Neil (nt) wrote,

Australia - part 4a - more of the southwest

Our first stop in Australia was the Perth Airport. We picked up our rental car there and headed for the Mundaring Weir Hotel, in the Darling Ranges east of Perth. We were very tired, the airline had misplaced one of our bags (which they delivered to our room by courier later that night), and the day was quite cool and wet. We checked into our room, which had a fireplace and a small electric heater. One of Lorna's nieces had arranged to leave a large plate of fruit, nuts and beverages there for us, which was a welcome surprise. We tried to start a fire, but the woodpile outside the door was wet from the rain, so we had no success. We headed to the restaurant for an early dinner, hoping it would be warmer than our room, but if anything it was even colder there, and I sat with my teeth chattering until we were served a hot bowl of soup. After a good meal we headed back to the room for an "early" evening (8 p.m. local time; 6 a.m. Calgary time). In the morning we wandered on the hotel grounds and saw our first kangaroos of the trip. After checking out of the hotel, we visited the Weir itself, then headed east to Merredin.

At the Mundaring Weir

The Weir feeds a pipeline extending all the way to Kalgoorlie, some 350 miles to the east, providing water to the entire region (including our destination, Merredin).

The Golden Pipeline, near Merredin.

We didn't want to take the main highway to Merredin, so we took an alternate route passing through a town called Toodyay, where we stopped for breakfast. Continuing our drive, I learned my first lesson of this vacation: provide yourself with detailed maps before driving in unfamiliar regions! We spent a while driving north when we should have been going east, but the countryside was beautiful and we had plenty of time. I stopped in a place called Wongan Hills, bought a map and got back on track.

Arriving at Merredin, we stopped at Lorna's sister's house, but she wasn't home, so we went next door to her mother's house. L's mother is 95, and I was pleased to see that she hadn't aged much in the 10 years since we last saw her. She has a little more trouble getting around (she uses a walker), but is still mentally sharp. She told me that she occasionally forgets a name, but then so do I. She is the oldest person I've ever known.

While we were in Merredin, we stayed at another house L's sister Thea owns on a property just out of town. It wasn't anything fancy, and we had to learn how to keep a fire going in the woodstove to keep the place even a little warm.

Thea's property has a couple of old rock quarries, and she has planted several thousand trees in order (I guess) to turn it into a kind of nature reserve. She keeps a few horses, sheep, geese and ducks there. That's in addition to the native lizards and birds (we spotted a gecko in the house a few times, and woke every morning to the complex song of a honeyeater).

On Thea's acreage.

Quarry, wattle in foreground.
Tags: australia 2006

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