An Alternate View

After kicking back for the weekend, enjoying time with the family at Wayne and Jan's house on the Murray,

Jan, Wayne, Chris, and Malcolm on the dock.
And Quinn too.
a cruise on Malcolm's boat,

and a walk on the beach with friends,

we said farewell to Adelaide and those whom we love dearly and embarked on the second and final leg of the concert tour.

Destination: Victoria and New South Wales.

Thirteen days. Eight cities. Eight concerts. No sweat.

We're in Wagga Wagga now.

Isn't that fun to say?

I'm laid up with a sinus infection, and Graeme is off, not feeling much better himself, performing with Nick. I hope it's going well. I'm sure it is.

Today being the second day on the road again, I don't have much to share--except that we splurged tonight and ordered room service--risotto with ham, spinach and mushroom--and it was so convenient, and so good, and I didn't think to take a picture of it until it was long gone.

But I want to back up a few days to last Friday and tell you about our flight from Esperance back to Adelaide.

With Nick's father John as our pilot, we flew in this:

Graeme in foreground, smiling.
Nick in background, texting.
We saw this:

Farmland surrounding Esperance

Salt Pools

Even Saltier Pools

Getting closer to the Nullarbor

The desolation of the Nullarbor Plain

Half-way through our 5-hour flight, we landed on this:

Dirt air-strip at Border Village, on the border of WA and SA

Then, we ate at this:
Road house at Border Village, where we ate lunch.
Other than this, BV is made up of a few out-buildings,
some sleeping quarters and a fuel station.

From the air, Border Village looked like this:
Border Village from the air. Population: 20.
Basically, it's a service station and roadhouse
on the highway that crosses the Nullarbor.

At the end of our flight, tired but happy, we posed for this:

Graeme, Me, and John, our pilot
It was a was great experience.


The View from the Backseat Window

We've logged thousands of miles, strike that, thousands of kilometers since the concert tour began on September 9th. In our little green rental car, we've driven from Perth to Katanning to Denmark to Albany to Bunbury to Dalwallanu to Wyalkatchem and back to Perth again. I've seen much of the southwestern corner of WA from the window of the green bug. This was my view:

Canola Fields

Gum Trees
Lots and lots of all sorts of gum trees
Sheep Paddocks
Lots and lots of sheep paddocks
Lots and lots of cattle
Remains after bush fires

Coal Mining Pile-Ups
Salt Lakes
When the salinity gets high enough, the water turns pinkish

Red Clay Roads
And more gum trees
Wheat Fields

Today, we return the car and fly to Esperance for the final concert of the Western Australia leg of the tour. Tomorrow, it's back to Adelaide for a few days of rest, then onto the east coast.


Hello, Africa!

We're You've Got Mail fans.

My mom and I are, anyway.

Graeme humored me once and watched it with me.

My sisters, who have seen it many times but perhaps only half as many as my mom and I, roll their eyes when we integrate lines into our conversation.

But we love it. We love it so much that a few years ago, we wore out the dvd and had to buy another one.

We play it in the background when we cook or do crafty things together. We love the quirky lines, the beboppy music, the adorable backdrop of Kathleen's bookstore and apartment, and the predictable but nonetheless happy ending. And, of course, we love the allusions to Pride and Prejudice.

So, when I stepped onto the beach in Bunbury last Wednesday, the first thing I did was to shout a hello to Africa. Then, I dipped my toes into the Indian Ocean for the very first time!

The Indian Ocean

Cuttlefish bones were scattered all over the sand

Graeme on the Rocks

My first dip in the Indian Ocean.


Another cuttlefish bone

A Jazzy Lighthouse

Oh! It was such a nice morning walking along that beach. I hope you enjoyed the pictures. And if you haven't seen You've Got Mail, watch it. I know you'll love it.


Foraging in the Bush

We've emerged from the country and are in Perth now, perhaps a few millimeters thinner around the waistline.

Heretofore, my experience with Australian dining has always been positive.

From fish 'n' chips with a pineapple fritter on the side,

to gourmet organic pizza,

Diced tomato, shaved parmesan, prosciutto, and rocket (arugula)

to delicious breakfasts at open-air bistros,

Bacon, eggs and grilled tomato on Turkish roll

on this, as well as on previous visits to the country, Australia has dazzled me with her culinary delights.

