Monthly Archives: November 2022

Day 189 – Tuesday, 29 November 2022

The alarm went off at 8:30am but I was already awake. It is incredible how much light comes through into the van when the awning is not open.

I had a quick word with mum while Russ was busy outside striking camp and was pleased to hear that she was feeling a bit better than yesterday. We cut our conversation short when she had a visitor.

It was a beautiful sunny day and the temperature had risen to 26 degrees when we left the caravan park and Ravensthorpe at 9:59am for the last time on this trip.

We turned onto the South Coast Highway and the road conditions hadn’t miraculously changed overnight. In fact, they continued almost all the way to Esperance 187 kilometres away. In several places they had applied speed restrictions because the road surface was so badly mauled. It was a very scary proposition to overtake a loaded road train in these circumstances.

Once we had traversed the hills of the Ravensthorpe Range we were most definitely into wheat and cattle country, and the scenery was much flatter than previously.

We went past one dead Eastern Brown snake and a dead fox. We came across Poot Street (almost common after some of the other names in the area), Munglinup township and River, Monjingup and Coomalbidgup – who thinks of these names??

We finally arrived at the Bushlands Holiday Village (caravan park) around 1:10pm. It is in a bush setting and we are about five kilometres out of Esperance which is marvellous as there is little road noise.

However, although we are in a 5G area for Telstra there is no signal worth a cracker in the caravan park. It is going to be a long seven days without any internet connection. At least texting works, and hopefully there should be no interruptions to the phone signal.

We set up camp and had lunch before we put out the awning and put down the shade matting. The area is a very fine white sand, and from past experience, it will get into and onto everything.

After that we went into town to buy some water as neither of us were able to finish our cuppas at lunch time, even after double filtering the water. It was just horrible.

While at Woolworths I grabbed some fresh multi-grain rolls and a hot chook for tea.

I have finished inputting the diary into the computer, so it is now ready for printing. However, in order to send it out and post the photos we will need to go into town near one of the areas where coverage is superb. At least we will be in the right place to post the letters.

Russ is getting antsy and is talking about longer drives across the Nullabor Plains. I had scheduled just over 200 kilometres per day between roadhouses, but we may just pass some of them and continue on.

Day 188 – Monday, 28 November 2022

We woke up just before the alarm went off this morning. I quickly showered and put all the towels in for their weekly wash while Russ had his shower.

When he rang mum to talk with her she said she was not feeling real good so he told her to concentrate on getting better and that he would ring her the next day and rang off. It was a short conversation.

On our last day in Ravensthorpe, we headed out to see some of the Farm Gate Art Trail. We headed down the Ravensthorpe-Hopetoun Road and stopped at each place with the artworks. We were then so close to Hopetoun that Russ decided it was too good an opportunity not to wash Hornet while we were there. It is incredible just how dusty he gets when we travel on gravel roads.

Some of the Farm Gate artworks were very interesting and extremely creative. While photographing the Franke Family gates I was enthusiastically greeted by their pet Labrador who finally had a captive audience. He jumped up so much that I could only get one of the gates in the photo and gave the second gate up as a bad idea. He then wagged his way to the car to make Russ’ acquaintance.

Much of the art has been created using many of the different discarded implement used on farms, and in way that astound when you look at them. Queen Beatrice, for instance, is a 1938 Fargo truck loaded up with wildflowers and so named because she was found in amongst trees full of bees.

The Watering Can is another that is striking in appearance and very large. It started life as a field bin and has been prettied up with lots of painted flowers and sits on the corner of the farm clearly visible to passing traffic.

While I was taking my photos I laughed to see a caravan go past, slow down, do a u-turn and come back, perform another u-turn and then stop to get out and take a photo. The guy I spoke with had never heard of the Farm Gate Art Trail, so I provided him with as much information as I had to hand, and he was very intrigued at the idea there were more of them along his travel route.

We passed three stumpy-tail lizards, one blue tongue lizard and one quail standing in the middle of the road. We also have finally found a bitumen road that is in terrible condition with severely broken edges and large, deep potholes. This is the South Coast Highway to the east of Ravensthorpe and is used by many trucks from the nearby mine. The road is obviously not made to handle the weight and constant source of traffic.

We also passed by Nindilbillup Road which is where we came across the Shoemaker Levy Mine outside of Ravensthorpe (the mine I wrote about above).

Shoemaker Levy is the name of the Ravensthorpe facility which is a laterite nickel operation producing around 30,000 tonnes per annum of a mixed nickel-cobalt hydroxide intermediate product used in the production of nickel sulphate.

Nickel sulphate is a key material in lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.

