Australia – Hawaii

September 10 – November 16, 2011

 

 

Richard and Anita Dyck left Vernon the afternoon of Saturday, September 10 under sunny skies and 32 C [89 F] to meet Marjorie Buckham at the Kelowna International Airport.  The three of us were traveling together on this extended vacation, Marjorie being a friend of the Dycks for some 30 years.  This would be our second visit to Australia, our first being in 2008 during February and March.  Planning for this trip had been ongoing for some two years with Marjorie and Richard working together, in consultation with Anita, to research and book quality and affordable experiences that would provide long-lasting memories for all of us. 

 

Throughout this journal the metric system will be a constant to record temperature, distance and the like.  For those not using our metric system, below is an abbreviated conversion table to the US system of measurement:

 

 

Temperature                                                    Distance

 

15 C  =  59 F                                                    100 km  =  62.14 miles

20 C  =  68 F                                                   

25 C  =  77 F

30 C  =  86 F

35 C  =  95 F

40 C  =  104 F

45 C  =  113 F

 

 

The Web Sites I have provided are to enhance the attractions we enjoyed and provide more background for you … enjoy!

 

Our journey was not without incident, some serious others comical.  Each will be described in the order of occurrence.  Remember as you read, this could happen to each of you just as easily!

 

This segment will cover our journey Darwin > Perth, then Perth > Fremantle, the start and finish of our Western Australia tour with Evergreen Tours.

 

We flew Air Canada non-stop, Vancouver>Sydney, a 14.5 hour flight, arriving in Sydney to more sunny skies and 9 C [48 F] when we landed at 8 a.m. on September 12 as crossing the International Date Line flying we lost Sunday, September 11.  Our plane had some 100 + Aussies who were returning home from a Scenic Tours booking to B.C. that had taken them through the Rockies by train followed by an Alaskan Cruise.  We encountered no problems with Customs and then at 1 p.m. boarded a Jetstar flight to Darwin, another 4 hour flight.  Darwin was 31 C [87 F] upon our 5 p.m. arrival.  Hotel check-in followed by a late dinner, eaten outdoors, followed.

 

 

 

Tuesday – September 13

 

All three of us had a restful night and sunshine, clear skies with 32 C [89 F] the predicted high greeted us this first day.  Having just left our Okanagan summer we had no problems adjusting to Darwin’s high temperatures.  Following breakfast and some necessary shopping we obtained directions on walking to the waterfront.  We enjoyed the great harbour views before descending by elevator to the wharf area where we had lunch.  Our walk back to our hotel took us past Government House and the Supreme Court of NT.  When first in Darwin in 2008 we had stayed at the Crowne Plaza Darwin.  Coming upon it we stopped for a nostalgic [and expensive] drink before returning to our nearby hotel.  We relaxed by the pool and later in our room that afternoon.  Our dinner tonight was relaxed and enjoyable, again eaten outdoors.

 

Wednesday – September 14

 

Sunshine, clear skies and 33 C [91 F] the high for Darwin today.  Following breakfast at the same restaurant we ate in on Tuesday, we checked out of the Darwin Central Hotel and moved the short distance to the Vibe Hotel Darwin where we were to begin our 28 Day Western Australia Tour from.  We were at the Vibe for two nights.  Tonight we met our Tour Director for the first time.  The Tour Director and Coach Driver are married and live in Tasmania.  Our tour group, 29 in total is comprised of 2 from England, us 3 from Canada and the remainder are all Australians!  The youngest traveler is a 12 year old girl.  Our entire group are all non-smokers!

 

Thursday – September 15

 

Clear skies as we began the first day of our Evergreen Tours  28 Day The Ultimate Western Australia (Darwin > Fremantle)  coach tour.  First impressions of our Coach were good … 2008 Mercedes Benz, 48 passenger, air conditioned, good sound system, seat belts and 6 small TVs located throughout so passengers can see the road ahead from any location within the coach.  Bottled water, we were told, would not be supplied daily as we had expected and had been on previous tours.  This proved to be an additional expense not planned on.  We visited Litchfield National Park, Wangi and Florence Falls.  There were also large magnetic termite mounds alongside the road.  At 1 p.m. the temperature was 34 C [93 F] , again under clear skies.  On our drive in the Park we noticed numerous controlled fire burns cleaning up the respective areas.  The highway speed here in Northern Territory was as high as 130 kph.  Returning to Darwin we were provided with a quick tour of the prominent areas of the city before returning to our hotel.  Dinner that evening was with Marjorie’s friends, Lily and Rob at their Club.  We also met their two daughters and children.  In 2008 we had met Lily and Rob on Fraser Island.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Litchfield National Park                        http://www.litchfieldnationalpark.com/

