Ding dong

Give up? (Mars)

I’ve been working all afternoon on two of my three cars. Just minor things so far: pumping up the tyres, all five, on Vera and cleaning out the spare tyre well while I was at it. It looks as if I’ll only need a couple of new tyres initially. Two are illegal but three are still just within the limit of tread depth. I don’t know about other cars but I’m pleased to find that even the spare wheel is an alloy one. I was expecting just a plain steel rim.

I’m very happy with an Aldi purchase yesterday – a lithium battery jump starter combined with an air compressor and large torch. I’ve had an electric drill type tyre inflator for some years but they’re pretty weak, struggling to provide the air for more than one or two tyres.

But this one is like a large battery torch and it easily pumped all five tyres up, from about 20psi to 32psi with plenty of capacity to spare. This is the kind of device I’d trust for a long trip on country roads. I haven’t had to do a jump start, but I’m sure it would handle it. It was $100 but worth it. I think it will last me a good while.

I’ve been finding good stuff at Aldi in the tools and auto lines. I also bought two sets of axle stands for $30 each pair (rated at 2 tonnes), and a trolley jack also rated at 2 tonnes, same price $30. That’s half what the “discounters” charge, and these appear to be just as good quality. They come with 2-3 year warranties anyway.

I only need to buy a pair of rotor discs for the front brakes of Vera (about $55 a pair) and I can get started on the job. I have the pads. Maybe a torque wrench …

I’ll change the oil and filter while I’m at it. I have the oil, thanks to a very appropriate Christmas present from KG. I have a new filter and air cleaner element ready to go, and a new right front driving light to go into the bumper to replace the broken one. It looks as if this car has had a prang on the right front side. It’s been repaired and looks fine, with a sparkly new headlight, and the engine bay looks very. very clean and neat, no damage.

I’ve also been replacing the interior lights in all three cars with LED push-in replacements. Here they cost about $14.50 for a two pack in the discount car parts places, but I’ve found them on eBay for $21 or better for 10. They look identical to the ones in the car shops – why the huge difference?

Gee I’m glad I bought this Verada. It’s in better condition than Maggie and I just like the look and feel of it. $1200 – what a good buy.

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I have to make a decision tomorrow: Qantas are offering 30% off air fares using Frequent Flyer points, and I’ve found I could do a Perth – London and return with a stopover each way for about 80,000 points, and I’ve got 117,000. They’ve been burning holes in my pockets for years.

I want to do the Croft Castle visit before I drop off the perch and I feel this is it, do it now or … But the booking has to be made before 8:59pm WA time tomorrow. I’ve read the fine print and it seems the ticket can be changed after booking, so I may as well go ahead. I’m thinking of the beginning of September this year, as I found that to be a great time to go in 2008.

Gotta lose weight and gain fitness, gotta lose weight and gain fitness, gotta lose weight and gain fitness …

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My partner tells me there was quite a large earthquake in Bali last night. Is it just a coincidence, or does it have something to do with Cyclone Veronica?

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Yow, who turned the heat off? I had to pull the sheet over me last night.

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Late, late, I’m always late…

Fremantle, Panasonic FZ1000, hand held, 400mm full stretch, ISO400. It’s sharp!

Another long gap in the blog, sorry. I seem to be so busy while I have company. That’s a good thing, a very good thing.

The short story is that my partner is still here, and leaves for Bali on Sunday. The long story is that she was supposed to depart on 26 February (the end of a three month visa) but things went awry. She likes to keep things private so all I’ll say is that she had some illness, forcing her to have a couple of nights in hospital. It required surgery, nothing too serious, fortunately, but the doctor said no travelling for three weeks, so some hurried rescheduling was required. Why hurried? Because her original visa expired on 28 Feb so she had to find out what to do and after a lot of difficulty with the immigration web site, apply for a bridging visa. You can only do this on-line and it is so difficult to work out how that the air was blue and the tiles were shaking from stamped feet. There is a 131 number for the department, but she was told bluntly that “This line is not for help”. Twice, on different days. Terrific. I was having to apologise for our wonderful government

We finally managed to get the application done with hours to spare. It had to be accompanied by an application fee, of course.

