Bill Leithhead's
Web Site
Hosted by
Bill Leithhead's WA Trip Diary
Segment 3 - Days 11 to 16 - Kalgoorlie Day 4 to Perth then Dongara
© William G. Leithhead 2006

Day 11    Friday, August 24th, 2001
Fourth day in Kalgoorlie

It is grey and cool, with some rain overnight, but the annexe will dry out in today's intermittent sun. We decided to look at some gold nuggets, but first called in to see Moya Sharp at the Museum. She is associated with the Historical Society here, and I had made contact with her via the internet before we left home, looking for some details of our family history, so it was nice to meet her at last.

Then we put in more films for processing, picked up prescriptions, looked at gold nuggets in the jeweller's, and chose one, plus a gold chain. Total cost $529, cash only! So we picked that up later - a great thrill for both of us.

After lunch Bill again took the car to the Ford dealer's for a check of belt squeak and bad idling, but the fault had vanished! We supposed the belt had become seated-in.

Then off to pick up the "Kalgoorlie Nugget" for Glenyce! A bit of shopping for the next part of this trip, then a goodbye parade, home to tea, to prepare to leave tomorrow. Note: Found the folding of the annexe quite easy - first time done. Then it rained a bit, we wrote in the diaries, then off to a warm bed with a cool evening with winds, and overcast.

It has been a good five days in Kalgoorlie, beloved city of my childhood.

Day 12    Saturday, August 25th, 2001
Kalgoorlie to Merredin

Fine and cool; a last look at good old Kalgoorlie, as we picked up photos from earlier in the trip, but reprocessed lighter and better. Phone Leanne, then off through Coolgardie, with its fine old buildings, and on to Southern Cross. I have a vague childhood memory of sleeping in this town as a little boy as my parents drove down on one of our Christmas holiday trips to Perth. Apparently I was bitten by a black spider in my bed in Southern Cross!

Still the same red soil, light forest and salt lakes, claypans and grey-green shrubs seen all around the WA Goldfields and beyond. Increasing quantities of some wildflowers. Lunch at a granite outcrop rising, blister-like above the endless flat plains, at a lookout 45km past Bullabulling, where we found tadpoles in the flat rock pools.

Bill astride water pipeline
The water pipeline running from Perth to Kalgoorlie.
All this way, we were accompanied by the famous water pipeline running from Mundaring Weir near Perth, to Kalgoorlie, that was so familiar to me from the days of my youth. Then from Southern Cross there are pastures with sheep, and vividly-sprouting crops of wheat.

At Merredin we called it a day and had a barbeque tea with a couple doing the anticlockwise tour down the west coast. They're from Hervey Bay, Queensland, and we swapped travel yarns, which are always very helpful. We had an early night after a good day.

Day 13    Sunday, August 26th, 2001. Day 13
Merredin to Perth

It was a cold morning in Merredin (2°C), and we appreciated the electric blankets and the heater. But a clear, dewless day dawned brightly and we took off in good cheer through arid bushland much like our journey so far. As we passed through pleasant towns whose names I remember from the train and the car journeys of my childhood, like Kellerberrin, Cunderdin, etc, with their euphonious names, we became aware, approaching Northam, that we had met farmland suitable for sheep and crops like wheat, rapeseed, etc., although these were still interspersed with saltlakes and saltbush.

However, the land gradually became much more undulating and verdant, with townships close together, and bigger, with different kinds of wattle and other wildflowers around that we hadn't seen before. They're still damned hard to identify from the flower and tree books we have, but we have a lot of fun trying. We see different species of birds, too, such as ring-necked parrots, but there are less dead animals by the roadside.

We had morning tea in a park at Meckering, the scene of Australia's biggest earthquake, in 1968, when the land split 5ft up and 5ft across, wrecking the whole town, but with no loss of life! we looked at a display in a hall and looked around for the original fault line associated with this disaster, but we couldn't find it easily, so we decided that Meckering remains faultless! Each year there are many moderate earthquakes and tremors in WA, particular in this region and a little further north. As it turned out we were to experience another earthquake incident later on in the south of WA.

Glenyce's cough and general health is gradually improving, and so is mine. Passing through Northam, a large, pleasant township, we approach the city of Perth from its rear (the east), marvelling at the ever-changing nature of the trees and shrubs. Gradually the scenery changed so that it could have been anywhere in much of Australia's pastoral and farming country, but with its unique flavour of vegetation and soil - very sandy in general.

