Page 88: Geraldton
     
  On our journey to Kalbarri from the North West Coastal Highway we had passed some really beautiful flowers along the roadside and later wished we had stopped to take pictures of them. There were two routes we could have taken on our way back out of Kalbarri, both the same length, so we opted to use the same road (Kalbarri Road), but this time to take some photographs. To look at those flowers click here.  
     
  Geraldton  
  With a population of over 25,000 Geraldton is the second largest country town in Western Australia and its second largest port. It was first surveyed in 1849 and named after Sir Charles Fitzgerald who was the Governor of Western Australia at that time.

It was a bit of a shock to us to find our way barred by red traffic signals. There is only one traffic light north of Geraldton in the whole state (at the Diversion Dam at Kununurra), so it was quite a while since we'd seen one.

We visited the Centro Stirling Shopping Centre and were impressed with the smart appearance of the shoppers. Women in skirts and even a few in high heels, men wearing ties. A bit of a culture shock for we of the shorts and T-shirts brigade.

One day we walked into the town centre and saw this 'thing' displayed at the roadside:-
 
     
   
  What is it? Not a mine, not a diving bell - perhaps a buoy?  
     
 

Neither of us knew what it is - or was. It's obviously steel with welding and riveting employed in its construction. It was displayed beside a large, rusty sea anchor so it presumably has a maritime purpose. It has substantial loops attached at each end. If it is hollow it would float. There was no visible entry hatch so it must be a buoy, I suppose.

Pam remembered seeing a photograph of it in some of the tourist literature we had collected from the information office so on arriving home we looked it up. Sure enough there was a picture of it but no mention whatsoever in the text.

Never fear, we will get to the bottom of this.

Later: The people in the caravan park didn't know what this object is. "Be sure to tell us when you find out", they said.
The people in the Tourist Visitor Centre didn't know. "If it's next to an anchor then it's off a ship" was their best response.
Even later still: We tried the W.A. Museum at Geraldton. They didn't know what it is and suggested we try asking the Geraldton Port Authority, "they're bound to know".
The girl at the reception desk of the Port Authority summoned another woman. She suggested calling one of the pilots, "he'll know for sure".
The pilot studied the picture and decided it must be a buoy of some sort.
"Call one of the supervisors" he told the receptionist, he'll know. The supervisor agreed it was "a buoy of some sort".
Then followed a general discussion. It might have been used during the recent dredging operations. No, it was in that shed that was cleared out. They placed the shed's contents in various places around the city.
Well folks, I said we would get to the bottom of it. Will you settle for "a buoy of some sort"? If not, let's throw it open to the panel. Do any of you wonderful people out there know what this object is?

This city is the windiest place that we have ever visited in the whole of Australia, bar none. On arrival we rolled out our awning despite noticing that no other caravan sported one. A bit of breeze wasn't going to deter us, we knew how to secure an awning.

Next morning, after a short fight with it, we managed to roll it up. And rolled up it stayed.

 
     
   
  Just in case you think I exaggerate the wind's strength, look how the trees grow. And of the three wheelie
bins in the picture, only one stands upright and that's only because it's leaning against a steel post.
 
     
  Walking back to the caravan park we passed over a bridge across a railway line and from the top we could see, beyond the trees, a red and white lighthouse. It was manufactured in England out of welded steel plates and shipped to Australia where the foundations were waiting for it . . . in the wrong place. New foundations were laid and the lighthouse erected. It began operation in 1878.  
     
   
  The lighthouse is visible from much of Geraldton.  
     
  Some interesting features in Geraldton  
  While wandering through the main shopping street in Geraldton we passed a jewellery shop. There, on the nice red carpet, stood a beautiful 1971 Norton Commando 750 cc twin cylinder motor cycle. In its day there was little in road bikes to match its performance. It was made seven years after I sold my last beloved Triumph Bonneville but similar enough to tug my heart strings and bring back happy memories.  
     
   
  This beauty was for sale for $9,500. If only . . .  
     
  Also in the shop were several beautiful grandfather clocks. We were invited to go upstairs and watch the clockmakers and jewellers working. In the back of the shop was an art gallery. Quite a shop.

On a rise overlooking Geraldton is a rather grand memorial to the crew of HMAS Sydney which, as you'll know from previous pages, sank off this coast after a battle with the German raider HSK Kormoran in November of 1941.
 
     
   
  The Memorial Dome consists of 645 stainless steel seagulls, one for each of the lost souls. In the centre is mounted a ship's propeller which serves as a ceremonial wreath-laying altar. The stainless steel sculpture in the background metaphorically represents the prow of HMAS Sydney.  
     
   
  The silver gulls seen from the Sanctuary Floor. Suspended from the centre of the dome is the Eternal Flame which was lit from the King's Park War Memorial in Perth.  
     
   
  At the edge of the precinct is a bronze sculpture entitled The Waiting Woman. Almost lifelike, she leans into the wind, her eyes searching the horizon for a sign of a returning ship. She represents women throughout the ages who have waited and prayed when their menfolk have gone to war.  
     
  Wandering the streets we came across the structure shown below. Puzzled, we read the plaque beside it to discover that it's a sundial. The sun shines through perforations in the large hoop and casts a shadow on the curved steel being held by the sculptured children. Well, the sun was shining brightly but no matter how hard we thought about it, there was no way we could fathom out how to tell the time. So we did what any sensible person would do and gave up.  
     
   
  The sundial. Pam kept going back to the instructions then trying again to read the time, but in vain.  
     
  Just across the road from the sundial was Saint Francis Xavier's Cathedral which looked quite impressive from a distance. Up close the beautiful stained glass windows were all protected by perspex covers. From inside the stained glass could be appreciated but from the outside the windows just looked dirty. There was a christening in progress so we only peeped through the door.  
     
   
  St. Francis Xavier's Cathedral, Geraldton.  
     
   
  Looking back at the Cathedral from the gardens. And, no, that isn't Pam's underwear draped over the crucifix, it was part of the sculpture - see inset left.