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West Coast Bird Watching

Author: Carl from Pahrump (More Trip Reviews by Carl from Pahrump)
Date of Trip: April 2007

norcia monastery church australiaAt 7:45am we were off for the monastery in New Norcia (30.971S 116.217E). Spanish Benedictine Monks established the monastery in the 1860's on 30,000 sq miles of land (most leased from the state, some owned). In its peak there were 70 Monks, upwards of a 1000 kids in the boarding schools (one for white boys, one for white girls, one for Aborigine boys, and one for Aborigine girls -- with 8 ft brick fences separating the schools), and hundreds of employees. The monastery has been downsized to 23,000 acres and 7 Monks and 1 trainee today, and no school. It is still the largest employer in this part of WA.

We toured the art gallery. In 1986 some men from Sydney cut out and stole 25 paintings. They were soon caught and the last of the paintings have been restored and put back on exhibit.

At 11am we took a guided tour of the grounds. Our favorite part was a portion of the boy's chapel where they had religious graffiti painted on the walls

We had lunch at the hotel (everything in town is owned and operated by the Monastery). My wife had a foot long steak sandwich. I had fish and chips. It was exciting to get good fish and chips again!

For dinner Robin fixed chicken and pumpkin in a Green Peppercorn sauce (Green Peppercorns, Bay Leaves, Onion, chicken stock, and Ginger powder), served with wild rice. For dessert we had individual cherry-plumb almond crisp.

On April 2 we learned that Onion Jam is called Caramelized Onions in some cookbooks. At 8:40am we were heading north again. We didn't get very far before we had to turn around to be sure we had seen an Ostrich.

We stopped at Lanelin Beach for a quick look at the waves and brilliant sand. Not many birds, but heaps of Yellow Primrose along the road.

We pressed north to the Emu Downs Wind Farm. They had several hundred giant windmills pumping out electricity. The road to Cervantes was lined with Bottle Brush Bushes in full bloom. Part of the drive passed thru a Bee Conservation Area.

pinnacles desert national parkWe arrived at Cervantes, home of the Pinnacles Desert NP (a.k.a. Nambung NP 30.605S 115.156E), around Noon. It was Very bright and starting to get warm, so we opted for the 3 Km loop drive around the pointed limestone formations. I wasn't sure the car could navigate the loose sand, but squeezing between some of the formations became a bigger worry. This is a very desolate place. We only saw a pair of Black-faced Woodswallows.

The park was full of young women walking a path around the formations. As we left we discovered they were German Backpackers who had arrived on the Big Yellow Backpacker Bus that runs between Darwin and Perth.

We got to the Willow Gully Farmstay at 4pm. We stayed in an early settler cottage on what used to be an Olive Farm. All the walls were plaster over field rocks. The fields also had rock walls.

On April 3 we were off at first light taking the short cut to the coast. This area reminded us of the Nullarbor -- no trees. Occasionally, we got a glimpse of the ocean on the horizon.

kalbarri national park natural bridgeWe stopped in Kalbarri NP (27.736S 114.148E) at several viewing areas. The coastline was awesome, but the flies were horrid. We had a long drive ahead of us, so we got moving north at 10am. Fortunately, the lanes were wide with paved shoulders, so we could cruise at 110Kmph.

We saw a road sign this morning that said: Fix Australia Fix the Roads

We thought a more appropriate sign would be: Fix Australia Put Bathrooms at Rest Areas

We got to Coral Bay Resort at sundown with the sun dead-on in my eyes -several times I had to stop in the road because I couldn't see.

On April 4 we walked over to the beach around 7:30am to get orientated. It was already getting hot and humid.

About 8:30am we were back to the beach to go snorkeling. The water was warm, but not particularly clear. We managed to see several Sting Rays. There wasn't much coral or fish life, but we did see a French Angelfish.

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