Day 18: on the Nullabor Plain

We woke just before sunrise, somewhere out on the Nullabor Plain.
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“Nullabor” comes from Latin, meaning “no trees”; it’s easy to see how it got its name! In fact, it is the largest limestone plateau in the world.
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The next few photos were taken near Forrest, a former railway town, now used as part of a chain of airstrips across the country used by the Department of Defence. All the photos were taken from inside the train.
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The next group of photos was taken when the train stopped and the passengers were allowed to stretch their legs for 30 minutes or so in the small former railway town of Cook.
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These were the timber and iron jail cells where prisoners were kept until the next train came through.
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This was the post office, repeater station and general store.
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This is the space between the public buildings that stand beside the railway line and what remains of the homes.
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This is one of a line of the last six houses remaining.
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This is the back view of the line of houses.
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This is a building in the school yard.
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The saddest sights were the filled-in former public swimming pool (no photo) and the upstairs classroom in the now disused school with children’s art work still hanging on the wall and the door and two of the windows left open when the teacher left for the last time!20130613-225558.jpg
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We’re not sure what this building, which stands beside the swimming pool, was used for.
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This is the railway station.
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These last three photos were taken shortly after the train left Cook.
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Day 17: Perth – Kalgoorlie

Our taxi, which we had booked for 10am, was waiting for us when we went downstairs at 9:50. We were at the station by 10:10, even though we didn’t need to be there until 10:45! Herself worked on the blog while Himself booked in the luggage and took some photos.

This carriage is one of the two original carriages used on the first railway line in Western Australia.
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The train we caught is called the Indian Pacific because it crosses the continent from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean (and back again, of course).
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According to Himself, the train had one locomotive, twenty six carriages and four car transports! You can see here that it just stretches away into the distance on East Perth railway station.
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At first the train passed through the Western Australian wheat belt.
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As we travelled further east, we saw less wheat, more cattle grazing and a scrubbier landscape.
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At 10:30pm, we arrived in the gold mining town of Kalgoorlie-Boulder. We were taken on a tour, despite the late hour, of the largest open-cut gold mine in Australia.
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Those lights are the dump trucks going up and down inside the pit!
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This is the “shovel” from one of the big machines. It really doesn’t give you an indication of size.
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Perhaps this will help! (Yes, it’s cold in the desert at night in winter)!
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At the Miners’ Hall of Fame, we were given a talk about one of the dump trucks. These are the controls and cab on one of these monsters!
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And the man standing on top (who gave the talk), gives a great demonstration of scale! Those things are huge!
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Inside the Hall of Fame, we were treated to warm drinks and savoury pastries as well as some sweet slices. The place was very interesting but there wasn’t enough time to see it properly and, at 1am, most of us were too tired to appreciate it! Himself liked sitting in the cab of the Caterpillar 990 and playing with the controls (men will be boys!)
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Back at Kalgoorlie station there was time for a few more photos before re-boarding the train and much needed sleep!
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Day 16: Perth

We had a late, slow start to our final day in Perth. We have learned that travelling and sight-seeing is very tiring and to do it for several weeks or months would require a rest day at least once a week. It was only the thought of three days of rest on the trans-continental train that kept Herself going when she reached the point of fatigue!

For our final day, we decided to explore the city itself. We rode the Blue Cat from Mounts Bay Road, where our apartment was located, into the Busport but instead of getting off, we stayed on and did a circuit of the city.

We got off at Barrack Square to visit the “Perth Bells”. Unfortunately we had missed the bell ringing but we entered the tower to see the view from the viewing platform, 20 or so metres from the ground. The tower itself is 80 metres high but Herself thought the viewing platform high enough!
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Here are some views from the viewing platform.
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The Perth Bell Tower is the only bell tower in the world where sight-seers can watch bell ringing in progress and see the bells in motion.
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That would have been fantastic if we had been there an hour earlier (but then we would have had to pay full price instead of the half price we got)! The bells came from the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields in London where their weight was destroying the church which had not been designed for a set of sixteen bells! The bells were to have been destroyed (melted down to make new bells) but were given to the State of Western Australia in 1988 (Australia’s bicentennial year) in exchange for the materials to make new bells for St Martins.

The bell tower also other bells, such as these that came from Canberra.
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And these bells from Royal Ascot.
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The oldest bell in Australia is also on display inside the tower. It was cast in approximately 1550 and used to hang in the parish church of Upton Grey in the county of Hampshire in England.
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From the bell tower we walked back through the Supreme Court Gardens.
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We passed this lovely old building too.
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Himself took this arty shot during our walk.
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We went into the city for a late lunch, then browsed some of the shopping arcades. Before we found somewhere to eat, we wandered through the London Arcade, one of the oldest arcades in the city and recommended to us by a local who was own the same bus as us earlier in the day.
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We saw the old Town Hall from the bus and walked passed it later; of course Himself had to take a photo!
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Shops in Perth are open until 5pm on Saturdays and there were a lot of people in the shopping malls, the cafes, the restaurants and the pubs. When we say malls, we don’t mean huge shopping complexes — we are referring to streets that have been closed off to vehicular traffic and now only carry pedestrian traffic. In the malls were an assortment of “buskers” and street artists; this one was a bit unusual.
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No, it’s not a sculpture (although we saw some of those too) — it’s a real person standing so still you would think he was a statue.

Tired from our fifteen days of sight-seeing, we made our way back to the apartment to pack and rest before leaving Western Australia.

