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Week 9 (Sun Mar 7 thru Sat Mar 13)


Sunday morning, and we're up at 5:30 AM so that we can be ready to leave the ferry which has made better time than originally scheduled to the Port of Melbourne.   This particular crossing was probably as smooth as it's possible to have on The Bass Straights.    We stop after getting through the city and have a good old McDonalds breakfast.   McDonalds has a strong presence throughout Australia, and in fact, in my view, they offer two things here that I wish we had in the states.    1)  They have deli's in their stores, so the mix has a bit more of healthy fare, and 2)  Their Bacon & Egg McMuffins sport Canadian Bacon!    Outlets are located in many of their medium size towns (to us, small towns), but Patty and I rarely used them because ALL towns have fresh bakeries, where they may have chooks in the backyard -- because their Bacon & Egg "buns" are fresh!!

We have a bit of time before we fly to Perth, and so we have time to break the news gently to Pete that we are turning him in.   After a little over 8000 kilometers of faithful service, he's returned to Britz, with lot's of additional dust, dirt, sand, and mud, but nary a scratch.    This Prado is a fine rig, handles great, and has plenty of pep when needed, and good 4WD capability when that's called for.     I'm not shilling for them - I was just impressed.   (It also stayed on the left side of the road!)

All of our interior flights have been on Qantas, and our 4 hour flight to Perth was no different.   We have been so impressed with this airline.    Incredibly pleasant staff, clean, and generally new equipment!

As much as we enjoyed our Tasmanian experience, it's great to get back to the sunshine and warmer weather of Western Australia.    We pick up our 4th and last vehicle rental, and head for "home base", and our candidate for most genial and time tested hostess, Gwen Barton.    Our plan is to use this period to repack and organize our bags to be shipped back, and to take a little more time to explore parts of Perth, not yet visited.    Gwen's challenge will be to see if she can continue to more than satisfy these two Yanks with their quirky eating and drinking habits, and still have a bit of her own busy lifestyle survive!    

I mentioned earlier (Week 2) that Australia had the inaugural train trip from Adelaide to Darwin take place, and some 300+ dignitaries made the trip over a three day period, enjoying fine accommodations, food and drink, as well as the celebrations that greeted them along the way.    Gwen's oldest, Tony, (who you will recall from his previous appearances on Whudunit.com!), and his wife Corrinne, were among those who made this historic trip.   Tony, who recently stepped aside as Chairman of Amity Oil Ltd., remains the Chairman of Australia Heritage Partners, a Western Australia private investment banking firm, and Corrinne, a real talent in her own right, is a great Mum of 3 (Kate - 18, Kimberley - 17, Rosie - 10), an  accomplished painter, and among other things, a black belt in Karate!   


L-R  Rosie, Corrinne, Tony & Kimberley.    (Rosie is one of my favorites, who helped send me off on my 2001 trip!   BUT -- in addition, she is the one who keeps us smiling, before, during, and after grace!!!)

On Monday night, Kent (who you met earlier with his handsome family in Melbourne) is in Perth on business (Kent is a Transportation & Logistics Executive with the Australian Woolworth Corporation -a $30 Billion grocery/petrol/consumer services company.   No relationship with the old US Woolworth Corporation --- this one has made it, AND they've been wise enough to get Jack Shewmaker* on board as a consultant.)

* There just may be a couple of OLD P&G guys looking in who remember when Jack really was Sam Walton's #2 guy - before David Glass, and a great guy in the formative years of the P&G/Wal-Mart relationship.


You will not be surprised to know that Gwen is reasonably proud of her two oldest (as she is of her two youngest!)    What you may not know is how much Kent leans on Tony as his roast lamb carving guru!


 Now we go to the most recent emerging talent in this talent laden family.   Kimberley has been pointing toward a career in fashion design.   Patty and I prevailed upon her to bring out some of her creations (that's really the polite thing to do when they're your hosts, AND ALL --!).    We were blown away!   Even I (who knows about as much about women's fashions as I do about nuclear fission - maybe less!) was taken aback by the detail, the stitching, and the creativity of her designs.    There is just no way that these photos do justice to this impressive work!


Tony & Kent's fashions by Levi !

Patty and I thoroughly enjoy this great evening with this great family!

The next day Patty & I drive north along the coast and continue to be impressed with the WA beaches, and the lack of people!    It's no wonder that Western Australians don't mind this area being Australia's best kept secret.    From Scarborough Beach to Mullaloo Beach to   Mindarie Beach to the limestone ledges at Quinns Rocks.


What a great visit with Gwen to top off this really wonderful 8+ weeks in Australia!

Patty goes from this to this!

While I just while away the hours in the airportreflecting on the great country we're about to leave, and the great folks we've been spending time with during the past 8+ weeks.    I sure hope some of them will be able to find their way to Savannah during the next year --  but, just in case, I'm also already starting to plan my next assault Down Under!

Cheers, Mates, and just know that our romance with this great country is Fair Dinkum!


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