50th Birthday Walkabout in Western Australia

From Monkey Mia to Albany (10 – 24 April 2010)

By C.E. Pereira

TURNING 50 is an important event in one’s life. Thinking how to celebrate reaching this milestone was another. I didn’t want the usual birthday party; I wanted adventure, fun, more than a night celebrating my birthday.

Reaching 50 deserves more than one day of celebration. A few friends also had the same idea as me. The common point we agreed upon was a road trip, one where we could stop anywhere and anytime we wanted to. Deciding on the place took some time and Western Australia came up the winner.

Our destination was Perth to Monkey Mia, then back to Perth. Then we’d be off again, this time to Albany before returning to Perth and flying back to Kuala Lumpur. We called our 50th birthday celebration “A Walkabout in Western Australia”.

Let me introduce the gang. There’s Ginie, Margaret and Kit Ching who have been friends since Standard One which if you do a fast calculation, they’ve been friends like forever. I’m Carol the story-teller who’s known these three friends for about a-quarter of a century.

Ginie and Kit Ching were the designated drivers. I was in charge of space management, which when translated means fit all the baggages into the boot of the car. Margaret got the odd job tag….laundry, washing plates, cutting vegetables, etc. with all of us chipping in too of course. The cook was Kit Ching so we did not go hungry. And I was also the book-keeper.

10 April 2010
Left Kuala Lumpur for Perth

6.00 AM: Kit Ching’s husband sent us to KL Sentral. It was raining but our spirits were high. The rain wasn’t going to spoil the start of our holiday. We took the train at 6.30 am from KL Sentral to KLIA.

7.00 am: We arrive at KLIA. We have breakfast at Burger King after buying some bottles of whiskey (Gentlemen Jacks and Jack Daniels) which incidentally wasn’t for any of us. They were gifts for my cousins and the friend whom we would be staying with.

9.40 am: We boarded our flight, MH125 for Perth. We were ready for take-off.

Flight was smooth and we arrive in Perth at 3.30 pm. My cousin Agnes was at the airport to meet us. We collect the rental car at the airport for our road trip. Then both the cars head to Saroja’s house in Kingsley, I with Agnes, while Margaret and Kit Ching went with Ginie.

The four friends and the writer.

This is the first time I am meeting Saroja who has been friends with the three since standard One. We get to meet Saroja’s son, Aaron.

Saroja’s home is lovely and cosy. Our hostess is wonderful. We have Roast Beef for dinner which was mouth-watering. Agnes stayed on for dinner, then after dinner she took Ginie and I to Anthony and Sarah’s home for a short visit. I spent time catching up with my cousins. Then it was back to Saroja’s. Our first day ends on a high note.

11 April 2010
Perth to Cervantes

AFTER breakfast, Saroja took us to visit Edith Cowen University where Kit Ching’s son is studying. Kit Ching was happy to see her son. Then off we drove to Hillary’s Beach. We had ice-cream and walked to the beach. A lovely sunny day.

Once back at Saroja’s place I stored our luggage into the rental car. We were ready for our trip.

Our Walkabout has started. On to our first destination, Cervantes. The day was extremely hot, and we were a little behind our schedule. The road trip started later than planned and we were a bit frazzled. Lunch was sandwiches that Saroja packed for us. We stopped at one little park that had tables and benches to have our picnic lunch.

Above and below: The Pinnacles Desert in Cervantes.

WE arrived at the Pinnacles Desert in Cervantes at 4.00 pm. We drove among the Pinnacles and it was awesome. Whatever irritation we had, vanished. I think I’ll be using the word awesome a lot throughout this story.

How do I describe this wonder of nature? Do I call it stones or rocks? There were hundreds of stones sticking out of the earth, like a farm of stones sprouting out of the ground. The farmer is God, only he could create something so unique, a dessert scene with big and small stones planted at random.

We took many pictures of these silent soldiers and rugged landscape. Then we went and bought souvenirs at the gift shop which was actually closed but graciously they opened up for us.

Souvenirs bought, we drove off to the town where we’d book our lodgings for the night. Before dinner, we stopped at a little Sundry shop to buy groceries for tomorrow’s breakfast and lunch.