 

Wangi Falls

http://www.litchfieldnationalpark.com/Wangi_Falls_Litchfield_National_Park.htm

 

Florence Falls                                     

http://www.litchfieldnationalpark.com/Florence_Falls_Litchfield_National_Park.htm

 

Friday – September 16

 

We entered the amazing World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park and visited the Bowali Visitor Centre to learn about the local region and its wildlife; stopped at Nourlangie Rock to see ancient Aboriginal rock art.  A cruise on the famous Yellow Water billabong provided us encounters with Kakadu’s unique water birds and crocodiles.  Seat rotation on the coach is done daily.  Early impressions of Susan and David, Tour Director and Coach Driver are great.  Our first encounter with Road Trains on this visit came today.  A very hot day, 38 C [100 F] … the hottest day to date.  We noticed that the termite mounds had got progressively larger as the day went on – some as tall as a man and with large bases at ground level.  More signs of where controlled burning had taken place were seen throughout the Park and various sites of road construction were encountered repairing roads washed out or destroyed during the wet season earlier this year.  The cruise displayed to us the vast differences between the wet and dry seasons as our first visit here in 2008 was in the wet season.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Kakadu National Park              http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/147

 

Nourlangie Rock                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nourlangie_Rock

 

Yellow Water Cruise              

http://www.gagudju-dreaming.com/Cruises/Yellow-Water-Cruise.aspx

 

Road Trains                             http://outbacktowing.tripod.com/

 

Saturday – September 17

 

Early departure at 7 a.m. to the Jabiru Airport to deliver members who had chosen the flight as an extra.   While the flights were taken the rest of us toured Jabiru and had occasion to revisit the Holiday Inn Gagudju Crocodile, the Crocodile Hotel we had stayed at 3 years ago.  After the flights ended we drove to Katherine picking up two more clients en route.  Hot once again today – at 1 p.m. it was 36 C [96 F] and 39 C [102 F] two hours later.  After flex time in Katherine we then enjoyed a 2 hour guided cruise through the spectacular Katherine Gorge, passing through 2 gorges.  Water levels were so low we could only navigate the 2 gorges and walk between them.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Jabiru, NT                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jabiru,_Northern_Territory

 

Katherine Gorge                      http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/parks/find/nitmiluk.html

 

Sunday – September 18

 

As we left Katherine we were in new surroundings for the first time on tour.  Driving to Western Australia the roadside scenery did not change until we entered the State.  This came at 12 15 p.m. when we passed through a quarantine station checking for fruits and vegetables that might be taken into the State.  The time changed by 1.5 hours also.  At Lake Argyle, the largest lake in the southern hemisphere, we had lunch before enjoying an exciting cruise on the Ord River for some 55 km to Kununurra, our home for the next 3 days.  The cruise was spectacular, taking some three and a half hours during which we saw numerous crocodiles, birds native to Australia, wallaroo (euro) kangaroos and bats living in trees onshore.  While we were cruising the Ord River, David had driven the coach to our hotel and delivered our luggage to our rooms.  Dinner that evening was a barbeque that was most tasty!

 

David and Susan, husband and wife are just terrific in what they do for us!  Susan is very well organized and on top of everything.  David adds much with his commentary on our drives.  As well, at the appropriate times, Susan plays DVDs of the areas and at other times audio recordings of the early settlement days of Australia.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Lake Argyle                             http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Argyle

 

Ord River                                 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ord_River

 

Kununurra                               http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kununurra,_Western_Australia

 

Wallaroo (euro)                       http://australian-animals.net/wallaroo.htm           

 

Monday – September 19

 

