Spectacular and Extraordinary Shell Beach, WA

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Wilderness River Cruise – Kalbarri WA

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The Murchison River is the second longest river in Western Australia.  It flows for about 820 km from the southern edge of the Robinson Ranges to the Indian Ocean at Kalbarri.

Its path through sandstone cliffs makes for a stunning scenic view, excellent bush walking,  hiking, trekking, cruising and canoeing.

As Kalbarri is at the Murchison river mouth, the best was to see and experience it is by a cruise.

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We boarded our vessel at the Murchison River mouth.  Grant was our captain.

We followed the channel up the river with full commentary along the way, and best of all, there was no rush. This fun and entertaining cruise along the lower reaches of the Murchison River was spectacular.  The lower reaches are home to a number of species of birdlife including Ospreys, Kites, Pelicans, Egrets, Australian Shell Ducks, Black Swans and the local White Breasted Sea Eagles.  Along the way we spotted Emus, Kangaroos and Goats on the riverbanks. All were very curious and happy to stand and watch us cruise by. None of the animals were disturbed by our presence.

What a gorgeous and relaxing way to spend the morning in Kalbarri. Grant is an outstanding tour guide and he brought the cruise to life with his knowledgeable and amusing commentary. We learnt so much about the local environment and history of the area, all the while sitting back and relaxing on the very comfortable boat with beautiful views in every direction

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Grant landed the boat down the river where we could get off to explore the shore. Several of us hiked up to the top of one of the large sand dunes where we were able to enjoy amazing scenery up and down the river. 20191201_144403_resized

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About 3 hours from commencement, the cruise came to an end at the mouth of the Murchison River, which is one of WA’s most treacherous. It was impressive watching the water move through the channel and other boats come and go. We always felt safe with Grant at the helm – he knows this river and his boat so well.

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I did not want this trip to end as I loved being on this river with its endless magnificent scenery.

Wishing you a Peaceful and Happy 2020

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New years is the time for reflection for me, where I look back over the year that was and then think about the new year ahead.
My year started quietly in beautiful Coffs Harbour. It is always a good place for me to start my year in a wonderful part of Australia surrounded by family and friends
During the year I was fortunate enough to visit Coffs several times.

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Diggers Beach, Coffs Harbour

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In March, my good friend, Mary and I enjoyed a wonderful week at Kings Beach, on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland where we indulged in swims every day and many walks along the waters edge of the beach.

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Kings Beach

 

July saw me in Canada for a 5W gathering with members from around the world. My trip included a week in the Rockies, a week on Vancouver Island and 2 weeks in Vancouver.

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Driving through the Rockies, Canada

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West Coast Vancouver Island

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Horseshoe Bay, Vancouver

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Vancouver Harbour

After our gathering finished in Vancouver, 4 of us Aussies, took a week cruise up the inside passage to Seward, Alaska.

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Sailing from |Vancouver

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Hubbard Glacier

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Ketchican Town

 

September, I joined 25 women from around the world in Peth, Western Australia for another 5W gathering. Our 3 weeks in WA, included a week travelling up the Coral Coast on the Wildflower Trail, a week in Perth and a week in the fabulous wine and food region of Margaret River.

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Wildflowers Tour, Western Australia

And now I end 2019 in beautiful Coffs Harbour.

As I reflect I feel so grateful to have such a blessed life.
I wish you all a wonderful, exciting and safe 2020

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Christmas in Australia 2019

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Australia is the Land Down Under, where the seasons are opposite to the northern hemisphere.  It is mostly always hot here in Australia on Christmas day, so the heat of early summer has an impact on the way we celebrate Christmas

With the absence of cold weather and snow, many Australians spend Christmas out of doors, going to the beach for the day, or heading to camping grounds for a longer break over the Christmas holiday period.

My family’s traditional Christmas day always starts with exchanging gifts after breakfast and then we head to the beach for a short visit. In days past, we spent many hours in the surf at the beach before returning home for our late Christmas lunch.

We often have friends join us for Christmas lunch which is always a very casual, easy going and relaxing affair and also includes a rest in the late afternoon for most of us.