Dinner that night was at a small cafe near the motel. Kit Ching had fish and chips; Ginie had chicken bacon special while Margaret and I had fish burgers.

After writing in my journal it was lights out for me.


12 April 2010
Cervantes to Kalbarri

AFTER a solid breakfast of sausages and eggs, we headed out to Kalbarri. On our way out of Cervantes we detoured to Lake Thetis and saw stromatolites, a brown rock like formation of living organisms that live in the shallow waters of this salt water lake.

It took us 3 hours to reach our next destination, Geraldton. Along the route, we stopped a number of times for photo shoots. We saw unique and colourful wildflowers and plants that are native of Western Australia.

It was fascinating discovering such alien looking plants, like the grass-tree. It looks like a man with hair and beard. The wildflowers are as fascinating and colourful too. One such wildflower is the vibrant Banksia which look like a bottle-brush or some would say a Popsicle.

We arrived at Geraldton at noon and stopped at a playground to have our picnic lunch. After our intake of fuel, we decided to walk to the beach which was nearby. Even the wildflowers near the beach were awesome. The leaves of these wildflowers seem to be coated with wax and they were fat, like there was water stored inside the leaves.

From Geraldton we headed for the Pink Lake, stopping for a photo shoot at Lynton, a former convict settlement. The Pink Lake was a bit of a let-down, it didn’t look pink. After reading all the hype on it in the tourist brochures, I had expected to be awed.

Sun rays shining through the clouds and making spotlights on the ocean from the Grand Stand along the coast of Kalbarri.

We continued our scenic drive to Kalbarri, reaching at about 4.00pm. Along the magnificent coastal cliffs, we stop for photo shoots at the Natural Bridge, Grand Stand and Island Rock.

At the Grand Stand, we had a spectacular view of sun rays shining through the clouds and making spotlights on the ocean. It felt like we were being entertained by this symphony of lights, and that God was the conductor and choreographer. I was awed and thanked God for such beauty shown to us.

On such an end to the day, we drove to our hotel and dinner that was awaiting us.

13 April 2010
Kalbarri

A CLEAR, bright day. We had pancakes and bulls-eye eggs for breakfast. Then off we went to see the feeding of the Pelicans.

There was already a large crowd gathered at the designated place. What I found most interesting was watching the Pelicans coming in for a landing. For such big birds, they were graceful during their landing.

But they scared the shit out of me, ugly and mean looking birds. I stayed far away when the guy with a bucket of fish went looking for persons to feed the Pelicans. Anything with feathers is not in my book of fun things to do.

The birds at the Rainbow Valley aviary truly live up to the colours of the rainbow.

Half-an-hour later we were on our way to Rainbow Valley, a bird aviary. Even though I was not a feather friend, I was thrilled with the colours that clothed these birds. There was every colour of the rainbow found among these birds.

And God has a sense of humour; he painted some with mask, making the birds look either like bandits or Zorro. The birds ranged from a single colour to multi-colour, vibrant bright colours to soft light shades. The colours were awesome. Photo shoot was a must.

After Rainbow Valley, we drove along the coastal road to Red Bluff, Eagles Gorge and Pot Alley, where we stopped for our picnic lunch. From here, it was a long drive to The Loop, where Nature’s Window, a natural rock arch is a must see.

The road into Kalbarri National Park is a red dirt road with lots of potholes. We greenhorns didn’t know that you’re supposed to drive fast so that you don’t feel the potholes too much. It felt like a rodeo ride, or like the roads back home in Jinjang during the 80’s.

One of the hub caps came off along this dirt road and yours truly had to get out of the car and run to retrieve it and store it in the boot. We all had a good laugh. It was hilarious at that moment.

Nature’s Window, a rugged and awesome sight that shouts of God’s gift to us.

When we reached The Loop, the scenery was as spectacular like all the earlier sights.

Oh! I almost forgot – the flies. This trip there has been lots of first encounters for us. These were very lazy flies. They will cling onto your clothes until you brush them off.

