Monday, 8 May 2017

April - October 2017

From Lake King I wandered up to Gingin for my cousins 70th. Lovely weekend. I was rather surprised at how much stubble is being burned off - very smokey. I thought that practice was discouraged. 

Spent Easter with friends at Seabird, then back to Waroona via 'back' roads to avoid the school holiday traffic. Lovely drive via Gingin, Bindoon Hill, Toodyay to Katrine camp beside the river. Bit tricky to get in to but flush toilets - always a big plus. Then to York intending to fill up with water - but my fancy anti-vandal tap fitting doesn't work on those tap. Got water at Beverley instead. On down to Pingelly and across to Pumphreys Bridge. Lovely big area down by the river, up behind the hall and on an oval out the back. Thought I was the only one there and a bit nervous about all the traffic stopping at the hall during the late evening. seems to be a meeting place - or maybe they just stop to use the loos. Anyway -  I see a van tucked away on the oval next morning.

 Enjoyed the drive via Crossman and Boddington. Thought about stopping there but went in to Waroona via Lane Pool. I had forgotten how narrow the north end of that road is - and with weekend traffic it was a slow cautious trip!
Farm sitting again - a couple of dogs and 600 acres. Enjoying being back amongst old friends in Waroona.

From there I went via Mt Barker (laid up a few days with a nasty cold) and on to Esperance where I had another farmsit for 6 weeks. Lovely old renovated house, 4 farm dogs, a cat, a bird and chooks. Did a trip to Lucky Bay, hellfire Bay, Stonehenge, Cape Arid (almost - road too wet and slippery).
Found the amazing Hakea Victoria in Helms Arboretum. Pity it is such a spiky plant - certainly has stunning colours.
Stood beside a snake at Hellfire Bay - thank goodness it seemed to be asleep. Not sure if a Tiger or  what but not getting too close whatever it was.
Stonehenge was amazing and the tidiest Tourist destination I have seen in Aus. The farm & business is for sale!
Big flock of black cockatoos flew past a couple of times - migrating I am told.

I made my way back to the next farmsit out of Waroona. Will be here 3 months so looking forward to catching up with all my friends in the area. The weather has certainly changed - wet and wintery but at least everyone has grass again.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Jan - March 2017

Had a great family Christmas around Perth, with a surprise visit from family in Mackay. Lovely to have 2 granddaughters together also. 
Picked up the van from my friend at Waroona and headed to Herron Point. So many people crabbing out in this shallow estuary. Did have a good spot to camp - but went off today to do laundry etc and camp back to find a young couple with 3 little kids right up hard against the back of me. Is plenty of room for them to have moved over further. Bugger! Very hot so I don't want to have to shut windows so I cannot hear everything over there!!!!
Back to a farm I stayed at last year for a while then the big 70th party at Logue Brook Dam near Harvey. Wonderful to have friends and family from NZ and many lovely Australian friends help celebrate over the weekend. Managed to stay dry luckily. shocking heavy rain earlier in the week.
More farm sitting then the call from BlazeAid again to help set up camp at Lake King to work on flood damage. The old set-up crew there again so that is fun and a few others that had worked with us at Waroona also turned up.
Very small community here - just a Tavern and a small general store/PO but already we have fresh meat in the freezer, and lots of farm eggs etc. The flood seems to have take fences and dumped them out in the paddock - mainly through pressure of stubble building up on the netting I guess. Luckily farmers have machines that can pick up the fence and drag it back into place so it is mostly a matter of putting in new pickets and reattaching the wires.
We had a huge feed of yabbies thanks to one of the farmers also.

Managed to get the ute's weird noise sorted in Kondinin with great young mechanic who found a hole in the manifold exhaust pipe. Bit expensive to fix but I now have power back and fuel consumption is back to normal. What a relief!

