That destination is Bold Park which is quite a unique place in the Perth Metropolitan Area. The park was established in 1936 and named after some bloke who had put in lots of time in the City of Perth local government – which is all a bitboring. Much more interesting is that it is 437 hectares of remnant bushland on the Swan Coastal Plain comprised of banksia and tuart woodland. Tuart forest (Eucalyptus gomphocephala) was once a major feature of the Swan Coastal Plain with trees of up to 40m in height and providing a unique ecosystem. On colonisation most of the tuart trees were cleared for farming and for it valuable timber which is dense, hard, water resistant and resists splintering. The last remaining tall tuarts are found in the Tuart Forest National Park. There a couple of remnants of smaller trees around the Perth Metro Area such as those found at Mindarie Dunes and Bold Park. The park is situated in City Beach just off Oceanic Drive and can be reached by public transport.To say that the park is popular is an understatement, I went on a Saturday morning and it was absolutely heaving – so this is not a wilderness experience, but an urban walk on the wild side.
Speaking of walking there are over 15Km of walking trails of varying distances – the longest one, which I just did, is the Zamia Trail which is 5.1Km long over rolling terrain on a crushed limestone base which means you can comfortably push a stroller or pusher. If you are going to do the walk I suggest parking at Reabold Hill car park. This is a good place to commence the trail, but also it enables you to make a side trip unto the summit of the hill where there is a viewing platform. This is the highest natural point on the Swan Coastal Plain at 85 metres above sea level. This means on a nice clear day you can see the Indian Ocean, Perth CBD, Rottnest Island, Kings Park, and the Swan River. While pedestrians and cyclists can access the park at all times vehicular access is limited as follows:
1 April to 31 October – 5.30 am to 7.00 pm
1 November to 31 March – 5.30 am to 8.00 pm.
The trail is well sign posted so there is no need of a mud-map which means you can just get out and enjoy it. I walked this in winter so there weren’t many flowers out – a few banksias, grevilleas and cockies tongue. I was more interested in the bird life and the Botanic Gardens and Park Authority put out an excellent brochure you can download detailing all 91 species that can be found. There are numerous other animals such as brush-tail possums, bats, loads of reptiles including snakes of varying descriptions. Considering how many people were about I was surprised at how many different species of birds I saw. I even literally stumbled over a very sleepy and grumpy bob tailed lizard (Tiliqua rugosa), trying to warm up on the path in the sun having woken up from brumation.
Anastasis – from Ancient Greek ἀνάστασις (anástasis, “resurrection”).
A funny name for a blog post about Lake Seppings in Albany, Western Australia, but it does describe what happened.
Way back in the Nyittiny (creation times) the spirit Djrat walked on the earth and created south coast of Western Australia and as he walked he left a footprint which filled with water and created a freshwater lake 1.1 Km long and 400m wide. The Minang group of the Nyoongar called this place Tjuirtgellong or “place of the long necked turtle” which was an important food source for them in the summer months. The lake was surrounded by a variety of vegetation. Fringing the lake are bullrushes, sedges, and reeds reeds. Further back were Western Australian peppermint trees, spearwoods, paperbarks, native willows, wattles, banksias and melaleuca. All this provided habitatfor over 100 different bird species including Australian white ibis, yellow-billed spoonbil,white-faced heron, blue-billed duck, musk duck, black swan, hoary-headed grebe, Australian pelican, Eurasian coot, spotless crake, masked lapwing, dusky moorhen, purple swamphen and buff-banded rail.
All was fine and dandy until 1790 when the British explorer George Vancouver arrived. While he was mapping King George Sound he didn’t see any Minang but saw plenty of evidence that they were around and he later wrote that he found a ‘native village; fresh food remains near a well-constructed hut; a kangaroo that had apparently been killed with a blow to the head; a fish weir across what is now called the Kalgan River; and what appeared to be systematic firing of the land.’ (R. Appleyard. ‘ Vancouver’s Discovery and Exploration of King George’s Sound’ in Early Days, Journal and Proceedings of the Western Australian Historical Society, 1986, pp.86-97). That was the start of colonial settlement. As far as the lake is concerned well initially the settlers tried to do the right thing and in 1887 the Albany Municipal Council applied to the state government for permission to make the Lake and some of its surrounding bushland a botanical park. This lasted up until 1900 when it became a rubbish dump for the city of Albany. This sad state continued until 1972 when it was decided by the department of fisheries and fauna to turn the lake into a water fowl reserve.Very quickly the community got on board with initially a bird-walk being established by the Apex club of Albany in 1980. By 2004 a walk around the lake had been completed and the lake was given protected status. In 2018 there was a ‘community planting’ of some 22,000 trees and understory plants to provide a ‘biodiversity corridor’ and habitat for endangered wildlife such as the western ring tailed possum.
