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.


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.


O is for Osprey. We see Eastern Ospreys along our coastline every now and then. A couple of years ago I was lucky to see two together at Rottnest Island (19 kilometres off the coast of Perth), and one was feeding at the time. They were really high up in the tree so I had to zoom in quite a bit and the quality isn’t the best but the one that was feeding looks like a female to me, who then joined her male partner after she’d finished eating (and went to sit to his left). They had me rapt for about half an hour. I’ve included some of the best shots I got.

O is also for Oasis (we visited an ancient one while we lived in Dubai and it was very interesting but sadly I can’t find the photos), Orange (a beautiful city in country New South Wales where a lot of fruit is grown, about a three hour drive from both Canberra and Sydney where we went for my husband’s 50th birthday a couple of years ago), home made olive scrolls and of course: olives.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Half-Light

Dawn and dusk are my favourite times of the day. At dusk when the light softens and the air grows still around us it’s time to reflect on the day gone by. Living near the ocean we are fortunate to see beautiful ocean sunsets and this poem describes it perfectly:

Magical Sunset

As the day ends to rest
The sunset does its best
Setting on fire the lively waves
Colouring orange the nature he saves
its pure ancient glorious perfection.

The great ocean will receive
The burning sun who’s going to leave.
Slowly comes the night
Devouring that magic light:
we are still suspended in a great delight.

© Selene

The various stages of sunset as taken on different nights each has its own delight and in that magic half-light I often feel suspended in time until the sun dips below the horizon and darkness takes its place.


Sunset on a warm summer’s eve at Sorrento beach north of Perth


Sunset at Sorrento beach north of Perth

We are treated to a light show as the sun sets and paints the clouds in different hues.

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Sorrento beach

Sky and ocean on fire.


Sunset at Rottnest Island near Perth

A different evening brings a different experience in the half-light. No fiery glow this time only quiet, captivating colours.


Sorrento beach

In response to the Daily Post photo challenge: Half-Light

A magical day at the Rottnest Channel Swim

Yesterday my husband and son (Child No 1) did the Rottnest Swim as a duo. The Rottnest Channel Swim is an annual 19.7 kilometre swim from Cottesloe Beach near Perth to Rottnest Island. It can be swum solo, as a duo or a team of four. Each team or solo swimmer has to have a support boat and paddler which assists them on the day providing sustenance, making sure they follow the course and they don’t get hypothermia. Team swimmers are only allowed on the boat once they’ve tagged the next swimmer in the water, whose been waiting on the boat in the meantime. Solo swimmers aren’t allowed on their support boats at all. No swimmers are allowed to touch the kayak.

The conditions were absolutely perfect for the swim yesterday. There was hardly any wind for the most part and the sea looked like a dam, which made for an easy crossing. (I say easy with the utmost respect and admiration to all the swimmers who were out there yesterday, knowing full well I will never be able to do it.) Last year when my husband did it as a solo swimmer the conditions were very tough and it was his first solo swim. It was nail biting, waiting for him on the island and watching him slow down on the tracker, worried about whether he’d make it, get hypothermia or simply run out of time. It would have been gut wrenching after all the hours of dedicated training for something to go wrong. (I wrote about last year’s swim here.)


View towards the mainland from the ferry. Perth city is visible towards the right

This year Ironman wasn’t going to do the swim. My son and a friend were going to do it in a duo but our friend was offered a great opportunity in a gap year program which meant she wasn’t able to do the swim anymore. They deliberated for a little while who they could ask to take her place. It took my (relatively swimming unfit at that stage but always ready for a challenge) husband only about half an hour to decide that he’d step up and be our son’s teammate. With about 5 weeks to go before the swim he started swim training again rigorously and had to admit that he was actually quite excited about doing this duo swim with his son.

We left home at 4:30am to drop Child No 1 at the start while my husband made his way to where the support boat was being launched. The support boats have to wait for their swimmer about 1 kilometre from the start and the paddlers about 500 metres. After he’d registered and we’d lathered him with zinc against sunburn and sheep fat against stingers (stinging jellyfish) their wave started at 6:35am. The girls and I then made our way to the ferry to go across to the island and wait for them there.


