Friday 30 November 2012

32 years ago!

Thirty two years ago, on the 30th of November we got married in Johannesburg, South Africa.
I cannot believe time has flown so quickly.
We were both very young, but fortunately have managed to stay together through good and bad times, have travelled a lot, moved between a couple of different countries, lived in various houses and apartments, had two beautiful children who are all grown up and have flown the nest...all part of the cycle of life.

Since hubby is working in Adelaide, I´ve taken a few days off work, and after a cancelled flight on Wednesday due to stormy weather in Perth, and then a delayed flight on Thursday due to the backlog of flights, I finally arrived on the east coast late afternoon, to be able to spend our anniversary together. We will also take the opportunity to travel around and get to see some more of South Australia.
See you soon.

My interview with Expatblog went live on 27th, and you can read it here. You can leave a comment on Expat blog if you like too.


And now.

Monday 26 November 2012

Weekend in the garden

This Saturday and Sunday were spent in the garden. I had just wanted to remove some invasive grass from the rhoeo plant border that was strangling them and making them brown.
The border edge almost in place, after the grass was removed
The Rhoeo in the bucket, awaiting to be planted

I cut a piece of plastic border edging that we had rolled up in the shed and set about taking all the plants out of that area, putting them in a bucket with water, digging a little trench, putting the border edging in and then replanting the rhoeo.

This of course took me a couple of hours, but by then I noticed that most of the potted plants were actually looking quite dry, some needed to go into bigger pots, others needed new soil...
So off I went to a nearby warehouse, bought soil, clumping cat litter, mulch, and then some colourful flowers to brighten the garden too.
Cat litter? Yes, I went once to a talk about our very poor sandy soils in Perth and how to improve it, and one of the ingredients to add to the soil was clumping cat litter as a wetting agent. (Read link).

Back in the garden in the heat of the afternoon sun...I know I shouldn´t have done it, my back is now very red as I was wearing a strappy T-shirt, but I was full of steam and just kept going and only noticed the burned back when I stepped in the shower after the day´s work.

So, all the pots came off that central area, and I started changing some plants to bigger pots, others was just a change of soil, planted my lovely pink flowers and started putting the pots back in the area.
I have to say the plants have to be in pots as they are on top of a cemented rectangle where the clothes line used to be. My husband thought it was too much trouble to break the cement up, so my alternative was to put down pebbles and pots.

The old wheel barrow with succulents that I grow from cuttings
View from the back. Can you see the passionfruit vine on the side passage, it needs taming too!
The Grapevine is already full of tiny bunches of grapes

The mirror against the fence used to be our old bathroom mirror.
My lovely succulents and some of the new flowers I bought this weekend

Today, Sunday, after getting back from the my workplace Christmas breakfast, that we had in a lovely hotel near the river, I changed into my work clothes and back into the garden.
This time I tackled the plants hanging from the old stepladder and the ones in the shady area near the lemon tree.
All the re-potted plants on the ladder
The shade loving plants under the lemon tree

I had some pots on top of various styrofoam boxes at various levels, stacked against the fence, and when I took the pots and the boxes out I discovered enough snails to feed a small French family!!
Then there were plenty of slugs and slaters or roly-polies too. Wow, how disgusting, I hate snails and slugs and all crawly things.
So wearing gloves of course, I grabbed a plastic bag and scooped them into the bag, threw away most of  the styrofoam boxes too, as I don´t want a recurrence of those pests and moved the re-potted plants to the area just under the lemon tree. I need to get some sort of table to have them off the floor, so they don´t get attacked again by those disgusting snails.
Snails anyone?
Tomorrow, being my day off work I will scatter some mulch over the pots and then all is done.
I´m glad the garden is now looking good for the beginning of summer next week and also for our Christmas get-together.

I thought you might like to see some photos of the garden progress since we bought the house in 2007 until now. A little better don´t you think?

In the beginning, this was the back yard - dark, dull, lots of cement, a small wall around the cement pavers...

2008 - work starts - The clothes line was removed, some pavers removed.
2010 - More pavers removed to the side, more plants, looking a little better already

Now - less cement, more plants, some grass to the right. My lovely "Fluffy" in the picture too.

Sunday 11 November 2012

A - Z of Australia - R is for Rocks

I thought of writing about Rottnest Island, is it is for sure my favourite "R" in Western Australia, but I have already written about it under Islands.
There is "Rockingham", a coastal town around 50km south of Perth, where the ferry to Penguin Island departs from, but apart from that there is not much more that would merit a post.
Well what about "Rocks"? They are certainly in abundance all over Australia, big rocks, small rocks, rocks that are considered let´s start with the ones I have visited!

