Tuesday, April 23, 2013
After such a wonderful and restful weekend with lots of very interesting diversions including that massage with aromatherapy I am so energized and ready to go.
We start our trek again and pass through the Golden Valley Tree Park. I'm very glad that I took the time yesterday to poke around as we really don't have much time to look. Also we are staying on the trail. It is still beautiful to see all the different trees alongside the trail. We keep going past the Park and come upon the edge of the Blackwood Valley.
The dynamic differences between the farmlands and wild forests are interesting to study. To realize that someone cleared the area to become farmland and has toiled long and hard to keep it is something to think about and realize how much easier it is to live in a city. It takes a dedicated person to do as such out here in the wilds. There really aren't any "day's off" when you are a rancher. There is always something to do for repair or maintenance not to mention the field work or animal work. It's like they are a breed unto themselves.
The mists in the valley are also picturesque. With the Karri tree tops above they remind one of a mountain range until the mists lift enough to see the trunks. The Karri are starting to become more numerous as we walk along the trail towering over the other gums like a king. The forest floor is becoming more lush with wild flowers and orchids of so many types I can't even keep track of them. I am still in awe of the sheer beauty and humbled by the nature of the forest. The colors and variety of plants and animals that have adapted to living here are so numerous the sheer numbers are staggering.
As we keep hiking we pass by the Southampton Homestead. It has an interesting past. It was originally constructed in 1862 by Richard Jones and his two sons Richard and William with mud-bricks fired on the site. It took them two years to complete and at the hight of the property being worked the Jones family managed some 27,500 acres! The produce included wine, wheat, fruit and 600 head of cattle. All the buildings of the homestead were the Homestead proper, kitchen/bakery, flour mill, Dairy, workshops, brick kilns, jetty, boat shed and workers cottages. It's no wonder it took them two years to complete.
The Homestead was named Southampton after the port in England that was near the town of Southampton that the Jones departed from. Mr Jones was no stranger to heartache and it seems he had his fair share of it. His wife died in childbirth in 1830. Being the first European woman to die in the new colony. His 3 month old infant, Joseph, died as well. Then in 1855 he purchased the land for the Homestead build a daub and wattle house with his two eldest sons, Richard and William, just to have it dramatically flooded in 1860. His daughter Mary was widowed in 1864 and brought her 4 children to live with him at the homestead that same year. His two sons never married so never produced an heir. Richard Jones died at the age of 81 in 1876. The two sons and Mary continued to live and work the homestead until William due to depression, poor health and eye sight took his own life in 1903.
Over the next 50 years the homestead changed numerous hands and fell into disrepair more and more with each change. Finally in 1960 the Forest's Department purchased it, planted pine trees and promptly forgot about it until in the late 1990's it was rediscovered and the heritage qualities were identified and the site slated for restoration. However that was not the end of it. In February 2013 there was a wild bush fire started by lightning strikes that razed the property despite the heroic efforts of the Firefighters.
The University of WA and University of Notre Dame Australia are still working to this day with the WA Heritage Council to learn more about this homestead. The archeological digs have found the original 1860 Homestead and the Mill. Of the seven buildings originally on the site, the archaeological survey goals are to identify the location, role and fabric of some of these buildings. The remains only have the most rudimentary evidence left.
Being a highly valued property it was recently awarded a triple-heritage listing with Local, State and Federal Australian government! The homestead is typical of mid-19th century construction so is a valuable site.
We pass by the Homestead and encounter the famous 'Cardiac' Hill. It is very steep going and we have to watch ourselves so that we don't trip and fall into each other. Nothing like the 'Domino' effect of people with backpacks on. lol As we top the hill we all take a very quick break and drink some water. There is not much talking happening as we all catch our breath and rehydrate. Then it is the 'down' side which doesn't look much less steep. lol So we have to really watch ourselves or we might go down hill rolling and falling instead. We keep a good distance between one another and watch our step here as well. We are truly not sure if 'up' or 'down' is better. It seems to be a toss up.
