Nullarbor – Cocklebiddy and Nullarbor

Nullarbor – Cocklebiddy and Nullabor

Sunday 15th February – It’s 180km from Kalgoorlie to Norseman where we’ll stop to refuel then we turn left and start heading east along the Nullarbor.

16-2 nullabor plain sign

The road is pretty quiet to Norseman, not much happening there. It picks up as we head across the Eyre Highway, a good steady stream of traffic coming towards us, mostly trucks and road trains.

15-2 road train

The road is amazingly good, plenty wide enough and smooth.  Maddy is so good at this all day long travel, she doesn’t complain and keeps herself entertained with DVD’s, books and her iPad. What a treasure!

15-2 maddy in back seat

The first few hours along the Nullabor to the Balladonia Roadhouse the road undulates and there are plenty of trees along the way, not much else although there are public phone boxes and plenty of rest stops.

View across the Nullarbor

15-2 view across the nullabor

We stop at Belladonia for lunch, hop in the caravan for an hour and have a break.. Quinoa for lunch, good and refreshing. Drew is still up for driving for a bit longer, I’m more than happy to drive although I haven’t driven the van since we left now so I am not sure how I’ll go. He won’t let me, happy to keep going.

After lunch it’s the long straight road, 146km which is supposedly the longest stretch of straight road in Australia.

15-2 longest straight stretch

There’s a roadhouse after that Caiguna but if we’re up for it we’ll try for Cocklebiddy, which will mean we’ve clocked up 640km today, a massive dint in the journey!

Along the road we come across one of the Royal Flying Doctor Service Airstrips, it’s pretty cool that the road turns in to a runway if needed don’t you think?

15-2 RFDS airstip sign

The Road/ Airstrip – we hear they do a fly over first before they land to signal to traffic to stop and give them the room to land.

15-2 RFDS airstrip

We made it to Cocklebiddy Roadhouse and checked in, $40 for a powered site for the night, that’s a lot for a patch of dirt and not much else!

Our spot for the night at Cocklebiddy

15-2 parked at cocklebiddy

There are only a couple of other vans here tonight, at least it’s a drive through so you can leave the car hitched up for a quick getaway tomorrow.

15-2 van at cocklebiddy

Cocklebiddy Roadhouse on the Nullarbor

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There’s a huge wedge tailed eagle here in a cage, they call him Sam, seems he was rescued and is going to be released later this year. It’s great to be able to get so close to him!

16-2 eagle at cocklebiddy

After the long drive we are all a bit tired, but Maddy gets out a ball and we have a wonderful hour playing ball between us in the car park.

Sunset at Cocklebiddy Roadhouse

15-2 sunset cocklebiddy

 

Monday 16th February – Another long day ahead of us, not quite as long as yesterday, 460km today heading for the locality Nullarbor. We crossed the border in to Adelaide so we have now lost two and a half hours from WA time. That will upset the body clock for a while.

16-2 border into SA

Signs at the South Australia Border Crossing

16-2 sign at SA border crossing

While on the road today we saw lots of kangaroo road kill in the hour after Cocklebiddy but we didn’t see any live ones and luckily none crossed the road.

16-2 animal road sign

We did see a Dingo cross the road today though, which was good to see, oh and a lizard and that’s all the wildlife we saw!

The landscape for much of today

16-2 view of nullabor

There is actually a golf course that runs the length of the Nullarbor, the holes are sometimes a 100km apart, it’s quite odd really.  Some people say they stop and have fun playing each hole, perhaps when we are grey nomads we’ll get in to golf.

16-2 nullabor links flag

One of the holes on the Nullarbor Golf Course – it is pretty unique!

16-2 golf green

The landscape is changing once again, there is now a ridge running along to our left, we hadn’t really expected that, you imagine that this area is all completely flat but it’s not.

This is a classic fuel stop along the way

16-2 fuel stop

Yesterday we saw a cyclist, today we saw another 2, you would have to be completely crazy to cycle along here without support.  These road trains are terrifying sometimes, even in our big tank, I can’t imagine cycling with them thundering past.

16-2 cyclist on nullabor

We are now much nearer the coastline, the great Australian Bight.

16-2 great aust bight

There’s a couple of lookouts, the first one we can see a long beach along the cliffs.

16-2 great aust bight 2

The second lookout we stop at one and get the most amazing view of the cliffs along the coast.

16-2 great aust bight cliffs

It’s good to stop and stretch the legs, and see the coast again!

16-2 maddy & nikki at cliffs

Cliffs and car park

16-2 cliffs and carpark

We roll in to Nullarbor and it’s $30 for the night here although you have to pay $1 for your showers here. I guess as water is so scarce for them, that’s a good way to limit use.

Nullarbor Roadhouse

16-2 nullabor service stop

As we’re there a bit earlier we have a bit of time this evening, so Maddy and I enjoy doing a jigsaw puzzle together while Drew chills out.

Drew has done all the driving again, there are a lot of road trains and the road is quite skinny in places, so I am glad that he prefers to do all the driving really.

Sunset Nullarbor Roadhouse

16-2 sunset nullabor

Tuesday 17th February – We’re up really late on SA time, but early on WA time… body is not adjusted yet. But we just take it as it comes and get ourselves ready and on the road by 9.45am, which is really 7,15am WA time, so I guess that’s a good early start!

It’s not such a long drive today, 300km to Ceduna. The road continues to change, it’s been a pretty interesting trip, I can’t say we’ve got bored at all.  We’ve listened to music, I’ve blogged, we’ve talked, we’ve done some schooling.  Perhaps we’re just getting used to these long drives now.

17-2 road across nullabor 2

Kalgoorlie

Kalgoorlie

Friday 13th February – The road was pretty good between Esperance and Kalgoorlie, nothing much to see, a few salt lakes and a few little towns along the way. We stopped at Norseman for lunch and what a sad little town that is, very run down, half of the shops closed. Doesn’t have a very nice feel to it, the place is dead. They say you can buy a house here for $25,000. I can’t think it would be a wise investment.

We find our way in to Kalgoorlie and our chosen caravan park which was in Prospector, we checked in for 2 nights, it will be enough. First impressions are Kalgoorlie is a bit like a Mount Isa or a Port Headland, or Tom Price. The guy at the reception was very warm and welcoming and gave me lots of info about what to see in the area. As it was already 42 degrees he found us a welcome spot in the shade.

We set up and then headed over to Woolies to get some supplies, that was a scary experience. Bit like the woolies in Katherine, lots of indigenous people shouting at each other and wandering along drunk trying to get in to the bottle shop adjoined to the supermarket. While I shopped Drew and Maddy went across the road to get a Thai takeaway for dinner as it was getting too late and I couldn’t be bothered to cook.  The thai was fairly average but saved me a job and we sat in with the air con on and watched better homes and gardens.

 

Saturday 14th February – Valentines Day!!!!!   Big day out and about exploring the sights of Kalgoorlie today.  We were heading firstly to Hannan’s Tourist Mine but turns out it’s closed on a Saturday, what a shame, so we ended up driving further down the road and coming across this crazy “2 up” place.

14-2 2UP sign

 

In the middle of nowhere it’s an old tin shed where it seems they play the game of 2 up every Sunday.

14-2 outside of ring

 

The game 2 up is illegal as far as we know across Australia except for on Anzac Day, I wonder how it’s legal here?

14-2 inside ring

 

It looks like it hasn’t changed for years….. Look at the loos!

14-2 2UP toilet

 

And the ladies….. we couldn’t decide wether it would be fun to come here and see what it’s all about or absolutely terrifying.

14-2 ladies toilets

 

Then we drive out to the Board Arrow Tavern, which is a bit of a famous landmark about 30 mites our of Kalgoorlie, we thought we might stop here for lunch. We decided not too as the menu just wasn’t very appealing, chips and burgers, burgers and chips or schnitzel… thanks but no!

14-2 braod arrow tavern

 

It’s an interesting old pub, the walls have been scribbled on everywhere, which is part of the attraction and what has made it in to a “tourist attraction”… seems people get married here even, really!

14-2 writing on wall broad arrow

 

I suppose it is a classic old outback pub, but it needs a bloody good scrub! Still as we were there we stopped and enjoyed a cold beer, out of the bottle mind, not risking a grubby glass….

14-2 braod arrow tavern inside

 

We headed back in to Kalgoorlie for lunch, there is a lot of choice, but nothing much that takes our fancy. We opt for number 1 on trip advisor, the Hoover Café, which is in the Palace Hotel, one of the older pubs in Kalgoorlie. It’s as you’d expect inside, old! Still the menu is large and varied and we find a salad for lunch. There’s little choice for Maddy, she won’t eat chicken nuggets or fish bites as I’ve driven in to her how unhealthy they are, so the best of a bad bunch was a sausage and chips! It was OK, it was number 1 out of 80 places to eat…. number 1!

