Monday, January 30, 2012

Dogs with new toys!

It cooled down a tiny bit on the weekend and we went shopping, so we got some toys out of the bargain bin for the dogs.

My MacBook's magsafe power cord which usually works very well when the dogs run across the power cord failed this time around. Happy to report it's OK!!!

The orange snake was removed from the rope in about an hour and it is looking sad and destuffed on the living room rug.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

It's hot!

Due to the weather, Barbie has been liberated from sleeping in her crate for the last three nights. There have been no little wet surprises on the carpet in the morning. Hurray!

It has been a little dull around here though. The dogs have not really wanted to do anything, they are too busy lying around panting. I have been busy reading all about snow and ice on the other side of the world.

Hopefully there will be a slightly cool change next week and our adventures can resume!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A kitty has gotta earn her keep...

Lately we had a influx of rats and mice into our garden. I'm not sure if it was something to do with the weather, or the fact that the garden is an unruly mess, but I got sick of seeing all the mice and rats scurrying around outside.

You would know that Froufrou and Mittens are inside kitties. Frou is an inside kitty because she is an efficient, ruthless and indiscriminate hunter. Mittens is inside because she has no street smarts.

With Frou in the house, the small rodents never make their way in to the house proper, but they do get into the ceiling sometimes.

Anyway I decided that we would have to do something about all the rodents in the garden, so I started letting Frou out for a few hours a day. She had an immediate and devastating impact on their numbers. For the first few, she asked to come inside and ate her prey in the laundry.

Now there are no rodents left, she is going to be re-confined to the house. Well done Froufrou, but I'm not going to let you go on to hunting the birds and lizards.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ball Obsession disturbs humans.....

What does the above image look like to you? A baby doll? A plastic version of a human baby? Right, that's what it looks like to me too.

The dog's perception is rather different to ours. Bender does not see the above object as a baby doll.

Can you guess what Bender thought it was? When we let the dogs loose at the Yardie Creek Caravan Park in Exmouth, Bender immediately started searching the yard for balls. He retrieved a couple from the kid's sand pit, and they were quickly confiscated. We were trying to have an adult conversation, and he was more disruptive than the kids.

Starved of balls, he found the youngest girl's doll and picked it up by it's head. It looked a little disturbing, him carrying a baby around in his mouth by it's head.

It was met with laughter and cries of "the Dingo got my baby!" (for those who aren't Australian, context of the quote here).

We also confiscated the baby doll from him, but from then on he was obsessed. He picked up the baby in preference to the boring old tennis balls every time. L joked that when her girl grew out of the dolls, we might be getting a very strange package in the mail full of baby heads.

Can you imagine throwing one for Bender in the park or at the beach?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

More Road Trip (Day 6, 7 & 8) Exmouth - Bush Bay - Geraldton - Perth

After our last coffee at the homestead, we packed up and bid farewell to Yardie Creek Caravan Park. We headed back down the coast towards Carnarvon. We stopped briefly in Carnarvon to take the dogs for a walk and a wee break.

We saw a group of young indigenous fellas jumping off a bridge and swimming near a housing estate in town, and we decided it would be a good place to walk. When we got up there though, Bender didn't want to walk over the bridge - it was a weird bridge, an old railway bridge which seemed to be a drawbridge. It freaked him out. Anyway we were surrounded by the young guys, they were most interested in Barbie.

I suppose I should explain a bit here. Greyhounds seem to have a different reputation amongst country dwelling Aboriginal people than they do amongst urban folks. We live quite close to a train station, and often there are young Aboriginal guys hanging around the train station, the shops, or the nearby park who see Barbie and I stroll by. They always say 'hey, roo-dog! get 'im a good feed of roo.." Most kangaroos would be no match for a savvy Greyhound, that's for sure. Anyway it's happened so often that I have the idea there are at least some Greyhounds being used to hunt kangaroos in outback Australia.