Around 650 people work at the Ravensthorpe operations, with the new orebody expected to extend the mine’s life by at least 20 years.

Since being restarted by First Quantum Minerals (FQM) in 2011, the operations have had nickel sales of 202,782 tonnes and cobalt sales of 7,527 tonnes.

Three of the operation’s 18-megawatt steam turbines generate power using waste heat from the mine’s production process.

The mine is generally known as the Ravensthorpe Nickel Mine, and describes both the mine and associated plant. Halley’s and Hale-Bopp are two nickel deposits on Bandalup Hill next to the processing plant. Halley’s is presently being mined.

Shoemaker-Levy is a nearby deposit on the north side of the South Coast Highway. Some sources call Halley’s, the Bandalup Hill Mine after its geographic location. In 2002 BHP initiated a feasibility study on opening a nickel/cobalt mine here, 27 kilometres east of Ravensthorpe. Construction commenced in 2004 and production started in 2008. Nickel would be extracted by the Pressure Acid Leaching (PAL) process. This method was introduced into Western Australia in the early 1970’s and resulted in several nickel mines closing. The technology did not suite Western Australian conditions, resulting in higher costs than expected. In 2004, BHP had estimated a construction cost of $1.3 million. By November 2006 it had spent $2.2 billion. In January 2009, less than a year after opening, BHP announced the sudden closure of the mine. 1800 workers lost their job, and the closure had a severe impact on the small community of Ravensthorpe resulting in widespread and severe criticism in the media. Several senior executives involved with the project were removed. In December 2009, Canadian miner, First Quantum Minerals (FQM) purchased the mine/plant for $340 million US, and production started again early 2012.

Once we arrived back at the van we had some afternoon tea then took down the awning, folded the chairs and packed them all into the canopy ready for tomorrow.

I caught up with Ken (Caravan Park Manager) and asked whether bookings could be made for the Wildflower Festival time but he said it remained the same as now – first in, best dressed.

Day 187 – Sunday, 27 November 2022

Today we had a day at the van in an endeavour to catch up with some chores. Robert rang around 8:00am to ask after mum and we took the time to catch up with the local news.

Sometime later mum rang but the reception was horrible, so Russ rang her back and was then able to talk with her for a while. He then rang Lyn and Peter for a quick catch-up.

In the meantime, I caught up with putting the diary into the computer. The day was overcast with a cool breeze, and the sun shone intermittently.

Janelle rang and spoke with Russ while I prepared and cooked tea.

Day 186 – Saturday, 26 November 2022

At 9:41am when we left the caravan park the temperature was 17 degrees and overcast. It made it up to 20 degrees but remained overcast for most of the day and didn’t feel very warm.

We stopped at several places along the way and had a late lunch at Bremer Bay way down the bottom of the FRNP on the western side.

The caravan park we saw at Bremer Bay (it has two) has lovely green grass sites and was almost full. We discovered along the way that Bremer Bay is hosting a Surf Carnaval over the weekend which would explain it.

It is one of WA’s more isolated holiday destinations, but Bremer Bay is home to some of our most breathtaking natural wonders that make the trip very worthwhile. It has a population of 270 people.

The tourist blurb goes something like this: A hotspot for majestic orcas, colourful sea life, protected white beaches and beautiful WA wildflowers, this quaint town is a nature lover’s dream, no matter the time of year.

It did have nice scenery, but we did not spend enough time there to make any further assumptions.

Once we had left the South Coast Highway and turned south to the park we only encountered two vehicles travelling in the opposite direction. One was a car and the other was a truck.

However, the wildlife was plentiful.

We saw nine emus in a paddock – that dad had done an amazing job of nurturing his chicks to almost adulthood. There were another ten emus at separate times crossing the road in front of us, two kangaroos, three wedge-tailed eagles flying overhead (but much too high for photos), three dead snakes, one (very alive with photos) red-bellied black snake, one eastern brown snake (too quick), two mallee fowls (we couldn’t believe our eyes as we have never sighted them around Hattah in all the years we have driven the area), three stumpy tailed lizards, about one hundred cabbage butterflies, and one Water Across the Road where we had to turn around and find an alternate route.

We finally arrived back in Ravensthorpe around 5:00pm which made it an exceptionally long day. In all we covered 421 kilometres. It is mind boggling to remember that in Victoria this would have taken us from Mildura to Shepparton, but here we had not even left the district.

Day 185 – Friday, 25 November 2022

We had a late start this morning. After my very early rise yesterday the body decided it needed to sleep in. When I finally woke up, thanks to the garbage truck emptying the bins outside the caravan, I got up and had my shower while Russ spoke with mum.

