Thursday, 13 October 2011

Kalbarri, Geraldton, The Pinnacles, New Norcia & Wave Rock

Kalbarri is just over 500 kms north of Perth. This pretty town is surrounded by  the beautiful Kalbarri National Park. The town sits on the long Murchison River. The river flows into the Indian Ocean in the township, with many boat owners & tour operators using the river mouth to go fishing, whale watching or trawl for rock lobsters (whilst in season)
 This pic shows the river mouth on a really windy day. We watched in amazement as this small boat approached the river mouth. The water was like a washing machine, so we were thankful the 8 - 10 fishermen on board anchored in that spot to try a spot of fishing. They would have to be seasoned fishermen to withstand the boats swaying about.
 Kalbarri's coastline is also within the National Park boundary. This area of rugged coast is called the Zuytdorp Cliffs, (pronounced zur toff) which stretches another 150 kms north towards Shark Bay ( see blog on Denham & Monkey Mia for more on that area) The cliffs gets its name from the wrecking of a Dutch vessel in treacherous conditions in the 1712.

 This is the Red Bluff lookout just south of the town. The weather wasn't very good on this day, cloudy, very windy (a gale up on the lookout) & scattered showers. The wind whipped up the waves more in these conditions creating a spectacle.
 There's a beach down there - for the brave in winter, but probably great in summer.

 Eagle Gorge was pretty spectacular. Blowing a gale still even though the clouds are clearing a little. At least it was a little warmer with some shining occasionally :)

Whilst up on Eagle Gorge lookout we watched a few Humback whales frolic about just 100 mts from the cliffs. Taking pics was difficult as you had no idea when they would surface, & there was considerable movement onto me as I tried taking zoom pics. These few pics are the best of dozens that I took. We watched them play about for over 1/2 hr as they headed south. 2 of them were a mother & her calf.

Further down the road is Island Rock - it was once part of the shoreline, but now stands as a solitary 'sea stack'. 

 Natural Bridge & Castle Cove show how the forces of the ocean, over time is creating different rock formations like the bridge. It too 1 day will also be an Island & eventually crumble completely into the ocean as another void.

The 186,000 hectare national park gorges were a short 1/2 hr drive east of Kalbarri. For those into geology, the area consists of deep, horizontal bands of multicoloured sands that were deposited in layers 400 million yrs ago. The resultant rock formation is called the Tumblagooda Sandstone ( thank goodness for brochures :) 

As the Murchison River carves its way to the sea, magnificent red and white banded gorges have been cut by the flow. These gorges meander 80 kms through the park.

 This gorge is called Z Bend - carved just like a Z. You can see the different coloured bands in the sandstone.

 Pic taken from another angle near the above lookout. We opted out going down to the gorge floor :)

Another short drive further was another gorge lookout with a difference - Nature's Window.
 Another lookout, another spectacular scene. This area is know as The Loop.

 This is what the tourists come to see & be photographed in front of. We were on the wane of the peak season, so I'd say the place would be crawling like flies as we had trouble getting our pics with out any one else in them :)  The gorgeous views frame the upstream portion of the river.
 Rod insisted I have a turn in front of the camera - not very flattering !! What a daggy site :)
 I loved the ruggedness & colours of the sandstone bands.

 This is another popular spot for pics. A little more difficult to get up onto this flat area, with nature giving us some colour as well.
 The trees just seem to grow any where, thriving on the moisture in the rock

 Near the car park nature has created a garden for us in pinks. A type of leptospermum plant, a smaller flower than the Geraldton wax.

Driving through the national park was like driving through a Garden of Eden - & I loved it. Scenes like this along the 35 km route to the gorges. There was also the 54 km road from the hwy to Kalbarri - similar scenes to the below pics.

 I had trouble refraining myself from taking dozens more pics :)  I want a garden like this .............

The coastal plant life along the road near the cliffs was quite low. Trimmed from from the wind no doubt. Still very pretty though.
The grey bush is called smoke bush - lots of it in an area makes the area look like it's smoking.

 Kalbarri has the largest parrot breeding centre in Oz - I think. Rainbow Jungle has dozens of different species of parrots,lorikeets & cockatoos from all over Australia. There are also a few different species from Sth America, India & Africa as well. The Place is for sale for a cool $4.2 million if you're interested :)
  Many were in separate cages in pairs or groups for breeding purposes. There was also a huge area where dozens of birds were allowed to fly freely. 

 The  pretty coloured scarlet chested parrot is found across the lower parts of WA, SA & NSW.

This is a red capped parrot, found SW of WA.

