Cafe on the Dam


Took a trip out to Serpentine Dam and had lunch at the Cafe on the Dam. Here are a few of the locals who joined us for lunch ……

Bin Chicken / Tip Turkey


Bin Chicken / Tip Turkey / Dump Duck. These are all local names for the ubiquitous Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca) 

Apparently the Bin Chicken is widespread across much of Australia. It has predominantly white plumage with a bare, black head, long down curved bill and black legs.

These birds are the subject of a “Planet Earth” documentary ….

And even their own animated series ….

Although they are seen in the wild, they have become a feature of the suburbs in WA.

The picture at the beginning of this post was taken behind the Divers Tavern, Broome.

One can only begin to imagine what kind of “bin juice” this Bin Chicken has been drinking

Kalbarri WA


On arriving at Kalbarri we managed to locate our accommodation, despite the best efforts of our sat-nav which was intent on sending us off-road again. We were also confused by the name of the motel. All of my paperwork from the booking referred to Kalbarri Reef Villas. On the same street we found Kalbarri Seafront Villas and immediately behind was Reef Villas. No mention of Kalbarri on their signage but a quick chat with the manager confirmed we were in the right place. So Reef Villas it was and we were soon checked in, car unloaded and ready to explore.

The beach was just five minutes walk from the motel.

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Kalbarri Beach – Kalbarri, WA

Kalbarri is to be found at the mouth of the Murchison River where it joins the Indian Ocean.

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River / Ocean Meeting Place – Kalbarri, WA

Unfortunately, Gerry ricked her back on our first morning here. This meant that we had to curtail some of our exploring. So a tour of the gorges to see Natures Window & “Z” Bend was kicked into touch. The problem with these attractions is that they are only accessible along some sixteen kilometers of dirt road, not really conducive to reducing back pain.

As an alternative we decided to visit the numerous local ocean lookouts, all of which have paved roads right up to the car parks and also, in most cases, smooth pathways to the lookout. The following are a selection of the photo’s I took. I hope they give you a flavour of this area.

Some of the Aussies were really chuffed to see a car, with references to an English football team, sporting the Aussie flags.

While we were at the Blue Holes, a fellow Brit spotted the Pompey stickers and the rego plate. He was originally from Salisbury and knew all about our home area in Hampshire.

Every day pelicans are fed down on the Kalbarri foreshore. There is a seated arena for the early risers to use and children are invited to feed the pelicans. The couple that run the feed are very informative, with a touch of humour.

After touring the coastline, we returned to Kalbarri and found a site on the foreshore so that I could go fishing.

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Me Fishing – Murchison River, Kalbarri, WA

Although I did get a few bites, I didn’t manage to catch anything.

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Chatty canoeists – Murchison River, Kalbarri,WA

The fish weren’t the only things biting. There were crabs in the river who were taking a repeated interest in my feet. The canoeists were friendly and chatty, interested in how I was doing. I think they were also amused by how far out in the river I was.

Later the same day we were, again, down on the foreshore to watch the Australia Day fireworks.

During our all too brief stay in Kalbarri we were lucky enough to eat at the Black Rock Cafe. Here we had our evening meal on the day that we arrived. Good food and a table to watch the sunset. For our breakfasts, we visited Angies Cafe where they do a really tasty Bacon, Egg and Tomato Toasty as well as filling Tuna Patties (fish cake). Both establishments seem to be very popular.

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Angies Cafe – Kalbarri, WA

Angies was our last stop in Kalbarri, before heading off to Jurien Bay.

 

 

Geraldton to Carnarvon


Awoke in Geraldton to wet pavements and fairly heavy rain. Seemed just like home in the UK, except that the temperature was up in the twenties. First things first, we had a full cooked breakfast. The Ocean Centre Hotel has so much going for it, but the breakfast let it down. Soggy toast, tasteless scrambled eggs and poor service.

Car loaded up we set out for Carnarvon. After a while the rain stopped but it wasn’t to be the last time that we saw it. After about forty minutes of driving, we are heading up the Northwest Coastal Highway and soon approaching Northampton. Having been following a road train for some time, we were presented with a much-needed overtaking lane. So I hit the pedal and we were soon speeding past the leviathan of the road. Admittedly by the time I passed the truck I was probably doing approximately 120 -130 km, which is exactly when I spotted the dark vehicle parked at the side of the road. The one with the strange device facing out of the back window. No flash, no blue meanies on motor bikes like back home, in fact no indication that I had been nabbed. I’ll just have to wait and see if this turns into a ticket.

A general comment for driving in Australia but it is amazing how often the highways folks put in place an overtaking lane and just as you reach it they will reduce the speed limit from say 110 km down to 80 km !!! Especially when the overtaking lane is on a long incline. Does that make sense ?

We passed through Northampton which looked to be a pretty rural town. I made a mental note that we should stop and have a wander on our way back to Perth.

