I’m sitting in our little hut out at Cape Bird seeing in the new year, watching minke and orca swim out the window and a leopard seal drifting past on the ice. It’s a pretty good way to end what has been a spectacular year. All the best for 2013 from the penguins and their wranglers at Cape Bird!
Leaving them to it, we set off to set up camp at Camel Soak, a watering spot for camels, livestock and people as they headed east towards the goldfields. This was another hole cut out of a granite dome that collected rainwater runoff, although it was pretty much empty and populated by frogs which wouldn’t be that helpful if you were a thirsty camel.
The set up is pretty cunning with a big stone fence built around a granite outcrop to channel rainwater runoff into a series of rock-lined channels and on into a reservoir.
As I sit next to the pool in Perth, I think it’s probably time to update you all on my adventures in Western Australia.
Having not seen the lad since July 2011, it seemed like it was time to take a holiday and explore more of Western Australia. So what better way to do that than a 2500km road trip down the south coast and home via Kalgoorlie.
From Perth, we headed south down the coast and caught up with the boys for a spot of climbing at Prevelly.
We checked out a couple of other climbing crags along the way but the sea conditions weren’t really ideal for climbing that day.
It’s a pretty wild piece of coast,
which means that lighthouses are a pretty good idea.
This one used to have a waterwheel to pump water to the lighthouse keeper,
but the high calcite concentration in the water means that it doesn’t work that well anymore.
We found some pretty big trees
and the odd stray geologist.
the obligatory kangaroos,
Next stop on the great western Australia road trip is the Stirling Range National Park. Til then, think of me sitting by the pool.
After a pleasant Friday exploring the sights of Arrowtown and Cromwell and celebrating Clare’s birthday, we set off up the mountain to the Snow Farm. After getting fitted out with skis and leaving our overnight gear in a pile for the skidoo, we ventured outside for a few pre-skiing photographs and a lesson.
Now cross-country skis aren’t anything like downhill skis. For starters, your heel isn’t attached to the back of the ski. And then, more scarily, you don’t have any edges on your skis. Which means that everything you have ever learnt about stopping and turning instantly goes out the window. When asked about how to stop, our helpful instructor offered the following wisdom: “Just keep going until you run out of hill. Or failing that, fall over” Helpful! Thankfully there are grooves along the tracks that your skis fit into which mostly takes care of the turning bit. Except when the grooves randomly stop and your legs do their own thing, usually in different directions!
|Happily skiing along the trail in the glorious sunshine|
|Lunch stop at the Meadow Hut|
|Maaike demonstrating her seated stopping technique.|
|It might look like I’m in control
but all goes wrong very shortly after this photograph!
The Bob Lee Hut was reached without too much drama and proved to be a cosy place to stay the night. Our gear had kindly been delivered by skidoo, so we had been able to pack some tasty treats. We cooked up a storm (it turned out, quite literally) and were treated to a stunning sunset before retiring to bed to rest some weary (and newly-discovered) muscles.
|Preparing a stunning dinner of green curry and mulled wine|
|Maaike proudly showing off her multitude of stripes (and sexy pink slippers)|
The next day we woke to snow. Of the falling variety. In fact, of the blizzard variety. We hastily packed our gear and set off into the gloom, trying to get out to the carpark before the storm really set in. There was quite a bit of fresh snow on the tracks, making it difficult to find the grooves for your skis, let alone stay in them! It was cold and windy and we were rugged up in all of the clothing we had with us. I was even wearing my Antarctica balaclava that I never wore on the ice. It was cold. But it was still great skiing and a lot of fun. In fact, I think the contrast in the weather added a lot to the trip and gave us some stories of epic skiing missions to tell for years to come.
Tuesday bought us more snow, a cancelled bus, two trips to the wool shop, another cancelled bus and then, finally, a bus home to Christchurch. Via Dunedin! Let’s just say that this is not a very direct route and not one I would recommend (unless desperate).
So another epic adventure and one that I would totally recommend (maybe without the snow storm and getting stranded bits). Cross-country skiing is definitely something i enjoyed crossing off my list and I’m keen to add it to another list sometime soon.
Speaking of lists, it’s time for new list of 32 things. Check back soon!
My trip to Australia was not without its travel-related dramas, proving once again the benefits of having travel insurance.
On the way there, my flight was delayed because the plane was broken. Meaning I missed my flight from Melbourne to Perth and ended up spending a night in a hotel. On the way home, my flight from Melbourne to Christchurch was cancelled because the Christchurch airport was closed due to snow. “Oh dear” said the grumpy lady at the checkin counter, “the next available flight is not until Wednesday evening”. Given that it was 5:30am on Monday and I had just flown 4 hours from Perth after leaving my better half behind, I wasn’t all too happy.
I must have looked a little forlorn because I was promptly adopted by a lovely family from Bahrain, currently living in Rolleston. They dragged me along to get some breakfast, sorted out my flights, booked me into a swanky hotel with them (an indoor pool was on their “must-have” list) and rented a car to drive us all into town.
I hadn’t been to Melbourne before (one night in the airport hotel on the way over doesn’t count!), so I spent Monday wandering the streets and marvelling at the quirkiness of the city. A pleasant change from the almost industrial feel of Perth. Then it was down to the information centre to figure out how to spend the rest of my bonus holiday.
I’d heard a bit about the Great Ocean road and found a small company that did tours. So we set off on Tuesday morning to see the sights of the Great Ocean Road.
The first stop was Bell’s Beach, one of the world’s best surf beaches. There wasn’t a whole lot happening with the surf that day but I can just imagine those big ocean swells rolling in all the way from Antarctica. Certainly put the piddly surf we’d been seeing in Western Australia into perspective.
This tour provided a few new species to tick off my list of Australian things. Including crimson rosellas, king parrots and kookaburras.
It’s always time for a road trip. And this year, it was time for a road trip, Western Australia style. Hamish moved to Perth for work earlier this year, so it seemed like a good opportunity to check out some new places across the ditch and catch up with the boy at the same time. We didn’t have a plan, other than drive north and see what could be found along the way. (Warning: This post has a *high geological content*).
View Australia in a larger map
And some big and impressive limestone cliffs.
And some weird fossilised corals.
And some more impressive cliffs along the edge of the river through Kalbarri National Park.
Fossilised ripples were common, as was this fossilised brain(-like) thing. We also saw some fossilised arthropod footprints which I neglected to photograph.
where we set up camp in this amazing spot with stunning views.
No geological trip to Western Australia would be complete with a visit to the stromatolites at Shark Bay. These are basically living rocks and, to most people, are probably about exciting to look at as dead rocks. But to two geeks, this was pretty cool. In fact, it was the main reason we drove all that way to Shark Bay and was totally worth it!