Thanks to Graham and Donna that I house sat for last year I was able to plan for the Bridgetown Blues Festival this year. Graham sends me information about events in WA that I might be interested in and the planets aligned this year to put me in the right area at the right time to enjoy this amazing weekend. And I was lucky enough to share it with some Solo friends…
There were a few of us exploring this beautiful part of Western Australia after leaving the CMCA Rally in Albany so I was joined at Bridgetown by Jolanta, Maggie, Shannon and Kerry – much more fun when you can share these wonderful experiences. And Bridgetown itself is a very pretty town and well worth a visit.
I’d only just arrived at the camping area at the showgrounds ($45 for 3 nights, showers and toilets provided) when I got a message from Janet, who was the caretaker at Salmon Gums when I stopped there earlier this year She saw me drive through Bridgetown and was keen to catch up. Well, that was easy, as it turned out I had camped right next to her! If you don’t remember Janet from my blogs I’m sure you’ll remember her dog, wee Jock, who was the subject of Max the Mad Rooter’s attention!
You could buy a ticket for all the events for the very reasonable price of around $180 but knowing I had some expenses coming up to keep Brutus on the road I opted to enjoy whatever was available for free in the street and pub venues over the weekend. There were plenty of venues and plenty of music to keep me busy! ( Should that be were or was?)
The campground was friendly and the commuter bus that ran continually for only $2 a ride ferried us back and forth to town, as it was a bit of a hilly hike from the main street to the showgrounds. So we’d wander in for a few hours, come back to the camp for some rest and recovery, then hit the venues again for the evening sessions.
The following photos were taken on Friday night at the Freo (Freemason’s Hotel). The first act, Jodie Boni, had a powerful voice and I enjoyed her music as one of the best of the weekend. And it was lovely to see her relaxing at the Cidery on Sunday with her friends and family – very natural.
Jodie Boni – what a voice
Janet looking Bluesy
11th Hour performing
Saturday was stinking hot so the air-conditioned pubs were the places to be. Steve who was camped opposite me kept me company for the first couple of hours until he went off to the paid venues to see Russell Morris and Diesel while I was happy to enjoy the cool outdoors – and even cooler music – at the Bridgetown Hotel. Mind you, I did cop a bit of flack from the other girls for ‘picking up’ a good looking fella! Later that night it started to rain so I headed home before I turned into a pumpkin and conserved my energy for another full on day on Sunday.
There was still a lot happening in town but we decided to head out to The Cidery for a casual lunch and some more great music – a perfect day. There were 2 different entertainers today but my favourite was definitely Andrew Winton. Loved his music and his friendly chat. We sat at a table right in front of the stage so got to enjoy it all up close and personal.
It takes all types….
Singer Jodie Boni relaxing for the day.
Chook – the final act at the Cidery
We didn’t have tickets for the wrap party so made our way back to camp, everyone heading in different directions when we left on Monday morning. What a fantastic weekend – good music, good friends and a great atmosphere.
This was a familiar refrain at the CMCA, (Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia), rally in Albany a couple of weeks ago! Despite the wet weather over 600 motorhomes and their occupants were there to enjoy themselves – and we did! Here’s a photo of the Rally Site posted to the CMCA Facebook page by a local photographer, Brad Harkup.
I had never been to a major rally before and thought Albany would be a good one to attend. I expected it to be smaller than those held on the east coast of Australia due to the travelling distance to the West and that proved to be true. But the organisers didn’t skimp on activities and there was plenty to do every day – if you had a rain coat or umbrella 🙂
As I was a ‘First Timer’ I entered the Rally on Friday, two days before most of the other attendees arrived. This gave us ‘newbies’ time to get to know the rally site, find out where things were, decide on what activities I wanted to participate in and set up camp.
The following day most of the Solos entered the site and on the Sunday the program started with a Trivia Night in the big white tent you can see on the oval in the photo above. That’s all I really want to say about that – We did not perform well!!
