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Entries about animals

Carnarvon to Monkey Mia

...via Hamelin Pool

sunny 23 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Return to complete the Lap on SteveJD's travel map.

Our first port of call in Carnarvon was the Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum. It may come as a surprise to some that this isolated town played an important part in the United States manned moon missions. So much so that, in 2013, Buzz Aldrin came over to open Phase One of the museum's development. Australian-born astronaut, Andy Thomas, did the honours for Phase Two in 2014 and Phase Three was opened in 2016 by Gene Cernan, the last man on the moon - at the time of writing. The Tracking Station, which forms the basis of the museum, was built in 1964 to support Gemini, Apollo and Skylab missions and, for 11 years, it was the last station to communicate with astronauts before leaving earth's orbit and the last voice they heard as they headed for splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. (Acknowledgements to the Carnarvon & Coral Bay Destination Guide for this and other information about the area.

The huge satellite dish and the giant Redstone rocket are the first things one sees, on approaching the tracking station. Inside there is an almost overwhelming display of items connected with the history of the station including full scale replicas of Gemini and Apollo command modules. In the latter you can sit inside in 'launch' position and hear the sound of the rocket - it's worth doing for the atmosphere. The Gemini is decidedly less roomy but also accessible. The museum is expanding and it is easy to while away at least a couple of hours and still not see everything - excellent value.

The Redstone rocket near the entrance

The Redstone rocket near the entrance

The main satellite dish

The main satellite dish

There's always one!

There's always one!

Steve and Judith inside the replica Apollo command module

Steve and Judith inside the replica Apollo command module

Some rooms were crammed with machinery which is all beyond me but very interesting

Some rooms were crammed with machinery which is all beyond me but very interesting

7f690720-1a8a-11ea-b9e2-eb6db621e809.jpgTwo views of Steve in the Gemini replica

Two views of Steve in the Gemini replica

By the time we had finished there, it was time for lunch and we made our way to the Small Boat Harbour, where we had an excellent meal of fish & chips at the Harbourside Cafe.

Harbourside Cafe

Harbourside Cafe

Steve inside the cafe

Steve inside the cafe

In the afternoon we visited the One Mile Jetty. It is currently closed for safety reasons but we found quite a bit of birdlife there while walking on the mangrove boardwalk. There is also an interpretive centre providing details of the jetty's history. The jetty is, or was, the longest in Western Australia and at one time had a tramway which transported people and goods. The goods have included, from the late 19th century until the 1950s, wool, sandalwood, livestock, pearl shell and people.

One Mile Jetty viewed from mangrove boardwalk

One Mile Jetty viewed from mangrove boardwalk

Black Kite hunting over the mangroves

Black Kite hunting over the mangroves

Singing Honeyeater by the mangrove boardwalk

Singing Honeyeater by the mangrove boardwalk

A relic from bygone days at the jetty

A relic from bygone days at the jetty

We then planned on driving out to Bibbawarra Bore but after driving several kilometres along a dusty track, we found a "Road Closed" sign! Our next stop was Chinaman's Pool, a nice treed area by the Gascoyne River. Here there was a pleasant walk and plenty of birds but also swarms of mosquitoes! Our stay was short but productive! On the way back to our cabin, we called at a pharmacy where we asked after something for itch relief (the mossies had been really nasty) and the pharmacist recommended a haemorrhoid cream which worked a treat!

Australasian Pipit

Australasian Pipit

Little Corellas

Little Corellas

White-breasted Woodswallow

White-breasted Woodswallow

Meadow Argus butterfly

Meadow Argus butterfly

Having anointed ourselves, we returned to the Small Boat Harbour where we saw more birds and a lovely sunset to see us off. There is a great deal to see and do in and around Carnarvon so, if you can spare more than the two nights we managed, you will be busy.

Fishing boat returning to harbour

Fishing boat returning to harbour

Wader (possibly a Redshank) at sunset

Wader (possibly a Redshank) at sunset

Panoramic view over the inlet at sunset

Panoramic view over the inlet at sunset

Sunset over Carnarvon Beach Resort, across the inlet

Sunset over Carnarvon Beach Resort, across the inlet

A flight of ducks over the inlet at sunset

A flight of ducks over the inlet at sunset

The following day we headed off on our drive of about 380km to Monkey Mia. Most of the drive was pretty uninteresting but after we turned off towards Denham, we found Hamelin Pool. The caravan park and amenities are rather shabby, to be kind, but the short walk to the pool and out on the boardwalk to see the stromatolites is well worthwhile. The low tide area is covered with living organisms known as microbial mats which sometimes trap grit and become stone, at which stage they become microbialites. When these microbialites grow one on the other and the layers form a small tower, they are called stromatolites - living stone! The are not the prettiest things you will see but they are fascinating.

A dried out and broken stromatolite (perhaps an ex-stromatolite?)

A dried out and broken stromatolite (perhaps an ex-stromatolite?)