Back to our stroll in Carnarvon...the now familiar "hello roo dog" was voiced as they all came in for a pat. They were less sure of Bender, but as Bender stayed calm some of them patted him as well. After a lot of questions about our "roo dog" we went on our way, bundled back into the car and headed towards our camp site in Bush Bay.

By the time we got to Bush Bay the sun was pretty low in the sky. It's a popular fishing spot and a few people were pulling their boats out and leaving by the time we had set up.

The tide was heading out as the sun was going down, so we went for a stroll along the beach. Barbie was being driven crazy by the small, zippy little birds that were on the mud flats hunting. She could only see them when they moved but she really wanted to give chase.

Both the dogs seemed to enjoy the walk.... and then we went back to cook dinner - but there was a huge problem - the gas hose for the stove had sprung a leak. No cooking for us! We had to eat the mangoes that they had given us up in Exmouth for dinner. We didn't really have much food left!

The dogs lying politely on their beds - got a good night's sleep despite being a little hungry. I even munched on some dry pasta - it wasn't particularly satisfying. Next camping trip I think I will bring some 2 minute noodles to eat in case we have issues with the stove again - at least you can chew them more easily dry than pasta.

Barbie woke me up in time to see the sunrise, though Bender didn't seem to want to go anywhere. I took Barbie for a wander around so that she could toilet, and then ran into N and Bender down on the beach - I guess he wanted to come after all!

We packed up as quickly as possible because I was hungry - we stopped at the first roadhouse we came across (which I think was Wooramel Roadhouse, 100ks South of Bush Bay). There was a scraggly little Jack Russell dog there who came trotting over to me and the dogs while N was in the road house getting our food.

We had lunch at Billabong Roadhouse, which has become a favorite of ours, and the lady there remembered us. She said 'wow, quick trip', and chatted to us about her dog - apparently he catches budgies (which are a small Australian native bird) and buries them on his walks. We sat in the shade near the roadhouse and watched her big dog in his backyard. Bender and Barbie were very good, not trying to get over to him or bark at him. He was a big brindle mastiff type dog.

After a fair bit of driving, we pulled over for a break at the rest area at the Murchison River. There is free camping here, and I think if we didn't have a house to stay in at Geraldton, this is where we would drive to on the first day heading North.

This lizard decided to pose for the camera - he was very cute and he wasn't afraid of the dogs at all.

Barbie decided she was hot, so she lay down in the water. The water was pretty stinky!!!

We let Bender offleash as there weren't many people around and the ground was hot - so I thought it would be better for him if he could choose where he put his paws. When I took his leash off he looked around at me, surprised, like he was saying "really?..... thankyou!"

It was just a short drive to Geraldton from the Murchison rest stop, and we stayed again at the house with the neighbouring horse. Bender kept asking to go out the back but he wasn't allowed. We had a great night's sleep, and headed back to Perth the next day.

The kitties both greeted us enthusiastically when we got home, and the dogs passed out. I think they slept for two days straight!

So that's it, our road trip up North with the dogs. Overall pretty successful if I do say so myself!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Road Trip to Exmouth - Day 5 - More Exmouth

On our morning toilet walk, Barbie noticed the kangaroos for the first time. They had always been there, but I think they moved at an inopportune time. The kangaroos up here are pretty small, not like the massive red kangaroos that we used to see around Kalgoorlie. I got her to forget about them eventually.

For the second morning in a row, we took the dogs down to the beach for a run. The dogs were quite tired, and it didn't take long before Barbie made herself comfortable on the sand.

We then took the dogs back to the homestead, to leave there for a few hours so that we could properly check out the Cape Range National Park.

On the way out there, we were flagged down by a guy on the road near 'the dune'. We were told we should go look at 'the dune', but not to go too far or we would get bogged. Well, this guy was bogged, but as we stopped he looked at the X-Trail and said 'I don't think your car is big enough to pull us out'. I was like, no - we don't even have recovery points on this car, it's really a city N offered to go back to Yardie Creek and ask someone to help him out.

