Hamish and Annie Say:

Even a fool knows you can't touch the stars,
but it doesn’t stop a wise man from trying.

     

      Pam's Journal For November 2008

     
  Saturday 1st November 2008  
  I walked into town to do some shopping whilst Pete Mate washed the awning and some of the caravan. He collected me and the shopping a couple of hours later. The walk into town isn’t very far and is quite pleasurable as there are so many colours to see. The flowers and trees are a credit to the town and everywhere is neat and tidy.

After lunch Pete Mate went off to the car wash and to fill up with diesel. Carnarvon prices are the best we have seen in ages. We then packed away everything ready to leave tomorrow.
 
  Sunday 2nd November 2008  
  We left Carnarvon around 9.30am and for the first two hours life was uneventful. We were listening to a talking book and I was knitting. Then out of the blue we found ourselves on the wrong side of the road on the gravel verge still driving at 70kph. Pete Mate had fallen asleep at the wheel. V E R Y scary! In all the time we have been travelling it hasn’t happened before. We had had our comfort stop not long before. Anyone travelling with me would know we have lots of ‘comfort’ stops. The caravan was all over the place but Pete Mate did an excellent job of righting the car and caravan and luckily we didn’t overturn - that was the unspoken thought going through both our minds.

Once back in control and on our side of the road he pulled over and we took five minutes out to thank God and our guardian angels. As we were 28kms away from a roadhouse we made for that and had a longer break whilst we had lunch and some coffee for a caffeine fix. Before we went into the roadhouse we checked the inside of the 'van and got a shock which brought it home to us how much the caravan swayed from side to side. We put everything back in its place and counted ourselves lucky that the only thing broken was the leg one of my little dolls. It was upsetting as it was a gift from one of my grandsons but not as upsetting as it would have been if it had been mine or Pete Mate’s leg!

The rest of the journey was uneventful and we arrived in Denham mid afternoon. The caravan park was nearly deserted and we had the pick of the place. We opted for a site that gave us some shelter from the wind rather than an ocean view. Once we had set up camp it was just about time for Happy Hour. We had a drink to celebrate our safe arrival and on completing the loop around Australia. We have gone the full circle and are now back in familiar territory.
 
  Monday 3rd November 2008  
  We walked into town in the afternoon to have a look around and see if Denham had changed in four years. There is a very large ugly building which is the Heritage Centre and doubles as the information centre. We had a quick look inside but weren’t overly impressed. We walked to the end of town which isn’t that far and retraced our steps back to the caravan park, calling in a coffee shop as we passed. The coffee didn’t score very high so I guess we won’t be returning there. It was extremely windy which made it unpleasant for sitting outside so we read and 'computered' inside.  
  Tuesday 4th November 2008  
  The wind had dropped today so it was very pleasant going for our walk. We went for a long walk for the exercise and called in at the bakery for an excellent coffee. We then called in at the Shire Office where we had heard they had second hand books. They did but not for sale, only exchange. So we walked home to collect two of our books and returned to do a swap. We shared happy hour with some nice people called Rob and Colleen from Mount Gambier in South Australia.  
  Wednesday 5th November 2008  
  We packed a picnic lunched and drove to Monkey Mia to see the dolphins. Alas we had arrived too late and they had been and gone for the day. We were told to return another day at 7.30am. These dolphins must have a good sense of humour. We decide to explore some other beauty spots instead. I say explore but some of the day was spent revisiting beauty spots we had first visited in 2004.

The Little Lagoon was tranquil and very picturesque with few people about. We left there and were making our way to Eagle Bluff but spied Denham Lookout along the way. We must have missed this in 2004 as we couldn’t remember ever being there. (I have just checked my 2004 journal and found we did visit here before). We had our lunch overlooking the water with the town of Denham in the distance. After lunch we drove to Eagle Bluff and walked along the cliff top boardwalk, searching the water far below for sharks, dugongs, turtles etc., then looked skyward for any birds. We met two very nice young men who pointed some sharks out to us, but I have to be honest and admit most of the time what I was looking at was seaweed. We spent some time there but saw little.