Stromatolites growing under water

Stromatolites growing under water

The boardwalk over the pool gives an excellent view of stromatolites and other marine creatures

The boardwalk over the pool gives an excellent view of stromatolites and other marine creatures

A ring of stromatolites out of water

A ring of stromatolites out of water

Welcome Swallows resting on a stromatolite

Welcome Swallows resting on a stromatolite

Clearly it was nesting season for these Welcome Swallows - their nests were tucked under the boardwalk - hopefully above high tide!

Clearly it was nesting season for these Welcome Swallows - their nests were tucked under the boardwalk - hopefully above high tide!

Seaweed seen from the boardwalk

Seaweed seen from the boardwalk

Back in the car park, an Australian Hobby posed nicely for us.

large_20190621_IMG_5785.jpgTwo shots of our friendly Australian Hobby

Two shots of our friendly Australian Hobby

Not far beyond Hamelin Pool, we pulled in to Shell Beach where the shells are 7-10 metres deep over a stretch of some 60km! The shells are mainly a species of cockle and these have formed a limestone rock known as coquina. Before Shark Bay became a World Heritage Site, this material was mined and used for building in Denham.

View down to Shell Beach

View down to Shell Beach

Panorama of part of Shell Beach

Panorama of part of Shell Beach

Stay away - it gets really crowded!

Stay away - it gets really crowded!

At Denham, an attractive little coastal town, we turned off towards Monkey Mia and drove through some good bushland. Close to the resort we stopped for a group of Emus and, a little further on, an Echidna crossed the road, paying little attention to us.

Emu by the roadside

Emu by the roadside

A closer view of one of the emus

A closer view of one of the emus

The Echidna on the road

The Echidna on the road

Echidna safely across and into the sand

Echidna safely across and into the sand

The RAC/Big 4 resort is massive and the staff are friendly and helpful. We paid extra to be upgraded to a sea-facing villa which was well worthwhile and, shortly after arriving, we saw dolphins swimming close to the beach, from our verandah.

View from our villa

View from our villa

Inside the villa - plenty of room

Inside the villa - plenty of room

Sunset from our villa

Sunset from our villa

The cabin was very roomy and comfortable and was equipped with no stove but at least a microwave. We were unable to access wifi, so had to talk to one another!

The following morning we went along the beach to see the dolphin feeding and were delighted to see a couple of females come in with calves. It was a bit breezy so no nice clear water for good photographs unfortunately.

People waiting for the dolphins

People waiting for the dolphins

The first one in to be fed

The first one in to be fed

A beautiful creature

A beautiful creature

Smiling for the camera!

Smiling for the camera!

Steve sitting in the shade on our verandah while Judith takes a few more photos

Steve sitting in the shade on our verandah while Judith takes a few more photos

A Silver Gull came onto the verandah hoping, in vain, for a handout

A Silver Gull came onto the verandah hoping, in vain, for a handout

View along the beach to the dolphin feeding area

View along the beach to the dolphin feeding area

Colourful kayaks lined up waiting for an outing

Colourful kayaks lined up waiting for an outing

Across the road from the resort is a bush walk area. We picked up a map from the Dolphin Centre, with the intention of heading for a bird hide. The paths that led to the hide were blocked off and it turned out the staff in the Dolphin Centre were unaware of the closures! Nonetheless, we wound our way through the dune bushland, seeing quite a few birds both in the bush and along the coastal strip, as well as a family of kangaroos.

Panoramic view from top of dune on bushwalk

Panoramic view from top of dune on bushwalk

View over the resort from the bushwalk

View over the resort from the bushwalk

Western Grey Kangaroo and joey in the dunes

Western Grey Kangaroo and joey in the dunes

Torresian Crow on the beach

Torresian Crow on the beach

Australian Pelicans on a sandspit

Australian Pelicans on a sandspit

Australian Pied Oystercatchers on the beach

Australian Pied Oystercatchers on the beach

Posted by SteveJD 08:42 Archived in Australia Tagged animals birds boats sunset australia museum dolphin western_australia monkey_mia mammals carnarvon echidna hamelin_pool stromatolites space_technology Comments (0)

Alice Springs and the West McDonnells

...with a short stay at Glen Helen

sunny 31 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Return to complete the Lap on SteveJD's travel map.

Since we are on the Explorers' Way, it is a good time to bring Mr Stuart back into the picture - John McDouall Stuart's 3rd expedition made it likely that a direct south to north route could be found for Todd's telegraph line. Chambers and Finke proposed Stuart as the man most likely to find a way and in 1860 he was on his fourth expedition into the interior. He again kept to the west of Lake Torrens, as he pressed on with his companions, he discovered and named the Stevenson, Finke and Hugh Rivers and Chambers Pillar.

The European discovery of the springs occurred in 1871 and later on, one of the surveyors on the Overland Telegraph team named it after Lady Alice Todd, wife of Sir Charles Todd, who was the driving force behind the telegraph line. The Todd river was named after Sir Charles and this is one of several place names which I hope will not be changed, as so many appear to be, as they effectively record some of the most important history of Australia (Aussie Towns and book 'Great Australian Explorers).

