An interlude in Victoria’s temperate rainforest.

Friends and followers its a while since I last posted. At that time I foreshadowed further tales of my forebears pioneering times in Western Australia

But the truth is that 8 months of travel on a motorbike much of it sleeping in a tent left me tired and a case of still itchy feet complicated my enthusiasm to write

The only remedy was getting back out into nature.

To the east of Melbourne the Grand Ridge Road is a winding 132 km ride across the the Strzelecki Ranges and a mix of sealed and unsealed road.

The road runs through rich farming land, old growth temperate rain forest and sadly, old forests that have been destroyed by clear felling.

At the eastern end, the road winds down into Yarram through the Tarra Bulga National Park

Here are some views of this beautiful forest.

Coming down of the mountains the forest is dryer and the wild flowers abound.

To the West of Melbourne is the Great Ocean Road and the Otway Ranges – a favourite haunt I have written of often.

But even on a day trip to a well known area there are new places to find and the waterfalls were at their best after the spring rains

The swimming hole at She oak falls was too inviting to resist

Unfortunately I got to Stevenson Falls late in the day and as it was too late for a dip on a day trip

But I had been enjoyed my time having a beer and a swim at Wye River.

A stop off at the beautiful harbour at the coastal village of Apollo Bay

The perfect end to any day trip is of course- A beautiful sunset.

Now I’ve had a little interlude, a couple of day trips and the batteries are starting to feel recharged I will get back to my families pioneering tale. After you are warned at the start of my blog it is a discontinuous narrative!!!

With time served in Fremantle Gaol then it was on to York

The area around Fremantle and upstream in the Swan River to Perth is quite beautiful.

Beautiful sandy beaches flank the mouth of the Swan River and its bustling Port.

From Kings Park there are views over the River and the City of Perth

Kings Park includes the Perth Botanic Gardens and its amazing native flora collection.

Not that my Great grandfather would have had time to enjoy any of these beautiful sights as his home was Fremantle Gaol. From his arrival in 1853 until he and his brother were given a pardon in 1855 they worked, like all convicts on the gaol. The limestone extracted from the site of the gaol and cut into blocks on site.

It would have been hot dusty work with no escape. Summer temperatures in Perth are often in the high 30c range and not unusually 40c+. Temperatures unheard of in Ireland, but the convicts toiled in the heat, sleeping in quarters on the quarry at night.

I should introduce my Great grand father. His name was Edmund and his convict records describe him and 6ft and 1/2 inch tall (only 1 inch shorter than me) stout with a ruddy complexion, (mmm could be me) with brown hair and hazel eyes (phew Im not a reincarnation my hair was once ginger and eyes are blue). A tall strong man in modern days in 1853 he was the tallest on the ship and I can imagine that strength was well put to work in the prison quarry till he and his brother were pardoned in 1855.

Not long after being pardoned, Edmund married and Irish Bridget and with his brother they all headed west to the farming centre of York. York was the first inland white settlement in Western Australia with the colonial settlement process continued the dispossession of Aborigines starting in 1831.

So I followed in their footsteps and checked out of Fremantle Gaol and headed to York

Its a bit over 100km to travel from Fremantle to York and it was certainly easier whipping along the road east on a motorbike than would have need the journey in 1855.

The road to York crosses the Darling Ranges, a low mountain range the attracts rainfall that feeds the catchments of Perth to the west and the towns on the eastern hinterland.

Recent bushfires had scared the bush but in the miracle that is the Australian bush there are the plants that like fire. The grass trees or Xanthorrhoea australis to be formal are one example.

Bush fires, grass trees and strange animals. I wonder what my troop of intrepid Irish forebears thought as the headed east after a mere 2 years in this strange land.

Looking out over the town of York and its surrounds you can see the lovely green bush .

Down in the town the grand buildings tell the tale of past prosperity.

But the grandest of buildings is the Town Hall

I had come to York om a bit of a hope and a prayer about finding any information of my Great grandfather in years so far past.

In the town hall I walked up the stairs to the balcony and there was an Honour Board of the councillors.

And when the Municipality of York in 1861 was Edmund Cahill

Now I hear some of you saying that that goes to prove that local government is just full of criminals. But just hold your horses.

At the York Historical Society Archives I was able to view a copy of the 1859 York Census filled in by Edmund showed that they had worked hard to be successful farmers in this new land.