Heading homewards, Pete Mate stopped at a cemetery we had spotted on our way out. We wandered around the graves, as we do. Yes, I know, some people think we are weird but sometimes you can learn a lot about a town from the headstones. The oldest graves were from the early 1900’s, and there were only two belonging to children. We left the graves in peace and decided we needed a coffee from the bakery, which was again up to its usual standard.

Then it was time for home and Happy Hour. Rob and Colleen arrived home late from their day out so it was a late H.H. but very enjoyable. They are like so many folk we have met, really nice people.
 
  Thursday 6th November 2008  
  We awoke to the wind howling and a chill in the air. I have it on good authority - Pete Mate, that is - that the wind howled and the rain poured during the night. I heard not a thing but slept soundly through it all. The day remained cold and windy with an occasional light shower but as we are brave little soldiers we fought the elements and walked through town to the bakery for lunch. When we returned home we tucked ourselves away in the caravan and read. No Happy Hour tonight – it is too damn cold!  
  Friday 7th November 2008  
  We didn’t do much really apart from take a walk into town and have a coffee at the bakery.  
  Saturday 8th November 2008  
  We packed everything away and then went for our walk and had lunch at the bakery.  
  Sunday 9th November 2008  
  We left Denham around 9.00am for Kalbarri, where our Grey Nomad lifestyle all started. We had a good run through, safe and sound this time. Along the way we saw so many beautiful flowers, the colours were stunning, we are going to drive back to the highway without the caravan to take photos. We arrived in time to set up camp before Happy Hour. Colleen and Rob were here so we walked over to their site and also met Bill, a friend of theirs. A very pleasant time.  
     
   
  Rob and Colleen at Happy Hour.  
     
   
  Pete Mate and Bill.  
     
  Monday 10th November 2008  
  I love Kalbarri. I wonder if I can buy a tee-shirt with that on? Here would be an ideal place to live, Perth is only a day’s drive away and Geraldton only two and half hours. Kalbarri has all the basic shops but is so unspoiled it is like living in paradise. I went for an early morning walk while Pete Mate slept on. After we had breakfast and I had done some grocery shopping we went for a walk to the headland lookouts. It was so lovely to be back here and find nothing has really changed. We found the second hand book shop and exchanged some books then found a coffee shop for our much needed shot of caffeine. We then wandered home for a late lunch and before we knew it it was time for Happy Hour. It was again a very pleasant time spent with very nice people.  
  Tuesday 11th November 2008  
  Remembrance Day. Pete Mate and I, wearing our poppies, made our way to the war memorial for the Remembrance Day ceremony. It was very moving and we felt very privileged that these men and women fought so valiantly so we could enjoy our wonderful life. When the small group of men and women disbanded, some off to the pub for a beer, we went for our walk to the other end of town. The vista of Kalbarri never ceases to enthrall me. Even the silly galahs squawking and swooping around were a joy to watch. During our walk we decided, as it was lunchtime, to treat ourselves to fish and chips. Alas, the shop was closed so we walked back into town to another little fish and chip shop, we enjoyed lunch whilst taking in the view. Once replete we wandered home to the caravan to pack everything away, for tomorrow we are off to Geraldton. We enjoyed another very pleasant extended Happy Hour with Colleen, Rob and Bill which included eating our tea together. Then all too soon it was time to say goodbye to everyone.  
  Wednesday 12th November 2008  
  We left Kalbarri around 9:00 a.m. and retraced our Sunday route in, the reason being that we wanted to take photos of the wildflowers. We were going to drive back on the Monday or Tuesday but decided to conserve the fuel and do it on the way to Geraldton. The flowers were amazing and so abundant. We thought the wildflower season would be finished by now but it is very evident they are still in full bloom.
We arrived in Geraldton at lunchtime so by the time we had set up camp and had a late lunch half the afternoon had gone. We were in the throes of setting up when Bob and Barbara appeared from the caravan next door. We met them at Rob and Colleen’s happy hour two days ago, another one of those coincidences. No Happy Hour tonight as it was way too windy and cold to sit outside.
 
  Thursday 13th November 2008  
  My goodness, is it windy here or what? I did some washing and it was a major battle to get it on the line, especially the sheets. When we opened the caravan or car door we had to hold on tight otherwise it would have been blown out of our hands. This is no exaggeration, it is the windiest place we have visited so far. The awning that was rolled out yesterday was rolled in again today and when we looked around at the other caravans, none had an awning out.