On our first full day in Alice Springs, we went to the Olive Pink Botanic Gardens. She was a botanist and later a passionate advocate for Aborigines. She applied for a 20 hectare reserve on the eastern bank of the Todd River and proceeded to live in a tent there for many years. She planted the garden with the help of her friend and gardener, Johnny JambiJimba Yannarlyi. It is an arid garden but is well laid out with paths winding through the various types of vegetation featured. We thoroughly enjoyed the garden and saw quite a few different birds and animals - and also partook of coffee at the Bean Tree Cafe, a well known Alice restaurant. Ms Pink was a fascinating woman who led a remarkable life.

Euro with joey

Euro with joey

65337a40-808c-11e9-a969-dfdacd5799e8.jpgViews of a hillside in the garden and Mt Gillen, a favourite view of Ms Pink's

Views of a hillside in the garden and Mt Gillen, a favourite view of Ms Pink's

Angry-looking Grey Fantail

Angry-looking Grey Fantail

Flashes of colour on a Crested Pigeon's wing

Flashes of colour on a Crested Pigeon's wing

Eremophila flower

Eremophila flower

Grey-crowned babbler with attitude

Grey-crowned babbler with attitude

The following day, our guide from Outback Elite Tours, Chris, collected us early and drove us out of town aiming to see Chambers Pillar and Rainbow Valley (John McDouall Stuart was on his fourth expedition into the interior when he and his companions came across this sandstone pillar which Stuart named after his patron, James Chambers, a former horse dealer who had obtained mail runs into the country which Stuart had opened up, becoming a wealthy man ('Great Australian Explorers').

On the way down, we stopped to see some interesting petroglyphs at Ewaninga but unfortunately no photographs were allowed. Chris provided breakfast before continuing to a rather odd place at Maryvale. We travelled through some 'interesting' sand tracks at the edge of the Simpson Desert and this all, unfortunately, made Judith a bit travel sick. Not long after this, we reached Chambers Pillar which is a wonderful chunk of rock shot through with colour. Stuart must have been pretty impressed, in spite of his previous travels.

We enter the (red) Simpson Desert

We enter the (red) Simpson Desert

A distant view of Chambers' Pillar

A distant view of Chambers' Pillar

The Window, another interesting rock feature near Chambers' Pillar

The Window, another interesting rock feature near Chambers' Pillar

20190502_IMG_4394.jpgA couple of views of Chambers' Pillar

A couple of views of Chambers' Pillar

Chris made a nice lunch for us here (salmon with Italian rice and salad).

Picnic site with The Castle as a backdrop

Picnic site with The Castle as a backdrop

Lunch prepared by Chris - delicious!

Lunch prepared by Chris - delicious!

Crested Bellbird by the picnic site

Crested Bellbird by the picnic site

Well-fortified, we then walked around another impressive feature, The Castle, in the process seeing the first 'dragon' of this journey, albeit small and camera-shy.

Panoramic view of The Castle

Panoramic view of The Castle

The Castle

The Castle

Brown Falcon spotted on our way out of the parking area

Brown Falcon spotted on our way out of the parking area

By the time we got back to the vehicle, Judith was feeling a bit easier but Chris suggested that, as the road to Rainbow Valley was worse than we had experienced thus far, it would be unwise to press on with the original plan. He therefore detoured on the way back to a few other places of interest, including what remains of Rodinga, an old settlers' camp dating from the extension of the Ghan line to Alice Springs. We also visited the Titjikala Aboriginal Art Gallery where we saw a group of Aboriginal women working on felt hats, ready for an annual felt hat competition - you live and learn! Chris also found a Major Mitchell cockatoo within camera range!

Some very 'metallic' looking bands through some rocks near the roadside

Some very 'metallic' looking bands through some rocks near the roadside

Chris managed to find a Major Mitchell Cockatoo (not clockwork!)

Chris managed to find a Major Mitchell Cockatoo (not clockwork!)

Old stockyards near Rodinga

Old stockyards near Rodinga

Old bogie wheels and buildings at Rodinga

Old bogie wheels and buildings at Rodinga

We then set off for what was planned to be a three-night stay in the West McDonnells. We stopped in at Simpson's Gap which was very interesting and we saw a little Black-footed Rock Wallaby on the hillside. Both Simpson's Gap and the Simpson Desert were named after A.A. Simpson who was President of the South Australian branch of the Royal Geographical Society.

Memorial to 'Flynn of the Overland' - Rev. John Flynn, founder of the RFDS, and his wife

Memorial to 'Flynn of the Overland' - Rev. John Flynn, founder of the RFDS, and his wife

Dry riverbed leading to Simpson's Gap

Dry riverbed leading to Simpson's Gap

Simpson's Gap from the path

Simpson's Gap from the path

Zebra Finches were abundant in this area

Zebra Finches were abundant in this area

Judith standing by the remaining pool in Simpson's Gap

Judith standing by the remaining pool in Simpson's Gap

Black-footed Rock Wallaby spotted on our way out from the gap

Black-footed Rock Wallaby spotted on our way out from the gap

As we continued towards Standley Chasm, we found that just about all of the northern side of the road had been burnt out. When we reached Standley Chasm, we found that there had been a wildfire in January which had been started by a lightning strike. The buildings at Standley Chasm had only narrowly been saved by the efforts of the volunteers of the Alice Springs Bushfire Brigade. Given the narrowing of the gorge, it must have been a horrendous job. The chasm is named in honour of Mrs Ida Standley who was the first school teacher in Alice Springs. Previously, it had been known as Gall's Spring and the Aboriginal name is Angkerle, for which I can find no interpretation. Maybe it was just a place name?

