"Travelling To The Meeting Place (with the Pee-Hen Adventurers)"
My Dad was a great believer in taking holidays in places away from home. He said it gave you a new perspective on life as well as the everyday things around your home. That's what happened to us this winter when we went to Australia.
We found the Australians to be a warm and friendly people with hearts as big as the country in which they live (bigger than the U.S.!). Our hosts, Gillian and Ron Peebles, who live in Rockingham, a suburb of Perth in Western Australia, were no exceptions and greeted us with open arms, touring, wining and dining us for seven glorious weeks.
The first week there was to be quite representative of the others: Gillian, a well known marine artist there, was able to get us aboard The Duyfken (Dutch for Little Dove) , a just-finished replica of a Dutch sailing ship that charted the Australian coastline in 1606. We sailed on her for five hours on one of her sea trials just before she embarked on a year-long circumnavigation of the Australian continent. Needless to say it was a on-of-a- kind experience on this marvellous little vessel, painstakingly built over a three year period by the marine artisans of Fremantle; not a nail in her construction.
During our travels with the Peebles we visited Gillian's sister's property , a huge working farm in the outback, saw a professional team of sheep -shearers in action, toured a (would you believe?) facility that processes and ships a type of crayfish, called a Yabbie, to the far corners of the earth. Most of the farmers in West Australia raise them in their irrigation dams.
The Peebles and the Henschels gave themselves a name: "The Pee-Hen Adventurers". During the first few weeks we toured the entire South West corner of Australia, painting as we went. The painting shown here is called "Cape Leeuwen, the Meeting Place". The lighthouse, built of stone over a hundred years ago, sits at the confluence of the Southern and Indian Oceans where the waters display unbelievable colours. From deep indigo to brilliant green the currents intercept to form some of the biggest surf in the world. Near here, at Margaret River, the World Championship Surfing Competitions were to be held at the end of March.
As we travelled to Rottnest Island, off the coast at Perth, to Pinnacles National Park, to Kalbarri Gorge National Park and to Wave Rock National Park, the heat travelled with us. The Australians didn't think thirty to thirty-five degrees Celsius was hot. They had just come through a summer of forty to forty-five and , after all, this was autumn.
Everywhere we went we made new friends, for Aussies are not content just to say "G'day"; they must have you in for tea. Often permanent connections were made via exchanging E-mail addresses. When we finally parted with our hosts after seven weeks, we hugged and cried as if we had been old "mates" forever.
After a gruelling twenty- hour series of flights we came to some North Island rain. "It was sunny and warm while you were gone" was repeated to us over and over. Thanks a lot, folks!
My Dad was right, though; it's great to be back home. Our batteries are re-charged.