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Oct - Dec 2016

Had a lovely time house-sitting in Waroona and visiting with friends. Dinners out, cafe breakfast, happy hours etc. Worked at the Pinjarra Harness Club a few Mondays - signing in the Drivers and Trainers, and also worked at the Harvey CRC doing a bit of computer stuff then as an invigilator for people doing external exams. Good time to do lots of reading.
Then off to Wellington Dam (Potters Gorge) for 11 days. Had 2 lots of friends turn up and spend a few days with me also so that was fun. The park was partly closed as they have upgraded the whole thing with several new toilet, kitchens with gas BBQ s, all bays gravelled and with picnic tables and fire-pits. There is a dump point and rubbish skips as well and a new day visit area. Lots of trees so sun for people relying wholly on solar for their fridges may be a problem. TV pretty good, some phone and internet. Money collected most evenings. Mostly a peaceful National Park spot - until the young ones turn up for the weekend....... at least there are no motor boats or jet skis on the lake.

I went for a drive to Honeymoon Pool - no caravans allowed - a one way road. Pretty spot and lots of tents there but the water will be very cold as it is a very shady area. Didn't realise I needed to go back a bit to get to Gnomesville, so crashed my way up this badly corrugated road and ended up back at Potters Gorge - gave up for the day!
We were visited by a Black-faced Wallaby one night. Very friendly as long as you didn't try to pat her head - she growls at you! Saw tiny blue wrens - but only when I didn't have the camera with me LOL!

Headed for the 'religious mile' out of Busselton looking for a caravan park. Too hard - had to cross the road and they dont really look like places for caravans so carried on to Four Seasons instead. A couple of days there then on down to Northcliffe to Sids camp. Great little spot. Did a day trip back t Donnelleys Landing where after chatting to  Ranger followed him up the road to stop at a Snottygobble tree! The camping around here is strictly for tents - even a camper trailer may have trouble opening fully. Did a wander along back roads to Pemberton for lunch then to the Bicentennial tree. 66m up - not for me.
Next stop was Frankland CP - lovely new facilities. Stayed a couple of days as it was rather hot! Then via back road to Tone Bridge. Tucked myself away in the scrub then decided it was going to be too hot so on to Boyup Brooke CP. Heat wave one day the raining the next! On to Kojonup  - caught up with my son, then to a free camp, back towards Kojonup and took the back road to Darkan. Another lovely drive with hardly any traffic. You pay at the Shire ($18 pn) then get the code to access the laundry and get the keys for the amenities and the dump point. First time I have found one locked! Had a quiet couple of days backing up and sorting the laptop as I need to get a new one.
Headed north again towards Boddington then to Pinjarra. Got a new computer - ugh - so much to learn! Dropped the van at a friend's in Yarloop and up to my brother for Xmas etc. Several days later and I have the computer sorted - I hope. Huge amount of data has to be downloaded so chews up the prepaid internet! Even Office is now only available by download it seems.
Merry Christmas to you all.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

8-10 2016 Denham, Chapman Valley, Mullewa, Kalbarri, WILD FLOWERS

South of Billabong
I left Waroona mid August and travelled up via Middle Road to Three Springs, then on to Denham to stay with friends. The wild flowers every where have been amazing especially the Wreath flowers out of Pindar.
Galena Bridge
Three Springs has a 'caravan park' run by the shire. It is free but for a $10 bond you get the key from the Shire office and then have use of the toilet and hot showers. There are a couple of taps there. Also public toilets that may be locked at night?
Galena Bridge overnight camp is a very popular place. A large camp on the south and a smaller one north of the bridge. Picnic tables, toilets and dumps on both sides.
Pink Lake, Port Gregory

North of the bridge is Nerren Nerren overnight camp also with facilities. Plenty of parking off the seal but I wonder if it may get boggy in the rain and there are a couple of drains that may catch a caravan. I was tempted to go and hide in the scrub to the south but the trees were a bit low and close in places.
I stopped at the Linga Longa caravan park for a few days so I could see the Pink Lake and go to Hutt Principality. Lovely people but basic amenities, no TV, limited phone.