Grey Shrike Thrush for company while we had lunch

Grey Shrike Thrush for company while we had lunch

Zamia palms beginning to show green against the blackened cliff

Zamia palms beginning to show green against the blackened cliff

517d1e20-81c7-11e9-8d69-b395a0b512c2.jpgTwo views of Standley Chasm

Two views of Standley Chasm

But thou shalt go no further!

But thou shalt go no further!

We continued along Larapinta Road to Glen Helen Lodge with the bush burnt out nearly all the way there. As we drove in, we were faced with a dry, dusty and rather shabby looking set of buildings. Inside was a lot more promising with a lovely reception area, bar and restaurant area. However, when we got to our room, we found a grubby cubby hole with not even a kettle - no chairs, mismatching windows which would not open, no drinking glasses, no rubbish bins - very basic at a premium price. There were no notices to this effect but it seems that the water, presumably bore water, was undrinkable. Bottled water was provided but this was so far from what we had expected that we cancelled the next two nights and booked two extra nights at the Big 4 in Alice Springs (a real oasis).

b8a63cf0-81ca-11e9-bab9-e5ec648fbc55.jpgOur first impressions of Glen Helen 'Resort'

Our first impressions of Glen Helen 'Resort'

The gorge area at Glen Helen was lovely, with the Finke River running along below the lodge to a waterhole where swimming was allowed. It could be a lovely place if they showed the same attention to the accommodation as they have to the eating and drinking areas. In fairness, we did receive a full refund for the two unused days.

The Aboriginal name for the Finke River is Larapinta, hence the name of the road from Alice Springs following the course of the river.

Gorge wall opposite the dining area

Gorge wall opposite the dining area

Australasian Swamphen in the reeds by the Finke River

Australasian Swamphen in the reeds by the Finke River

Swimming hole in the gorge

Swimming hole in the gorge

On the way back we stopped at Ormiston Gorge which had burned areas around it but the gorge itself seemed to have been spared the worst. (The origin of the name, Ormiston, eludes me - thank goodness do I hear you say?! On our way out, we noticed a lonely grave on the corner of Larapinta Road and the access road. It seems Hendrik Guth had asked to be buried out here. He had been an artist and founded Panorama Guth, in Alice Springs, which housed a 360 degree painting he had made. This unfortunately burned down some time after his death so we could not see what he had achieved.

Ormiston Gorge

Ormiston Gorge

Ghost gum clinging to a ledge in the gorge

Ghost gum clinging to a ledge in the gorge

Little Pied Cormorant in the gorge

Little Pied Cormorant in the gorge

Further down the road we turned off to some fairly extensive Ochre Pits, as well as revisiting Standley Chasm and Simpson's Gap. The flies continue to plague us outside Alice Springs.

Walking to the Ochre Pits through fire-blackened bush

Walking to the Ochre Pits through fire-blackened bush

20190504_17_Ochre_Cliffs.jpgTwo overviews of the pits

Two overviews of the pits

20190504_IMG_4499.jpgTwo closer views of the coloured veins of ochre running through the pit wall

Two closer views of the coloured veins of ochre running through the pit wall

Spinifex Pigeon at Simpson's Gap

Spinifex Pigeon at Simpson's Gap

Farewell view of Simpson's Gap

Farewell view of Simpson's Gap

One Zebra Finch begged to have its photo taken

One Zebra Finch begged to have its photo taken

On one of our extra days, we visited the Alice Springs Desert Park which was nicely laid out but we saw little wildlife outside fairly small aviaries and enclosures. The Nocturnal House was excellent, giving us views of creatures which we would otherwise be most unlikely to see.

Princess Parrots in one of the aviaries

Princess Parrots in one of the aviaries

Thorny Devil in the Nocturnal House

Thorny Devil in the Nocturnal House

A nice selection of grasses in the park

A nice selection of grasses in the park

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (take the tail on trust!)

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (take the tail on trust!)

We then had a disaster as the laptop died! We took it into Red Centre Technology and looked at buying a replacement but tried to get a replacement motherboard provided under warranty (just in warranty by a few days!). Unfortunately, Dell need a permanent address so agreed to extend the warranty to cover us when we get back to England. Meanwhile, a young chap did not want to be defeated and managed to kick it back into life - apparently it had been a Windows problem - how unusual! This all took a day and a half so we were lucky to have the extra time.

While our laptop was in 'hospital', we visited the Old Telegraph Station which has been well preserved and is a very interesting window on relatively recent history.

