We arrived in Geraldton looking forward to having a base for a week with Andy’s cousins to explore the city and surrounds. Geraldton has beautiful beaches and a port and harbor with many fishing boats. Close to the city centre there are rocks in the harbor frequented by the local sea lions that come to rest in the sun. We paid a visit to the Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier that was designed by the Monsignor John Hawes that is decorated internally in the unusual colours of grey, white and orange stripes and has beautiful stained glass windows. Also in Geraldton is the very well done memorial to the 645 lives lost during 1941 when HMAS Sydney II was sunk. We also drove over to see the historic red and white striped Point Moore Lighthouse.
The Greenough historic township, where we strolled through the local markets and purchased extremely yummy homemade jams, had some of the amazing WA leaning trees and we drove past the huge Mumbida Wind Farms. Close by was the Australian defence department installation that is used to “watch” for what we don’t know, but it is very impressive! The Chapman Valley is lovely with its’ rich agricultural farms and many wheat fields with the crops ready harvest in mid October. Surrounding the Valley were the flat topped Moresby Ranges looking over the Lavender Valley Farm, the brilliantly compiled historical museum and the little Kojena Chapel, another little Dawes-designed church.
The wonderful wildflower displays which we had been enthralled by for weeks, continued in the Geraldton surrounds and we made a special day trip out to Mullewa and surrounds to see many shows of flower species we hadn’t seen before. We were also very excited and lucky to find the unique wreath flowers still in flower by the roadside just outside Pindar at the beginning of October (see the next post with pics of the wildflowers).
Our drive through the Kalbarri National Park seemed more like a long drive through a botanical garden with paddocks of wildflowers spreading on the ground and in low and high shrubs and amongst the trees. Interestingly, there was a long patch of Sandplain Cyprus pine trees which look out of place but are native to the area. By now we have seen such a variety of wild flowers that Carolyne has given up on finding names for them all.
The large Murchison River flows through the area and can be seen through the Nature’s Window which sits high above in the red and orange cliffs of the National Park. Once we reached the picturesque Kalbarri township that is built on the river opening at Chinaman’s beach, we could see the impressive length and height of the Zuytdorp Cliffs. Castle rock and the Land Bridge stand high and are equal in their magnificence with the 12 (now 11) Apostles along Victoria’s famous Ocean road. Then as we headed back down the coast we stopped to see the Hutt Lagoon also known as Pink Lake, that gets its’ name from beta carotene in the micro algae. It was quite a stunning sight to see a bright pink lake for a change.
We had to make a detour to visit the famous Hutt River Province presided over by HRH Prince Leonard who we were lucky to meet. In 1970 he finally won his court battles against the Australian government which allowed him to secede from Australia after long arguments with successive Liberal Federal governments. The province has its own currency, stamps, a crazy religion and is exempt from Australian tax laws. In saying this, it is now more of a quirky tourist endeavour but Prince Leonard, even at 92 years of age seemed to take it all very seriously. He has some very odd theories on religion and mathematics and has interwoven them together to come up with numbers and formulas for the Big Bang, life and everything. We were lucky that the prince was available to meet and talk with.
We next headed eastwards for the first time in WA to explore the gold mining region before the heat of summer set in.