13 December 2009

Wild(flower) Wonderful Western Australia!

29 August 2009

It was a chilly morning, but the sun was shining, so it was all good!  Jenny and Bob had been up scurrying around in the kitchen and packing things up and loading the car - we weren't quite sure what to expect today, except we knew we were going to see wildflowers.  We sat down to a nice breakfast and then were off for the day's adventure.  Our first stop was up a muddy hill, where we were treated to a gorgeous vista, and really our first good look, at the Western Australia countryside.  The bright yellow fields are canola.  Isn't it pretty?

From here we went to the Moonyoonooka General Store where we met up with the rest of our traveling companions - Kerry, Janet, Jan, Karen, Cece, and Bob.  We split up, with the guys in one car and Kerry driving Janet, Jenny, and me and Karen with her mom (Cece) and the other Jan.  We had to laugh at all of our alike sounding names - two Bobs, two Jans, a Janet, a Jenny, and Kerry and Karen!  Only Rex and Cece were safe from mixups!  So, off went our caravan, in search of wildflowers.  Soon we were out in the middle of nowhere, driving down red dirt roads.  I'm not sure how Bob knew exactly where to go - there surely were no road signs pointing the way to Wildflowers!  But Bob is a smart man, and soon we were standing with our mouths wide open in the middle of thousands (if not millions) of wildflowers!  In this photo, left to right: Jan Mc, Janet, Jenny, Kerry, Jan, and Karen

And here's a pretty good shot of Rex and me, sitting amongst the Everlastings.  I'm not sure what I thought wildflowers would be - back home, when my mom would make my sister and me come foraging for wildflowers with her, we were usually in the woods, peeking under big plants and looking around tree trunks for tiny little things like Jack-in-the-Pulpit or trillium.  I know I didn't think we'd be looking at wide open fields FULL of blooming flowers!  We spent about half an hour here and then we were off again.  Soon, Bob led us to a little pull off (again, we're in the middle of nowhere) and the caravan pulled in.  Boots were opened, and out came a feast for morning tea!  You won't believe all the food we had!  In addition to thermoses full of hot water (plenty of tea, milk, and

sugar) along with various "slices", including one with licorice topping and some really tasty pumpkin scones, all homemade, of course!  So we had a little picnic at Tenindewa, and then we were off!  We headed into the town of Mullewa, where there was a Wildflower Show going on at the Town Hall.  One of the things we got to see there that was not in bloom in the wild yet was the famous Wreath Flower - this is the only place in the world that it grows!

I hope you'll take the time to explore this website a little bit - http://www.westernaustralia.com/en/Things_to_See_and_Do/Forest_and_Flowers/Pages/Wildflowers.aspx

You simply cannot imagine what all of these beautiful blooms look like in person!  And the whole town of Mullewa was decked out for the festival of flowers!  Even the telephone poles were each painted in honor of a different wildflower - everlastings, banksias, grevillieas, mulla mulla - each one more exquisite than the next!  While we were in Mullewa, Jenny and I wandered over to a gallery full of Aboriginal art, where we promptly got in trouble for taking pictures of it.  So I won't post any of them here, but of course the one I wanted the most was by far the most expensive painting in the store...  Our Geraldton friends kept running into people they knew - it was a beautiful winter Saturday, so people had come out in droves to celebrate the wildflowers!

After about 45 minutes or so, we took off again and soon were out in the bush.  But look what fun things we came across!  I love this photo of the canola fields and the windmill that has to be held in place with guy wires - that should give you some idea how windy it gets here!

Then, out of nowhere (in the middle of nowhere) comes this Road Train!  See what I mean?  And then I spotted this graceful heron stopping to take a drink.  We turned around and went flying past something in the trees - I couldn't tell what it was and I didn't have any way to ask Bob (in the lead car) to turn around, so I thought I'd just missed it.  But then, as if a wish were granted, we turned around again, only to get the biggest belly laughs of the day.  Here's what was in the trees....

I still don't know what or why, but there were two trees full of these funny critters!  Off we went again, still looking for wildflowers.  And we found them!

I have no idea where we were, but there were signs to a waterfall, so we followed them.  It's really a good thing there were signs, because I never would have mistaken this little trickle of water for a waterfall!
We got so tickled - it was maybe a foot high!  But keep in mind that we are in the outback of Western Australia, which has just survived one of the worst droughts in history, so at least there is some water!  
After our hike to see the waterfall, we piled back in the cars and drove up to the Mullewa lookout.  Here's the whole gang!

From left - Rex, me, Janet, Jan, Bob MacKay, Jenny, other Bob, Karen, Cece, and Kerry.  From here, we had a great view of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which was designed and built by Monsignor John Hawes, who was the local Catholic priest from 1916 to 1939.  I believe this church was built in 1927, and it was so sweet.  We went inside to see the stunning stained glass windows, and we admired the flowers in the churchyard.  Against the bright blue sky, it was so pretty!

We spent about a half an hour exploring the church, and then we were headed south to the Coal Seam for a bit of lunch.  Rex and I had no idea of the treats that were in store for us there!  There was a nice little picnic area, and lots of people were taking advantage of the nice weather.  Again, all of our cars pulled in and boots were unloaded.  What a spread!!!!  We even had hot food!  Just look at all of this!
Cece had made meat pies, wrapped them in foil, and they were still hot!  Janet had made some yummy quiches - so tasty!  We had a vegetable and dip plate, and Kerry had made about five kinds of sandwiches - egg curry and chicken I remember as being especially yummy.  Chips, tea, fruit, slices, and even wine - of course, we had to sample everything!  And we even had tablecloths and comfy chairs to sit in - where was all of this stuff hiding???  After we ate (and could move again) we crossed the almost dry riverbed and explored the old coal mining site, which was covered in wildflowers.

I loved all of the colors of the prolific Everlastings - pink, yellow, white, and purple - it was like a multi-colored carpet, and I spent the day feeling like I was in a Monet painting.  The settings were so beautiful they made us look good!

The day was drawing to a close, but we had more to see.  And look what we saw bounding through the fields of flowers - Skippy!

Bob led us to a little park near the Ellendale Pool.  It was so serene - we saw some ducks and lots of ghost gum trees.  The sun was about to set, so the light on the water was perfect!

As we were leaving the park, the eagle-eyed Karen screeched to a stop, because she had spotted an echidna (a spiny anteater) on the side of the road.  I just barely caught him as he skuttled into a culvert.

It was now officially sunset, and wasn't it spectacular?  With the numerous windmills (no better place to have them, except maybe Kansas!) as a backdrop, it was glorious!

What a wonderful day!  It was such a treat to meet some of the girls on Jenny's and Kerry's teams, and to really experience the Australian bush with the people who live here!  And the flowers - if they had been ordered just for us, they couldn't have been any prettier!   Once we were back in Geraldton and at Jenny and Bob's, we had a bite of lasagna (I know, you can't believe we could eat another bite!) and then Bob took me next door to meet Cocky.  Isn't he cute?

But he LOVED Bob, way better than me - and would hardly leave his shoulder (or his head).  Back at the house, I took some time to download photos but it was not long before I fell into bed, dreaming of colorful wildflowers!  I don't know how everyone keeps topping themselves - each day is even better than the one before!

Wildly happy,


No comments: