Z is for Zebra. During our visits to Etosha National Park in Namibia we were lucky enough to see plenty of them around. On both the last two occasions the park had been experiencing good rainfall and there were little puddles of water everywhere (even in the middle of the road) where they’d drink from. We saw so many that we in fact became spoilt. During the first couple of days we stopped whenever we saw anything of interest and took heaps of photos but after a few days of seeing so many zebras (and no elephants yet), we didn’t stop to take any more photos of them, instead opting to keep going to try and see animals we hand’t yet seen.

There were some zebras on my sister and brother-in-law’s farm in the Kalahari at one stage but it’s  a very sandy area which meant that the zebras’ hooves (which are shaped like those of a horse) didn’t naturally wear down because the sand was so soft. They used to catch the zebras and cut their hooves to help them because if they didn’t the hooves would keep growing to the point where the animal wasn’t able to walk properly. It was quite an experience doing this for a wild animal.

Z, being the last letter, also signals the end of this challenge. Thanks to everyone who stopped by, I’ve really enjoyed interacting with all of you and reading your A to Z posts as well.


Y is for Yellow-throated miner and Yellow-billed spoonbill. The Yellow-throated miner is a medium sized honeyeater  and we always see them when we camp at Coral Bay. We’re usually there in October which falls in their breeding season and we’ve been swooped a few times (when they feel threatened if someone gets too close to their nest) and sometimes they can be a bit cheeky, trying to get to our food.


Yellow-throated miner at Coral Bay


Yellow-throated miner at Coral Bay

The Yellow-faced spoonbill is a large white waterbird which we haven’t seen very often. The only photo I have is one I took in Albany a few years ago, which isn’t very clear unfortunately.


Yellow-billed spoonbill (on the left)

Y is also for Yanchep National Park, about 45 minutes’ drive north of Perth. We’ve been there a number of times for a picnic, a little walk and/or bike ride and to visit their Koala sanctuary. There are beautiful sweeping lawns, lots of trees and barbecue areas.


The lake at Yanchep National Park

Finally, Y is also for Yallingup, south west of Perth, close to Margaret River. Yallingup is a popular holiday destination with beautiful beaches and also because of it’s proximity to the wineries and tourist attractions around Margaret River.


Yallingup, near Margaret River in south west Australia



X is for X-ray which Child No 3 had to have a few of last year when she fractured her wrist. We ended up at Perth’s children’s hospital during what seemed to be rush hour for sporting injuries on a Saturday afternoon (I wrote a previous post about it here). All in all she received great care at no cost to us whatsoever. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of the x-ray but I do have a much more interesting photo of the cast complete with artwork by her best friend.


Another person in our family had to have an x-ray last year. Ironman had a really bad fall off his mountain bike one Saturday which resulted in 7 hours being spent at the public hospital to have x-rays (which were inconclusive) and in the end a CT-scan. Thankfully nothing was broken but the fall was quite bad and he was on crutches for a few weeks, struggling to walk. This, however, didn’t stop him from still taking part in two (easy, he called it) stages of the four days of a mountain bike race in the south west he had planned to do with some mates. It did require one of his mates helping him onto the bike and giving him a little push-off (or hupstootjie as it’s called in Afrikaans) and again waiting at the finish line with the crutches. Needless to say I wasn’t there or I would have put a stop to it! We definitely didn’t need any more reasons to go for x-rays!


W is for Western Australia. It occupies the entire western third of and is the largest state in Australia, and the second largest national region in the world. It measures 1500 kilometres from west to east and 2400 kilometres from north to south and has a coastline of 20 781 kilometres. A large part of the state is arid desert and the population is concentrated in the south west. Below is a map of Australia to try and give some perspective on the size of the country (France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Ecuador would roughly fit into Western Australia).



Some of the different regions in Western Australia

We have visited quite a few places mostly along the coast of WA. This post is taking you on a (shortened) virtual road trip through the parts of WA we’ve been to. Some of the photos will be familiar as I’ve used them before. Starting in Perth we’re heading south west to the winery region around Margaret River. The area is also famous for its forests, surfing beaches and caves.