Then they fly and buzz around you, into your face, all the while trying to land on you again. Now I know what those hats that have corks hanging in front of your face is for…so that the flies don’t pester you.

Ginie took a photo of the flies that settled on Meg’s behind (there were zillions of them…ha! ha!).

Except for Meg, who couldn’t take steep stairs, we started our hike down those steps then along the rocky path to Nature’s Window. The round trip took about one hour.

Nature’s Window is my wonder of the world. Through it you look out to such rugged beauty and vastness that you feel inspired to want to write something. I just wanted to spend the night here and enjoy the silence of the desert and to get that chance to look up and have millions of stars looking down on me. But reality check….I want my comfort of civilisation.

The drive back along the red dirt road was much smoother as Kit Ching decided to drive really fast. When we reached the tar road, we stopped and fixed the hub cap back. And guess what, it came off again and this time we lost it without even knowing that it had dropped off again.

We had BBQ for dinner. The menu was quite mouth-watering. There was lamb, corn, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, ‘brinjals’ and chicken wings. A feast it was.

Road trains were a common sight along the highways in Western Australia.


14 April 2010
Kilbarri to Monkey Mia

9.30 AM: After a breakfast of pancakes and leftover BBQ lamb, we left Kalbarri for Monkey Mia Resort. Along the route, our first stop was Hawks Head and Ross Graham lookout point. It was drizzling so we did not go down to the river.

12.30pm: We stopped at Billabong Road House, bought some T-shirts and souvenirs here. There were some picnic tables at the side of the road house where we had our lunch of fried rice which Kit Ching cooked this morning.

Another first for us was the road-trains. These were large trailers that had more than one container attached. They were the King of the road.

The longest one we saw was three containers attached and the unbelievable one which left my mouth opened was the one carrying a house. No hallucination, it was a single storied, completed house.

Stromatolites at Hamelin Pool.

From Billabong we headed to Hamelin Pool, a marine reserve where you will find the world’s best-known colony of Stromatolites, more impressive than the one at Lake Thetis. There’s a boardwalk triangle over the sea with information panels for tourist to walk along and views these stromatolites. There is also a former Telegraph Station.

The unique Shell beach is covered with cockle shells. In the earlier days mining was carried out on the beaches, cutting out blocks of seashells that get cemented together after it rains, making sturdy white bricks.

Saint Andrew’s church in Denham town is one such building that was built using shell-bricks.

We bought provisions for our three-day stay in Monkey Mia resort and paid the entrance fee. While we were checking into the resort, we spotted an Emu strolling near the chalets. And then we spotted its mate approaching. Great, more birds, bigger ones than the Pelicans.

We had BBQ dinner outdoors near the beach. It was very dark not much lights around the area except the BBQ area. We had lamb chops and chicken breast.

Our room at this resort was small and cramped, not like the earlier motels that we stayed at these past few nights.

Sunrise at Monkey Mia Resort.


15 April 2010
Monkey Mia Resort

8.00 AM: Breakfast was veggie patties, baked beans and muffins. Then off to see the feeding of the Dolphins and our feathered friends, the Pelicans.

A large crowd was gathered at the beach and we could see the fins of the dolphins as they swam in the shallow waters waiting feeding time. The park rangers instructed us not to touch these wild dolphins but to observed and see how they fed these sea mammals.

Then the rangers turned towards the crowd and announced that they were going to pick a few of us tourist to feed the dolphins. And to my surprise and excitement I got picked.

The ranger was a really cute guy. I rolled up my jeans and waded into the sea. The ranger showed me how to place the fish near the mouth of the dolphin without touching the creature.

I was really up close and personal with a wild dolphin, one that is not in a tank at Sea World. As I was feeding the dolphin, Ginie was videotaping me feeding the dolphin. This was really a Kodak moment.

But as in most holidays, Murphy’s Law happens. Mine was this Kodak moment never got developed as Ginie dropped her camera and it got broke.

Much later in the trip she bought a new camera. And to our horror, when we inserted the sim card, it formatted it and wiped out all the images in that sim card – the one that had me feeding the dolphins.

