New Blog address!

I’ve been gone a while, getting settled in Perth. As we’ve moved home address I thought I may as well go the whole hog and move my blog  too, new start and all that….

To read all new blogs, you can find me at  www.photoswith.me.

Hope to see you there soon🙂

The ‘Z’ Children

I wanted to share some more photographs from the last shoot I did in Melbourne as it’s been a whiIe since I shared a sneak peek from this session. What a way to finish my time in Victoria though; with two gorgeous youngsters in their home. I have to say that with young children of this age I find that sessions work so well at their homes. They feel comfortable in their familiar surroundings with their own toys around them and I can work around their routine. The shoot could not have gone better. We had a blast!

Beautiful children, beautiful location, beautiful end to a fabulous time in Melbourne.

Let sleeping lions lie?

I recently witnessed the most brave act I have ever seen. Well, either the most brave or the most stupid. You be the judge.

What you can see is a sleeping lion. The bird must have decided he was bored of watching his oversized friend sleep and took matters into his own hands/claws. *Cue, cute little bird swooping lion to wake him up*. Seriously.

The lion woke up from his mid-afternoon nap. Now call me a chicken but if I were the bird, I would be flying right about NOW.

Oh no, he’s seen you. Fly little bird, fly as fast as your wings will let you. Or run! Just do something. Quickly! While you can!

What? You mean to tell me he doesn’t mind an irritating little guy plucking his mane to wake him up? When my own children, my own flesh and blood, shake my head to wake me up at an untimely hour, I’m like a bear with a sore head, yet the King of the Jungle didn’t seem to mind Mr Wagtail waking him at all. Now that’s what I call a friendship.  Never saw that one coming. Although, thinking back to a book I once read, someone else did. The Lion and the Little Red Bird, nearly forgot all about that book. Okay, so the bird’s colour is wrong. Cut the author some slack will you?

Completely off topic, why do they say Lions are the King of the Jungle when they don’t live in them? In every documentary I have watched, and trust me, with a 7-year-old who is obsessed with animals, I have watched a LOT, they appear to live on African Plains. It’s like saying Lady Gaga is the Queen of Coral Reefs. I have no doubt she is very talented in her own ‘field’ but not so much under the sea. I’m guessing Nemo hasn’t got a clue who she is. Anyway, I’m off to ponder that one.

Back to (a new) school

It’s exactly a month since we arrived in Perth and my babies are starting their new school today. They are incredibly excited and I am excited for them but, I must admit, if I could, I’d  extend the holidays by another week or two. It’s gone so fast. They have had 8 weeks off and I never thought there would be a day when, after that length of time, I wouldn’t be desperate for them to go back. I suppose it marks the beginning of our new lives in Perth. It is officially, no longer a holiday. This is it! The subtleties of this are lost on the children, they are desperate to get back to school and very much looking forward to making new friends. Georgia is incredibly happy – she has jumped from Grade 1 to Grade 3. She thinks it marvellous that she will never ever have to do Grade 2! I guess if I was 7 years old, I’d think that was pretty cool too. I’m not a kid though, I’m her mother who, while I know she is a very smart girl, is concerned about anything she has missed out on. I’m sure, deep down, that she will be fine, but it doesn’t stop a mum from worrying now does it? As for Mr Marcus, he’s fine and dandy. His teacher called him last night to speak to him and to say that she will see him tomorrow.

The uniform shop only opened yesterday, so I spent yesterday doing the very exciting job of labelling. What with the uniform and all the books, pens, pencils, crayons, kitchen sinks (there may as well have been a sink on the stationary list, there was everything else), I am so over my children’s names. At one point I contemplated making up new names for them, for a laugh, to see if they would notice. Fifi-Trixiabelle Turner has a good ring to it, don’t you think?

Anyway, they are both beside themselves with excitement and couldn’t wait to wear their new uniforms. Georgia Fifi-Trixiabelle even got some exercise books out and told me she was ‘practising working’ in her new dress!

To our babies – today we see you take new steps in your lives, making new friends, meeting new people, experiencing new things. Your Daddy and I are so fortunate to have you two amazing little people. Your enthusiasm and eagerness to start a new school is fantastic. We are so proud of you. We hope you have enjoyed the summer holidays half as much as we have. It certainly has been one to cherish and that you have a wonderful first year in Perth. All our love Mummy and Daddy  xx

Melbourne to Perth – Day 6

Day 6 – the final day of travel had already arrived. We set off fairly early again, as our last leg was still 600 kilometers, and we couldn’t wait to get there.