After lunch, we drove out to the look out to see The Superpit. Wow the size of it is just incredible. It’s a massive open pit gold mine.

14-2 super pit

 

They say it’s 3.36km wide, 1.6km long and 600m deep. We stood and watched the trucks winding their way down the pit, get filled with rocks and rubble and then slowly wind there way back up again. They looked small until you saw a ute driving by the then you realised the sheer size of it all. What an immense hole in the ground!

14-2 nikki & maddy at super pit

 

We learnt that it takes over 6 tonnes of earth to make 1 wedding ring, how crazy is that!

14-2 kalgoorlie super pit side

 

They have a superb little museum in Kalgoorlie, which is free to enter or a small gold coin donation. It had a vault with over 4 million dollars of gold in it and explains how gold is mined and turned in to nuggets.

There’s a pub, the British Arms which is said to be haunted by a previous land lady who came to a sticky end after falling down the stairs…  There are several old buildings that have been recreated as they would have been in the 1800’s. An old bank, a small cottage and the likes.

14-2 museum entrance

 

There’s also a look out where you can see over Kalgoorlie.

14-2 kalgoorlie

 

We then drove down the main street of Boulder on the way back to the van. Boulder is kind of half of Kalgoorlie, they were once separate towns but have become one as the towns have grown.

The main street has some lovely old building. It seems an earthquake destroyed many of the buildings only a few years ago and they have been restored to their original state.

14-2 old building in kalgoorlie

 

There’s a free “Abba solutely” concert on tonight in a park just near to our caravan park, Centennial Park. So we headed there for the evening, armed with picnic, champagne and chairs. It’s amazingly busy, there must be 1000 people there or more. Incredible! We were there just 30 mins before it started and were lucky to get a great spot not far from the front of the stage.

The concert was great fun, gotta love a bit of Abba. We go to the Bjorn Again concert as part of the twilight series at Taronga Zoo each year and this is very similar, minus the Sydney harbour backdrop and with a slightly different guest list…

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The band were good but not quite s good as Bjorn Again, if you let the music and the atmosphere wash over you and didn’t listen too closely to the tone or the sound of the voices it was much better… Still we enjoyed an evening with the locals of Kalgoorlie, made a nice change. We were expecting a few drunks and some fisticuffs between the locals but it was actually much more family oriented and civilized after all.

Sunday 15th February – Big day today, leaving Kalgoorlie and starting the long journey across the Nullabor to South Australia. We’re up by 6am and all organised and on the road before 8am.

Esperance

Esperance

Friday 6th February – We finally decided as we left Bremer Bay which caravan park we were going to stay at in Esperance and called them as we drove along, only to find they don’t have a spot big enough for us until tomorrow, so rather than choose another caravan park, and none of them in Esperance sound great, we decide to book in to a cabin for the night, yippeee ~ That will be nice!

It’s a long journey today, 380km from Bremer Bay to Esperance which takes us just under 5 hours. The road is not great at all, very bumpy and skinny and although it’s quiet there are a fair few road trains to tackle for your share of the road. While we drive along we use the time wisely to write up some blog and do some school work with Maddy.

I’ve also downloaded some music from Spotify so that we can listen to some different music along the way as we’ll be mostly out of internet range. We’re listening to lots of Passenger, Kasey Chambers, Jason Mraz and Stu Larsen today. All new music to us which is nice.

Drew and I also get chance to talk more about our goals for the year ahead and we write down some plans and exactly what we need to spend and earn and it’s looking all good and doable.

There is pretty much nothing between Bremer Bay and Esperance except a small town called Ravensthorpe. The landscape is very agricultural with huge fields that look like they’ve been recently harvested, some fields with livestock and a fair few fields with farmed trees all felled and lying in lines, we’re assuming drying before being collected and converted to wood chip. As Albany does a lot of exporting wood chip.

We even get a spot of rain along the way!  Rain?  Surely not!

6-2 drive frm bremer bay to esperance

 

We stopped for lunch and a bit of a break, it’s handy to be able to get in the caravan and sit down to eat, and wash up afterwards. I’d made us a quinoa and tuna salad for lunch which was lovely.

We finally made it to Esperance, a 5 hour drive all up pretty much. There are about 5 caravan parks to choose from in Esperance and none of them sound very good, but we chose a Top Tourist Park the Esperance Bay Caravan Park and as they didn’t have a spot for us tonight we parked the car and van outside and checked in to our cabin for the night. Very excited to be staying in a cabin, all that space to move around in!

6-2 cabin at esperance

 

We took a change of clothes and some food for tonight and tomorrow out of the van for the night and settled in.

Time to explore!  We went for a walk along the foreshore to see what Esperance is all about. Maddy found some exercise machines which she always loves a play on.

6-2 exercise on foreshore walk

This end of Esperance where we are staying is the port. So the beach looks out over ships being loaded. The water still has that amazing turquoise blue colour which is pretty incredible so close to the port.

6-2 esperance port

 

We walked along the front and to be honest we’re really uninspired with Esperance so far, I think we were expecting it to be a much nicer little town. It’s a bit tired and run down really. We hear the beaches around here are supposed to be some of the best in the world, so we look forward to exploring those tomorrow.

6-2 lighthouse sculpture on esperance foreshore

 

Popped in to the information centre and picked up a few maps of the area, then wondered through some interesting quirkly little shops that are in old buildings in the museum complex before heading back to the cabin.

Was nice to spend an evening in sitting on a sofa and cooking in a kitchen.

 

Saturday 7th February – It’s nice to wake up in a bedroom! I wanted to get a run in this morning so headed to the foreshore. It’s a beautiful day today, the one good thing about Esperance is the foreshore has been recently done up and has a path that goes all the way along the seafront, so I followed that. I ran for a good 30 minutes without stopping along the path and it still continued, but that was my turnaround point, so I ran all the way back. There were a few other folks around but not many, this is a quiet little place. I managed to do a 10km run in under an hour, with harldy any knee isuees so I was pretty happy with that, tired but happy!

Drew had organised a wonderful breakfast for me and was already doing some school work with Maddy. So after a quick shower, in a bathroom,  I sat down to avocado, tomoato and 2 perfectly poached eggs, yum yum.

Soon our van site became free so we moved the van in to place and moved our few bits and pieces out of the cabin.

Our space for the next 6 nights

8-2 van set up at esperance

 

It’s such a wonderful day we decided to head out and explore some of the beaches west of Esperance. There is a road that follows the coast for about 20km taking in all the wonderful beaches along the way.

The walking/ cycle path also follows along here for about 11km or so, although it’s a bit hilly it looks like a great bike ride to follow.

First stop is West Beach, gorgeous.

West Beach Esperance

 

Then we drove on a bit further to another stunning view across Blue Haven beach. That looked like a lovely sheltered spot to spend a few hours. There were also a couple of paddle borders paddling out, we will stop there another time for a swim for sure.

Blue Haven Beach Esperance

 

Then on to Salmon Beach, then Fourth Beach, then Twilight Bay which is supposed to be great for swimming. Some people were taking surfing lessons there, looked like a great surf spot for us too, waves not too big for Miss Maddy.

Twilight Beach

Twilight Beach Esperance

 

Then around to Observatory Point, walked up the steps and boardwalk to the lookout and spotted a shark meandering along the beach line, literally just a few metres off the beach.

View from the lookout at Observatory Point

Observatory Point Esperance

 

Luckily there was nobody swimming in the area, he would have been well over a metre long, you could see him quite clearly. A good reminder that these beaches are well known for being frequently visited by sharks! We heard that a local couple have voluntarily taken their own helicopter to shark spotting along the Esperance beaches… what does that tell you? We better be careful!

Observatory Point Esperance

 

We then drove along Nine Mile Beach, Ten Mile Lagoon and on to Eleven Mile Beach. This really is a beautiful piece of coastline.

11 Mile Beach Esperance

 

There looked to be a wonderful spot there to spend a few hours and it was lunch time too so we took our picnic and found a wonderful little spot with a protected lagoon and a sheltered spot between the rocks.

11 Mile Beach Esperance

 

We spent a good few hours there, Maddy loved playing in the lagoon and around the rocks.

7-2 maddy on 11 mile beach

 

Drew enjoyed taking some more amazing photos and I read my magazine and got a bit of sunbaking in.

11 Mile Beach Esperance

 

The water is crystal clear and in the lagoon it was a little warmer that it would be out in the ocean.
7-2 11 mile beach overview

 

We drove back around the rest of the loop, past the wind farms and the Pink Lake, which isn’t very pink at the moment and back in to town.