Due to the heat, many of us no longer serve a traditional hot roast dinner.  In our house, cold turkey and cold chicken and ham, seafood and salads are served instead. This is followed by the traditional Christmas plum pudding with brandy custard, ice cream or cream and also fresh seasonal fruits.  Pavlova, a meringue base topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit, has also become a popular Christmas dessert. We all have a laugh with the pulling of bon bons which hold silly little paper hats and useless trinkets.

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Bon Bons

Whatever your plans are for the festive season, enjoy. Thank you for reading my stories and thank you for following me.

Happy Christmas, Lyn

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Magnificent Nature’s Window

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Located 485 km’s north of Perth you will find Kalbarri National Park, which is in the mid west region of Western Australia. We stayed for 2 nights in Kalbarri with 2 days to explore this fascinating area. From Kalbarri town it was an easy drive on sealed roads to the amazing Kalbarri National Park site.

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The major geographical features of the park include the Murchison River gorge which runs for nearly 80 km on the lower reaches of the Murchison River.

You have to stand back when looking at this marvel and ask how it was ever found.
Obviously the first Australians hunted and gathered here and we are the better for being privileged into visiting one of nature’s beauties.

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There is a very well sign posted walk from the car park to the “window”. The signs say it’s about 500m but it could be a little more. Nevertheless, it starts with a bunch of steps down to a great path which takes you almost all the way there. Then you need to walk around rocks where it is wise to be wearing proper shoes. You need to negotiate your way over and around a rocky area which is easy but probably precarious when it is crowded. This last part of the walk to the window is probably not for the faint hearted however I managed it just fine and actually enjoyed the thrill of it.

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What a beautiful place with the Murchison River creating an amazing gorge and the setting for the opportunity to take wonderful photos. Along most of the way of the walk we were rewarded with brilliant glimpses over the spectacular Murchison gorge and then the view was even better when framed through the ‘window’.

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You can walk on along the track past the window for just a couple of hundred metres for more awesome views – and there are far less crowds to contend with.

From July until November, approximately 800 species of native flora progressively burst into bloom around Kalbarri and within the Kalbarri National Park. Bush flowers such as Banksias, Hakea, Pink Pokers and Flannel Bush and orchids such as Pink Fairies and Snail orchids as well as native flowers like Grevillea, Wattle, Murchison Rose and Thryptomene can be found. These are some of the wild flowers that we spotted on our walk to the window.

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Up near the car park there is very good infrastructure including covered shelters, ablution blocks and information displays. The architecture of the buildings is very modern and blends well in to the landscape.

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If you are anywhere near Kalbarri, go to Natures Window and soak up the beauty of this amazing and very unique area. The walk isn’t really that testing and the views are outstanding.

It was Absolutely stunning!

Wilderness River Cruise

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The Murchison River is the second longest river in Western Australia.  It flows for about 820 km from the southern edge of the Robinson Ranges to the Indian Ocean at Kalbarri.

Its path through sandstone cliffs makes for a stunning scenic view, excellent bush walking,  hiking, trekking, cruising and canoeing.

As Kalbarri is at the Murchison river mouth, the best was to see and experience it is by a cruise.

20191201_144327_resized

We boarded our vessel at the Murchison River mouth.  Grant was our captain.

We followed the channel up the river with full commentary along the way, and best of all, there was no rush. This fun and entertaining cruise along the lower reaches of the Murchison River was spectacular.  The lower reaches are home to a number of species of birdlife including Ospreys, Kites, Pelicans, Egrets, Australian Shell Ducks, Black Swans and the local White Breasted Sea Eagles.  Along the way we spotted Emus, Kangaroos and Goats on the riverbanks. All were very curious and happy to stand and watch us cruise by. None of the animals were disturbed by our presence.

What a gorgeous and relaxing way to spend the morning in Kalbarri. Grant is an outstanding tour guide and he brought the cruise to life with his knowledgeable and amusing commentary. We learnt so much about the local environment and history of the area, all the while sitting back and relaxing on the very comfortable boat with beautiful views in every direction

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Grant landed the boat down the river where we could get off to explore the shore. Several of us hiked up to the top of one of the large sand dunes where we were able to enjoy amazing scenery up and down the river. 20191201_144403_resized

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About 3 hours from commencement, the cruise came to an end at the mouth of the Murchison River, which is one of WA’s most treacherous. It was impressive watching the water move through the channel and other boats come and go. We always felt safe with Grant at the helm – he knows this river and his boat so well.

