Blog 7 – Work and play in WA’s Central West – August 2008

The sunrises almost made the 4am starts worthwhile

Hello again!  We are writing this blog in Kalbarri, a delightful coastal town north of Geraldton, having arrived yesterday. Over the past five weeks we’ve been at our second housesit, on this occasion for Alick and Willemina in the countryside about 20 kilometres north of Geraldton.  They made us very welcome at their home and we were able to spend some quality time with them at the end of our housesit after they returned from a tag-along 4WD tour they led into the Pilbara.  Alick was also generous in providing us with lots of great information for our forthcoming adventures into the Pilbara. 

We had plenty of non-human company while we were at our housesit.  The two affectionate and exuberant young Labradors Senor and Lucy kept us entertained and very active, and we loved having cats again – four in fact – by the names of Peka, Achibald, Kwatta and Bengal.  We were in animal heaven.  Those of you who know us well would appreciate our love of animals (some of you may suspect that Nirbeeja prefers them to humans – and you’d be right), so we were lucky to land two housesits in Geraldton with an abundance of pets to love and care for.  Now we are heading back to the bush for a rest!

Nirbeeja & friends – Senor (left) & Lucy (right)

“What do you mean she isn’t enjoying this?” Bengal uses Kwatta as a cushion

Local scenery at housesit north of Geraldton
We were also kept busy in Geraldton by the local branch of Delron cleaners, who treated us well and provided us with plenty of work.  They were happy to have us to fill in at short notice when people didn’t show for jobs, were sick, or when staff took leave.  Over a couple of months we cleaned around 30 different venues.  The work was fine – but not the 4am starts required during one three week period!  We are proud (and tired) to say that we didn’t miss a single start.  Getting up that early does have its benefits (okay, so there’s a bit of rationalization going on here).  We saw many beautiful sunrises, and Peter, whose idea of an early start means getting up at 7am, figures he saw more sunrises during his time working in Geraldton than over the rest of his life combined.  And it was good to get some income to keep us on our journey.  We must confess that the very, very early starts eventually play on your mind and affect your judgement.  For example, during a break between jobs on Saturday mornings the only coffee available at 6am was from a multinational company which shall remain nameless but features golden arches in its logo – such was the distortion to our judgement that this coffee tasted superb to us!!

Anyway, the Delron folk really looked after us, and we were variously called Angels and God-sends – terms we usually don’t associate with ourselves (and there’s no need for everyone to contact Delron to set the record straight!).   Our main contact was Justine, the contracts manager, who is a delightful lady.  No matter what staffing disasters were taking place around her, Justine always managed to stay friendly and cheerful.  We reckon that between Justine in Geraldton and Sue in Busselton, Delron has a couple of real gems in its employ.  Other staff who were also very good to us were Glenn- the owner -  Lynette and Jenny.  We were thrilled to receive a beautiful hamper as a farewell gift from the girls at Delron in Geraldton.

Thanks Delron – a beautiful farewell hamper
But our stay at our second housesit wasn’t all work and no play.  We were staying in a beautiful region in the countryside.  Rugged hills and escarpments provided a dramatic backdrop to fields of canola and wheat.  Pockets of native bush provided habitats for rare local native plants and an abundance of birds, especially honeyeaters, and Shingleback lizards, known locally as Bobtails.  We made the most of our opportunities to explore the local fields and hills, often with the two dogs as company and at other times alone.  It was lovely seeing the different wildflowers come into bloom during our stay.  And the dogs were also fun – we loved watching them hurtling after each other through fields of canola (sorry farmers!) or run full speed into dams and irrigation ditches, and then, of course, have them shake themselves dry right next to you.

All-steel lighthouse built in 1887.  At Point Moore, Geraldton

Osprey about to land in artificial nest, built for it by residents of Point Moore

Local honeyeater at Geraldton

A close encounter – large spider met during bushwalk

After early morning rain, at housesit north of Geraldton

Sunset north of Geraldton
Rainfall was high during July and the region greened-up tremendously.  Thankfully, after several poor years the local farmers are looking forward to a bumper crop this season.   Unfortunately, rainfall in Geraldton also means wind, and when it gets windy over here, it gets bloody windy.  We were decidedly pleased we were staying in a house and not the camper trailer.  One afternoon was particularly bad, with the winds scattering garden furniture at our ‘home’, demolishing some exercise equipment, snapping limbs off shrubs and trees and causing window panes to bend, though fortunately, not to break.  News reports that evening reported damage from Kalbarri to Albany in the south.  It was quite a storm.

We took the opportunity on weekends to explore Kalbarri National Park. 
This spectacular region encompasses some beautiful inland gorge country along the Murchison River, and some dramatic coastal cliffs and gorges south of the town of Kalbarri.  The wildflowers for which this area is famous were just coming into bloom during our first couple of visits, but on our return yesterday were simply breathtaking. Rather than include those photos here we have created a separate gallery for them in the Wildflower section of this website.  We hope you find them as delightful as we did.
We plan to spend the next couple of days exploring further into the Kalbarri National Park and will stay on a local property on the banks of the Murchison.   From Kalbarri we intend heading north to explore the Pilbara region and the famous Coral Coast of WA. 

Gorge country along Murchison River, Kalbarri Ntl Pk

Ringneck parrots – known as Twenty Eights in WA, nesting in Kalbarri Ntl Pk.

Nirbeeja overlooks gorge along Murchison River

View through “Nature’s Window” to Murchison river below

Ant nest – Kalbarri Ntl Pk

Island Rock – coastline of Kalbarri Ntl Pk

Natural bridge – Kalbarri Ntl Pk

Detail of shore, Kalbarri Ntl Pk

Octopus in rockpool – Kalbarri Ntl Pk

View south at Pot Alley- Kalbarri Ntl Pk

View north across Eagle Gorge towards township of Kalbarri

A Kestrel above cliffs searches for prey

Late afternoon at Kalbarri

Sunset at Kalbarri

Till next time.

Peter & Nirbeeja
11 August 2008

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