Blog 198 Albany Dec 2011 – Jan 2012


Ken got in touch and invited us to stay nearly a year ago and now we had finally caught up with him. He and his wife Veronica were spending the Christmas break in their Albany home perched high on the hillside overlooking the Porongurup hills and the coast. It took us a while to drag our vision away from this spectacular vista which was one of the reasons they bought this place. They instantly made us welcome and introduced us to their other guests, Veronica’s boss Gavin and his sister Shirley who was on holiday from South Africa.

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We met Rick their neighbour, he kept us all supplied with fresh Marron and Coonaks (freshwater crustations similar to crayfish) caught in the local dams (personal water storage) along with strawberries, potatoes and anything else fresh…he also came to dinner one evening and was entertaining company. Here is us with Veronica, Ken and Rick. We helped Rick peel the Coonaks hence why Kev is wearing them like finger puppets.

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We headed to a lookout at Shelley beach with Gavin, Shirley, Veronica and Ken and then went for a snorkel at Cosy Corner the local beach. The waves were a bit rough and swept Gavin and I off the rocks, I ended up with a few scapes from the coral but nothing too serious. It was a beautiful day and a nice swim. Here is us with Ken and Veronica.

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That afternoon Kev took a run into town to source a new battery as we needed reliable starting if we were to cross the Nullabor plain safely, there would be no hills there to bump from. The mission was successful and he returned triumphant.

On another day trip into Albany with Ken and Veronica we headed to the harbour and had a look at the museum and a full scale replica of the brig Amity one of the ships which bought the first settlers out here. The lighthouse reflector was part of the exhibits, they were lit by kerosene lamps and turned by clockwork in the early days, some feat considering the glass reflector alone weighs four tonnes.The housing floated on a bath of mercury which was dense enough to hold the weight and made an almost frictionless bearing.  There were some stilts and walking planks to have a go on so we made fools of ourselves with those too. We also stopped at the local organic market on the way back to get an ice cream and say hello to their neighbours who were running a stall selling Macadamia nuts off their farm.

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Veronica invited her brother Kelly over for new years eve along with Rick these two had been friends for many years so we were entertained with stories and anecdotes. At 73yrs young Kel has packed a lot in his life and is well travelled so we had a lot to talk about. Most of us managed to see in the new year and we wondered what 2012 would hold for us on the road.

Ken and Veronica had to head back work on 3rd Jan we stayed a little while longer mainly to collect our calendars from the post office once it opened after Christmas. I had been desperately trying to release some emergency funds from our UK account that I had deliberately tied up for 18 months in case we needed it we were down to our last $100 in the bank here!!!  so we figured this was that time. We just had one slight problem my UK bank wanted a signature as it was a passbook account and we were about as far away as you can get.

Eventually I spotted a loop hole, by reinvesting the sum but it would take 4-5days to see if this worked. It did and after another 2-3 days we were able to transfer it to our now very depleted account balance of $26.24!! Talk about the nick of time. Here is our mobile office.

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As we are well a truly over 30 we were not allowed a working visa here so that meant we could not top up our funds as we had hoped. We have had a lot of help from our followers and the general public for which we are eternally grateful as it really has kept us going here.

Although we had written and emailed lots of companies regarding major sponsorship as yet it still eludes us, but we have been fortunate to receive some generous freebies in Australia thanks to Neds, Liquid Containment and Thunderbikes. Thank you guys we really appreciate your help.

 

Taking a day trip out we visited the nearby peninsula, the south of which experiences some of the roughest seas on the globe as the next stop is Antarctica. There was also an old whaling station out here which only closed in 1978, ironically it is now a tourist attraction called whale world.   The $30 entrance fee each was a bit too steep for us so we went and enjoyed the natural wonders of this area instead. We walked up to stony hill the site of an old war time look out post which had spectacular views of the coast. Further along was the gap and natural bridge. The gap was a huge v shaped chasm with the surf smashing into the rocks over 25m below. Her are some pictures of the old whaling ship, followed by stony hill, the gap and the natural bridge. If you look closely you can see a family walking on the top of the natural bridge.

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It was while we were at the natural bridge having lunch that we realised our bike is a true global ice breaker. Over the course of the next 20mins we spoke to a multitude of people including a lady in full burka who was very friendly, a typical Aussie and an Indian family to name just a few.

We have a donation pot hanging from the roof and we leave a laminated sign on the bike when we park up in places explaining where we have come from and what we are doing. We aren’t trying to twist anybody’s arm it just allows anyone who wants to help a means to do so. Some days there is nothing in it, sometimes a bit of change but that day we raised over $70. Thank you to all who stopped.

 

Albany was the embarkation point for the Australian troops who left for Gallipoli in the first world war which made the war memorial at the top of Mount Clarence even more poignant. The view from the top was impressive too with a 360degree view. It was also here we saw a family of black skinks (lizards) sunbathing.

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The next afternoon we walked up to the neighbours farm, they grow Macadamia nuts and Avocados and we were treated to a tour. Jenny took us all round the plot and explained the process from tree to harvest as well as showing us their delightful old house with the quirky sloping floor so the piano has to be propped one end. It was a fascinating and informative insight and we thoroughly enjoyed the look around although we did return after dark! The pictures below show the Macadamia trees, the dam, cracking the nuts and the rest of the family.

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The last couple of days we had managed to write and send another blog and scrub our bike jackets and trousers etc before we prepared to head out to the Porongurup hills to visit Kelly and his wife Judy.

The intention was to pop into the post office collect the calendars, post out the three we had just sold through the website and leave town simple eh..

On our return there was the usual gaggle of people around the bike, a crowd always makes other people stop to see what they are missing and we soon had a few more people. After we had chatted to everyone and were just about to go someone said hang on a minute I have just rung the president of the local vintage bike club and he’s on his way. Bob and Chris his wife were very friendly and we agreed to pop back to their place for a cup of tea. We had a tour of their workshop to look at the bikes and a good chat. They invited us to stay and to help decide I rang Judy to see if it was convenient to stay, she was busy chasing round after her granddaughter at the time so arranged to make it the next day instead and we stayed for a night with Bob and Chris. There was a vintage bike run on sunday so we were invited to that too.Here are Bob and Chris trying out the bike.

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Next up: The Porongurups, the vintage run and the Stirling ranges.

 

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