Brisbane, QLD

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


The second stage of our APT "Western Wildflower Wonderland Tour" started in Perth and was going north as far as Monkey Mia (which had been on my bucket list for years). The first stop was New Norcia named after a town in Italy. However, it was established by two Spanish monks in 1847. It was a mission for the local aborigines. It is the only monastic town in Australia. It was amazing coming into this Spanish town in the middle of nowhere.  
There were many interesting buildings built in the spanish style.                     

 The Monastery is still in use by the Benedictine monks and is the only building out of bounds to visitors.

 The Abbey Church

 There were two boarding schools, St Gertrudes and St Ildephonsus one for girls and the other for boys. Over the years they have been used as colleges but no longer. Now they are used for accommodation and functions. It was also used for the 'stolen generation'  A dark part of our history, where aboriginal children were forcibly taken from their parents by the government to supposedly protect them and educate them.

The Education Centre

 This used to be a convent but now it is Museum and Art Gallery as well as the Visitor Centre. There is an amazing collection of religious art by European masters and contemporary Australian artists.

The Hotel
It is still owned by the monks and provides the traditional Benedictine hospitality. There is Abby Ale and New Norcia wine. Also in this town there is a library, old flour mill, bakery and olive workshop. They are all in good condition and still owned and operated by the monks.  

 Opposite the museum the ground was carpeted with flowers for as far as you could see and surrounding a brand new, large clean toilet block.
A close up of the yellow carpet shows a mixture of tiny plants.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


So the first part of our 'Western Wildflower Wonderland Tour" was over. We had arrived back in Perth at the Novatel Hotel, where we had a farewell dinner for those leaving the tour here. Some of us were continuing for a tour north as far as Monkey Mia. Before we set off we had a free afternoon so I made arrangements to meet a blogger friend, Cindy from Artists Blog. Cindy and her husband took us to Kings Park.

 Kings Park is over 1000 acres of bushland, parkland and botanic gardens. It overlooks the Swan River and Perth. It is the largest inner city park in the world.

 There are over 300 native plants.

The park was established in 1872 and it was the first park open for public use in Australia. It was called Perth Park. In 1901 it was renamed Kings Park to commemorate the ascension to the throne of King Edward V11 of England.

 We strolled through the many paths surrounded by beautiful wildflowers. It was windy and cool but the rain held off.

We had a coffee with our new friends. It was an honour to be in the company of such a wonderful artist and photographer. Thank you Cindy for making the time to see us. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011


We arrived in Fremantle late in the afternoon. It was windy, cold and wet. We were glad of our warm hotel room. However, on this night we had to find our own place to eat. Rather than dine in the posh hotel we wanted to experience the "Cappuccino Strip" where the locals enjoy eating. So we ventured out into the cold and found a lovely, cosy, Italian Restaurant. 

The next morning we were up early to take photos of the well preserved 19th century buildings that are a feature of Fremantle. Fremantle city is on the Swan River and is the port for Perth, the capital of Western Australia. The locals call it Freo and it is where Australia won the America's Cup some years ago. It is also where my family and I first set foot on Australian soil 62 years ago when we migrated to Australia. 

 The Fremantle Markets established in 1897 as a wholesale food market traded until 1950. It then became a packing centre until 1970. It was idle for 5 years until the council restored the Federation Romanesque building. It is now a very popular modern market with over 150 shops and many stalls. Unfortunately it was closed.

 Down the road a little way was a cute little bakery. Everything is expensive now.

 I sheltered from the wind in a lane and found this interesting mural.

I was happy to return to the warm hotel for  breakfast. The Esplanade Hotel. 

 Then our tour group were taken on a tourist tram ride around the city to see even more interesting buildings, but it started to rain again. This is the old gaol.

We were deposited on the wharf ready to catch the ferry up the Swan River to Perth. It was cold, wet and windy. At the end of the wharf is the new Maritime Museum. We had the choice of visiting it or doing the tram tour.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


After swinging high up in the tree tops of the Karri Forest in Western Australia our tour bus took us to Margaret River. Margaret River is famous for its wines and beaches. We drove to a lookout overlooking  where the river enters the sea. It was pretty but the weather turned blustery and rainy so no photos of the famous beaches. 
The next day we visited the nearby Jewel Cave. We had a local guide who filled us with information about the caves. They were not explored until 1958 by Bastion and Robinson.  We descended via stairs 40m/150ft into the bowels of the earth.  We walked through many caverns stretching for a mile.
The Jewel cave is famous for having one of the longest straw stalactites in the world. It is 5.4m long.

There were so many wonderful shapes.

Some looked like a forest of trees.
 Some looked like an organ pipes. We had a light show too and then it was time to climb 250 steps to get back to the surface.

After a coffee, it was back in the bus for another attraction. The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. You can climb to the top but I didn't, the cave steps were enough for one morning.
 It is situated on the the south west corner of Australia where the Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean meet.  The cape sticks out into the path of the "Roaring Forties" wind. It was blowing a gale while we were there.

I could lean back and rest on the wind but I nearly got blown away.

The Southern Ocean
and around the corner is....
The Indian Ocean
We gladly jumped back on the bus for a trip to a winery. 
Leeuwin Estate winery.

We had a tour of the winery.

The gardens were beautiful showing off many.....

Wildflowers of Western Australia.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


After visiting the Valley of the Giants we continued on our Western Australia tour to the small town of Pemberton where we took a tram ride into The Karri Forest.

The Pemberton Tramway is a tourist railway. It used to be a logging railway. The trains carted the Karri logs to the mills, which provided half a million sleepers for the Trans Australian Railway.

Pemberton was founded in 1911 and became a busy timber mill town. We left the town and travelled through farmland before entering the forest. It was a very dull day and threatened rain.

Timber is still collected today, they log new forests that have been especially planted. Old forests are still logged but very carefully.

 It was an unusual tram ride going through picturesque forest rather than a city. We crossed rivers and...

 ....then we were in the Karri forest. Karri trees are Eucalyptus diversicolor and they are very straight and tall. They have silvery white trunk that reaches up to 90m into the sky. The Tingle trees  had the biggest buttress roots but the Karri trees are the tallest of the Eucalypts. They are not far behind the Californian Redwood and Sequoia Trees.

The rail track was lined with colourful flowering trees. Soon we were back at the station and we boarded the bus for a short trip to the Gloucester National Park where the biggest Karri trees are located.

 The Gloucester Tree is 72 metres high and is the world's tallest fire lookout tree. Pegs are nailed into the tree and tourists can climb it. Not many succeed. In the far right photo there is a cabin built 61 metres up used as the fire lookout. The tree and park are named after, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester who visited the lookout tree when it was first built in the early 1900's. 

 It started raining so we just had time to see a few pretty coloured parrots and...

...some more different wildflowers before climbing aboard the bus for the next exciting place. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011


We were leaving Albany for Margaret River. On the way we stopped at The Valley of the Giants, which is the name given to the forest where the giant Tingle Trees grow.

The irregular bulges on some of the Tingle trees are called burls. They are caused by insect or bacterial attack. This makes the tree form a protective growth around the wound.

The tree on the left is called, "Grandma Tingle" because the burls and gnarled bark gives the tree a face with a grandmotherly character. She is watching over the forest observing all those who enter. She is 12 m in circumference and about 400 years old.

Tingle Trees are the biggest Eucalyptus buttress root trees in the world.

Regular readers will know that we enjoy swinging through the trees. This tree walk was one of the highest and longest we have been on.

It was awesome.

 It was a long way down

It was like being a koala sitting in the branches on top of the forest.

Of course there were pretty wild flowers there as well.