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.

 

Up The Swanny


Out of the blue, a phone call from our grandson, and an offer of an evening trip up the Swan River, on Christmas Eve. Being our wedding anniversary, what better way to round off the day. Few details were provided other than that we needed to be present at the East Street Jetty for around 19:00.

Swan River - View upstream from East Street Jetty - Fremantle WA
Swan River – View upstream from East Street Jetty – Fremantle WA

The trip was being provided by my grandsons partner who runs a charter business.

Arriving at the jetty, we soon found other folks, similarly awaiting the arrival of a boat.

While we waited Steve and I started to scout out the area as a possible fishing venue, having already noted the presence of several anglers. After chatting with one guy, who was packing up, we have added the jetty to our list . Easy access with parking very close by and straight into deep water.

It wasn’t long before our transport appeared upstream and was tied alongside ready for boarding.

MV Cygnus - Approaching East Street Jetty, Fremantle, WA
MV Cygnus – Approaching East Street Jetty, Fremantle, WA

MV Cygnus is a fully licensed 53′ Catamaran and is apparently capable of catering for up to 60 people. I think that might be a tight squeeze, however we weren’t that many so had room to meander.

Posh Pads - Swan River, opposite East Street Jetty, Fremantle, WA
Posh Pads – Swan River, opposite East Street Jetty, Fremantle, WA

Shortly after boarding it was time for a little something to moisten dry throats. Make the most of the next photo. It features yours truly which is a rare occurrence as it’s not often that I step in front of a lens.

Gerry and I - Swan River Cruise, WA
Gerry and I – Swan River Cruise, WA

By 19:15 we were underway, heading up river and it was time to point the lens outside of the boat. Having made a similar daytime trip, several years ago, we knew we would see some very nice properties along the river banks. At least while the sun was still up. However, an evening trip was going to be somewhat different.

Fremantle Dinosaurs !!
Fremantle Dinosaurs !!

These cranes, silhouetted by the setting sun, look somewhat like prehistoric creatures heading to the river to drink.

Water Police Base - Fremantle, WA
Water Police Base – Fremantle, WA

My grandson is a member of the Water Police. This picture shows some of their toys. Am I jealous ? , go on, ask me.

Down here in Oz it gets dark very quickly so photography on a moving platform becomes something of a challenge. Here are some “snaps” taken once darkness had arrived.

Swan Canoe Club - Mosman Park, Perth, WA
Swan Canoe Club – Mosman Park, Perth, WA

At some point we tied up to a buoy, so that the hot food could be cooked on the huge BBQ at the stern. We sat swinging at the whims of the river currents and the wind, just offshore from Mosmans Restaurant.

Mosmans Restaurant - Mosman Park, Perth, WA
Mosmans Restaurant – Mosman Park, Perth, WA

The crew laid out quite a spread, with steaks, chicken drummies and prawns cooked on the BBQ, supplemented with a variety of salads and roast vegetables followed by fresh fruits and cheeses.

Food consumed, we were then of further up river until the city came into view. Time for some more snaps but, several beers in, I wasn’t really up for the challenge.

Blame it on the Little Creatures
Blame it on the Little Creatures – That’s my excuse, not sure what theirs is.

Yes, that’s twice I’ve been in front of the lens on one single occasion.

Here is the best of a bad lot …..

Perth City Skyline - Viewed from the Swan River
Perth City Skyline – Viewed from the Swan River

It would have been nice to have cruised right up into the city, but that was as close as we got. Still looks good though.

There was a disco on board and we did get up to dance, a bit. Well that’s perhaps a very loose description of the gyrations I was making. I am pleased to say that there are no photos of that brief interlude.

All too soon we were heading back to the East Street Jetty. Just a short distance, from the jetty, is the Left Bank, bar and restaurant.

The Left Bank - Bar and Restaurant, Fremantle, WA
The Left Bank – Bar and Restaurant, Fremantle, WA

This place, The Left Bank, was having a Xmas Eve party. It started at Noon and was going on till 2 am . From the jetty we could see that they had swarms of hi-viz jacketed security outside. We could hear it from the river as we cruised by. Call me an old fart, but any pub that requires that level of security is not a place I would want to frequent. Having said that we did have a nice early evening meal there a few years back.

So there you have it, our trip up the swanny.

There are many interpretations of the phrase “up the swanny”, including ballsed up, stuck in the mud, tits up, up shit creek, up the creek without a paddle and so forth.

None of these are applicable. We had a great time and our thanks go to Kate and her crew for a super evening.