At 8 a.m. we departed for Wyndham with Keith, our replacement driver, allowing David his mandatory 2 day break.  Our first stop, Perry Lagoons Nature Reserve, was hailed as the best bird watching site in Western Australia.  Upon arrival in Wyndham, the oldest and northernmost town in the Kimberly region of Western Australia, now a port and service centre for the east Kimberly [population 800], we drove to a lookout for photos.  Ascending down the steep hill following the photo op one of the air lines on the coach suffered a break that necessitated repairs and delaying us some 30 minutes.  After touring Wyndham we returned to Kununurra for lunch.  We then toured The Hoochery distillery, Western Australia’s only legal distillery producing Ord River Rum and other spirits.  We then drove to Ivanhoe Crossing, a permanently submerged crossing over [or under] the Ord River, popular with locals fishing for Barranmundi as well as a nice picnic spot, about 10 km north of town prior to returning to the hotel.  We then did laundry.  Today was 38 C [100 F] and hot once again.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Wyndham                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wyndham,_Western_Australia

 

Tuesday – September 20

 

We traveled to El Questro Wilderness Park, a million acre park set in stunning outback Kimberly landscape.  We were to cruise through Chamberlain Gorge but due to the rapid drop of water levels the cruise was cancelled.  Instead we had a 2 hour tour of the property riding in the open rear of 4x4 vehicles, viewing the devastation caused by flooding earlier in the year in the Chamberlain Gorge.  Viewing of the durack tree and the huge boab trees in the area came next followed by a drive to a high lookout for photos and spectacular views.  Driving back after lunch the air conditioning in the coach quit working and temperatures inside rose to 36 C [96 F] making for a warm ride back to the hotel.  Our coach was then taken in for the necessary repairs.  Today’s high was 38 C [100 F] .

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

El Questro                               http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Questro_Wilderness_Park

 

Boab Tree

http://www.outback-australia-travel-secrets.com/boab_tree.html

 

Wednesday – September 21

 

We awoke to overcast skies this morning due to smoke from nearby fires.  Our coach was still “sick” as we were informed repairs to the air conditioning could only be done in Broome.  David undertook to drive our Scenic Coach to Broome and for our continuing journey we had a replacement that was not all that comfortable.  En route to Halls Creek we stopped for a guided tour of the Argyle Diamond Mine, the world’s largest single producer of diamonds.  Continuing on our replacement coach acted up, the computer shut down on the coach numerous times and when mobile our speed was limited to no more than 75 kmh, far less than the posted speed limit.  We arrived in Halls Creek an hour later than scheduled.  At the Best Western in Halls Creek we met 2 staff members whose home town was Vernon, the same as ours.  They had been travelling and working in Australia for 2 years and had plans to stay for 1 more year.  We enjoyed the best food ever on tour here at Halls Creek!

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Argyle Diamond Mine                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argyle_diamond_mine

 

Thursday – September 22

 

Sunshine has returned and 39 C [102 F] today’s high.  Our second replacement coach, this time a school bus, got us safely to Broome.  First at the Fitzroy River we enjoyed a one hour cruise at Geikie Gorge where we saw numerous freshwater crocodiles sunning themselves on rock outcroppings and ashore.  After an early [6:45 a.m.] departure we spent a total of 11 hours on the road today.  Broome, on the Indian Ocean, is a 2 night stay.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Geikie Gorge                           http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geikie_Gorge_National_Park

 

Friday – September 23

 

This was a day for rest and relaxation around the hotel for the 3 of us.  Anita and Marjorie toured the Willie Creek Pearl Farm and arrived back with their purchases.  Richard took the city bus into town and walked the two main streets.  Dinner that evening was at Cable Beach.  Leaving dinner for the coach ride back to our hotel the air outside was cool for the first time on tour and heavy condensation coated the coach windows due to our closeness to the ocean.

 

In Broome we said farewell to 10 of our group leaving us with 21 in total for the Broome to Perth portion of our tour.  We 3 Canadians remain the only international travelers with all others being Aussie.  Seat rotation became lax with the limited number of us.

We were most shocked to learn from Susan, our Tour Director, that Perth would be the end of our tour and that we would be joining a new tour group for the Southern Wonders (Perth > Fremantle) segment. 