We went into town to the information centre and to the supermarket. The town looks nice with some old buildings and the people were friendly. Once back home we unpacked everything and had a quiet Happy Hour inside the caravan.
 
  Friday 14th November 2008  
  We set off for the short walk to the Port to have a look around. We hadn’t been walking long when we hit a snag, the path ended so we would now have to walk on the road. Not a good plan taking into account the size of the trucks and the speed they travel. So we decided to take another path and walk towards town. Before we knew it we were in the middle of town looking for a coffee shop. We found one and enjoyed a very nice coffee, we then had a wander around the mall and spied a motor bike in a jeweller's shop. What a good ploy to get the men inside a jewellers! Pete Mate drooled over it whilst I had a good look around. I soon discovered that the shop also housed a coffee shop and gallery that had some rather nice pictures in it. The whole place is owned by one man and is family run. We walked home battling the wind all the way.
 
  Saturday 15th November 2008  
  We took the car into town today, parked up and then walked all over the town. We climbed a steep hill to get to the HMAS Sydney Memorial but it was worth it. Not only was the memorial remarkable but the views from up there were breathtaking. Each of the 645 seagulls on the memorial represents a sailor that lost his life. Before building the memorial they held a ceremony to dedicate the ground. As the Last Post sounded a flock of gulls flew over and people present felt they were the spirits of the dead sailors. This inspired the design of the memorial.

We walked down the hill again and after eating some lunch we went in search of the cathedral. The cathedral was designed by Monsignor John Hawes who, according to the pamphlet, is an ‘architectural genius’. They started building it in 1916 and completed it in 1938. We cannot say we were impressed but we didn’t have a good look inside as a christening was taking place. Not wanting to intrude we slipped away quietly. Monsignor John Hawes apparently designed other buildings in this region.

We now decided to make our way back to the car as I, for one, was pooped. Once in the car we drove to the information centre for Pete Mate to get some info. Right! Not the best information centre we have been to.

It was then time for home as Happy Hour was drawing near. Our Happy Hours are spent in the 'van with just the two of us as no one sits outside in this wind.
 
  Sunday 16th November 2008  
  Lay day.  
  Monday 17th November 2008  
  The wind wasn’t so bad during the earlier part of today but late in the afternoon it returned with a vengeance. Getting the washing off the line is a two man job. We went into town together then Pete Mate took off to the camera shop and Bunnings’ whilst I had a haircut and enjoyed some retail therapy. We met later for coffee before heading home. Once home we were entertained by a whip wielding man who was teaching another chap how to crack a whip. The crack sounds a little like a gun being fired so soon there were a few people watching. It was quite a display; I even considered buying one to keep Pete Mate in line, next time he is proposing to barmaids or waitresses.  
  Tuesday 18th November 2008  
  We walked into town with a breeze not a full force gale, keeping us company. Once in town we, of course, headed for the coffee shop. After very good coffees we ventured through town to the museum as we had heard it was very good. The displays were excellent with many screens dotted about showing short films depicting the history of the town narrated by local people. I found the display of the Batavia very interesting.

In their theatre they ran films about an hour long, one about the finding of the Sydney II and another story of the Batavia sinking plus all the rape, murder and general mayhem that went with it. The men involved were brutal in their crimes but when caught the men that carried out the punishments were even more brutal.

As part of the week-long proceedings to mark the anniversary of the sinking of HMAS Sydney II, the museum had a display which was quite interesting. Whilst in the museum we learnt that at 5.30pm there was going to be lectures about the finding of the Sydney II and Pete Mate wanted to attend. Now, confession time, I thought "b-o-r-i-n-g" and would have rather been at home with a glass of red. Anyway being a kind hearted wife I booked us two places and we left the museum in search of a very late lunch.

Along the way we saw the Old Gaol to which a visit had been recommend. So being dutiful tourists we wandered through. It also served as a craft centre, selling the wares the locals had made. We found one lady sitting knitting in an old cell! On display were some intriguing looking animals and such like. We were told they were made from old cans; spray cans and baby food cans. It is amazing what people can do with rubbish. The chap that did it also made rocking chairs and peacocks with intricate looking lace work all from old cans. He then spray painted them gold and when the spray can was empty he used it to make something else. No waste here.