Wave Rock - situated in Hyden, a small town about 300km southeast of Perth, this is a popular tourist spot. This grey and red granite rock formed 2,700 million years ago, which scientists believe was created by the weather, water and chemical erosion, is shaped like an ocean wave, 15mt high and about 110mt long. It is located within the 160 hectare Hyden Wildlife park, and you can wander the park to watch birds and native animals - home to the rare white kangaroo, visit the Mulka cave and Hyppo´s Yawn or drive to the rabbit proof fence. During Spring the area is covered with wildflowers.

To get there, you can either drive from Perth, take a twice a week public bus or a tourist coach, or even fly from Jandakot airport.

My husband and I below the Wave. You can also walk to the top of the wave.

Hypo´s Yawn - another natural creation near Wave Rock, this rock resembles the mouth a yawning hippo.
Nearby is a coffee shop and you can buy a souvenir from the Wildflower shop.

My husband and I inside the Hippo´s mouth
Mulka Caves (Bates caves) - just a 18km drive from Wave Rock is Mulka´s cave, a granite rock with a small cave whose walls and ceiling are covered with Aboriginal paintings done about 30,000 years ago.

There is an Aboriginal legend associated with these caves - Mulka, was the illegal son of a woman who fell in love with a man with whom marriage she was forbidden to marry. Because she broke the rules, she bore a son with crossed eyes. This prevented him from aiming a spear and becoming a successful hunter. Out of frustration, Mulka started catching and eating children, becoming the terror of the area. When his mother berated him, he killed her too. He fled south and was tracked down and speared. As he didn´t deserve a proper burial, his body was left to the ants.
Rabbit Proof Fence  - Not a rock, but since it is in the area, and also starts with an R, visit the fence. There are 3 fences built between 1901 and 1907, with a total of 3253km, used to keep rabbits of the Western Australia´s cultivated areas. 
As a point of interest there was a movie made in 2002, called "Rabbit Proof Fence" based on a book by Doris Pilkington Garimara, which tells the story of 3 Aboriginal girls in the 1930´s, who had been taken from their parents as part of the "Stolen Generation" to a mission in Moore River, and when they escaped they followed the fence to walk back to their family in Jigalong.

Pinnacles - situated in the Nambung National Park, just outside the coastal town of Cervantes, these lunar like limestone rock formations were also formed millions of years ago. Only opened to the public in the 1960´s, the area is now visited by over 250,000 people a year.
Located about 245km north of Perth, via the Indian Ocean Drive, you can either drive, or take a tour bus to the area. 
There is a lookout from where you can see an extensive area of these rock formations - the highest stones reaching 5mt high - there is a walking trail or you can drive along the scenic drive, and get out and touch the rocks.
Visit the Pinnacles Discovery Centre and see the story in displays as well as an insight into the plants and animals that have made this area their home. There are plenty of wild kangaroos and some emus roaming around too. 
The best time to visit would be Spring, as the wildflowers are blooming and the days are mild.
A sea of rocks of all sizes, taken from the lookout
At sundown, I stand against one of the huge rocks
Some of the kangaroos we saw - they run away if you get close
Kalbarri - 590km north of Perth, at the mouth of the Murchison river is the small town of Kalbarri, named after an Aboriginal man from the Murchison tribe, and also the name of an edible seed.
The town is now geared toward tourism and fishing, with about 200,000 thousand tourists a year visiting the town´s main attractions - the Kalbarri national park with the "Z Bend" and "Nature´s window", Murchison river gorge, the daily feeding of the pelicans and the Australian Parrot Breeding centre where you can interact the the birds. There are some lovely beaches, but it was winter when we visited, so they were deserted.

Rock formations looking down into the Murchison River (dry at the time)

Nature´s window - it´s a steep downhill walk to get there, but worthwhile.

Elephant´s Rocks - some interesting rocks this time down south, in the town of Denmark, 450km from Perth.
In one of my favourite beaches in Australia (and I´m not much of a beach person!), these granite rocks resemble elephants from certain angles.
They sit in a sheltered bay and are well worth the visit, as well as nearby Green´s Pool.
There is a car park and as you stroll down the pathway you can just make out the elephants in the Southern Ocean.

My husband on top of one of the "elephants"
You can go down a wooden staircase between the rocks into the little Elephants cove beach, but you are are bound to get wet if the tide is high, but you get a beautiful view of the rocks from down below.
The waters are usually very calm in this area

My brother in law, myself and my sister at Elephants cove
What was your favourite rock?
Do you have interesting rock formations around your area?

So just to end the post, I wanted to relate something I once overheard a tourist ask at the Tourist information centre, and I thought it was funny, as only people that live here can relate to the vastness of this country!
He wanted to know if he could visit both the Pinnacles and Wave Rock in the same day, and he was being told that it would be almost impossible. He would have to drive north 245km, then return to Perth and drive east 300km and return to Perth, making it almost 1100km round trip in a day, taking probably around 12 or 13 hours! A very tiring trip to visit some rocks!