We pulled back into the gate and they made fun of us "can't bare to be away from them from more than five minutes, hey"? They said they would go help the guy stuck on the dunes, but when we drove back past he was gone so he may have pulled over a proper four wheel drive car in the meantime.

We enjoyed swimming and sightseeing in the National Park. The Ningaloo Reef is pretty famous as a tourist attraction - it really is the WA version of the Great Barrier Reef. We really didn't get to do as much snorkelling as I'd like though as we didn't want to leave the dogs at the homestead all day - they had to go to town and go shopping and stuff.

Yardie Creek gorge is just lovely, and though we didn't have time to go on a boat trip we decided to go back with our kayaks to paddle up it. We also want to go and swim with the whale sharks during their season. We are looking at going back up (without the dogs) in May.

On the way back into the caravan park we managed to snap these emus hanging around outside. Emus are very cute and very fast. I found myself wondering if they would beat Barbie in a foot race.

We went to the homestead and collected the dogs and headed back into town for lunch. We revisited the cafe we went to last time because we knew it was dog friendly, and lunch was pretty good.

After we ate, we took the dogs back to town beach, though they were pretty tired and it was blowing a gale.

Barbie decided that she wanted a nice bed in the sand out of the wind, and in N's shadow out of the sun. I decided to record it after watching so many turtles dig holes in order to lay their eggs. Barbie's digging style is a lot quicker than a turtle's though!

Note her strange one-pawed digging style and the fact that she knew precisely how big to dig the hole!

On the way back out to the caravan park, N spotted three people sitting in their car eating icecreams and decided she wanted one. I figured the Lighthouse Caravan Park would have a shop and it might be a cool place to check out.

No dogs are allowed at the Lighthouse caravan park but they do have a resident Staffy. She had such an expressive face. Later when I asked the folks at Yardie Creek about her they said they had to put signs up telling people not to feed the Staffie as she was getting huge!

Once we had our icecreams we drove up the hill to the lighthouse to check out the view. It was blowing a gale and N didn't want to get out of the car. Neither did the dogs. I got out to take some photos and almost got blown off my feet!

I got some good photos though! I noticed that a fair few cars we had seen in the National Park that day, or spotted in town, or both, drove up the hill, stopped briefly, and drove back down.

Sightseeing for the day was over and we headed back to the caravan park. We had dinner at the homestead again and it was so cool to be hanging out with them. I was so glad to have finally met N's friends who live in Exmouth. The kids were also so charming and cute.

The dogs were exhausted and sprawled in various positions around the deck. After some wine and a lot of stories and food we headed back to the tent for a good night's sleep.

To be continued.....

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Road Trip to Exmouth - Day 4 - Exmouth finally!

Water is scarce up here, so in the morning we got to share our camp site with these pink & grey galahs, who were just after a drink.

The owners of the caravan park are friends of N's - so we went and visited the homestead in the morning for a cup of coffee. We bought the dogs around. They were a bit cautious about how their Boxer, Roxy would react to having two strangers in her yard. I was pretty confident they wouldn't scrap though, as Roxy was the smallest of all three of them - and Bender and Barbie would be out of their territory.

They shut Roxy away in the shed while I bought Bender & Barbie in. Bender and Barbie then just had to deal with the three kids that decended upon them - aged 3 to 7. The youngest kids took a shine to Barbie because she tends to keep all four paws on the ground. She did remarkably well with a four year old boy trotting around after her, his hand resting on her rump.

We let Roxy out of the shed, and they were all fine together. Bender and Roxy had a couple of vocal altercations over a coconut, but apart from that they were all good the whole time.

We were advised that the best local beach for the dogs to go for a run was Janz Beach. After breakfast, we went straight there. There was no-one around, and so we decided Barbie could run muzzle-less.

She seemed to appreciate it. It also made for some better beach photos without the ugly thing on her face!