 If you've got  an interest & the $$ in owning a pet or 2,  there's 3 such cockatoo species for sale - providing you have a licence to keep them :)

 That's the male Gang Gang eating the piece of fruit whilst she looks on disapprovingly!!
 The Red Tailed Black Cockatoo look really graceful flying.

 The girls worth more 'cos she lays the eggs!! :)

After leaving Kalbarri we went south along the coast line for a while to see The Pink Lake near Gregory.
It was a lovely still day for a change, so the reflections are near perfect. 

 The colour pink comes from the concentration of salt water as it evaporates.

100km further down the road was the larger town of Geraldton. There wasn't much to do about town except look around it's pretty port - P&O cruises were in town. 
 Captain Cooke's replica vessel The Endeavour was also in town. We were there the day before visitors could go on board to see below the decks  :(

 Just very occasionally I cheat when the real thing is out of "reach" :))

10kms south of Geraldton is the small town Greenough. It had a lovely beach, but it was too windy for swimming, & had some unusual trees growing..........they are buffeted by the prevailing southerly winds & take up a decent lean.

We headed east after leaving the Geraldton area following routes looking for wildflowers. This wind farm had over 20 wind turbines. 

The area is known as The Wheat Belt. Millions of hectares of either wheat, barley, canola, lucerne etc were passed. We took the scenic route, down good dirt roads sometimes.

There was a reason for going 100 kms inland - to find the the rare / uncommon  'wreath' flower. They grow only in 2 areas in WA - Pindar being 1 of them. Our driving directions from the info centre was pretty accurate :) 

They grow in disturbed soil such as this on the side of a graded road. Once the flowers die off, their root system remains for the following years flowering.
The road verges also had other beautiful flowering plants :)

We passed through many small towns such as this 1 with a mural on the information centre.

Not far our of Three Springs was the salty Yarra Yarra Lakes. It had a pink tinge to it from the lookout.

 Closer near the lakes edge the water took on a sparkling crystal look. Unfortunately the only bird life on this lake were a couple a brave Shelducks.

Heading west again towards the coast around Jurien Bay & Cervantes is another lake - Lake Indoon & unfortunately its poisonous water - an algal bloom, so swimming is not recommended.

We arrive in Cervantes, approx 230 kms north of Perth.  Stormy weather over the previous summer has  whipped up the waves & the sea grass - the beaches are covered in metres of the stinking stuff .
The coastal areas of Jurien Bay & Cervantes also lies along a marine park. The sea lion is just 1 species inhabiting the ocean here. Unfortunately the seas were too rough to take a tour boat out to 1 of the near by Islands to see the sea lions.

Lake Thetis is a small saline lake 1.25kms inland from the Indian Ocean. It is esstimated the lake became isolated from the sea about 4,800 yrs ago when sea levels dropped & coastal dunes formed around the lake.
The lake is one of only a few places in the world with living marine stromatolites, or  'living fossils'. The microbes that build the stromatolites are a species of cyanobacteria & are similar to those found in 3,500 million yr old rocks. These stromatolites are estimated to be approx 3,370 yrs old.
A caspian tern stands guard over the stromatolites :)

The Pinnacles Desert (Nambung National Park) is also a short drive south of Cervantes. The desert has thousands of limestone pinnacles, slowly being exposed more by shifting sands.  The pinnacles are believed to have formed over 500,000 yrs ago & remain buried until up to 6,000 yrs ago after being exposed by the shifting sands. They were covered again until a few hundred yrs ago. How ever the scientists think they came about, they were interesting to both walk amongst & then drive in amongst them.

There are many unusual formations & some are up to 5 mtrs high

The Nambung national park also had a discovery centre where there are descriptive displays & photographs of the pinnacles in different light settings........... I liked this 1 below taken at dusk
 There were also cabinet displays of some of the animals & invertebrates found in the park which includes low heath shrub land.  I read about the Honey Possum being a tiny animal & lives off the nectar of flowering plants. I was suitably surprised to find 1 (stuffed) in 1 of the cabinets. It's the size of a mouse & looks really cute. 

I was amazed by the size of the sand dunes beside the road. Just 1 section along the 1 - 2 km sand dune.

After leaving Cervantes, we headed east again to meander SE of Perth towards Wave Rock. We took the scenic wildflower route to drive the few hundred kms to get there.
We passed through 1 small town that had this different sign out side its roadhouse. At least the guy had respect for his lovely wife :)) Not a day under 60 & a very helpful lady at that to give me more wildflower spotting advice. 

The town of Moora had a town clock that had different designs on each side.
A few murals where on walls around town - the pic below signifying the early days of the Clydesdale horse & dray to cart wool to the railway.