So, we lost quite a bit of our holiday pictures, the surviving pictures was the ones in my camera and Kit Ching’s but none of me feeding the dolphins. You will note my repetition – me being disappointed.

The Aristocat 2 is a catamaran which we boarded for our cruise around Monkey Mia.

At around 10.30 am we headed to The Aristocat 2, a catamaran that will take us out to sea to a Pearl farm and to see the Dugongs. We docked at the farm and got to see persons harvesting oysters for their pearls. On the ride back to Monkey Mia, we spotted two Dugongs, what a thrill. We had a fantastic day today.

After the Aristocat pulled into the docking bay, Kit Ching saw live crabs being sold along the jetty. So we bought some crabs and headed back to our chalet. Lunch was a feast of baked crabs and veggie patties.

We rested after such a delicious meal, and then put on our walking shoes for a Nature Walkabout in the Bushland surrounding Monkey Mia Resort.

There were signs to follow so we had no fear of getting lost in this desert area. Our walkabout started at 4.30 pm and ended at 6.35 pm.

During the nature walk we saw two Emus, could be the same ones at the resort. But we saw no other birds. Only lots and lots of shrubbery and footprints. The route also took us along the beach where we saw some kind of sea creature in the mud as it was the low tide.

Back at our chalet, we rested first then had our bath. At 8 pm we each carried the food-stuff and headed to the BBQ pit. Kit Ching baked the crabs, zucchini and ‘brinjals’ on the BBQ pit. We were the only ones doing barbecues during our stay at Monkey Mia.

The Pelicans and seagulls waiting for breakfast.

16 April 2010
Monkey Mia to Geraldton

WE started the day with breakfast of tuna and baked beans at 8 am. As usual I stored all the bags into the car boot, checked the rooms for anything we may have left behind.

Monkey Mia was our last stop on this part of our walkabout. Today we turn around and head back to Perth, with our first stop being Geraldton.

Driving towards Geraldton, we stopped at Eagle’s Bluff. The view is spectacular along the cliff. There’s a pathway with railings, which looks out over the ocean. Some places the sea is light green, almost transparent, while in other places it’s a deeper shade of turquoise to dark blue. We didn’t see any eagles.

From Eagle Bluff, our next destination stop was Shell Beach at Shark Bay. This shell beach is much more beautiful than the one in Hamelin, such tiny shells and almost pristine white.

The contrast between the white shell beach and clear blue sea and sky was something out of a glossy magazine. As we arrived there late noon, it was extremely hot. Our photo shoot was interesting as Momoko posed in her bikini.

Momoko enjoying the shell beach.

We stopped again at Billabong Roadhouse and had our lunch of veggie patties. Then we continued our journey, stopping at a town called Northampton, after spotting a museum for antique Steam Engines, toys, sewing machines, etc.

I couldn’t get enough of looking at the steam engines; I love anything with regards to the era of steam engines. I was really glad we were driving and not on a tour bus as we got to stop and I took home some unforgettable memories. Took photo shoots with these great inventions too.

I felt a little sad leaving those classic steam engines behind but it was time to hit the road towards Geraldton.

Arriving at Geraldton, we kept a look-out for any shop selling cameras, to replace the one that got broke.

We found a camera shop and being greenhorns, we got a bad deal. The new camera, I will not name the brand, is so not user-friendly.

We did a really dumb thing, this is where the greenhorn comes in. We inserted our sim card instead of a new sim card into the new camera. And to our horror, it formatted the sim card, deleting all that was stored in that sim card. We all felt like bawling.

To console myself, I wandered into a shop selling games and bought a board game called “Minotaur – Greek Mythology”.

Dinner that night was BBQ lamb, chicken and veggie patty.

The famous Leaning Tree of Geraldton.


17 April 2010
Geraldton to Saroja’s home in Perth

BREAKFAST this morning was bread with tuna at 7.30 am. We have a lot of things planned for today.

First on the agenda, we went to The Farmers Market which is held on Saturdays. We bought some bottles of homemade jams to take back to Kuala Lumpur. There was an ice-cream man at the open-air market, so we each had an ice-cream while browsing the stalls. Kit Ching bought some zucchini for us, as we kind of like this vegetable, especially if it’s barbecued.