Pulling off the road near Chidlow for lunch, we visited Lake Leschenaultia, which is a beautiful picnic ground near a lovely lake with clear weak-tea water over white sand which looks as though it has been brought from the Perth beaches - but who knows, it might be local! We lunched and looked at a few wildflowers, and did find our first sight of the deep blue Leschenaultia biloba, and also a sundew (a Drosera species), the latter actually occurring around Australia, but which we hadn't particularly noticed before.

With more intensive map-reading by master navigator Glenyce, we reached the crest of the Darling Ranges to reveal a lovely view of the tall buildings in Perth far away in its flat, coastal plain. Even the clouds look different, and the vegetation certainly does, as well. With unerring accuracy we picked our way through the traffic to our chosen caravan park, Karrinyup Water, Gwelup.

Bill was keen for a glance at the Indian Ocean, so we pushed on to North Beach and Trigg Island, where Bill learned to snorkel in 1952, and then back to our chosen two nights in a lovely, leafy, palmy caravan park.

Glenyce did washing, we had tea, settled in, and phoned Bill's Aunty Elsie (who is not well), and Peter, our son in Melbourne. Then an early night to prepare for a quick tour through Perth and Fremantle, before we push on north to the Geraldton and Carnarvon legs of our journey. We feel happy but tired.

It's a long trip, but a good one!

Day 14    Monday, August 27th, 2001
First day In Perth

A cold, clear morning with condensation all over the car and annexe and a mist over the Karrinyup Lake just down the hill, but warming up very soon to superb sunshine.

So off we go for a car tour south down the Perth beaches (the Sunset Coast), namely, North Beach, Trigg, Scarborough, Brighton, Floreat, City Beach, Swanbourne, Cottesloe, Leighton, to Fremantle. Along the beaches it is wide, white sand, beautifully conserved vegetation, and magnificent buildings, all looking new and clear. There are many people out, kids playing in the sand, swimming and surfing, in quite summery clothes. It reaches 19°C today, with a light breeze.

Fremantle came as a pleasant surprise, with nicely preserved old buildings, lots of new developments, original and interesting, and a unique layout, although a bit of a maze in which we easily became lost. Finally we finished up at the boat harbour where there are any number of fresh-food restaurants and cafés in a beautiful setting of superb luxury yachts and cruisers, with a nearby esplanade and parkland, adjacent to the cobalt blue, calm ocean with lovely surf.

After a tasty fish lunch, we looked at a few historical buildings, including the Round House, which was once an old prison, then wound our way back up to Perth along the wide, beautifully blue Swan River, past clean, fresh, well-kept houses and orderly traffic.

We got a bit lost in East Perth and North Perth, but found our way near to home (Karrinyup), did a little shopping at nearby Warwick Grove shopping centre, got our 5th film developed at K-Mart, and arranged for muffler and air-conditioning repairs at K-Mart for the morrow, when we will spend the extra day sightseeing in Perth after a short train journey there. So after tea and a few chores we hit the hay at 9:00pm.

Day 15    Tuesday, August 28th, 2001
Second day in Perth

Another crisp, cold, but less-dewy morning which blossomed into a 20°C (at least), blue, sunny day, so we took the car to K-Mart Service Centre, Warwick Grove for repairs to the muffler. It turned out that they couldn't fault the air-conditioner, but they did replace the shock absorbers.

Meanwhile we spent the day in Perth, first by train and then the free CAT (City Area Transit) buses which do a Blue (North-South) and Red (East-West) route in the city area - most convenient. So we saw the Perth Mint, which was very good, with an excellent gold-pour demonstration (real this time - 400oz bar), and real coin and medallion pressing, as well as gold, silver and platinum refining.

This is where almost all of this work is now done in Australia. There is a transparent box with a real 400oz gold bar inside, that you can reach through a round hole. Bill could only just lift it up, but Glenyce couldn't! Perhaps Bill's piano playing makes the difference. There is also a large display of genuine large and small nuggets from all over the world in many forms, such as alluvial lumps, flakes, crystalline, and so on. We also saw a silver nugget about 3ft long!!