Esperance does have a Woolworths which is good, a pretty big one too.  So we stopped in there to stock up on food before heading back to the van for a quiet evening.

 

Sunday 8th February – Drew got up super super early to get some photo’s and headed off to Twilght Beach.

8-2 sunrise twilight beach

 

He was out the door before 5am as sunrise is pretty early here, and back just after 6am and got some great shots.

8-2 sunrise twilight beach 2

 

We caught up our washing and some school work before heading to the local markets. The markets were OK, but there was no fresh local produce which was such a disappointment, I had refrained from buying any fruit or vegies from the supermarket preferring to buy local and hopefully organic instead! But it was not to be….

Esperance Markets

8-2 esperance mkts

 

We did however buy 3 amazingly yummy naughty gluten free brownies, the brownie stall just had 3 different types of Brownies and she was selling them fast, nice little earner and how simple.  Maddy had a wonderful time cuddling some little white bunnies that were for sale.

We bought some “fertilized” eggs from him as there were no others available at the markets. He did promise us if we refrigerate them they won’t hatch…. Not sure but I felt sorry for him as all he’d sold was 3 ducks all morning and Maddy had sat there for an hour cuddling his rabbits!

8-2 esperance mkts maddy & rabbit

 

We could have bought some goldfish from the market too, that was kind of strange. Imagine carting fish tanks to the market.

8-2 esperance mkts maddy & fish

 

After the market it was such a lovely day we decided to drive out to the Cape Le Grand National Park and check out the famous Lucky Bay which is supposed to be one of the best beaches in WA. It’s about 60km or so from Esperance. Great road out there, all tarmac and in some ways better than the road between Esperance and Albany.

We were surprised to discover that you can drive along the beach at Lucky Bay, there were several 4WD’s along the beach and of course the beach was all tyre tracks at the back of the beach.

8-2 car on lucky bay beach

 

I think I would have preferred a pristine white beach unspoilt really… the beach itself is really white and of course the colour of the water is absolutely turquoise, a stunning colour.

8-2 lucky bay

 

It was a tad windy and there was nobody in the water, perhaps it’s not a great day for swimming.

8-2 lucky bay beach

 

There are often kangaroos on the beach and we had hoped to see some, but there was just the one today.  There is a little blue coffee van on the beach doing a fair trade selling hot drinks. That’s the only place to buy anything here.

12-2 cafe at lucky bay

 

There is a small camp ground here, we had thought about having a few days here but it looked a bit crowded and windy too, so perhaps we’ll stay put!

From there we had a drive around a few of the other beaches, they are all very pretty and the granite boulders dotted around are interesting too.

We ended up finding a lovely little beach to spend a few hours that was more sheltered and better for swimming, Hellfire Bay.

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We had a good couple of hours there, had a picnic on the beach and a swim.
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Such a pretty spot, amazing turquoise ocean. Drew went for a walk to take some photos from the other end of the beach

Hellfire Beach

8-2 hellfire bay beach

 

 

Monday 9th February – Drew went for a ride along the coast west along the great ocean drive. He said it was a great ride, quite hilly but pretty good.

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I then went for a ride along the esplanade, it’s only 10k, return so I did it twice! Was treated to watching a few dolphins frolicking in the bay.

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Such a beautiful spot when the sun is shining

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We then completed a bit more schooling before heading out to check out Cape Arid National Park, which is about 120km from Esperance east, past Cape Le Grand.

It was due to be a hot day but as we got to the park the temperatures were soaring. We drove around and looked over Dolphin Cove, it wasn’t a swimming beach, huge surf coming in. So we drove along to the next beach, Tagon Bay.

Tagon Bay

9-2 little tagon beach

 

We set off to check out Little Tagon Bay and it was 42 degrees. It was a lovely beach but not great for swimming, we paddled a bit and then went back to the car. Too hot to sit on the beach!

9-2 on little targon beach

 

We were on the lookout for somewhere to swim, so drove around to Thomas River, which flows in to the ocean.  To get to the beach you literally had to drive across the river.   It wasn’t terribly deep, been a while since we’ve done a water crossing!

9-2 onto thomas river beach

 

We drove on the beach and parked up, a tad windy and not a swimming beach again, so paddled and took photos.

9-2 on the thomas river beach

 

This whole area is really quiet, we saw one other person and that’s it!

The Beach at Thomas River

9-2 mouth of thomas river

 

Beautiful turquoise waves….

9-2 wave

 

Then drove on to try to get to another beach a bit further east. We drove along a fairly decent track for about half an hour or so.

9-2 going into cape arid

 

Then the track took a drastic change in to a very very narrow track, just like that!   We drove down it for only 100 metres or so before deciding to turn around, it was just too narrow, the branches were scratching the side of the vehicle. We’ve made that mistake once already on this trip and still have the scratches to prove it!

9-2 at teh end of merivale road

 

So we turned around and drove out and headed across to Duke of Orleans Bay and beach. This beach is just outside the Cape Le Grand National Park and there is a commercial caravan park here. We stopped for an ice cream after lunch but it looked very run down and we’d read many comments about it being crowded and noisy with the Kalgoorlie Locals, so we won’t be trying this place out either.

We stopped in a quiet little bay for some lunch and found a nice spot to sit and eat our picnic. The temperature has dropped a little now which is good!

9-2 lunch spot

 

Maddy looking at Daddy laid on the sand…. what is he doing?

9-2 maddy when daddy resting

 

And another beach, Wharton Beach

9-2 wharton beach

 

Wharton Beach

9-2 Wharton beach 2

 

It had been a long day in the car but what else to do when the temp hits 44 degrees.  The weather was changing on the way back and dropped down to 25 degrees as we drove, it also became really hazy, strange weather, quite eerie.

Back for a shower and then off to Woolies to get some fresh veiges and fruit for dinner after our disappointment at the markets this morning.  I made a wonderful raw vegan thai style salad for dinner, loving these meals they feel so fresh and healthy.

Spent a few hours colouring in with Maddy, more of her finished artwork

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Tuesday 10th February – Weather is a bit rubbish today, very hazy, so Drew does his ride and then I do a run along the coast, the hilly hilly run along the beaches to Blue Haven beach and back. It was a sure test for me and I was pleased to do 10k with those dreadful hills without too much knee issue.

I then spent the morning doing a wonderful art and craft project with Maddy for school. I knew she was going to like this one, it was all about art and nature. We first looked around the caravan park and collected some leaves and twigs and flowers and nuts and then talked about the patterns on them and she drew them. Pretty good drawing for a 7 year old!

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Then we had to create a piece of artwork, so we looked at some Mandalas on line to get some inspiration then collected the things we needed. We found some shells we’d collected earlier on our trip and some leaves and nuts from trees and set about creating something.

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It turned out amazing, Maddy did most of it, I helped a little.  Maddy totally loved it, she loves anything crafty.

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The finished piece – wish we could keep it!  I’d love her to do something like this for us at home.

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We then had lunch, a healthy juice and some raw vegie rice paper rolls which were super yummy.

The weather was improving and the sun was coming out so we got ready for the beach and heaed over to Twilight beach. We had a wonderful few hours there, Maddy played in the sand, we took the boogie boards down and all had a surf, the waves were small, perfect for Maddy.

10-2 twilight beach maddy & drew on wave 2

 

Surfing Fun

10-2 twilight beach maddy & drew on wave

 

Beautiful spot

10-2 twilight beach maddy & drew

 

Happy girl…

10-2 twilight beach maddy on wave

 

Then back to the van for a quiet evening in. Another great day!

 

Wednesday 11th February – Up and no school work or exercise today as we are off to climb a mountain, well more of a peak really, Frenchmans peak which is in the Cape Le Grand National Park, about 40 minutes drive.

Frenchmans Peak.

11-2 frenchmans peak

 

It was fairly busy at the car park, popular spot!  We walked out along the track and a boardwalk.

11-2 B&W path

 

On the way up… it was really steep, much steeper than we expected and not as the walk was described at all!  It said a gentle slope, this was not a gentle slope!

11-2 sign to summit

 

Maddy scampered up as usual, we were glad we’d put good shoes on, although we did see a few tourists in flip flops… doh!

11-2 on the way up

 

When you are about 80% up there is a huge cave!  It’s awesome looking out over the national park.  Maddy loved pottering around exploring the cave.

In the cave on the way up to Frenchmans Peak

11-2 nikki in cave

 

Then the last climb to the very top. Stunning, well worth the effort!

Maddy at the top of Frenchmens Peak

11-2 maddy at top

 

Enjoying the view at the top of Frenchmans Peak.  We really love it when we get out and get some walking in.