Leaving the market, we went to the Visitor and Information Center. But it was not opened yet, we were too early. So we took some photo shoot around the compound. Margaret posed at a signboard which had her name. Well, her namesake is easily spotted in Western Australia, quite common.

At 9.40 am we headed to our next stop – The HMAS Sydney II Memorial which was situated on a hilltop facing the ocean. There was this statue of a woman looking out to sea waiting for her loved ones to return from the war. This memorial is in honour of the 645 men who died in a skirmish with a German ship in 1941.

The statue of a woman looking out to sea waiting for her loved ones to return from the war at HMAS Sydney II Memorial.

We left here at 10.30 am and went shopping at the Mall. The Mall in Australia is so different from ours. Theirs are single or double-storey buildings with pedestrian walks and skylight covered tops. There was a bookstore called “Read A Lot Book Shop”.

A walk towards the seaside we came across a statue of the Captain of the Batavia. The story goes that ship was taking the fastest route to Java when it ran aground on the reef. The captain went for help and supplies. While he was away, a mutiny broke out. On his return, he executed all those who took part in the mutiny.

We then went to the Pioneer Museum, which recreates a day in the life of a 1800s homestead.

Another museum we visited was the Greenough Museum. We had a picnic lunch on the grounds of the museum.

Leaving Geraldton, we saw the famous Leaning Tree of Geraldton, which is featured in all the tourist brochures of Australia.

Along this route there were many more Leaning Trees. This unique way of growth happens because of the strong winds that blow in this direction that causes the young trees to bend in the wind and as it grows, it leans to one side.

The Pioneer Museum.

After this we didn’t stop anywhere else but went straight to Saroja’s place, arriving around 6.15 pm. We unloaded the car, stored the perishable produce away and had our baths.

We had dinner plans at Anthony and Sarah’s home. Agnes arrived at 7 pm to take us over. Saroja could not join us as she had a prior engagement.

Sarah is a fantastic cook. We had a feast of Devil Curry, Roast Lamb, ‘Gado-Gado’ (tofu, bean sprouts, beans and peanut sauce), Crab Curry and ‘Sambal Belacan’. Dinner was eaten on the patio, served with wine.

It has been a wonderful day. A very long day but with lots of memories made. When my head touched the pillow, I was out for the count.

18 April 2010
Perth

BREAKFAST today at Saroja’s home is toasted bread and jam. Our clothes are washed and are drying out on the clothes line. Margaret is seen re-arranging the clothes and got a scolding from Saroja.

Today we are going to Freemantle. Agnes came at 10.00 am and we set off to Whiteford’s Avenue Station in two cars. We buy our train tickets and had not long to wait. The train reached the Perth Terminal and from there we caught another train for Freemantle.

The Freemantle flea market is a very big warehouse that has hundreds of small stalls selling souvenirs. Heading towards the flea market we did some window shopping first, then lunch at Gino which consisted of Fettuccine, Pasta, Fries and Wine.

The Freemantle Market.

Another school friend of the gang met-up with us during lunch. Her name is Saras and she brought her daughter Anusha who’s around the age of twenty-one with her.

After lunch we headed in the direction of the flea market. At the entrance there was a juggler doing his act. We stopped to watch the show for a while.

We bought most of our souvenirs at the flea market. After shopping, our group broke into two. Ginie, Margaret and I went with Saras and Anusha to their home in Claremont. Kit Ching, Agnes and Saroja went back to Kingsley to prepare the barbecue for tonight.

Saras took us sightseeing around Claremont, a neighbourhood where mainly the rich can afford to stay. We stopped for a photo shoot at a picnic area on the banks of the Swan River.

Sunset over the Swan River in Claremont.

 

Saras’ home has lots of art, including the ones she painted. We met her son and daughter-in-law. Took tea with her, then she dropped us off at the train station to head back to Kingsley.

Saroja invited a few guest to her barbecue. There was her brother Krishnan, sister Gita and Gita’s husband John and son Christopher. Kit Ching’s son Kim Chuan and his girlfriend Anna, from Shanghai was also there. And not forgetting Agnes.

