Back-pack On The Ground Please, Ma’am

Colin and I travel on different flights from Sydney to Perth because for some reason Quantas refused to change our tickets – all the more annoying as there is a vacant seat beside me.

When checking in, the Xray “tings” my back-pack. I forgot to transfer my scissors into my suitcase, so have to surrender them. Arrived in Perth and waiting at the luggage carousel, I notice a dog sitting at my side, and lean over to give it a pat. An official approaches.

“Will you put your back-pack on the ground please Ma’am.”

The beagle literally lies on top of the bag, rolling over on her back and rubbing luxuriously.

“Any plants, soil or food in there?”

“No . .. Oh yes!”

I draw out two old muesli bars in plastic, somewhat crumpled, but still the beagle bends onto her shoulder and rolls over.

“Have you had any fruit in there in the past?”

“Not really,” but about two days ago, I tell her, I’d put a banana there before eating it.

“That’s it, then; no problem. Good GIRL!” The official enthusiastically pats her dog, clips on the lead and walks away.

I wake up the following morning, and from my bedroom balcony in the Nichol’s home, the rising sun shadows Perth’s skyscrapers across the still waters of the Swan River.

Peace and tranquility (except for someone’s lawn mower below me). In the bosom of my family, now, I dont expect to be writing a dairy for a while, for Roy and Dennis have arrived for Christmas. But I’m a very proud mum when Kathy and her five year-old grey mare come third in the West Australian indoor Novice Dressage Championships in Perth one weekend.

Perth & Gem (640x393)

Kathy on Calgan Calypso

By the first week of January I feel I am at last beginning to get to know my grandchildren (didn’t realise how difficult that was going to be: ages 2 up to 8 year-olds still cling to Mummy’s apron strings, and “strange” grandparents don’t come naturally). However, a few days here and there completely alone with the kids work wonders. And we’re re-familiarising ourselves rapidly with dodgem cars, children’s train rides, playgrounds and swimming-pools, not to mention sandy beaches and sea-water (brrrrrr .. Even in summer). And I see the first Harry Potter film.

Perth Xmas 2001 (640x393)

The family, Christmas 2001

I go on some enjoyable walks. West Australia really is a great country, especially in the summer, and the walks are easy to find and follow with maps and descriptions available in the information centres.

I am here for three months and my goal is to cover most of the Cape (Naturaliste) to Cape (Leeuwin) track – 136 ks comprising the little straight jutting-out bit of south west Australia coastline from Dunsborough to Augusta. There are five well-designed and informative guide maps for this track.

But to acclimatise, I walk southwards from Colin & Annette’s home in Busselton along the beach path (spiders’ webs, flies, a tarmac path the only alternative to soft going on the sandy beach). That, and northwards to the Busselton pier are good warm-ups. The two mile walk along the pier and back does my back no good at all. I must keep away from hard ground in future, if that’s possible.

A seven kilometre hike from Dunsborough to Eagle Bay – not part of the cape-to-cape track – provides a good mix of beach, points, and inland paths. Roy drops me at the start, but then gets lost in the car and is late collecting me in Eagle Bay, so I have lunch in a little roadside café and wonder what has happened to him. We don’t yet use mobile phones.

The first leg of my target – Cape Naturaliste to Sugarloaf Rock – lasts a gentle, uneventful hour on inland paths with good views to the sea. This time, Roy is at our meeting place on time.

The track from Yallingup to Wyadup (6k) takes me behind Torpedo Rock, along the 2k stretch of beautiful Smiths Beach (good for the calves) then a scramble over the Canal Rocks and cliffs where I lose the trail several times; then up through thick bush to the Rotary look out and down, along more cliffs and a steep rocky path to Wyadup.

(I really recommend you click on the links to these places: the pictures I took were few, and the scenery is amazing).

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