Yuna Hall
Behind the Yuna Hall is a free camp with toilets. Unfortunately the pub is shut for now - there are only a few houses but quite a busy school. Lovely drive through the Chapman Valley at this time of year. Once again no TV, limited phone.
The camp at Tenindawa was great - phone and excellent TV there. Lots of places to park in the scrub. No facilities or I would have stayed longer. Was also windy but it has been like that for weeks it seems.
Northampton gravel pit
On to Mullewa CP for a couple of nights so I could leave the van. Extremely busy during the wild flower season. Cannot book either - so get there early and hope there are powered sites if you need them. Headed up to Wandina one day but struck the gravel and had another 25km to go - too hard :) Went to Pindar and up the 10 km of gravel to see the wreath flowers instead. A stunning display for over a km along both sides of the road.
From Mullewa I headed to Ellendale Pool. Lovely spot and a big pool for kayaks etc although care needed when swimming. Honesty box to pay $5 pp,pn. Quite a few there. Sealed winding road in from the south down to the river.
Next stop was Eneabba at the oval. $5 pp pn also but  you get toilets and hot showers at the Rec centre. Ranger collects the money in the morning. Pub is walking distance and meals also available at the Miners Camp some nights.
 Lake Indoon was the next stop.  I was assured that it was OK to take the caravan along the track to the left. Almost off roading at the end turn around but managed ok. Stayed there a night. I was told the has not been water in the lake for a few years so the locals are enjoying having their playground back again. this year.
On down to Seabird. There is a dump at Cervantes but only during the Tip hours. The Shire has sealed several rest areas south of there and there is a toilet and dump on the west side of the highway about half way between there and Seabird.
Spent a lovely couple of weeks with friends near Seabird who welcome travellers. We did the Neergabby fireworks night over the long weekend. Thousands come to it each year. Pity it is not a camp area though.
A couple of other friends to visit before heading back to Waroona to help with the show. What a busy time that is. So much work by so few people. Great to see some younger ones helping now. I spent Friday in the hall helping take the entries then displaying them In bed by 11 pm! Not used to 8 hours on my feet any more. Back on Show day as a steward in the hall for much of the day then back on Sunday to help sort the tables for next year. Was great to catch up with so many of the locals I have got to know of the past 9 months.
Have another part time job at the Pinjarra Paceway helping check in the drivers and trainers on a Monday - until they get a permanent person to do it. Have a house sit until the end of November so probably wont add much to the blog for a while.

Monday, 27 June 2016

May July...2016

Having spent 3 months working with BlazeAid after the Waroona fire I am still in the area. Spent a month on a farm then moved into a big modern farm house for 3 weeks while the owners are away. A couple of dogs to feed. Loving a big comfortable bed and all the mod-cons. The kitchen is longer than the caravan so getting lots of exercise! I have the caravan in for a service, been to a dentist, done some shopping, had my back fixed...... am enjoying the time to do these things. Go out for dinner most weeks with friends, have stayed at a Beach cottage, and been to several 'fire recovery' breakfasts. These are great for getting to chat to farmers I had only spoken to on the phone.

I have another house sit to do and possibly a longer term one after that so will really get to know this area. Such lovely generous people who have become friends. When on the road we drive through these small towns and often wonder what makes them tick so it has been a wonderful experience getting involved in the community - all be it as a result of a tragic fire.
Visited a lovely old gentleman who has a 'museum' of things he has collected. Built a slab cabin to house them in, and has old street lamps planted in the garden. Great use of old tree roots for a gnome garden for children. I know every road on the wall after so much time in the area! The Bandicoots are thriving here after the fire devastated their block of bush nearby.

 Went for a drive up Scarp Road to see how the bush is recovering and saw Grass Trees sprouting the most unusual knobbly growth. It doesn't appear on all of them either. Very strange. No doubt I will find someone who can explain it for me:)
After some research got a reply from an expert who tells me this is NOT a grass tree - rather is:
 Kinga australis
Outstanding slow-growing plant, the only species in the Genus. Although it resembles the Xanthorrhoea it is NOT related to the Grass Tree. Grows naturally all over the south west in Western Australia. Woody perennial with narrow grass-like leaves, clumping and arching as they mature. A trunk develops after many years. Flowers are white and appear in winter through summer.
Well - glad I sorted that out!

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

February - May, BlazeAid 2016

It has been a couple of months since I updated the blog.
Left the caravan at a park in Lithgow ($58 per week!) and took a very cheap train to Sydney Airport - all of $13.50 for a 2.5 hour stress-free trip.  Flew home for my sister's 70th birthday and a lovely visit with my best friends. Rather cold and wet but lots of fun. 

Back to Aus and a 'quick' trip across to Perth. All of 4000 km and only 4 weeks to get there. A bit different doing 1,000 km a week instead of my normal 200!!!!! Good trip though.