The barbecue ended at 10.30 pm.

19 April 2010
Perth to Margaret River

WE had toasted bread and jam for breakfast at 9.00 am. Ginie sent Aaron to Whitford train station as he was late for work. Then we stopped and bought groceries at Kingsley before heading for Margaret River at 10.00 am.

Our Walkabout south of Western Australia has started. I was feeling a bit sad as half of our holiday had finished.

We reached a place called Mandurah and by chance we found Abingdon Miniature Village. The entrance fee cost a bomb (AUD14), but it was worth every dollar.

We spent a long time at this miniature village. The Land of The Lilliput’s and we were the giants, walking among their cottages, farms, towns and railroads with trains puffing along the tracks.

If I am so enthralled and captivated by this miniature display, what more to a kid.

A miniature railway station in Abingdon Miniature Village.There was also a maze, with hedges about six feet tall. At the entrance of the maze there was a tower where we could climb to the top and view those inside the maze. It was here we met an elderly Punjabi couple from Ipoh who had migrated over here; it’s a small world after all, just like this miniature village.

I took lots of photo shoots of the village and trains, and then it was time for us to move on to our next destination, Bunbury. In the town of Bunbury, at a round-about, there was a statue called Brother & Sister – we took photo shoots of this too.

Ginie spotted a toy shop and bought shoes for her doll Momoko. Then on our way we went, heading for Margaret River. We got lost a few times searching for Margaret Beach Resort, even with the GPS, but we arrived safely at 6.15 pm.

A village scene of lovely cottages in Abingdon Miniature Village.

We were very hungry and had an early dinner at 6.46 pm. Dinner consisted of roast chicken, zucchini, tomatoes, corn and Coca-Cola.

Before retiring for the night, we did some planning for tomorrow’s outing.

20 April 2010
Margaret River

TODAY, we were up very early and started our adventure at 7.30 am. We had crumpets with honey and jam. Kit Ching and Margaret packed salami and turkey sandwiches for our lunch.

Driving along the Cave Road, we took lots of photo shoots. We reached Craft Gallery but it was not open yet, so we took some shots with the animal sculptures outside, like the Rhino.

We decided not to wait for the gallery to open, so on we went to the Jewel Caves, which is 700 m deep. The guided tours leave on the hour. Into the cave we went following the guide, down steep staircase and pathways which was dimly lit, always moving in a downward direction. I could feel the air getting a bit stale and a little hard to breathe as we moved deeper underground.

But it was really awesome; there were stalactites and stalagmites with unique and creative formation. There were large and small chambers that took your breath away. And the silence, so quiet and still, nothing to hear, except our footsteps and the guide’s voice.

When we reached the end of our trekking, at 700 m deep, this chamber was very large. Our guide told us not to move, to stand still and remain silent. Then she switched off the light and I can understand what a blind person has to live with. The pitch black darkness and extreme silence was scary and exhilarating all at the same time. It’s hard to explain such an experience. Then the lights came back on, and everyone sighs in gratitude.

Trekking back to the surface was tiring, it was all uphill. Margaret soldiered on even though it was most difficult for her due to her knee operation. But she didn’t want to miss out on this like she did on the trek to Natures Window in Kalbarri.

From Jewel Cave, we headed to Cape Leeuwin to see the Lighthouse. Here is where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean. The Lighthouse, build in 1896, has magnificent views of the coastline. Here too we had to pay an entrance fee. But money well spent.

The formation of stalactites in the Jewel Caves.

Before reaching the Lighthouse, we stopped for a picnic lunch at a quiet spot near the beach and had a panoramic view of the waves crashing and breaking on the rocks.

Our next stop – a vineyard and to buy some bottles of wine. Margaret River is famous for its chocolate and vineyards. And the vineyard we decided to visit was Briarose Vineyard. We were no wine connoisseur, so this vineyard was the only one we visited and bought some bottles of wine.

Margaret bought two bottles to take back home as did Kit Ching who bought one bottle. We bought one bottle of red wine for my cousin’s wife Sarah. And two bottles of white wine for Saroja and Saras. Later on in the day, we stopped at a mini-mart and bought a bottle of Rose Wine for my cousin Agnes.