Then came the agony of waiting for notification of success, as the day for departure slipped by. She was technically illegal by now.

After several days, she got an email from Immigration asking for more information, such as what her course of study was and how long she needed to complete it. As she said, she just wanted to leave Australia, not stay on! They also asked for another doctor’s declaration of her medical status. All she had was the hospital discharge summary and a doctor’s letter from the day of discharge about what had been done. She’d scanned and sent that already.

Finally someone from Canberra phoned (at a reasonable, mid morning time) and she was able to explain what had happened, that she just wanted to get out of the country. It seems that the woman in Canberra was amiable and easy to talk to, so she accepted the application and it was approved soon after. That was a relief.

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She’s well recovered now, but there was a fair bit of soreness for a week or more. It’s very, very fortunate that this happened at the time it did, because you wouldn’t want this kind of illness, needing some skilled surgery, to happen in Bali. It would have been very distressing, and downright risky.

As it is, she’s left with very good feelings about our hospital system. The triage in emergency only took 15 mins of waiting, then after about 45mins the ED assessed her and did a C/T scan within a few hours, then she was in a bed in a big private room for that night. The surgery was done on Sunday morning, two organs removed at once (unusual, but the surgeon could see why she needed it done that way), and she was back in the ward for lunch, and home the next day.

Since then, the bills have come thick and fast. She has comprehensive international health insurance, but the bills must be paid first and the invoices submitted later. It makes me appreciate Medicare and HBF even more. Each night in hospital is $1,200, plus surgeon’s and anaesthetist’s fees plus tests and medications. It mounts up, but her insurance seems to be playing ball OK. So far.

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So she leaves on Sunday to spend the cooler months back in our hotel suite in Bali, although she thinks she’ll come back here in a couple of months for another visit. That’s good, as I think it will still be quite warm enough for her then. However, she’s developed a real appreciation of Perth and WA and wants to do a lot more, including a motorhome/camper expedition around Australia for us. Not sure about the finances for that, but it’s a way off yet.

She’s come to realise that what I told her is true, that this is an open friendly place, where a smile and a little chat gets you everywhere, that so many people will go out of their way to help, that 99% of people are honest, that you don’t need to be paranoid about thieves and bag snatchers, that driving is easy and relatively safe, and the beaches are wide and beautiful. Unfortunately, it’s been a relatively cool summer and we haven’t been able to swim nearly as much as she would have liked. I would go in, but my legs are too weak and I dare not, although the sturdy walking pole I bought in Kalbarri helps.

It may be that a grey nomad solution is the answer, with us migrating to the northern latitudes of Oz in the winter months. I must admit even I’m feeling the cold in July & August these days. I never seem to be worried by cold much, never have been, and we’re opposites in that regard. Pity.

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This is sharp too. Loch Duich, Scotland. Seven vertical shots, stitched. Fuji S100fs.
A wider version. If you right click on any of these images and choose View Iamage… you’ll get a full sized view. These are squashed horizontally.

Speaking of trips, the Honda MDX is proving a pleasant car to own and drive. It’s a 2t heavyweight but it seems to glide along and now that I’ve learnt to tread on the go pedal a bit harder, it zoots along. I was very wary initially, with reports of 15L/100km, so that I was very light footed, but I’ve got it down around 13-13.5L/100km, only a little more than the Maggie (the Magna).

I’m a bit fed up with a foot operated parking brake, though. This car was designed for the US market where it’s called the Acura.

The parking brake is not very effective, so I’ll have to get started on fixing things very soon. I’ve got three cars all needing brake overhauls and it ain’t cheap. I think I can do them myself, it’s not complicated, but I need to buy a pair of vehicle stands (Aldi special on Saturday!) and a torque wrench. And a one man bleeder.

Maggie, the Magna, is parked out in the laneway full time now. Would you believe some guys pissed all over the side a couple of weeks ago! It was pretty obvious, yellow stains. At least it got me to wash it.