The one thing you can’t help notice on this stretch is the giant water pipe that runs pretty much all the way along the side of the road. It provides water from Perth to Kalgoorlie and beyond and what amazes me is that it was completed in 1903. How on earth did they do it back then?! When it is beside you for the best part of 7 hours you realise how much work must have gone into it.

The terrain itself started out with occasional goldfields and then turned into farm land. It was all pretty much like scenery we’d seen before and we just wanted to get there.

Again, we only stopped for petrol and a toilet break as, well, did I mention,  we JUST WANTED TO GET THERE?!

Incidentally, if you wondered how we went on for food on the trip, we were well prepared…

And no, he couldn’t tear himself away from it, even while he ate. Each day we tried to add a new app for them to play with to keep them interested. Little Miss Turner, was getting stuck into her journal thing on hers.

You comfortable enough there Miss T? It seems she is fortunate enough to be inheriting her father’s limbs instead of mine.

By about 3pm we started to hit Perth’s outer suburbs and although I’d never seen these far Eastern suburbs before I gradually I started to remember what I liked so much about WA. They were nothing like the beach areas we intended to live in but still had the same feel with clean streets plenty of trees and shrubs.

We had booked to stay in a serviced apartment in West Perth for a week or so while we found a rental. When we arrived we were pooped, so we went food shopping for provisions and settled to in for a quiet night. Oh, and the sunset wasn’t half bad.

So there you have it, Melbourne to Perth by car, over 6 days with two kids and a husband who doesn’t like making unscheduled stops. We survived! Overall, it was a great experience, and something I would recommend anyone to do although, if you have kids, you need to entertain them. Anything up to 12 hours in the car at a time is boring by anyones standards. We went for the lazy parenting option of iPads, and they worked like a dream. The kids were fantastic, but I’m not sure what it would have been like without them and I don’t think I’d do the journey again, although I’m definitely glad we did it.

Incidentally, one thing we that did disappoint me upon arrival in Perth was the lack of a welcoming committee. After that drive, at the very least, I expected Julia Gillard to be waiting for us at the other side with citizenship papers and a film crew. C’mon, surely that should be the REAL test? Drive across the country, get a passport. Isn’t that how it works? No? Oh pants!

Melbourne to Perth – Day 5

We had spent the previous night in the town of Norseman. The town was named after a horse who initially discovered gold there back in 1894. When I say the horse discovered gold, he didn’t jump up and down neighing “I’m rich. I’m rich!” Horses do not seem too interested in gold and the trappings of wealth! Rather, the horse got a piece of gold bearing quartz in his hoof, and his owner, I imagine claimed it as his find. After this discovery the town developed and at one time became the second-richest gold-field in WA, extracting over 100 tonnes of gold. Today, it is still a mining town. In fact, the Norseman Gold Mine, is Australia’s longest continuously running gold mine and is classed as having a desert climate. I’ve been to a fair few Goldfield towns in Australia and this one was by different than the others. It was much smaller, and more low-key. Other gold-field towns I have been to have built grand public buildings, I guess as a symbol of the wealth afforded by the gold. Unless you knew its history, you would never guess this of Norseman. A water line and bitumen roads were only added in 1935 though so, by this time, building such elaborate status symbols were no longer the norm.

We woke up early, as usual, and left at around 7am. We only had a short drive ahead of us to Kalgoorlie (188 km) given that we had driven further than planned the previous day. The drive was all pretty similar, single carriageway with bush either side, although not dense. Every now and again we’d pass a side road that would lead to some mine or other but apart from that it was quite unremarkable.

Dont let the grey sky fool you, it was hot!

Today was New Year’s Eve and we had booked to stay at a Resort & Spa Hotel complete with all the luxuries you might expect and that, after days on the road, I could not wait for. As we approached we turned into a residential street and we thought our Sat Nav was playing up. How could this be right? An international hotel groups resort, in the middle of a residential street, surrounded by turn of the century dwellings? Anyway, it was! Slap, bang in the middle! I imagine the residents were happy when planning was approved! I have to say, once in, it was lovely and it was well set out. The best thing was that brekky didn’t finish until 10am so we made it in time!

