Monday, August 22, 2011

Day 20 - New Norcia

After a warm and sunny welcome to New Norcia we were surprised on this day to awake to heavy rain. Nevertheless Ray ploughed out into the red mud to get to Mass at the Abbey Church. The service was simple, peaceful and very beautiful.

After our continental breakfast in the dining room we spent the morning at the Museum and Art Gallery. New Norcia has the largest collection of religious art in regional Australia.  This was a good way for us to get a handle on the history of this community and its work amongst Aboriginal people and orphans. The complex was also for many years a major regional education facility and much of the history relates to this aspect of the work of the Benedictine monks and the Josephite nuns. The nuns were led during the early part of this time by Mary McKillop now known as St Mary of the Cross.

We joined a two hour tour of the town. Our intrepid tour guide, Ricki, was a 'no holds barred' interpreter of the life of this community and its personnel, she took us behind the scenes and showed us life for the monks, the nuns and the boys and girls who have been a part of this place.The farm is presently 20,000 acres but this is vastly reduced from he size it once was.  Today there are 8 monks only living in the community and one in a northern Aboriginal settlement.  They employ in excess of 70 people to run the operation of the'business' which includes the farm (crops and sheep), bakery, brewery, vineyard, olive grove, apiary, the hotel, the roadhouse, the museum and art gallery, gift shop. As well as this schools and other groups use the facilities for camps and conferences.
The National Trust now control a large number of the buildings that are obviously highly valued but require millions of dollars to restore and maintain.  One of the biggest issues is traffic on the Great Northern Highway.  This goes right through the middle of the town and enables road trains and many heavy vehicles access to northern WA. These vehicles are doing enormous damage to the historic buildings.The irony is that this road was originally built by and for the monks.  There are some 45 buildings in New Norcia at one time there were over 80. Central to the community is the Abbey Church it is surrounded by a range of magnificent historical buildings.

We enjoyed a late lunch in the central parkland and did a sketch each before making our way to our very special B&B night at Guildford. Dinner at the Rose and Crown (WAs oldest pub) and pictured below the magnificent breakfast provided for us by our gracious hostess at the Hollies B&B. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Days 18 and 19 Albany - Perth - New Norcia

Okay Okay - yes we were slack and thank you for your feedback about not publishing Day 18.  It was a long day's drive - Albany to Perth.  No photos taken but we can tell you that the countryside is lush, the wildflowers are starting to appear and some wattle is out.

We arrived at our prebooked motel in the Perth suburb of Belmont - pretty tired.   Then we headed out in search of an evening meal and low and behold the nearest eating place was the Burswood Casino!!  There was no interest here for us except for the meal.

The contrast between the Casino and where we write this blog from is chalk and cheese.

Christ Church Claremont
Sunday morning began with a drive almost to Fremantle in search of Christ Church Claremont. Thank goodnes for "Karen" our GPS. An old acquaintance, Fr Jack Thompson, is currently their locum and it was good to see him at work, as a recent retiree celebrating their 10am Sung Eucharist.

From there we went in search of the "Boardwalk" at Fremantle which Rob Shattock had told us about but sadly no success and instead we ended up at the Market located at the wharf, where we had a wander and lunch.
Time to head off to New Norcia and look out for a suitable place to stay on Monday night on our way. With that in mind we stopped at Guildford in the Swan Valley and arranged a B&B for tomorrow night.

New Norcia is about 130kms north of Perth. A very pleasant Sunday afternoon drive listening with heart in mouth to the Tigers playing the Demons back home on the MCG. Joy oh joy - Richmond have strung two wins together! 

Abbey Church - New Norcia

New Norcia is a Community established by Benedictine Monks back 150+ years ago. The founder, Dom Salvado, was a Spanish black sheep who we learned about when we walked the Camino 3 years ago. He left his monastery in Spain apparently a somewhat difficult man to control  (so we heard in Spain) but he had a huge missionary zeal and this driving force produced this amazing place. New Norcia is named after the place where Benedict founded the original Benedictine monastery. Tomorrow we are booked in for a guided tour of the many buildings on site and we hope to learn more of the work of the monks.

