Wednesday, 30 September 2009

From Wheat Plains to Pinnacles

Leaving Mingenew we continue inland through vast grain paddocks and reach the town of Morewa and then on to Perenjori for our lunch stop. However it is Saturday and Perenjori with its Folk Museum is closed by the time we arrive. Like virtually all towns in Australia Perenjori has a picnic site, excellent loos and interesting murals.

It also has another Mgr. Hawes church. From the outside this is a far more simple design and sadly we cannot view inside.

On through the wheat country to Carnamah fast asleep in the Saturday afternoon sunshine and with another Mgr. Hawes church, more murals..

...and the statue of the Grain Man lifting the grain sacks in the old fashioned way.

The scarlet verticordia is the shire emblem.

Enroute are the Yarra yarra salt lakes glowing pink and red in the afternoon sunlight and illustrating how easily the land turns from fertile to hostile.

Three Springs was next with its giant grain silos,...
...more murals and shops which are open. We make the wrong descision and by the time we have taken our pictures and turned the car around the garage has closed. Aaargh! Still the little shop nearby is still open so we can at least have an icecream before we really do have to stop dawdling and cover the miles to tonight's camp site at Jurien Bay.

Oh well, just one last diversion to the nearby talc mines - the largest in Australia - and their multi coloured spoil heaps. As a recommended visitor attraction we think RTZ could make a viewing platform.

In this shot, we liked the pastoral tranquility as the sheep huddle under the only shade for miles around.

Well OK we have to make time but we could not run this skink over and he certainly did not want to move out of our way. When Graham tried to 'encourage' him he shot out his deep purple tongue and looked quite menacing though actually he has to be one of the few creatures in Australia that does not want to bite, scratch or poison you. Usually they are in pairs and look like a couple of pensioners out for a walk together strolling slowly across the road until you stop the car for a photo when they disappear into the undergrowth.

We arrive at Jurien Bay camp site just before 6pm and manage to secure the last camp site. Back on the coast the wind is still blowing but we are in a corner with tall fencing on two sides and very sheltered. Phew thats a relief. One night sleeping in the car was quite enough.

Next morning we drive to the little town of Cervantes, just too far for us to reach yesterday and the gateway to the Pinnacles. First though we have more stromatolites. We thought the creatures were only at Hamelin Pool but some live here too in Lake Thetis. The car is not as old geologically but in car terms is definitely elderly.

The local authority has created a easy walkway to view the stromatolites and the lake contains lots of bird life too but we must not forget that our first objective was the Pinnacles or Nambung National Park.

'Spectacular' is the only way to describe the sight of these pillars covering the ground as far as the eye can see in all directions. Putting to back of our minds visions of Billy Connelly skipping naked between the same pillars (though you cannot loose it completely) we explore - fully clothed. You can drive round the park and we are assured that the sandy road is fit for all vehicles. Lets hope so as it is a one way circuit. There are plenty of stopping places and a couple raised viewing points. In fact we do the circuit twice as the late afternoon light makes for interesting shadows. Once again the size of the area takes us by surprise though we should be used to it by now. Australia is a very big country.

Ok... perhaps just a little tom-foolery

North of Jurien Bay are the little fishing and holiday towns Leeman, known as 'Screamin Leeman' which is a a popular surfing bay and Green Head.
The nearby Grigson Lookout is named after the family who first farmed here and the fourth generation are still living and working here. At nearly 30m above sea level the limestone cairn here was built in 1875 as a marker for a coastal land survey between Perth and Geraldton. The nearby farmland was surveyed according to its relation to the cairn or 'big station'.

The sand dunes seen in the following picture are termed 'Dynamic Dunes' and with the action of the prevailing winds they 'walk' about 20 metres per year stabilising the undergrowth as they go.

In and Around Bolgart

Leaving Jurian Bay and the Pinnacles, there was a temptation to simply rush down to Perth. It was obviously the next big highlight on our trip, but there wasn't a rush and Western Australia is far too good to skimp.

Banksias are a real feature of this region of Australia. There are many many types and varieties of the plant, we would later discover the size of the diversity when we visited Perth's botanical gardens. However, here is just a sample:
 We did make an abortive attempt to visit New Norcia, an historic area. However a major fire prevented us from getting through on this occasion.

This wheat country and the various ways that the hay and grain are harvested provide photo opportunities.

 Town murals - a regular and welcome feature.

Monsters of the highway! The pulling end of a Road Train.

An interesting building design.

One of Australias largest wind farms, Emu Downs Wind Farm is a $180 million joint venture project between Griffin Energy and Queensland’s Stanwell Corporation. Emu Downs Wind Farm has been in operation since 2006 to deliver clean, green energy to Western Australia. It is one of Western Australia’s largest green energy initiatives.

Located 30 kilometres east of Cervantes, approximately 200 kilometres north of Perth, Emu Downs Wind Farm makes use of innovative wind powered turbine technology with the capacity to produce 80 Megawatts of power at peak; and the capacity to supply 50,000 homes per year. Emu Downs Wind Farm’s coastal location is a prime site for utilising wind to produce electricity.

Not rolls this time ...rectangles!

...and now the actual grain.

The magnificent Bolgart Hotel, a central feature of the town.

And now, Bolgart's little joke on the famous Perth Bell Tower that overlooks the Swan River.

Two shots, examples of the wildflowers that are so prolific and so beautiful in these parts.

New Norcia, the only monastic town in Australia.

The town of New Norcia has buildings in a Spanish style of architecture, along with some other historical sites.

On 1 March 1846, a Benedictine mission to the local aborigines was started about 8 km to the north, led by the two Spanish Benedictines, Rosendo Salvado and Joseph Serra. Within a year the mission was moved to where the town is today, and on 1 March 1847 the foundation stone of the monastery was laid. The place was named New Norcia, after Norcia in Italy, the birthplace of St Benedict. However unlike the Italian Norcia, which is pronounced "nor-chee-a", New Norcia is pronounced "new nor-sia".

Among these are the two old boarding schools, St Ildephonsus' and St Gertrude's (both now used for accommodation and various social functions), the Abbey Church (containing the tomb of Rosendo Salvado), an old mill, a wine press, a hotel, and the monastery itself. Tours of the town are operated daily by the Friends of New Norcia, who also organise the accommodation in the various buildings including the monastery retreat.[2] The Benedictine monks continue to occupy the monastery and are involved with most of the enterprises in the town.

There were also two aboriginal orphanages that housed members of the Stolen Generation; St Mary's (for boys) and St Joseph's (for girls), which closed in the early 1970s. The two buildings still exist. St Mary's is next to St Ildephonsus', and St Joseph's is next to St Gertrude's.

The last Spanish Benedictine monk of New Norcia died on 18 January 2010, aged 99. He continued to prepare the bread for the monks and olive oil almost upon his death.

Territory Wildlife

On the northern side of Litchfield National Park lies the Territory Wildlife Darwin Park. This involved retracing our steps a little, but the Park is definitely to be seen.
Here is just a sample of the animal highlights.
Jabiru storkFreshwater crocodile
Freshwater whipray
Liz feeding the Archer fish. That jet of water is really very powerful no wonder the flies drop.A grebe seen from belowGraham and a sawfish on opposite sides of the glass
Stone curlew
Pignosed turtle
Torres Strait pigeon