General view of the main cluster of buildings

General view of the main cluster of buildings

The Post and Telegraph Office

The Post and Telegraph Office

The Stationmaster's residence

The Stationmaster's residence

The original location of the 'Alice Springs' - rather dried up in the middle of the Todd River bed

The original location of the 'Alice Springs' - rather dried up in the middle of the Todd River bed

Next stop - Devil's Marbles!

Posted by SteveJD 02:48 Archived in Australia Tagged animals birds rfds alice_springs glen_helen simpsons_gap standley_chasm ormiston_gorge west_mcdonnells Comments (0)

Perth to Cape Town

...via Singapore and then on to Paarl, Malmesbury, Franschoek and Hermanus

sunny 28 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

After a sad farewell to Perth we had an unmemorable flight with Singapore Airlines to Singapore and then on to Cape Town where my brother, Dave, was patiently waiting (we had been slightly delayed). Dave drove us out to his lovely house in Paarl where later on we were joined by his wife, Pat, and her sister, Mary. Paarl, by the way, is named for the huge dome behind Dave's house which glistens after rainfall and evidently the Afrikaners who settled the area felt that it then resembled a pearl.

After a bit of bird watching in Dave's garden, we headed out to near Malmesbury, north of Cape Town, where we left Mary with my eldest nephew, Pete and his wife Pam. They have a gorgeous property from which they run their business, helped by their daughter who also keeps her horses on the property. Malmesbury was named after the Earl of Malmesbury the father-in-law of Sir Lowry Cole, a Governor of the Cape Colony.

Cape Robin Chat enjoying the bird bath

Cape Robin Chat enjoying the bird bath

Cape Sparrow - unfortunately, the birds chose to perch on a thick cable!

Cape Sparrow - unfortunately, the birds chose to perch on a thick cable!

Panoramic view over Pete and Pam's place

Panoramic view over Pete and Pam's place

After leaving them we stopped for lunch at a lovely, quirky, restaurant De Malle Meul (meaning The Crazy Mill but is also a play on words from the owners' previous business De Malle Madonna and the word mallemeule, meaning a merry-go-round) in the village of Philadelphia (thanks to the Cape Country Calls for the information). The restaurant was indeed part of an old flour mill which operated from the 1920s to 1976 and is well worth a visit. Philadelphia itself is about 150 years old and is built on a portion of land which was donated by a landowner to the local brethren to build a church. It is believed that this may be how it gained its name which means 'love of brothers'. It is only 30km north of Cape Town so if you have wheels, it is in easy reach and would make a rewarding day out.

At this time, the Cape had been without any significant rain for a very long time and the landscape was fairly well parched, so no green hills but rather yellowy brown mountains. Back at Dave's we also had to observe water restrictions which had been in place for some time and even months afterwards have only been slightly relaxed.

De Malle Meul restaurant

De Malle Meul restaurant

Steve, Dave and Pat enjoying lunch

Steve, Dave and Pat enjoying lunch

A Speckled Pigeon

A Speckled Pigeon

Panoramic view over Paarl and the mountains from the verandah at Dave and Pat's place

Panoramic view over Paarl and the mountains from the verandah at Dave and Pat's place

Over the next couple of days the family gathered, Martin & Margaret (my sister and her husband) and David & Tara (their eldest son and his wife) from England and Dave & Pat's youngest son, Richard, from Johannesburg. We all gathered in a Paarl restaurant to celebrate the 16th birthday of Richard's son, Adam - my great nephew- makes me feel really old! Dave & Pat's other son Phil, just managed to make the date between overseas work assignments although, unfortunately, his sons couldn't make it in time.

On a fine Saturday, everybody made their way out to Freedom Hill Winery to celebrate Dave's 80th birthday (how can I have an 80 year old brother?!). The winery had a beautiful outlook over the mountains and was situated near what used to be the Victor Verster Prison from where Nelson Mandela began his long Walk to Freedom in 1990, hence the name of the winery, one of the newer wineries in the area.

The Party venue

The Party venue

Before the masses descend

Before the masses descend

View from the winery

View from the winery

Some of the goodies on offer

Some of the goodies on offer

From the left, Pat, Dave and Margaret

From the left, Pat, Dave and Margaret

We all trooped out to Pete & Pam's place for another family get together the following day, followed by a couple of days sight-seeing.
The family at Pete and Pam's

The family at Pete and Pam's

Dave, Margaret and Steve

Dave, Margaret and Steve

Double-collared Sunbird in Pete and Pam's garden

Double-collared Sunbird in Pete and Pam's garden

Dave first took us all over the pass above Franschoek to Hermanus. On the way we passed the Theeswaterkloof Dam ('tea waters gully' being the literal translation from Afrikaans - clearly the water, when flowing, is brown in colour). The dam was almost completely dry, emphasising the severe water problem experienced in the Cape.