After taking some photo shoots of the vineyard, we headed for Margaret River Chocolate Factory. Here, Ginie bumped into her former office colleague. What are the odds of this happening, it’s a small world after all.

We bought chocolates to take home for family and friends. The choices of chocolates had my head spinning. With our bags of goodies, we drove back to Margaret Rivers’ town, passing more vineyards along the route. At the town we tried the local ice-cream called Simmons. Then we headed back to our digs. Kit Ching cooked fried rice for dinner. The day had been adventurous and awesome; we went to bed very tired but happy.

The writer with the lighthouse in the background at Cape Leeuwin.

21 April 2010
Margaret River to Albany

THIS morning’s breakfast are eggs with cheese omelette and bread, jam and last night’s fried rice and rice porridge.

We left Margaret River at 7.30 am for Pemberton. As usual we stopped for photo shoots along the way towards Pemberton. It was a wet morning, it rained the night before and this morning there was a slight drizzle.

Driving through Warren National Park in Pemberton, I felt like I’d entered into the pages of Gulliver’s Travels and I was a Lilliput.

We are in the Karri Forest where the Karri trees are 400 years old and around 50 m tall.

The popular attraction was the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree, tallest of the ‘climbing trees’ at 68 m in this park. This tree had a spiral metal stairway right to the tree-top.

Ginie, Kit Ching and I took turns to climb up the steep spiral stairway. We didn’t climb very high as the metal rungs were wet and slippery, just high enough for our photo shoot.

Felt bad for Margaret as she couldn’t climb due to a knee operation which she underwent recently.

The Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree had spikes that made a spiral stairway. But as it was a cold wet morning the writer and her friends didn’t venture too high a climb of this magnificent tree.Leaving here, we went on to the town of Walpole where we got information of what sights to see in this part of our walkabout. Our day had more giant trees awaiting us.

We headed to the Walpole-Nornalup National Park, also known as The Valley of The Giants. The park is between the town of Walpole and Denmark. This park houses the majestic forests of giant tingle trees, including the famous Tree Top Walk in the Valley of the Giants.

These giants tingle trees have holes in the base of the trunks due to two major forest fires but they survived. I entered one of these holes and looked right up the tree trunk to blue skies. Some of these holes were like the cavern of a cave. These trees were as tall as the karri trees.

The Tree Top Walk was another awesome experience. The ramp rises from the ground, allowing visitors a pathway high into the canopy of these giant tingle trees. You really are walking through the tree tops. At the highest point of the ramp, the view above and below is really stunning.

This giant Red Tingle tree survived severe fires in 1937 and 1951.

This day has been nothing but extraordinary and memorable. But the day hasn’t ended yet.

We are onto our next destination, Denmark. In Denmark, at the William Bay National Park, we got to see The Elephant Rocks. The rock formation resembled a herd of elephants. Isn’t nature awesome as a sculptor?

This was our last awesome sight for the day. We packed into the car and drove to Albany, reaching our destination at 5 pm.

Our dinner was cooked by Kit Ching which was Spaghetti with vegetables.

Rock formation resembling a herd of elephants. The Elephant Rocks at William Bay National Park.

22 April 2010
Albany to Kingsley, Perth

OUR day started off with breakfast as usual. We had Spaghetti with chicken stripes. Then we left for Albany town at 7.30 am. Most of the town was still sleeping so it was quiet and there were not many people about. Photo shoot was lovely at this time of the morning.

After yesterday’s Elephant Rocks, this morning, our first stop was Dog Rock. It was a gigantic rock which was the sculpture of a dog’s face. The locals had even painted a collar on it.

Albany is known as the oldest European settlement in the state. I read in a brochure that the area was previously occupied by Aborigines. We saw this statue of an Aborigine man, The Makare, which means The Peace Maker.

Further on, we came to a quaint church, quite lovely and peaceful. As Catholics, for Ginie and me, it was a must to enter and say a prayer and ask for a wish. This was a tradition that whenever you visited a church for the first time you can ask for a wish. Not necessary it will be granted.

