Friday, January 31, 2014

Fishy Business

Today in Esperance is pretty overcast and extremely muggy, but still a very nice day. Shane took himself off to the Esperance races today, so I decided it was time for me to have a craft fix. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am always doing some sort of craft. Crafting is the one thing that keeps me sane (no comment from the monkey gallery thank you). So my first stop was the local scrapbooking shop. As I walked in, the girl behind the counter wandered over to me and asked if I needed any help. All I could say to her was "no thanks I just need to touch the paper". She looked at me a bit strange until I explained it had been 9 months since I have wandered around a scrapbook shop. Needles to say I didn't walk out empty handed, I bought myself a card making kit, so I can make some more cards to send to those I love for their birthdays. Then it was off to the local Patchwork shop. Once again all I could say to the owner was say I didn't need help I just needed to though the fabric. Yet again I didn't walk out empty handed. Now those out there that aren't crafty will think I'm a bit crazy. But the crafters out there will know exactly where I'm coming from.
My next stop was one of the most amazing businesses/shops I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. It's name is Mermaid Leather and they deal in a lot of fishy business.  They basically get fish skins from various professional fishermen around this area and up north in Derby and then embark on the six week process of turning the skin into a beautiful leather. The fish leather from sharks is some 6 times tougher than cow hide of the same thickness. These amazing leathers are then turned into products such as beautiful handbags, wallets, pens, perfume pens, jewellery boxes, keyrings, bookmarks and other items. One of the brains behind this wonderful enterprise, Andrew McDermott gave a great rundown on how this whole process works prior to showing a DVD. Once he told me they also process the scales and sell them as well as leather off cuts, my brain started going into overdrive thinking of how I could incorporate these intriguing items into my jewellery. So yes, I had to buy some and start playing. I really encourage everyone to check out the link I have to their website, it's really interesting. It's so good to find a company that uses something that would otherwise just be thrown away.
Mermaid Leather - Esperance WA

Beautiful Handbag with Fish Leather Accents

Fish Leather Pens .......

......not only looked good but write very nicely

Mens Wallets

My Fish Scales.......what would you make out of these?????

Some pieces of leather I bought. Now what will I do with them??

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Kalgoorlie to Salmon Gums to Esperance

After leaving Kalgoorlie we drove to a sleepy little town called Salmon Gums. It's a real shame how as time goes on some towns just start to decline. Salmon Gums is one such location. There are only a few buildings left, a school and as always the local pub. We stayed overnight at their community caravan park, which was very basic but was great value for money. It cost us $15 for the night and we had power and some old but very clean amenities. There was only one other old guys staying there so I had the shower block all to myself. This morning I woke to a beautiful sunrise but couldn't be bothered getting out of bed to grab my camera.
No matter what state of decline a town is in there is always the PUB!!!
So now we are in Esperance for a week. This is the last Western Australian town we will be staying in before we head across the Nullabor Plain towards South Australia. But until then I will be exploring some of the amazing beaches this area is known for.

Farewell Kallgoorlie Boulder

Our last full day in Kalgoorlie Boulder before we start heading south for Esperance was a day of housework things. Stuff like stocking up on supplies, filling the petrol tank and getting spare fuel.  Also getting to a few other things that needed doing.
Then I took myself off to get a few photos of the historic buildings along Kalgoorlie's main street Hannan St. I have never been in a city, town or anywhere for that matter that has so many old historic buildings. It seemed that every time I turned around I was confronted with another beautiful relic from the past.
Kalgoorlie Town Hall - Erected 1908

Kalgoorlie Public Buildings....


Exchange Hotel ....... this is one amazing building!!

The Australia Hotel .... now guest accommodation
Even the butchers had very fancy buildings!!

Cohn's Building - Erected 1899

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ora Banda Tavern

After another very warm day of checking out this region I now sit here enjoying the lightning show Nature is putting on for us. Luckily the flashes are off in the distance so I am safe and can just enjoy the sight. One of these days I will set up my tripod and wait to capture the lightning flashes, but for now I will just enjoy it. OK here comes the wind whipping up around me and things are flying everywhere, best I position myself in a more sheltered spot to write the rest of my blog.
We had a bit of a warm one today, I think it got to around 37c and the humidity was very high as well. I am finding I can handle the heat better than I used to be able to but the humidity just drains me so much. Not having air-conditioning in Myrtle we thought the best idea was to go for a drive and let the car air-con keep us cool. So today we tackled getting out along the dirt road to the historic pub "Ora Banda Tavern".  Seeing we haven't had rain for a couple of days we were pretty confident the muddy road from last week would be all dried out, which it was. Once again this tavern was once a part of a thriving community which has now long gone. This ghost town and tavern hit the headlines in 2000 when Gypsy Joker, Bill Grierson, was fatally shot while sitting at a camp fire on the old town site. Former CIB (Criminal Investigation Bureau) chief and Ora Banda hotel owner Don Hancock was suspected of the shooting and his properties, which included the tavern were later fire-bombed. Hancock was later killed in a car bombing in 2001 in Perth in a revenge attach by a member of the Gypsy Jokers. In the bar the wall has been left showing the damage done by the bombing. 

