Fascinating – Stromatolites, Hamlin Pool, WA

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On our way from Denham to Geraldton we stopped off at  The Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve. This reserve is about 40 km off the highway from the Shark Bay turn off. Hamlin Pool nature reserve  is a protected marine nature reserve located in the UNESCO World Heritage listed, Shark Bay, in Western Australia. Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve is one of only two places in the world with living marine stromatolites, or ‘living fossils’.

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The 127,000-hectare nature reserve boasts the most diverse and abundant examples of living marine stromatolites in the world, monuments to life on Earth over 3,500 million years BP

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After arriving at the free car park, we started at the Hamelin Pool and took an hour to go along the boardwalk and take a look at the stromatolites, which are thought to be the earliest form of life on this planet, expiring oxygen into the air, for everything else that followed. There are tiny fish living in the extremely salty water which can be seen from the boardwalk, together with some pretty birds which seem to live under the boardwalk.

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This visit gave me a small insight into some of the history of the development of life form(s) on the planet. It was definitely a ‘wow’ experience viewing the stromatolites formations. The interpretive signage was very informative and there were many trails to explore.

A boardwalk which has been constructed out into the water to give a good view of the area is fantastic with information boards placed around the walk. While we were there, we were lucky as it was a low tide and the formations were visible above and below water.

The microbial mats and stromatolites are prehistoric life forms. To me, the stromatolites look like something out of an alien movie. The stomatolites and cockles thrive in the hyper saline waters of the bay.

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The stromatolites are all over Hamlin Pool, so the raised boardwalk protects the stromatolites from damage caused by walking on them.

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It was really interesting to read and understand about the formations that looks like you are in another world.  Seeing and learning about stromatolites was a very new experience for me, but reading the information boards helped me to understand what I was actually looking at.

It became very apparent that I was observing something astonishing.

 

The Day the Giro d’Italia came to town

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My blog posts “jar” is getting very empty so I decided to re post this story about a tremendously fun day I had while I was staying in Arezzo.

 

Not long after I arrived in Arezzo I could feel that something special was happening.  While wandering around exploring, I saw the barricades being installed and of course all the signs and banners. The Giro d’Italia was coming to town.

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I have never really been a big fan of bike racing, although I do enjoy watching it on tv but mostly for the scenery. But, it did not take me long to be caught up in the excitement of the town.

While enjoying my morning coffee in the Piazza Grande, about 6 middle-aged men in lycra arrived. They were all from Australia and New Zealand. Listening to them, I learned that they were all ex Olympians or Commonwealth games winners.  They were here to watch the race. This just added to the excitement of being in Arezzo on such a special occasion.

Everywhere I went there were flags and banners and barricades for the race and many hours before the cyclists were due, people were already beginning to line the streets. The atmosphere was electric with a party feel.

There was a big van decorated in the official Giro d’Italia colours in the Piazza Monaco Guido which was just near my accommodation.  In fact my window overlooked it all. There was a loud speaker with the constant recording announcing the race and offering Giro packs for sale.

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I bought a pack for 10 € which consisted of a pink cap, a pink t-shirt and  a pink plastic “clapper”.  It was official; I was caught up in the moment.

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There were several marquees and media booths set up, truck after truck of equipment and lots of police around.

The crowds were already jockeying for positions behind the temporary barricades. I managed to find myself a great spot near the beginning of the cyclists entrance in to Arezzo.  I felt as though I was probably the only Aussie, in fact, non speaking Italian standing there, but I was totally caught up in the overwhelming excitement of it all.

Suddenly a motorcade of Italian police cars and bikes appeared around the bend with sirens blaring and blue lights flashing.

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Then a flash goes by, then another, then they are gone.  I had my camera poised to take the photos but they went by so quickly I was lucky to get any photos.

Apart from the slower cyclist and support vehicles it was all over.  The biggest surprise for me was the amount of team cars carrying spare bikes and parts.

