Redcliffe Pier

Monday, October 31, 2011

WILD FLOWERS GALORE

We stayed overnight in Esperance and the next day our tour bus headed west along the south coast to Albany for the next night. On the way we stopped a few times and each time we were surrounded by an abundance of wildflowers.
Blue Haven Beach
 The coastline was very scenic. The sea is an amazing colour here. 

 We stopped at Munglinup for morning tea but I was out snapping the flowers.

Acacia Tree or Wattle --our national flower.

Eucalyptus Tree and seed pods.
Then we drove on further through lovely scenery with much more vegetation than on the previous inland stretch. We came to the town of Ravensthorpe. 

A typical country home.

After lunch we walked through the town to the senior citizens hall where there was a flower show.
We passed this magnificent Bottle Brush Tree (Callistemon) on the way.

Ravensthorpe flower show.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

ON THE WAY TO ESPERANCE

From Kalgoorlie our tour bus took us south towards the sea port town of Esperance WA.

On the way we stopped at a lookout in West Kambalda. It looked over the salt pan Lake Lefroy. It was a pretty scene and reminded me of our visit to Lake Eyre.

 We were surrounded by a garden of wild flowers and.......

Woolly Featherflowers


 an array of desert colours.
We piled back into the bus and continued south stopping at Norseman for lunch and another lookout.

 Norseman Beacon lookout. Looking east towards the huge Nullabor Plain. The name means no trees. It is a flat semi arid plain stretching 1,100 km west to east through WA and SA and covers 700,000 sq km. It is the largest single piece of limestone in the world.

 Esperance named after a French ship visiting here on an expedition in the early days. Now it is an important port transporting grain and ore.

From yet another lookout the southern coastline is dramatic, beautiful and very windy and cold. The wind blows off icy Antartica.

 There were  different wild flowers surrounding the lookout.

 Their leaves are hard and waxy to protect them from the harsh coastal weather.

Rough Honeymyrtle

We braced ourselves against the cold wind to walk the famously long pier and to spot Sammy the resident seal. We didn't see Sammy or the end of the pier because it was too darn cold.

Our travel companions, Paul and Helen and a model of Skylab,
which crashed in Esperance.
Esperance was put on the world map when :
In 1979, pieces of the space station Skylab crashed onto Esperance after the craft broke up over the Indian Ocean. The municipality fined the United States $400 for littering. The fine was paid in April 2009, when radio show host Scott Barley of Highway Radio raised the funds from his morning show listeners, and paid the fine on behalf of NASA. Skylab's demise was an international media event, with merchandising, wagering on time and place of re-entry and nightly news reports. The San Francisco Examiner offered a $10,000 prize for the first piece of Skylab to be delivered to their offices. 17-year-old Stan Thornton scooped a few pieces of Skylab off the roof of his home in Esperance, Western Australia and caught the first flight to San Francisco, where he collected his prize. (text from Wiki)

Friday, October 28, 2011

KALGOORLIE GOLD

We had travelled 600k west of Perth and reached the goldfields of  Kalgoorlie on the edge of the huge inland desert.

 After Paddy Hannan found gold in 1893 and filed a claim another gold rush was on and Kalgoorlie came into being. Gold and nickel have been mined here ever since. The concentrated area of gold mines is known as the Golden Mile and is considered the richest square mile of earth on the planet.
 More recently a number of mining leases were bought and the Super Pit made. It is 3.6k/2.2m long, 1.6k/1m wide and 512m/1,680ft deep. Can you see the trucks way down at the bottom?

 Work goes on 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. I zoomed in to the bottom of the pit where the trucks look little but they are huge and carry 225 tons of rock. It takes 45 mins for the round trip to the top and back.
 This is one huge truck.

 We were taken on a tour of an old mine. We donned hard hats and crammed into a small cage and descended into the bowels of the earth. 

 We only went to the third level down out of 32 levels. 

 The miners squeezed into small crevices to follow the veins of gold ore. We saw their primitive tools and heard stories of many young deaths due to dust inhalation.

 Bill taking video. You can see his short one minute dramatic video on his blog here.

 After a very informative tour and an eye opening lesson on how miners used to work, we squeezed into the cage which only holds 5 people and returned to the surface.

 We were invited into the gold room where we were given a demonstration of how the ore is melted and poured into an ingot mould.

Then it was passed around for us to hold.......... and wish we could take it home.

(NB for Colin. We were so busy underground that I didn't get any good pictures of the wonderful old buildings or the many brothels in town)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

FLY FLAT GOLD


After lunch at Southern Cross we boarded the tour bus and continued travelling inland for many kilometres until we arrived at Coolgardie, an old gold mining town in WA.
In 1892 Arthur Bayley rode into Southern Cross and deposited  554 ounces of gold that he had found at Fly Flat, which became part of Coolgardie. Within hours the frenzied rush to Coolgardie began with the greatest movement of people in Australia's history.

Wardens Court Building, now a museum.
 The living conditions back then were brutal, with inadequate housing, food, medical supplies and water became more precious than gold. despite this it became a large town. The mine closed in 1963.

 Today Coolgardie is a historical tourist town. We enjoyed a visit to the museum, where I was fascinated with the huge collection of old bottles. This is only a small section, there were three long walls full of them.

The living conditions of the early miners.
The lovely sandstone building of the old gaol.

Warden Finnerty's Residence
A beautiful old house built in 1895 of local stone by the Bunning brothers who's hardware company is today one of Australia's largest retailers. The house was for the Mining Warden and Magistrate, John Finnerty. We didn't get chance to walk through, unfortunately.

Then we were on our way again towards Kalgoorlie, but first we stopped at a lookout to see over the town of Coolgardie and the miles of flat desert in the distance.

 There were many more wild flowers to see on the way.

Monday, October 24, 2011

FLOWERS AROUND SOUTHERN CROSS

On our way from Hyden to Kalgoorlie in WA the tour bus stopped many times for us to take photos.

The road followed this famous water pipeline which stretches 560km from Perth through the arid interior to the gold mining town of Kalgoorlie. It was constructed by CY O'Connor in 1890 and it was an incredible feat of engineering even by present day standards. The steel was imported from England. It took months for them to come by sea.

 We were surrounded by wild flowers.

 We pulled into a small town called Southern Cross for morning tea. It was one of the first gold mining towns to develop, supplying provisions for the miners trekking further on to the gold fields of Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie. (Don't you love the sound of those names?)

The Club Hotel, Southern Cross.
I love the way these country towns have renovated the old hotels back to their original glory.

 The gardens in the town were awash with colour.

 Back on the road again, there were more wild flowers to see.

 I have never seen such a variety of native plants all growing together. In one square metre you could find dozens of different plants.

So many and so beautiful.