Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Through my writing and photography I seek to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.

I am a Freelance Journalist and Photographer based in Bunbury, Western Australia. My published work specialises in Western Australian travel articles and stories about inspiring everyday people. My passion is photography, writing, travel, wildflower and food photography.

I hope you enjoy scrolling through my blog. To visit other pages, please click on the tabs above, or go to my Blog Archive on the side bar. Please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of any of my posts. I value your messages and look forward to hearing from you.

If you like my work, and would like to buy a print, or commission me for some work, please go to my "contact me" tab. Thank you for visiting my blog and helping me "step into the light".



Sunday, 22 November 2015

Free camping at McDermid Rock, Western Australia

Hi everyone, looking for a wildflower drive? You don't mind bush-camping and a bit of gravel, but don't want to be too "off-road"? Read on. 

I am back this week with the next part of our recent wildflower trip out east of Hyden in Western Australia. If you missed the first part, Camping at Dryandra, you can catch up here - Camping in the Dryandra Woodland, Western Australia

From Dryandra we headed east through the wheat-belt to Hyden and then out along the Hyden to Norseman Road. We have been along this road a few times now, and if you don't mind gravel it is a good short cut going to or coming back from the Nullarbor and the eastern states. 

I blogged about it here in 2013 - Granite & Woodlines Discovery Trail, Hyden to Norseman

 When we arrived in Kulin (home of the famous Kulin bush race meeting, and the Tin Horse Highway), we were surprised to see right in the middle of town next to a small park is a FREE 72 hour parking area for fully self contained vans. There is no power but it is right next to public toilets with a shower and RV dump.  What a fabulous initiative to encourage people to stay in Kulin overnight and spend some money in this very neat and quiet country town. Make sure you check on the horses constructed by farmers in their paddocks on the Tin Horse Highway.

 From here we continued to Hyden (home of the famous Wave Rock) where we filled up at the 24 hour fuel stop ($1.30/litre for diesel) and then continued east to the Hyden-Norseman Road - known as the Granite & Woodlands Discovery Trail - approx 300kms from Hyden to Norseman. This can be covered in one day but it is better to take two days, camp along the away, and stop at the 16 designated stopping places where interpretive signage describes the history, geology and ecology of this vast uninhabited area. Please note, no fuel or supplies between Hyden and Norseman.

The Hyden to Norseman road is a good gravel road which we have usually found in great condition, other than October 2013 when it had turned to slippery mud after a night of rain.  You can see some pics on my previous blog post - Granite & Woodlines Discovery Trail, Hyden to Norseman

This time it was dry and easy going, but please do drive to the conditions and watch out for the mine haulage trucks that frequent this road.

We were looking forward to reaching a particular area dominated by a heathlands which in October 2013 had been covered by the most amazing display of wildflowers I have ever seen. Unfortunately when we arrived we found that it had been completely burnt out by bushfire. So disappointing, but it really does show you the ferocity of bush fires out here. However no doubt when we return in years to come the bush will be back in full bloom. Bushfires are natures way of regenerating. 

You can see my photos from 2013 below, and current photos. What a difference. 

But we were very happy to see some patches of the magnificent Flame Grevillea - Grevillea excelsior - which is a 1-8 metre high shrub with huge orange flower spikes 5-20 cm long. They really are spectacular and a feature along this road.

Further along we left the burnt out area and reached the woodlands where we started to find more wildflowers.
 These are Dampiera flowering along the roadside. 

And the Quandong trees (native peach) in fruit - Santalum murrayanum. These were an important food source for the aboriginal people and early settlers. You might like to taste them, but they have a sharp bitter taste. However Quandong preserves and fruit leather we bought in South Australia were delicious!

We reached our FREE campsite at McDermid Rock at about 4 o'clock. We have camped here twice before and we manged to camp in the exact same spot as these previous two times. There is something comforting about coming back to a favourite camping spot.  There are no facilities other than long-drop toilet and a few picnic tables, but that doesn't worry us. We watched the moon come up through the trees and toasted marshmallows over the fire.

The camping ground is nestled in trees at the base of the rock. There is a walking trail over the rock linked by interpretive signage. The best time to walk is early morning or late afternoon, not during the middle of the day when it can be very hot.

Balancing rock at McDermid Rock

And yes, there were wildflowers. As I am not a botanist, I will only give you common or family names, and please do not hold me to these names! Below you can see clockwise from top LH corner....
Firebush, One-sided bottlebrush, wattle, Fuchsia, Waitzia, sorry I can't identify the white flower, Senna-Casia, Eucalyptus, and in the centre a tiny flower growing out a crevice in the rock.

We decided to camp at McDermid Rock for 2 nights, and took a day trip over to Lake Johnson and Disappointment Rock. 

Lake Johnson, only about 5kms from McDermid Rock is a huge salt lake. There are a few campsites amongst the gimlet trees on the edge of the lake, but the camping and picnic area is quite open to the elements. The lake may appear dead, but it actually supports a huge variety of life.