Historic Ora Banda Tavern
Signs of the Tavern bombing back in 2001
Once back in Kalgoorlie we decided to go check out the Kalgoorlie Museum. It was a lot better than I thought it would be and yes there was air-conditioning!!! There were several different areas, the first being a moving exhibition of the role Australia played in Timor in the Second World War. Once again I have learnt something I never knew about. 
Next it was down into the basement to The Vault, yes it is a real vault filled with various pieces of gold valued in the tens of thousands. Pretty amazing collection I must say.
Gold !!
.....and more Gold!!

Part of the complex is the the heritage listed hotel The British Arms which is believed to be the narrowest pub in the Southern Hemisphere. 

British Arms Hotel..... it is pretty skinny!!
After our little expedition we decided to head to a couple of the historic local pubs down the road from where we are staying to have a quiet drink and yes, enjoy the air-conditioning!!!

This 120 tonne towering red structure at the front of the museum is called the
Ivanhoe Headframe, also known as the Patterson.
Headframes are structural frames above an underground mine shaft.
An old wooden bike from days gone by. Imagine the Tour de France on this!!!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Coolgardie - Mother of the Goldfields

On September 17, 1892 Arthur Bayley rode into Southern Cross and deposited with the Mining Warden 554 ounces of gold that he and his partner William Ford, had found at an area called Fly Flat (part of what was to become Coolgardie). Within hours the frenzied rush to Coolgardie began and with it the greatest movement of people in Australia's history. While the lucky found gold and fortune, many more only found hardship, sickness and death. Despite this, within a decade Coolgardie became the third largest town in Western Australia, with a population of over 16,000 and many more people settling in the surrounding areas. While the surface gold ran out and the original mine, Bayley's Reward, closed in 1963. Coolgardie now with a population of around 800 people and viewed by many as a ghost town has retained many of it's magnificent buildings associated with it's rich and colourful past. So Coolgardie was my destination today, to have a look around and get some photos of the towns magnificent historic buildings.
Wardens Court Building

This was a very imposing building on the main street

One of the two remaining old pubs

Denver City Hotel

Coolgardie RSL - This was my favourite

Main Street of Coolgardie

Friday, January 24, 2014

Boondi Rock to Kalgoorlie - Boulder

Kalgoorlie Boulder's thriving gold rush days of glory began when three down on their luck Irishmen, Patrick Hannan, Tom Flanagan and Daniel Shea stumbled across 100 ounces of alluvial gold nuggets when they were forced to stop to replace a shoe for their horse. And as they say the rest is history. Kalgoorlie Boulder is still one of the biggest gold mining cities.
Prior to arriving here we were concerned as to how we would cope with the 45c plus weather this area was getting. Well we haven't had to worry, it was raining when we arrived and after 48 hours it has finally stopped. We have had record breaking rain with over 100ml falling over night our first night here. Not that I'm complaining, we have been very lucky with the weather this past eight month. I must admit it is pretty cosy being snuggled up in Myrtle with my PJ's on.
Today we went for a bit of an outing to check out some of the sights. One thing I have noticed there are an amazing amount of beautiful old buildings. I intend to head out early tomorrow morning and get some shots before the traffic gets about. Anyway back to our little expedition today. I think Kalgoorlie Boulders main attraction would have to be the huge hole in the ground which is the gold mine called "The Super Pit". The Super Pit is a man made wonder that can be seen from space; a massive gorge carved into the red earth where trucks the size of houses move hundreds of tonnes of rock in the hope of extracting a few ounces of gold at a time. The current Super Pit is approximately 3.5km long (2.17 miles), 1.6km wide (.994 mile) and 620 metres (2034 feet) deep.  The Super Pit could hold the equivalent of 220,000 Olympic size swimming pools or 39,000,000 HiLux trucks stacked like bricks or 2.3 billion people - that's 99 times the population of Australia. Mining uses the Troy ounce, which is 31.107 grams. 1 KCGM Gold Bar weighs approx. 18kg or 559,926 ounces. Today's gold price is AU$1437.50 per ounce!! We would really like to do a Super Pit Tour but with all the rain that has fallen they have had to cancel the tours until next Tuesday. I guess we will see then if we are still here. So today we had to settle for seeing the Super Pit from the lookout. It was certainly not a disappointment, this hole is absolutely amazing, it really is enormous.

Panorama of The Super Pit

The Super Pit
We then went and checked out Hannans North Tourist Mine which gives a look into what the old time miners had to contend with. The complex included a 793 Dump Truck, 994 Wheel Loader, Chinese Gardens, Dynamite room and lots more. You could even do a little bit of gold panning. And yes I did find a tiny (really tiny) little gold flake. I would take a photo to prove it but it is really tiny.

days gone by....

