Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Day 14 – Post Congress Tour, Day 4- Fremantle, West Coast Honey, The Pinnacles.

An early start driving out of Fremantle through Perth to the north up the Brand coastal road. We stop to visit West Coast Honey Co.a third generation operation (about 3,000 colonies) in Gingin, just south of Badginarra and Nambun National Parks, mostly based on red gum trees for nectar. Beginning in 1933, the place that has 12 beekeeping families and is also the olive capital of Western Australia. The West Coast Honey Company is the retail end of the Fewster family’s beekeeping enterprise; it is kept separate from the bulk honey extraction business. All are enchanted by two young kangaroos, Eastern grays that are foundlings. A nice garden of wild plants is at the front of the building. A specially big “black boy,” now called grass plant is in evidence. These are seen in the bush in great numbers and were used by the aboriginees to produce a glue mixed together with kangaroo scat; my host in Perth has written some high faluting stories, one concerning the great amount of “hopperite” found in the bush, which is collected by energetic tourists and others.

There is a honey tasting at the store, featuring the supreme honey of the area, Jarrah (high in fructose; not prone to crystallize; low glycemic index, flowering every two years) unique to this area, salmon gum, mallee and Gold Fields, from old gold mining sites.

Water in the area a problem like elsewhere in Australia; one desalination plant in operation; another on the boards. Meanwhile some ground water pumping going on. Again emphasized that bee yards are required to have a local water source (open tanks) for the bees.

One of the Fewsters gets aboard our bus as we make our way up the western coastal road to a place called Cervantes. We pass through an area of cultivate crop land (much canola) along the way, passing by a large wind farm. Stop and look at vegetation along the way including Banksia and areas of Cape Weed and canola. Here we finally are able to dip our feet in the Indian Ocean; a nice lunch is spread out under a veranda. The beach is white sand, but filled with decaying kelp. Lobster boats are anchored off shore; it takes a lot of money to get into this business according to Michael the bus driver, given the restrictions due to potential over fishing.

We are now in the boundaries of Nambung National park
according to a sign at the Cervantes site. I note that part of the official map is the Southern Beekeepers Nature Preserve. This appears to be a good way to preserve beekeeping sites, perhaps something others might use as a strategy for overzealous land managers; have your site declared a preserve inside a national park.

We journey south of Cervantes to the Pinnacles Desert, an area with what are rock (limestone) pillar

This is a popular site for tourists from all over the world and region. There is an interpretative center being planned here (solar powered in part) and will soon be finished along with a ranger station. We trek about half way out the 4km track that runs around the site.

Back on the bus, we head out back to West Coast Honey
for the traditional thing we have become to expect, a barbecue. Again, a group of convivial beekeepers gathers to interact with the guests on the tour from other places in the world.

After dinner, it takes 2 hours to get back to the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle We arrive exhausted and dive into bed for tomorrow will be another early start.

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