Every time we go to Albany I always visit Lake Seppings. I love walking around the edge of the lake and observing all the wildlife. I see it in many ways as a beacon of hope. The local community came together and have made a serious and worthwhile attempt to restore the lake to what it once was it still has a long way to go before it reaches its former status but it is a very good start. For the Nyoongar I hope that the recent claim for compensation for the loss of their traditional lands succeeds and can bring them some way of moving forward.
Willy Wagtails or Djidi Djidi as the Nyoongar call them can be found throughout the Australian bush. They are perhaps the most common bird in Western Australia. White fellas think of them as comical bossy little birds that will swoop larger animals and people in an effort to shoo them out of their territory. This is the Nyoongar story of how they came into being.
A long time ago there was a lazy old man called Wardong. Wardong was given the job of looking after the children while everyone went hunting. Wardong would lie in the shade under a tree and shout at the children to get them to bring him food and drink. Now the children got pretty fed up with being bossed around by Wardong, and being mischievous they decided to get their own back. So while the old man was sleeping the djidi djidi (mischievous ones) they took his food away and then began to run round and round him tormenting him. This made Wardong really mad, and the madder he got the more the djidi djidi tormented him. Suddenly he couldn’t take any more and he did some magic and turned all the little children into little birds. With that Wardong went back to his tree, lay down and went to sleep with a big smile on his face. When everybody returned from hunting that evening they asked Wardong where all the children were. The children seeing their parents and grand parents started flying around and crying asking to be turned back, but there was nothing that could be done. The elders were furious and called Wardong a lazy good for nothing scavenger. One of them went even further and said “Wardong you will be a scavenger for the rest of your life!” And with that he turned Old Wardong into a crow. Wardong is the Nyoongar name for crows. Now if you go into the bush you will see that the djidi djidi can’t stand to have wardong anywhere near them and when they see him they fly round and round his head tormenting him until he goes away.
Every day tour buses stop over in York on their way to Wave Rock near Hyden. The Northern Territory has Uluru (formerly known as Ayres Rock) and Western Australia’s tourism industry markets Wave Rock as our equivalent. I often feel sorry for the tourists, particularly the Chinese and Japanese ones, as they drive out from Perth to the middle of nowhere to see a large rock that looks like an enormous ocean wave frozen for posterity. I wonder what they think when they get there.
A week or so ago we went out to Hyden to visit Wave Rock. It’s not the first time we’ve visited, we first went in 2008. I find it very hard to be enthusiastic about it – it is just a curved rock face. My over all feeling is that Wave Rock is more marketing than substance. What I find more interesting is the way people interact with it. The majority of people just pull up in the car park and jump out to quickly take a selfie with their phone or a couple of seconds of video on a GoPro on one of those annoying sticks that they nearly poke someones eye out with as they are too busy on making strange faces for the camera. They then jump back into their cars and race off to the next destination on their itinerary. The next group of people are harried parents herding their bored looking children around and eventually persuading them to have their photo taken while they pretend to surf the perfect stone wave. The best was a young Chinese couple – he was shooting “glamour” photos of her while she was standing halfway up the curve in skimpy attire and the most incredible high heels – the sort that you need a ladder to get into and induce vertigo. My immediate reaction was not to perv the girl, but one of how the hell did she get up their dressed like that. The answer was obvious – when he finished taking photos he threw a bag up to her and she changed into a pair of track pants, a t-shirt and trainers and slid down on her backside.
Sixteen Kilometres north-east of Wave Rocks is The Humps Nature Reserve. It’s not a very appealing name and probably doesn’t help with marketing to the tourist hordes. The Humps are a massive granite outcrop some 2 km x 1.5 km in area and rises to 80 m above the surrounding plain which was and is of huge cultural significance to the Nyoongar people. Mulka’s Cave is a gallery for 452 motifs which makes it the largest collection in southern Western Australia.It is thought that the paintings were produced over the last two or three thousand years and it feels like the people who made them are reaching out from the past to the present day. It really reinforces the impression of spirit of place and of belonging to the land. To me this is what makes The Humps more special than Wave Rock, it engenders a feeling to that felt at Uluru or Ubirr. Powerful stuff. Mulka’s Cave is named after one of its inhabitants about which there is a gruesome Dreamtime story.