After we viewed the quaint Tudor Court in Hay St. we enjoyed a delicious Chinese meal at the Han Restaurant and went to the Barrack St. Jetty on the Swan River, had coffee, then boarded a bus back to the city centre to catch a different bus route. After lovely fresh fruit drinks we had a bus ride to West Perth, etc., and wandered back around the city centre until we had to catch the train to Warwick on the Joondalup line.

The whole city is clean and different, and the buses and trains were very efficient - they seem much better organized than Melbourne, but, of course, that city is much larger and more complex. The Perth Railway Station is clean and modern, and integrated beautifully with shopping areas via a system of escalators. The garage picked us up at the Warwick station, and the car is fixed (we hope) ready for us to push north tomorrow.

After home-cooked chicken and curry pasta we betook ourselves to bye-byes, tired but happy (as they say)! The car cost us about $700, so there's a budget hole, but we'll cope.

Day 16    Sunday, 4th November, 2001
Perth to Dongara

Today we drove from Perth to Dongara/Port Denison, just below Geraldton. It started out very warm and humid, but it started raining, quite heavily, after lunch, before Eneabba.

For a start, we got a bit lost, and followed the road to Yanchep, up the coast north of Perth, then struck east towards Gin-Gin. The country is very sandy heathland with many different kinds of banksias, dryandras, hakeas, etc., with subtle changes of vegetation all the while, and newer kinds of flowers visible, although not masses of them.

Ostriches at Gin-Gin
A huge crowd of ostriches rushed to view us as we stopped at their paddock at gin-Gin.
Then, drawing closer to Gin-Gin, we passed a large paddock full of ostriches, which had just run away in fright from a passing truck. But when we stopped for a photo, the whole herd - hundreds of them - were attracted magnetically to us by their sheer curiosity about us, homing in on us for about half a kilometre all around the field!

So there we stood on one side of the fence, the two of us gazing, fascinated, at the hundreds of ostriches, as they in their turn gazed silently at us, many of them bobbing their long necks up and down at us. It made quite a sight!

Earlier on, we had startled a young kangaroo on the road-edge, who panicked, and hopped in parallel with our car for about 200m before finding a gap in the bush. Of course, we slowed down, but after the emu incident last week it reminded us of this everpresent hazard.

One notable thing about this part of WA is the thousands and thousands of grass trees (blackboy bushes, Xanthorrhea species) which are everpresent, as well as the dozens of other shrubs and small trees, most of which are new to us, and many of which are starting to bloom. It's quite different from the Victorian bush with which we are familiar.

Everlastings near Gin-Gin
Swathes of planted everlastings surround Glenyce near Gin-Gin.
Soon after Gin-Gin, we came upon swathes of pink and white everlastings parallel with the road, mixed in with the odd blue lupin flower. This is the first massed flowering we have come across, and it was quite a thrill in the balmy air, although I suspect they were planted deliberately. We didn't see such a swathe again today, but certainly saw increasing amounts of beautiful flowering trees and shrubs displaying red, yellow and white flowers.

As we approached the known wildflower areas of Eneabba, Carnamah (where I lived my first year of life), Three Springs, Coorow, Perenjori, Morowa, Minginew and Mullewa, it started to rain quite heavily, and we decided to give these regions a miss and visit them on our way down again, with better weather and better wildflowers later into the season, which is apparently very late this year.
Curious signs at Eneabba oval
Eneabba oval has signs warning of the hazards of nesting magpies and falling limbs!
This is where a bus-load of Japanese tourists emerged to enthusiastically photograph the yellow Cape Weed on the oval.

Lunching at Eneabba sports ground we were amused by the sight of a tourist bus of Japanese all pile out to photograph the oval, which was covered with yellow-flowering Cape Weed!

So we pushed up to the twin towns of Dongara/Port Denison, which are located at a nice little boat harbour directly onto the Indian Ocean. Settling in, still hitched on, we made tea and went to bed to the sound of rain, strong wind, and the pounding of the surf some 100m away. We're cosy, but tired, perhaps as a result of out two days walking around Fremantle and Perth.

We hope for a fresh start tomorrow, perhaps with improved weather as we push for Geraldton tomorrow, and later to Kalbarri, Shark Bay, and Carnarvon. With luck, the weather will improve, as forecast, and we are led to believe that there are plenty of wildflowers.

© William G. Leithhead 2006