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I can see for miles and miles and …….. somewhere near Alma, WA

A few kilometers north of Northampton I stopped to take a photo of the never-ending countryside. According to the GPS on the camera we were near someplace called Alma.

On we traveled until we reached the Billabong Roadhouse some 180 km north of Northampton.

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Billabong Roadhouse – Meadow, WA

We topped up with fuel, made good use of the toilet facilities and stretched our legs at the roadhouse before continuing northwards.

Travelling along the North West Coastal Highway you begin to realise the name is something of a misnomer. Mile after mile of generally straight roads bounded on both side by sandy soil based bush might give one the feeling that you are driving over a very large beach but close to the coast ? Nope, I don’t think so.

If you look at a map of WA you will see that the road does run sort of parallel with the coast but in reality you are usually many kilometers away.

A few kilometers up the road from Billabong we topped a rise and I stopped to attempt to show how long and straight these roads are. These two photos show the north and south views of the North West Coastal Highway from a point near Carbla.

And so we moved on….. and eventually we made it to the 26th Parralel.

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Your’s truly at the 26th Parallel

Now we were truly into the north of the state. The roads looked pretty much the same but the accompanying countryside had changed and soon we came upon signs for a lookout. We didn’t see any signs giving a name and there were no information boards explaining what you could see. Subsequent googling identified it as White Bluff or the Gladstone Lookout.

On top of this, very windy, flat-topped, hill we discovered a couple of “cairns” comprising all manner of memorial artefacts. Some were formal, cast iron, plaques. Most were just rocks that had been written or painted on. One of the “cairns” comprised various gnomes, dolls and other figures. White Bluff gives an almost 360 degree view over the Wooramel countryside. Showing the highway disappearing northwards and southwards, views across the plain and out to the sea at Shark Bay (I think).

descending, from White Bluff, we once again commenced our journey north. Pausing at the Wooramel Roadhouse to top up again with fuel. Shortly after leaving the roadhouse we crossed the Wooramel River ….

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Wooramel River

This picture doesn’t really show just how dry this land is. This river is actually just a sandy river bed. You get used to seeing signs on the road for such and such a river or so and so creek. Never seeing a drop of water or even mud in the little, narrow, gully passing under the road. However, the Wooramel River is quite a reasonable size. The pictures below show how wide and how dry.

After only another 115 kilometers we arrived in Carnarvon and checked into the Carnarvon Motel.

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FootBridge – Carnarvon

This foot bridge was once part of the railway line from town to the One Mile Jetty. It now provides a pleasant walkway along the same route.

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Fascine Boardwalk – Carnarvon

The Fascine is a picturesque bay in Carnarvon. The boardwalk is apparently popular with the locals for walking and picnicking. It wasn’t very busy while we were there.

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One Mile Jetty – Carnarvon, WA

We had thought to freshen up and go into Carnarvon for dinner. It, the town, appeared to be closed so we returned to the motel and had dinner in their restaurant. Which, as it turned out, wasn’t bad at all.

 

Too Close For Comfort


For the second time in only a couple of weeks we have had a significant fire fairly close to us. This time the fire was just 2.3km away and the smoke from the fire  was being blown just slightly west of us. Multiple fire fighting aircraft  were buzzing directly overhead.

Here are some photos that I took this afternoon.

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Fire Smoke – Viewed from Thornlie

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Fire Smoke – Rising from beyond school buildings. Source is apparently the other side of Garden St.

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Fire Fighters Dropping Water – Detail from previous photo.

According to the DFES, more than fifty career Fire and Rescue Service and Bush Fire Service firefighters from six brigades were on the scene. They were supported by three helicopters and two bi-plane water bombers

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Bell 214B Big Lifter – Operated by  McDermott Aviation

Bell 214B Big Lifter > 214B-1

Bell 214B Big Lifter  – Operated by McDermott Aviation

This area is known as Forest Lakes. Most of the housing estates incorporate ponds and lakes.

Filling Up - Bell 214B Big Lifter - Operated by McDermott Aviation

Filling Up – Bell 214B Big Lifter – Operated by McDermott Aviation

The water bombers, at least the helicopters, make good use of nearby lakes to replenish their tanks.

We All Got Wet - Bell 214B Big Lifter - Operated by McDermott Aviation

We All Got Wet – Bell 214B Big Lifter – Operated by McDermott Aviation

We had a ringside seat for one such refill.

Dunn Aviation Air Tractor AT-802A (Water Bomber)

Dunn Aviation Air Tractor AT-802A (Water Bomber)

Thankfully this fire did not take any lives.

 

Beachside BBQ


Spent yesterday evening down by the shore at North Coogee, a coastal, western suburb of Perth, WA.

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South Fremantle Power Station

Close by is the derelict site of the South Fremantle Power Station which closed in September 1985, after 34 years service. Originally coal-fired, later converted to oil. After closure its four chimney stacks were demolished. Seems odd that after thirty years this site has not been cleared.

We had been invited to join my grandson and his partner for a BBQ with some of their friends. This was our first ever, al fresco, BBQ.