One of the activities I most enjoyed was a bus trip to see a couple of the aboriginal sites around Albany. First we went to the Fish Traps which have existed for over 6000 years.
The National Trust has managed the Oyster Harbour Fish Traps since 1966 after they were threatened by development. It is thought the traps were once part of a Noongar camp site where people had gathered for at least 7,500 years.
The fish traps are designed in the shape of a crescent and only visible at low tide. They were first recorded by English explorer Captain George Vancouver in 1791. They consist of eight weirs made from thousands of stones. The traps caught huge numbers of fish as the Kalgan River rose and fell.
Our next stop was at Yorrl Park where long necked turtles are re-stablishing themselves and breeding in the nearby sand hills. It was interesting to note that the local schools were involved in the design of the interpretive signs, as they were for the fish trap signs above.
We finished out trip at The Old Strawberry Farm, the oldest farm in Western Australia. We didn’t have time to view the old home but harvested some lovely fresh herbs and vegetables from the community garden to take away with us. I thought it was rather special that the beautiful red poppies were flowering so close to Remembrance Day, 11th November.
I also decided to do some craft activities, much to the horror of the instructors after they had seen how hopelessly ‘uncrafty’ I am. My first attempt was at making a card – well I blew that and ended up with a very tatty looking dolphin. I was given another one and all went well until I stuck it on the card and pressed hard to make it stick. All of a sudden my beautiful white dolphin had dirty fingermarks all over it! Here endeth my card making lesson!
I did make a bracelet using a weaving method called Kumihimo even though it was a very individual pattern – not good at following instructions! And I also made a Christmas decoration using folded ribbons which looked fantastic until I turned it up the right way and all the ribbons escaped my pins! Oh well, perhaps I’ll stick to poetry!
Every morning there was a Poet’s Breakfast and I was dedicated enough to front up each day at 7am to wait my turn to share a poem or two. Success at something at last!
Saturday night at the Rally was a ‘Ball’. A great band played, lots of people dressed to the theme of ‘ a touch of military’ and generally we had a ball!
Margaret and I
And the band played on
Cherri who I met at Robe River
Monday morning it was time to say goodbye to the Rally and Albany. I’m glad I’ve experienced a ‘big’ rally. I probably won’t rush to another one – perhaps Tassie in 2017 – but I’ve learned never to say never….
It’s time to have a break for a few days before I head to the Bridgetown Blues Festival. I’m certainly looking forward to that!
This poem was written to promote the CMCA Solos Rally in Wagin, Western Australia in October 2015 and was shared at our Penola Rally in South Australia in March 2015
We’ll be ragin’ in Wagin
The Solos Rally in the West
Where the wild flowers are spectacular
And the beaches are the best.
And whether you come over the top
Or across the Nullabor
You’ll find that Western Australia
Has amazing things in store.
From the pure white sandy beaches
That you’ll see at Cape Le Grande,
To the rugged cliffs of Kalbarri
And the red earth of the inland.
The National Parks provide great camps
And it’s not hard to find free sites,
Where fellow travellers meet for fun
To enjoy the starry nights.
The country towns are friendly
The station stays a must
But the wind blows strong on the west coast
And you’ll never get rid of red dust.
Yet the dust’s like a badge of honour,
It says you’ve travelled far,
And you’ve ventured on those long dirt roads
And not stuck to the tar.
So make the trip to Wagin
Enjoy your journey on the way
Gather lots of great experiences
And we’ll see you in WA!
Our final stop at the top of the Eyre Peninsula was Port Augusta which we carefully skirted as best we could and continued to head down the coast, this time on the Fleurieu Peninsula. We still had a few days before the rally began and I was keen to stop in one spot for a while when we got closer to Penola. Setting up and packing up my van every day is not my idea of my travelling lifestyle!