11-2 nikki & maddy at top

 

The view from the top over towards Hellfire Beach and Lucky Bay

11-2 view from top

 

It was just as steep going down, harder for sure than going up.  We took it really carefully and kept Maddy under control.  It wasn’t an easy walk at all, and then about half way down we came across a couple and the lady had taken a tumble, she was pretty cut up as the rocks are sharp, but they had first aid and she seemed OK.

After our walk while we were in the National Park we drove around to explore more beaches.

Cape Le Grand Beach

11-2 going onto cape le grand beach

 

We drove along Lucky Beach once again, the weather is a bit iffy today, need blue sky!

11-2 driving on cape le grand beach

 

Rather than drive back in to Esperance by road, the tides were right for us to take the beach drive back, so we let the tyres down and drove on to the sand.  We had a couple of hours to complete the 30km trip before high tide.  We only saw a couple of other vehicles along the way, we seemed to have been driving for a long time and were not sure where to come off to get back to a road.  Eventually we found it. We were getting a bit concerned that we’d missed it, but it was fine!

Wylie Beach

11-2 driving on wylie beach

 

Back in Esperance we stopped at Taylors Beach Bar Café which is on the water front for lunch, it’s looks like the only nice place in Esperance to eat…

11-2 place for lunch

 

Lunch was lovely, tapas and a glass of Rose.
11-2 lunch spot

 

We  had a wonder around the few shops in Esperance, the book shop was closed and talking to the locals they were saying Esperance is really struggling, places are closing which is a shame as a couple of years ago money was being thrown at it and it was set to become a WA super town.  That must when the sea front was done up as it’s about the only thing in Esperance that has been, besides the rail link and overpass to the port! There wasn’t much by way of shops though, we couldn’t even find a book to buy for Maddy so we headed back and Maddy and I made another Mandala together.

 

Thursday 12th February – Drew went for a bike ride today.

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I did some schooling with Maddy, she was up super early today, 6am, brekkied by 6.30 and started school work before 7am! Way to go!!! Plan for today to is do one of the walks in the Cape Le Grand National Park, along the coast. The walk is 15km one way so we’ll just do a section.

We drove out to the park and parked up at Thistle Cove, the walk goes through here from Cape Le Grand Beach. We picked up the trail and walked over the headland and along the coast to Lucky Bay.

The track over to Lucky Bay

12-2 track into lucky bay

 

It was a very well marked track with large fence posts marking the way. It’s a bit dull and cloudy today so not the best of weather to bring out the colours, but at least it wasn’t another 44 degree day, that wouldn’t be fun.

12-2 thistle bay to lucky bay walk

 

We walked down to the west end of Lucky Bay beach, it was covered in seaweed so not really as pretty as it could be. There were a couple of kangaroos on the beach which are super friendly and come right up to you.

12-2 kangaroo maddy & nikki

 

They must often get fed by the tourists, which you shouldn’t do, but I guess that’s what they’re after.

12-2 kanagroo at lucky bay

 

We walked along the beach and found somewhere to sit for a snack before walking back again. Maddy was keen for me to tell her another story about her two beanie boo cats Pepper and Tabatha, which kept her well entertained all the way back. In fact on this trip she even took Pepper with her.

12-2 B walk into lucky bay

 

It was a lovely walk though, we all enjoyed it, we all love to be out and about walking we really do. We saw quite a few of these fellas along the way, Maddy was fascinated with every one…

12-2 B lizard from walk

 

Back at Thistle Cove there are some interesting rocks to wander around. Thistle Cove itself looks like a nice beach but it’s not a swimming day today, bit cool and windy.

Thistle Cove 

12-2 B thistle cove

 

We drove over to Rossiter Beach for a look for a spot to have lunch along a very very bumpy corrugated road. It wasn’t that pretty at the moment either as covered in seaweed. So we drove back to Lucky Bay and drove about half way along the beach and sat in the car for our picnic lunch.

12-2 cloudy lucky bay

 

After that we stopped in at Stone Henge on the way back. It’s really intrigueging why anyone would want to build a life sife replica of the original StoneHenge from Salisbury in the UK but they did! It’s right next to a farm and costs $10 per adult and $5 per child to get in, which is quite a lot but as I have never been to the real stone henge I thought why not?

12-2 B stone henge with nikki

 

We learnt that it was commissioned by a guy who lost everything and the couple here are the farm bought it and put it on their property. It’s made from Esperance Pink Granite which is a really beautiful stone. It’s actually really well done, it’s only been complete for a couple of years but it is exactly like the stone henge would have been. The original was built in 1950 bc and nobody really knows how or why it was built. This one is also built to along with the summer and winter salstace. It feels quite peaceful inside and has pretty good acoustics.

12-2B stone henge with maddy

 

There was just the 3 of us there and Maddy and I enjoyed a wonderful game of hide and seek while Drew took lots of photos.

12-2 B stone henge

 

After that we headed back to Esperance and stopped in at Caz and Craigs, they’d arrived late last night and we haven’t seen them since Margaret River, so we were all looking forward to catching up.

We ended up having a lovely afternoon and evening, the kids had great fun running around the caravan park, climbing trees, riding bikes while the adults drank wine and enjoyed a really good catch up. We got a take out pizza as we couldn’t be bothered to cook and ended up not leaving until nearly 10pm. It was a great evening, we’d all been feeling a bit travelled out and after a few hours natter and silliness I think we all felt much better.

It’s a shame we are leaving tomorrow morning to head north to Kalgoorlie as it would have been lovely to spend a few days with them again.

 

Friday 13th February – Leaving Esperance today and heading to Kalgoorlie, we took it easy packing up today as it was forecast to be 44 degrees in Kalgoorlie, so we didn’t really want to get there too early. It was raining a little in Esperance so we didn’t get our morning exercise in today. It’s a fair drive today, just under 400km.

 

Bremer Bay

Bremer Bay

Wednesday 4th February – Not a bad drive to Bremer Bay, longest drive we’ve done for a while, the last few stops have been under 100km. The road wasn’t great, bit skinny with a fair few road trains to negotiate who takes the lions share of the road!

First impressions of Bremer Bay are a bit mixed, doesn’t look like there’s a lot here. We chose the camp ground that was nearest to the beach and the estuary, Bremer Bay Caravan Park. We’re just here for 2 nights to break up the journey to Esperance.

The caravan park is surprisingly busy, it’s about 80% full and it’s quite a large park, mostly grey nomads.  We are given a nice grassy spot right next to the play ground which is perfect for Miss Maddy.

6-2 van set up bremer bay 2

 

There’s also a tennis court here too, hope we get to have a hit or two!

6-2 van set up bremer bay

 

We have lunch then Drew does a maths unit with Maddy while I catch up on our blog.

Then it’s time to have a drive around Bremer Bay and hopefully get a spot of fishing in! Drew chats to the lady who runs the caravan park and she gives him the low down on where to fish.

We drive across to the esturary first as she says there’s good Bream fishing there, but there’s warning signs everywhere not to come in to contact with the water, due to blue green algae…. So how are we supposed to fish and would you really want to eat fish from water that’s too dangerous to have skin contact with? I don’t think so!

So we leave the estuary and head across to check out some of the beaches. We find Little Boat Harbour beach and stop there to fish, it’s a lovely spot, the beach is small but the sea is calm and protected from the wind, would be a good swimming spot!

4-2 fishing at little boat beach?

 

We spent a few hours both fishing, even Maddy had a little go but we didn’t catch a thing, not even a bite! Still it was a lovely spot and Drew enjoyed getting some fishing in and Maddy enjoyed pottering around the rocks and the sand.

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We stay there fishing right until the sun goes down, how beautiful!

4-2 sunset at little boat beach?

 

Thursday 5th February – Drew headed off first for a bike ride and to check out the town a little.

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I followed after on my bike and rode around the town for about an hour. There is nothing much here, a general store, plenty of houses, 2 caravan parks, the other one looks much nicer than this one, and that’s about it!

We had a morning doing some school work, washing and blogging. It’s nice to have a slower morning and not be dashing off sight seeing for a change. It’s a beautiful morning, in the early thirties.

Today is the day Jules and Pete get back to Sydney, I get chance to talk to Jules for a while on their way home, the end of an amazing journey for them and the start of a new career for them both.

After some lunch we explore the other beaches and get a bit more fishing in. We drive around a few of the beaches which all look pretty nice but it’s windy this afternoon and the clouds are coming in so it’s not really a sit on the beach day now. We find our way to short beach which is where the locals fish for salmon.

5-2 pano fishing at salmon beach?

 

We spent a good 3 hours there fishing, both Drew and I, in to the surf. Drew fishing with pilchards and a salmon rig on his surf rod and me with prawns on the boat rod. After 2 hours I hadn’t even got a bite so gave up!