Another rock! This time it’s the Dog Rock at Albany.

We entered this church, the St John’s Anglican Church which was build in 1848. Inside, we met a friendly church-goer who told us a bit about the history of the church. And yours truly has forgotten what it was.

We then drove to the beach front. The ANZAC Memorial site was next to the sea and across the highway was the replica of The Brig Amity, the ship that carried Albany’s founding party from Sydney in 1826.

Our last national park on our itinerary before heading back to Perth is the Torndirrup National Park which houses two popular attractions, Natural Bridge and The Gap.

The view was spectacular. Watching the waves come pounding into The Gap was incredible. But what was also awesome was the sound made by the waves pounding against the rocks.

The Natural Bridge at Torndirrup National Park.

We couldn’t imagine what could be making that loud sound we heard while walking down the rocky path towards these two of nature’s wonders.

It sounded like a loud boom, a sound I had not heard before. When we came within sight of The Gap, what we saw, combined with the sound of the waves pounding against the rocks, was exhilarating on the eyes and ears.

This was the last of the awesome and spectacular of nature’s wonders we’ve had the good fortune to experience and memories made to cherish in years to come.

We packed ourselves into the car and headed towards Perth.

We reached a town called Konojup at 12.30 pm and stopped for lunch. Even at this little town there was something unique to see.

An extremely huge wagon stacked with extremely huge blocks was parked besides the railway station. The key here is extremely huge. Well, we got out our cameras and had a photo shoot session.

Huge blocks on a huge wagon displayed in a town called Konojup.

Then on our way we continued, reaching Kingsley at 5.15 pm. We were back at Saroja’s home, tired and at the same time energised, it’s hard to explain.

Dinner that night was BBQ pork ribs, chicken legs, chicken sausages and Mexican Enchilada, followed with coffee after dinner. We spent a quiet and relaxing evening with Saroja, talking and sharing our adventures with her.

23 April 2010
Kingsley to Apartment in Perth

AFTER a breakfast of toasted bread, cinnamon rolls and crumpets which I declined, I had biscuits instead; we headed to the Mont Clare Apartment in Perth which Kit Ching had booked in advance from Kuala Lumpur.

We got lost even with the GPS map. We landed in East Perth instead of West Perth. But we found the place in the end. After checking in, we went sight-seeing of Perth.

We went to Langley Park where we had our picnic lunch. In Perth, we noticed that the parking meters were solar-powered, making the town eco-friendly. One up for the Aussies.

Then we visited the Royal Mint of Perth, getting commemorate coins, engraved with “50th Birthday Walkabout – Monkey Mia to Albany” and with our birth date and the map of Western Australia on it too.

Miners at the Royal Mint of Perth.

After this, we went shopping for T-shirts. Then we took the Red Cat Bus to Parliament House, another session for photo-shoot.

From here we hopped onto the Red Cat Bus which took us to Murray Street Mall. We had ice-cream and French fries.

Then back to the apartment to freshen-up before heading to Agnes home for dinner. This was the first time I was meeting Daryl, Agnes husband.

A feast was waiting for us. Nasi Lemak with cucumber, ikan bilis, groundnuts, egg sambal and prawn sambal with petai was spread out before us. There was fried mee too. My cousin is a fantastic cook and I throughly enjoyed myself. For dessert, we had ice-cream and coffee.

We spent a lovely time at her home. We got to watch a Bee Gees concert video that was in Daryl’s collection. We also found out that Agnes daughter, Katrina turns seventeen tomorrow. We wished her a Happy Birthday.

I think Kit Ching got a little tipsy with the wine we brought for Agnes.

Walking in Perth.

Tomorrow we fly back to Kuala Lumpur at 4.25 pm, where home awaits us. I have lots and lots for memories and photos to take home with me. A birthday walkabout to cherish, reminisce and talk about for years to come. What a fantastic and wonderful 50th birthday gift to myself, and my friends would agree too.

G’day Mate.

( Note: My daily journal during this trip was a great help in penning this timeline of my stay in Western Australia.)

In My Dreams I reached out and touched reality!

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