Port Augusta to Penola
Our first overnighter we planned to stay at one of the National Park camp sites but when we arrived we found that you had to book a site on line. Well, that was a bit hard to do as there was no mobile or internet reception until we had driven the 5kms back to the gate so we thought we’d keep going. We ended up at Baroota Rodeo and Campground. It was dusty but the welcome made up for that, and the showers were great. After a lazy start the next day we continued along the coast road, stopping to photograph yet another jetty at Port Germein. The signs claim it is the longest timber jetty in the Southern Hemisphere at 1.5kms long, but I think Busselton, in Western Australia, beats it at 1.8kms, so they can justifiably claim the title!
Port Germein Jetty – the end is way off in the distance!
The famous Busselton Jetty, 1.8kms out to sea!
We continued to hug the coast until we got to Two Wells, where we headed east to Gawler to avoid going through Adelaide, our aim being to make it to Mannum and a caravan park to catch up on washing clothes, hair, etc. The caravan park at Mannum was a great find – right on the river – and our camp site was looking out over the water. I also bumped in to a lovely couple I had met at Pinjarra, in Western Australia, Peter and Ann, who were also staying there. We couldn’t wish for anything nicer. The water hens were pesky, though, and one ducked in and stole my toast off my breakfast plate – cheeky thing!
Margaret decided to head to Penola the next day and I decided to cross the river to Haythorpe Reserve and have a couple of days by myself before tackling the last leg to Penola. Both Haythorpe Reserve and Bolto Reserve are directly over the river from the Mannum township and the ferry runs 24 hours a day on demand. They both have flush toilets and there is an honesty box for the overnight fee of $10. It is free to use the ferry and it carries both vehicles and pedestrians. I love these ferries, having first used one at Cadell on my way across to the west 12 months ago.
I just had to take a photo of the Paddle Steamer Marion, as that is my sister’s name – although my sister was built a little later than 1897!! The PS Marion is a fully restored, operational, wood fired, steam driven Paddle Steamer and was totally restored for its 100th birthday in 1997. Mannum lays claim as the birthplace of the Australian paddle steamer with the launch of the Mary Ann in 1853. Both the links I have included above give some great information about The Marion, its specifications, and its history – fascinating stuff! And you can find out more about the Maritime Museum at Mannum here.
But the most spectacular sight was the Murray Princess as it cruised by my campsite! What a great trip on the mighty Murray River that would be!
The Murray Princess, paddle steamer
With a stopover at the Naracoorte Showgrounds for one night I finally caught up with my fellow Solos at Greenrise Lake as we camped up to enter the Solos Rally tomorrow. It has been only 14 days since I left Western Australia and I have travelled over 3200kms……so much to see ….. so little time!
After a false start because Brutus misbehaved badly, I finally left to head east over a week late and considerably poorer! Can you believe it cost $1000 to be towed 200kms? Thank goodness for my insurance with Ken Tame as $600 of that was recovered and he also arranged the tow for me. I was holed up in a caravan park in Norseman for a few days while the mechanic sorted out the problem, then wimped out and went back to Salmon Gums (in the opposite direction to where I was heading!) to lick my wounds and change my mind-set! One of my Solo friends, Val, popped into see me on her way west with her new dog, Max, who promptly became the subject of a poem due to his behaviour! And then Margaret, another Solo did a 100km detour to meet up with me so we could travel across the Nullarbor together. Oh, on the way to Norseman we stopped to have a look at Bromus Dam as it is a free camp which might be of interest to some of you. (no facilities)
So, what is the “big paddock”? It’s a name given to the journey from Norseman in WA to Ceduna in SA, across the Nullarbor. (Null = No; Arbor = Trees)The interesting thing is that although this whole trip from Norseman in the West to Ceduna in the East is called “crossing the Nullarbor”, in fact the true Nullarbor Plain is only a portion of this trip and starts just to the west of the roadside stop of Nullarbor.
Here’s the map that shows you the extent of this trip…..and I might mention that the Nullarbor is often called the Nullarboring!