Early morning at the start at Cottesloe beach


Paddlers and support boats waiting for their swimmers with Rottnest Island in the background


Taken at Cottesloe beach just after sunrise. The visibility was amazing with the island and one of the lighthouses clearly visible

Rottnest was at its best. It was hot and wind still but that meant the water was even clearer than we’re used to seeing it. It was packed with people waiting for their swimmers to arrive, as well as the usual tourists. We cycled to The Basin (a beach close to The Settlement where the finish line was and all the ferries arrive and depart from), and had a lovely refreshing swim before Child No 3 and I cycled to the little airport where we took a scenic flight over the island and the swimmers. It was breathtakingly beautiful. My amateur photos with reflections from the windows can’t do it justice but my memories of yesterday will always stand out. Even the pilot (who does that sort of flight daily and sometimes a few times per day) said: “It’s insane(ly beautiful).” I’m immensely grateful to call a place with such exquisite natural beauty home and for the opportunity to experience it the way we did.

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Rottnest Island taken from the west. The mainland can be seen in the background.


Thomsons Bay and the eastern tip of the island.


View of the swimmers and support boats and kayaks. The mainland is in the background.


The swimmers, support boats and kayaks. Taken towards the island.

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One of the last photos taken from the air. My camera was playing up at this stage and the trusty iphone did the trick.

Afterwards we made our way to the popular bakery and Child No 2 joined us for some lunch and all the while the poor swimmers were slogging it out. When we stood at the finish line waiting for our boys we watched all the different emotions of the finishers. Joy, elation, relief and pure exhaustion for some. I was once again in absolute awe of especially the solo swimmers whose feet had last felt anything solid underneath them 19.7 kilometres away on the mainland and who’d got themselves across the channel through hours of sheer hard work and determination to set foot proudly on the island after a gutsy effort. I take my hat off to all of them and I’m very proud of our boys.


The finishing channel


Lots of support kayaks at the finish line.

None of it would of course have been possible without the support crews who very generously gave up their time and helped the swimmers. Thanks guys, it’s much appreciated. And then there’s the volunteers as well, who help make the event happen and the day a success. At the end of a long day in the sun there was “debriefing” (ie sharing funny tales about the day) over a beer with the support team and a day like this wouldn’t be complete without the scene being set for the next challenge. Ironman and his triathlon and Rottnest swim mate are already challenging each other for the next event.

Weekly Photo Challenge: (As Old As ) Time

In response to The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Time.

Nature shows time in so many ways. To me weathered rocks or rock formations, mountains and sand (rock ground down over millennia) remind us of time and how much of it these rocks have seen.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Weight(less)

This week the Daily Post photo challenge  is to share a photo of “something marked by its weight — or its air of weightlessness. Show us gravity at its most unforgiving, or most generous”.

I couldn’t resist a gallery (or two). The first set of photos were taken from the beach at Coral Bay, one day at sunset. We were treated to the most delightful show of snapper jumping out of the water. They kept doing it for about half an hour. Subsequently we’ve seen them jumping and flying again at that time of the day.

The second set of photos were taken from the ferry between Rottnest Island and Perth in late October (during whale migration season when the whales migrate south with their calves to the cooler waters).

The apparent weightlessness of these magnificent creatures is incredible. They defy gravity. In the last photo the ship (which happened to be in my viewfinder) also seems coincidentally weightless in the ocean.

The quality of the photos aren’t great as all of them involved quick snapping. There was no time to think about composition. I stood with camera pointing for a long time, ready to aim and shoot.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy Place

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Happy Place.”

I have a number of Happy Places. Being out in nature away from the hustle and bustle of city life is the best thing for me. When I’m fortunate enough to go there, my favourite place to find peace and quiet is on my sister and brother-in-law’s farm in the Kalahari (Namibia), or Coral Bay or Rottnest Island (both Western Australia), all of them out in nature. When I’m not travelling I’m happiest at home in my own space, and my go-to place is my garden.


I have my own little quiet spot where I can enjoy the dappled sunlight and birdsong with a cup of coffee first thing in the morning or sit and read my book over the weekend and maybe enjoy a glass of wine as well, or just sit and be quiet in my happy place.

My happy place

My happy place

An Unexpected Encounter with Mother Earth

Going for bike rides on Rottnest Island is one of my favourite things to do. Cycling around Perth’s very own little island paradise with its crystal clear waters and island-holiday atmosphere feels like worlds apart from reality. With no private vehicles on the island, cycling or walking is the main form of transport and it adds to the relaxed vibe for a perfect holiday destination or weekend getaway.