From there we head further south east to Denmark, Albany and Bremer Bay. Along the way we’re making a short detour via the Porongorup mountains and the Stirling Ranges.

From Bremer Bay we head further east along the coast to Esperance  – which is 800 kilometres from Perth via the most direct route – and past Esperance to Cape le Grande National Park, and also hopping over to Woody Island for a day trip. Woody Island is one of 105 islands that make up the Recherche Archipelago south of Esperance.

From Esperance we’ll head back towards Perth driving through some vastly beautiful wheat belt (farming) country past Wave Rock, stopping at a working farm to see a Kelpie (an Australian sheep dog) at work and detouring via Kalgoorlie – a gold mining town which is home to the Superpit – Australia’s largest open cut gold mine.

Back in Perth we’ll go to Rottnest Island (about 40 minutes away by ferry) for a day trip.

Then we’ll head north to the Coral coast, Ningaloo Reef and Coral Bay (about 1200 kilometres), stopping at the lookout to Shark Bay and Monkey Mia on the way. In Coral Bay we can snorkel and go on different glass bottom boat tours to see turtles and manta rays.

From Coral Bay we’ll head another 1200 kilometres away north east up to Broome in the Kimberley region, known for its beautiful contrasting colours and red (pindan) sand. In Broome we’ll swim at Cable Beach, do a sunset camel ride and take a helicopter trip up to Willie Creek Pearl Farm.

North of Broome and the rest of the Kimberley is one area (of WA) our family hasn’t explored yet and are planning to do as soon as we’re able to. From Broome our virtual road trip will head back to Perth which will be a two day trip of driving 12 hours each day. Towards the end of the first day we’ll pass Karijini National Park and the Hamersley Ranges, another spot to visit on a different trip. There are beautiful gorges and rock pools there.


Edge of the Hamersley Ranges, Karijini National Park, north west Australia

Back in Perth we’ll stop to visit a local beach, see the sights and sounds and go to the city.


V is for Victoria street in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Lined with oak and plane trees, it’s probably my favourite street there. In spring and early summer it’s at its most beautiful full of new green leaves. The street still has furrows next to it, a throwback from the town’s early days when the furrows served as the main water system.


Victoria Street, Stellenbosch, South Africa

V is also for Voyager Estate, a wine estate in south west Australia. It’s famous for having been built in the Cape Dutch building style, something the (Australian) owner really liked when he visited South Africa. To us it’s a piece of our old home in our new home.



U is for University. I studied at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. Stellenbosch is a small town in the heart of the winelands about 35 minutes’ drive from Cape Town. The village (or dorp as it’s known in Afrikaans) has grown around and with the university over the years. It used to be a small village that became busy when the students were around and got really quiet during university holidays but it’s grown a great deal since I’ve studied there.

In the early ‘90’s when I was a student it still had a village-feel to it, or maybe it was just my perception as a young student (where your world only revolved around your immediate surroundings and goings-on). The campus is fairly concentrated and included some historical buildings. During my first three years (whilst boarding in a student residence – koshuis), I didn’t have a car and used to walk everywhere. It didn’t matter if it were lectures, shopping or socialising. There was always a constant stream of students walking to and around campus. In winter everyone was out with umbrellas. It must have been the fashion to have very colourful umbrellas at the time because I clearly remember bare trees and grey, rainy days devoid of much colour other than a vibrant sea of multi-coloured umbrellas going up the street. Reds, greens, yellows, blues, oranges, purples and many more. I used to love the colour it brought to otherwise dreary days.

U Stellenbosch

Part of the University of Stellenbosch (photo credit: Stellenbosch University)

My husband studied there as well but finished a few years before I started and our paths only crossed later. Today our son studies at the University of Western Australia. The cost of accommodation and living expenses in Perth forces most students to live at home while they’re studying. Luckily public transport is such that they can commute easily. Child No 2 studies music at WAAPA (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts) which forms part of Edith Cowan University. There are four public universities in Perth and some smaller private ones as well. With two kids at uni at the moment I often think back fondly of my own carefree student days.


