On the way out of Northampton I spotted an alternative route via Chapman valley which is famous for its wild flowers. We were a bit late in the season but there were still a few left and it was a nice twisty scenic ride anyway.
We also had a close encounter with a local lizard as we rounded a corner. It was making its way very slowly across the road and we only just missed it. We stopped and with the help of a local behind us moved it to the edge of the road. It’s called a bob tail Goanna apparently and was about 250mm long.
We reached the historic village of Greenough in time for a late picnic lunch, the leaning tree is quite famous and gives some indication of how windy it can be here. It is quite healthy and has been growing at this angle for many years now. After lunch we went for a wander around the historic preserved settlement, while we were looking around a gaggle of bikes rolled into the cafe car park. When we finally came back out they invited us to join them in the cafe as they had seen the bike in the car park and were all curious.
The area was originally settled in the 1850′s with the intention of farming grain but lack of nutrients in the soil and diseases that affected the wheat crops were followed by devastating floods and fires. Problems started as early as 1862 but by the late 1880′s things were getting so bad that many people simply abandoned the area. In the 1960′s work was started to conserve the site and in 1979 the hamlet was opened to the public as an example of early colonial settlement. The alpacas live free range in the village.
It turned out the bikers were all Ulysses Club members from Geraldton out on a ride. They were a friendly bunch and we spent another hour or so chatting to them before we realised that we probably would not have enough time to get to our planned camp at the pinnacles.
One of the guys kindly led us to another closer free camp at Ellendale pool which was great, situated right next to a beautiful river with free barbeques it was one of the nicest free camp sites we have stayed in. Another of the Ulysses guys had said he would call a motor journalist friend who may be interested in doing an interview with us, the next morning Gary showed up at Ellendale pool as we were packing up. He did a good interview and took lots of pictures although we never saw the resulting article as it was for a Geraldton newspaper. Here’s some pictures of Ellendale pool. We saw some Peregrine falcons nesting in the cliffs while we were there.
The Ulysses guys also recommended an alternative inland route to Perth so after fuelling up we headed to Mingenew where we stopped for lunch. Whilst we were sat in the bus shelter we got talking to Kim a local guy who had stopped to say hello, he looked a bit like a cross between a hippy and a bushman. He is actually of Danish descent but has lived all over the world and invited us to his house a few km’s up the road. We found it easily enough and spent a very pleasant couple of hours in his company. His place was like a smallholding and was lush and shady with lots of vegetable and fruit plants all his own work as the place was a dust bowl when he started twenty years ago.
He kept rare breed chickens and we had an interesting tour around. We helped pick and juice a basket full of oranges to put in our drink bottle and he also gave us eggs, lemons and grapefruit.
We could easily have stayed with him but we had a contact near Perth to stay with that we had already re scheduled more than once. We bid Kim farewell and thanks, he seemed to enjoy our impromptu meeting too picture below
We rode on via Moora and into New Norcia the only monastic town in Australia, we stopped for a quick look but we were losing the light by then so we resolved to come back as it looked interesting.
We got to Theo and Helen’s house just as it got dark and had a nice welcome, Theo is a long term Guzzi rider and got in touch via the website some time ago, we were introduced to Tigger and Mac their two dogs before were treated to a lovely roast with all the trimmings and red wine yum ! Here are some pics of Theo, Helen and Mac (Tigger got stage fright and legged it) and Karen and Mac watching TV with Theo.
We really enjoyed our time with Theo and Helen, they live in a beautiful area just slightly out of town and are lovely people. Theo had a great workshop and we tinkered in there for a few hours. We cleaned the carbs which had half the northern territory in them and balanced them with his home made vacuum gauges which improved things greatly. Karen was able to use Helen’s sewing machine and with her help fix up the tears in my jacket and trousers. They took us out a few times too and introduced us to their other biking friends in Perth (more of that later) as well as saying we could use their place as a base for a while this meant we could fit in a few visits over the weekends to our friends Dave and Claire in Perth.
Dave and Claire are the only people we have stayed with on this entire trip that we were friends with before we left. Dave got a resettlement package six years ago and moved the whole family to Australia. We go way back and often would ride over for a cup of tea and a chat when they lived near our hometown. Doing that on the other side of the world felt surreal for all of us. Neither of them have changed a bit except that their kids have got bigger and it felt just like old times. They had just had a pool put in their back garden and were clearing away excess sand so that the surrounding area could be concreted the next week. We all mucked in and helped and got lots done, as a reward for our efforts we all jumped in the pool and had a BBQ later that evening.
I took their son Dan for a ride on the bike the next day and it was really good to catch up with them.
Another weekend we went out to Freemantle with them (or Freo as the locals call it). They have weekend markets there and we had a nice day looking around it together. Our timing was good as the Freo festival was on so there were street performers as well. Below are some images of Freo and the street performers. The first one was juggling a screaming chainsaw, a grenade, and a knife, as yer do. There is group shot of Dave, Claire and family with Karen.
We fitted in a trip to the gravity centre and spent a good afternoon manipulating gravity with all the hands on displays in the centre, climbing the 222 steps of the 13 storey gravity tower to drop balloons from the top in the wind. We could just make out the bike from the top. We learnt pendulums and their paths, sounds in tubes, wonky mirrors and all manner of stuff. We also wandered around the cosmology gallery. Karen is touching a piece of meteorite that landed on the Nullabor.
More of our time in Perth.