5-2 fishing at salmon beach?

 

Drew then reeled in 3 fish, 2 Trevally and 1 herring, not really big enough for keeping and we were after the big salmon anyways. He tried another hour and didn’t get one, but certainly enjoyed another afternoon of fishing.

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Friday 6th February – No exercise this morning as we want to pack up and leave a bit earlier then usual as it’s 380km to Esperance, so a good 5 hour drive ahead of us. We are pretty organised and even with packed lunches we’re on the road by 8.30am.

 

Albany

Albany

Friday 30th January – Such a short drive, about 55km between Denmark and Albany, took us less than an hour! We didn’t leave Denmark until 10.30am as otherwise we’d be far too early to check in, as it was we were here before 11.30am and check in is at 2pm! Nice man on reception didn’t take much sweet talking though. We’d chosen a Big4 site Middleton Beach as the location looked great. It’s right on the beach although today it’s a tad windy…. Nice site though, long thin park along the beach. We checked in for 5 nights.

Middleton Beach

30-1 middleton beach

 

We were given a lovely grassy site which was easy to reverse in to, Drew is getting so good at backing the caravan in to spots now that I hardly have to do anything except say “all good” on the radio as he’s backing in.

4-2 van set up in albany

 

We set up pretty quickly these days and each has their own jobs they do – works!

4-2 van set up in albany 2

 

After a spot of lunch we headed out to explore Albany.  Seems there’s a lot to see and do here and a lot of history.  As it’s windy we decided to do some indoor stuff and drove up to the ANZAC memorial centre.

30-1 anzac centre

 

It’s pretty much an information centre and museum for the ANZACs. It’s pretty new, only openend in November last year, on the 100th anniversary since 40,000 Australian and New Zealand service men and women left Albany for world war 1. It’s a very modern set up with lots of fancy touch screens and interactive displays, it’s really well done.

The views from the museum across the bay are pretty stunning too.

30-1 maddy & nikki & view anzac centre

 

I know very little about the history of the ANZACs and Word War 1 in general so I learnt a lot but it’s a very sad place. Very moving, I am not sure I can really understand why we need to have wars, of this magnitude especially, and all started from the assassination of an heir to the throne across the other side of the world, really? Makes no sense to send thousands upon thousands of young people out to literally fight to kill each other.  And then so many of them will never return and even those that do, return a fragment of their former self. No sense at all! Surely there’s another way?

From here you look out on to the very bay that thousands of servicemen and women left in a convoy of ships, the first and second fleet, heading for war.

Convoy Viewpoint

30-1 convoy lookout

 

You can read about each ship and even detail on who sailed in them, even detail such as where they were placed in the bay and in which order they left the bay.

30-1 convoy sign at lookout

 

Within the museum is a rolling list of names room, this must be such a special place for those families that have connections with people who fought in the war.

30-1 rolling list of names room

 

We left feeling very melancholic, it was hard to take it all in really.  I don’t think Maddy understood much, we tried to explain bits but it wasn’t set up well for children at all.

After that we drove around Albany a little looking at a few other points of interest although everything here seems to close at 4pm, so we headed back to the van and Maddy and I played a game together while Drew got on with his photo’s. It’s mighty windy though and quite cool, too blustery to want to be out in it. It’s time like these that you are glad to have the 4 solid walls of a caravan and not be in a tent or a camper trailer.

 

Saturday 31st January – Well all plans to do some exercise this morning were shelled, very very windy, just don’t feel like battling the wind, it’s cold too compared to what we’ve been used to!

So we got up and after doing a little bit of school work we headed to the Saturday morning farmers market in Albany. It was a small market but we managed to fill 3 bags with various fresh produce including free range eggs, lots of organic fruit and veg and some organic grass fed lamb and beef. Just our kind of market.

31-1 albany farmers market

 

We then had a drive around some of the main streets in Albany, found the Woollies supermarket and stocked up for the week.

Centre of Albany

31-1 Albany main street

 

Church in main street Albany

31-1 church main st albany

 

An interesting rock in the middle of Albany – known as Dog Rock

31-1 dog rock albany

 

More exploring to be done today, heading out to the things to do on the peninsular, on the way we stopped at the Whisky Distillary, Limeburners.

31-1 great southern distillery sign

 

We had a quick look at the distillery itself, which pretty much looked like a basic shed with some distillary gear in, nothing like the impressive distilleries we saw when we were in Scotland!

This was the line up of Whisky’s to taste, we were surprised to find that the tastings we $5 each per person, that’s a cool $70 to taste the range for the two of us! You do get that refunded if you buy… but there’s the next catch!

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We tasted 2 of the whiskeys, they were fine, not as good as the Scottish ones and almost triple the price, for the cheapest..!!!!! There were a few grape liquers to try and we tried a couple of those (at $2 each)… and although they were nice, at $70 for 500ml… you’ve got to be kidding! Very over priced, I’ll stick to my Scottish Malts thank you.

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Maddy is such an easy kid, happy to sit and read while we are tasting….

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We’ve planned today to head out to Discovery Bay, which is where one of the last working whaling stations in WA is based and has since been developed in to a whaling museum as well as botanical gardens and an Australian wildlife park.

31-1 whale world sign

 

It was $80 for the 3 of us which wasn’t too bad. We had lunch first at the cafe there, which was surprisingly OK, grilled fish and salad and thai fish cakes and salad, and Maddy had her favourite fish and chips. Great spot overlooking the water though.

We then started to wonder around the various buildings and dispalys. It’s quite diverse.

First stop – The Shell Collection which was actually pretty well done

31-1 shell collection

 

They even have one of the original whaling ships which you can look around, it was pretty interesting to go inside and see where the crew would have slept.

31-1 ship

 

On the bow of a whaling boat

31-1 maddy and nikki on ship

 

Down below… not sure what this room was, instrument room!

31-1 inside ship

 

There were 4 huge tanks which would have held the whale oil and are now used a theatres where they show different films about whales and whaling. We tried to avoid the gory stuff and managed to find a nice 15 minute film about whales and their current status. Only problem was these tanks smelled just awful, I can only imagine stale whale oil.  Can you guess I wasn’t really enjoying this experience an awful lot….

31-1 whale oil storage tanks

 

We wondered around all the other rooms and displays, it was quite nicely done really if you are interesting in whaling…. it’s good to learn about whales but it’s quite horrific how we culled them.

31-1 whale skeleton

 

After we’d had enough of leaning about the whaling industry,  we went to the wildlife park which was a pleasant relief, and saw hairy nosed wombats, an albino kangaroo…

31-1 maddy and white kangaroo

 

a couple of Koalas named Bruce and Albert, some bats and a few curlews.   It was OK, nothing we haven’t seen before.

31-1 koala

 

The botanical gardens look fairly new, like they are recently planted, a lot of small shrubs….I’m sure in another 5 years or so they’ll be more interesting.

We then had a drive around the peninsula, there are several beaches and coves which I am sure are lovely on a good day, but the wind was blowing a gale today, so we had a quick look and moved on.

Salmon Beach

31-1 salmon beach

 

We then drove back to the van and I made Caz’s bean tacos for dinner while Maddy roller bladed outside. It was a good park for roller blading, nice flat smooth tarmac roads… perfect!

Sunday 1st February – I went for a run today, following a path that leads along the coastlie towards town. It was very hilly, haven’t done any running on hills for along time, gee it was hard!

Today we are heading inland to Castle Rock in the Porongarup area, about 45 minutes inland from Albany.  First stop Castle Rock, there is a great bush walk that takes you up to the rocks. It was about 5km return trip, up up up all the way there. It was a pretty hot day too! Kept Maddy amused with some I spy and the alphabet game on the way.

1-2 maddy & nikki on walk

 

We loved it though, so nice to be back out walking again, we haven’t done any decent walks for a while.  Beats learning about whaling!

Balancing Rock – she’s one strong kid this one!

1-2 maddy holding up balancing rock

 

Once at the top of the hill, you have to climb over and through some pretty large boulders to get up to a ladder to get to the sky walk, it was quite challenging.

1-2 maddy & nikki climbing

 

It was pretty windy up there too! This ladder was challenging enough, steep and the wind was howling…

1-2 staircase skywalk

 

Looking down the scary ladder! Maddy was a trouper as always, didn’t flinch!

1-2 nikki & maddy at top of stairs

 

Wow the skywalk was high and you could see down through your feet a long long way down to the ground..

1-2 maddy & nikki on skywalk

 

Maddy loved it though, she loves anything like that – what an incredible view for miles and miles

1-2 maddy & nikki on top skywalk

 

There’s a second lookout, below the skywalk with amazing views too right out to the ocean.  We sat and had a few snacks before heading back down.