The sun was shining, and when we left the park it was 24 degrees.

The idea today was to follow one of the noted scenic drives (for which we had good direction) and to stop along the way if so desired for photos. However, Russ had a brainwave (without consultation until he started to implement it) and decided to leave off the first drive at one place which intersected with another of the drives at that point.

We left the designated gravel track and put Hornet into 4WD LOW which should give you some indication of the incline and bumps encountered, thinking we were on our way to Archer’s Lookout.

At the end of a slow and reasonably steep incline we arrived at the Communications Tower not the Lookout. It did, however, have the most awesome views across the valley, and a couple of flowers. When we had our fill of the scenery we jumped back into the car, turned around, and headed down the reasonably steep incline to get back to the designated track.

But wait, there’s more!

We were driving along the spine of the Ravensthorpe Range and did eventually come to Archer’s Lookout, where we had our lunch. This is where we were supposed to return to Floater Road, a very nice gravel road. But we went the other way further along the Ravensthorpe Range Drive.

However, the directions in the second leaflet left a lot to be desired. We took what we thought was the correct right-hand turn down from the spine and I wasn’t very impressed as it was very steep (think 50% incline with many big corrugations) and spent the entire downward journey hanging onto the Panic Bar with a death grip and praying quietly.

When we finally reached the bottom of the incline even Russ stated that it was not what he had expected it to be, and it was dicey. We then turned onto a more level and straight section of the road only to discover that we had come down a track of the Enduro Club – for EXPERTS!!!!!

Russ and Hornet did a remarkable job.

Rather than go back up the track to get onto the Spine drive (a thought not to be contemplated) we headed along the Enduro track, going in the wrong direction if it had been a race day for the Enduro Club. Eventually we came to a safe, normal 4WD gravel road and were able to change down to 4WD High and followed it until we hit the bitumen once again.

After many detours because they are doing extensive roadworks for one of the local mines (huge, big piles of granite boulders everywhere, in one direction across the old road surface effectively blocking it off completely) we reached the bitumen and made it safely back into Ravensthorpe.

Russ informed me that in all that time we had only travelled 64.2 kilometres, but I can assure you it felt like 642 kilometres.

Along the way (on safer sections of road) on two separate occasions, we came across an unusual lizard. Nick (thank you) has provided me with its name correct name and common one – Tiliqua Occipitalis or Western Blue Tongue Lizard. The banding around its body is different to the one we are more familiar with in our usual neck of the woods, and it has a pointed tail.

The highest point of our journey was at the communication tower which was 440 metres. After the hairy descent – who cares how high we got!

Day 184 – Thursday, 24 November 2022

The heat from yesterday cooled overnight and we left the windows open to promote air flow and listen to the frog in the lake at the caravan park. Unfortunately, one of the vans in the park left around 5:00am and woke me up, and the light coming into the van was very bright, so I closed over all the shades, but the damage had been done. I got out of bed at 5:30am admitting defeat in the attempt to go back to sleep, but Russ slept on and woke up at 8:30am.

We spoke with mum who had finished her lunch (different time zones is weird) and she was in fine form. After that we printed out the diary and prepared for our first foray around Ravensthorpe.

We left the caravan park at 10:12am and were on our way to visit Hopetoun with the temperature sitting on 25 degrees. When we got to

Hopetoun we checked out the IGA store, but they had neither the Vicks Vapour Drops for Russ or any of the mixed nuts we enjoy. It is a scenic place with beaches of fine white sand and is very popular in the summer months. It has a population of 1,115 people (compared with Ravensthorpe’s 850) but upon approaching the township it looks heaps smaller and is spread out across a wide area.

We then toured along the Hamersley Drive in the Fitzgerald River National Park (FRNP) and stopped off at a few of the beach lookouts. We had lunch at 4-Mile Beach in very pleasant surroundings with a gentle breeze and sunshine.

Along the way we occasionally stopped to take photos of flowers also, in particular the Royal Hakea which is astounding to look at and it is not even in proper season – June to August. I can only imagine the awesome scene when they are on full display in Springtime, stretching out across the heath plains in all directions. The plant got its name because of the amazing array of colour on its leaves, some of which we got, and it is a glorious sight.

The other plants of interest were the Adenanthos Venusa (no common name) the Regelia Velutina (Barren’s Regelia and looks a bit like a bottlebrush) and the Beaufortia Decussata (Gravel Bottlebrush).

We then left the bitumen sections and went onto the gravel part of the Drive, Russell’s favourite type of driving these days, and headed back through other parts of the National Park.