I wandered off feeling so very fortunate that I experienced such a wonderful event.

 

 

 

 

2 months further on, here in Brisbane, Australia.

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Things here in Australia are changing every day, sometimes, hourly.  2 months ago, when I first wrote about the beginning of lock down for me, I really had no idea what to expect, how long it would last and in fact how well we would all cope.

I can honestly say with relief, that it really has not been too bad. Yes, there have been some blah days where I had no motivation but after giving myself a little pep talk I was able to move on and start making the most of every day. My days have been filled with many different activities including gardening, baking, crafting, many long phone calls, netflix, Youtube and of course internet/emails.

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We have been very blessed in Australia with our government acting quickly in the beginning of this situation and consequently we have lost less than 100 folks.

Recently, there has been a gentle easing of some of our restrictions here in Queensland which is very welcome, including the opening of parks and beaches and, allowing us to venture out from our homes.

During this past week, I went for my first social outing in about 8 weeks. It was great. We went out to Moreton Bay to the delightful suburb of Manly which is on the water. We sat at a picnic table setting protected by an awning that was long enough to cover about 10 of these picnic settings. We bought fish and chips from the local fish and chip shop and enjoyed it along with a nice pinot grigio. While keeping our social distancing we chatted with many other folks who were doing the same.

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As I enjoyed this simple but lovely day out I reflected on the here and now and thought that this outing was a little trip down memory lane for me. I remembered that while growing up, for us, a picnic enjoying fish and chips in the park was a lovely day out and a special treat.

For me, this lock down has reminded me of how happy we were with the simple things in life. Like a picnic in the park, or a walk along the beach, catching up with friends for a simple meal at home or just an evening walk around the neighourhood. It made me think, how did life become so complicated? Why is everyone “so busy”all the time?

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I am delighted to have been reminded in many ways and many times over the past 8 weeks or so, what really does matter and how easy it is to enjoy life without all the stress and expense.

My fish and chips in the park, was in fact, a special treat. 

Magnificent Kings Park in the Centre of Perth

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Kings Park is one of the world’s largest and most beautiful inner city parks. Kings Park was even better than I expected. The views are stunning and the vibe is awesome – you could easily spend days there.

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Kings Park is a beautiful oasis in the centre of the city, with cafes, playgrounds, nature walks, botanic gardens, treetop walks, bbqs, monuments, art galleries, statues, memorials and just a wonderful place to visit.

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On my first visit to Kings Park I was blown away by its beauty and size. I met up with friends for a day at the park, and a picnic lunch in a large rotunda which is situated in one of the best locations in the park. This rotunda comes with sensational views overlooking the city and the Swan River and the war memorial with its dedicated gardens.  From this location we spent the entire day coming and going while exploring many different parts of the park including the wonderful Aspects of Kings Park gallery shop. There were many guided walks, usually run by the parks volunteers. There were short and long walks through this exceptional park which is right next to the city

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Fashion using local wild flowers

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Kings Park is home to the spectacular Western Australian Botanic Garden, which displays over 3,000 species of the State’s unique flora. Two thirds of the 400 hectare park is protected as bush land and provides a haven for native biological diversity. The total area of Kings Park is 400.6 hectares and features both cultivated gardens and untamed bush land.

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One day at the park was not nearly enough for me, so I spent another day there on my own. I took the train in to the city and then took the free #935 bus on the short drive up to the park, from the city. Once again I was stunned by the sensational views over the city and Swan River and Elizabeth Quay, where we took the cruise boat to go to Fremantle.

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I stopped for coffee at the outdoors café before making my own way around the parks many hundreds of lovely gardens. I explored fantastic and varied gardens, a tree walkway, war memorial, play areas for children, cafes, restaurants, extensive bush trails and picnic places which come with free bbq’s.

