Seascapes in Esperance with a French botanical influence

  
The Western Australian coastal town of Esperance is named after a French sailing ship that put ashore on a nearby island in 1792. The botanical environment that was recorded has changed little in two centuries and can be observed, together with a stunning coastline on an ocean drive.

  
So, with our trusty Yaris courtesy car, we did the 36km drive, stopping at the many lookouts provided to take in the spectacular views.

Naturally, I also did some botanising and photographed these Cockies Tongues and Bush Pea.

  
  
There were also birds: a butcher bird, oystercatcher and pacific gull.

  
A fisherman had a line in off one beach, while one beach was labelled “clothing optional”. Wisely, considering the temperature and our age, we decided to keep our clothes on.

  
  

Seafront rest-day with bronze-wing in Esperance

  
We are in Esperance, on the southern coast of Western Australia. After over five weeks travelling around 8,000km we were ready for time out: cleaning vehicle, van, bedsheets and clothes, strolling along the seafront, uploading photos.

I cooked an omelette for a leisurely outdoor lunch while a bronze-wing kept us company, walking around the picnic table, cooing softly.

  
The Esperance seafront has been tastefully renewed with an eye-catching sculpture of a whale’s tail, warm, red-hued retaining rocks, indigenous planting, creative playground equipment, interpretive signage, seating and paths. The rubbish bins are solar powered! Why? Maybe to illuminate them by night.

   
  At any rate, on this sunny day, the whole town seemed to be playing with their kids, dog-walking, fishing from the jetty, rollerblading, cycling or riding motor scooters. 

  
Offshore islands and ships entering the port further enhance the view. Our caravan park overlooks it this pleasant place to hang out.

A stroll into town introduced us to the relaxed, club-like atmosphere of Dome cafe, with its free wifi.

  
Outside the museum is this intriguing sign:

  
Tomorrow the Prado 4WD will be serviced and we will restock for the return trek across the Nullarbor.

Cockles on beaches and cockies with wildflowers

Reluctantly we have begun our return trip, heading out of the town of Denham and the Shark Bay area, stopping briefly to admire Shell Beach, which is made entirely of minute cockle shells.

  
Our lunch stop was on the red earth by the roadside.

  
We decided to stop just outside the Eurardy Station, a property of 38,000 hectares that was purchased by conservation organisation Bush Heritage Australia in 2005. It is in the heart of wildflower country and has an interesting roadside mailbox.

  
I photographed some delicate wildflowers while a flock of red-tailed black cockatoos socialised overhead.

  
We were rewarded with a spectacular sunset and a brilliant display of stars, moon and planets. It is worth bush camping to see far horizons and outback skies.

  

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.

  

More wildflowers plus Emus

We did a wildflower walk at the town of Mullewa east of Geraldton in Western Australia. I don’t have a good book to identify them and the interpretation signs had worn out in the extreme conditions, so just enjoy!

  
These fluffy everlastings are known as Pom-poms.

  
At some spots, the roadsides were lined with Emu Trees which were in bloom. I can’t work out how to rotate the picture- sorry.

  
This creamy flower is either a grevillea or a hakea. It graced our lunch spot by the roadside.

  
And just to show you the day wasn’t entirely about wildflowers, these curious emus circled our caravan three times when we were washing up this morning at a bush campsite. I snapped them through the perspex windows, but amazingly the photo worked out. We are now camping in a caravan park by the seaside a Geraldton, having topped up our water supply and done a load of washing. After three days of bush camping, we are glad of some modern amenities.

Fraser Ranges to Kalgoorlie – colours of red earth

We had no data connection at Fraser Ranges farmstay so we have some catching up to do with blogging. My data allocation for the month is also running out, so I’m trying to ease off. This isn’t easy as we have seen so many wonderful sights. For instance, the red-trunked eucalyptus trees were so eye-catching against the red earth and blue bush today. And yesterday the Western Grey Kangaroos were so cleverly camouflaged against the red granite of the Fraser Ranges.

  
  
There were also spectacular wild flowers and yellow puffballs not much larger than grapes.

   
 

Samantha gets a new home at Cocklebiddy 

A problem with our tyre pump caused a delay in our departure from Cocklebiddy roadhouse two days ago. David joined the wires with the aid of duct tape. It did mean that we got to see Samantha, the rescued wedge-tailed eagle settled into her huge new enclosure. The staff had been working on building it through hail, rain and shine. She flew straight up the tree and settled happily, preening herself

  
We picked up a brochure which explained the dangers that eagles such as Samantha face because they feed on roadkill kangaroos. To flee from oncoming vehicles, they need to take off into the wind, which may take them straight into the vehicle. This is how Samantha lost an eye. These tragedies can be prevented by giving the birds plenty of warning, honking the horn loudly well before the eagle is reached, to allow time for escape. David has attached a sticker with this message to the back of the caravan.

  
We’ve already managed to prevent one eagle being hit using this technique.

Having a whale of a time on the Nullarbor except for a klepto crow

Leaving Fowlers Bay, we travelled to Nundroo, where we completed another hole of the Nullarbor Links Golf Course.

  

We lunched among attractive saltbush and eucalyptus, before driving across the treeless Nullarbor Plain to the Head of Bight (The Great Australian Bight, that is) to see Southern Right whales who come into the Bight annually to calf.

  
  
Well….Then we came to the roadhouse at Nullarbor where we planned to play another hole of golf and camp for the night. A kleptomaniac crow (Australian Raven to be correct) other ideas -it picked up THREE balls and flew away with them! See the gleam in its eye! We abandoned the game and came back to the caravan park, which is right next to a famous road sign on the Nullarbor.   
  

Sheep droving, deserted beaches, dunes and Tommy Roughs 

Driving west from Squeaky Beach, we passed a flock of sheep being driven along the dusty roadside.   We called in at a coastal development called Eba Point, where we were the only humans on a vast beach. We found a sandstone well, possibly made by the nineteenth century explored Eyre. The sandunes behind the beach obviously teemed with life as they were criss-crossed with animal tracks. A stone circle may have been old or maybe left by recent fisherfolk – we just don’t know. a fence post lying in the sand was covered with large barnacles, even though it was well above high tide. Why?

We continued to Smoky Bay, photographing cormorants, terns and pelicans on the fenced sea swimming pool (put in to protect swimmers from sharks). Locals fished from the jetty and had caught a good haul of Tommy Roughs (Australian herring). The shimmering light made it hard to see the screen of my little camera and I longed for a visual viewfinder. At the Ceduna supermarket, we stocked for our coming journey across the Nullabor Plain.

  
          

Half Way Across Australia – The Big Galah

After a week, our westward progress is evident. This morning we passed The Big Galah at Kimba, which claims to be the halfway mark. Of course we left from our home south of Melbourne, which is hundreds of kilometres from the east coast, so we haven’t come halfway on this trip.

  
Anyway, after snapping this piece of tourist kitsch, we continued to Wudinna, which boasted The Australian Farmer sculpture- another “big” attraction. I was taken by the Yellow-throated Miner on some brilliant Sturt’s Desert Pea.

   
 

The winter sun was dazzling. I was glad that yesterday I had replaced the outback hat that I had purchased at the Wadlata Centre in Port Augusta ten years ago but accidentally left in a cafe at Port Macdonald three years ago. The staff were quite impressed that I had returned to the same place to buy another one so many years later.  

Now we are camped at Squeaky Bay and have dined on local seafood at the pub. This evening’s photo shoot included oyster catchers feeding in the shallows, while we sipped on an evening tipple. It doesn’t get much better!