I would love to tell you that my cultural inquisitivity had lured me away from the hotel to explore Kalgoorlie. I would love to tell you how I visited the Super Pit, the word’s largest open cut gold mine measuring an astonishing 3.6 kilometres (2.2 mi) long, 1.6 kilometres (1.0 mi) wide and 512 metres (1,680 ft) deep, but I didn’t. The kids had spent days sat in the car, and they had been excellent but that last thing we wanted to do was make them travel any further than they had to. I briefly popped into the City to do a spot of shopping while I left the kids swimming in the pool with Mr T (my husband, not the dude who was scared of flying in the A-Team). That would be irresponsible, I don’t know the guy. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, the City. It very much reminded me of Ballarat, another gold mining City in Victoria, Australia but I was only there for 20 minutes or so, so forgive me if I am way off the mark. I did however read plenty of tourism brochures by the pool! So I can tell you though that the super pit I mentioned before operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and the mine blasts at 1:00 pm every day, unless winds would carry dust over the town. The mine is expected to be abandoned in about 5 years as they think it will no longer be productive. They plan to leave it and allow the ground water to seep in and fill it which they think will take about 50 years to fill! The other interesting thing I read was that the area has so many large gold mines that is often referred to as the Golden Mile, which is considered by some to be the richest square mile of earth on the planet. I knew I should have made room in the car for a metal detector. Darn it.

After spending the day by the pool we ate at the hotel’s restaurant for dinner which was entertaining. A massive storm hit just as we arrived soaking the diners who were sat in the al-fresco part of the restaurant. Tables and chairs were thrown into the air, and waiters who had to try to secure items and close the huge siding doors were left looking like drowned rats! Parts of the city lost their electricity, fortunately, ours was okay. A local couple told me that it was not at all normal for such a strong storm to his so suddenly. I explained that Melbourne had experienced a 10 year drought prior to us moving there and now their dams are teaming with water. Maybe if they want to fill that pit up faster than 50 years, they could ask us to move there for a short while🙂

The meal was delicious and the wine flowed. To say we were in outback Australia, it was turning out to be a pretty good New Year’s Eve. We went back to our apartment to watch the fireworks from all around Australia and told the kids we would wake them just before midnight. Well, that was the plan. A mixture of the afore-mentioned wine and all the travelling we’d done in the last week caught up with us and then next thing we knew Marcus was stood next to our bed, hands on hips, chastising us for not waking him up. Happy New Years to you too son. Thank goodness for re-runs on the news is all I can say.

Melbourne to Perth – Day 4

Day 4 was the biggy. We had planned to drive from Ceduna to Balladonia across the Nullarbor. Wiki says:

‘The Nullarbor Plain is part of the area of flat, almost treeless, arid or semi-arid country of southern Australia, located on the Great Australian Bight coast with the Great Victoria Desert to its north. It is the world’s largest single piece of limestone, and occupies an area of about 200,000 square kilometres (77,000 sq mi).[1] At its widest point, it stretches about 1,100 kilometres (684 mi) from east to west between South Australia (SA) and Western Australia (WA).

Crossing the Nullarbor’, for many Australians, is a quintessential experience of the ‘Australian Outback‘. Stickers bought from roadhouses on the highway show ‘I have crossed the Nullarbor’, and can be seen on vehicles of varying quality or capacity for long distance travel. The process of ‘beating the crowds’ on overbooked air services at the time of special sporting events can also see significant numbers of vehicles on the road.

Crossings in the 1950s and earlier were significant, as most of the road back then was unmade dirt track. Round-Australia car trials (The Redex Trials) used the Nullarbor crossing for good photo shoots of cars negotiating poor track.’

Fortunately, these days, the road is no longer just made of dirt but still, the sheer distance when you set off, is quite daunting. Knowing there is no petrol station, no mobile signal, just you, your car and its contents made me thankful the car had 4 new tyres and a full service a week before we left Melbourne.

To give you an idea of how remote it is, every so often the road turns into a runway for flying doctor planes. I am not joking, look I have proof…

You are literally driving on the runway! Who the doctors could be treating, I have no idea, there are no houses and certainly no phones!

We set off early, probably a little too early but the time difference hadn’t changed from Adelaide and so it was still dawn at 6am. You should really avoid dawn, dusk and night-time driving given that you are much more likely to have kangaroos and the likes playing chicken with you. We were ready however, and had loaded the car. Given the enormous drive we had ahead of us we tentatively set off, taking it slow and steady.