The Verada is called Vero of course, and the MDX is just Honda-san.

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Speaking of Aldi, a few months ago I bought one of their table saws, an 8 incher, when its price was reduced from $99 to $79. I couldn’t resist that, but it’s been sitting in its unopened box in the garage since. Why? It needs a bench or trolley to be used, and the cost of a suitable trolley is about as much as the saw cost, or more. A lightweight office trolley won’t do.

Then last week I saw, um, another saw, also in Aldi. This time it’s a 10 incher, supplied with two TCT blades, and it has its own legs and trolley to run on the floor. It has wide opening side tables, a geared tilt mechanism and a vacuum hose for the saw guard to suck the dust away.

Price? Reduced from $149 to $99. Last one. Uh oh. I couldn’t resist. I’ll sell the other one, since I can honestly say brand new, never used, still sealed in box. I hope to get what I paid for it.

I could write more but it’s getting dark. More when I have more free time.

Whoo hoo!

Performer Swish

My partner continues to get me out and about, and this time I mean ‘out’. It was the last day of the Fringe Festival on Sunday and there was a ‘drag lunch’ at the Moon restaurant in Northbridge. I wanted to go, and I mean go. V helped me get dressed and made up even though she was a bit hesitant to go. But… Shazzam! Here I am.

People who know me well, know by now that I’m rather partial to this cross dressing thing, always have been and always will be. Until I finished work and my parents had passed on it was a deep, black secret, for over 50 years. I lived in awful fear of being discovered and never, ever went out.

But in September 2006 the Red Cross ran their ‘Cross Dress for Red Cross’ fund raiser and I saw that as the opportunity to go legit. I was terrified on the day, but after going out to the shops a few more times, I realised no-one was looking at me and the fear dropped away. Since then, I’ve been out many times with never a problem. I don’t go out often, but I’m completely comfortable with it. No fear whatever. The only thing that stops me doing it more is the pain, literally, of getting all the body hair off. It’s a hard job. But I do all my own makeup and it’s easy to buy clothes in my size now, as women have got much bigger over the years.

I’d booked a table for midday and the show started at 1pm. There was a big crowd including a big group of young ladies for a 21st birthday. I got a few looks and smiles from them. There were only two or three other trannies but I was definitely the best dressed, darlings. I had to go to the loo at one stage and made a show of asking V if I should choose Men’s or Ladies. I chose Men and found two guys in there. I’ve always been afraid of this situation, but they paid me no attention, thank goodness. Standing at the urinal with my dress hitched up and knickers pulled down almost made me laugh out loud 🙂

The show was driven by the guy/woman called Swish and entailed extremely energetic dances, miming to the loud music with added raunchy lyrics, with the last song being the ‘Sweet Transvestite from Tran-Syl-Vani-Aaaah.’

It lasted about 90 mins, then we moved back inside to a booth where we were joined by two of the three performers for about half an hour. The conversation was interesting and I got many compliments for my hair, makeup and dress. The dress is actually V’s, and she wore one of mine, how about that? We share dress and underwear sizes, hey. For once I’d found a pair of women’s shoes that fitted me, but they were only $10 flat sandals. Owww! Aching feet.

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By then it was nearly 6pm so by the time we got to Butler it was just time to go to the Beach Shack for a glass of wine to salute the sunset.

I accused V of making a run in one of my stockings, but realised it was my own bling ring that did it.

So ended a great day, with V declaring it to be much more fun than she’d expected. She’s very outgoing and talks easily to people, so she had a ball. And I’ve made a couple of contacts in that world and discovered a place to go for a drink where TVs are accepted.

So now you know.

A bit of a larf

The Milky Way is warped and twisted, not flat…

…and bitter too, no doubt.

This is the astronomy story of the day. New measurements show that our home galaxy is not a smooth disc but is warped and twisted.

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Speaking of galaxies, I have solar power now. Yes, I’ve made the move at last, after thinking about it for a few years. Prices have come down and will continue to fall, but I reckon my system should pay for itself in four or five years.