Many of the side roads are closed in an effort to beat dieback, which is caused by a pathogen known as Phytophthora cinnamon, which is lethal to hundreds of plant species. It kills the plants by destroying their root systems.

The pathogen thrives in warm, moist soil and can be easily spread in mud or soil that adheres to vehicle tyres or bush walker’s footwear. The FRNP is one of the parks least infected by dieback in south-western Australia.

The Fitzgerald River NP is a botanical wonderland renowned for its rugged and spectacular scenery. It is one of the largest parks in Australia (and least known by the common people from what we have

heard) with 330,000 hectares of unspoiled wilderness. It forms the core of the Fitzgerald Biosphere region.

In June 2017 the Heritage Listed NP retained its international significance as one of the most important flora areas in the world. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recognised the park as the core of an expanded Biosphere Reserve. The boundary of the Fitzgerald Biosphere changed from 330,000 hectares to now cover 1.5 million hectares.

Biosphere Reserves are sites established by countries and recognized under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme to promote sustainable development based on local community efforts and sounds science. Biospheres include both land and water.

It is recognised for its great diversity of vegetation communities and flora. Up to 20% of WA’s plant species occur here, and just under 10% of Australia’s plant species are here.

Australia ranks very highly for botanical diversity supported by sheer volume of plant species. The Fitzgerald Biosphere is one of 34 global hotspots, and some of the plant species can only be found in this area.

The diversity exists in this region because of the complexity of landforms and soils found across the Biosphere – woodlands, shrublands and kwongan (type of plant) heathland. Many of the kwongan plants are considered either rare or endangered.

The FRNP is one of the most flora and fauna rich conservation areas in WA, recognised globally for its natural diversity (the 20%) with 22 mammal species, 41 reptile species, and more than 200 bird species. We won’t even get into the plants.

Much of the rugged scenery and pristine coastline is accessible by 2WD. 4WD tracks are signposted, whilst the central wilderness is only accessible on foot. The central wilderness area acts as a divider between two recreational areas of the park – east and west.

Point Ann is on the western side of the park and is a natural whale nursery and popular whale watching spot between July and October. Caravan, large buses and motor homes are not permitted on the unsealed roads within the park.

We passed several of the mountains on our journey, such as Thumb Peak, Woolberup Hill and East Mount Barren. The scenery along the coastline areas was spectacular, and the inland section was very rugged with well maintained gravel roads. The temperature reached its peak at 2:10pm and was sitting at 30 degrees. In all we travelled 175 kilometres.

Day 183 – Wednesday, 23 November 2022

This morning Russ was fighting a migraine so took things slowly. We had a peaceful night without noise or lights shining through windows.

I washed all the bedding, including the polar fleece blanket, and put summer sheets on the bed. It was a good move as the temperature 33 degrees.

Russ spoke with mum who told him that the resident cat at respite care, Penny, wandered into her room yesterday and one of the staff passing by her room at the time came in and placed Penny on her bed where she promptly curled up and went to sleep for an hour or so.

After lunch we put out the awning to provide some shade from the sunshine on the windows and then headed into town to the Visitor Information Centre, which is also the museum.

The lovely lady on duty provided me with heaps of offerings among which are several self-drive tours of the area.

While Russ slept (with the air conditioner on) I updated the diary in the computer ready for printing and read many of the pamphlets that I was

given. We definitely don’t have enough time here in Ravensthopre to do everything of interest that is available. They have an amazing booklet for the two-week period of the Ravensthorpe Wildflower Festival, offering Tag-Along Tours to places where they are flowering, Workshops (for those who are more interested in that type of things), Walks with birdies, walk with wildflower people, orchid hunting etc. Lots to do in September next year.

In 1848, the Ravensthorpe area was first surveyed by then State Surveyor-General John Septimus Roe. Ravensthorpe was initially known as the Phillips River Goldfield. It is known that the brothers Dunn James, John, Robert and Walter, first came to the region in 1868 and leased the pastoral property of Cocanarup to establish a sheep station. Farming infrastructure was erected on the Phillips River and stores were brought in from Mary Ann Haven (now Hopetoun).

During an incident in 1880, John Dunn was speared and died of his wounds.

His brother James Dunn found gold at Annabel Creek and was given a reward claim by the government in 1898. This was the start of the Phillips River Goldfield which brought many other prospectors into the district, amongst which were Taylor, Dance and McKenzie.

These prospectors set up a camp which they called Hawk’s Nest, halfway between the Floater and Cattlin mines. Eventually, the town of Ravensthorpe was surveyed in 1900 and gazetted in 1901 with the Shire around it covering some 13,151 square km.