Day 15: Perth – Rottnest Island – Perth (part 2)

If you’d like to read Part 1 of this day’s post, please look here

After the bus tour and lunch, we began a little walking tour of our own, seeing the sights near the “settlement” that interested us most.

First, the Catholic church, painted in “Rottnest Island ochre” — a colour used all over the island; apparently, white was too hard on the eyes!
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The Chapel, now used for Anglican church services
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Views of the salt lakes — 3 times saltier than sea water and once the source of all of Western Australia’s salt!
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And the island’s popular resident — the quokka, after which the island was named. The Dutch called it Rottnest (meaning Rat’s Nest) believing the native marsupial (which hops like a very small kangaroo) to be a large rodent! The only remaining population of them is now on this island — and they number about 10,000!
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Feeding them with processed human food makes them sick so we fed them with leaves from the trees they eat from as part of their natural diet.

Of course, the health department doesn’t allow them into stores selling food either, so the general store has come up with a nifty solution!
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Just before we left Rottnest Island, Himself took some photos of some of the buildings in The Settlement — some of these are used by workers on the island, others can be rented as holiday accommodation.
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And some photos looking towards Perth across the water.
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As the bus drove into Perth at sunset, Himself couldn’t resist a couple more photos.
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Day 15: Perth – Rottnest Island – Perth (part 1)

Our choice to go to Rottnest on the sunniest day of the week was a good one. As part of our package tour, we took a bus to Fremantle then a ferry to Rottnest. These first two photos show Fremantle harbour from the ferry.
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This is the jetty at Rottnest Island.
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Because all supplies for the island must come by boat, we saw some unusual things being unloaded.
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Behind us, we could see the distant skyline of Perth city.
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Part of our package tour included a trip around the island by bus. The only other ways to get around the 11 kilometre long island arebby foot or by bicycle. We didn’t have time to cycle around the whole island so the bus was a logical choice. Here are some of the points of interest:
The former military barracks, now backpacker style accommodation available to groups
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A wrecked boat that broke its moorings in Fremantle (18 km away) during a storm and came aground on Rottnest Island
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sand dunes — hundreds of tonnes of sand have been moved from this site to stop the barren sand dunes from taking over the island after attempts at revegetation failed
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views around the coast
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a view of the lone wind turbine
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a view of the lighthouse
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an osprey nest on a rocky outcrop
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… and another one
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mad keen surfers
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Day 14: Perth – Fremantle – Perth (Part 2)

You can read the first part of this post here.

After looking at the central business area of Fremantle, we caught the Blue Cat around to the area surrounding the Fremantle Sailing Club. The sights didn’t look as spectacular from ground level as they had from the bus but Himself managed to get some photos of the number of boats stored around the sailing club.
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The Fremantle Boat Park was like nothing we’ve ever seen!
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Herself loved this canal-style boat!
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More boats!
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From the sailing club, we walked to the fishing boat harbour.
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We both loved these two sculptures on the wharf near a commemorative wall which held a list of names of those that built the fishing industry in Fremantle.
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We then walked from the boat harbour to the newly opened “Shipwreck Gallery”
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and from there to the “Round House”, the oldest public building in Western Australia. It was built as a gaol and was in use for more than fifty years during the nineteenth century.
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This a view from the hill on which the Round House stands.
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As the sun set, we returned to Fremantle station for our journey back to Perth.
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Day 14: Perth – Fremantle – Perth (Part 1)

After taking the Blue Cat bus to esplanade Busport, we walked into town to find a camera store before making our way to Perth station to catch a train to Fremantle.

The trip took about half an hour and cost us $4 each (one way). On arrival in Fremantle, we decided to catch the free Blue Cat bus to get an idea of the area and points of interest. It was hard for us to find the correct bus stop but we asked for assistance and it wasn’t long before the bus arrived.

Fremantle is proud of its heritage buildings and while many have changed from their original use, some still have beautiful period features, like this shop we passed.
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In the 1950s and 1960s, many of the verandahs on the buildings were removed as they were considered “unsightly” and were replaced by cantilevered awnings; thankfully people have come to realise the value of the old architecture and the verandas are being replaced on many of the buildings. Here are just some of the interesting buildings we saw as we walked towards and through the “cappuccino strip”.
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The markets are opened from Friday to Sunday, and on public holiday Mondays. We were there on a Thursday so missed out on seeing what is apparently a very lively sight.
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These former warders’ cottages (for the nearly prison) are currently unfit for habituation but negotiation is going on between the Department of Housing and the National Trust of Australia to renovate them and make them available to ease the housing shortage.
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This is the now disused police station (they’ve moved to larger, more modern premises)
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And this one facade of the Town Hall building.
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We spent some time inside St John the Evangelist (Anglican) church, which is the second church of the same name built on more-or-less the same site – the previous one was too small and when the parish planned to extend the local government knocked it down to put a road through! While inside, we were fortunate enough to hear the organist warming up before an organ recital scheduled for an hour later.
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This modern window is very different to the old stained glass windows.
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Fremantle Prison, which was in use until 1991, is a huge complex listed on the World Heritage List. We did not have time to view it properly but we did look at the buildings on the outside.
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When we return to Fremantle (after retirement), we’d like to stay in one of these three cottages which are now available for short-term lease as self-contained holiday cottages.
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This is the surgeon’s house which shows the esteem with which doctors were held in the nineteenth century, it is even larger than the superindent’s house!
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These last two photos are of a Presbyterian church; much less ornate that the Anglican or Catholic Churches of the same era. We noticed that it doesn’t have a central aisle, but a large block of pews in the centre, flanked by two smaller blocks of pews, one on either side.
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