1-2 maddy & nikki at first lookout

 

I kept Maddy amused on the way down telling her my made up stories about her 2 beanie boo cats, Pepper and Tabatha and she told me two stories she’s made up too! She’s getting better at making up the stories, it’s good for her!

We had our lunch back at the car park at the picnic tables which was lovely, I’d make a nice green juice, which Maddy is even getting in to now which is awesome!

We then went to explore a winery, we found Abbey Creeek and enjoyed a lovely hour there in the little cellar door talking to the owner.

1-2 nikki at abbey creek winery

 

The wine was lovely, even the Reisling and the Pinot Noir which I don’t normally like that much, another half a dozen wines purchased…

1-2 maddy at abbey creek winery

 

One more stop at Split rock before heading back to the van!  Beautiful area here the trees were just lovely.

1-2 car at tree on rock

 

Split Rock itself!

1-2 maddy & nikki with tree on rock

 

Maddy found  a little tree to sit in and play in for a while… she’s like a little pixie!

1-2 maddy in tree

 

 

Monday 2nd February – Drew did some school work with Maddy first thing, then headed out to the West Cape Howe National Park. Shelley Beach gets a good write up so starting there.

On the way we stopped at Cosy Corner which was a great little spot for camping behind the bush behind the beach. Maddy found some great trees to climb. We had a walk along the beach, although it was lovely it wasn’t the place to pull out the towels or have a swim.

2-2 cosy corner?

 

We then drove over to Shelley Beach, another great little camping spot, just for tents and campervans, no good for our big vans. The beach was lovely but very rough. We did spend half an hour playing in the sand and in the fresh water stream that comes down from the hills. It was a pretty spot but nothing as nice as Elephant Rocks or Green Pools in Denmark.

Shelley Beach

2-2 shelley beach

 

It wasn’t a beach for spending much time on, very windy so we decided to drive acroass to the other side of Albany and across to the Waychinicup National Park, which was a good hours drive away.

We drove in to Waychincup National Park and then to Waychinicup inlet. It was out of the wind here, we had a potter around the rocks and then sat down for our picnic. Drew went of taking photos and Maddy and I collected shells.

2-2 waychinicup inlet

 

It was also a great camping spot here, not for caravans but great for tents, lots of little sites tucked away in the bushes. If you were local to Albany or Denmark, this would be a great weekend camping spot.

2-2 waychinicup inlet 2

 

On the way out we drove in to Cheyne Beach for a look, again windy as faces east and a fair few homes along the hillside.

2-2 bay

 

We haven’t eaten out for dinner for a while now, so tonight we’re checking out the little tapas wine bar just down the road called Rats! Very odd name for a restaurant… seems it was the initials of the owners family names, hmmm!

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Great little bar though, we enjoyed our Tapas and a wonderful selection of wines, all from the local area, Denmark, Walpole, Frankland and Porongarup…

Tuesday 3rd February – Finally the wind has dropped a little, Drew went for another bike ride and rode along the track towards town. He did a good 27km along the water to the Distillary and was pretty happy with himself.

I didn’t feel like a run today, hips are still a bit stiff so decided since the wind had dropped that a walk along the beach would be a good option. We’ve been here 5 days and not ventured on to the beach which is only over the small sand dune, because it’s been so bloody windy!

The beach was busy with people walking their dogs. Not many people swimming or playing on the beach, this is definitely more of a walking kind of beach. Had a lovely walk though and enjoyed the time out.

We then packed up and set off for Little Beach and Two Peoples Bay. Little Beach is rated as one of the best beaches in WA, and after seeing some of the beaches we’ve seen in the last few months we have pretty high expectations!

Took us about 35mins or so to drive out there, yep it’s a beautiful beach, although the wind has come up and they waves are crashing in, it doesn’t look mich like a swimming beach.

3-2 little beach

 

There’s one other family on the beach and now us. We walk along to the end and the family disappear through the bush, we follow and find another smaller and much calmer beach, even though getting through the bush was a bit of bush bashing… seems this is called Waterfall Beach, it was stunning!

3-2 little beach 3

 

We spend a lovely couple of hours there, Maddy enjoys playing in the sand and I get to finish my book.

3-2 maddy & nikki little beach

 

The water doesn’t seem quite as cold here, we have a quick dip, it’s so clear though, beautiful.

3-2 little beach 2

 

We head back to the van for lunch and then in to town to have a look around the shops. Turns out there are some lovely little shops in Albany, we find a few health food shops, a raw kitchen café and a great second hand book shop. I treat Maddy to a few more books while Drew gets his hair cut.

4-2 front st albany 

By the time we get back to the van it’s too late to be bothered cooking, so we head to Joop Thai which rates really high in trip advisor for dinner. We had a really enjoyable evening, the food was OK, nothing brilliant really but still it was nice to be out.

Wednesday 4th February – Drew was up super early at 5am to head out and get some early morning photos.

Sunrise Middleton Beach

4-2 middleton beach early morning

 

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great, bit overcast but he enjoyed being up and about early. He still managed to get some awesome shots. This is a particular favourite, tagged for printing and framing.

4-2 middleton beach jetty cover

 

I went for another run when he returned and had a pretty good run today, much happier with myself, ran the whole 7km over a very hilly route and didn’t get any trouble from my knee, happy days!

The view along the coast looking back to Middleton Beach from my run

4-2 middelton beach

 

Mind you the view changes dramatically as you reach the port… this was the view at the half way point – good work Caltex!

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Time to pack up then and leave Albany, heading for Bremer Bay which is about 180km.

Denmark

Denmark

Sunday 25th January – Very short drive today from Walpole to Denmark… 55km at most, and an easy drive along the coast. There looks to be a few things to see and do along here which we can explore from Denmark.

There are 4 or 5 caravan parks in Denmark and they all sound OK, it was hard to choose. We opted for the River Mouth Caravan Park as it seemed to have lots of trails and bike tracks nearby. We’d booked 3 nights ahead and before we even set up here we liked the feel of Denmark and surrounds and knew we’d need more than 3 days. We were very lucky to get a waterfront site too, especially as it’s the long weekend for Australia Day and still school hols. Nice big site too, plenty of space!

25-1 denmark van site

 

We made some juice for lunch and then headed off to explore.  First stop the information center to check what’s on over the next few days or so. Seems the market was yesterday which we missed, damn, and there’s pretty much nothing going on for Australia Day, everything should be open. It’s a lovely visitors centre though.

We then drove half way back to Walpole to visit the Bird, Reptile and Dinosaur centre for Miss Maddy… it was a pretty old and run down kind of place. 4 or 5 dinosaur skeleton replicas surrounded by a selection of snake and reptile tanks.

25-1 dinosaurs

 

Outside there were bird cages with a selection of mostly Australian birds, parrots, cockatoos, black cockatoos, lorikeets and a couple of Macaws too.

25-1 parrot

 

Some of the parrots were out for people to pet and have them sit on their shoulders. Maddy was keen to hold a parrot or two and then even Drew had a go. His parrot took a liking to his t shirt and starting eating the seam, taking out big chunks. He couldn’t get it off, it was really quite amusing… then it pooped on him too, too funny!  Maddy tried to pick up another parrot and it bit her, I kept my distance, not keen on birds!

25-1 maddy and parrot

 

Then the reptiles came out, they’re more my thing, 4 or 5 snakes, mostly pythons and 3 or 4 large lizards, a few blue tongues etc. It was a pretty busy little place, people everywhere trying to get their hands on them. Maddy held a few snakes including a really cute little one and a blue tongue, which luckily didn’t bite her!

25-1 maddy and snake

 

Driving back towards Denmark we stopped at Old Kent River Winery which has a big Marron out the front.

25-1 old kent river wines

 

Looks like a nice spot for lunch, they serve fresh Marron and even sold them live.. they had some interesting blue Marron too, what an amazing colour!

25-1 blue marron

 

We didn’t buy any this time, they’re not cheap!

25-1 price of marron

 

We did the obligatory wine tasting there, although the sparkling was nice and the $50 Shiraz, we weren’t that keen on any of the reasonably priced one so came away with just a jar of Garlic Mayonaise…. It’s not often we visit a winery and come away empty handed!

25-1 inside old kent river

 

We found another winery not far along the road, down a track quite tucked away. This one was an organic winery, Moombaki, although not certified they are committed to sustainable and organic practices to grow their fruit.

25-1 cellar door at moombaki

 

It’s also a James Halliday 5 star winery. We enjoyed this wine tasting much more and liked every one! It’s interesting what a difference it makes when the fruit is clean and free of pesticides, you can certainly tell the difference.  We are also trying to consciously cut down our chemical consumption and opting for clean organic wines where possible, so we sent a case of this back to Sydney, we could easily have sent 2!