The gold rush resulted in the development of gold and copper mining in or around Ravensthorpe Range. Mining has continued spasmodically over the years.

The population of Ravensthorpe and the Goldfield peaked in 1911, when (according to police records) 2,011 people lived there, mostly associated with gold mining.

Agriculture continued to grow after the depression in the nineteen-thirties and with further land releases in the nineteen sixties and seventies, remains the principal industry of the area.

A timeline of events follows:

In 1802 Matthew Flinders in the “Investigator” charts the south coast.

In 1841 John Eyre walks through the area near the coast, while exploring from South Australia to Albany (WA).

In 1870 John Forrest surveys near coast for Perth/Adelaide telegraph line.

In 1871 Mary Ann Haven is named by whaler Mr Thomas after his daughter. John Dunn takes three months to bring sheep overland from Albany to Cocanarup with his brother George.

In 1873 Dunn brothers were formally granted 4049 hectares.

In 1880 John Dunn was killed by Wudjari people.

In 1882 the first white women visited Cocanarup (Elizabeth & Eliza Dunn and a Miss Gillam).

In 1896 Eliza Dunn comes to Cocanarup to housekeep for her brothers.

In 1898 James Dunn finds gold at Annabel Creek and is given a reward claim. The Phillips River Goldfield is designated.

In 1899 Prospectors arrive at Hawks Nest near Cattlin Creek. Dallison brothers find gold at “Harbour View” Kundip.

In 1900 Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun surveyed and gazetted in 1901. Mary Ann Haven renamed Mary Ann Harbour.

In 1901 the Metropolitan Hotel and a general store were built in Hopetoun. Population of Ravensthorpe reached 500 and school opens with 19 students. Hopetoun is established and a small jetty constructed. Ravensthorpe named after the surrounding Ravensthorpe Range. Hopetoun was named after the first Governor General, the Earl of Hopetoun.

Also in that year, the survey and construction of No 1. Rabbit Proof Fence (1822 kilometres) commenced.

Arthur Chambers and Dave Neil plant first crop of wheat in 1902.

In 1903 a trial copper smelter was built near Hawks Nest. Phillips River Road Board was formed.

In 1904 the State Government built a smelter near Cordingup Gap on Esperance road.

In 1905 the No 2 smelter was built on Hopetoun Road. The mine manager’s house and a hospital were also built in Ravensthorpe. It celebrated the first gold mining at Hatters Hill.

The smelter was sold to private company in 1906 and the Commercial Hotel was built in Ravensthorpe.

In 1908 the Bank of WA builds premises in Ravensthorpe, and the following year a Railway line opens between Hopetoun and Ravensthorpe.

In 1916 the Phillips River Road Board offices burnt down, and in 1921 the Copper smelters and mines closed. Most prospectors moved away (mines continued to operate, depending on the price of copper until 1971).

In 1930 the Great Depression was experienced and there was a general exodus from the land.

In 1931 Claude de Bernales company commenced diamond drilling at Kundip, while in 1936 the Hopetoun Ravensthorpe Railway closed.

In 1937 Hopetoun Port closes and shipping through Hopetoun ceases. The following year the Ravensthorpe hospital closed.

In 1943 Salmon fishing began at 12 Mile Beach, east of Hopetoun.

In 1947 the Salmon cannery was built at Hopetoun. The wheat bin was erected in Carlisle Street, Ravensthorpe, and an Ambulance was donated for local use.

1948 saw the first school bus service in the district, while by 1950 a weekly bus service ran from Perth to Ravensthorpe.

On the 26 June 1956 snow fell in Ravensthorpe.

Elverdton and Cattlin copper mines re-opened in 1958; Ravensthorpe Copper NL built 38 houses in Ravensthorpe, and the hospital re-opened.

In 1960 there was a land boom with 325 farm blocks allocated throughout Munglinup, Jerdacuttup, Fitzgerald and North Ravensthorpe. The local schools were established.

In 1961 the Phillips River Road Board becomes Ravensthorpe Shire Council. The following year the sheep and cattle sale yards were built, and the aerodrome was surveyed northwest of Ravensthorpe.

In 1967 a new courthouse and police station were built at Ravensthorpe, and CBH builds the covered grain storage facilities in Dance Street. The following year the Bank of NSW built new premises in Morgan Street, and the town water scheme and reticulation opened.

In 1971 the Ravensthorpe School was upgraded to Junior High School, and the Elverdton mine closed.

Fitzgerald National Park was gazetted in 1973.

