Batavia Coast & Gero (I’m getting the hang of the local names)
Very hot and humid weather at the moment, unusual for this area so all the locals keep telling us, but better than cold and rain. Geraldton has a lovely foreshore area with great beaches and water play areas, walking paths and shopping.
The lookout was interesting in its design and you can see over the harbour area and back along the foreshore precinct.
We stopped in to see the museum and were blown away by the displays and information it has. For a small looking building it has a wealth of interesting artefacts especially from the ship ‘Batavia’ which was wrecked off the coast in 1629. It’s absolutely incredible what they have salvaged from the wreck everything from cannons, to coins, to pipes and jewellery. Absolutely fascinating and breathtaking. So well displayed too. Hats off to the staff here.
Also at this museum you will find an incredible award winning 3D film, on the sinking of the HMAS Sydney II in 1941, by the German ship, Kormoran The most incredible heart wrenching silent tribute that takes you two and a half kilometres under the sea to the wrecks of both these ships, interspersed with photos of the jovial, young, unsuspecting crew. How can something so important not be everyday knowledge to all Australians? I admit I was unaware of this sad and tragic story in our history, but am so glad I know now. From the minute you enter the display you know you’re in for something disturbing as they have brilliantly done a timeline on the wall, of both of the ships stories in parallel until they fatefully meet off the Geraldton coast.
After seeing the story you will feel the need to visit the memorial on the hill as we did. You walk up to the memorial through the centre of a curved wall that contains the name of all 645 men of the HMAS Sydney II who were killed that fateful day, there were no survivors. The wall of names is curved to signify the encircling arms of a nation.
The metal domed roof of the main structure, the dome of souls, is unmissable as you drive around Geraldton. During the day its striking design casts shadows of the stainless steel seagulls that make up the dome and a propeller forms the centrepiece.
The other structures at the memorial are the Stele, a towering prow shape with water depth markers, a pool of remembrance and to me the most powerful and moving, ‘The Waiting Woman” statue.
She stands there staring out to sea with an anxious and distressed look on her face waiting for the husband, son, brother who will never return. Gut wrenching. And the inscription…”The Waiting Woman waits no more, now she watches over her loved ones eternally at rest.”
It is good to visit during the daytime, but even more striking in the evening when lights bring out a new perspective to all of the elements of the memorial. We left in a bit of a hurry though when the storm clouds that had been gathering and threatening all afternoon, started rumbling and throwing bolts of lightning about.
Other sights we saw in Geraldton were the Platform Markets, held at the old railway station, a huge range of fruit & veg, jewellery, crafts, home baked breads etc… and more incredible street art. I can’t help it now I am seeing it everywhere. Lots of fun things to find.
On our last afternoon we spent some time at the “Burnt Barrel” outback BrewBQ, which in the words of the brewer is smaller than a microbrewery, more of a ‘nano brewery’. Heavily influenced by their love of food which takes centre stage at the moment, but the beers will be evolving real soon, adding to the tasty Ginger Beer and Porter on offer when we were there. Great staff, atmosphere and grounds.
Good times in Gero.