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These Botanical Gardens, with so many spectacular W.A wild flowers and other flora are organised into so many different ecosystems. To see all these plants in their native areas would require travelling thousands of km- and they are all here in one place. In fact, we covered thousands of kilometers  when we travelled for a week up the Coral Coast of WA to view the thousands of wildflowers.

So, if you want to see the Western Australia wildflowers and your time is limited, they are all here in the one place.

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Kings Park and Botanical Gardens – Magnificent.

Beautiful Happs Winery, Margaret River. WA

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It was only about a 30 minute drive from Margaret River township to Happs winery. Happs is a boutique winery in Dunsborough, Western Australia. This small winery with so much character is divine.

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We visited Happs in mid September, and found this to be one of our favourite wineries of the region.  The range of wines produced from their vineyard is due to the variety of grapes they grow. These wines include Chardonnay, Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Nebbiolo

There is quite a range of things to do, see and enjoy at Happs Cellar Door.  Here you will also find an extensive pottery, gallery and gift shop where we purchased some wonderful handcrafted items. The Happs Pottery and Art Gallery showcases beautiful artwork from around the South West region from pottery, jewellery, wood products, art and sculpture.

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We spent a very enjoyable time in the wine tasting room with Trevor who took us through some lovely wine tastings, taking his time to describe and compare each wine. All the wines were fantastic.

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This charming tasting room has an adjoining provedore on one side and the pottery gallery on the other. In the provedore room you can “build-your-own” picnic or platter at the Happs Hampers counter. This counter is stocked full of local cheeses, olives, charcuterie, crackers, chocolate, dips and much more. You can enjoy your picnic on the lawn or at one of the café tables outside or you can take your goodies with you.

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We chose to enjoy coffees outside at the little tables and chairs that were located on the veranda around the perimeter of the gardens. As much as I enjoyed the winery, the gallery and the tastings, my favourite by far was the exquisite and extensive gardens which are definitely tended to often with much love and care.

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All the wineries in this region are very good, but I thought that Happs had the best selection for my taste, beautiful grounds and gardens.

Beautiful and Serene Boranup Karri Forest, WA

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On our third day in Margaret River, after visiting Prevelly Beach we went for a wonderful drive through the Boranup Forest.

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Boranup Forest is known for its stunning Karri trees. These towering trees, some over 60m high, ripple across the valley.  This forest is an easy 25 minute drive south of Margaret River town along Caves Road

We drove along the length of Boranup Rd to take in the grandeur of these magnificent trees. The road is gravel but well maintained and fine for 2 wheel drive cars and our mini bus.

The sight of these enormous trees was amazing and the forest was a feast for the senses. The forest floor was tumbling with wildflowers, orchids and funghi together with the sounds of native birds and the fresh smell of eucalypt. The sunlight filtering through the canopy made the whole area mystical.

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We walked through this magical place with the trees towering above us and the ground covered in beautiful vegetation.  I felt so calm and at peace walking through the forest. There were times where I was transported back to my child hood where I was raised and spent hours exploring and playing in the natural bush and rocks of my own “backyard”

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The Karri trees are just simply majestic. The forest is so peaceful and serene. We stopped in one of the designated spots and stepped into a world of birdsong and wind whispering through the leaves. The serenity was amazing.

This is the perfect place to fully enjoy Nature and feed your soul. Experience the beautiful, majestic karri trees surrounding you and all the other sights and sounds peacefully yet powerfully recharging your senses. I felt as though I was enveloped by Mother Nature’s infinite abundance and filled with an inner harmony that will remain with me for a long time.

We took the short walk to Boranup Lookout, where we looked over the sweeping views of the forest and the coast and the stunning turquoise waters of nearby Hamelin Bay.  It was another magic moment.

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This forest with its stunning far reaching views, towering regal trees, windflowers that colour the forest floor and limestone rocks that frame it all is a photographers dream.