That is, until this weekend.

After spending several days in various coastal areas, where most of Australia's 21 million people live, on Thursday we found ourselves heading inland, zipping our way along narrow country roads to the regional areas of Dalwallanu and Wyalkatchem, trying not to squish the sleepy lizards as they crept across the road, while taking in views of salt lakes and wasteland,

interspersed with paddocks of wheat and canola.

Our first stop was Dalwallanu, where Nick and Graeme performed a Friday night concert. This town of about 600 people recently celebrated its centenary with the opening of a beautiful new community center. This town is certainly on the up-and-up. While the coffee left something to be desired, the motel restaurant and local bakery provided for our dining needs.

Our second stop, where we were scheduled for a Saturday night concert and a Monday morning school workshop, was Wyalkatchem. It was in this town of 300 that we came to understand Nick's previous statement that "you can starve in these little towns, if you don't plan right."

But, as Robert Burns writes, even "the best laid schemes...oft go awry," and we hadn't planned ahead at all.

We left Dalwallanu mid-morning on Saturday, after a breakfast of bacon and eggs. About three hours later, we pulled into Wyalkatchem,

The Main Drag

met the town's CEO and checked out the town hall where the concert would take place that night,

unloaded our luggage at our accommodation,

2-bedroom house provided by the shire of Wyalkatchem
and investigated our dining options.

The coffee shop, whose signage was promising,

was deserted.

The news agency, which advertised coffee and light fare,

was equally disappointing.

The roadhouse at the corner of town offered some deep-fried delicacies on which we decided to pass. 

Sampling from another roadhouse a few days prior.
Breading/stuffing in spring roll wrapping. Deep-fried.

Our hopes rose when I mentioned that the kitchen at our accommodation was reasonably stocked with pots and utensils, and I offered to cook for us, but then we visited the supermarket.

We looked at the sign on the window.

We looked at the clock on the dashboard.

It read 1:30.

Foiled again.

Our last option, the pub, advertised meal service from 6-7:30pm. We could make it four and a half hours. We booked a table for 6pm and survived the afternoon on muesli bars and trail mix. Fortunately, the pub meal was decent, and we walked away satisfied and ready for the 7:30 concert.

Later that evening, knowing we would find ourselves in the same situation the next day, we poured over the road altas. Merriden was only 145 kilometers down the road, and its dot on the map was a bit bigger than Wyalkatchem's.

As we waited for our meal at The Olive Grove Cafe, we laughed at our need to drive an hour and a half for a decent meal.

Skinny Flat White

Chicken, Avocado, and Sun Dried Tomato on Focaccia
We wasted the afternoon away, taking in the sights of Merriden, which included the location of WWII tent-hospitals and a granite rock from which the pioneers drew their water supply a hundred years ago, before packing into the car and driving back to Wyalkatchem for another 6pm meal at the pub.

The parmi did the job both nights, 

Chicken parmigiana with chips and salad
and as we pulled out of town this morning following the school workshop, we popped into the news agency which was open for the morning. The attendant didn't know how to operate the pushbutton coffee machine, and we decided it was best to leave it behind us.

As I sit here in my hotel in Perth, Wyalkatchem feels worlds away, though it is only a few hours drive. This evening, we dined at The Bellhouse Cafe, which is situated on the Swan River in South Perth. Through the window, the cityscape glittered at us from across the river. I enjoyed pan-fried gnocchi in a blue cheese sauce, with speck (ham) spinach and roasted pumpkin. Graeme enjoyed barramundi on a bed of rocket (arugula), artichokes and red onion. We shared a decadent chocolate cake with a rich mousse topping. It was a splurge, and it felt good. Very good. 

But as dodgy as our dining experience was, Wyalkatchem also demonstrated unexpected spirit. The music was very well received. Considering the population of the town, the concert was better attended than any of the city concerts probably will be. The people were enthusiastic and appreciative, and it was a pleasure to share the music and the evening with them. 

And I got to see some real outback Australia in ways that most tourists never will.