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Looking North – North Coogee

The actual BBQ site was a small park separated from the sea by the ubiquitous sand dunes.

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North Coogee – View past Port Coogee, towards Woodman Point

The park is part of the C.Y. O’Connor Reserve and had been the venue for a very large party on New Years Eve. There were huge piles of rubbish everywhere, and the public conveniences were not very, convenient that is. In fact they were indescribable.

This did not put us off the BBQ and we had a great time with some tasty food, a few beers and a relaxing time spent talking with some new acquaintances.

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It’s Pimms O’clock = Cheers !!

At around 20:00 we were treated to a superb sunset…

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Sunset – North Coogee, WA

A great evening.

Four Goo To Mullaloo


On a voyage of discovery, last Tuesday, we headed up North looking for somewhere to have lunch. Somewhere, that none of us had visited before. And so we found ourselves at Mullaloo, a northern coastal suburb of Perth. Apparently, Mullaloo is named after an Aboriginal word, believed to mean “place of the rat kangaroo”. Sounds attractive don’t you think.

After a quick recce we decided to check out the Mullaloo Beach Hotel for lunch. Unfortunately, we were not able to get into the restaurant. We elected to go eat in the bar area on the basis that the menus, according to the waitress, were the same for both areas.

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Mullaloo Beach Hotel

Having found a table, obtained drinks and ordered our food we sat back to chat and enjoy the views outside. We were thinking that this was quite a nice place to sit and chill.

The first thing to disabuse us of that feeling and to mar the pleasant ambience was that they decided to crank up the music volume. The music had been playing before but at a level which allowed for conversation to continue. Presumably too many people were kicking back and actually talking to each other. I can only think tat getting folks to shout at each other causes more drink to be bought.

The next issue was when the food was delivered. The entrees were delivered with the  mains !! When this was raised with the waiter the response was “Did you ask for the dishes to be delivered separately?”  Obviously, our mistake.

Not that of the staff who, had we been sat in the restaurant, would not have needed to be told our requirements. Checking the  hotel menus since returning home I have discovered that they are not the same, as we had been told. Restaurant “starters” are called “light bites”in the bar.

Obviously our mistake again, we didn’t realise that normal eater protocols had been thrown out the window.

The starter, entrees, light bites, what ever they were, were OK. Nothing to write home about. Denise had the bruschetta which looked good and was, I understand, tasty. Steve had the  salmon, bangus and prawn fish cakes although presented nicely were bland. Gerry and I shared the squid which, garnished with onion and chilli, is their signature dish !! It was not the best squid we have had since arriving in Oz. I think that accolade currently goes to the Boat at Mindari.

After what seemed like a long wait we were served with our mains. We did discuss that the long wait might be punishment for complaining earlier. Who can say. The mains were also just OK. I think the only truly positive comment came from Steve, who said that the fish was really nice. He had the tempura fish & chips with chef’s tartare sauce. He also reckoned that it was the smallest fillet he’s had in Australia. He’s been here a few years.

Denise had the “homemade” black Angus beef burger which elicited a fairly neutral response i.e. it’s nothing special. Gerry and I both had the black Angus fillet steak sandwich. The steak was nice but the aioli and the tomato jam made it a bit soggy inside. The turkish bread used for the sandwich was also nice.

So, over all a fairly neutral food experience. Not bad, but not good either. Once can only hope that the folks that managed to get into the restaurant had a better experience than we did. Hopefully they weren’t hit with sound levels designed to quell conversation. We left feeling that we would probably have had a better meal at the Dome next door.

I should also point out that make a big deal, via their multiple video screens, that their cuisine is courtesy of chef Pradeep who apparently worked with or served under Gordon Ramsey and has also worked at the Burj Al Arab. All I can say is that there was no sign of that standard of cuisine when we visited. The food did not look like the pictures shown on those same screens. …. Just sayin …..

After eating we felt we should take a stroll along the seafront. Here are a couple of shots from Mullaloo Beach.

Mullaloo Beach - Looking North, WA

Mullaloo Beach – Looking North, WA

The sound of a sun lotion sizzle was quite over powering.

Mullaloo Beach - Looking South, WA

Mullaloo Beach – Looking South, WA

Like a lot of areas in WA, the dunes along this part of the coast are being stabilised using natural means wherever possible..

Dunes in Rehab - Hope they get over their addiction soon

Dunes in Rehab – Hope they get over their addiction soon

At various points along the dunes, official, access points are provided.

Mullaloo Beach - Access through dunes

Mullaloo Beach – Access through dunes

One of the mysteries for the day was the significantly lower temperatures we experienced at Mullaloo and on the journey up. When we left home the temperature was in the low to mid thirties. By the time we reached Mullaloo the temperature had dropped to the low to mid twenties. And there I was thinking that in the southern hemisphere, when you travelled north, the temperatures increased.

So there you have it, lunch at Mullaloo.