Donkey walking and a Regency Ball

  
We now have a shiny rental car, which facilitates exploring St Helena independently. Today we took part in weekly donkey walking. Fifty years ago, donkeys were an important part of St Helenian life, used for transporting the island’s flax crop and taking vegetables to market. Today, the flax industry has been replaced by synthetics and trucks transport veggies, so the some of the surviving donkeys are cared for in a sanctuary and taken for walks on a weekly basis. We joined four families to do this.

 
It  was windy and misty at High Peak, and my donkey, Cheeky Face, took off on a particularly windy corner, but luckily she stopped at the next patch of juicy grass. At the end of the walk, we gave them a carrot and cleaned the mud off their hooves.

 After lunch at Reggies Takeaway near the airport, Dave dropped me off at the top of Jacob’s Ladder and I descended tentatively while he carefully steered the car down, giving way to upcoming traffic. It was windy so I held tight to the hand-rail. It looked a long way down and very steep! I didn’t dare let go to take a photo – not like me at all.

We spent the afternoon glamming up for the Regency Ball, pert of the celebrations for the Napoleonic Bicentenary. The French had gone all out with their costumes and Napoleon put in an appearance. It was an enjoyable evening and gave us the opportunity to meet Marina Burns and her husband, Sean Who is Head of Government. They will be our hosts on Tuesday at the Briars Pavillion.

   
 

Written on Friday 9th October and posted now that we have access to wifi.

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Dolphins and goanna magic at Monkey Mia

We had to leave our caravan park at 7:00am to get to Monkey Mia for the 7:45am feeding. Only a few dolphins are hand fed and they are only given three fish each, so they maintain their hunting skills and continue to feed their young. Two to four volunteer workers select three privileged people amongst the two hundred onlookers and they get to give the Dolphins a fish. Dolphins can be distinguished by their dorsal fins and today Puck and Surprise graced us with their presence.

  
Puck is eying off the bucket knowing that she will soon be offered a fish.

  
Volunteer worker selects a child to give puck her fish. They are allowed to choose a sibling or friend to accompany them in the task.

  
Visitors await the dolphin feeding as a marine biologist in the foreground gives a commentary.

We returned via the Red Bluff I’m Francois Peron National Park, where a goanna was sitting on the beach almost between David’s legs – to the delight of us and some French visitors.

  

Kalbarri to Shark Bay – pelicans and stromatolites

We left Kalbarri just as the daily 7.45 pelican feeding was finishing. I photographed it from across the road as I was walking to the supermarket for soda and lime.

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We progressed back to the Great Northern Highway through the wildflower heathland of yesterday’s national park, coming eventually to Overland Roadhouse, where we stopped for fuel and I snapped the surface water – clearly it had been raining here recently.

We started into the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. Lunch stop was at Hamlin Pool, an seaside inlet with an unusually high salinity level. The result is that an ancient life form called stromatolites have formed and are continuing to flourish.

Nearby is a nineteenth century telegraph station that played a small role in the Gemini space program in 1964 when lightning struck the relaying system, necessitating a return to morse code communications for several hours.

Museums at Kalgoorlie

The Museum of Western Australia has a Kalgoorlie branch with tours at 10.30am. Sue, our guide, showed us Australia’s narrowest pub and the relocated panelled office of a wealthy Perth entrepreneur. Here, two students were rehearsing The Crucible by American playwright Arthur Miller. They posed for a photo. We also toured the Vault, and admired gold bullion.

  
   

The courtyard had relocated cottage, complete with outhouse and a bank.

   

 This armchair made of packing cases is an example of ‘making do’ in remote areas.

As our tour of the Superpit was cancelled, we drove up to the lookout again. A historic trolley car was taking tourists to view.

   
 

Seduced by Ceduna and the longest golf course in the world

On Saturday night we watched the sun set as the galahs gathered in the treetops in the Ceduna shopping centre.

  

  

  

   
  This morning, after we checked out of the campground, we called into the visitor centre and registered for the World’s Longest Golf Course. this18-hole par 72 golf course spans 1,365 kilometres across the Nullabor Plain in the south of Australia. The first two holes were at the Ceduna Golf Course and the next at the town of Penong, seventy-odd kilometres away.
   
   We proceeded here to Fowlers Bay and clambered over vast sand dunes as the sun lowered and a fisherman with his son returned on his quad bike. Our footprints were shared with the wave-like patterns carved by the wind. The township clustered at the bottom of the dunes.

   
   The caravan park lit a campfire and a family toasted marshmallows.

  

Vanuatu post cyclone Pam – rebuilding

A fortnight ago we visited the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, arriving two months after Cyclone Pam devastated some of the islands. We had a warm welcome and found the recovery well under way, with schools functioning, albeit sometimes UNICEF tents for classrooms. Many of the village houses had tarpaulins covering their roofs, while the inhabitants waited for palm leaves to grow so they could re-thatch them.

  
It is a beautiful, unspoiled country and the village that we visited appreciated the learning and sporting materials that we brought for the school.

  
We thoroughly enjoyed the adventures we had: paddling in outrigger canoes, visiting traditional villagers and learning of the rich cultural traditions that predate European contact.

  
  
We would certainly recommend Vanuatu as a destination for anyone seeking an informative and enjoyable tropical sojourn.