Karri Gully is located in the Dalgarup Reserve. Due to the moist area and the nutrient rich soil the Karri have grown to be the largest eucalyptus tree on earth. It is also know as one of the few largest trees of any species due to its growth of up to 85 meters! Definately one of the largest for sure. The undergrowth is incredible with all the colors and styles of plants and flowers. The numbers are intriguing and the orchids are amazing since they seem to grow out of nothing right on the trees or on the ground. There are more bog type species here because of the humidity so we see more flowers that closely resemble Jack in the Pulpit and some other bog live eaters as well. More Fungi are apparent and are growing on the sides of trees as well as on the ground of the forest.
We get into Gregory Brook Campsite and quickly set up our campsite falling into the rhythm of camping we have become familiar with. We cook our dinners and then go about exploring the campsite and the surrounding area. Some of us take the time to fish and quite a few of us are successful! So we clean and cook the fish sharing with all. Yum! We all clean up and start to quiet down as we all get ready for bed. It has been quite a day and we listen to the crickets singing and the frogs peeping as the rest of the wildlife gets to sleep and others wake up for their night time journeys. We are sung to sleep by the song of nature all around us as we lay our heads down for our own sleep.
Tomorrow is another day in paradise and we get to see more and more of the changing landscape and learn about what is coming up on the trail.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Oh what a night! It was wonderful to be clean and lay in a bed. Although I do love going to sleep looking up at the stars. I woke up so refreshed and wanted to go for a wander so I decided to go to the King Jarrah Heritage Trail. The bus ride was nice and it wasn't to far away. The King Jarrah's are so tall. They reminded me of our Sequoias in the USA as well as the Osugi Trees in Japan. All the trees are extremely tall, very old and very broad at the base. There is also a section of a Birth Tree that commemorates a very well know Noongar Stockman who was said to have an almost magical connection to horses.
It was a nice easy walk on relatively flat walkway. The trail was well maintained and marked. After an easy bus ride back I spent the rest of the day wandering around town looking at all the lovely little shops.
I walked 1842 steps extra as well as working at the Pet Expo. It is always fun and extremely busy on Saturdays.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
As we wake up in the morning I know we are ready to sleep in a bed. At least I know I am. lol So we break our fast and pack up much faster knowing that a fairly short hike and we will be in Balingup and be able to have a shower and a bed for the night. Not to forget having a pint as well at the Balingup Tavern.
We hike on, going our favorite way, down hill. Very quickly though we are not really sure if it is our favorite. As difficult as it was going up yesterday it is quickly becoming evident that the going down is just as difficult and we really need to make sure that we watch our steps. The views we see though are just breathtaking as we watch the mists rise from the valley floor. At first it is fully covered in mist. As we hike down and the sun keeps rising the mists are burned away and reveal a very picturesque view of the town of Balingup and the surrounding area. After all the darker colors of the Eucalyptus trees the valley is extremely Green!
We enter into town and it is just a cute little town that like most of the others were established because of the milling of the Trees. Now, however, it is mostly for tourists and close by a mine that provides Tantalum. But more about that in a minute.
The town of Balingup was officially founded in 1898 though it is mentioned as early as 1870's. It is said to be named after a famous Noongar warrior Balingan. It originally had a station on the railway line like many of the towns we have and will see. In the 20th century it was known for its fruit and vegetable productions. They now boast an Alpaca farm as well. I think I'll go visit the Alpaca just to see them. Recently though the area has become known for their Beef cattle as well as their Dairy farming. I can't wait to see the Cheese Station. The Blackwood Valley is also known to house the most varieties of Eucalyptus as well as many that are only found in Western Australia. Because of the many varieties there are always some that are in bloom which is very beneficial to the wildlife and helps to provide food for them year round.
It seems that there is always something to do in Balingup. Some sort of festival, arts and crafts faire as well as Wine tasting. They also have a French restaurant as well as the Tavern with many other little cozy places to take tea. Of course there are also smaller easier nature walks that one can take just to take in the scenery.
Now back to the Tantalum. That mine is actually in a very nearby old town of Greenbushes. There is actually an observation post where tourists can watch the mine being run. It is said to be very interesting to watch. It is an open mine so one can literally look down into it as it is being worked.
Tantalum itself is a rare, hard, blue-gray, lustrous transition metal that is highly corrosion resistant. It is part of the refractory metals group, which are widely used as minor components in alloys. The chemical inertness of tantalum makes it a valuable substance for laboratory equipment and a substitute for platinum, but its main use today is in tantalum capacitors in electronic equipment such as mobile phones, DVD players, video game systems and computers.
