Before we left Albany we took advantage of the January sales to replace our broken on bike video camera and on our way out we paused at dog rock for a photo.
Our next stop was Kel and Judy’s in the Porongurup hills. Here are some pictures of their farm, Karen with Kel and Judy and their Kelpie dog Chico in his chair. The last picture is a blue wren, these are a brilliant flash of colour when they are darting about around the garden, we had our first glimpse of these colourful birds when staying in Bussleton with Tina and Barry.
Whilst in the Porongurups we climbed up Castle Rock a viewpoint with a balustrade attached to the side of the rock. Sadly the day was overcast so the view was not at it’s best but we enjoyed it none the less. It was a scramble to get up and the last section involved climbing a ladder, one of the pictures shows Karen going back down it. The last picture is of the apply named balancing rock.
We rode the 40km back into Albany the next day to join the vintage motorcycle club for their bike run. They were a really friendly bunch and the idea of the run was to bring your oldest bike so there was an interesting cross section of machinery. There were also plenty of coffee stops for everyone to re-gather. The first picture is me with Bob on his BMW, then a selection of the bikes and Karen busy signing calendars (we sold five that day thanks guys). The last shows the picnic spot under the trees at the runs end. We had a thoroughly enjoyable day riding with everyone.
During the coffee stop on the run I got talking to Jack who was riding an ST1100 outfit that he had built. He is 83 and quite an inspiration as not only is he regularly riding but he still builds his own bikes and trikes too. After the run we went back to his house for a look at his trikes. The Honda one looks great and causes lots of double takes I am sure. It is the front of an old Honda civic car grafted to a bike and uses the transverse mounted front wheel drive car engine and running gear to push it along. As a finishing touch Jack also cut the back off the car and fitted it to the back of the bulkhead. The other trike is a BMW K100 with Rover V8 suspension and axle and a neat alloy body.
Whilst we were in the petrol station filling up we had an impromtu travellers meeting on the forecourt with this beast, Karen got chatting to the guys whilst I was filling the bike and it turned out one of the passengers was from Horsham our home town although we had never met. The body was demountable and was at their camp.
We finally dragged ourselves away from Albany and headed for the Stirling Ranges. Veronica had another brother in Ongarup not too far away and he had also offered to put us up and show us around. Our route there passed through the Stirling ranges and we paused to take some pictures, we had planned to climb Bluff Knoll one of the highest peaks on the range but it was a bit too late in the day and sun was now too fierce to start a walk of this nature.The windmill is a replica of a dutch mill which is now a guest house.
Tim and Vicki made us very welcome in Ongarup which is a small farming town off the tourist trail. Tim is a semi retired farmer who was helping his son as it was harvest time. They took us to his farm and showed us the whole process including riding up in the headers (combine harvesters). I went in Tim’s which was positioned by GPS, it was strange to watch it steering itself. The crop is cut and transfered to the chaser bin tractor whilst still on the move. The tractor then takes his load to temporary field bins postitioned near the road. These are emptied by a road train and taken to the grain depot which acts as a temporary storage before it is trucked down to the grain ships in Albany. It hasn’t been the best year for the farmers weather wise and the grain is just going for animal feed this year but at least they got the harvest in sucessfully.
The pictures in order are: harvesting the crop and transfering it into the chaser bin, a drivers eye view from the header, the field bins, a road train , the grain being sampled by hydraulic spear to test it’s moisture content and quality and the temporary store at Ongarup which was almost full.
We rode back to the Stirling ranges on a clear day to climb Bluff Knoll which was a hard climb but well worth the effort. There was a small waterfall about a third of the way up so we could cooled our faces there. Once at the top we had a 360deg vista and the perfect weather meant we had a stunning view for many kilometres. We had jelly legs but big smiles by the time we got down again.
Continuing our crustacean education Tim turned up with a bucket full of live yabbies from one of the dams on the farm one evening, some of them were intent in climbing out of the bucket and making a break for it much to the cats amusement. After a quick swim in some boiling water we set to peeling them as the pictures show.
They were delicous, a little bit like prawns but with a meatier texture.
Lastly we couldn’t leave without visiting the Ongurup Maleefowl centre. Kel, Judy, Tim and Vicki have all played a part in making this happen. Maleefowl are an indigenous ground dwelling bird of this area, their numbers were in serious decline and a group of locals got together to try and help them recover. Mallee is an Aboriginal word for the type of stunted red eucalypt that is their preferred habitat. They build a huge domed mound for a nest to bury their eggs in and incubate them by uncovering or burying them to adjust the temperature. Being ground dwelling they have suffered predation from introduced foxes and feral cats. The Maleefowl protection group provides habitat and vermin control along with a breeding program to help boost their numbers.
Next up Esperance and the Nullabor plain.