I’ve bought 6.6KW of panels and a 5KW inverter from a company in South Perth called Infinite Energy. I got three quotes and was impressed by the professional web site and business-like approach of this WA firm. The other two quotes came from heavily accented guys trying to apply pressure to buy over the phone even on our first call. They put me off straight away.

My panels are by Canadian Solar (strange? – made in China, I’m sure) and the inverter is by Fronius, an Austrian company which my partner assures me has been around since the 1950s.

What this means is that I can run the 10KW ducted air-con in the daytime heat without worrying about the cost. Likewise in winter I’ll be able to put it in reverse cycle to warm the house, assuming there’s enough sun of course.

The inverter sits on the wall in the garage humming away with its fans going full bore on warm days, and showing about 5,050W generated around midday. It was down to 2,000W at 5pm today, when only half the panels are in the afternoon sun on the west, shaded on the east side. Good stuff. I wish I could afford a battery, but that will have to wait for quite a few years, I think.

Speaking of air-con, I’ve only turned it on maybe twice this summer. It’s been quite mild, I reckon.

Prospecting for gold

My partner is really getting me out of the house! We’ve done another trip, this time to Kalgoorlie on the Prospector train. I get two free trips a year on my pension card, but fool that I am, I’ve never used them up to now. Unfortunately they’re not transferrable, so the cost for the second seat was $187 return.

The train left the East Perth station at 07.10am and although we left home at 6am, I underestimated the traffic jams on the freeway and we made it with about three minutes to spare. V was practically jumping out of her seat, fearing we were going to miss it. I adopted my usual habit: don’t look at the time! When you’re stuck in traffic, there’s nothing you can do and looking at the time only raises your stress level. You’ll get there when you get there.

As it was, I had no time to read parking area signs so I just locked the car and ran for it (well, not really). Always on our mind was the possibility of a hefty parking fine, but there was no ticket when we got back at 10pm on Friday night, so all was well. What, me worry?

The trip was great, it was a beautiful morning and the ride through the older railway suburbs and Guildford revealed some of our older homes and buildings. The ride through the Avon Valley to Toodyay and Northam through the Darling Scarp was terrific. It’s the first time I’ve seen it. The river was very low but there was still a fair bit of water in it.

It flattened out after Northam and there wasn’t much colour in the stubble paddocks, but it was still interesting. Meckering, Cunderdin, Tammin, Kellerberrin, Doodlakine, all these old town names from my childhood. Most were just whistle stops but we stopped in Kellerberring for 10 mins or so, enough to get off and stretch the legs if needed (we didn’t). Very little warning that the train was leaving, though. Better not go far.

The best thing was that the afternoon was turning into wide area rain clouds with intermittent lightning. We got little rain on the train, but there were pools of water everywhere along the tracks as evidence of big showers the previous day. We hoped for a full lightning show once we got to Kal, so that we could take photos, but it wasn’t to be, turning into a dull overcast.

Then the country changed to redder soil and low scrub, before reaching the gimlet gum and sandalwood country around Southern Cross, Koolyanobbing and Bonnie Vale. Ah, Koolyanobbing, that brought back memories, the ore coming down by steam train to Wundowie and being loaded into the blast furnaces that reduced it to the molten iron, which was poured into moulds, called pigs, then picked up by giant electromagnets on a crane and thrown into piles to cool. We used to walk to school along the rail tracks, then take a shortcut through the iron works to school. It would be absolutely prohibited these days, health and safety and all that, but we came to no harm.

After Bonnie Vale it was Kalgoorlie right on time, 3pm. V had spotted a car hire ad on her phone, so we booked it. Believe it or not, it was called Racey Car Hire. The guy who met us was Kevin Racey, no fire suit or helmet, just a nice guy, $66 for 24hrs, plenty of Kms included, so off we went in a very nice Kia Cerato. Wow, very perky, very nice to drive.