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Willie Creek Pearl Farm            http://www.williecreekpearls.com.au/

 

Cable Beach                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cable_Beach

 

Saturday – September 24

 

At 7:45 a.m. we departed Broome in brilliant sunshine bound for Port Hedland once again in our Scenic Coach recently repaired.  This proved to be another long day on the road.  Our morning stop at Stanley was one where the facilities proved to be most primitive and our lunch stop was yet another road house where we saw a two million dollar drilling machine being transported to the Argyle Diamond Mine.  Road trains were a constant on our drive to Port Hedland.  Upon arrival a guide joined us for a tour of the BHP Iron Ore port facility.  Our overnight stay at the All Seasons Port Hedland proved to be the worst accommodation of our entire trip.  This hotel had dirty floors ... coming from the shower to get dressed our feet were dirty and had to be wiped off.  Tables and counters in the Bar which we visited for pre-dinner drinks were badly scarred and definitely required cleaning [this we did ourselves as staff made no effort to comply].  Again it was a cooler evening as our hotel faced the Indian Ocean.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Port Hedland                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Hedland,_Western_Australia

 

Sunday – September 25

 

A sunny and clear day with yet another early departure.  Distances between cities, towns and smaller settlement in Western Australia are far greater than most other areas.  We journeyed away from the water enjoying warmer conditions up to 35 C [95 F] through the heart of the Pilbara to Karijini National Park renowned for its spectacular gorges and waterfalls.  Stops at Dale and Fortescue Falls and Joffre Gorge provided us with awe-inspiring views.  Staff prepared a nice barbeque for us at dinner.  Our overnight accommodation in Eco Tents came complete with an open air en-suite bathroom, and with quality beds and linen – a delightful experience!

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Karijini National Park                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karijini_National_Park

 

 

Monday – September 26

 

Sunshine at 6:30 a.m. helped warm us up eating our breakfast outdoors prior to our 7:15 a.m. departure.  As when we entered the Park, our drive out was some 30 km of gravel road which, we were told, was the last for us.  At Tom Price we had a guided tour of the nearby Mount Tom Price Mine, an iron ore mine.  At 6:30 p.m. some 11 hours after our morning departure we arrived in Exmouth near Ningaloo Reef and received our room key for The Potshot Hotel Resort.  Exmouth, on the coast, meant we had left behind the high temperatures of 30 C, 35 C, and 40 C [86 F, 95 F, and 104 F] .

 

Just north of Exmouth we saw our first wind turbines.  From Litchfield National Park the presence of termite mounds had been a constant in the passing landscape as have been the various species of eucalyptus trees native to Australia.  Leaving Exmouth we no longer encountered termite mounds.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Mount Tom Price Mine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Tom_Price_mine

 

Tuesday – September 27

 

Once again sunny skies for our departure out of Exmouth and at 2 p.m. the temperature of 26 C [79 F] was pleasant.  We visited the Nigaloo Lighthouse for our first views of Ningaloo Reef.  Returning to Exmouth for a brief tour we then drove to Coral Bay for our first walk in the waters of the Indian Ocean as we made our way to board the glass bottom submersible from which we had spectacular views of the coral and the multitude of colors and sizes of the marine life that inhabit the waters.  The colors were outstanding!  One of Richard”s favourite stops.  Back on the road to Carnarvon we witnessed more devastation from the floods earlier this year that had affected many States in Australia.  Prior to arrival in Carnarvon we passed over the Tropic of Capricorn.  On the outskirts of Carnarvon we noticed, for the first time on tour, agriculture and the growing of numerous fruits and vegetables.

 

There had been an absence of bananas available for consumption during our Australian visit, all due to the crops being destroyed by cyclone Yasi last February on the east coast.   If found in stores, the price was too costly for purchase, about $9 per pound Canadian.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Ningaloo Reef                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ningaloo_Reef

 

Coral Bay                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coral_Bay,_Western_Australia

                       

Wednesday – September 28

 

Today we traveled to World Heritage listed Shark Bay to view the world’s oldest living organisms, the stromatolites, at Hamelin Pool.  The walk there was partly on sandy beach then on boardwalk.  Next came a visit to Shell Beach, one of only two in the world, formed from billions of shells up to ten metres deep.  The day was sunny and just a little windy when departing Carnarvon in the morning.  We have a 2 night stay at Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Shark Bay                               http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shark_Bay

 

Stromatolites                           http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stromatolite

 

Shell Beach                 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shell_Beach_(Western_Australia)

 

Thursday – September 29

 

A day of leisure at Monkey Mia and we did laundry after breakfast.  Our hotel room was beach front and offered us a great view of the water from our patio.  Not a cloud in the sky and another sunny day, by afternoon temperature was in the high 20s Celsius.  Six dolphins swam past as we relaxed on our patio while the beach and water teemed with people, swimmers and boats of all sizes passing to and fro.