‘Mulka was the illegitimate son of a woman who fell in love with a man to whom marriage was forbidden. As a result, Mulka was born with crossed eyes. Even though he grew up to be an outstandingly strong man of colossal height, his crossed eyes prevented him from aiming a spear accurately and becoming a successful hunter. Out of frustration, Mulka turned to catching and eating human children, and he became the terror of the district. He lived in Mulka’s Cave where the impressions of his hands can still be seen much higher than those of an ordinary man. His mother became increasingly concerned with Mulka and when she scolded him for his anti-social behaviour, he turned on his own mother and killed her. This disgraced him even more and he fled the cave, heading south. Aboriginal people were outraged by Mulka’s behaviour and set out to track down the man who had flouted all the rules. They finally caught him near Dumbleyung 156 km south-west of Hyden, where they speared him. Because he did not deserve a proper ritual burial, they left his body for the ants – a grim warning to those who break the law.’
R.G.Gunn, Mulka’s Cave Aboriginal rock art site: its context and content, Records of the Western Australian Museum 23: 19-41 (2006).
There are a couple of walks in the reserve – The Gamma Trail a 1.2km interpretative walk explains the significance of the area to the local Nyoongar people, and the Kalari Trail, a 1.6 Km trail climbs to the summit. The early morning walk to the summit was fantastic. There were kangaroos amongst clumps silver princess trees (Eucalyptus caesia), nankeen kestrels were riding the thermal currents looking for prey and there were hosts of wrens bathing in the shallow pools of water on the rock surface. You get the feeling that this is a place where everything has been stripped back to the elemental essentials. Time was standing still. Of course the moment was lost as the multitudes of tourists pulled up in the car park jumped out to grab a selfie in the cave and use the toilet, their chattering voices carrying up to the summit shattering the tranquility. For a brief couple of hours on top of the humps I was somewhere else quite magical.
Earlier this week I was contacted by Moving Still Productions a video production company based in Perth Western Australia. They wanted to use the above photo in a production they were making. The email was pleasant with flattery about how beautiful the image is and what an important part it would play in the production. They were very generous with their offer, I would get a credit but no payment as there was no budget.
“We couldn’t afford to financially reimburse you, but we of course would credit you as the photographer. Your photo could really help us tell the story visually, and your assistance and generosity would be greatly appreciated.”
Vanessa Barnett, Senior Producer
Riiiiiight! So obviously the production crew are working for nothing as well? No there is a budget for the production crew. Ms Barnet went on to say in another email:
“We simply don’t have the budget to send a photographer to York, which is why we need your help! “
So it’s not that the photograph is really that good. You want my photo because it meets the criteria that you won’t have to spend any money thus maximizing your company’s profit. Thanks, but no thanks! I expect that Ms Barnett likes to be paid for her work, but it seems that she cannot see how that would extend to others.
In my last entry I mentioned that I would be going to Esperance, on the the south coast of Western Australia (next stop Antarctica!) and I’ve now returned home and have chance to process the pictures and reflect on the experience.
Firstly I would like to say that this was not a photographic expedition, it was a holiday with a major focus on bush walking. Walking has been a big part of my life since my mid teens and I feel it is an excellent way to explore, to reconnect with myself and nature, and see things I might otherwise not see. Generally my long suffering partner is encouraging in my photographic endeavours but the one area which is an exception is when bushwalking as she hates hanging around while I fiddle around taking pictures. Fair enough. In 1986 we went to the Greek Island of Thira, more popularly known as Santorini. I took two SLRs, flash, filter system and a swag of lenses and fifty rolls of film in a shoulder bag. We decided to walk round the island, it is only small, but very quickly I wished that I had not got that stupid bag with me. It was a salutary lesson and ever since I’ve explored light weight alternatives and different ways of carrying. So my camera of choice was my Olympus EP-2. The EP-2 packs into a small bag (20cm x 18cm x 10 cm) and in that I can fit the camera, six batteries, 72GB of SD cards, two polarising filters, two variable neutral density filters, a SEMA-1 microphone and two zoom lenses that gives me the full frame equivalent of 24 – 300 mm coverage. I’ve found that I can shoot multiple exposure panoramics handheld and get reasonable results. The big let down for this trip was that I took no camera support so the handheld video footage I shot has been filed in the bin.
