Friday, 12 September 2008


9/09/08 Jurien Bay – Perth 223(12113) kms

A cranky start for me today after little sleep and no cooperation from anything or anyone. Despite this, hit the road by 8:15am on the way to Perth. We stopped after only 45mins and had half an hour photographing roadside wild flowers which cheered me up considerably. In just a one hundred metre stretch on either side of the road, there must have been more than thirty varieties of wildflower blooming.

The most interesting point of the day was Emu Downs Wind Farm. Here on several hills were 48 wind turbines (according to the information board in the parking bay - mostly all turning away and providing the electricity for the water desalination plant a little further south. All left over energy goes to the main grid. The turbines here could supply fifty thousand households. See what my green energy is buying!

Arrived in Perth but were stopped by road works about 10kms from our digs so we diverted to a spot by the Swan River for lunch at a conveniently, placed halfway between the two stop and go men! Here the Swan was a narrower, dirtier river but running quite swiftly. Got to our digs in the north of Perth and pitched the tent beside a duck pond in the caravan park. Sue spent the afternoon planning how to exhaust us over the next three days. I took her for a coffee because she seemed so tired. I set up the camp whilst she planned. Her back is getting decidedly worse but her head wound is improving.

Tomorrow the action starts with a visit to the WACA Ground.<


 Big day out this one! Our first day touring in Perth was to be done in the green-conscious manner of public transport and Shank's Pony. Now, because was super organised – as always in these circumstances - we were at the bus stop before time and we waited and watched for our bus but when a likely conveyance appeared and stopped, it had the wrong number displayed from the one we correctly expected, so of course, we refused to get on. After another 15 minutes, it was about as obvious we had been duped as it is the NSW government is the political version of the Titanic, so we set of to pursue other plans. Out came the car and off we went to find the railway station. Meanwhile, the bus returned from the other direction, now displaying the right number and the driver waved kindly. In my concern over getting to the train on time (is that a song?), I had a weak moment and doubted His Holiness, Ken The Magnificent (our GPS) and we ended up lost in the suburbs of Perth.

We returned to the caravan park and took stock.

Brave as only we could imagine, we traipsed back to the bus stop an our later and were delighted when a new bus driver – “call me Ishmael”, I kid you not - welcomed us aboard for our five minute trip to the right station and even more delighted when our train connection was met. Very modern and classy trains in Perth. Our line ran down the middle of the divided Mitchell Freeway, a most impressive use of urban space. Before we had time to read the sports section, we arrived at Perth Station and were soon stopping and standing unexpectedly in the busy press of human endeavour which was making its way from here to there and back here. No one yelled at us so that was a good thing but the odd sneer and indignant "excuse me" gave us the unspoken message that we were yokels. Fair enough. Best not mention we were from Tamworth and confirm their assumptions.

 We attempted to do a few things which didn't work out but eventually emerged from the city centre across a busy road - is there any other type? - and onto a welcoming spread of grass that a couple of AFL teams would have made good use of. Breathing again, our bearings refined, we spied the two attractions the time of the day had left for us and put them in viewing order.

So it was that we wandered into The Machines of Leonardo DaVinca (no code intended), an exhibition which glorifies the life and work of this famous painter, sculpture, inventor and more than reasonable pasta cook. There is no doubt the man could draw, judging by the enormous quantity of highly technical drawings he made of real and imagined things both machine and living. He could also paint a bit or so many have said in reference to his Mona Lisa, whose eyes are apparently at different levels to draw in the viewer and make her appear warm. More girls should be like that, don’t you reckon? Gee, I thought it was the whimsical smile? He was an inventor but not one with a high completion rate. Most of his ideas never got beyond the planning stage and frankly, most were fairly far fetched. Still, we shouldn't knock a bloke for being a dreamer. The machines on display here were the work of master builders from his home town who have delved through his etchings and constructed them into life size working models. Fascinating. There was also a film showing of his life - not so fascinating.

Swan Carillon
Nearby, a tall glass spire shot straight to the sky from between two stylised sails, so off we went to give the Swan Bells the Collette Treatment … ring my bell etc. The Swan Bell Tower is a really nice piece of architecture by the Swan River which houses eighteen bells of the Quasimodo variety - twelve of these came from St Martin's in the Fields in England. It's mentioned in the children’s' nursery rhyme, "Oranges and Lemons". Apparently the bells were gradually destroying the brickwork of their church tower and they faced the real possibility of ringing themselves to a disaster. Their bells were given to the WA government and in return, the WA government supplied the raw materials for making a newer, light set for the Poms. Since WA is just about made of iron ore, this was no problem. We sat in whilst the ringing took place - in fact, Sue became a ringer herself. Is all still done with ropes and pulleys but hump-backed dwarfs have been banned. The view upstairs was windy but inspiring.

Unfortunately, all the photos I took were with a camera sans film! Good one Pete.

