All people could talk about was ballooning! Y Striders presented a large contingent of potential ballooniacs ready for both the Friday and Saturday morning ballooning sessions with Windward Balloons. In the cold and fog, long before sun rose, shivery with anticipation (or was that the 4 degees C ?), they were inducted into the “brace” position and the other ‘dos and don’ts’ of balloon flight: ‘Never leave the flight deck’, was particularly important!
Once everyone found their spots in the baskets, the balloons rose through the thick fog to find clear air above. It was amazing to see the sun come up through the fog and light up the balloons as they floated above the earth. Looking down Y Striders could see the blanket of fog and the occasional top of a tree or a hill in the distance. It was a surreal experience and one that will never be forgotten. After approximately an hour of floating, the balloons descended through the fog to land in the paddocks. Everyone was put to work packing up the balloon and then were taken into Northam for the largest farm-style breakfast that could be imagined!
The Friday night dinner was held at The Duke’s Hotel. Here, everyone enjoyed a tasty and beautifully cooked meal. President, Ken welcomed everyone, and it was a most sociable evening.
Saturday was a “free” day and people found lots to do. Of course, there was the mandatory shopping expeditions, (Christine, Jennie, Ros?), trips to other local towns, such as York and Toodyay and general exploration of the area including the river, the historic walk and buildings, the Bilya Koort Boodja cultural centre, the painted silos and other interesting aspects of the Northam region. Dinner on Saturday evening was at the Lume restaurant. This Indian banquet was plentiful and very tasty.
Sunday proved to be a logistical triumph for Elizabeth as her complex plans for car drop- offs, meeting places, passenger pickups and drop offs, plus lunch orders and general organisation worked perfectly. Everyone ended up in the right place at the right time and happily with the right lunch order!
Then there was the walk. This was along part of the KEP track (KEP is an aboriginal word for water), and we ambled the 7 kilometres along the old train line from Clackline to Bakers Hill – where the famous bakery provided lunch, of course. Some ended their walk there and were transported back to either Northam or Clackline. The remaining 16 walked a further 8 kilometres to Wundowie. Here Malcolm was able to share stories of his childhood in Wundowie.
The evening get together in the Temperance Bar proved too much for some, but there were still plenty of Y Striders who managed to find a drink and then went next door to the Dome restaurant for their meal.
For most, Monday morning meant packing up and heading back to Perth, with some going via the Summer Creek Restaurant and Brewery for lunch. Those, who stayed in Northam, found that a game of bocce, and other games kept them busy for the afternoon.
What a wonderful weekend. Once again Y Striders showed their true colours – a noisy, excitable, raucous and energising group who make the most of every occasion. There was always time for wine and cheese, a chat to people you often don’t get to see and an opportunity to stretch the legs in a good walk. Good food and good company seemed to dominate the weekend and everyone went home feeling that weekend had been a great success.
Thanks to Elizabeth for her outstanding timetables and logistics. Thanks to Tracey and Ross for choosing fabulous restaurants and ensuring that everyone was well fed and happy. Thank you to Pam, Kevin and Bill for assessing the walks in the area and leading us on the KEP track. A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to making the annual weekend away successful, well organised and entertaining.