After their run on the beach, we decided to drive into town and get ourselves breakfast. Exmouth town centre is nowhere near the coast - the coast is mainly taken up by Australian Defence land (it's the Harold E. Holt command centre for deep water subs), and Cape Range National Park. It's a fair drive from where we are staying at Yardie Creek Caravan Park, which is on the coast and just outside of the National Park.

The cafe provided plenty of shade, and the dogs got a lot of attention from friendly locals. It seems that less people up here are scared of them and choose to take a wide berth. The food was pretty good too.

It was still pretty hot - probably about 38 degrees celsius, cooler than the days before we arrived. We decided to go for a drive in the National Park. There is a scenic gorge drive that you can do without going through any checkpoints. We didn't let the dogs out of the car since they aren't allowed in National Parks, but it was too hot for them anyway.

The gorge was very pretty. We saw another few cars up there, but not many. We drove up, took photos, and drove back down again.

After our drive, we went into town and bought salad rolls from the bakery, and headed to the town beach.

You are allowed to drive on this beach, though we chose not to. I kept Barbie on the lead here though, just in case. She didn't seem to mind. She was pretty tired after her run that morning.

After we had hung out on the beach a while, we headed back to the caravan park. We did some washing and hung around the campsite til it was time to go to the homestead for dinner. There was another couple visiting, and the guy was Italian and intent on making pizza. We had authentic italian wood fired pizza for dinner. The dogs were happy just to run around and eat grass.

After dinner we left the dogs at the homestead and went turtle spotting on the beach. We saw a lot of turtles hauling themselves up the beach to lay their eggs, and we even got to see a Green Turtle laying. No photos though because flashing lights can startle them and send them back out into the ocean. I did get a nice picture of a turtle track up the beach the next morning though.

We got back late and everyone had gone to bed - the dogs were all sleeping on the porch but got very excited to see us! We collected Barbie and Bender and we all slept very very well in the tent.

To be continued....

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Road Trip to Exmouth - Day 3 - Exmouth via Carnarvon & Minilya Roadhouse (twice)

We packed up the tent after a windy, restless night, and headed into Banana Town. We West Australians call Carnarvon Banana Town because it is where most of our bananas come from. Unfortunately last year a lot of the banana crop were wiped out by heavy rains and flooding and bananas became very expensive.

We stopped at a Banana Town cafe because we didn't really have any breakfast food to cook up in camp - we have a special egg carrier for camping which is made of plastic and protects the eggs from breaking - but the free range eggs we bought the night before were too big to fit.

Carnarvon is not a very pretty place, though there were a lot of backpackers around of all nationalities. I think that a lot of them were around looking for work on the banana plantations.

After we had our breakfast, we let the dogs out at a local park. We were met by this local.

She didn't seem to like us being on her turf and barked at us. She kept her distance. I just thought she looked a lot like Bender. I wonder if she was one of his sisters!

Back on the road again, and we started driving through Termite Mound country. A few of them had spraypainted graffiti on them, but this delightful modification gave me a little giggle.

We went to the effort of turning the car around and driving back to get a picture of this termite mound/beast.

By now it was getting very hot. We got to Minilya roadhouse and pulled over to get some fuel. It was here that Barbie jumped into the car completely voluntarily with no coaxing and no treats. I think her feet were hot. We broke out her cool coat and wet it down. She seemed to enjoy it.

The guy at the roadhouse asked N where we were going. She told him we were heading to Exmouth. There are two ways to get to Exmouth and he neglected to tell us that one way (the way we decided to go) was closed due to a raging bushfire.

We drove for quite a while towards the turnoff, thinking 'that fire is awfully close to where we are going'. N flashed the headlights at an oncoming car, and they told us they had headed up that way and the road was closed. We had to turn around and go back. By this stage it was hotter than it had ever been before, and the car airconditioning was just blowing hot air at us. We had to drive at 90kph with the windows down to provide some relief, but if you stuck your arm out the window it felt like it was burning.