23kms further east from Lake Johnson is Disappointment Rock. Although we had stopped here a couple of times we had never walked over the rock. There is a 1900 metre walk trail with interpretive signage that takes you over the rock. Make sure you study the walk map before you set out, as we took a wrong turn and ended up having to backtrack. Please wear a hat and sturdy boots and carry water.  The walk took us about 2 hours and it was very hot by the time we got back to our car. 

The image you can see top RHcorner here is a "water-eye" gnamma rock hole, a very important source of water to the early Aboriginals as it stored water a lot longer than the usual pan gnammas in summer. This is just one of the features you can learn about on your walk over Disappointment Rock. 

The forces of nature at work at Disappointment Rock

I love the rock gardens and look out for the ornate dragon lizards which you will see darting everywhere over granite rocks like Disappointment and McDermid rocks. You have to be quick!

These wattles were growing around the base of Disappointment Rock. The bees were enjoying them. 
I don't know why it is called Disappointment Rock, as it was far from disappointing!

 I was in raptures to see Granite Sun Orchids which flower in the rock gardens on granite rocks.  Can you see where I have circled one in purple, lower RHcorner? 

 From Disappointment Rock we turned back west and then north onto Victoria Rock Road as we wanted to visit Banks Rock about 10kms north. We had read that the track was not suitable for towing a caravan or camper and I would agree with that. Banks Rock would be better for tenting. We had lunch under a tree and had a short walk over the lower rock, it was now too hot to do more. There are no facilities, and I think that McDermid Rock is a far preferable campsite.

Below you can see Tea-Tree, Fringe Lily and yellow Waitzia. I think bottom RH corner could be Burrobunga but I am not sure. There were numerous gnamma holes with water in them.

 And some more gorgeous wildflowers along the Hyden to Norseman Road. 
Below you can see clockwise from top LHcorner - 
Tea-tree, Fringe Lily,  Eremophila, Native Hibiscus, Feather flower, Silky Halgania, Starflower, Blind grass, and in the centre Honey Myrtle 
(but as I said I am not a Botanist, so please don't hold me to these names)

Below clockwise from top LHcorner - Pop flower, Goodenia, Green Mulla Mulla, Native Foxglove, Coneflower, Tinsel Flower, the remains of a Tennis Ball Banksia (can you see why it has this name?), and in the centre the yellow Golden Feather-flower.

There were also many Hakeas and Grevilleas. These two families of plants are very similar, so I am not going to even try to identify them, other than the Flame Grevillea, top LHcorner.  If you would like to read more about these plant species please go to "Esperance Blog" - Hakeas and Grevilleas

We enjoyed our time around McDermid and Disappointment Rocks and I enjoyed my time taking photos of the wildflowers. I hope you have enjoyed them too. It's a good idea to carry a wildflower identification book. A series I can thoroughly recommend is Eddy Wajon's Colour Guide to Spring Wildflowers of Western Australia. You can see the set of 4 books on this link - Guide to Spring Wildflowers

On my next blog post we will continue north and then east again to Cave Hill, the southern goldfields and the area known as the woodlines. 


Road is a good quality gravel road suitable for all vehicles, including those towing a caravan or camper, however please take note of “road closure” signs and drive for conditions when wet.
Watch out for wildlife, especially at dawn and dusk.
There are no facilities or towns between Hyden and Norseman. so carry adequate fuel, provisions and water. 

Early morning mist at McDermid Rock

Location:  Perth to Hyden - 340km, Hyden to McDermid Rock - 192km, Hyden to Norseman - 300km.
Ideal time to travel: April and October when the weather is cooler (generally 20-25C) Night temperatures can be very cold- so be prepared with warm clothing. Temperatures in summer months vary between 30 and 40C
Facilities:  Picnic tables, fire rings, long drop bush toilets at some sites.  Be aware of camp fire bans, and use a gas stove.  Take your rubbish out with you. 

Along the Hyden-Norseman Rd, about an hour from McDermid Rock

Shire of Dundas - Shire of Dundas

A Guide to the Granite and Woodlands Discover Trail booklet – Shire of Dundas
 Australia's Golden Outback - self drive Woodlands Discovery Trail

This is a map from the Shire of Dundas website:

McDermid Rock, Lake Johnson & Disappointment Rock are where the trail peaks up in the middle of the marked route. 

Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week. 

 You might also like - 
Flowers that bloom in the red rock of Mount Augustus
Bushwalking at Hoffman's Mill, Harvey
Rock building blocks


I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday
Travel Photo Mondays
Lifestyle Fifty Monday Linkup 
Our World Tuesday
Through My Lens 
Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global
Worth Casing Wednesday

What's It Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
The Weekly Postcard 

Monday, 16 November 2015

Remembering beautiful Paris

In the light of the tragedies this past weekend in Paris, the effects of which have reverberated around the world, I am posting a few images from our trip to Paris in July 2005.  Beautiful Paris.

 paix et la liberté

Petit Pont

Street scene, Plantes quarter

Fountain in Bercy

inside The Pantheon

Flame of Remembrance, Arc de Triomphe
Dinner in Montmarte
Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel at Louvre

And with these images comes a prayer for peace around the world and my thoughts go out to my French friends both living here or abroad and those in Paris. 
Oblisk from Tuileries Garden at sunset
Please scroll down for more.  Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week. 

