Friday, January 7, 2011

Our Geraldton Weekend

New Year’s weekend, President Cahoon gave permission for us to travel north about 450 kilometers (4 hours) to visit Elder and Sister Walker, where they are serving in the Geraldton Branch. We left just after noon, and traveled the new Indian Ocean Scenic Drive. Soon we left the metropolitan area of Perth to venture into bush country. Quickly the congestion of the city gave way to the sparsely inhabited Australian outback and their “stations”, or farmhouses.

On Saturday, the Walkers took us on a drive north to Kalbarri, to visit some members of the branch who own a caravan park (trailer park), along with orphaned pet kangaroos they have raised since babies.

As you will notice, the wind BLOWS in this part of Australia. 

These are just three of the hundreds of trees in the area, which are bowed clear to the ground, due to the strong prevailing winds.

We traveled on northward to Kalbarri and visited more members who own a 50 horse ranch, and provide horseback trips along the Murchison River. Due to heavy rainstorms, they had been experiencing flooding along the river to the north. There at Kalbarri, the Murchison River empties into the Indian Ocean. We were astounded to see the muddy brown river join with the blue of the ocean.

Next we stopped at the Rainbow Jungle, with its huge collection of Australian birds from the parakeet family. For a private collection, it was amazing with its own waterfalls, jungle, and whale watching tower. (But wrong time of year for whale watching!) We attempted to cool off in the man-made waterfalls.

We also stopped at another, but smaller, wildlife park. It was here that we learned the difference between the blue-winged kookaburra and the laughing kookaburra (doesn't have the beautiful blue wings), which gave us quite an earful of constant laughter as he claimed his territory. There we even had the memorable experience of petting a joey, who had been abandoned by its mother.

Sunday we attended church with their small branch, where most of the members were still out of town on holiday. Elder Walker was the only member of the branch Presidency in attendance; Sister Walker, as Relief Society President, gave the R.S. lesson; and Elder & Sister Nielsen were responsible for the Primary children (all two of them).

Monday we journeyed back to Perth, by way of the world famous Western Australia Pinnacles.

And to bring our New Year’s weekend to a close, the sun set just prior to our arrival back at our flat.

Caversham Wildlife Park

We finally, after 7 months, got to see koalas and kangaroos, and just about every other unique Australian animal.  On the Monday after Christmas (the 27th) we went to Caversham Park for our “P” Day. We walked through beautiful gardens full of native Australian plantlife.

Both of us got to feed the kangaroos. Because of the extreme heat (over 100 degrees), all they wanted to do was sleep. 

We were thrilled to see a baby joey poke his nose and ears out from his mother’s pouch.

We took the opportunity to pose with a VERY LARGE wombat, especially for our Granddaughter, Brooke, because we had sent her a very small, stuffed wombat for Christmas along with the book “Diary of a Wombat” which she is learning to read all by herself.

***Brooke loved this picture so much, she took it to school with her to share with her class. Her teacher also read the book Diary of a Wombat to the class. Brooke LOVED it!! -Brea (Brooke's Mom)***

Next we saw a beautiful blue-winged kookaburra (who is NOT a laughing kookaburra).

THEN we went into the koala enclosure, for a hands-on experience with koalas. Since koalas are only awake about 4 hours a day, they were sleeping in the branches of the eucalyptus trees. We tried our best to wake them up but they were TOO SLEEPY.

It was another wonderful adventure Down Under!