We had to go back through Minilya in order to get more fuel. We also bought a bag of ice and 3 litres of cold water since all the water we had in the car was just about hot enough to brew a cup of tea in.

Bender happily licked iceblocks I held for him and that kept him cool. We wet Barbie down again, and headed up the other road towards Exmouth. We saw a few cars on the side of the road with the bonnet up - overheated.

Weirdly, as we approached Exmouth we went through a patch of really cool air. The windows of the car went back up, and the air conditioning back on. We could go 110kph and the car temperature did not increase.

It didn't last, and it got hotter as we passed Learmonth Airport. Then we finally got to Exmouth!

The puppies were pleased as we got a great camping spot underneath a tree. They were exhausted from all the panting they had been doing - so they slept very well that night. They even waited patiently tied up while I made dinner.

Barbie always used to wiggle out of her collar or harness when she was tethered but on this trip she learned that there was no point. She would just be told off. She only whinged when it was too hot or if there were ants or something.

Here we are all ready for bed. I read my Kindle until I was tired enough for bed. Barbie actually stayed on her bed this time and they were both on their best behaviour - despite all the noisy birds perching in the tree over the tent!

To be continued....

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Road Trip to Exmouth - Day 2 - Geraldton to somewhere South of Carnarvon via Kalbarri

Trucking out of Geraldton rather late, we had a rather large detour planned for the day - out to Kalbarri to see the cliffs.... but first we came across Hutt Lagoon, which is a Pink Lake where the algae in bloom produce beta carotene, which is quite a lucrative aquaculture harvest.

There are two 'Pink Lakes' in Western Australia, one down in Esperance, and this one which is near Point Gregory.

When I saw the water it reminded me of a lake full of Red Creaming Soda, so we had to stop for photos!

After Hutt Lagoon we bundled back into the car, and decided to go the long way - via Kalbarri. N had been to Kalbarri many times before, and she reckoned it was worth the extra kilometres. It wasn't that hot, and the cliffs in Kalbarri are actually part of a national park where dogs were not allowed, so we left the dogs in the car while we went and checked out the view.

Bender was particularly miffed. He loves the ocean. The views were quite spectacular even though the wind was howling. We didn't take much time to appreciate them though, because we were worried the dogs would start eating the car. They were good though!

After Kalbarri it was back on the road. The landscape was getting more arid as we headed North, and the air was notably hotter.

We then came across an area just filled with goats. A lot of them had little babies. We slowed down every time we saw them, but they seemed a little smarter than the other animals on the road and didn't run in front of the car.

After a long drive it just seemed to be getting hotter outside the car, and we stopped at Billabong Roadhouse for a break. As soon as I opened the car door I was hit with very loud roadhouse music, being piped into the area around the petrol bowsers. It was Christmas day and it was dead. There were no trucks on the road, and no other cars at the road house - except for an old Hyundai Excel which was sitting near the air compressor with a shredded and flat rear tyre. I spotted the people who belonged to the car heading to the 'caravan park' which was next to the road house. There didn't seem to be any other guests. There was really a lonely feel to the place.

The woman at the road house took to the puppies, and asked us how they were going in the heat. She said her dog would usually be out in the yard but was curled up under the airconditioning. I told her the aircon in the car was doing OK.

As we headed towards Carnarvon, it got darker. Dawn and dusk are dangerous times to travel on Australian country roads because of the heightened risk of hitting kangaroos. The car does not have a roo bar or any other frontal protection, and the headlights left a bit to be desired.

We decided to stop at a roadside camping area. The ground was hard as rock and we couldn't drive in the tent pegs. I had to unload everything from the car into the tent just to hold it down. N tied the guy ropes of the tent to a tree, and we parked the car in a position to provide the most shelter.

I cooked dinner while the dogs waited. This was only Barbie's second night sleeping in a tent and it was a fitful one. The wind made the tent flap around a lot and Barbie kept waking up. She tried to sleep on my bed.

We had a big day planned the next day - a drive to Exmouth via Carnarvon. To be continued....

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