Who, What, Where, When and Why
Esperance is a medium sized Aussie country town and is blessed with 16 beaches that are picture perfect and excellent for all manner of beach pursuits and are widely reputed to be the best in Australia. All but one of them are dog friendly. It is quite an isolated place and it is therefore very likely that you’ll able to get a beach to yourself. We didn’t go for the beaches but for Cape Le Grand National Park.
A bit of history about the area. Twenty thousand years ago the indigenous people of the south west of what is now Western Australia, the Wudjari group of the Nyoongar, inhabited the land they called “Kepakurl” or the place where the sea lies like a boomerang. It was a region blessed with a good climate, plenty of water and an abundance of wildlife and consequently they did not feel the need to roam very far. In 1627 a Dutch ship, the Gulden Zeepaerdt, captained by François Thijssen, sailed through the islands off the coast and so began the colonial era. In 1792 the next European visitors were two French ships, the Recherche and l’Esperance, under the command of Admiral Antoine Bruni d’Entrecasteaux, took shelter from a storm which nearly wrecked both ships. One of the crew, an officer by the name of Le Grand had spotted the anchorage and so it was named after him. In 1802 Matthew Flinders on HMS Investigator was charting the southern coastline of Australia and sailed through the Bay of Isles claiming it for King and country before those “Johnny foreigner” types could claim it for themselves. While sheltering from a storm he and his crew explored the area and named Lucky Bay, because they found safe anchorage there, and Thistle Cove after a Mr Thistle who was one of the crew. In the 1870’s the townsite of Esperance was established and the rest as they say is history.
Cape Le Grand National Park is 631 km (392 miles) south-east of Perth and 56 km (35 miles) east of Esperance. Established in 1966 the park covers an area of 31,801 hectares (78,600 acres) and is made up of coastal heathland made up of dense thickets of showy banksia (Banksia speciosa) on the sand flats and scrub banksia (Banksia pulchella) on the gravel outcrops. This is punctuated by granite and gneiss peaks. There are beautiful bays with the most amazing white beaches where the sand squeaks underfoot, and the sea is the most breathtaking turquoise blue in colour. The most spectacular scenery is found in the south eastern corner of the park where is a chain of peaks that includes Mount Le Grand, Frenchman Peak and Mississippi Hill.
All up the park is home to 1169 different species of animal and plant. The native mammals include western pygmy-possum, quenda, black flanked wallaby, bush rats, and honey possums. The park is a bit of a twitcher’s paradise with 110 species of birds and while there we saw a white-bellied sea-eagle, numerous types of wattlebirds, a wedged tailed eagle, emu, cuckoo shrikes, crested pigeon, and bronze wings.
There are a number of walks to do. The Coastal Trail is a 15Km (9.3 miles) one way trail that takes about 8 hours to complete. It has also been divided up into four sections. We chose to walk from Lucky Bay to Thistle Cove. Lucky Bay is famed as having the most beautiful beaches in Australia and somewhat incongruously you can as we did see kangaroos on the sandy beach. There is a campsite there with gas barbecues, toilets, picnic areas, water, and shade shelters. We chose to stay in Esperance rather than camp this time. The walk trail is clearly marked out and takes you round the headland giving views over the bays and inlets. I saw a pod of six dolphins playing in on of the inlets and I stayed and watched them until they decided to swim back out to sea. As you get to Thistle Cove there is a picnic table in the lee of a large rock that looks like an enormous mitten standing on end which provides a bit of necessary shade while you sit and take in your surroundings. Matthew Flinders thought that Thistle Cove was even better than Lucky Bay, I’m not sure I would agree but it is a very beautiful spot.
As mentioned earlier there are several peaks to bag; Mount Le Grand at 345 metres (1132 feet), Mississippi Hill 180 metres (590 feet), and Frenchman Peak at 262 metres(860 feet). Frenchman Peak was our choice as it has a clearly marked track to the top which is 3km or 1.8 miles return which is graded as hard and not recommended on wet and/or windy day. The peak did not get its name from the early French explorers but rather from explorer and prominent colonist John Forrest who passed through the area in 1870, in search of good country for pasture. The peak got its name because his brother, surveyor Alexander Forrest, thought its profile resembled a man wearing a Frenchman’s cap. The Aboriginal name for the peak was Mandooboornup and was a significant site for them. The Department of Parks and Wildlife who administer the park describe the route as being up the easy angled east slope. A better description to my mind would be up the not as hard east slope. At times the pitch of the slope is very steep, but thankfully the rock surface is very grippy in the dry and given a good pair of shoes and plenty of time it is very doable. The result is worth it as you’ll be rewarded with be rewarded with magnificent panoramic views of the park and islands in the Recherche Archipelago. The top of the peak has been eroded to form deep arch or cave which is not immediately obvious from looking up from the base and swallows make their nests in its walls and can be seen chasing insects as you climb up. The cave was formed 40 million years ago in the Eocene when sea levels were 300 metres (984 feet) higher than they are now and the top of the peak was under water. I don’t know about you but the geologic timescale just boggles my mind.