I’ve written about the island and some of my bike rides before, but I have to mention that I’m no great cyclist. I enjoy the exercise but I do it at my own pace, stopping for photo opportunities as many times as I like, which usually means that the rest of the family are quite content to let me go on my own. Here in Perth our rubbish removal trucks (and some other vehicles) have warning signs on the back saying: “Frequently Stopping”, as they drive from home to home, stopping at each one to lift and empty the contents of the rubbish bin into the truck, such as this:

Frequently Stopping Vehicle sign

Riding with me would be a bit like driving behind one of those vehicles. For that hour or so I’m out having fun the way I like it, without having to please anyone else. My bike is an affordable not-too-frequently-used hybrid between a road bike and a mountain bike plus I don’t wear toe-clips or cleats like Ironman does. There are some seriously venomous snakes on Rottnest Island and we usually go during late spring when the weather has warmed up and the snakes are out and about. At some of the places where I go cycling on the island I might not see another person for miles so care has to be taken not to have an incident with a snake because help might not be close at hand. A few years ago while we were visiting Rottnest one poor tourist swerved violently on his bike to avoid a snake that was on the road and got himself seriously injured when he came off his bike (at which point the snake was thankfully nowhere near him). Bearing this in mind I’ve drummed it into myself not to swerve at high speed should I come across a snake but instead to keep going straight and lift my feet off the pedals and keep going with legs sticking out straight forward to avoid a snakebite, something like this (my bike isn’t fitted with a basket, just saying):


West End (western-most point on Rottnest Island), one of my favourite destinations

West End (western-most point on Rottnest Island), one of my favourite destinations

17 West End 6 W

Thankfully I’ve never had to put it in practice (and no-one’s ever seen me do this), but it’s clearly a safety precaution that my feet aren’t clipped in. Apparent mistake number one. All in all I’m quite not the pro cyclist. And of that I was reminded starkly a few years ago. We were on the island and decided to go for dinner at the Quokka Arms Pub and since our accommodation units were about 2.5 kilometres away we cycled there. The kids went ahead (no waiting for the old slow coach parents) and my husband and I ambled down there and, in my case, wearing sandals. Mistake number two. Vanity got in the way. But who goes out to dinner wearing training shoes? Anyway, we were riding along and got to one of the steep hills on the way (the island is really undulating) and I pedalled for all I was worth to get up the hill with my husband following behind when his quite vocal “encouragement” turned into highly distracting commentary of the way I looked. Instead of just laughing it off I decided to stand up on the pedals to get up the hill faster and away from the commentary. Fatal error number three. My getaway-attempt lasted about 4 seconds when one sandal slipped off the pedal and – because I was pedalling with some force – I went after it. Down like a sack of potatoes, very ungraciously and amateurish. (Grond gekoop, as we say in Afrikaans – direct translation: bought some earth, which doesn’t have the same ring to it though).

One of the seemingly innocuous little hills (towards Wadjemup lighthouse which was an important military spot in WW2)

One of the seemingly innocuous little hills (towards Wadjemup lighthouse which was an important military spot in WW2)

Beautiful and peaceful cycling spot

Beautiful and peaceful cycling roads

Ironman was immediately concerned and helped me get back on the bike so we could go back to our unit where I patched up my knee before we headed out again. Sadly my jeans couldn’t be patched up (I’m no seamstress at the best of times and I wasn’t about to turn into an emergency one), but we out set again because our kids and friends were waiting for us to have dinner. The analysis of the cause of the incident was done without delay and squarely blamed on my lack of toe clips. “But imagine how I’d fall if I’d started using toe clips at my advanced age” I said, because every toe clip novice (and a more experienced one that I know) fails to unclip their shoes a few times before the inevitable (mostly) sideways tumble to the ground, usually while stationary!

At least I didn’t get badly hurt. I’ve gotten hurt worse than that with several falls off horses over the years, sometimes landing on my guava (backside) as my husband put it. Mother Earth is quite hard though, when you’re nosediving with nothing to break your fall. The worst I had to deal with this time was my injured pride over my amateurish effort to stay on the bike for 2.5 kilometres before I’d even had a drink.

My trusty steed on one of my rides at the Parker Point lookout

My trusty steed on one of my rides at the Parker Point lookout