The Snail Trail

Travelling with my home on my back and in no hurry to get anywhere


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Solos Travellers of the West

Thank you Willie Wagtails
The Solos of the west
The travel’s been spectacular
Your friendship’s been the best

Some of you I’ve travelled with
Others met along the track
And although I’m heading east now
I know that I’ll be back.

From the Kimberleys to Lucky Bay
West Australia is so vast
And I’ve loved every bit of it
This trip won’t be my last.

The friends I’ve made along the way
Have added to my pleasure
And now I’m leaving WA
With memories I will treasure.

From the red sand of the Pilbara
To the white sands of Lucky Bay
I’ve shared these great experiences
With Willie Wagtails on the way.

So thank you for your friendship
And your great company
I’m reluctant to depart your shores
But the east coast beckons me.

And if you travel to ‘the dark side’
I know we’ll meet once more
And Solos hugs will welcome you
When you’re on Australia’s eastern shore.

Rosemary Robinson
January 2016

Blues at the Cidery, Bridgetown, Western Australia


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No Time to Feel Blue at Bridgetown

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…

Map of Bridgetown

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?)

Blues map

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.

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.

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.

 


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Rain, Rain, Go Away….

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.

Albany aerial photo 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.

IMG_5584Community gardenWe 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!

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!

 

 

 

 


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Happy Solo

I’m a Solo, solo traveller

A whole person by myself

Please don’t call me a single

Sounds like I’m left on the shelf. 

I’m not looking for a partner

Not many of us are

We’re happy to be by ourselves

As we wander wide and far. 

We’re independent travellers

We like our own company

We’re happy travelling solo

Around this wonderful country. 

And when we pull up for the night

And there’s couples everywhere

Please don’t treat us like lepers

Your happy hour we’d love to share. 

We’re no threat to your husband

Solo blokes don’t want your wife

We’re happy being Solos

And enjoy the Solo life. 


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Ragin’ in Wagin

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!

The Murray Princess,


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On the Home Run to Penola

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

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!

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!

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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.

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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,

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Flashback Friday

2014 – After leaving Russell’s and revisiting my Aunt in Sale I headed north towards the Murray River for some R&R on the way to the Solos Rally.

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I then made my way to Nyah and caught up with other Solos as we made our way to Balranald. It was time to catch up with old friends…and new!

The Solos Rally at Balranald was great fun and as I write this I am looking forward to the next rally in Penola, in South Australia, in March 2015.

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