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I did not want this trip to end as I loved being on this river with its endless magnificent scenery.

My WOW at Majestic and Serene Bear Lake

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While we were staying at the Hotel Seward, Alaska, our friend Pat who is a 5W member and a local living in Seward picked us up from the hotel to show us around Seward for the afternoon. Pat took us to many areas including the local beaches plus we spent time in the Exit Glacier.

Late afternoon she drove us back to her place, Bear Lake Lodgings, on Bear Lake. This spectacular setting with its natural surroundings, simply took my breath away. I told Pat, this is my dream; A house on a lake. This stunning timber dwelling with its fresh water playground sits right on the edge of Bear Lake. Pat’s Bear Lake Lodging is a unique and fabulous bed and breakfast.

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We walked out on to the deck overlooking the lake and saw Pat’s husband Dennis down on the dock. Pat told him that the ladies would like to go for a ride in his float plane. I kinda laughed thinking what a funny joke, but, it was not a joke. We donned life jackets and jumped in to the float plane, me in the front seat with Dennis the pilot and we took off. Dennis flew us over glaciers, pointed out so many interesting and spectacular sights, including bald eagles, and my absolute favourite, mama bear with her 2 cubs fishing for salmon in the lake; 2 different times. As a bush pilot, Dennis has seen parts of Alaska that few other people have ever experienced and has such a wealth of information that he loves to share. He was constantly in touch with the control tower and gave us a ride to remember, forever. We flew in awe over the glaciers and lake for about an hour and a half.

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After returning to Bear Lodge, we stayed for fresh halibut dinner which we enjoyed on the deck overlooking the beautiful lake. Pat and Dennis have a very nice nightly custom which is sharing homemade ice creams on the deck where everyone is invited and where we met some very interesting guests who were visiting from different parts of the states. About midnight Pat drove us back to our hotel. In the summer time it stays light till about 11pm.

The next afternoon, Pat picked us up again from our hotel and took us to many other places in Seward before we returned once again to Bear Lodge for a magnificent dinner of fresh red Atlantic salmon out on the deck. After dinner we went out in their speed boat for a little bear spotting. We did not see any bears this time but came upon a family of loons, mama, papa and 2 baby loons. What a treat. Spotting loons is rarer than seeing bears. Papa loon was very protective of his family so we made sure we did not go too close nor frighten them in any way.

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The views of Bear Lake from Bear Lake Lodgings really are magnificent. With glacier-draped mountains as a dramatic backdrop, the Lake is located approximately 3 miles from the town of Seward, and offers occasions for both adventure and relaxation; the setting couldn’t be more stunning.

This was definitely my WOW, and also one of the highlights of my life.

Postcard Beauty – Steveston Village

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Steveston a historic salmon canning centre with its many old buildings, is on the banks of the Fraser River in south of Richmond.  Today, the canneries are no longer in operation, but it is still home to the largest salmon run in North America and to the largest fleet of commercial fishing vessels on the BC coast.

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We had a free day in Vancouver, so Linda my Vancouver Island friend suggested a trip down to Steveston for lunch. It was only about a 45 min drive from our hotel in Vancouver.  We arrived to the smell of salt water and the vision of fishing boats in this serene harbour. It was absolutely my kind of place.

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We took a walk through the little village, stopping in many of the artisan shops and boutiques, walked along the waterfront and spent the morning looking at the fishing boats, old buildings and stopping for ice cream at the dock

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There were many fishing boats and some pleasure crafts moored in the marina. In fact we booked a harbour tour on one of the small boats, River Queen, however there was a problem so the tour was cancelled. Although it was a perfect day for a cruise we still enjoyed this quaint little town on a lovely west coast day.

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Apparently, any day of the week you will find Vancouverites down at the docks buying prawns, crab, halibut, cod, and salmon fresh from the boats.