Tantalum was discovered in Sweden in 1802 by Anders Ekeberg. There are several very similar metals to Tantalum that were often confused for it until 1864 when it was determined to be its own compound by Christian Wilhelm Blomstrand. Tantalum was used as the filament in lightbulbs until Tungsten replaced it. The name Tantalum was derived from the name of the mythological Tantalus, the father of Niobe (the name of a chemically close metal) in Greek mythology. In the story, he had been punished after death by being condemned to stand knee-deep in water with perfect fruit growing above his head, both of which eternally tantalized him. (If he bent to drink the water, it drained below the level he could reach, and if he reached for the fruit, the branches moved out of his grasp.)
Tantalum is very conducive to both heat and electricity but is extremely resistant to erosion by acids. At temperatures below 150 °C tantalum is almost completely immune to attack. But, it can be dissolved with hydrofluoric acid or acidic solutions containing the fluoride ion and sulfur trioxide, as well as with a solution of potassium hydroxide. Tantalum's high melting point of 3017 °C (boiling point 5458 °C) is exceeded only by tungsten, rhenium and osmium for metals, and carbon.
Since it resists attack by body fluids and is nonirritating, tantalum is widely used in making surgical instruments and implants. For example, porous tantalum coatings are used in the construction of orthopedic implants due to tantalum's ability to form a direct bond to hard tissue. So you might actually have some inside of you if you have had a hip/knee replacement of extensive dental work as posts replacing teeth! It is a very versatile metal.
The Balingup Lavender Farm is also a very relaxing place to visit. The gardens are open gardens and one is invited to come and enjoy year round. The Farm was started in 1998 when they tried 15 varieties of Lavandula 'angustifolia. Of those 15 only 5 made the cut. They were chosen for use as cut flower, dried flower and oil-bearing properties. The Open Garden was laid out in a 'parterre' style. The Parterre style is the division of garden beds in such a way that the pattern is itself an ornament. It is literally a sophisticated development of the knot garden. In 1999 the main production area was prepared and planted with over 3000 lavender. Keep in mind that the work was done with pick and shovel! Back breaking work for sure. Three olive groves and a cherry orchard form a backdrop to the lavender in order to accentuate the beauty of the lavender bushes. They have Distillation Tours one can take as well as many varied products for sale including plants. Lavender essential oil is a medicine cabinet in a bottle. It is known to be antibiotic, anti-fungal as well as antiviral. Not to mention it just smells fantastic! It will help colicky babies calm down, put young children to sleep as well as relax you. In larger amounts it will actually simulate you. During cold and flu season I always take a cotton ball and put two drops of lavender, one drop of tea tree with one drop of eucalyptus. All essential oils. I then palace them in the 'common' rooms. We never seem to get colds or flus. I always have a bottle in the house.
There is a massage therapist who does aroma therapy in Balingup. I'm so going to have to book a massage as all this hiking is getting to me. :P
The fishing is wonderful. All the rivers have fish in them. The Blackwood River is stocked annually with Rainbow Trout by the WA department of fisheries. Please be sure to have your fishing license first though. One can be obtained at the local Post Office.
The Lucieville Farm is a charming place to get back to a more rural life. It has been in the same family for 6 generations. It has 136 hectares with a variety of farm animals. The family invites you to participate in the care of said animals or to just come a go horseback riding. They do have the daily feeding of the baby farm animals which sounds like fun. I might just go do that. In one of the pictures they had a pony and a dog almost as big as the pony. lol It looked like an Anatolian Shepard.
The Golden Tree Park was begun over one hundred years ago, and is now the largest arboretum in WA. The park is open daily and is free. Donations are always appreciated though to help with the work that is done there. The fully restored Golden Valley Homestead (circa 1890) is located at the Park entrance.
I am very excited to be there and can't wait for a shower and to rest a bit. The ground is difficult on my back. So let's all get a massage over the weekend.
I walked over 2000 steps today and am working at the Pet Faire Friday, Saturday, Sunday so I'll be getting plenty of exercise this weekend. On the other hand it's a lot of fun. I volunteer for Southland Shelty Rescue and open the booth every day and usually close the booth as well. So I'll try to post and blog this weekend but no promises.
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