 

 

Tis The Season To Be Wary


Please excuse the play on words. It may be Christmas but, down here in Oz, it is the height of summer, in fact Monday was the longest day. Being the longest day may have a different meaning for the various folks involved in fighting the bush fires raging across the country. With temperatures up in the mid to high thirties these folks will be sweltering dressed in their safety gear while they fight to close down these fires.

http://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/alerts/Pages/Alert.aspx?ItemId=15797

Earlier yesterday (Monday) afternoon, we had noticed that there was a lot of aerial activity and had seen helicopters and fire fighting (air attack) planes buzzing across the sky.

Planes similar to the following..

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Attack Aircraft (Air Tractor AT-802A)

It transpires they were probably  headed for a bushfire which started on Brentwood Road in Wattle Grove area of Kenwick, a Perth suburb, just 10 kilometres (6 miles) away from where we are.

My granddaughter, returning from the gym, had asked if we had seen the smoke while we were out earlier. Apparently, this local bushfire was just a short distance away from where her friend lives.

The following picture shows the plume of smoke visible from the front doorstep.

Smoke Plume - Bushfire - Brentwood Road, Kenwick, Perth WA
Smoke Plume – Bushfire – Brentwood Road, Kenwick, Perth WA

Later in the afternoon, while I was typing this post we became aware of a fresh plume of smoke, this time in the exact opposite direction from the original fire.

Smoke Plume - Bushfire - Near Waterperry Drive, Perth WA.
Smoke Plume – Bushfire – Near Waterperry Drive, Perth WA.

This fire was near Waterperry Drive just under 4 kilometers (2.4 miles) away.

http://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/alerts/Pages/Alert.aspx?ItemId=15807

Smoke drifting down the road - Bushfire
Smoke drifting down the road – Bushfire

The wind was blowing the smoke directly over our heads and down into the garden along with ash from the fire. As soon as we noticed the ash, Steve had the air-con turned off. Apparently fires can be transferred by hot embers being sucked into the air-con and entering the roof space.

First of the Water Bomber Helicopters - Bushfire - Near Warton Road, Perth WA. (Airline: McDermott Aviation Aircraft: Bell 214B-1)
First of the Water Bomber Helicopters. – Bushfire – Near Waterperry Drive, Perth WA. (Airline: McDermott Aviation Aircraft: Bell 214B-1)

Soon there were more aircraft in the skies overhead. A helicopter from Channel 7 News was sat up high, make slow circuits round the site of the fire. This was then joined by a small biplane, assumed to be a scout for the emergency services.  Through the tree lines I saw at least two of the “attack” aircraft heading into the fire zone. Shortly after, two helicopters entered the fray.

Helicopters - Bushfire - Near Waterperry Drive, Perth WA.
Helicopters – Bushfire – Near Waterperry Drive, Perth WA.

These aircraft are Bell 214B-1 operated by McDermot Aviation. They carry water in “the ‘Tsunami” Belly Tank” slung between the skids. You can also see the  “elephants trunk” hanging below, which they can dip in any nearby water source and use to refill the tank.

The two choppers were making regular circuits, flying off to refill, then returning to douse the fire. Out of site from my viewing point I assume there were many fire fighters active on the ground. I could hear sirens for the emergency service vehicles from my location.

Later in the evening you wouldn’t have known that there had been a fire. The skies were totally clear of any smoke from either of the bush-fires, although they were still the subject of active alerts.

Thankfully, according to the local news, nobody was harmed in either incident. Though, some property was lost to the fires.

This is, apparently, the closest fire to their home that my daughter and her husband have experienced. Lets hope there are no more but, with the temperatures set to rise in the next two days, we won’t be holding our breath.

There is also a suspicion that at least one of these fires was started deliberately. Given the monetary cost, and the potential risk to human life, should either case be found to be arson then the full weight of the legal system should be brought to bear.

 

 

 

Northam, Pelicans, Kookaburras, Bushfires and a Good Samaritan


Continuing our general exploration of the Perth region we headed out to the township of Northam. The main reason for heading that way is that Northam is said to have the largest number of historic buildings in Western Australia (other than Fremantle).

Northam is just over 30 Km north of York, which we have visited before, and just over 90 Km from Perth. So just over an hours drive. Waiting until the Perth suburbs commuter rush hour was over we set out on a drive through picturesque countryside. Some might question the picturesque descriptor and certainly the countryside is nothing like the green and pleasant land that is the UK.

Driving out we passed through forests of trees, with fire blackened trunks, starkly contrasted by brilliant white gum trees. All topped of with leaves that are tinted close to sage green. All with a constant backdrop of a clear blue sky. Occasionally these forests give way to more open lands, presumably cleared to provide grazing for sheep and cattle. Although mainly open, these pastures are dotted with trees to give livestock some shade.

