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11 Oct 2003

Today's destination probably doesn't appear on any of the tourist guides to Western Australia, except perhaps as a roadside rest on the way to someplace else (like New Norcia or someplace like that). But it was another one of those really special days on this walkabout of mine.

We went to Bindoon today to visit Julanka, "the place of the trees," 5 acres of land which belong to friends of Peggy's. We had brought along a "chook" (chicken) to share for lunch.

I had been to Bindoon a few weeks back, when we went to the monastery at New Norcia with Monty and Carolynn. On our way home, we stopped at a cafe in Bindoon for coffee and scones. But now we were spending the day there.

The original idea had been to bring the dogs with us. Chippa and Khasi (Ann & Julie's dog) are best friends and it would be fun for the three of them to romp together. But Ann called in the morning to say Julie had killed a snake that morning. Summer is rapidly approaching and the snakes will be starting to come out. As this area has some of the most poisonous snakes in the world, the thought of sending the dogs romping through the bush was not a good one, so Chippa and Keno stayed home.

Khasi was so funny when we arrived. She immediately hopped in the car and was very disappointed to find only 2-legged creatures in it. After we had settled ourselves on the porch, overlooking the kangaroo paw plants and the bush beyond them, Khasi went back out to the car, and circled it several times, seeming certain that if she just looked in the right spot, Chippa would surely be there. Eventually, she joined us on the porch and with a heavy sigh settled herself into her chair. No playmates today.

We were offered a tour of the place and readily accepted. The tour was amazing. I mentioned once before that springtime in this part of Australia is really incredible. We have seen fields carpeted in purple or yellow or blue or a combination. It's enough to make you gasp. But what is even more amazing is that if you stop the car and get out in the woods, you realize that the blaze of color is only half the story. As we walked through the bush we were surrounded by dozens of tiny orchids and other plants. The sort of thing you can't possibly see from the road, because they are too small and too close to the ground.

Julie knew the names of each plant, showed me how you could identify an orchid so incredibly small you can barely see it, and where special plants were located. Peggy got out her close up lens and got several "photos of the day."

While we were walking, Khasi was racing around the bush and under a "black boy" (or "grass tree") she unearthed a bob-tail lizard and had a wonderful time barking at it.

On the way back to the house, we passed a field of electric blue flowers. I did take a photo, but it doesn't nearly do it justice.

We had a lovely lunch--the chook we'd brought, with fresh-from-the-bakery bread, a huge salad and drinks.

When we'd finished, Julie brought out a "chocolate slice" which Ann had made for dessert. We were told this was only the second time in 8 years that she had made this, so I felt honored indeed.

The afternoon was spent discussing cameras and comparing digital photos, and looking at the photos of the renovations that had been done on the house. The time passed quickly and too soon it was time to leave.

On our trip back, we took a scenic route through beautiful countryside (again...does the beautiful countryside ever end in this country?). Julie had given us very explicit hand-written verbal directions and a very clear map with the route traced in irridescent pen on it. How we ended up taking a wrong turn halfway to the Great Northern Highway is beyond us, but we found ourselves heading back to Bindoon and after 20 km had to turn around and retrace our steps. But then...would it be one of "our" trips if we hadn't gotten lost?

It's hard to imagine that in just a short time all this lush green, flower-covered land will be dry and brown and there will be a shortage of water. I am so lucky to have come at this time of year.

We were home in time for tea, but neither of us was hungry, so after giving dog soup to the dogs, we retired to our computers to check over our photos for the day. As usual, Peggy had the best shots. I'm getting used to that (but don't tell her I admitted it, OK?)

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