The first thing we did after leaving Walpole was to drive the few miles east to the Valley of Giants Treetop Walk in Nornalup National Park. The huge Red Tingle Trees (Eucalyptus jacksonii) grow up to 75m tall and 20m in girth. The karri trees seen elsewhere in WA (Eucalyptus diversicolor) can grow up to 90m. These tall trees have been used as lookout posts for forest fires.
The walkway gets up to 40m off the ground and gives great views of the canopy. We saw several birds (including this Australian Ringneck)
but no quokkas which also live on the trees and use the sword grass on the ground to give them cover from predators. When people walk fast on the walkway, it tends to sway a little making photography a bit of a challenge. I was thankful for the image stabilisers on my lenses. There is also a brief glimpse to the landscape outside the park.
We also walked along the ground level Ancient Empire boardwalk. This is free, but you have to pay to go on the Treetop walk. A section of the Bibbelmum Track passes through the valley. It is 1000km and runs from near Perth to Albany. We saw one hiker near the Visitors’ Centre. All too soon it was time to carry on as our destination for the night was Esperance, 374 miles from Walpole. Vineyards are called wineries here but near Denmark, the next town on the South Coast Highway; I saw signs to a meadery and a cidery. Albany was settled before Perth and is the oldest (dating from 1826) and the largest town on this section of the coast. Initially, the British settlers were welcomed by the indigenous people there because they stopped the rape and murder being carried out by whalers and sealers. Unfortunately the Brits then stopped indigenous people coming into their shops and began to remove their children from them. Coming into town, we passed the world’s largest sandalwood oil factory. It has some 19th century buildings in the town centre and I had no problem finding a café to top up my caffeine levels. Down by the shore is a replica ship of the Amity Brig that brought the first settlers here from Sydney.
We had by now left the big trees behind us and the landscape switched between farmland and bush. There were a few more forests but they were for commercial timber. We did not have a kangaroo cross the road in front of us today, but we did have to swerve around one lizard and had the first emu crossing of the trip. As we drove east the landscape got drier and the rivers had less water in them. Near Ravensthorpe we were in big cereal growing area with fields bigger than those in East Anglia. The town has artworks on the silos and a very large roundabout for a small community. It was established in 1900 and reminded me of something a university friend said to some Americans who were studying in the UK: ‘I suppose you have to come here as you don’t have any history over there’. He obviously has not been to Australia where European history is even more recent and indigenous history often not easily accessible by others. Our road began to traverse some hills and we were now back in mining and road train country. As we descended into Esperance there was more water around with lakes, ponds and nature reserves. All we had time for before dark was a short walk along the esplanade where the old pier was in the background near our motel was the sculpture by Cindy Poole and Jason Woolridge: Whale Tail. Our mileage was 381 making the trip total 8,128.
Our morning train journey to London was uneventful and the first stop was Somerset House. I had seen the Courtauld Gallery’s exhibition of Georgina Houghton’s work, Spirit Drawings, reviewed in a newspaper when it opened and was keen to see it. She was an early abstract artist who was a spiritualist and said that this was where her inspiration came from. Most of her works are in watercolour and ink, media I have also used. I found it possible to gaze at her intricate works for a very long time. Here is one entitled ‘The Love of God’
Many of the works in this exhibition are owned by a Spiritualist Society in Melbourne, Australia so if you are not from over there and want to see them, the exhibition is on until 11th September. Somerset House is a wonderful building with some fantastic ceilings.
There were other galleries and in the one devoted to drawing, an collection entitled ‘Regarding Trees’. I particularly liked this drawing from 1504, thought to be the earliest depiction of a tree in its own right.
After fortifying ourselves with coffee, we crossed over to the South Bank via Waterloo Bridge and had a browse in the book fair there. On Saturday there are fewer stalls than in the week and I did not pick up any books but we found a map of New South Wales from 1824 to add to our collection. Further along on Bankside was the annual exhibition of the Royal Watercolour Society and the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers. It is free and also on until September 11th. The annual event ‘Totally Thames’ is currently underway with various acts and displays along the riverside. One I found quite striking is ‘Floating Dreams’ by a South Korean artist. It is constructed from 500 drawings and commemorates the people who died in the Korean War.