1976 saw the opening of the new Shire Hall. First resident doctor commenced practise (KO Danker). All phones were now automatic STD.

By 1977 all main roads in the shire were sealed and the SEC power was supplied in Hopetoun.

In 1978 the Fitzgerald River National Park was declared an International Biosphere Area by UNESCO. Mains water supply began for Hopetoun.

In 1979 the Ravensthorpe Senior Citizens Centre opened. “Back to Ravensthorpe” celebrations coincide with State’s 150th anniversary.

The first annual Ravensthorpe Wildflower Show was held in 1981, and in 1985 (a momentous year for locals!) the ABC TV was available via satellite.

In 1996 the community swimming pool opened in Ravensthorpe, while 2000 saw flooding in Ravensthorpe.

In 2001 a Richter 5.4 earthquake occurred at Jerdacuttup.

In 2005 with the BHP Billiton construction phase, population significantly increased in Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun. A new airport was built between the towns and air service commenced.

2008 saw the official opening ceremony for BHP Billiton’s Ravensthorpe Nickel Project. Official opening of the Ravensthorpe Entertainment Centre.

In 2009 operations at BHP Billiton’s Ravensthorpe Nickel Project was suspended and approximately 1800 jobs lost. Air Service ceased at the Ravensthorpe Airport. Official opening of Galaxy Resources Limited.

In 2010 the Ravensthorpe Nickel Operations was sold to First Quantum Minerals Australia Pty Ltd. Galaxy Resources Ltd were mining spodumene for lithium at Hawk’s Nest. [Spodumene is a pyroxene mineral and a source of lithium which occurs as colourless to yellowish-green or emerald-green crystals, often of great size. (Pyroxenes are a group of important rock-forming minerals found in many igneous and metamorphic rocks.)]

In 2014 a Major tourist development in Fitzgerald River National Park was completed, and the following year the Heavy Haulage Route (bypass) at Ravensthorpe commenced and was completed in December.

Day 182 – Tuesday, 22 November 2022

The sun was shining brightly this morning when the alarm went off, and it continued to shine all day which was wonderful.

We left Mt Barker at 10:03am and the temperature was already nineteen degrees. We spoke with mum earlier and she appears to be settling in nicely and getting to know some of the staff.

We parked the van in a layby down the main street and walked to the Post Office to post the birthday card for Lucus. Hopefully it will get there before his birthday on 1 December.

Then we returned to the chemist where we were told the delivery truck was late and my script hadn’t arrived yet. While Mandy was ringing to see how long it would be before arrival in Mt Barker, it was there. The delivery driver carted four loaded trolleys into the storeroom, and it was another twenty-five minutes before my script was located.

We certainly got our exercise for the day by the time we had returned, down the hill thankfully, to the waiting car and van.

We finally left Mt Barker at 10:40am and the temperature had risen to 22 degrees. We followed the road previously taken to get to the Stirling Ranges – Chester Pass Road – and stopped to have our lunch at the small town of Borden.

Just before we arrived at Borden we had a kangaroo bound out across the highway in between us and the oncoming road train. It was a scary minute or two.

There appears to be no rail link in the town and the joint was hopping as continuous road trains pulled up to be filled with grain to empty the storage bin before the new crop arrives. It looks like being a bumper crop, too.

We travelled a further eight kilometres north from Borden before turning east, so we are now officially on the last legs before heading across the Nullabor in a fortnight’s time.

The road we travelled after turning east was the Gnowangerup-Jerramungup Road (I kid you not!) which became the South Coast Highway at Jerramungup although we are a good seventy kilometres from the coast.

Our total kilometres travelled so far on this trip, both with and without the van attached, is 20,325. The further east we travelled the more the scenery became reminiscent of Victoria’s Mallee – much like the countryside around Ouyen without the hills and the crops are much larger.

We came across one eastern brown snake that was attempting to cross the highway. We missed it but I am not sure that the two motorbikes travelling in the opposite direction would have done so.

The distance we covered today was 292 kilometres with a head wind at some stages, and the entire journey was up hill and down dale. Surprisingly our fuel economy wasn’t too bad at 15.2 litres per 100 kilometres travelled.

Mt Barker sits at 244 metres above sea level and Ravensthorpe sits at 219 metres above sea level. However, our lowest point was 114 metres above sea level around Porongurup, and the highest point reached was 327 metres above sea level travelling through Needilup.

So now we come to more of the funny names of roads and places passed during the day’s journey.

Twoompup is a small town near Ongerup and has a population of 13 residents. It does, however, lie very close to the Australian Malleefowl Centre at Yongergnow.