We stayed in the Palace Hotel in Hannan Street:

It was only three star and struggled to make it, but we had a clean, modern bathroom. With the very high ceiling and no window except for a small fixed pane high up, it felt like being in a prison cell, but it was only one night. A bouncer warned us not to leave anything visible in our car at the back, as theft is a regular nightly event. Indeed next morning I saw some Asian tourists talking to a policeman taking notes. It seems they were done over.

We had breakfast at a shopping centre, sitting outside to try to escape the noise of the restaurant. Soon we were treated to the indigenous locals shouting their anger at anyone in range. A young woman had been sleeping on the Perth road the previous night and was run over and killed, then hit again by a following car. Sleeping on the road…that’s bad luck.

Then it was off to Mt Charlotte, the final reservoir at the end of the Mundaring to Kalgoorlie pipeline. This was all new to me. I knew the history of the line, but not the detail. It is a truly remarkable engineering feat, still in full use 112 years after completion.

Stainless steel engraving at Mt Charlotte, showing heights and distances. I’d like to print this.
I didn’t realise how far the pipeline extends into the country
Kalgoorlie from the end of the pipeline, the reservoir.

Then it was off to the Super Pit, the giant excavation to get every last ounce of gold from them thar’ hills:

Those trucks are about 330m down and take 45mins to drive up to the top (at 15Km/h).
Get some idea of the scale by the drill head at the top in the distance
Drilling shot holes in a pattern for a big blast. We missed it.

By this time it was lunchtime and we drove past the cemetery (history!) to a nice park for lunch. Observed by some birds:

Then it was off to refill the car, park it at the station, lock the keys in the boot and we were just in time to board the train again at 3.10pm. I must admit I was glad – Kalgoorlie is not my kind of town. I would have liked to explore Hannan St more I suppose, and walked the cemetery, but I’d seen enough. Been there, done that.

The train was good, although the constant slowing, braking, then speeding up got on my nerves a bit. It also sways and rocks so much it’s hard to stay on your feet for toilet and buffet visits. The toilets are modern and roomy, and don’t dump on the tracks! The air-con was good, although warm at one end of the carriage and too cool at the other. Seats were allocated and you weren’t supposed to move around, but it could have been done. One Asian lady was moved as she was too cold.

The seat backs are equipped with hi-def screens and there was a reasonable selection of movies and TV shows to watch. But the radio stations didn’t work and the “driver cam” was very poor quality.

I listened to the classical music channel on the way back, all 2hrs and 55mins of it. I’d brought my KEF headphones and they were great. The programme was eclectic and unusual, very wide ranging, from a Bach cello sonata to a Beethoven string quartet via a Mozart symphony and a cello concerto by composer unknown, possibly Prokofiev or Shostakovich. With a bit of Andre Rieu thrown in, for syrupy sweetness.

Unfortunately there was no listing of any of the titles and I feel like witing to TransWA to ask if there’s a list. I liked the music.

Back in Perth at 10pm, pretty tired. I forgot to mention, the buffet is wet and you can have a sparkling chardonnay or an SSB. They list a Yalumba Chardonnay, but no, only got SSB, love. When I asked for Semillon Sauvignon Blanc in the correct pronunciation, I got flutters and attempts to repeat it back to me, mostly failing. No, SSB is good enough for the ladies. That’ll be $7.60 please.

It was good to get home. Aaaah, my nice bed. [Video coming.]

A long trip

Kalbarri, Zuytdorp Cliffs January 2019

Sorry for the long break between posts. I assure you I’m still here, still on my feet and moving, just busy, that’s all. We did a week’s drive to Kalbarri and points between last week; more about that anon.

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We had a very nice Xmas Day here, with V doing a massive amount of prep and cooking. We had Keith and Barry here for the evening to provide the jokes and entertainment and ended up well fed and watered, with a large amount of food left over, still being consumed even now, nearly a month later. V is really enjoying having a good kitchen and appliances to work with. A few new machines have appeared – a small slow cooker; a Breville blender; a barista style coffee machine (cheap K-Mart); and several nice new frying pans and pots. They are so cheap and good from Aldi.