Our next stop was the Tate Modern to see the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition. When we were last in New Mexico three years ago, we visited the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, only to find the gallery closed for re-hanging. We did get a tour of her studio however. Having experienced the landscape there, aided our appreciation of her New Mexico landscape works. Over 100 works dating from her teenage sketchbooks to the 1960s are included and also photographs by Alfred Stieglitz whom she married and their friend, Ansel Adams. Photography was not allowed. The exhibition continues until the end of October and is definitely worth seeing. Afterwards we walked back over the river on the Millennium Bridge where these pigeons were resting.
The bells were ringing at St Paul’s Cathedral for a wedding but we continued on towards Covent Garden. Once we were there, the warm, humid day called for a cold beer in Philomena’s pub which has so many TV screens that James could catch up with football and rugby at the same time. It turned out to be the London base for the Northern Ireland Supporters’ Club. He had been wondering where that was for a while. We popped into Stanfords to pick up a New Zealand road atlas for next year’s trip and then slowly made our way to Euston Station. Unfortunately some signal problems near Wembley were causing total chaos and although our train left Euston only two minutes late, it took us five hours to get home.
The first thing to remember this morning was to send birthday wishes to my aunt who is 85 today. We then left Laramie on the relatively short portion of the Lincoln Highway which is on US30. It heads into the prairie where cattle and elk were grazing. We had the Laramie Mountains to the right and the railway and Medicine Bow Mountains to the left. Signs informed us that we were on the Sand Creek Massacre Trail. I had to look this up and discovered that it was a massacre in the American Indian Wars on November 29, 1864, when 70 Colorado militia attacked and destroyed a village of Cheyenne and Arapaho, killing and mutilating around 70–163 Native Americans, about two-thirds of whom were women and children.
One bizarre sight was seagulls so far inland. This does happen in the UK but we are never too far away from the coast, I did not expect to see some in Wyoming. I also spotted a heron perched on a rock beside a pool and a prairie falcon sitting on a fence post. Leaving Elk Mountain behind, the road all too soon joins the interstate and the Lincoln Highway route is I80 for the rest of the state aside from a few short stretches in towns along the route. It also reduces photographic opportunities. West of Rawlins we crossed the Continental Divide at 7000ft and the road runs just south of the Great Divide Basin. The names of towns reflect the passing landscape: Red Desert, Table Rock and Point of Rocks. We crossed the Continental Divide for the last time (6390ft) and descended past large quarries and rocky outcrops down to Green River where we had a good coffee. The river takes second place to the rocks surrounding the town. The only place in Wyoming I have seen a Lincoln Highway marker was at the museum but of course it was closed on Sunday.
Back on the interstate the Wasatch Mountains appeared on the horizon. Near Granger, R30 leaves the Lincoln Highway having been with it since Philadelphia. It heads towards Grand Teton and Yellowstone which I would love to visit but we don’t have time for that on this trip. A small oasis just off I80 at Evanston is Bear River State Park. We had our picnic lunch here and had a short wander by the river but could not explore it fully as we had many more miles to do. I did learn that Wyoming has 31 varieties of willow which chimed with my experience in Australia when I tried to differentiate between the different gum trees before discovering that there are hundreds of eucalyptus varieties and giving up. The strong wind meant flower and plant photography was not possible.
The Utah state line is understated with none of the ‘Welcome to……’ notices seen elsewhere. As we are in the mountains all the first exits have ‘no services’ but gradually we head further into the state. Red rock appears and Weber Canyon is shared with the railway and Sunday kayakers on the river. Signs reminded us that we are again sharing our route with the Oregon & California Trails and the Pony Express. We eventually found our hotel. Most of the surrounding restaurants were closed but an Irish Pub was open and provided dinner. The wind has brought cloud and rain to the mountains but we hope it clears for tomorrows exploration of the Salt Lake.
It is Ash Wednesday and the first day of my walking pledge. James had a dental appointment and a few things to do in one of our nearest towns and I wanted to pick up some more books from the library. After weeks of storms and heavy rain it was a joy to wake up to blue sky and sunshine although it is still a little cold. We headed into town by car, I got my books and fortified by a coffee in a local cafe, set off for the return journey on foot. One of the pleasures of my usual walking route into town is a short section in the woods at the edge of a country park. Today, I know that at least one friend is walking with me in spirit even though he lives in another part of the country.
In places, the autumn leaves are still lying but in others spring flowers are emerging.
The shapes of some of the trees often start to suggest abstract compositions to me and this out of focus shot of the mere through the branches and trunks of the trees has given me several ideas.
This walk was over four miles and other outings including a food shopping trip took me up to the five miles I was aiming for.