Just outside of Bridgetown the bus broke down. We were a bit surprised that the driver let us all out on the side of the highway, but seeing as it had started to fill with smoke, I felt better on the outside. It was a nice sunny day so we just lounged around on the grass verge watching unsuspecting drivers come around the blind corner to see a bus with its load spilled out on the roadside! After a while a new bus collected us and we finished the trip. Paul was our next driver and met us on the side of the road in a small country town. We got in and he started driving, and driving and driving. The road went from highway to back road then to unsealed back road and then a 1 lane unsealed road to a track until it just stopped at a gate. 'We're here' said Paul. It was the end of the road that's for sure. I guess we were 'here' in that respect. Paul lives on an organic farm. It has fruit and nut trees, many of which he is still learning what fruit or nut they produce. It's a bit run down. The owner has a day job and has neglected the 40 acres of land for a few years, that is evident in the broken fences and out of control trees needing a pruning. Other than that it's a paradise waiting on a new lease of life. I think Paul can give it a go as the sort of live-in caretaker. It would be good if the hippies in the second house on the property admitted to themselves they are out of place and packed up the Combi van and moved back to town. They would however take the lovely chickens, an alpaca, and the tame sheep so that might change the place for the worse. It's an organic fruit and nut farm, not an animal farm. During our stay the most lovely wee kitten ended up in the garage. Sad, but it was a perfectly healthy kitten that had somehow ended up at the end of the road...the farm owner loves cats but not on her farm. The kitten will be de-sexed, treated, wormed and have all that's necessary and sent to be adopted all at her expense. The kitten really had some luck finding this farm! We wanted to keep it really bad but... we're on holiday!
I have never been on a farm like this, it's organic. Paul is making a veggie patch and this involves removing the grass and turning over the soil. I would have used Roundup or similar for the grass, but not here. No chemicals allowed! This turns a 15 minute job of mixing up a batch of death to grass into a weeks long effort of digging and sifting out grass roots (all along knowing extensive weeding will be required). I can really see the benefit of the modern chemical way. I do also see the attraction of chemical free growing. I feel pretty normal and I have led a life of eating what has been grown using chemical sprays. I don't wash my fruit either... I guess all to their own and maybe they are right and it's all a disaster waiting to happen. The fruit we tried sure did taste good though and I am sure the veggies will as well as long as Paul can keep the slugs and pigs off his patch. Oh that's the other thing. Wild pigs just love the nut trees, especially as the nuts are seldom collected but the owner has a live and let live policy, so it's live and let live even if they are eating all your hard work in the night. Myself, I would be happy with sprayed veg along side my home killed wild pork any day. I also had my eyes on the large dam that is filled with tiny little fresh water lobster called Yabbies.. I think we can manage a small feed if we are quick? Hmmm not in season but it was fun to play around at the dam anyway.
Part of having an organic nut farm is extracting the nuts from the shell in a suitably organic way... by hand. The walnuts aren't too hard but the macadamia nuts are a different story. I was surprised at how thick the inner shell is. They start with a woody outer casing that needs to be dried to be removed. Then it's a brown nut. Very round like a marble and really hard. Too hard for me to open with pliers, a special cracker is required. Then it's getting them out whole! A split nut is not worth as much as an intact nut. And organic anything is twice the price as its really lucky to have missed all the things trying to eat and kill it along the way to the table.. Are you starting to see the pattern? Maybe why I avoid the organic section at the supermarket.
During the stay we spent most of our time around the fire. Paul has a Webber style fire that sprang into action around 3:45pm. It was great to cook food on and the roasted veg was excellent, especially with a knob of butter in the foil packet! Yum yum. Roasted macadamia nuts are an excellent snack too. It was a really great to stay with Paul again. The kiwi invasion part 2 was a complete success.
Our next stop is Natasha's place. Much closer to the city, wifi and CATS. Yes plural so plenty to go around! Less than 10 minutes walk from the main Perth train line, her place rocks. Greeted with roast lamb dinner, beer and cats meant we felt right at home straight away. It's going to be hard to say goodbye to Western Australia, and Natasha who bakes cakes, (amazing cakes actually..)
Lots has changed from when we lived here. Perth is about the complete opposite to how things are in Auckland right now. Everywhere we look we see cheap houses for sale. Not too cheap looking either! Of course these homes are not in the central area or desirable suburbs but nether are the cheaper homes in Auckland. The big difference is the amount of low cost new homes available. Australia has space for this and, surprise surprise, the public transport system is already in place for the new land release! It is however something I have written about in previous blogs, real estate is slow at the moment. Prices are down and a lot of sellers cannot get what they paid for the home a few years back. Mind you, the idea of making a large profit on selling homes is a fairy new idea, it's an even newer idea to make that large profit in just a few years or months. While I'm on the subject of things that bother the Aussies, they will soon be losing most of their car manufacturing. Ford, General Motors and Toyota are all pulling out of Aussie and will now supply new imported vehicles. These manufactures now say they will provide more models and options including quality used cars. No doubt these will come from Japan (being right hand drive) and will mean less choice and higher prices for New Zealand used import car buyers! I think that after a while the average Aussie will wonder why they didn't get rid of the car building industry earlier. Instead of the government giving them billions to keep the production lines open, they can build nice roads and schools with the extra cash. Food however is somewhat more expensive than New Zealand. A normal cafe lunch of a couple of burgers and 2 cans of coke will be around $50 bucks, about $20 more than we would expect to pay in NZ. We haven't bought much meat, but when we have looked for it we have ended up buying sausages because of the price..
In a few days we will be heading to Las Vegas via Melbourne. No stopover, just a long flight and via an airline we have not traveled on before, Virgin Australia. We have a week to recover in Vegas and will be able to spend that time wisely by catching up on the USA elections from our cabana at the Mandalay Bay casino....
it's Our Epic Trip...
David & Christine are from New Zealand and are embarking on a trip around the world the slow way, on foot and by personal vehicle. This could get interesting!