Whale Spotting

December until April is feeding time for whales in Antartica, however, when breeding time comes they must leave for warmer waters. Their young, born with only a thin coating of blubber, wouldn’t survive the first few months of their lives in the freezing waters, so the parents travel up towards the Equator to give birth. The adult whales don’t feed again until they return to their feeding grounds in November, losing an estimated 25 – 50% of their body weight between their last meal in April, and their next meal seven to eight months later.

By June their babies are born, and they can be seen heading back down the coastline of Australia. Whilst the mums don’t feed at all for approximately seven months, they frequently stop close to shore to rest, and to feed their calves who need to develop some insulating blubber before they reach the krill rich, icy waters of Antartica.

By the time they’re passing the bays close to where we live, the adults are feeding their young and resting as much as possible before they leave the protected waters close to Australia’s shoreline and head into the open waters which will take them to Antartica. Whale watching is now a big industry with whale watching cruises taking thousands of people out each season to get an up close sighting of these fascinating ocean mammals. Being a local though, we know the bays where, on a good day, its possible to see dozens of whales only a few metres off shore, with no boat required. From September to November we often head up to the bays between Dunsborough and Cape Naturalist for a chance encounter of seeing some up really close. Some days we’re lucky, some days we’re not.

Sunday we put on on our walking boots, packed a picnic lunch and headed towards the Cape. First stop was Point Picquet, which is a consistently good spot for close whale encounters. It’s so good in fact, that there’s usually volunteers there from daylight to dusk recording all the whale sightings. The volunteer on duty when we arrived advised us we’d just missed a Blue going by, and that three Blues had been past that morning. Damn – we never seem to be there at the right time to see a Blue. He showed us a photo – it was HUGE! We waited around for a few minutes. A few humpbacks were out towards the horizon, to far away though to get a good view.

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Our Lifestyle – our village

You may remember that recently we sold our little cottage by the sea, and moved up the road a bit, into one of those Lifestyle Village thingies. We’re still close to the sea, but about 100 metres further away than we were before. Mr Tilly still gets his morning walk on the beach almost every day.

I’ve given you a glimpse of the unit we purchased the lease for life on, but I haven’t shown you around the village yet. So get yourself a cuppa, get comfy, and I’ll show you around.

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Dog friendly – Rustico at hay sHed hill

Paul booked us into Rustico at Hay Shed Hill for lunch to celebrate our 39th anniversary. The on line booking system had a box that could be selected if a dog friendly table was required. We decided to give it a go….

It wasn’t overly warm so, expecting to be outside, we rugged up warm and set off for Rustico at 511 Harmans Mill Road, Wilyabrup, Margaret River. I took charge of Mr Tilly while Paul went inside to find out which of the outside tables was allocated to us.

Lovely views over the vines, but a bit chilly – never mind we were rugged up!

Paul returned with a look of total surprise – our table was inside in the warm. In we went, passing the doggie treat table, to a fully enclosed patio with ceiling heaters.

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Walga Rock

Located 48 kms west of Cue, Walga Rock is definitely a worthwhile day trip when in this area. At 50 metres high, 1.5 kms long, and approximately 5 kms around the base, its reportedly the 8th in size of the monoliths in Australia. In case you’re not familiar with what a monolith is, its basically one very big rock. I’ve heard conflicting reports on where this one is in the order of size, including one local report that claims it’s second to Uluru – but research indicates 8th is nearer to the truth. The rock itself is impressive as you approach it, and there’s a track that runs around it’s base, and it’s definitely worth the drive around to see it from all angles. I believe it’s relatively easy to climb too, but I can’t vouch for that.

As you approach the rock you’ll notice a high but shallow cave.

Inside the cave is a very impressive collection of early Aboriginal art, making the site of deep cultural and spiritual significance to the local indigenous people. The gallery, painted with ochre, is predominantly motifs that are non-figurative. One outstanding sketch stands out:

The ship shows two masts, rat lines, rigging, and square portholes in the hull, and is believed to depict one of the Dutch ships that would have visited the coast in the 17th century. However the site of the cave is more 300kms inland which raises questions as to whether or not the artist could perhaps have been a sailor from one of the ships. I guess we’ll never know.

Its amazing the things you find when you stop over in some of Australia’s small towns. Walga Rock was definitely worthwhile stopping over to see.

Perth to home -day 33

Breakfast out with the family first thing this morning, then we were on our way.

It’s good to be home!

Having been unmotivated to write now for longer than I care to remember, I’ve used this holiday to try to force some writing motivation. I set out with the intentions of trying to post a blog every day of my holiday. I skipped some days, but then I posted two on other days. know a lot of my posts have been a bit wafflie, and for that I apologise. However, the forced motivation has worked I think. I’m pleased to say I think I have my writing mojo back again…..

Chasing Sun and Wildflowers – Day 32

Mingenew to Perth

Tonight we’re in Perth. Tomorrow we will be home – and I feel a need for a Staycation. Apologies to all of you who have no choice but to stay put in your own homes, but right now, home is where I want be. We’ve travelled far to many kilometres in to short a time. I’m feeling it, Mr Tilly is feeling it, and Paul, who does all of the driving, is definitely feeling it.

I love Broome, and I love the Wildflowers, and I love road trips. We’ve been retired now for eight years though, and we still travel as if we’re making use of annual leave. I don’t know how we’re ever going to manage to slow down, but we’re going to have too. 5000 kms for the trip, plus incidental driving each day, in less than 5 weeks – madness!

Mr Tilly has his back firmly turned away from me in the car. He’s clearly, ‘not happy’. Mind you, we did nearly poison him on this holiday, and he’s still recovering. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t intentional. In fact, it was a necessity. On the Vets advice we fitted him with a Seresto collar to protect against the Kimberley Brown Tick. Most of the time that we’ve been away he hasn’t been himself, and has had an upset tummy on a few occasions, including bright red blood in his stools. We took him to the vet – the verdict was that his tummy was tender, possibly due to some chicken, nothing serious – antibiotics, and a bland diet of chicken and rice was prescribed. He improved marginally. Three days before we were due to leave he had a sort of minor fit. Paul was getting ready to take him for his regular morning walk when suddenly his eyes glazed over and he had fit of what I can only describe as uncontrolled, air humping. It was really weird, but clearly he had no control. It was definitely some sort involuntary sort of spasms.

We had been thinking he was stressed from the travel, (although we’d stayed put in Broome for three weeks), or that it was just too hot for him. Broome did seem hotter than usual this year. We both had a inkling that possibly the collar was a contributor, except the vet hadn’t even given the collar a seconds consideration. Anyway, we left two days earlier than planned, and as soon as we were far enough south we removed the collar. In less than 12 hours there was a marked improvement. He had started to eat, and his tummy seemed much more settled. He’s more of his old self again – albeit still clearly over the car trip. It was only after we’d removed the collar that I looked up possible side effects . He had almost every one of them. We both have absolutely no doubt that he reacted badly to it, including having the fit. Apparently a number of dog deaths have been attributed to it. I wonder why the vet didn’t consider the collar as a possible cause for his vomiting, lack of appetite, listlessness and the blood in his stools – these are all known side effects. I’m trusting vets less and less as time goes on……

If we go up to the Kimberley again next year, two things have to be assured. One is an alternative to the Seresto collar for Mr Tilly. I’ve been looking on line, but so far I haven’t found an alternative that looks to be conclusively effective. If anyone knows of anything, please, please let me know. And the next thing is, we have to slow it down. I don’t want to be nearing home ever again feeling exhausted from the trip. One more sleep….