Maddy is so good at entertaining herself while we taste wine! Happy with a book and an apple.

25-1 maddy at moombaki

 

We enjoyed chatting to Melissa who owned the winery, they have been there for 20 years and have certainly learnt how to make great wine!

Toilet at Moombaki!

25-1 toilet at moombaki

 

Stopped off at the IGA on the way back, needed a good shop to stock up again!  Then a quiet evening, Drew barbecued a steak for us, delicious dinner, Maddy and I tackled yet another puzzle, then an early night to read. There’s no TV reception here which is great!

 

Monday 26th January – Australia Day!!!!! Drew was off bright an early for another ride on his bike, this time east along the Munda Biddi trail which runs pretty much from our caravan park along the edge of the bay.

Sunset Bike Ride

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Jetty at Denmark

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I followed with a run along the same track, just an hour but that was enough, the left knee is still giving me hassle. I was very excited to come across a snake on the trail on my way back, soaking up the sun. He didn’t want to move as I approached him, so I threw a stone near him and he disappeared in to the grass. Probably a Dugite but it’s so hard to identify snakes.

Drew made us a lovely egg, avocado, rocket and tomato breakfast and we sat in the sun enjoying the view across the bay.

It’s a beautiful day and the clouds have cleared, but the forecast is windy so we head inland to explore today and will leave the coast until the winds drops. We head out along the tourist route to a few wineries, the first is closed, then we find The Lake House.

26-1 lake house sign

 

It’s a beautiful setting in the trees overlooking a lake.

Not only do they have wine, they also do VinoFood and Wine Spa, ranges of food and body products and their produce is all biodynamic, just what we like. The menu and setting are just too good to pass, so we find a lovely table for lunch overlooking the lake and order a platter of cheese and meats and various pickles etc.

26-1 inside lakehouse

 

We then taste all the wines while we wait for our lunch and Maddy sits in the garden reading a book and playing in the bird water trough.  She’s become such a book worm, wherever we go if she has a book to read, she’s happy. She even reads in the car now more than watching a DVD which is great, we can’t believe she doesn’t get car sick at all, even on these windy roads.

26-1 maddy playing

 

The wines are all really nice so we order another case to be shipped back to Sydney and choose a Shiraz to have with our lunch. While we sit and eat lunch we are amused by the beautiful little blue wrens that keep popping out from the bushes and hopping around our table.

26-1 bue wren

 

What a fabulous lunch, not only was the food and wine awesome, the setting was too!

26-1 lunch

 

We’d promised Maddy a visit to the animal farm after lunch so we headed over there next. This turned out to be a lovely little animal farm, the first animal we saw was a young fox that had been rescued. He was on a lead and in his little kennel, only about a few months old. I have never been this close to a fox before and even though they warned he may nip I couldn’t help but want to pat him. I ended up patting this fox several times as did Maddy and he didn’t bite me once.

26-1 nikki with fox

 

They had a koala here that was very friendly, as we had got talking to one of the girls who worked there, a backpacker from the UK, she took us and let us in the koala enclosure so we could stroke the koala, how special is that!

26-1 maddy and koala

 

Then over to a small enclosure with 3 lambs, 2 rabbits and 2 joeys. As it was such a small enclosure you got to easily stroke and pick these ones up. Maddy loves the rabbits so she was soon sitting on the grass with a rabbit in her lap, and then she sat with a joey on her lap….

26-1 maddy with roo

 

Then over to the alpacas, there would have been 10 or more in a field and one young one at just a week old. All the alpacas were quite friendly, and came to the fence for some feed.   We then saw a man sheer a big old ram, he was a huge sheep, it was great to watch him being sheered.

26-1 shearing sheep

 

There was a small enclosure with lots and lots of guinea pigs, perhaps 30 all up, plenty of young ones too that would have been 3 or 4 weeks old. There were also 5 rabbits in there which of course Maddy loves. These rabbits were a bit harder to catch and Maddy struggled to catch and hold them without them struggling and scratching her as they tried to escape.

There were 2 gorgeous highland cattle calves, which were incredibly cute. They ate the feed so gently out of your hand, they were quite delightful, I would like one or two of these!

26-1 nikki feeding cows

 

Drew feeding the calves, even he thought they were cute!

26-1 drew feeding cows

 

After the animal farm we headed back to the van. I made some falafels with hummous all wrapped in a lettuce leaf with chopped capsicum, tomato and cucumber, delicious, good vegan food once again! I am trying to eat at least vegie if not vegan a couple of times a week, with the view to increasing it over time. It’s pretty easy and we love it, it’s just taking the time to get new meals and recipes in your head that you can create a meal quickly without having to think about it too much.

 

Tuesday 27th January – Drew set off for his morning ride early and I followed him for a ride too, along the same track as I’d run along, just further. I cycled to the end of the track then on to a dirt road for a while and back. 14km all up, not that far really, I did see a snake though, that’s 4 snakes in 4 days! Happy days!

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After that we had a quick brekkie and then headed out to the beach for the morning. Green Pools is supposed to be lovely and is on the front cover of the guide books, so it must be the place to go around here.

It was just as stunning as we had heard if not more so. Calm and protected so perfect for families and swimming.

27-1 green pool

 

It was a bit too busy though, lots and lots of families, one of the busier beaches we’ve been too, it is school holidays though.

27-1 green pool frm water

 

We all enjoyed a bit of swimming and sun baking.

27-1 maddy in water at green pool

 

The water was so perfectly clear, just a tad cold for me! I swam but not for long…

27-1 maddy looking out

 

Maddy did lots of digging and we all did some reading before heading back to the van for a shower and some lunch.

27-1 maddy at green pool

 

As we are camped right on the edge of the bay we set our table right by the water while we ate our lunch and another freshly squeezed juice!

After lunch we headed out for a little explore, I wanted a day off wine tasting so we headed in to Denmark town for a look around the shops. There aren’t many shops, it’s only a small town but there are enough to keep you entertained for a couple of hours. We found a lovely little book shop, Maddy could have easily stayed there the rest of the day, we bought her yet another book, which she read before the day was out.

We found 2 great health food/ organic shops so stocked up on our toiletries and some organic vegies and more health foods. We love these shops and all that goes with them. Pretty amazing to find 2 in such a small town!

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After our little shop we stopped at the park on the river in the town for Maddy to have a little paly before heading back to the van.

A quiet night in, we sat and ate dinner overlooking the bay with a glass of wine, talking about our future plans and dreaming about what we might do with ourselves.

 

Wednesday 28th January – Drew was having a rest day today from cycling but I was keen to get another run in, although it would have been quite nice to sit in bed with a cup of tea and a magazine for a while…. Another beautiful day, a few puffy clouds around. As I set off across the bridge I had to stop to take a photo as it was just too beautiful looking across the water out towards the caravan park and the bay.

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As I started my run I was feeling pretty good today, hoping to increase my distance of 8km running but after 29 minutes my knee was already hurting, damn! So I headed back, doing some interval training which seems to be easier on my knee for a little while longer. Interval training is supposed to be great for increasing your fitness levels, it sure gets the heart rate up a bit. I’m not a sprinter though, it’s not really my thing. More of an endurance girl.

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I was hoping to see a snake this morning after seeing one every day for the past 4 days. But it was not to be, I did however see 2 big blue tongue lizards and heard a fair amount of rustling in the bush as I ran along. It was quiet this morning, I didn’t see another soul in the hour I was out running.

When I got back Drew and Maddy had already started some school work, today is the first day back to school after the long summer holidays. A maths unit, her favourite!

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As they sat doing some work I sorted out some washing, making coffees and making a few phone calls to work and mum etc.  School work was complete by 9.30am which is awesome, then we set off for the beach as it was going to be a hot day! Turned out to be about 37 degrees, pretty hot!

This time we are trying Elephant Cove which is just around the corner from Green Pools and supposed to be a bit quieter. It’s a fair walk along the sandy tracks and over the dune to get there but very much worth it! It’s an odd kind of place really, huge rounded rocks or boulders strewn around the coast and through the bay here.

28-1 elephant cove

 

You have to squeeze through these boulders to get to the beach

28-1 entrance to elephant rocks

 

The water is that stunning aqua blue we come to expect of WA now and it’s a calm bay which is prefect for swimming. There are a few others on the beach here but nothing near as busy as Green Pools.

28-1 elephant cove rocks

 

We spent a good couple of hours on the beach, Maddy and Drew went for an explore around the rocks and jumped off one of the rocks in to the water a few times.