In the twilight of this challenge I seem to be turning more towards to the telling of tales rather than sharing photos, so I thought I’d share some memories of Table Mountain.

Majestic Table Mountain forms the backdrop for Cape Town in South Africa. I had the good fortune of growing up in the area and seeing that mountain and its different shades and moods every day. Some days it was clear. When the south easterly blew in (also known as the Cape doctor because it blew away smoke and fog), a blanket of cloud would fold itself over the top of the mountain. Winter storms came in from the north west, enshrouded the mountain with clouds and dropped lots of rain at Newlands on the other side. It was omnipresent and forms the backdrop to my childhood as well. If my childhood memories were to be printed in a series of pictures, Table Mountain would be in most of them.

Once as a teenager in the mid-eighties we had a school excursion planned, going up Table Mountain via the cable car. The only trouble was, I’d dislocated my knee cap and torn the ligaments and was in a full leg cast and walking with crutches. There was a bit of umming and aahing about whether I should go along but I wasn’t about to miss out. I hobbled along and squeezed into the (what felt quite rickety) cable car together with my class mates on an overcast and cool Cape Town day. (The beautiful rotating cable cars that carry 65 passengers that are in operation today were only installed in 1997.)

In those days the only shelter on top of the mountain was a small limestone building that served as visitor centre, café and gift shop. This building houses the gift shop today. Because of the weather on that day I waited in the café while the others were outside. Hobbling around with crutches on top of a mountain in overcast weather was too much for my teacher’s nerves. I was content – at least I was there.

After a while the others joined me and we had steaming cups of hot chocolate whilst sitting in a bay window, looking at the rain outside. This picture has been cemented in my memory and whenever I visit the mountain and the gift shop I can still picture us huddled together on that bay seat, crutches lying to one side and the weather closing in.

I’ve climbed up Table Mountain a few times via different paths – Platteklip Gorge (flat rock gorge) right at the front, Nursery Ravine starting at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and once from Constantia Neck. This last one was the day we realised Table Mountain isn’t flat at the back at all. We’d climb up a ridge thinking it was the summit, only to find a valley in front of us and beyond that another ridge. We trudged down through the valley and up the next rise hoping this would be it but no, another valley unfolded in front of our eyes. This happened about four times! It was hot, mid-summer and the middle of the morning and the fact that the rest of our hiking party had partied a bit too hard the night before and were slowing us down considerably wasn’t helping. The sun was beating down but we got there in the end and thankfully took the cable car down (as we did on the other occasions). We’d parked one car at the bottom cable station and the other at the start of the hike. It would have been a bad day if we then had to discover that our car keys were in the car that was parked at the start of the 3 hour hike (as happened to a friend of my husband’s one day).

One day we did something different and went up Table Mountain (with the cable car) late in the afternoon  to watch the sunset from up there, which was magical. Standing up there and watching the shadow of the mountain with its well known shape being cast across the peninsula as the sun was setting is something I’ll always remember. Just before the sun dipped below the horizon the shadow of the mountain stretched all the way to the Boland mountains across the peninsula. Table Mountain is synonymous with Cape Town, and vice versa. It’s part of the character and charisma of the city and very much a part of my growing up.


S is for Stellenbosch, the winelands town rich in Cape Dutch history about 35 minutes’ drive from Cape Town where we used to live. My husband and I both went to university there, found work after finishing our studies and settled there. We met and got married in Stellenbosch and lived there for a number of years. S is also for Simonsberg, the mountain in Stellenbosch our house looked onto.

S also stands for the Swan river which snakes through Perth, Sorrento, our local beach, and sunset.


R is for Robben Island (off Cape Town in South Africa) and Rottnest Island (off Perth in Western Australia).