Once we left the Gaol we found a coffee shop and had a sandwich and coffees. We then proceeded to walk back to the caravan to collect the car. I didn’t want to walk home later, after the lectures. I don’t like walking in the dark. We hadn’t gone but a few steps when Pete Mate, being a gallant gentleman, said "You stay in town and browse (notice he said browse and not spend), whilst I go back and get the car". So that is what we did and I met him at the Museum in time to be seated for these lectures.

Well, how wrong could I be, boring they were not, they were very interesting and I felt we came away with a better understanding of the work and money involved in the search and the reasons why. It was very clear that the location of the Sydney had been known for many years but it wasn’t until 1992 that mankind had the technology to look for it. But as the museum chap said, the men in suits didn’t believe the findings and so the whole project was shelved until this year. Actually the project of finding the Sydney has never been ‘shelved’ as behind the scenes people have for years been collating the evidence, it was just the people with the funding that were sceptical. Well we left there about 8.00pm and believe it or not it was still light thanks to daylight saving. Billy was parked just outside the museum and I for one was glad to see him.
 
  Wednesday 19th November 2008
 
  Lay day.  
  Thursday 20th November 2008  
  I spent a lovely hour in Spotlight stocking up on wool and generally having a browse. Pete Mate used the time to have a browse around Bunnings. After he collected me we went to our favourite coffee shop in town and enjoyed a coffee. Then it was on to the real task of the day, grocery shopping. By the time that was done it was 5.30pm and well past Happy Hour time so we headed home.

Once everything was packed away we spent a very nice but late Happy Hour with our neighbours and a couple who were parked behind our caravan. They were also behind us in Carnarvon. Another of life’s coincidences.
 
  Friday 21st November 2008  
  We walked into town and then along the water front. This area has recently had a face lift and looks very nice. There are grassed areas along with a normal children’s playground and a water playground - it looks really lovely for families to enjoy. There are picnic tables and seats and barbecues dotted about the place.  
     
   
  Part of the children's playground and water playground in Geraldton.  
     
  Once we'd walked the front we found our favourite coffee shop and enjoyed our last Geraldton coffee. Then there was the walk home to which is generally no trouble once we have had our caffeine fix. Later we had another Happy Hour with John and Toni, this time it went for much longer, we think we had a good time.  
  Saturday 22nd November 2008  
  Three out of the four of us felt a little under the weather this morning. Pete Mate was as bright as a button so we others had to hate him a little. It took me until mid afternoon to feel somewhat human again, which was unfortunate as it was 'get ready' day. I had to force myself to pack away everything and be ready for an early start tomorrow. We had our last Geraldton Happy Hour with John and Toni and another new couple who had just arrived this afternoon. A very pleasant time but a lot less wine!  
  Sunday 23rd November 2008  
  We said our goodbyes and were on the road just after 8.00am; quite early for us. We had a good run through so much so that instead of having an overnighter somewhere we went all the way through to Perth. Luckily our site had become vacant today so no problems there. Along the way we saw heaps of beautiful wildflowers, so many colours and varieties. It made for a very pleasant journey. We arrived at the caravan park very late afternoon and set up camp before enjoying a glass of red, dinner and bed.  
  Monday 24th November 2008  
  We first called in to see an old friend who lives in the caravan park. The park is more like a retirement village with a lot of houses in one part of the park and caravans in the other. We eventually found Dave, said a quick hello, and headed out.

We went into the new Armadale shopping centre for a look around and to buy a couple of things for Pete Mate. It has expanded since we were here last and hosts many more shops. We, as usual, needed help to find our way back to the car. We eventually found Gloria Jeans on Jull Street and had a coffee and some lunch before I remembered that Pat worked on Jull Street. So I went off to find her - with success - and as it was just about her lunchtime we joined her and had another coffee.

Pete Mate just cannot help himself, he wanted to buy a new electric razor to shave his head so he encouraged the assistant to touch his hair to see how coarse his hair is. Not once, not twice but three times. Anyway he obviously enjoyed it as the sale was made. It was then back to the caravan for a hair cut and for me to make dinner.

