24 March 2013
My brain sees WA as Washington (as in the state) - I'm trying to adjust to Western Australia. So Rockingham, WA is not in Washington. It's Western Australia.
Rockingham is actually a very pretty suburb - though a suburb that's some 45-48 kilometers away from the city hardly seems to be a suburb. We're staying at a nice house, renting a huge room (and en suite bathroom) - in a nice residential area, with a huge shopping center just down the road. It really is a perfect setting - all the supermarkets and shopping and restaurants and cafés just a short walk away, but all the comforts of home without being in a huge impersonal hotel or a noisy hostel. Very comfortable, and is working out well. Check out www.airbnb.com the next time you need to stay somewhere - I totally recommend it!
Rockingham is linked to Perth by trains and buses, and there are buses that go all over the town. But there's also a network of bike and walking paths, with little underpasses and tunnels, crisscrossing the town. It makes for lovely walking. This afternoon we walked several miles along the path in the green belt that follows the stream running in back of the house, which provides home for ducks and apparently turtles. We didn't see any turtles, but the storm drain grate seems to indicate the presence of turtles. We saw ducks, though, and talked with them for a while. Well, we talked - they just asked for bread.
There was also a great fountain in the midst of the little duck pond - I had so much fun trying to capture the action of the fountain in a photo - the movement of the water was wonderful!
So we walked, and looked in the eucalyptus trees for koalas (didn't find any), and watched the shadows grow long as the sun inched toward the horizon.
We came to a huge rugby or football field, full of white squawking birds. Noisy! As we approached, more and more flew in - this was truly a spectacle worthy of Alfred Hitchcock! At first they looked like seagulls, gathering in this field, eating worms or insects and planning a revolution. But the closer we got, and the more I listened, I realized that these weren't seagulls at all, these were cockatoos!! Hundreds and hundreds of cockatoos, meeting in the field for an evening snack of whatever bugs or worms they were digging up. Crazy noisy white and pale pink cockatoos, who let me get within four or five feet of them before they'd sidle away, still digging up dinner and muttering as they moved sideways, keeping their distance but not missing a bite as they moved. A few swooped in, nearly sideswiping first me and then Richard as they circled in for a landing - they were definitely showing us who owned this field! Truly amazing sight!
We headed back toward the mall, turning around periodically to watch the sunset - and a few times I could see and hear the cockatoos as they rose up en masse and flew off to their roosting trees for the night. Very surreal, to see and hear some two or three hundred cockatoos in a huge flock flying around this town!
Anyway, we had a nice dinner, and I finished with my new favorite dessert, Pavlova. This is just one of many things that Australians and New Zealanders argue about: each nation claims that this dessert originated with them. I have no clue, I just know that Pavlova is a lovely light dessert! For those who haven't tried Pavlova, it's fabulous - the base is a layer of meringue, either baked crispy dry or not-so-baked so it's dry on the outside but still spongy meringue on the inside; then fruit and whipped cream are layered on top; a bit of vanilla ice cream might be added; and this lovely concoction is then eaten. It's almost like a strawberry shortcake, but with that light meringue instead of the dense American shortcake biscuit. And I've had Pavlovas that were individually made, such as this one; others are made as one very large round, and then wedges are cut and served as a portion. All are layered with the cream and fruit just before serving, because the meringue will absorb the cream and kind of wilt. Today's Pavlova featured fresh strawberries, but I've also had sliced kiwi fruit, or blueberries, or other berries kind of cooked into a thick berry stew. At any rate, it's light, fruity, creamy, and sweet, and is almost a healthy dessert - the only thing missing is chocolate!