Countryside - Near Northam WA
Countryside – Near Northam WA

The landscape change as we enter the “Avon Valley”, becoming more hilly and open. The road changing altitude more frequently and, as we entered the outer suburbs of Northam, we made a short detour, following a sign indicating that there was a view-point on top of the hill.

The view-point gives good panoramic views over Northam and the surrounding countryside.

Countryside surrounding Northam WA - Viewed from Mt. Ommaney
Countryside surrounding Northam WA – Viewed from Mt. Ommaney

Countryside surrounding Northam WA - Viewed from Mt. Ommaney
Countryside surrounding Northam WA – Viewed from Mt. Ommaney

The picnic tables up here have been vandalised and the whole area is looking a little sad. It would seem that it is a popular place for “hooning” around with cars and bikes.

After several do-nuts, I managed to get the son-in-laws car perfectly parked. As you can see now the smoke has cleared.
After several do-nuts, I managed to get the son-in-laws car perfectly parked. As you can see now the smoke has cleared.

There is also an information board which makes reference to a grave site accessed down a made path. Unfortunately, most of the information is obliterated but I was able to determine that the grave site is on un-consecrated ground and that it once held the body of a Mrs Iva Jane Burrows. Apparently she shot and wounded her step daughter before injecting herself with a lethal dose of poison. It was her wish to be buried without religious service or sermon. One other oddity was that her husband had the coffin bound with two chains prior to interment. Confusingly, despite the presence of the grave-site on the hilltop other sources on the web suggest that she was buried in the Northam Cemetary which is, presumably, consecrated.

On into Northam and we spotted a sign for the pedestrian suspension bridge and were soon parked up again.

At the foot of the bridge is a modern day wood sculpture, of a Bob Tailed Lizard, entitled Little Bobby.

Little Bobby - Northam WA
Little Bobby – Northam WA

The bridge has a 117 metre span and is 16 metres high. Apparently it can hold up to 400 people, evenly spaced, and is capable of withstanding 150 Km/hr winds. It is a popular vantage point for the famous Avon Valley Descent, so the live load capacity has probably been exercised on numerous occasions, since it was built in 1975.

Shire of Northam - Avon River Suspension Bridge
Shire of Northam – Avon River Suspension Bridge

We crossed the bridge, and yes it wriggles, squirms and bounces as you walk. I was told on numerous occasions, to stop making it bounce.

The Ubiquitous Shopping Trolley - Scourge of the western world
The Ubiquitous Shopping Trolley – Scourge of the western world

Having crossed the river, we ate a very pleasant lunch on the veranda at the RiversEdge Cafe. Here, I had a Curried Rice Salad with added Chicken Strips, while Gerry had a Peach Salad with added Salt and Pepper Squid. Mindful of the rising temperatures we washed the food down with some thirst quenching Iced Tea.

Apart from being the start point for the Avon Descent

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Avon Descent is an annual, two-day, white water event involving both paddle craft (kayaks, surf skis) and small motor boats. It runs from Northam to Perth, Western Australia along the Avon and Swan Rivers, and is held in August of every year.

Sponsors and commercial support regularly changes, sometimes annually.

It is the only event in the world where both power craft and paddle craft race compete. The course has Grade 2–4[clarification needed] white water rapids and is 124 kilometres (77 mi) long.[1] The first Avon Descent was held in 1973. There has been an increase in the prize pool from 2007 of $10,000 providing an extra $6,000 for 1st, $3,000 for 2nd and $1,000 for 3rd fastest single paddle craft. In 2006 757 competitors started the event in 459 craft.

The top class in the powerboats is the 10hp sports class. These boats are made from foam and fibreglass, and have hydraulic jacks that enable the motor to be jacked up. The motors are unmodified and run a surface piercing propeller. These powerboats can reach speeds of approximately 70km/h.

Northam is also known for its many historic buildings …

133 Fitzgerald Street, Northam - A two-storey rendered brick and tile building (1906) in the Federation Free Classical Style
133 Fitzgerald Street, Northam – A two-storey rendered brick and tile building (1906) in the Federation Free Classical Style

 Northam Post Office & Quarters - a brick and iron building designed in the Federation Free Style architecture. Built circa 1909
Northam Post Office & Quarters – a brick and iron building
designed in the Federation Free Style architecture. Built circa 1909

Commercial Hotel, Northam - Built 1902-1903
Commercial Hotel, Northam – Built 1902-1903

Northam Hotel - The original hotel was built on the site In 1887 although a licence had been operating from the site since 1890.
Northam Hotel – The original hotel was built on the site in 1887.