Having checked in at the Hotel (owned by the Benedictines) and looked around the village (all of which belongs to the Benedictines) we joined the monks for Vespers. Then had a delightful pizza washed down with the monks' own label of "Abbey Ale" and "Cabernet Merlot".  Not bad drops!

Back in our humble room as we write the blog there is no TV or ensuite or even wine glasses - a far cry from  Belmont and the Casino! But we are attempting to take the advice of the monks to slow down and enjoy the peace of this place.

Just a short walk in the early evening from Vespers
in the Abbey back to the Hotel and dinner

Friday, August 19, 2011

Day 17 - Air and sea - Treetops and blowholes

We departed timbertown Pemberton in the early morning and drove through miles and miles of beautiful tall natural forests. We learned later in the day that these were a mixture of Karri, Marri and Tingle trees. The drive was breathtaking and we were inspired to stop at the "Valley of the Giants" treetops walk just beyond Walpole and before Denmark. 

The self guided tour of the tree tops only takes about an hour but is not one for those afraid of heights!  At times the metal walkway sways and reaches a height of 40 metres above the forest floor. After that we also walked the Lost Empire Walk at forest floor level amongst many interesting features were the Tingle trees with hollowed out bases.

Then it was on to Albany by lunchtime. We enjoyed fish and chips by the sea at Middleton Bay and each did a quick watercolour painting. Then we drove around Albany exploring some of its many wonderful natural features. The commanding view from the Anzac Memorial where the first dawn service was held in memory of the Anzacs who left from the port of Albany to go to Gallipoli!

We also visited St John's Anglican Church, WA's oldest consecrated Anglican church.

The blowholes were the next port of call and worth the visit.

Natural bridge at the blowholes

Thrilled to have heard from Steve in Cuba, our dogs Lucy and Ruby at the Boarding Kennels, The Vineys of Wildwood Road and Trevor from Yarrawonga.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 16 The heights and the depths

Having considered and admired the lilies of the field (yesterday) we have now discovered via the local paper that Arum Lilies in this part of the world are a noxious weed! On to today...

Driving 40 kms down the coast we arrive at the Jewel Cave. This is again a lovely tourist destination and an amazing geological find. It was discovered in 1901.  On our tour of the cave were a number of grey nomads and a family with three delightful little boys who made asides and comments particulary identifying the sights of the caves with Harry Potter books. We reflected that these amazing caves do somehow resemble sci fi and children's sets except of course they are the real thing. 

Ray at the entrance to
Jewel Cave

One of the many photos taken inside the
cave - none of which really do justice
to the reality.

We descended this time 172 steps or 42 metres below the surface into a wonderworld of a number of adjoining cavernous spaces full of stalegtites and stalegmites and we today discovered the "heliotite" that grow horizontally. This cave is beautifully lit for tourist purposes and has many unique formations.

We travelled on for another half hour to Augusta and then on to the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse which is the most south westerly point of mainland Australia. We ascended about 170 steps to the top of Australia's tallest lighthouse and experienced panoramic views and strong winds - apparently it was only a zephyr there today. From this point you can clearly see the waves of the Southern Ocean and the Indian Ocean intersecting and in fact colliding.

Ray and Glenys Oceans apart!
Ray in the Southern Ocean
Glenys in the Indian Ocean
The waves collide in the background
between them.

Before leaving the Lighthouse precinct we called Ray's mum, Nell, to wish her a happy birthday. The reception was so clear it sounded like she was just next door.

 We are now in a town called Pemberton for the evening and tomorrow on our way to Albany.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day 15 Caves, Galleries and Wineries

Today we set out to explore the Margaret River Region and we were delighted that not only were we in for a treat with the local galleries and wineries but this also led us to explore the famous caves of this area.

Our first stop was Payet Gallery which has a display of beautiful jewellery and fine art (very tempting). Then we visited the surf beach at Prevelley Park - again the WA coastline is stunning and ferocious, various memorials to surfers who rode 'their last wave' tell the story.

From there it was off to Leeuwin Estate, one of the best known and grandest of the Margaret RiverWineries. We were delighted to find there a large collection of art on display - these pieces having been reproduced on wine bottle labels over the last 20+ years.