Dust blowing off the Theewaterskloof Dam

Dust blowing off the Theewaterskloof Dam

On the way to Hermanus, we stopped for lunch at a delightful little spot in the mountains, Houw Hoek. A very small place but with good food and an interesting and colourful shop. Its name has alternative origins; Hoek means 'corner' but Hou(w) means 'hold' (Afrikaans) or 'cattle' (Khoi) and so means either Hold Corner or Cattle Corner. The reason for 'Hold' is that it was a good place to hold or stop on the way over the mountains.
In the days of the Dutch East India Company, there was a toll gate here so the meaning of 'hold' gains some weight.

Deep in discussion at lunchtime

Deep in discussion at lunchtime

Hats for sale

Hats for sale

The lower shop area

The lower shop area

Hermanus is a delightful small but smart town on the south coast. We had visited before when the whales were cruising close to shore but it was the wrong time of year for them so we contented ourselves with birds, dassies and shopping and eating! We returned along the beautiful coast road before striking back inland to Stellenbosch and Paarl.

Hermanus owes its origins to Hermanus Pieters who grazed his sheep near a spring there and also fished while waiting. In due course the settlement became known as Hermanuspietersfontein. Not too surprisingly the postal service felt this was a bit too long and in 1902, it was shortened to Hermanus.

Cape and White-breasted Cormorants

Cape and White-breasted Cormorants

View along the coastline in front of the town

View along the coastline in front of the town

Old Coastguard Hut

Old Coastguard Hut

Dassie sunbathing

Dassie sunbathing

Fishing boats in a row

Fishing boats in a row

The following day, we were taken out to Franschoek (French Corner) , the blokes all going to an unbelievable motor museum owned by the billionaire Johann Rupert. The collection covers around 100 years of motoring history and is a 'must see' for any motoring enthusiast visiting the area. The ladies meanwhile had been on a shopping spree in the lovely but expensive shopping centre in the village. We joined them for lunch at Reuben's, a fabulous restaurant there and then visited La Motte winery (owned by another member of the Rupert family). La Motte takes its name from the Provencal village of La Motte d'Aigues, presumably the home of some early settlers who were French Huguenots.

Unusually, we did not visit for the wines or food but rather to see the art gallery and in particular the exhibition of art by Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef. He painted mainly landscapes, very identifiably South African but with a very individual style which I certainly enjoyed. Part of the gallery is devoted to a seasonal exhibition which comprised some wonderful flower paintings and a sculpture which was being worked on during the season. The area around Franschoek, Paarl and Stellenbosch has enough of interest to keep any traveller busy and interested, as well as being very well fed and watered too!

Statue at the entrance to the winery

Statue at the entrance to the winery

Walking up to the first museum buildings

Walking up to the first museum buildings

1904 Oldsmobile and 1904 Mars 'carette'

1904 Oldsmobile and 1904 Mars 'carette'

Horn on 1911 Lorraine Dietrich

Horn on 1911 Lorraine Dietrich

Nelson Mandela's 2004 BMW 760

Nelson Mandela's 2004 BMW 760

1982 Delorean - "Back to the Future"

1982 Delorean - "Back to the Future"

1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT

1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT

[]La Motte Winery building

La Motte Winery building

Sculpture work-in-progress

Sculpture work-in-progress

Posted by SteveJD 09:19 Archived in South Africa Tagged animals birds wine south_africa hermanus paarl malmesbury franschoek Comments (0)

Flinders Ranges - Brachina Gorge via Appealinna Homestead

...with various lookout points

sunny 38 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

Since we are staying at Rawnsley Park Station, overlooked by Rawnsley Bluff which is part of the Rawnsley Range, it may be a plan to see who Rawnsley was. The origin of the name is described on the Rawnsley Park Station website as follows "The name Rawnsley comes from Rawnsley Bluff, the southern tip of the pound. This, in turn, was named after H(enry) C(harles) Rawnsley who arrived from England under false pretences claiming to be a surveyor. Rawnsley spent three months supposedly surveying from Mt. Remarkable to Wilpena before he was recalled by the Colonial Government. We will never know if the prominent landmark or the deception of the man was responsible for the naming of Rawnsley's Bluff." Another site states that he was employed by the NSW government as a surveyor but gives no other details while another site says he was appointed by the SA government but was discharged for incompetence after three months. Perhaps, after all, not a name one would wish to remember?

Our first full day based at Rawnsley Park Station was fine and hot and we drove out onto the Flinders Ranges Way and, a few kilometres on, turned in at the drive to Wilpena Pound.

Panoramic view of Wilpena Pound from the road, with Judith for scale

Panoramic view of Wilpena Pound from the road, with Judith for scale

During the drive in we saw several kangaroos and wallaroos and were to find that wherever we travelled in the Flinders Ranges (now properly known as Ikara-Flinders Ranges although I will use the old form for simplicity), there were more kangaroo-type animals than anywhere else we have been so far. At Wilpena Pound Visitor Centre, we found that to get into the 'pound' we had to have a shuttle bus trip in and then a good walk so decided that we would leave that for tomorrow and satisfy ourselves with a cup of coffee at the cafe. We saw a few birds while there, few co-operating photographically, and more kangaroos and wallaroos on the way out.