In the midst of our touring, the mobile chirped into life and it was Sue's cousin Greg Gibbens. After several organisational phone calls, we had no sooner jumped off the bus at the caravan park than we were programming Ken to take us to South Perth and the Mends St Wharf for dinner with Greg and his two girls Cache. Our arrival in the parking area at the wharf gave us the wonderfully confronting view of the city across the river. More compact than the Sydney skyline, even at night it presents clean and sharp lines as tall and small towers alike shine out through thousands of individual lenses in different shades, colours and intensity. If man-made structures and views can be beautiful, this is certainly one of them. Greg and the girls arrived soon after and we went to an Italian restaurant for dinner - Billy Joel's refrain going through my head for the rest of the night in a place that ironically didn't sell alcohol. It took little or no time for the ice to be broken and the years between meetings - nearly 40 according to the two main participants - to be retold in highlights reels on speed dial. Of course, the real lubricant was Greg's daughters who were delightful and the love between the three of them was thick with just the right sentiment. One had even drawn a picture of a horse for Sue which she presented before the first course.

We finished the evening with a visit to the ice cream parlour across the road - no need to guess where that idea came from - and a few photos and then an invitation from Greg to join them for a home cooked meal the following night, which we readily accepted. The freeway traffic was light and we were home in 15 minutes. Sue slept well on her milestone. I tossed and turned ... again.

11/09/08 The WACA

A couple of tasks to complete today: obtain a script for my asthma preventative puffer which the doctor in Cloncurry had neglected to provide me with in sufficient quantity to see me home; and find a solution to our broken roof pod, whose lock had jammed and one clasp broke. There was also stuff to do and see.

We left camp at 8:00am to get the tasks done. Bad advice, bad luck and bad organisation of the WA health system saw this one task completed finally at 12:30pm after visits to doctor's surgeries and two hospitals and a long wait in the scene of our eventual success. I am a more patient man (literally) than I used to be but with only 30 minutes left before the last available tour of the WACA and the need for food and a drive across the city, I was facing the possibility of missing the one thing I came to Perth for ... I wanted to stand at forward square leg and imagine I was under Doug Walter's six off the last ball of the day to raise his 100 in a session in 1974/75 season against the Poms.

If wishes were fishes
Food arrived quickly and we got a break with traffic and only missed the first 10 minutes of a tour led by 80 year old ex-Capetown boy, Wal. The man knew his cricket and as you would expect, I tested his knowledge. He was also a spritely old bugger as he led us up and down stairs and in and out of boardrooms and dressing rooms with the jovial glee as a kid with his first bag of lollies. The ground has changed, with new stands at both ends of the centre square but it lacks the feeling of colosseum that Sydney and Melbourne have. It reminds me of the sort of ground you might find in a big country town. We saw where Richie sits in the commentary room and the locker that Langer always uses and reminisced over the 100's board in the home team dressing room. There was a Phiffer board too but who cares about bowlers! The members stand is currently being refurbished so there were electricians poking in and out of the place and the smell of fresh paint. In the process of taking photos at the end of the player’s race, Wal lost Sue and I so we had about fifteen minutes of free wandering through the upper three levels of the members stand.

It was all wonderful and I was the kid in the candy store of course but two moments stand out. Towards the end of the tour, I was allowed to walk out onto the ground and as I did I reflected on my own cricket career, realising that only time, opportunity and a lack of ability had robbed me of the Baggy Green. I had the commitment. The greatest of all the highlights of this hour was when Wal told me what end Dougie was batting at when he hit the six and where it landed. I took a photo from the very spot back to the centre square. This was a very cool moment! Turned out, Wal was a massive KD Walters fan too and we spent some time discussing the Dungog boy's career.

I bought a stubby holder and a DVD of “The Miracle Match” – the State one day game when WA got rolled for next to nothing then, thanks to a Lillee inspired performance with the ball, knocked a Qld side (including Greg Chappell and Viv Richards) over for even less. I had a little trouble getting my smile through the double gates as we left.

Rest of the day doesn't matter really!

The weather was closing in again but we went up to Kings Park for a recky for our planned morning return. I resolved the pod issue on the way back to the caravan park through the intended use of two big, orange ockie straps.

We again did a quick turn around to get over to East Perth for dinner at Greg's home but not before I could try out the stubby holder. We had a lovely evening and were well fed thanks to Greg's talent in the kitchen. We looked at photos of family significance and some video footage of the Gibbens Clan at Yamba and Great Grandma Stuart's house in Lawson. Stories were retold and clarified and theories tested but the bottom line was it was nice to "discover" family. We look forward now to extending that sense to Greg's parents when we visit them in Denmark (WA) on our way east.

We crept into the caravan park quietly as it was well past curfew.

12/09/08 Freemantle

One the best days of our marriage and for once I can't and won’t begin to describe why.

Some of the morning was spent looking at brilliant wild flowers in Kings Park and the rest of the day wandering about Fremantle. All of the day was spent dodging showers. It was a wonderful day and we both feel young, happy and in love.

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