We took dinner to our house to see NP and Shane. They were fine, the house is still standing but in need of some TLC and we had a very pleasant time catching up after four years. We then called in to see Pat and Tony meaning only to stay an hour but three hours later we left. We felt a bit awful as they had to be up very early for Pat to catch a flight to Melbourne.
 
  Tuesday 25th November 2008  
  First item on our itinerary today was the old mammogram for me, not Pete Mate. I reckon a man with a sick sense of humour invented these machines and he is still laughing. Once that was out of the way we went to Skipper Mitsubishi to check Billy in for a service. Nice place Skippers; if you have to wait you can help yourself to coffee, the real stuff, tea, hot chocolate, biscuits and muffins. The T.V. is on and there are various newspapers and magazines to read. We left there in search of The Mod Shop to check out the card for our satellite dish. Eventually we found the place and were given the information. We then zipped over to Canning Vale to see my old place of work and all the dear friends I have there. We spent a little time there catching up with them. Once back in the car we discovered Pete Mate’s glasses had come apart around the rim plus we hadn’t had lunch so we found a shopping centre had the glasses repaired and had a bite to eat. In the evening we spent a very pleasant time with our friends John & Tracey and their son Greg. We drank a little too much wine but what the heck we always drink a little too much wine.  
  Wednesday 26th November 2008  
  We had to be at Skipper Mitsubishi by 9.00am and as we both felt a little under the weather it was going to be a challenge. We made it by 9.15am, booked in Billy and used their courtesy bus service into the city.

We had a wander around, noting the changes with Pete Mate taking photos. We then jumped on a train to Mandurah which was all new to us. The ride was extraordinarily smooth and fast; we found the journey interesting.

Once in Mandurah we made use of the free bus that took us to the foreshore. The bus driver was a comedian making everyone laugh - he obviously enjoyed his work. In Mandurah we again drifted around and Pete Mate took more photos. We enjoyed a nice fish & chip lunch and really disgusting coffee from G.J’s before making our way back to the bus stop to start the return journey. Back in the city we walked along the riverside into Victoria Park where Billy was being looked after. Again the camera was out and working as the place had changed so much.
 
  Thursday 27th November 2008  
  We had a proper look at the house today and left 'himself' a list of things to be done. We then had to visit Centrelink to update our details; boy do they know the art of keeping you waiting. We encountered a very helpful lady who gave us lots of information and some money! From there we went to the new shopping mall in Armadale and were pleasantly surprised by the many improvements. We found a good cup of coffee and donuts. Once home we had a quiet evening as all this socialising is wearing us out.  
  Friday 28th November 2008  
  Our friends Jan and Peter came over to see us and we enjoyed a very pleasant time catching up. We used the park’s facilities to cook a barbecue lunch. All the time we were there people came to check their mail boxes and generally to have a look at what we were doing. Maybe not many people barbecue in this park. Once Jan & Peter had left we had a nanna nap, then before we knew it it was happy hour.  
  Saturday 29th November 2008  
  We set out for the city but along the way we called in at Caravan Land, the place where we bought our caravan. We were pleased to learn that the value of our ‘van is holding; one glimmer of good news in this dreary economic climate. After we had had a wander around Caravan Land's ‘Toy Shop' and baulked at the price of everything, we left to go to the Polo Match. This was our reason for travelling to the city. Now polo matches are not really our cup of tea, though in all honesty we've never been to one before. The only insight I have had into this rich man’s sport is by reading the magazines and seeing the Princes of Buckingham Palace taking part. Oh, and of course there's a couple of polo scenes in the movie, Pretty Woman. The reason we attended such an event was to see our friends Tracey, John and Greg in action selling their churros and today they were also doing a sausage sizzle.

Pete Mate just cannot help himself, any nice looking female who approached the van to purchase their goodies were also treated to the charm of himself. He even had the nerve to tell one girl he could see straight through her dress. As far as I know he didn't propose to any of them so perhaps he's improving.

We did actually enjoy the time we spent there but I couldn’t follow the polo so I still don’t know who won or why. We left there to travel to a northern suburb as we had been invited to tea with friends Bernie and June. We spent a very pleasant time and had a lovely meal. Before we knew it it was time to leave for home.
 
  Sunday 30th November 2008  
  Lay Day. I feel b??????d. Oops! I mean very tired.