Commonwealth Bank - is a two-storey, Inter War Stripped Classical style commercial building. Built circa 1934
Commonwealth Bank – is a two-storey, Inter War Stripped
Classical style commercial building. Built circa 1934

During our walk alongside the river we were entertained by various aquatic birds. Ducks, gulls, moorhens, and a lone pelican. The Pelican was fishing, and seemed to be doing quite well. Sailing along majestically, plunging his enormous bill down into the water, then slowly lifting his head while draining the water keeping his bill closed enough to keep his prey from escaping. This would be followed by a uptilt of the bill so that whatever had been caught slid quickly down into his gullet.

Pelican - Northam Town Pool
Pelican – Northam Town Pool

The gulls spent a deal of time harassing the pelican. Everytime his head went under water, and his bum went up in the air, they would swim in close, as if to peck the exposed behind. Then when his head came back up they would move away. On one occasion, one of the gulls leapt out of the water and used the pelicans back like a trampoline to launch itself into the air.

Other birds on or around the water included an Egret …

Egret ?
Egret ?

…… a Heron ….

Heron ?
Heron ?

…. and a Cormorant drying it’s wings …

Cormorant
Cormorant

Western Australia is known for the Black Swans which feature on the state flag, but Northam is known as the home to White Swans which were first introduced to Australia during the 19th century.

In 1896 the White Swan was introduced into Western Australia by a British colonists. In the early 1900’s, it is believed a Russian settler and the town’s mayor, Oscar Bernard, introduced White Swans to Northam . The Avon River in Northam became the only place in Australia where the newly introduced bird survived and today it is still the only place in Australia where White Swans breed naturally in the wild.

After spending a few hours in an around Northam it was time to head back to Perth. Returning to the car I made a really bad decision. I knew that the car was low on fuel but decided that we would be able to fill up at a service station on the way. This was stupid as I then made a second dumb decision, which was to take “the pretty route” back. We drove for many kilometers along very quiet roads, with few other motorists. Slowly the fuel gauge dropped towards the empty mark.

Then nature stepped in to compound my dumb decisions. We started to see the signs of a bush fire directly ahead …..

Bush Fire - Gidgegannup, WA
Bush Fire – Gidgegannup, WA

Then we encountered signs stating that there was a road diversion ahead due to the fire. This was not good news, with the fuel tank virtually empty, we could not afford to be diverted onto even more remote roads.

Cresting a rise I spotted a guy and his vehicle on the opposite side of the road and I stopped to speak to him. The reason he was parked up was because his vehicle was LPG fuelled so no way through and, being low on fuel, he also had a limited range. He said that he was resigned to spending the night at the roadside.

When I asked if he knew where the nearest service station was he waved his hand towards the smoke and said “the other side of that”. This was not looking good.

Off the road, through the trees on our side, we could see some buildings. So we decided to go and see if anyone there might have some fuel to sell us. The buildings that we had seen were not inhabited but we could see a house further back and made it up to the front of the house.Luckily there was someone home, and, not only that but they had a can with about 10 litres of fuel which they gave us.

Thats right, gave us !!!

Twice I offered to pay for the fuel, but was refused. I siphoned the fuel although he offered to do that too. I couldn’t allow him to do that when he was donating the fuel. The fuel he provided took us back up to about a quarter of a tank. After thanking him profusely we set off on our way, me with the taste of unleaded on my lips and tongue. No amount of water seemed to clear that taste.

Shortly after leaving the “Good Samaritans” home we arrived at the detour which took us through some picturesque wooded roads. These roads were quite narrow, barely wide enough for two vehicles to pass. I guess I should be grateful that they were paved. En route we encountered this little fellow.

Kookaburra
Kookaburra

I’m pretty sure he’d had an encounter with another motorist. He let me drive right up to him and even when I got out of the car he just sat there looking at me. Not very humane of me, I took a picture first before considering helping him. Looking at the displaced feather I thought I might have to move him off the road or even contemplate something more drastic. However, as soon as I got within a couple of feet, he took off and flew away through the trees. Hopefully he was just stunned.

A few more kilometers down the road and we began to see signs of civilisation and then we were ejected onto The Great Eastern Highway. Soon after that we arrived at The Lakes Roadhouse where we were able to fill up with fuel and I was able to get some mints to try to get rid of the taste of unleaded.

It took us another hour to get home and a nice hot cup of tea while we discussed the days adventures ……. or perhaps I should say, misadventures.

Here is how the bush-fire was reported on the day ….

http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia-bushfires/wa-bushfires-gidgegannup-issued-emergency-fire-warning/news-story/39277d63a9c087f8c3aac13969fb839a

And, at the time of this post, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services had this to say some twenty four hours on …..

http://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/alerts/Pages/Alert.aspx?ItemId=15727

And finally, once again, a big thank you to Paul for donating the fuel.