Did we enjoy our visits? Are the Kennedy’s gun shy? We will certainly visit again and aim to spend more time in the park, but we will go earlier in the spring so we can see more of the wildflowers and maybe even see some whales.
As always clicking on an image will take you through to my gallery for print purchases.
The Murray River flows westwards past Pinjarra and into the Peel Inlet, which is a roughly circular body of water covering an area of 75 sq. Km (approx. 29 square miles). Although around 75% of the surrounding land has been cleared for farming or housing the inlet is incredibly rich in wildlife. The Inlet is home to crustaceans such as blue swimmer crabs and king prawns, and fish species include black bream, tailor and cobbler. Birdlife International has designated it an Important Bird Area because it supports large populations of Fairy Terns and 1% of the world’s population of Red Necked Stints, Sharp Tailed Sandpipers, Banded Stints, Red Necked Avocets and Red Capped Plovers. At the northern end of the inlet a channel passes through Mandurah and runs out into the ocean and this allows dolphins to visit. At the southern end the inlet combines with the Harvey Estuary. The combined waterway covers 136 km², or 52 square miles, and is extensively used for recreational purposes particularly fishing, crabbing, and sailing (including house boating). Because it is sheltered from the sea by a line of very large sand dunes the beaches and bays are popular with families for picnics and barbecues.
As previously stated the city of Mandurah sits at the top of the Peel Inlet. The name is thought to have come from an Anglicized variant of the Nyoongar word mandjar, which translates as meeting place. European settlement commenced in 1828 when Robert Peel and his workmen arrived from England. Initially the settlement grew very slowly and by 1898 was comprised of 160 people. A mining and industrial boom saw Mandurah grow rapidly from a sleepy beach resort to one of the fastest growing suburbs in Australia. One of the notable features is the canal developments. If nearby Kwinana and Rockingham are synonymous with working class bogan culture then Mandurah is home to the CUB, or Cashed Up Bogan. This can be evidenced by taking a cruise around the Mandurah canals and seeing the opulent houses that line the banks complete with swimming pools, expensive boats, barbecue pontoons and Balinese themed gazebos. In the high-rise developments of the marina precinct it is not unusual to see on a weekend residents dropping a fishing line from their luxury apartment balcony while enjoying a coldie.
Mandurah is now a major tourist destination in Western Australia and is heavily marketed as the gateway to the state’s popular South West Region. Apart from fishing there are also dolphin cruises and the more energetic can hire boats, canoes or jet skis to explore the water ways. In the culinary department there is everything from the usual fast food joints to the finest waterfront dining where it possible to eat locally caught seafood and drink local wines and boutique beers. The Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, near the marina and foreshore, not only plays host to some of the world’s top performing artists but also puts on exhibitions and hosts workshops for the visual arts as well. Take a walk through time with the inner City Heritage walk trail (maps are available from the tourist centre) and see and learn about the notable people and places that shaped Mandurah into what it is today. There is also a public art walk trail along the foreshore and marina that is fun and interactive. Through the year there are several major events that fun for the family to visit, the main one being The Channel Seven Mandurah Crab Fest that while ostensibly being about enjoying the locally caught crabs actually show cases all that Mandurah has to offer on one glorious day in March. There are cooking demonstrations, arts competitions, children’s stage shows, music and the International Waterski & Wakeboarding Federation (IWWF) World Cup competition which attracts the best competitors from all around the world. For those wishing to visit any time of year is good, but summer is when it all really happens and it seems as if the whole population of Perth comes out to play over the Christmas and New Years holidays and the city basks in its brash exuberance.
The Foreshore Heritage Trail tells the history of Mandurah’s pioneer settlers and Mandurah’s indigenous cultural history, showing places of historical and cultural interest and community art installations.
A journey down the Murray River to the sea is like seeing a microcosm of Western Australia. You have the ancient culture of the indigenous Nyoongar, the story of European settlement, mining and agriculture booms, amazing scenery with incredible biodiversity, and fantastic recreational activities. All this just lies on the southern doorstep of Perth.