Davine panning for gold.......

Gold Gold Gold !!!!!!!

Chinese Gardens
Very Tranquil
Then we headed out of town to check out some of the old historic country pubs. Unfortunately we could only get to see one as the dirt roads were in just to bad a conditions due to the weather. The one we did get to see was Broad Arrow Tavern and it was still pretty cool. It was situated what seemed the middle of no where surrounded by nothing except the huge mounds of earth from the surrounding mines. At it's peak the town had 15,000 residents, eight hotels, and two breweries as well as a stock exchange. Other facilities included a hospital, three churches, Salvation Army Hall, a chemist, two banks, police station with a resident magistrate, a mining registrar, a post office, a cordial factory, six grocery stores, two draperies, a blacksmith and bakers shops. Now it is one lonely little tavern. It seems all these little isolated pubs and taverns have invented some nifty idea to get the tourists in and the Broad Arrow Tavern is no different. Every one who pays them a visit is encouraged to write their name and/or write some sort of message on any spare surface they can find. Yes I did write our names on the bar.

Broad Arrow Tavern
Could be a bit distracting during a game of darts!!

Bronze Statue of Patrick Hannan

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wave Rock to Boondi Rock

This post is a bit of a catch up as we didn't have phone or Internet coverage at our last stop. Our stop last night was at Boondi Rock which is in the Goldfields Woodlands National Park. It was only a small roadside stop with toilets, but as I found out after checking out the location it contained some pretty interesting sights and history. First up we met a friendly guy camping on his own after a difficult divorce. I think he really wanted someone to talk to. Our camp spot was right next to a dam full of water and there appeared to be empty channels running into it. So off I took myself for a walk. As it turns out Boondi is one of the many rock outcrops developed as a water catchment in the Goldfields and Wheatbelt regions. These catchments typically consist of perimeter walls, constructed in the form of a funnel and rock lined channels that direct rainfall runoff into a dam or storage reservoir. At the time of their construction in the 1900's these catchments were heralded as engineering marvels.

Half way up Boondi Rock

Looking back down the rock you could see how the walls had been built to act as a funnel.

Then they funnelled into the wide channels.

There were a couple of channels coming in from different parts of the rock.

Then they led into the water catchment.

The water was really clear and according to Shane tasted
OK but it is advised that it is boiled before drinking it.

On the opposite side of the catchment was an overflow channel that led
extra water into a now dry creek bed.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Lake Grace to Wave Rock

Anyone who follows me on facebook would be aware that I am in a group (a very large group) that follow a fun challenge to take a  Photo a Day according to a certain prompt given to us by FatMumSlim. Well today's prompt was "To Do List" so I thought I would share one of the things I had on my to list today. We are now heading towards Kalgoorlie but I really wanted to stop off and stay a couple of nights here to see the amazing Wave Rock. The actual huge rock is called "Hyden Rock and Wave Rock is just a part of it. Wave Rock, a granite cliff is 15 metres high and 110 long. It's rounded like shape has been caused by weathering and water erosion which has undercut the base and left a rounded overhang. In 1960 crystals of the wave from Hyden Rock were dated as being 2700 million years old, amongst the oldest in Australia.
Wave Rock - Amazing!!

Height 15 metres
Also around the base of Hyden Rock is another unusual granite formation called Hippos yawn. The second most visited site is connected to wave Rock by an easy path through the vegetation.

Hippo's Yawn
We also went out to visit Lake Magic. The water of the lake is clear but very salty and the lake base is gypsum which gives the lake a green tinge.

Lake Magic
Our last venture for the day was Mulkas Cave. The name Mulka comes from an Aboriginal Legend believed to be associated with the cave. Mulka was the illegal son of a woman who fell in love with a man whom marriage was forbidden. It was believed that as a result of breaking these rules she bore a son with crossed eyes. Even though he grew 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. It was said that he lived in the cave, where the imprints of his hands can still be seen, much higher than that of an ordinary man. His mother became increasingly concerned about 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 his cave, heading south. All the Aboriginal people of the district, outraged by Mulka's behaviour, set out to track down the man who had flouted all rules. They finally caught him near Dumbleyung, 156km from Hyden, where they speared him. Because he did not deserve a proper burial, they left his body to the ants; a grim warning to those who break the law.
Now a strange thing happened in Mulkas cave. I took quite a lot of photos and they all turned out extremely clear all except the two I took of a hollow heading way back into the cave. Not sure what this is or what was going on but I think Mulka may have been trying to tell me something!!

Shane sitting in Mulkas Cave

Just some of the hundreds of hand prints on the walls and ceiling

OK whats going on.
All three of the photos I took of this cave within a cave came out either
like this or totally blurred!!