Spectacular Prevelly Beach, Margaret River, WA

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Our third day was a very cold,  wet and windy day which for me coming from the tropics was a treat.  We spent the morning exploring the Margaret River Township with its many delightful stores and artisan shops, art galleries, bakeries and eateries. Of course I managed to find some great gifts to take home.

At lunch time we met up at the Margaret River Brewery for lunch where I shared a very Italian style delicious pizza and washed it down with 3 pony beers, including stout, lager and ginger ale beer. What a fabulous place with an amazing atmosphere, great food and wonderful beers.  And it was so warm and cozy inside.

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After lunch we headed over to Prevelly Beach.  Home to Margaret River Pro competition and the international surfing circuit this beach has you covered. From parking to walking trails and from pavilions with picnic tables to grassy lawns, there’s room to enjoy a sunset, launch your board, or be a bystander. Prevelly surfing beach is popular among locals and tourists, plus is on the top ten for Margaret River.  If you want to watch surfers or kite surfers or sailboarding this is the place to enjoy it. The is the best spot for watching these water/surf sports. It is great for the active and not so active with beautiful walking paths to the river mouth. The views from here over looking the ocean are spectacular. There is a great viewing deck near the car park where there is ample parking. From here there are wooden stairs down to the beach.

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Located adjacent to the mouth of the Margaret River, this is a pretty and interesting rocky beach and surfing point with great scenery on a rugged coastline. The park and amenities are well set up and this is a nice part of the coast which is generally very beautiful.

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The community / council has done a really good job developing a wide cement walkway along the foreshore dotted with steel sculptures and information panels adding interest. It is certainly a  nice spot for a walk, with plenty of joggers and walkers taking advantage of the pathway.

The sand is beautiful and the sea very clear with little pools where you can have a swim.

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It was a very lovely way to pass some time on this very chilly and windy day.

I just love this beach for the interesting bay, white sand, exciting ocean, surfing and rugged landscape. A great place to chill on the beach or watch the ocean from the boardwalk and picnic on the grass where there are electric bbq’s provided for free use by the local council.

Imagine – And the World Will Live as One

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When I first decided to go in to self isolation, I thought “how hard could this be!!”

So, firstly, I did some planning for this isolation period, including stocking the freezer with fresh foods, mainly for Buddy, stocking the pantry, picking up some yarn from the craft store and then I bought some new plants from the nursery for my garden.

On the first day, I thought, o,o, maybe this will be harder than I thought as I am usually always out and about. Then I made a mental plan.  This plan was to fill every day with a variety of chores, pleasures and relaxes.

My days start early. Buddy and I always go to the park at the end of my street, and we are there before most people are up. If we do see anyone, we wave and smile from a distance.

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Then after the park my day at home begins with my list of jobs for the day, which include time in the garden.  It is Autumn here and the weather is spectacular so time in the garden is heaven on earth. I alternate gardening with jobs inside the house. I have accomplished chores that may never have been done before isolation became mandatory. I have taken up knitting again after many decades not knitting, I watch some great stuff on YouTube and I treat myself to a couple of long phone calls with friends each day.

Before I know it, it is my glass of wine time and time to get dinner ready. So, in actual fact, my first week of isolation has been delightful. However, who knows how I will feel in another month or 2 or however long this takes.

One of the saddest things for me in this change of living was the closing down of my church. Buddy and I go to church each Sunday. When we arrive everyone’s faces light up with smiles as soon as they see Buddy and for Buddy it is his happy place, and mine.

Our Priest made a plan. He gave us all candles that he blessed for us to light each Sunday morning at home at our normal service time, along with a prayer sheet, a sermon for the day and readings from the bible. On Sunday morning at 8.30, I lit the candle and we had our remote service.

Also. I sent an email to the parishioners in our congregation. And, it was  a reply that I received from Christine that prompted me to write this post.

Christine wrote:

There is no doubt that we are living in  Geraldine Brooks  “Year of Wonders”  and we shall hopefully emerge stronger and more resilient at the end.