Red Kangaroo at rest

Red Kangaroo at rest

Emus below Rawnsley Range (part of the Wilpena Pound Range)

Emus below Rawnsley Range (part of the Wilpena Pound Range)

Mallee Ringneck parrot

Mallee Ringneck parrot

Group of Red Kangaroos

Group of Red Kangaroos

Euro or Common Wallaroo

Euro or Common Wallaroo

The land between the ranges tends to be flat and parched

The land between the ranges tends to be flat and parched

Wilpena is reportedly derived from an Aboriginal word meaning 'place of bent fingers' which could refer to the mountains resembling the shape of a cupped hand or the freezing cold of winter. However, the local Aborigines call the Pound 'Ikara' which means 'meeting place'. All rather confusing for a visitor!

A short way up the main road, we saw a small sign pointing to Cazneaux's tree. Harold Cazneaux was a well-known New Zealand photographer (and grandfather of the well-known Australian entrepreneur, Dick Smith) and his photo of this tree was widely published. We decided that we would see what we could do with the tree and also a few other trees in the vicinity. An interesting exercise in an attractive area.

Panorama containing Cazneaux's Tree

Panorama containing Cazneaux's Tree

Cazneaux's Tree as it is today

Cazneaux's Tree as it is today

As near as possible to Cazneaux's image 'Spirit of Endurance'

As near as possible to Cazneaux's image 'Spirit of Endurance'

Tree-lined creek behind Cazneaux's Tree

Tree-lined creek behind Cazneaux's Tree

A small mob of kangaroos with Cazneaux's Tree in the background

A small mob of kangaroos with Cazneaux's Tree in the background

Travelling further along the Flinders Ranges Way, we stopped at Huck and Stokes Hill Lookouts, both with wonderful views over rugged scenery. At the latter lookout, there is a bronze three-dimensional plaque or tablet which shows the direction and features of Wilpena Pound. I can find no origin of the names Hucks Lookout but Stokes Hill Lookout apparently honours Francis W. Stokes who was an MP and co-owner of a property in the area.

View from Hucks Lookout

View from Hucks Lookout

View from Hucks Lookout with wallaroo sheltering under a tree

View from Hucks Lookout with wallaroo sheltering under a tree

A young wallaroo snug between two grass trees

A young wallaroo snug between two grass trees

Wallaroos out to greet us at Stokes Hill Lookout

Wallaroos out to greet us at Stokes Hill Lookout

View from Stokes Hill Lookout towards Wilpena Pound

View from Stokes Hill Lookout towards Wilpena Pound

Back onto the main road and still heading north, we found another signpost to follow, this time to Appealinna Homestead (the origin of this place name is another which escapes me but it sounds as if it could be of Aboriginal origin). Here we had our picnic lunch before exploring the area and trying not to disturb the local wildlife too much!

Euros in the creek bed

Euros in the creek bed

Two Euros boxing

Two Euros boxing

And now all is calm...for a while

And now all is calm...for a while

In the 1850s, Joseph Wills and his wife set up home on the south side of the creek but, sadly, only ruins remain today. Wills ran a small herd of cattle on the property. On the north side of the creek the base, for a copper mining operation further east, was set up and for many years the use of the water was the cause of an ongoing war of words. One night, Wills' homestead was burnt down. He blamed one of the men in the miners' camp and subsequently he served a spell in jail for taking the law into his own hands (as far as I can find out, he burned down some of the miners' huts in retaliation - not a good move!). In the end, drought caused the Wills family to leave the property. It is a sad story but not atypical of the difficulties besetting people who set out to settle the Outback. Ruins are also all that remains of the mine buildings, the only winners being the local wildlife who seem to flourish along the creek.

The ruins of the homestead

The ruins of the homestead

A magnificent river red gum by the ruins of the kitchen

A magnificent river red gum by the ruins of the kitchen

Partially restored ruins of the Mine Manager's house

Partially restored ruins of the Mine Manager's house

The scrub where Wills' cattle would have subsisted

The scrub where Wills' cattle would have subsisted

Back on the Flinders Ranges Way, we had not gone far when we chanced on a Wedge-tailed Eagle on some roadkill. When we came closer, we found that there were two of these beautiful birds.

Wedge-tailed Eagle perched just by the road

Wedge-tailed Eagle perched just by the road

On starting out, we had decided that Brachina Gorge would be our destination and we now turned off the Flinders Range Way onto the unsealed Brachina Gorge Road. For anyone interested in geology this is a fascinating area. As we drove west, we drove through rocks that date back to 500 million years, gradually coming across older rocks until at the end of the gorge the rocks are 650 million years old. The rocks are sedimentary rocks of various types and have been heaved up and tilted over the aeons, evidence of which is clear to see.

