We've been home for over 3 weeks now but I'm still feeling rested after our amazing holiday through Western Australia. We were headed north but Steve was persuaded to take a huge detour through the goldfields and ghost towns of inland WA, adding around 1000 extra kilometres on to our trip, so I could finally visit Menzies and the Antony Gormley sculptures - 51 of them in all - on the salt lake that is Lake Ballard. It's a long way from anywhere so it was always going to take an extra effort to get there. I had that feeling of meeting old friends, or friends of friends that I'd heard stories of for years. I was delighted to share their company and their space. The kids were even impressed enough to write in their journals that night around the campfire...though I think that was the first and last entry for either of them! From there we continued slowly northto Karijini, discovering a couple of beautiful little camping spots along the way. After a week inland we made our way to the north-west coast - first up, a few days camping on the beach at Ningaloo where we spent the days fishing, reading, eating only when we felt hungry and washing ourselves and our clothes in the Indian Ocean. Then up to Exmouth to regroup...our first (much needed) showers since leaving home, a mountain of clothes to wash and the pantry and water tank to refill. And of course some amazing snorkelling along the Ningaloo Reef before flying the kids home. After leaving the little airport at Learmonth, Steve and I went to our favourite spot at Warroora where we tucked ourselves in behind the sand dunes and didn't see another soul for 5 days. 5 days of reading, walking, fossicking and relaxing without hungry children to feed. We missed them at first...but soon got used to camping without them! After a quick restock in Carnarvon we spent a few days at Gnaraloo - one of Steve's favourite surf spots - before starting our journey south and home.
Our final night on the road turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip for me when I realized we weren't far from the Principality of Hutt River - another destination on my Must Visit One Day list. The principality was formed in 1970 when wheatfarmers, Leonard and Shirley Casley seceded from the rest of Australia - at the time they were disputing new wheat quotas and found a loophole in the law! Since reading about them years ago, I've been a bit of a fan of Prince Leonard and Princess Shirley, so I was thrilled to finally get to visit them. That's Princess Shirley in the one of the final photos, standing outside the Principality's post office and government buildings wearing her green cardy and slippers...when I asked if she had a tiara she said she only wore it for state occasions "you know, if we're knighting people or something like that"!