We passed Chillinup Road and later on Chittowurup Road and then found Carlapuc Pool in the nearby Coconarup Timber Reserve (mallee trees and not a one of them would be higher than eight feet). Then last, but not least we have Twertatup Creek, Quagitup Road, and a property called Gonna Do Farm.

Ravensthorpe Caravan Park has proven to be a little gem of a place. There are sites under trees and sites in the sunshine. We were advised to arrive, find a site that suited us, and in the evening someone would be around to collect our fees, which was Ken. He was very welcoming when he discovered we would be here for seven nights and not just passing through. They also provide a stay seven, pay six nights which was an added bonus.

Day 181 – Monday, 21 November 2022

First thing this morning we spoke with mum. Ann sent a text advising that she has Covid for the second time and is on anti-viral medication and was feeling better than previously. Trev is still good.

Today it was a beautiful sunny day at Mt Barker. I washed all the towels and hung them out on the line to dry before we headed to Albany and the Bird Walk at Lake Seppings. At 10:17am when we left the temperature was 17 degrees.

On the way through town, we put my scripts into the chemist for pick up on the way back.

We travelled to Albany a different way via Porongurup which is a very scenic drive. We passed a dead snake on the road.

As we travelled we saw the sign, once again, for The Lily which is an accommodation place for tourists (if you have a lot of money) but sounds fascinating.

The Lily Windmill is an authentic 16th Century design brick “ground-sail” mill on the property. The five-story full size Dutch Windmill, with its 22 Ton cap and a sail length of 24.6 meters, is one of the largest traditional windmills ever built in Australia. The mill is a fully operational windmill producing wholemeal stone-ground Spelt flour for their own kitchen and home users around Australia can buy the product.

According to their blurb, ‘It is a well-known fact that wholemeal flour is far superior in nutritional value than white flour. At The Lily we produce only wholemeal Spelt flour without removing or adding anything to the flour in the process.’

Adjacent to the windmill you can find 16th Century replica Dutch Houses and the reconstructed 1924 Federation style Railway Station from Gnowangerup, the local Shire, is the Reception and entrance area for guests.

The Lily has been selected as one of the 10 best self-contained accommodations in the Footprint – West Coast Australia Handbook and is (as previously stated) expensive accommodation unless it is for a special occasion.

All the accommodation is unique and private. Each has its own outside seating area and is fully self-contained. High quality linen and towels are provided. Firewood is supplied for the Scandinavian wood heaters. There’s also reverse cycle Air Conditioning.

The bathroom has a hairdryer, iron and ironing board. There’s TV (all major channels) and DVD, radio/CD player, books, games, DVD’s and CD’s.

The kitchen is well equipped, with fridge, stove, microwave and cooking essentials such as (real) coffee, tea, sugar, milk, spices, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

A washing machine and dryer are available on site. There is Telstra mobile reception. Free WI-FI is available. Also, an electric Car Charging station, 3-Phase and Tesla.

Breakfast Baskets are available for our accommodation guests (7-days).

Their latest accommodation addition is a DAKOTA – DC-3 (C-47) – $289 a night for two people.

Restoration on the Dakota (DC-3 or rather the military version, the C-47) began in September 2012. This aircraft is one of the thousands manufactured for the war effort and built in the USA in 1943/44. It was delivered to the Dutch East Indies in 1944 and did service in Indonesia, New Guinea and Australia.

In her day, she was a technological marvel and is still one of the most iconic and successful planes ever build. As far as the people at The Lily know, this is the only Dakota short term accommodation in the world.

On to Albany, which is a big tourist destination and heaps larger than when we visited fifteen years ago.

Before European settlement, the Albany region was inhabited principally by the Menang Aborigines of the larger Noongar group. The area was called Kinjarling which means “place of rain”. Evidence of an Aboriginal presence in the area dates back to about 25,000 years.

The first recorded European sighting of our southern coastline was made in 1627 by Dutch mariner, Peter Nuyts. In 1791, British naval officer George Vancouver claimed the area for the British Crown naming King George the Third’s Sound and Princess Royal Harbour. Informed by Vancouver’s charts and journal, British navigator Matthew Flinders resurveyed the coastline in 1802.

Voyages of scientific discovery by the French paralleled the British, including the expeditions of Joseph-Antoine Bruny d’Entrecasteaux (1792), Louis de Freycinet and Nicolas Baudin (1803) and Jules Dumont d’Urville (1826).

In December 1826, Major Edmund Lockyer arrived on the brig Amity to establish a military outpost at Mammang-Koort/ King George Sound. On the 21st of January 1827, an official ceremony was held proclaiming the foundation of the first settlement in Western Australia.

