I've previously mentioned that to celebrate our wedding anniversaries, Jennie and I take turns to organise a secret destination. Most times through misinformation and downright lies, the other party only finds out where we're going on the day of departure. However, to avoid serious injury injury, it's ok to hint (and it is only a tiny hint) with respect to what clothes to pack. I don't fancy sucking hospital food through a straw after saying light clothing will be fine whilst booking an Antarctic cruise on a converted icebreaker!
Anyway, it was my turn this year. The fact that it's also our 40th wedding anniversary brought additional stress, particularly as both Jennie and her female mates have been dropping hints along the lines that "It better be bloody good".... with an unspoken "or else"!
We've been to the eastern side of Australia many times as we like the country and people enormously, but have never been out west where the scenery is spectacular and the population is exceedingly low. By way of example, WA has an area of just over 2.5 million sq km whereas Texas is just over a quarter of that size. The telling statistic is that whilst Texas has a population of around 26 million, WA has just 2 million, with half that number being resident in the state capital of Perth. Consequently, you don't see a lot of people on the roads out that way! It also ranges from sub-tropical in the south to fully tropical in the north. Although our anniversary isn't until July, April (autumn) seemed a good time temperature and rain-wise to do the trip.
I really fancied heading out that way and I owe a huge debt to fellow bike blogger Jules in the east of Australia and a neighbour of his for getting me started on the planning process with some great tips. As it turned out, Jennie only got told the destination 12 hours before we flew out from NZ, although there were some close calls along the way where I was almost discovered! This isn't a detailed account of all we did in the 3 weeks in WA, but I thought I'd share a very small number of the photos we took en route with a bit of commentary where appropriate. Click to enlarge the photos.
Also, some good news on the blogging front. The main reason I haven't been blogging regularly is commencing development of an on-line database for IAM advanced motorcycle training, then running it. It looks like help is at hand for the first part courtesy of one of the newer IAM members who has an I.T background. Should be able to slip in an occasional post with all this help!
Our route covering around 5000km by road!
Part 1 - South of Perth
Merino sheep are prevalent south of Perth and we visited a working farm to watch sheep being rounded up and shorn at Yallingup.
Australian Kelpie running on the sheep's backs to control them
Shearing the sheep in a couple of minutes
The following photo is a close-up of the merino shorn wool. The fibres are incredibly fine and make high quality garments. Bikers in NZ in particular use merino clothing layers in both summer and winter as it wicks moisture away from the body. Even more importantly, the same shirt can be worn for days on end and not smell due to the antibacterial properties of the fibre. An unashamed plug for NZ-made Icebreaker gear which is the best of the best!!
Ultra-fine antibacterial fibres
Lonely, dead Eucalyptus tree
Natural gigantic stone bridge - see tiny person top left for scale!
Nice-looking buildings on Busselton's 2 km long pier
Margaret River chocolate factory - Jennie in heaven!
Results of a recent big bush fire - very little left standing
Interesting garden art fish at a gallery
The next photo shows part of the 61 metre high Karri tree known as the Gloucester Tree. It has steel stakes driven into the trunk to aid climbing it with little or no safety aids (shudder). Look carefully and you'll see some fool scaling the trunk!
Sooner him than me!!
Wild parrot eating Jennie's apple
Adult kangaroo - they're everywhere
Dawn from the balcony of our accommodation at Lake Beedelup
Kookaburra sitting in an old gum tree, la la....
Awww... going on an eco-cruise, Nornalup inlet
The next photo shows part of a walkway through the forest canopy, about 40 metres up. It doesn't appear to be held up by much and sways slightly. Fantastic bit of engineering.
Valley of the Giants treetop walkway
The photo below is of a Tingle Tree. With a wonderful name like that, it should be from a fantasy book!
The wonderful-sounding Tingle Tree
The impressive Stirling Range
The photo below was seen in a men's public toilet in the town of Lake Grace. Aussies (and Kiwis come to that) don't believe in psychologists when you have mates to help! Lake Grace is situated in a very arid area and we were impressed that the town verges round the railway station were so green. On closer inspection, it was astroturf - just brilliant!
That's what mates are for......
Stunning Eucalyptus tree flowers
Yours truly on the Lake Grace salt pan - just about blinded!
One of the most spectacular sights you'll see anywhere is Wave Rock, a wall of granite thought to be 2,700 million years old. The colours come from mineral deposits washing down from above and the shape comes from erosion over the aeons. An incredible monolith.
The CEO playing it cool
Another view of the rock
From Wave Rock it was back to the state capital of Perth. We'd covered around 2000 km exploring the south and east of Perth and could have spent at least twice the time that we did in this area. A fantastic start to our anniversary trip!