 

Friday – September 30

 

Or departure from Monkey Mia began in sunshine and by noon the clouds had rolled in although it remained warm.  We saw the sun off and on that afternoon but it was cloudy once more upon arrival in Geraldton.  A brief shower, the first of our tour, occurred just before noon.  Prior to arriving at our overnight destination in Geraldton we visited Kalbarri National Park, famous for its extraordinary river gorge scenery and then the seaside town of Kalbarri.  Half way to Geraldton the landscape changed to that of a wheat belt, grain growing, as far as the eye could see on both sides of the road.  This scene was reminiscent of our Canadian Prairie.  The last half of our drive today was on “coastal” roads – curves and hills, not the straight roads we had earlier traveled on from Darwin.  Our overnight stay at the All Seasons Geraldton proved to be the best All Seasons accommodation of the lot.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Kalbarri National Park              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalbarri_National_Park

 

Kalbarri                                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalbarri,_Western_Australia

 

Saturday – October 1

 

Sunny skies and a pleasant day as we departed Geraldton at 7:45 a.m. with some clouds later on with 27 C [81 F] the day’s high.  We followed the coast through quaint coastal communities to Nambung National Park, home of the fascinating Pinnacles.  Made from limestone, these pillars prove an almost eerie landscape.  Continuing to Perth the coastal route saw us pass through a wide variety of landscapes.  Sand dunes and the nearby ocean reminded Richard of driving the Oregon coast in the US.  Upon arriving in Perth there was a brief sightseeing tour of the city before arriving at Kings Park to enjoy more city views including the Swan River.  We were then delivered to our hotel, Travelodge Perth.  This, sadly, was the end of this tour segment.  We said our good-byes to Susan and David and the others not continuing on; 15 of us will be going on.  At 6 p.m. we met our new Tour Director for the Southern Wonders 9-Day segment.  Our new group was 42 in total and again we 3 Canadians are the only international travelers with all others being Australian.  And, for the second time, all 42 are non-smokers!  Shauna is our new Tour Director and Andrew is the Coach Driver.    

 

Sunday – October 2

 

There was a mixture of sun and cloud that morning over the breakfast meal.  Our day of travel began with a sightseeing tour of Perth and its suburbs.  In Kings Park and Botanic Garden we joined a Parks Guide for a walk of discover of wilderness and wildflowers.  We then departed Perth for Margaret River via the freeway for a short time before exiting to the country back roads.  It was a pleasant and scenic drive through farming country – dairy and beef cattle, sheep farms and some forested areas.  We traveled into the Jarrah Forest to visit the Forest Heritage Centre. The first rain fell just before our lunch stop and then continued afterwards on our drive to Busselton.  At Busselton we had limited time and walked the area near the Busselton Jetty, said to be the longest wooden structure in the southern hemisphere.  Continuing towards Margaret River we encountered vast vineyards as we neared our destination.  We are in Margaret River for two nights.

 

Our Coach for this part of the tour was a 2006 Mercedes-Benz and not very comfortable!  Seats were narrow and uncomfortable, limited leg room, our carry-on bags did not fit in the overhead bins so had to be stored under our seats.  After an hour in the coach one's back took the brunt of the journey. 

 

Andrew, our Coach Driver, handled the coach well and provided us with excellent commentary.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Kings Park, Perth                     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kings_Park,_Western_Australia

 

Jarrah Forest                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jarrah_Forest

 

Busselton                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Busselton,_Western_Australia

 

Monday – October 3

 

Our coolest day to date on this Western Australia tour with cloud cover enduring most of the day; it was windy at the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse and damp at the Mammoth Cave location.  A visit to the Lighthouse saw many of our group climb the 176 steps to the top; Anita and Richard did not do the climb.  Also at the Cave, due to the excessive number of steps and damp surface both of them chose not to enter the Cave but instead took a nature walk with Andrew.  The walk provided them with first hand views of the karri and yarri trees up close and personal.  That afternoon we also visited a coffee tasting house and the Margaret River Chocolate Company, tasting free samples at both locations.  Our last stop that day was our private wine tasting at Xanadu,Margaret River where 5 white and 4 red wines were sampled.  Most enjoyable!