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Steveston is great for fresh seafood with many restaurants along the dock and most of them offering fresh catch of the day. We stopped at Pajo’s fish and chips for lunch. We chose a picnic table with seats up on the boardwalk where we all so enjoyed the freshest of fish.

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The riverside path, the exhibits, the children’s park with waterpark, and the excellent choice of coffee shops/bakery/restaurants makes a day in Steveston a genuine pleasure. This is such a cute place to visit  and best of all, it is flat, and easy to walk.

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This very scenic and very photogenic fishing village, offers  a great day out in a place with a small town vibe.

 

Mystical and Enchanting Cathedral Grove

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Located in MacMillan Provincial Park, Cathedral Grove is one of the most easily accessible stands of old growth forest on Vancouver Island. The park is home to a famous, 157-hectare stand of ancient Douglas fir, known as Cathedral Grove

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Our friends from Parksville told us it was a “must” to visit and experience the tall trees at Cathedral Grove, and they were absolutely right. What a wonderful visit. Cathedral Grove is located on Highway No.4 in Vancouver Island, very near to the town of Port Alberni. It was about 25 mins drive from Parksville and would take less than an hour from Nanaimo. It straddles both sides of the highway with limited parking space outside the Park area. It is also known as MacMillan Provincial Park.

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The wonders of this park are the giant Douglas Fir trees which inhabit this forest like silent sentinels from the past. The leader among them is an 800-year-old tree, 76 meters tall and 9 meters in circumference. It was over 300 years old when Christopher Columbus first came to North America. Other species of trees in this forest include the Western Hemlock, the Western Red Cedar, and the Big leaf Maples.

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The walk around the park can take between half an hour to over two hours, depending on how much time and interest you have. It was raining on the day that we went, we were not in a hurry so we spent time really enjoying and breathing in this natural magical forest with its well maintained trails and lots of information signs which helped to make the experience even richer.

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It was an easy walk on a wide path. The trees were so impressive. We loved the way the light came through the branches and were astounded at how tall, how straight and how large these trees are. The mosses on the branches were so picturesque.

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Walking through Cathedral Grove was a Magical experience.

Great Local Experience – Granville Island

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These public markets which offer such diversity are a treat for the senses. The Granville Island Public Market features a farmers’ market, day vendors, and artists offering local Vancouver goods. There are 50 permanent retailers and over one-hundred day vendors in stalls throughout the market selling a variety of artisan cottage-industry foods and handmade crafts.

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Granville Island is in a great location in Vancouver, with Stanley Park, many restaurants and of course the markets so close.

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On my first visit, yes, I was fortunate enough to go a few times, we drove to the markets and because we were there early we were able to find a parking spot easily. I have also arrived by bus from downtown Vancover which was super easy and the last visit we took one of the adorable mini-tug boat ferries which criss-crossed False Creek across to the island which was awesome. The view from the ferry to the island is beautiful as is the scenery looking back over the water from the island.

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There are many interesting shops and the atmosphere is very dynamic. There are numerous restaurants and an excellent Market Place. My first visit we had a light breakfast and coffee, then the next visit we had lunch and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was difficult for me to make a choice for lunch in this “food lover’s paradise” as there was such a tremendous selection of fabulous foods, both hot and cold.

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The main public market is primarily food; fresh produce, meats, seafood, cheese, fresh pasta, baked goods and so much more. Around the public market there are many other shops with a great mix of different types of quality merchandise. There are souvenir shops with good quality mass produced art by Canadians and lots of high-quality galleries and workshops where folks are actually making their jewellery, leather goods, wood carvings, etc. Granville Island is one of the best places in the city to purchase souvenirs for back home.

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This is a great place to have a meal, snack, dessert, or pick up something for later. With fresh baked goods, meats, cheeses and fish mongers you will be spoilt for choice. And, all the businesses are local.

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Outside of the market, there are many theatres on the island, art galleries with all types of art from paintings to sculptures and glass blowing, and for the outdoor adventurers there is kayaking and paddle boarding . Surprisingly, there is also a working cement factory that has been there for many years.

The atmosphere at Granville Island was wonderful.