At the farm there was Edmund and his brother, and wife Bridget, their two children and two employed labourers also from Ireland. The had 50 acres under cultivation and 46 head of livestock. This in the 4 years since pardoned and land that could only be dreamed of back in Ireland.

The family was also instrumental in establishing catholic church a beautiful building still standing and prominent in the town.

But such acquisition doesn’t come without a cost.

The cost was being paid by the local aboriginal people for whom land is part of them.

In the park opposite the church on the eucalypts the aboriginal colours are crocheted onto the tree. The colours have meaning. Black represents the aboriginal people, yellow represents the sun, the giver of life, and red represents the land and aboriginal connection to that land.

That connection with land, with country will never be broken for a first nations person.

You may have thought that with success in York Edmund and Family would have settled and be content but there are more twists to this tale yet.

In the next blog let me show you some some of the towns around York before we rejoin Edmund and his family as they continue their pioneer journey further east.

Jewels in the South of Western Australia-Denmark and Esperence/Cape Le Grand

After months in the hot tropics of northern Australia and the arid dry coast of central Western Australia arriving in the cool damp southern parts of the state was a sharp change of environment.

The area was cool and moist with rain never far off and a swim in the Southern Ocean is nothing short of bracing.

The landscape around the river and lake is quite beautiful.

But for my the highlight was walking through the coastal forest of Black Butt, Paper Bark and Melaleuca trees.

With the colour of wildflowers and moss sprinkled through

Around 350km east of Denmark is the city of Esperance with the Cape Le Grand National Park near by.

The coast at Cape Le Grand is wild in natural beauty etched by the wind and water.

It’s the quartz in the granite rock formations that makes the sand the whitest in Australia.

In an environment like this I could not help but scale a peak

Or take a dip in the cold waters of the Southern Ocean.

Cape le Grand was such a peaceful beautiful place.

A mother kangaroo happy to show off her baby joey.

Maybe we should all pause a time and think about the beauty of the natural world because it is nature that sustains us.

Maybe can all stand up like the people of little Denmark did in the lead up the World Climate Change Conference and say We Can Do It by cherishing our natural world.

Kalbarri and its National Park

The town of Kalbarri sits at the point where the Murchison River meets the sea.

The Kabarri National Park has two parts to it. The area around the Murchison River Gorge and the Coastal cliffs.

I spent most of my time at the Gorge so let me start there.

The Skywalk over the gorge is definitely a highlight of the Kalbarri National Park.

The views from the Skywalk are definitely spectacular and this is by far the most accessible part of the Gorge.

Not too far from the Skywalk is Natures Window, a remarkable rock formation on a ledge overlooking the Gorge.

Of course such a rock formation invites a photo in the window !

Further on from.the Natures Window there was another lookout that looked out over the Murchison River.

Beautiful views but even better there was a steep track down into the Gorge.

The track down followed the path of a pretty much dry waterfall and was quite steep.and narrow in places.

It was beautiful down in the Gore, the river water flowing and cool and yes I did go for a swim but I will spare your dear readers an inwater selfie for now!

That night back in Kalbarri I found out that there was better access to the river further inland. That was the next days hike.

At the point the Gorge was less steep and lower but the rock formation amazingly coloured and carved by the river, which has beaches and broad deep swimming holes.

And yes how could I not resist a swim.

Hiking a little further up the river I came upon a family of black swans.

Mother, father and 5 little cygnets not long out of the nest by the size of them.

The black swan is the symbol of Western Australia and a definite sign that I was now in the more temperate parts of Australia as the Swan lives in the cooler southern parts of the continent.

Murchison Gorge was another of the amazing rivers that flow through the arid parts of Australia.

A reminder that water is life. Water is our most precious resource.

The wild flowers of Western Australia on the road to Kalbarri

Western Australia is famous for its colourful wildflowers. It’s spring in Australia and they are in full bloom.

Travelling along the highway the road sides were full of colour.

I have arrived in Kalbarri a beautiful little coastal town where the Murchison River meets the sea.

Kalbarri National Park encompasses a coastal section and the area of the Murchison Gorge cut by the river.

I look forward to sharing some adventures in these areas with you but now it is back to the wildflowers of which Kalbarri National Park has many.

All this vibrant colour adds to the pleasure of hiking in the bush.

Then there is the gorge and river but that is for the next post.