The name Brachina has two suggested origins, both of Aboriginal derivation. The first source contends that the Aboriginal word is one which means'place without trees' and the other source says the origin is a different word meaning 'the place where the emu got forked feet'. Certainly there are plenty of trees in the gorge although this may not always have been the case but I rather like the second suggestion as I can imagine a flat-footed emu getting forked feet from walking over the rocky base of the gorge. I then came across another website which suggested that Brachina is derived from another Aboriginal word meaning'cranky'! I'm still going for emu though.

Brachina Gorge Road was generally good with a few rocky patches further in

Brachina Gorge Road was generally good with a few rocky patches further in

Panorama of the bush alongside the road

Panorama of the bush alongside the road

We start to see some evident results of ancient earth movements, this a bit contorted

We start to see some evident results of ancient earth movements, this a bit contorted

Then we have a gentle tilt of the strata

Then we have a gentle tilt of the strata

And, at the beginning of the gorge, some very tilted formations

And, at the beginning of the gorge, some very tilted formations

The road is a Geological Trail and there are twelve different formations or rock units to be seen, with information posts to tell you what is in each area. It is all quite mind-blowing. This is all part of the Adelaide Geosyncline, which was a trough running from Kangaroo Island up through the Flinders, of which Wilpena Pound is one of more well-known features. Much of the 'trough' has been disguised by subsequent earth movements. It is very rugged terrain but with a beauty of its own and, although predominantly red, with so many colours or shades. We really love this area.

Some way in, we crossed the Aroona River. There was not a lot of water flowing at this time of year but I thought we may find some bird or animal life there so pulled over once we had gone through and walked back. We were rewarded with Chestnut-rumped thornbills, Grey Teal, Spurwing Plovers (I think now known as Masked Lapwing), glimpses of Variegated Fairy-wrens, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters and Grey-fronted Honeyeaters - what a feast - not to mention some rather dashing dragonflies!

Grey Teal

Grey Teal

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater

Grey-fronted Honeyeater

Grey-fronted Honeyeater

The river was quite low

The river was quite low

Red Arrow (dragonfly)

Red Arrow (dragonfly)

The origin of Aroona is rather refreshingly from an Aboriginal word meaning 'running water'. Again there is another suggestion is that the name is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning 'place of frogs'. Although we didn't see or hear any frogs on this trip, either meaning is plausible.

At last we reached the gorge proper and it was stunning - wonderful rock formations, river red gums scattered along the roadside and just a wonderful experience. Not so wonderful, from an environmental perspective was the presence of Feral Goats clambering on the rock ledges.

Steve having a rest in a dry creek bed

Steve having a rest in a dry creek bed

Beautiful stand of river red gums

Beautiful stand of river red gums

Gnarly growth on river red gum trunk

Gnarly growth on river red gum trunk

A majestic river red gum

A majestic river red gum

Feral goat clambering on the rock face

Feral goat clambering on the rock face

Female Red Kangaroo

Female Red Kangaroo

River red gum white bark contrasting with the red walls of the gorge

River red gum white bark contrasting with the red walls of the gorge

One river red gum outdoing the rocks for bending!

One river red gum outdoing the rocks for bending!

Some way through the gorge, Judith spotted a sign stating that a fenced off area was Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby habitat, so we pulled over and had a look. It took a few minutes for our eyes to engage with the landscape and pick out small movements which betrayed the presence of several of the lovely little animals. The road continued round a bend through another part of the gorge and found at least two more, one of them quite close to the road .

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Three 'portraits' of Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies - beautiful animals

Not long after leaving the gorge, we turned south onto the Outback Highway. This is a good (sealed) road running parallel to the Heysen Range which proved quite photogenic. Hans Heysen was a German-Australian artist who specialised in watercolour landscapes with eucalypts as the prime focus. He lived in Hahndorf (see earlier blog for our visit there) and made nine trips to the Flinders Ranges to paint the beautiful trees in the stark landscape. There is a cycle trail that runs from Cape Jervis all the way north into the Flinders Ranges and ending at Parachilna, a town we unfortunately did not have time to get to.

View across bush to the Heysen Range

View across bush to the Heysen Range

Part of the Heysen Range - we can make out a face!

Part of the Heysen Range - we can make out a face!

Heysen Range with (I think( Mount Sinnett

Heysen Range with (I think( Mount Sinnett

Lovely rock formations on Heysen Range

Lovely rock formations on Heysen Range

Mount Abrupt (I think) at the southern end of Heysen Range

Mount Abrupt (I think) at the southern end of Heysen Range

There are many trails through the Flinders Ranges but there appear to be two main ones that vehicles can follow for part of he way and some way past the end of the Heysen Range, we turned off the Outback Highway onto the unsealed Moralana Scenic Drive which is part of the Mawson Trail. This is another cycle trail which runs from just north of Adelaide north to Blinman, another town we would like to have had time to visit. The road wound its way along roughly parallel to the southern part of the Wilpena Pound Range and, again, proved irresistible to our inner photographer. We were rewarded with another gorgeous sunset to cap off a long but thoroughly enjoyable day.

Posted by SteveJD 14:35 Archived in Australia Tagged animals birds australia oceania south_australia flinders_ranges brachina_gorge Comments (0)

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