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Then we went to a most unusual New Year’s Eve function up in the hills. I can’t say much more except that we didn’t need to decide what clothes to wear and photos were not permitted. It was a great night, with a big turnout, probably 60-70 people of all ages, shapes and sizes. Plenty of food and drink with loud music and dancing made for an enjoyable night. Lucky it wasn’t cold.

Unfortunately our unusually mild summer has not made for good swimming in the ocean, but it won’t be long now. I don’t dare swim at my local beach, Jindalee, as there are obvious rips everywhere. We have to drive to Quinns Rocks where there’s a groyne and much less surf. Won’t be long now.

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Back to the Kalbarri trip: V was itching to get out on the road and so was I. I haven’t done any serious driving for many years, except for trips to Busselton and Margaret River to see a mate once or twice a year. My last big drive was, I think, in 1987. I said it was many years. That was up north too, Exmouth and North West Cape, with Kalbarri as a stopover on the way. Has it changed? Just a bit. It was only a short visit to camp in the camping area then and I got these shots, but nothing else has survived:

Kalbarri 1987
1987

So we set off on Sunday 13th for Geraldton as our first stop. I wanted to see this new Indian Ocean Drive that seems to cause so much grief. I know some work has been done lately, but I thought it was a good road with plenty of chances to pass, yet for once no-one seemed to be pressing me while I stuck to 100Km/h. I was driving the “new” Honda MDX and it’s a gulper of fuel. I get 15.5L/100Km around here, and it was taking a long time to improve on the open road. I think the best I saw for the whole trip was 12.2L/100Km.

Anyway, it drives reasonably well, after the very expensive service I treated it to before leaving. Yowch, I think I’m going to go back to doing things myself. More on that later.

First stop was Cervantes for lunch, to get one of these famous “lobster” rolls. Well, by 2pm they’d run out! Just as well, because they’re $30. All that was available was a cray/squid/fish burger for $25.50. What a load of rubbish. It was a rubbery breadcrumb coated seafood burger, with nothing to distinguish any of the ingredients. With lettuce and tomato, and chips on the side, it filled the gap, but it was terrible. Huh!

$25 worth? No way.

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OK, off again to Gero (north Butler?), via the Pinnacles. I’ve been there before, but only to the north edge as the southern entry road wasn’t built then.

I was impressed. The whole area is far bigger than I had realised and is well worth visiting. Some photos below:

Thoughtful woman with veil
Manta ray
I was glad I had a 4WD

Then it was back on the road, this time stopping at the Pink Lakes.

And look what I found…

Not bad wildlife, eh?

Pink Lakes

The day was a bit dull and windy, so we didn’t stay long. We got to our pre-booked bed and breakfast, the Weelaway, in Geraldton about 4.30pm. No staff, get key from lockbox, but free upgrade to en-suite room and a fantastically comfy mattress gets it a pass mark.

Dinner in a pub in the almost deserted, windy main street. V ordered wedges. She’s now a Wedgetarian.

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Monday morning V had to get something at a chemist and we spent the next hour there, scouring for bargains. They had a big box of photographic filters and so on, including circular polarisers for $5. I also bought a new photo backpack to try, and a new hat, very stylish grey and white.

Then it was off to Kalbarri, only a two hour drive. Kalbarri was windy! It hardly let up the whole five days we were there, 50-60Km/h winds, enough to blow your hat off every time. On Thursday I attempted a swim at the Blue Holes and the wind was so strong I was fighting a current carrying me back inshore. The sand was blasting us, so we beat a retreat. We never had a decent swim. Except in the motel’s pools (two), if we could fend the kids off (kidding). And all the restaurants and food places close by 8pm, so you’d better plan for a night in your room.

However, we liked it so much that we stayed another two nights beyond the three we’d booked. On Friday we decided we had to see the gorges, so headed out to Nature’s Window first up. We picked a 40deg. day, of course. It wasn’t too bad going down the track, but I had to stay in the shade at the bottom while V ventured the last 100m. It was nothing much, she said. However:

Murchison River.