Amongst them are works by Percival, Williams, Olsen, Boyd, Blackman and so on. Accompanying the display of artworks are pieces of furniture, mostly tables, created by a local craftsman, James Hawieson, of the Boranup Gallery. This woodwork is amazing with beautiful inlays and using mostly local jarrah.  Naturally we tasted their wines and purchased a small selection.

Leeuwin Estate Winery and Ray with our purchases
Inspired by the woodwork we headed off in search of the Boranup Gallery but on the way stopped for lunch at a tearoom attached to the Lake Cave.  Before long we had purchased the "package" three cave tours and the Leeuwin Lighthouse. Lake Cave has been a tourist attraction for over 100 years but in more recent times has become tourist friendly. We had a lot of steps to descend - and later climb back up!  (600 in all!). But it was all worthwhile once inside the cavernous spaces underground. The stalegtites (hanging "tight" to the roof) and stalegmites (which "might" grow up to the roof) were abundant and stunning.


Stalegtites with Stalegmites!!

Boranup Gallery was even better than we anticipated, not only a massive array of beautiful handcrafted furniture and wooden art but also a huge number of paintings of high quality.

Mammoth Cave was our next visit and this tour, unlike the last, needed no guide but used the technology of mp3 player and headphones to guide us though the site and back via a beautiful bushwalk. The cave is really worth seeing and as the name suggests is gigantic but also has been a gold mine for fossil hunters and scientists. (That was a further 240 steps up and down).

We managed to squeeze in a visit to Evans & Tate Winery before closing time, sampled their wine and bought a little selection which they have agreed to ship back to Albert Park together with the Leeuwin Estate bottles.

Jesus said: 'Consider the lilies of the field......'
yes they do grow wild in the fields in WA
We now look forward to sitting by that logfire in the pub lounge again with a glass of red and to plan tomorrow's activities. What a life!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Day 14 Bunbury to Margaret River

After the doom and gloom of the prison world yesterday we rejoiced at kinder weather and a happier tourist agenda for today.

Our first task to explore the Cathedrals and to try and locate our old friend Fr Joe Hopkins. Joe trained at Morpeth with Ray and we had not seen each other since 1975. We were delighted to find him at work as an Archdeacon in the Diocesan office. We also met the new Bishop of Bunbury, Alan Ewing.  Joe and Wendy have 5 children all about the same age as ours or older.

St Boniface Cathedral (Anglican) is a small building with a rather peculiar reredos made from ceramics apparently depicting the Southern Cross. This particular piece of artwork was recently created after a dossel curtain caught on fire.  The Catholic Cathedral up the road is brand new and replaced the original building which had been destroyed by a cyclone.  The new Cathedral is absolutely stunning but again with a peculiar reredos artwork.  What is it about Cathedrals and the art behind the altar? Nevertheless this building is a gem - a great worship space and no expense seems to have been spared in creating a beautiful place of worship.

Interior of Catholic Cathedral

St Boniface Anglican Cathedral

Ray outside the new Catholic Cathedral

The Art Gallery of Bunbury is housed in an old Convent and contemporary exhibitions were less than inspiring. We then explored the harbourside and beach areas of Bunbury and the lookout and lighthouse.

After fish and chips by the beach we headed for Margaret River and stopped firstly on the way at Busselton. We were delighted with Busselton and so glad we took the time. There is a pier that is one mile long and an  impressive beachside precinct.

Busselton pier
Next stop was Yallingup Gallery, this is one of the best private galleries one can ever visit. It is literally full of quality works of art a mix of traditional and contemporary (that you can interpret) and lots of blown glass and  beautiful jewellery.

Arriving in Margaret River with the sun still shining we were delighted with our holiday unit at the pub. We took a stroll around the village and were surprised by the number of surf shops (so its not just about the wine!).

Main Street Margaret River

Margaret River Pub where we
found there was room at the Inn!

We look forward to being here now for two days and hope you will think of us as we now head off to the pub for a glass of red by the open fire!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 13 Fremantle

After picking up our hire car (a black Mitsubishi Lancer) we checked out and headed for Fremantle. Our main aim today was to visit the highly recommended tourist attraction - Fremantle Prison.  We decided to take the "Doing Time"  tour which was conducted by a charming (probably ex prison warder) who quickly identified us as Victorians and then admonished us for the sale of Pentridge to developers.  Fremantle Prison is now a  Heritage Site.