Both islands are similar in size and distance from the mainland, and prisons were built and used on both at some stage in their history. Robben Island is situated in the cold Atlantic Ocean whereas Rottnest Island has the benefit of the warmer Indian Ocean that makes it an ideal tourist and holiday destination.

No private vehicles are allowed on the island which makes walking and cycling the main forms of transport. A short 40 minute trip away from Perth by ferry, it feels worlds away though once you set foot on the island with its unique charm and character.


Robben Island on the other hand, takes your breath away with its perfect view of Table Mountain and Cape Town. On a beautiful, clear Cape Town day nothing in the world beats that view. I wouldn’t be able to choose one above the other for natural beauty. Sadly I don’t have as many photos of Robben Island as I do of Rottnest Island, simply because I’ve only been there twice and didn’t spend as much time there as we do on Rottnest.


Q is for qualify.

I found myself in a bit of a quandary trying to come up with something for the letter Q, other than my photos of Quokkas and (brown) Quails, and then we had the most amazing experience the other night, watching the Australian Swimming Championships and Olympic Qualifiers on television that took place in Adelaide.

The daughter of friends of ours swam in the championship (as she did last year), but this year – being the year of the Rio Olympics – there was so much more at stake. (I apologise in advance if I get any of the technical details or terms wrong, I know only what I’ve learnt from the sidelines.) There were two heats earlier in the day and the fastest swimmers from those two heats would go through to the final. The winner and second person in the final would qualify for the Olympics, given that they swam under the Australian Olympic Qualifying time (which is faster than the Olympic Qualifying time).

Our friends’ daughter went to the same Perth primary school as our kids and along with her parents and other friends of the family we watched her swim at school swimming carnivals (galas). All the parents watched their kids proudly do their best and maybe get a podium finish. We would jump up and down and shout encouragement. And then Tam would dive in for her race and finish about half a pool’s length ahead of most of her competitors. I remember more than one relay race where her team was trailing and she’d dive in for the last leg about a third of the length of the pool behind the leaders, and end up in front so her team won the relay. She swam all the different strokes like a champion. It was poetry in motion and a beautiful thing to watch. We shouted as hard for her as we did for our own kids, got goose bumps and teared up while her own nerve racked parents were quietly biting their nails. A few of us jokingly said (about 7 or 8 years ago) that we had to book our tickets for Rio for 2016 to go and watch her there.

As outsiders we really had no idea how much training went into performances like hers, and that times were important, even at that young age. In the years since, we still have no idea how much sheer hard work, dedication, focus and sacrifice is involved to build a talent like hers to the point where she swims at the Olympic Qualifying meet.

At 17 she went into her heat as the Australian Junior Champion and qualified for the final with the third fastest time. The two swimmers faster than her were both Olympic swimmers. (When I say faster we’re talking about milliseconds.) Spare a thought for the fact that her main event is 400 metres freestyle, which is gruelling. She stepped up for the final and looked to be the first off the block. She stayed with the Olympic swimmer who swam in the lane next to her.

For eight laps she didn’t let her get away but both of them pulled away from the rest of the field. It didn’t take long to become clear who the top two swimmers would be, and then we edged even closer to the TV to see if they would both make it within the Australian Olympic Qualifying time. By the last lap we were up and out of our seats, jumping and shouting for her. She finished in a close second position, about a second within the Australian Qualifying time. We were beside ourselves. Tam qualified for the 2016 Olympics. She’s going to Rio!

She turned around to look at her time, not yet realising that she’d made it within the qualifying time until the winner next to her told her she’d made it. The camera zoomed in on her proud parents and then came back to show an interview with her and the winner. They’d both qualified for the Australian Olympic team. Tam said it was still hard for her to comprehend. All of us back in Perth were out of our skins with excitement and pride not only because she’d qualified for the Olympics but also for the poise, maturity, humility and graciousness in which she always conducts herself. Go Tam, we are right behind you all the way.

UWA West Coast Swimming Club

Photo credit: UWA West Coast Swimming Club

Sorry, little Quokkas and Quails, you’ve got pushed to the back seat.