Managed to spend a few days with BlazeAid in Grass Patch working in the kitchen  then down to Albany to stay with a friend who was house sitting. On up to Yanchep, and Perth for Xmas with family and the granddaughters from NZ. Even managed to take them shopping at Meyers one day. That was fun. 

Decided to head south again after New Year - Greenbush and back to Albany via Manjimup, Bridgetown, Mt Barker. Bad fire at Waroona so will go there when BlazeAid starts. Back to Albany then my friend and I decided to go to Tozers bush camp and explore Bremer Bay for a few days. Lots of thunderstorms in the distance but still having trouble taking photos of the lightening! Great sunsets with the fire smoke.
 From there up to a friend with a farm but due to the rain only stayed one night. Got out just in time - the road was closed later that day. Went to Broomehill CP then up to Wagin waiting for the BlazeAid camp to start.

 On 27 Jan joined Jim at Waroona Oval and started getting organised. Rang lots of farmers once I had made a data base from all the info collected at farm meetings. We have a great facility at the Memorial Hall with plenty of room and a new kitchen - but nothing other than crockery!!!!! Had trouble getting a hall key for a while - DFES had been here during the fire and hadnt returned the keys. We had all their left over water, milk etc which had to be sorted and stored. Off to Bunbury the day after the official co-ordinator arrived - picked up 6 new enclosed trailers and lots of tools. 

Had 2 nights out dining with locals - lovely people. Finally got keys sorted then stuff started arriving!!!!! Fridges, freezers, pots, cutlery meat, vegies, cooler rooms -  and volunteers. What an amazing organisation this is. No-one gets paid so all donations are spent on setting up camps, buying equipment and feeding the volunteers. BlazeAid now comes in to help after floods and droughts also. Several are heading up to Julia Creek for the winter to spend time with drought stricken farmers - just to be there for company, and to do odd jobs. 
A few more fires around the area - deliberately lit we hear! I can understand how the big one spread so fast though. Massive winds some nights come over the scarp to the east! Hard to sleep when the van is shaking so much!

We had one trailer stolen a couple of days ago. Miserable hounds. Luckily it only had a basic kit in it and the word has spread on social media like wildfire! The the Lions turned up with a new box trailer for us, and another group has rung in to say they will buy us another fencing trailer.

 Our cook wanted a couple of big pots - more Lions with money bought 4 of them at around $200 each. The generosity of service clubs and ordinary people after a disaster is very humbling. The locals are starting to learn about BlazeAid and are quite overwhelmed that a team of 3-5 will turn up and help them do a job in a day or 2 that may have taken them a week on their own.
 Will probably stay here for a month or so - the camp hopefully will close in April then all the trailers will be stored over in WA for future use.
Went for a drive out to one of the farms near Yarloop. Had to go through the roadblock but with the BlazeAid badge that is OK.

There is so much new growth on the trees now and the grass is starting to grow so looking a bit better than it was a month ago. This farmer still has no access from his shed to his house without going through his paddocks as the road bridge is unsafe - fire burnt the wood under the road. He was so lucky not to lose his house. It had started to burn at the back of the shed!
Had boys from Aquinas college helping on a couple of Sundays. They are loving it. We are also helping on vineyards - cutting all the smoke affected grapes off so the vines can recover properly.
Easter has become a slow period - not what we expected as people like to be able to come for 4 days. Unfortunately the weather is against us. Had Wednesday off as it was too wet. Saturday is forecast to be  wet also. Huge wild cool winds for the past few days. Recycle bins sent flying and bottles blown across the lawns. Very 'shaky' nights in the vans and so noisy!
Have been 'upgraded' to Kitchen staff now as our lovely cook is leaving. Do have someone to get up early and put breakfast out - whew! Will still do the admin - but that has slowed down considerably also. Hope to close camp on 24th and then spend a few days packing up and getting everything into storage.
Massive final Farmers night - 120 people and the Navy cooking.
Had a busy few weeks winding up the camp. Also went to Anzac Dawn service at Yarloop - rained the whole morning! Am now farm sitting near Waroona. Not sure how long I will stay but really enjoying the quiet - and visiting people I met in the district.