The prison was built by imported British Convict labour in the 1850's and was decommissioned in 1991. The guide told lots of stories and anecdotes and inspired us to take a second tour 1.25 hours later called "Great Escapes".

Prison Warder Tour Guide hands Glen an ablution bucket!
So we had a day of sad stories and some heroic escapes which is not all bad. The best escape as told by our afternoon guide is of the 'Fenians' - Irish political prisoners whose escape was organised by outsiders but carefully orchestrated over a period of 18 months and saw the whole six prisoners escape using a horse and buggy, a rowboat and a whaling boat that took them to a heroes welcome in New York! (There has got to be a film made about that sometime!)

After our 2.5 hours at the gaol we then went down to Harbourside where we visited the Roundhouse which was Fremantle's first prison.

Roundhouse Prison in the background
Mid afternoon the skies opened with heavy thunderstorms and flash flooding which accompanied us on our drive south to Bunbury. We arrived at our motel at just on dark - ready to relax.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day 12 - Sunday in Perth

Today we remember our dear Matthew died in a car accident 17 years ago on this day...and it was a Sunday too back then.

So it was appropriate to be able to worship at St George's Cathedral Perth on this day where the worship and music was lovely and the sermon by our old friend the Dean, John Shepherd, was truly inspriing. We were celebrating the feast of our Lady and John's message was scholarly, researched but very relevant. The Cathedral was full of people some of whom we joined for lunch at the Criterion Hotel afterwards. We shared a table with our own organist from St Silas Albert Park, Hume McGrath and his friend Paul Aldred. Also at the table were The Rev Jennifer Furphy and her husband, John, from Flinders Victoria.  It was a terrific lunch and great to catch up with all these people.

Inside the Cathedral after the service

After some shopping on the way back to the apartment Ray and Glenys headed out to the banks of the Swan River where we each did a little watercolour painting and had a stroll along the river.

Barrack Street Jetty - Swan River Perth

It has been a relaxing day and a lovely way to remember our Matty.

PS  We have updated two of our blogs...... as we now have the magic card reader to transfer Ray's photos to our little travelling notebook computer.

We can now show you -

Day 7 the coral trout caught by Ray at Broome and eaten later that day (sorry Rach!)
Day 11 we found the Swedish smorgasbord!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Day 11 - Discovering Perth

Thank you Mitch for becoming our first follower on this blog! And great to hear from Catherine.

Our day started with a very successful visit to Camera House where we purchased a "multi-card reader" that has enabled us to download or is it upload all Ray's photos from his new camera (the expert at the shop was most impressed with our cameras). 

Then it was happily on to the Art Gallery of Western Australia.  We were just in time to listen to a presentation by indigenous artists from Arnhem Land, one of whom yesterday was awarded the First Prize in a national competition of Indigenous Art. We really enjoyed this gallery for its variety of works the current exhibitions and the ambience of the spaces -both contemporary and heritage utilizing the old courthouse.
There are some great works by the Heidelberg school and other international artists of the 19th and 20th centuries but our favourite was a work by John Longstaff entitled "Breaking the News". Not far behind McCubbin's  famous "Down on his Luck".

Brass monkey hotel Northbridge

We explored the Northbridge area of Perth before boarding the free tourist bus and taking a circuitous east west ride to King's Park. By mid afternoon we were hungry so we dined in the cafetaria and then took in a lovely walk through the immaculate gardens. The highlights here were the WA wildflowers (starting to bloom for spring) and some magnificent Australian trees, boardwalk, water garden and the commanding views of the Swan River and of the city.

View of Perth from King's Garden
In King's Gardens

It started to rain as we hurriedly returned to our apartment with some basic supplies and this is the first rain we have seen since leaving Melbourne. The weather up until now has been very kind to us and even today, before the weather changed, was the hottest day in Perth for 2 months!