I will be back with our recent wildflower trip in Western Australia next week. 

I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday
Travel Photo Mondays

Lifestyle Fifty Monday Linkup 
Our World Tuesday

Through My Lens 
Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global
Worth Casing Wednesday
What's It Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday

The Weekly Postcard

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

On the 11th hour, the 11th day of the 11th month, we will remember them

 We will remember them. The tragedies of war are not just those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives, but those who came home damaged in mind, body and spirit.

If you live in Western Australia, or touring through, I encourage you to visit the National Anzac Centre in Albany. You will see the faces, and read the words, and you will come away with a new appreciation of the human cost of war.
The writing on this post have been borrowed from the National Anzac Centre. 

National Anzac Centre, Albany

Australian War Memorial, Canberra

 We will remember them.

I cannot listen to The Last Post without tears coming to my eyes. 
The Last Post

You might also like: where you will read the significance of the names on the placques in the collage above to our family. .

Thank you for stopping by. Does 11 November remembrance have a significance to you and your family?


Monday, 9 November 2015

Summer is on its way in Western Australia - & making lemon butter

I hope your week has started well. This is not originally what I planned to bring you today, but I have been caught in the "summer is on its way" feeling.  And how could I not be? The Jacaranda trees in my area are in full bloom, the Banksias are sending up what I call their Christmas candles, there is a yellow pea flower blooming along my morning walk, surf-club is in full swing down at the back beach, and it's a lovely time to enjoy coffee with a friend at one of our waterside cafes. I love living here so close to water, even if I do have to walk or drive to get to it. We have the river, estuary, inlet and ocean only ten minutes away.

 Here some more pics of that Banksia tree. These flowers are about 12 inches or 30 centimeters long. Don't you think they look like candles?

Summer is coming to my garden too.
The green kangaroo paws have put up their long flower stems over the last week or so, the agapanthus is shooting up it's blue flower heads, the hydrangea is putting out its first flowers, my lovely double creamy yellow gerbera is full blown, the lavender is putting up new shoots, the roses are blooming, as is the honeysuckle, and my pink native rose, and the yellow daisies that border my garden have erupted in a riot of yellow this past week. 

 In my back garden the grape vine has promising bunches of grapes, the apricot tree is covered in paper bags to keep off the fruit-fly and the birds, the parsley plant has gone to seed, the lemon tree is loaded and the tomato plants are starting to flower.

What to do with all those lemons?  Make lemon butter of course! And what is not to like about lemon butter!

Here is the recipe I use: 

Lemon butter or Lemon Curd

500 grams (1lb) sugar, 250 grams (1/2 lb) butter, 4 eggs, juice of 3 lemons.
Grate rind of lemons and mix with juice and other ingredients in a china or glass bowl. Stand over boiling water on stove. Stir until consistency of honey, but do not allow to boil. 
This takes about half an hour. Bottle and cover immediately. Makes about 3 jars. Store in the fridge. 
Enjoy on fresh baked scones or just slather on bread.

Do you make lemon butter? You should try it. It is fairly easy to make.
But there are a few tricky questions
How much lemon juice is in 3 lemons? I never know when a recipe has this sort of instruction. My lemons are very large and produce a lot of juice. 
It is also difficult when you are cooking to know when you have reached the right consistency. "like honey" I guess is a good guide. I find the lemon butter does thicken a bit more after it has been refrigerated.
The most tricky part is resisting eating it straight from the jar! It is so delicious.

Here is a little photography hint for those budding food photographers out there. If your lighting is a bit dull, try adding some "fill in light" on the front of your set up. You can do this with a white bounce card, or a light. I have just purchased a Metz Mecalight LED-480 led light which works perfectly for small set ups. You can see the result below. You don't need an expensive light for small set ups. I've also used a fluorescent camping light which has worked well in these situations.
If you use tripod in low light you can also increase the exposure (ie slow down the shutter speed) when you take your pic or lighten the exposure in post processing after.  

You can see with and without a light below. Big difference. This was taken on my patio. 

 Lastly a few flowers just because.

Some summery yellow daisies sitting in a piece of my grandmother's cruet set and processed with a texture. 

 And a close up of that beautiful gerbera in my garden.

 Do you make lemon butter? What is your favourite lemon recipe? Perhaps you would like to tell us about it in your comments. 

I hope to be back next week with the next part of our recent spring wildflower trip. I working on identifying as many of the wildflowers as I can for you. 

Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week.

I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday
Travel Photo Mondays

Lifestyle Fifty Monday Linkup 
Our World Tuesday

Through My Lens 
Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global
Worth Casing Wednesday
What's It Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday

The Weekly Postcard

 You might also like:
Hello sunshine yellow and lemony delights 
Hydrangeas and Melting Moments in my garden 
Summer is here  
The trees are blooming for Christmas