Oh, there you go, another silo-town before we enter the wilderness!

One thing I forgot to mention in the other blogs about this journey are the South Australian signs on the side of roads. They are hilarious! Only in Australia could you get away with them.

They have a few of these long the roads, one refers to driving like a circular door handle (knob, in case you are a little slow).  Here’s the link to another. Fortunately the kids were too engrossed in their little iPad heaven to pay attention and ask any questions!

After about 150km we hit Nundroo. The road after here runs through the Yalata Aboriginal land. You do not need a permit to travel along the main road but if you’re venturing off it, you’ll need to obtain one. This stretch of the road lasted another 150km or so when we found ourselves behind this car, which was in convoy with two other equally antique looking cars.

At this point, we were only a few minutes from the Nullarbor Roadhouse, the entrance to the Nullarbor. What were they thinking of?!

Matt was hoping we wouldn’t get stuck behind too many of these, and fortunately, we didn’t.

We filled up with petrol at the roadhouse and I had a chat with the guy there. I was asked what sort of wildlife they get there. He said they get dingoes, brown snakes oh and king brown snakes to name a few. Noice!  Want to see what a roadhouse looks like? Look no further. Not exactly up to Hilton standards but when needs must…

As we set of we were reminded of other wildlife we may ‘bump’ into. In case you are looking at this road sign and thinking ‘Camels? CAMELS? In Australia?!’ There are more feral camels in Australia (1 million) than anywhere else in the world.

By now we had seen the terrain change and although there were bushes there really were no trees to speak of. The first thing would say is, yes it is remote, but you don’t feel anywhere near as isolated as you might expect. For some reason I felt more vulnerable in the drive from Port Augusta to Ceduna than here. I think maybe because it isn’t far away from the ocean it doesn’t feel quite as intense as other places where you are surrounded by deep bushland.

We stopped off (yes, an unscheduled stop, a first for us) to admire the view. It was truly breathtaking. Totally unspoilt, and truly spectacular. A kind man took this rare shot of all 4 of us together. I think maybe the kids are getting a little large for picking up!

Before we knew it, we were at Border Village. Good bye South Australia, hello Western Australia! We did a little ‘YAY’ to mark our arrival in WA. Well, Matt and I did and the kids stared blankly at us shaking their heads in disapproval. Border Village is home to a ‘Big Thing‘ known as Rooey II and a sign post to pretty much everywhere!

A while later we also went through a quarantine station and then were met by huge tablelands, the Nullabor Plains.

It was beautiful…and hot!

When you are in the middle of the longest drive you are ever going to do, what you don’t need is 42 degrees heat. Thank goodness for air-con. I have no idea how those guys in the morris minors got on. Unless somebody ‘pimped their ride’ I doubt they had air conditioning.

We also drove along the longest straight road in Australia. As you can see, there wasn’t so much of a kink in the road for 146.6 km (90 miles)! You could argue that it is the longest in the world. Highway 46 in North Dakota, USA, claims to be the longest straight road in the world, but that actually bends a little here and there around trees and rocks an the like, so, although it is apparently 123 miles long, I don’t think it can claim to be the longest. Of course, I may be a little biased.

You see the guy there? The one stopping to take the picture?  I wasn’t afforded that luxury. Mine had to be a through the windscreen (aka bug cemetery) shot.

I can’t remember where we stopped again for petrol as all the towns, despite being 150 kms apart seemed to merge into one, but I do know that the next place we would stop would be Balladonia, our intended destination for the day, some 1000 kilometers from Ceduna. So, guess what we did? We did what would any rational person do on a 42 degrees day after already driving for ONE THOUSAND kilometers? They would, of course, fill up with petrol for the third time and decide to carry on for another 250 kms to Norseman.

In fairness, we had entered at least two different time zones that I knew of and so, throughout the day we had gained 2 and a half hours. How weird is that. Pretty normal for air travel, but in a car?! Gaining two and a half hours in the space of about 10 hours…that is just plain weird! So what better way to spend those hours than by knocking some more kilometers off the journey. A couple of hours later we arrived in Norseman having travelled over 1200 kilometers. Quite an achievement, even if I say so myself. It took me all my will power to not buy a t-shirt with plastic writing on the front saying ‘I crossed the Nullarbor and survived’. Even now l would be tempted if I happened to see one😉

I have bored you enough for one day so will tell you a little more about Norseman some other time. Until then, safe travels!