For me church music forms a great part of the service. In the absence of that I am looking to You Tube to fill a void. So I would like to share this video of Emmanuel Kelly singing the Beatles’ song  “IMAGINE” with the band, Cold Play. It gave me goose bumps when I first saw it.

 

While watching this video, I reflected on the here and now and yes, I experienced more than goose bumps.  Just “ Imagine” if this virus can make people get  back to basics so that in the words of the song “And the world will live as one”.

Peace be with you.

Lyn

Stay well.

 

Nature at its Best – Canal Rocks, WA

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While staying in Margaret River we visited Canal Rocks with the 40 k’s trip taking us about 35 mins.

Canal Rocks is a series of granite rocks in the Indian Ocean in South-West Western Australia

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The rock formation takes its name from the narrow channel between the rocks that has formed from the coastal waters eroding the granite over time.

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Canal Rocks rock formation is amazing. The Indian Ocean has carved crevasses and channels into the rocks of the headland leaving a network of patchy rocky islands.  These channels can be observed from a raised wooden boardwalk which we walked along out onto the rocks. As the path reaches the rocks, a wooden path or footbridge took us around the north side of the rocks and brought us face-to-face with the canal, which is why Canal Rocks is named.

This is an area of great beauty. These rock formations, which have been hollowed out by the pounding sea are ancient and unusual

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I could spend hours here just watching the wave motion, which allows you to get a great perspective of the wild sea as it surges through the rocks. While we were there we were thrilled to watch 6 whales frolicking not far from the shore. They were breaching, and flapping their fins and tails for ages. What a glorious sight.

Over thousands of years the Indian Ocean has washed these rocks clean and yet they stand, cracks and all. Remarkable!!

Facing north towards Cape Naturaliste, the views from the car park are also spectacular, which was good for some of the ladies in our group who chose not to walk out to the rocks.

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Canal Rocks is unspoiled and offers stunning scenery. It was just lovely to take photos and sit and watch the waves roll in. Most definitely it is a photographers paradise any time of the day.

It is a great piece of natural scenery and it is free!

Out and about Exploring the Margaret River Region

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On our 2nd day in Margaret River, after breakfast, we headed down to Augusta with our first stop at Flinders Bay. This beautiful beach in Augusta which has a bit of everything is located to the north east of Cape Leeuwin, and to the south of the township. The white sandy beach has granite rock outcrops at the water’s edge, reef and boulders about 50 meters offshore, and a clear sandy bottom in between. There are two small jetties. The foreshore has grass, huge shady trees, picnic tables, a free gas barbecue, a fine children’s playground, outdoor showers and toilets.

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From Flinders Bay we drove to the Leeuwin Point lookout to spend time at the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse which is the tallest lighthouse on mainland Australia, standing 39 meters tall. This historic lighthouse is situated at the most south-westerly point of Australia, at the tip of a spectacular peninsula – where the Southern and Indian Oceans meet.

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We took a trip through maritime history and learnt how this famous landmark was constructed from local limestone in 1895, and is still a vital working lighthouse for vessels navigating the treacherous cape. It’s also one of the best land-based vantage points for spotting whales from May – September.

We visited the new Interpretive Centre, housed within one of the original lighthouses keepers’ cottages, which is an outstanding interactive experience that celebrates the history and lives of the numerous lighthouse keepers who were custodians of this rugged coastline.

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It was an incredibly windy and rainy day making it very difficult for us to even walk on the headland so we were all quick to return to the lighthouse café for hot coffees and delicious scones with cream and jam.

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Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is a must see. It has 176 steps but there are two rests on the way up. The base of the lighthouse is 2meters thick tapering up to 1 meter at the top. The history behind it is fascinating and although we did not actually climb the stairs I believe that the view from the top is amazing.

I could clearly see why the lighthouse is a necessity.   Certainly a great experience and well worth a look.