Salmon Gums to Ceduna
We made really good time, staying our first night east of Balladonia at the 90mile peg. I was excited to even make it to Balladonia because a week earlier I had been towed in there when Brutus died about 60kms east. For those of you who have never been across the Nullarbor the places that sound like towns are really only a roadhouse, and they are dotted about every 200kms.
Our second night was at Madura Pass, in the parking area at the lookout. What a spectacular view! (My photos are much better than the ones on the link to Wikipedia, too!)
Fellow Solo, Margaret
We’re not even really on the Nullarbor yet, but it certainly looks like it!
Sunrise at Madura Pass at 5.06am
Our last stop in Western Australia was at Eucla. As we wanted to do some touristy things there we booked into the caravan park. A shower was really welcome after a few hot day’s travel and because we got in fairly early we had the pick of the spots.
Eucla Caravan Park
The ‘must see’ at Eucla is the old telegraph station. As the dunes shift, sometimes it is hardly visible but it was quite exposed the day we were there.
On the way to the telegraph station there is also the Traveller’s Cross and a memorial stone to John Eyre, who crossed the Nullarbor from Fowler’s Bay in South Australia to Albany in Western Australia. The following information is from Wikipedia:
Eyre, together with his Aboriginal companion Wylie, was the first European to traverse the coastline of the Great Australian Bight and the Nullarbor Plain by land in 1840-1841, on an almost 2000 mile trip to Albany, Western Australia. He had originally led the expedition with John Baxter and three aborigines. On 29 April 1841 two of the aborigines killed Baxter and left with most of the supplies, and Eyre and Wylie were only able to survive because they chanced to encounter, at a bay near Esperance, Western Australia, a French whaling ship Mississippi, under the command of an Englishman, Captain Thomas Rossiter, for whom Eyre named the location Rossiter Bay.
The next day we crossed the border into South Australia and stopped at the Nullarbor Roadhouse for a break and to re-fuel. I had heard a few bad reports about this stop but there are new owners and they are really trying to fix the place up. The showers and toilets were brand new and showers operated on $1 coin in the slot. Their petrol certainly wasn’t the most expensive we paid and the staff were friendly. A good stop with a good atmosphere. This is the sign as you are leaving.
At the Nullarbor Roadhouse
We’ve almost made it! Our last stop before Ceduna was at the 222km peg and we managed to find a camp back off the road amongst some trees which we shared with 2 caravanning couples. It was really foggy when we woke up the following morning.
Foggy morning at the 222km peg camp
We were stopped at Ceduna as you are not allowed to take certain fruits and vegetables across the state borders but Margaret and I had cooked everything up a couple of nights ago so we had nothing to declare. Our journey of 1686kms was at an end. We left Salmon Gums on Monday March 9 and arrived in Ceduna on Friday the 13th – and you can bet there’s a story there – but more about that in my next blog as we start exploring the Eyre Peninsula.
My camp at Geeveston on the way to the Tahune Air Walk
Tahune Air Walk
A highlight was catching up with my ex-brother in law Jim who I hadn’t seen for about 40 years. My biggest challenge was not the thought of meeting him again after all that time, it was getting Brutus up the hill to his home – it was so steep I thought I was going to roll backwards into the peak hour traffic that was built up behind me!
My last weekend in Tasmania was with the Tassie Shearwater Solos at the Evandale Penny Farthing Races. What a great way to end my nearly 3 months in Tasmania!
I have decided to start a new blog feature and call it Flashback Friday. At irregular intervals, (I was going to go for regular but then common sense kicked in!), I will go back to my calendar from the previous year and recall where I was and what I was doing. It will be mainly pictorial …. and I do hope you enjoy my recollections as much as I am!
Where I was then and Where I am now!
This week in 2014 I was at the last couple of days of the Tasmanian Combined Chapters Rally in Sorell before heading to my sister’s home at Lake Leake in the northern midlands of Tassie.
Marion’s garden is a profusion of lavender, daisies and red hot pokers….