War Memorial King's Gardens
We headed out in the rain looking for somewhere to eat. Having walked the length of the Mall we decided that we were close enough to "Miss Maud's Swedish All You Can Eat Smorgasbord" and so Scandinavian it was!  Two hours later we staggered home with full bellies and very satisfied. The only surprise was that the bus driver's promise of all you can eat for $30 was a fair bit off mark when we went to pay the bill!. It was still worth it.

Day 10 - Rottnest to Perth

Our second day on Rottnest Island was very relaxing. Mounting our bicycles again with sore backsides from yesterday's big ride Glenys was heard to comment that the term "bums on seats" has just taken on new meaning! We had the bikes until 11am so decided to explore some other parts of the island not far from the settlement. We took some good photos on another stunning morning.

Bike riders

Among the highlights were seeing the little train running, then visiting the Museum, the Boatshed and Lomas Cottage - all staffed by pleasant and eager volunteers and we enjoyed hearing something of the interesting history of this Island.  The low point for us in the history of Rottnest was the fact that for many years it was a prison for aborigines, many of whom spent long cold months and years for petty crime and sometimes it would seem unproven misdemeanours.

Our last little bike foray (Ray being determined that we should climb EVERY hill on the island) was to the little settlement of Kingstown. This has been a military installation during wartime and is very well preserved these days for tourist accommodation.

Rottnest train

After returning our bikes we decided to use the majority of our remaining time on the island painting, sketching, relaxing and of course eating. Much to our surprise when the ferry arrived for our 4.30 pm departure people came from everywhere for the return journey. Clearly tradesmen and workers ending their week and lots of day tourists.

We were transferred from Fremantle to Barrack Street Pier in Perth by a very chirpy bus driver who not only entertained us and informed us but amazingly dropped us right at the door of Somerset Apartments where we are staying in Perth.

Accompaniments to Korean BBQ

Having settled in to our accommodation we headed out to explore the city and find an evening meal. We were looking for "Miss Maud's All You Can Eat Swedish Smorgasbord" as recommended by our bus driver but in the end we settled for Korean Barbeque (a much more realistic sized meal) and this turned out to be lots of fun as you cook the meat on your table and then load it into a lettuce leaf with rice and an amazing array of Korean delicacies and went back to Somerset apartments feeling very satisfied with ourselves.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day 9 - Cycling on Rottnest Island

After a lovely sunrise, enjoyed from the window of the bedroom in our villa, and a simple breakfast, we set off to pick up our hire bikes.  Since we arrived we have discovered that Rottnest Island is maximum tourist in summer and for schoolies etc. We are fortunate enough to be here in the off season with very good acceptable clear and warm weather in the day time. So on collecting our bikes we were amazed at seeing that the bike hire place has the largest collection of bicycles we have EVER seen in or lives - hundreds and hundreds.

We took off to circumnavigate the island.  It is a rugged but beautiful coastline, with very blue ocean and white sand and many inlets and secluded bays. We eventually arrived at West End at the opposite side of the island to where our accommodation is at about midday. Having taken our lunch we sat and looked over the vast Indian Ocean and were thrilled to see a whale spout in the mid distance (humpback whales are migrating past Rottnest at this time of the year).

Riding on we discovered the lighthouse at the highest point of the island and it is still in operation despite being built 1898.  We embarked on the lighthouse tour with a voluntary tour guide and a flock Korean students and climbed the massive spiral staircase to be rewarded with a fabulous view of the whole of the island. Again we are grateful that it has been an amazingly clear day and we could see the skyline of Perth CBD and the suburbs from many vantage points across the Ocean.  There are also several ships at any time  on their way in and our of Fremantle that we can see.


We settled at a vantage point to the lighthouse to finish our packed lunch and out came the watercolours and the sketch books to have a go at the lighthouse. Our creations appear below.
Roman Catholic Chapel

Returning to the settlement via a couple of inlets and bays and viewing points we parked the bicycles at our cabin and took off on foot to explore more of the village.  The Anglican services are held in an ancient chapel (once part of a home for boys) and the Roman Catholic church has built a more recent but delightful Chapel which was most impressive for visitors - including an invitation to ring the 8 carillion style bells - which of course we did!

Ray's Watercolour

Glenys' sketch

We returned to our Villa and cooked up a nice little feast for dinner which was accompanied by a good bottle of local red wine.