buildings are well maintained and restored

This is the former York Hotel. I thought it was worth capturing it on camera.

We did a tour of one of the oldest working brothels in Australia. The Visitors Centre can book it or you can turn up yourself. We got a seniors discount.

It used to be called the Pink Brothel but has changed its name to Questa Casa. There we 12 people on the tour including a 96 year old woman. She was obviously looking for ideas.

The madam was a well spoken attractive woman who bought the establishment 19 years ago upon being widowed. She explained many things about brothels in the goalfields. It was a very interesting and educational tour. It was quite a delight to be able to discuss matters of sex in a frank and open way.

One of the rooms in the brothel.
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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Le Grand NP - last glimpse

Not everyone will share my great enthusiasm for rocks but for those other rock lovers, please enjoy these.

One last glimpse of a beach. Would you describe this water as azure, turquoise or aquamarine? Words just don't capture it. I want to bottle it and take it back home with me.

The view of Lucky Bay from our camper. I had to take this shot through the door. Sublime!!!!!!!!!!
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Le Grand National Park WA

This national park is approximately 50 kms east of Esperance and it is close to perfection for beauty and it contains some of the loveliest beaches in the world against granite backdrops. Each beach has its own attractions. The coastline both here at the national park and around Esperance, is dramatic, rugged and beautiful. But few areas of natural beauty come close to the scenic splendours of Cape Le Grand National Park.

Granite headlands plunge into the azure blue sea. Between the majestic headlands lie sheltered bays of crystal clear water fringed by dazzling white sandy beaches. The sand looks like snow. The beach in this photo is my favourite Thistle Cove. But there are many others just as beautiful.

These are the peaks within the national park.

Look at the little bays within the granite peaks.

The terrain of a lot of the south-west of WA remind one of the cliffs around Portugal except the sea around the cliffs there is the Atlantic and not the wonderful azure of the Southern Ocean. When we were in Portugal Andrew kept remarking on the similarities he found with WA coastline. At the time I was unsympathetic but now that I am here in the southwest of WA I can see what he saw. But lovely though Portugal is, there is no comparison to the beauty of this coastline. And I know where I would rather live, Portugal or Australia. Peter Allen knew what he was saying about still calling Australia home.

We also went to Cape Arid NP which is also lovely and very similar to Cape Le Grand but a little further east. Personally speaking, I would not venture further than Le Grand NP. It has been the highlight of thr trip with only Karrijini NP rivalling it for beauty and splendour.

There are two campgrounds in the NP one at Lucky Bay, a beautiful bay with the usual azure waters. The other is at Le Grand Beach which is a majestically long beach with equally pristine sand and azure water. The charge is $12 per couple (senior rates) at either campground. The camp kitchen is beautifully clean with 4 gas rings, barbecue and hot water for washing up. There are also two showers with limited hot water. Camping does not get much better than this with the beach just a minute away. As well as the sandy beaches there are many walking trails in the NP. We walked between Lucky Bay and Thistle Cove, a 1 hour walk between the two scenic attractions.
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Frenchman's Peak in Le Grand National Park

We climbed the 262 metre high Frenchman's Peak in Le Grand National Park east of Esperance. More on the national park further on because it is one of the highlights of our trip as far as I am concerned.

The peak is an eroded landmark so named because the summit uncannily resembles a Frenchman's beret. The summit offers great views over the national park.

The caved arch at the summit provides a peek through an archlike window on the surrounding scenery. Here is the view from the arch. Like a peephole.

The view of the cave from the ground.

The surface is made of granite and there is littel shrubbery on the way up to the summit. It is a 3kms return and it was quite a hard climb for me. Andrew of course took it in his stride.

A preview of the wonderful coastline within Le Grand NP. Majestic sheer granite cliffs reaching into the wonderful blue waters.
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