The town of New Norcia is a Benedictine community.
On 1 March 1846, a Benedictine  mission to the local aborigines was started about 8 km to the north, led by the two Spanish Benedictines. Within a year the mission was moved to where the town is today, and on 1 March 1847 the foundation stone of the monastery was laid. The place was named New Norcia, after Norcia in Italy, the birthplace of St Benedict.
The town of New Norcia has buildings in a Spanish style of architecture, along with some other historical sites. Among these are the two old boarding schools, St Ildephonsus' and St Gertrude's (both now used for accommodation and various social functions), the Abbey Church (containing the tomb of Rosendo Salvado),  ( the original founder) an old mill, a wine press, a hotel, and the monastery itself.
Tours of the town are operated daily by the Friends of New Norcia, who also organise the accommodation in the various buildings including the monastery retreat.
The Benedictine monks continue to occupy the monastery and are involved with most of the enterprises in the town.
This is front of The Abbey Church where the tomb of  Rosendo Salvado is placed. The building is very unassuming from the front, but is very large & beautiful inside. All materials used to make the building was made on site including thousands of square metres of handmade bricks. 
This pipe organ has over 2,000 pipes that apparently produce beautiful music is a large 35 rank German organ, built in 1922. 
The beautiful ceiling is hand painted pressed metal tiles.

Boys were separated from girls, & aboriginals from whites. This is the front of the boys college St Ildephonsus'. This building came after the girls college in 1913.

Inside the building was magnificent. There were no artists amongst the monks @ New Norcia, so 1 was commissioned from Spain to paint inside both boarding schools.

This is just 1 section of the ceiling.

St Gertrudes was purpose built in 1908 for girls.
Inside is stunning.

The ceiling of this room is pressed metal, hand painted & has gold guilding.

The schools became co educational in 1972, but these were closed down in 1991. The aboriginal children, who were separated also, were housed in building next to to the other 2 schools known as St Mary's & St Josephs. It was closed down in the early 1970's
The Benedictine monks also have  their own monastery chapel. This is the alter.

As mentioned earlier, the Benedictine monks had many enterprises with their 25,000 hectares of land, such as sheep grazing, growing olives & manufacturing products from the olives, grapes & wine, bakery, beer brewing plus running this hotel seen below.The bread we bought was really tasty - baked daily in 1 of their many workshop buildings. Rod & I had a drink at this hotel & he thoroughly enjoyed a beer made on site by the Benedictine monks.

This very large building (below) is now the visitor centre, Museum & Art Gallery. The art gallery of religious paintings had as many as 21 paintings stolen from their rather large art collection in 1989, many dating back to the 1600's & 1700's. Fortunately all the paintings were recovered, though badly damaged. Many of the paintings were either gifts to New Norcia monastery from the Queen of Spain, or were bought by the Abbotts whilst visiting Spain & Italy. Unfortunately photography was banned in this building.

The aboriginal children have left lasting reminders of their educational days in the schools.

The town of Toodyay is 1 of numerous pretty country towns we passed through that had really old hotels & other beautiful buildings dating back to the late 1800's & early 1900's

I was (as usual ) enticed to visit some places that potentially had certain orchid species in the area.
Kokerbin Rock near Bruce Rock town, is purportedly the 3rh largest monolith in WA. It wasn't far off the road as we headed towards Wave Rock. 

Whilst the area was pretty & we loved walking around part of the rock, no orchids were found amongst the other wildflowers :(

Wave Rock is amongst the grain growing centre of WA @ Hyden.
Wave Rock is composed of granite. The total outcrop covers several hectares and is part of the Hyden Rock erosional remnant. The "wave" part of the rock is about 14 m  high and around 110 m long. The 'wave' formation was formed 60 million years ago by subsurface chemical weathering followed by removal of the soft weathered granite by fluvial erosion, thus the weathering occurred below ground level before it was exposed. The end result is an undercut base, leaving a round overhang.

Do you notice the fence like structure along the top of the rock? It was built by early settlers early 20th C, made of  rock & cement to channel  water into a dam. 
Rod & I having some fun 'riding the wave' :)

This structure, made by nature is near the wave rock area. It's name ............. Hippos Yawn.
I found a couple of different orchids near that area as well - yay :)
Across the wheat belt > 100 kms around Hyden area are several 'lakes' - salinity seems to be a major problem. Many of the 'lakes' were dry, & had very little vegetation as well. Lake Grace is 1 of those lakes, with  the water getting so concentrated that you can see the salt crystals developing on the edges of the lake.

Our inland journey of WA is finished for now. We have arrived in the Perth area - Serpentine is our home for a week whilst we discover Perth surrounds & some of the Margaret River area, with family  :)

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