 

There seemed to be little bonding with those of us who originated in Darwin by those we joined in Perth for this “second” tour.  Most times they remained aloof and didn’t want to associate with any of us.

 

The Southern Wonders experience of the tour was a different experience to the first portion of the entire tour but we still enjoyed the experience.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Leeuwin_Lighthouse

 

Mammoth Cave            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mammoth_Cave_(Western_Australia)

 

Karri Tree                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucalyptus_diversicolor

 

Yarri Tree                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucalyptus_patens

 

Margaret River Chocolate Company               http://www.chocolatefactory.com.au/

                                               

Xanadu Wines, Margaret River

                                                http://www.xanaduwines.com/index.php

 

Tuesday – October 4

 

Cloudy and cool today,19 C [66 F] today’s high, with the clouds remaining all day until about 30 km from Albany when the skies cleared and we had sunshine.  Today’s journey was almost all in forest type landscape as we continued to drive the narrow back roads meandering to Albany.  Just outside the city the forest gave way to farm land, cattle, horses and sheep ranches.  En route we visited the famous Gloucester Tree, the highest fire lookout tree in the world. Continuing on to the Valley of the Giants we strolled 40 metres above the forest floor along the Canopy Walk.  Anita, having only summer wear with her, bought a vest here due to the cooler weather. Valley of the Giants was the best venue to date on this leg of the tour!  In Albany we have a 2 night stay.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Gloucester Tree                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gloucester_Tree

 

Valley of the Giants                http://www.denmarkwa.asn.au/treetopwalk.htm

 

Wednesday – October 5

 

Once again we encountered cloudy skies and only 21 C [70 F] for the high.  Our first stop was a nearby lookout for views of the harbour and waters where Albany is situated on, the Southern Ocean.  Next came a visit to Torndirrup National Park to view and photograph the spectacular rock formations of The Gap and Natural Bridge just outside Albany.  A visit to Whale World, a fascinating museum, site of the last operating whaling station in Australia provided us information on a former major industry.  The afternoon was “free time” in Albany and we chose to relax around our hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

The Gap and Natural Bridge               

http://www.westernaustralia.com/en/Pages/Attraction.aspx?n=The_Gap_and_Natural_Bridge&pid=9000815

 

Whale World                            http://www.whaleworld.org/

 

Thursday – October 6

 

A mixture of sun and cloud with more sun than cloud generated a temperature of 25 C [77 F] by 1:00 p.m. in the early afternoon.  Our continuing journey took us into the rugged Stirling Ranges National Park, a botanic reserve abundant with wildflowers, as we made our way to Esperance.  A stop for photos was made at the lookout at Bluff Knoll, the highest peak in the National Park.  We passed near the rabbit-proof fence location but could not actually view it seeing as the access was closed at the time.  Arriving in Esperance we first visited 9 Mile Beach and then Twilight Bay to view and photograph the majestic coastline and the sparkling blue waters. 

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Twilight Bay               

http://www.westernaustralia.com/en/Pages/Attraction.aspx?n=Twilight_Bay&pid=9001066

 

Rabbit-proof fence                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbit-proof_fence

 

Friday – October 7

 

Leaving the coast we traveled inland bound for Kalgoorlie and at 1:00 p.m. it was 28 C [82 F] as warmer temperatures greeted us.  A visit to Cape Le Grand National Park gave us photo opportunities at 3 different locations where the water at each was most colorful.  Driving north to Norseman we first encountered farming country that became areas of eucalyptus forest prior to our arrival in Kalgoorlie, home of Australia”s largest and historic gold mine.  We’re in Kalgoorlie for a 2 night stay.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Cape Le Grand National Park

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Le_Grand_National_Park

 

Saturday – October 8

 

Today’s high was 28 C [82 F] and it was sunny.  The morning was spent exploring the Miners Hall of Fame.  We descended underground 36 metres for a tour of the mineshaft and after watched an exhibition of gold pouring.  A short drive away we stopped at the Super Pit Lookout for incredible views of Australia’s largest open pit gold mine.  Mine employees do not all live in Kalgoorlie but live all over Australia.  They are flown in to work their shifts then flown back home for their days off – all at no expense to the employee!  This work incentive was available to employees at all the mines we visited while on tour.  Anita did not accompany us this morning, choosing instead to rest and do our laundry.  That afternoon nothing was scheduled and we relaxed.  Dinner that evening was at Paddy’s Irish Pub in Kalgoorlie where the portions we were served were extremely large – 3 could easily have eaten from one main order!  Proof that miners are large eaters.  That, together with the good drinks made for an enjoyable evening.  Leaving the Pub, Richard noticed some 14 from our group were in the Pub.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Miners Hall of Fame                 http://www.mininghall.com/index.php?page_id=1

 

The Super Pit                           http://www.superpit.com.au/

 

Sunday – October 9

 

Sunshine dominated the day, a bit cooler, it being 24 C [75 F] at 1:30 p.m.  Travelling through various landscapes of shrubs, trees and farms we visited the former ghost town of Coolgardie and its wide streets lined with grand stone buildings, mixed with corrugated iron and timber homes, reflecting both the wealth and impermanence of the gold rush.  Prior to arriving in Hyden we stopped at the Wave Rock Wild flowers Wildlife Park Info Centre then moving on to the unusual rock formations of Wave Rock and the Hippo’s Yawn.  This striking rock formation, resembling a giant way, was formed from granite over 3 million years ago.  We climbed Wave Rock after our photo session for spectacular views of the nearby salt lake and extended countryside.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Coolgardie                   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coolgardie,_Western_Australia

 

Wave Rock                  http://www.waverock.com.au/rock.htm

 

Hippo’s Yawn             http://www.australiasgoldenoutback.com/Listing/Hippo's_Yawn

 

Monday – October 10

 

Sunny and somewhat cool as we ate breakfast in Hyden.  As we drove to Fremantle on this our last day on tour, the temperature improved to 25 C [77 F] by 1:30 p.m. despite some cloud.  The grain belt landscape continued through to York, the oldest inland town in Western Australia, where afterwards it changed to that of yarri and marri forest.  We had our lunch in York where afterwards we found a beer hall resplendent with signs that required photos be taken.  A couple of examples – “Warning!  The last car to park here is still missing” and “Stupidity is not considered to be a handicap.  Park somewhere else!” .For dog lovers we stopped at a dog cemetery outside of York.  Our back roads journey lasted until just about 1 hour outside Fremantle where we joined a divided highway.  Upon arrival in Fremantle a short tour of the harbour area was made prior to hotel check-in.  Later we walked a short distance to a micro brewery for a taste of their beer.  Here we met a couple from Campbell River on our Vancouver Island.  They were touring the area in a camper van.  Our hotel and meals provided therein were just outstanding!

 

 

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

York                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/York,_Western_Australia

 

 

For the 19 Day Tour, Darwin > Perth our coach traveled 7,010 km.

On the 9 Day Southern Wonders Tour, Perth > Fremantle, our coach traveled 2,866 km.

For the entire 28 Day The Ultimate Western Australia Tour we traveled a total of 9,876 km.

 

 

Tuesday – October 11

 

The tour had ended on Monday but at 7 a.m. we were at breakfast joining 8 others of our group who had traveled the full 28 days.  Two were missing and we assumed they had departed for home earlier that morning.  Our final meal together and it was a fine ending.  Checking out of the hotel we used the free bus service to get to the train station to secure our passage to Perth.  Each person paid a A$3.80 fare.  The sun was shining and the train ride most enjoyable.  From the Perth train station we walked the short distance to the Criterion Hotel where our rooms still were not ready so we had our luggage stored.  Check-in was good after lunch and we then went shopping.  Perth has this great pedestrian-only mall with numerous shops and stores offering a wide selection of most everything – and located near our hotel!  Could not help notice that Christmas ads here are big and out this early in October.  Our early impression of Perth was good.