But getting the 500m back up the track, in the 40C heat, was hard slogging for me. No chest pains whatever, but I had to stop for a breather a couple of times. Then about 18 stairs to climb at the end…just keep going, only a few more…phew. I’m still here to write about it.

It was midday by now so we drove to another landmark, saw it from the car and headed back to the pool. These are winter sights.

We also had a river cruise booked for Thursday evening but the boat broke down so it didn’t go, and a cruise out through the heads to see the cliffs on Friday evening, but there were only six takers and they needed eight, so that fell through as well. Bad luck.

So that was Kalbarri. Yes, it’s certainly grown since I was last there in 1987, but unless you’re a camper/caravanner/fisherman/boatie, it’s not for me.

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Saturday it was pack-the-car and back to Geraldton for an overnight stop. It was hot and windy! Dinner was Thai takeaway, and it was awful. The motel had an air conditioner, but not in the bedroom, relying on air drifting through the door from the lounge. I sweated, but I must admit I was a bit cold by morning.

So, out by 10am and away back to home. You can subtract about 35km from the distances shown, as that’s how far I am north of the city.

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The car went well. I drove Honda-san (I’m naming my three cars now, Honda-san for the MDX, Maggie for the Magna and Vera for the Verada). It had the VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist) warning light on most of the time, meaning VSA is OFF, but sometimes the warning went off and came back later. It also kept dropping out of cruise mode. I have a web theory about why – the brake light switch under the dash. Apparently it goes intermittent, so the cruise thinks you’ve touched the brake pedal and the VSA thinks the same. It’s a $15 item that I can change myself, so I’ll do that very soon. Apart from that, it surges when cruise is on, trying to change gears too often, and the steering feels loose and imprecise and likes to wander a little, nowhere near as good as Maggie. And pulling two tonnes vehicle mass is hard on fuel. Apart from that, it’s a nice comfortable ride. Good trip.

Sun and sails

The new sailing ships.

Monday, the Austraya Day public holiday, I was press ganged for a ride on the STS Leeuwin II from Fremantle Harbour out to Gage Roads for a 3hr sail. Very nice it was, too, being a sparkling clear day, warm sun and soft breezes. I think we got up to 3 knots at one stage. 🙂

The Leeuwin is a three masted barquentine, named after the Leeuwin galleon that blundered along the West Australian coast starting in 1622. Australia was discovered by the Dutch, although they didn’t recognise its size or that it’s a vast continent, and didn’t “claim” it for Holland, otherwise we could have been speaking Dutch, or French for that matter.

There were about 60 of us, nearly all geriatrics, but a few were young enough to attempt the mast climb. It was a beautiful day, light breeze so most of our progress was made under diesel engine power. The crew of volunteers moved around, some doing crew tasks but others serving very nice party pies and pizza slices etc, as the 18th century crew ate, and chatting to us, answering our questions. The captain of the ship is a woman! That would have been very bad luck in the old days, I’m sure, but it was fine. She was obviously in command.

So we stooged around getting sunburnt at three knots, then headed back fully under power so as to do the sharp turns required in the harbour. All in all, a very good experience. There’s a week long cruise in June from Exmouth to Geraldton and someone (not me) is very tempted. It would be good, but it’s expensive!

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When we got back we visited the Maritime Museum to see the Ningaloo Experience, an immersive 360deg audio-visual show. Unfortunately we missed the 3.45pm show and had to wait until 4.45pm. We saw the show, came out with aching necks and went to the car to find a parking ticket. We’d forgotten to feed the meter. On a public holiday while there were plenty of empty bays. Grrrrr! I’ve paid the fine, but an email will follow, pointing out all their faults.

The Ningaloo show was good, but sitting so close to the huge screens we could see all the noise and grain in the video. In the front row, I found I had to tilt my head so far back it hurt. The program was quite good, but not the mind-blowing experience we’d been told to expect. Oh well, what do you expect for $35?