In 1832, Sir James Stirling, governor of the Swan River Colony visited the settlement, renaming Lockyer’s preferred ‘Frederick’s Town’ to

‘Albany’, both names recognising Frederick Augustus, Duke of York and Albany.

Albany quickly established itself as an important and strategic coaling port for steamships delivering a regular mail service, cargo and passengers from Europe, vessels taking on coal and water supplies before sailing to the eastern colonies. The first exports derived from early sealing and bay whaling operations in the 1830s and ‘40s soon made way for other industries.

Jetties were built, shipping agencies established, and services provided, evidenced by the construction of hotels, shops, banks, houses and a post office, customs and courthouse building, all of which began appearing along Stirling Terrace and the waterfront in the 1850s.

The discovery of gold in the state’s eastern goldfields in the 1880s and the construction, then the opening of the Great Southern Railway in 1889 brought further expansion to the region with rapid increases in population, commerce and industries such as agriculture. Early exports of whale oil, sealskins, wool, sheep and horses expanded to include perishables of meat, fruit and vegetables.

Community services associated with education, entertainment, religion, health, sport and municipal administration emerged and grew, and by the end of the 1880s, schools, theatres, churches, a hospital and town hall were prominent landmarks in the town.

Albany is one of the few, if not the only place in the world where evidence exists of pelagic (relating to the open sea), bay and shore-based whaling practices. In 1952, the Cheyne Beach Whaling Company began its operations at Frenchman Bay, continuing until November 1978 when it made history as the last whaling station to close in Australia.

Albany’s natural landforms and expansive views over the deep, sheltered waters of Mammang-Koort/ King George Sound and smaller inner harbour, gave it strategic importance as a defensive port.

Vital to the 19th-century communication routes from Europe to Australia, shipping was offered safe and protected anchorage in local waters. Colonial concerns around international tensions, the vulnerability of the port and the need to protect shipping lanes saw

coastal defences established on Mt Adelaide in 1892 with the construction of Princess Royal Fortress and the Plantagenet Battery.

Albany was crucial to the Australian coastal defence system during two world wars, being the departure point for two convoys of transports carrying Australian and New Zealand troops to the First World War at the end of 1914 and as a United States submarine base in 1942. (I didn’t know that!)

We first went to Middleton Beach and saw some well-fed Laughing Doves – beautiful colours on their feathers. We then went to the Lake Seppings car park and had our lunch before heading out around the lake.

Stef rang me while we were walking to tell us that it was snowing in her backyard at Ballarat.

Lake Seppings has an interesting history. The lake was declared a Botanic Garden in 1888, and in 1900 it had been named Albany Park and protected as a natural wetland.

Somewhere between 1900 and 1970 the lake became a Rubbish Tip – so much for protection. However, in 1972 the Department of Fisheries and Fauna recommended the lake become a Waterfowl Reserve.

Contrary to that advise, in 1973 the Albany Council investigated the possibility of discharging treated sewerage into the Lake. Thankfully, this did not happen and in the 1980s the Apex Park of Albany started work on the Bird Walk around the lake.

So, in 2000 the Albany community suggested that the lake be protected and restored, and by 2004 the circuit trail was completed. The level of the lake is controlled by using excess water on the adjacent Golf Course.

We both enjoyed the walk and were accompanied by a mild, cool breeze which added to the pleasant experience. We took lots of photos and got shots of a New Holland Honeyeater, Pacific Black Ducks, Straw-Necked Ibis, Laughing Kookaburra and a Red-Capped Parrot. There were some flowers and scenery along the way and on the final leg of the walk we came across a Motorbike Frog.

Back in Mt Barker we went in to pick up my scripts, but they advised me that my Motilium was not in stock but should be delivered by 9:30am tomorrow morning, so I paid for everything, and we went back to the van.

The washing on the line was dry and then we took down the awning in preparation for our move to Ravensthorpe tomorrow. For most of the next week we will probably be using the air conditioner as it is expected to be high twenties to middle thirties.

The Mildura Apex Caravan Park is now under water as is the Lawn Tennis Courts and much of the jetty. On our weather station at the house, it has recorded almost two inches of rain during the last six days.

Day 180 – Sunday, 20 November 2022

Lots of chores to be done today. I also did some bulk cooking to be frozen in the Engel along with the washing and Russ proceeded with the cleaning of the ensuite. The bed linen will get changed either tomorrow or Tuesday depending on the weather.

I spent some time chatting with Jeannie for a catchup, and Russ spoke with mum.

The afternoon was a lovely lazy time (and this is possibly the shortest entry ever).