28-1 elephant cove jumping off rock

 

What a great spot, one of the nicest beaches and coves we’ve seen for a while. Pity the water is just a tad cold…

28-1 elephant cove maddy on rock

 

I sat and read although felt I was getting a bit too much sun in the end so found some shade. It’s a hot one today!

28-1 elephant rocks

 

View back over to Green Pools

28-1 green pool

 

We headed back at lunchtime to Denmark and found a fabulous café called Ravens for lunch. Drew had already sussed it out and the menu looked right up our street. Lots of freshly squeezed cold pressed juices, smoothies and all the food was vegie, mostly raw, gluten free and vegan too. We both had amazing tasting platter, a Thai one and an Italian Pizza Pasta one. Both raw vegan gluten and dairy free. We shared both and they were to die for.

We are preferring this type of food more and more and we are loving it. I really must learn how to create food like this, it just feels so fresh and healthy! Only problem is Maddy isn’t keen yet, she’s now fine with the juices and enjoyed an apple, cucumber and mint juice and some sushi, which she wasn’t too keen on because it wasn’t a cucumber sushi which is her favourite. We also had 2 juices which were divine, feel all those nutrients just soaking in the body!

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While we were there the dark clouds started to form, it was forecast a 30% chance of rain this afternoon and it looks like that 30% chance was right! We only saw a few spots, not enough to wet the road really, not proper rain…. Ah well, perhaps this is not our day to break our rain drought, we haven’t seen rain since May last year still…

After all that healthy lunching we deserve a bit of wine tasting, so we headed firstly to Duckets Mills Vineyard and Cheese place. The cheese was good but the wines weren’t great. We purchased a couple of wines just to be polite and some nice blue and washed rind cheeses… yumm!

28-1 inside ducketts mill

 

While we were there it really did start to rain, decent spots and a bit more a down pour. A summer rain where it comes down quick and fast but is all over in 10 minutes! It was exciting for us, I had to go outside and feel the rain for a while.

28-1 nikki in rain

 

One more wine tasting before we head back, this time to Singlefile. The wines here were much more to our taste but unfortunately not to our budget. The reds were all $37 which is a bit much really, when we know we can get good organic wines for under $25 a bottle.

28-1 singlefile wines

 

It started to rain again as we left there, a bit harder this time, we had left our washing out so it looks like we might have got a lot of soggy washing to come back too…. I guess we can now say it has rained!

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Turns out Denmark hadn’t had the rain yet so we were lucky this time all the washing was nice and dry!!!

 

Thursday 29th January – Drew headed off for a good bike ride today, it’s a rest day for me after my disaster yesterday with my knee!

Sunrise View from Drews ride

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The track on Drews ride

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Stunning coastline

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I had promised blueberry pancakes for breakfast so I got up and made those, gluten free of course. What a treat!

It’s a nice day and the rain has cleared, the sun is out and it’s warm already.

We’ve planned to kayak the river today, so we hire our kayaks from the caravan park, a double for Maddy and Drew and a single for me. $40 for both for the hour.

29-1 start of kayaking

 

They were big old heavy old battered old things really, with no backrest so we’re glad we’re just going for an hour as they are not very comfortable.

29-1 under bridge

 

Still it’s a beautiful river and we potter along under the first bridge and along to the next which is in Denmark township itself. There are a few other people in the river who have hired kayaks in the town centre but otherwise the river is pretty quiet. It takes us just over half and hour to reach the 3rd bridge then turn around and head back. Maddy enjoys collecting feathers off the water as we potter along.

29-1 kayak back into town

 

On our way back we see several rope swings over the water from the bank, so once we’re back Drew and Maddy head over there while I head back to the van to shower and prepare lunch, sushi today!

29-1 maddy off rope

 

Dad playing on the rope swing too!

29-1 drew off rope

 

After lunch we head out for our last explore of Denmark before we leave tomorrow, firstly the maze which is about 6km out of town. It’s a lovely little maze this one, in a very natural bush setting. Built by a family about 20 years ago and is just a gold coin donation to enjoy it.

29-1 start denmark maze

 

Maddy loves a maze and after a few dead ends soon finds her way to the centre. I’m useless with mazes having no sense of direction and just happily follow her lead, she wouldn’t have it any other way anyhow. She also leads us out afterwards and finds the way out first time, what a champ!

29-1 end denmark maze

 

After the maze we find our way to the chocolate place that we’ve passed many times on the highway.

29-1 entrance to swiss annies

 

It’s owned by a swiss lady who it seems her parents used to make chocolate for royalty, how flash!

29-1 swiss annies

 

Beautiful gardens and building, built like an old homestead. We got to taste a range of very fine chocolate and stayed for a hot chocolate too, a proper hot chocolate, which was delicious.

29-1 choc drink

 

We couldn’t come away without buying some either…

29-1 inside swiss annies

 

After filling up on chocolate we drove over to Lights Beach which was where Drew had ridden to on one of his rides.

29-1 lights beach 2

 

Great spot, we walked down to the beach and enjoyed an hour there while Maddy played on the rocks and in the rock pools and Drew took some photo’s.

29-1 lights beach

 

We then drove around through ocean beach where the other caravan park was, at the opening of the inlet, nice spot too, lots of people fishing.

By the time we’d finished exploring it was getting late and the clouds were rolling in, strange kind of afternoon, lots of low cloud although it didn’t actually rain.

 

Friday 30th January – Packing up to leave Denmark today, we’ve really enjoyed it here, lots to see and do, much quieter than Margaret River, perhaps like Margs used to be. Drew says he could live here, well there are 2 organic shops, but it’s not for me I’m afraid, bit too quiet and remote, long long way from anywhere here!

The weather isn’t great this morning, cloudy and windy so neither us feel much like any exercise today. We do however have to do some schooling before we set off. Maddy isn’t too keen and is doing it reluctantly. She’d much rather be playing or reading a book!

 

 

 

Walpole

Walpole

Thursday 22nd January – Lovely drive from Manjimup to Walpole, tree lined roads, tree after tree after tree. Quiet too, except for the odd logging truck here and there which you need to be wary of as the roads quite skinny!

There are 2 caravan parks in Walpole and we opted for Coalmine Beach. It’s a lovely park, a few kilometers out of Walpole on the edge of the Bay and surrounded by trees. We set ourselves up quickly, had a spot of lunch then headed out to explore. These short drives are great, they give you time to fit more in and spend some of the day exploring rather than spending a day just moving from one place to another!

Our set up at Coalmine Beach

24-1 setup at walpole coalmine beach

 

First stop the Giant Tingle Trees, they were not far from the caravan park and down these wonderful forest tracks.

22-1 road to giant tingle tree

 

The Giant Tingle Trees are huge! There are lots of them here too! 

22-1 giant tingle tree with sign

 

There’s a 1km or so walk around the forest which was lovely, I am still stiff in the legs though after that damned Gloucester Tree climb…

22-1 maddy & nikki under giant tingle

 

Maddy loved exploring all the trees and clambering around, under, through and over them.

22-1 maddy on burl

 

Drew enjoyed trying to capture them with his camera.

22-1 maddy under twisted tree

 

After exploring the Tingles we drove out to the Wilderness Discovery Centre to do the sky walk through the Valley of the Giants.

22-1 maddy under sign of valley of the giants

 

What an amazing structure, it allows you to walk high up in the tree tops. You can even abseil off it too, for $50!

22-1 tree top walk

 

Looking down over the trees from the treetop walk… it’s a long way down!

22-1 looking down off high walk

 

Interesting thing is it flexes and moves as you walk along, it’s a bit like walking along a swing bridge!

22-1 tree top walk with nikki & maddy

 

I’m sure it’s quite safe, but it is a little disconcerting really, I wonder what it’s like in a strong wind!

22-1 maddy & nikki on walk

 

The discovery cente gave Maddy an activity sheet to complete which was brilliant, she had clues to look out for things along the way and learn more about the area and the trees. She loves anything like this to do, they’re so good for getting the kids involved along the way. We’ve only come across a few of these on our trip but they are certainly something that more places could implement, especially if they want to attract families.

22-1 maddy in car under tree

 

Just as we were leaving to get back in the car we spotted a Quokka in the bushes, there are very few of them on the mainland and we had read there were some here, but we were very lucky to spot one! We had of course seen lots of them on Rottnest Island, which is famous for them, they are so very very cute!

22-1 quokka at tree top walk

 

Spent the evening in the caravan, Maddy is in to doing some jigsaw puzzles at the moment so we set about another puzzle. This time she chose her hardest puzzle, a 1000 piece puzzle with really small pieces, one of her Christmas presents for our friends Caz and Craig and the kids.  This one is going to take us a few nights to complete!

 

Friday 23rd January – Drew headed off to explore the cycling tracks here this morning, this time east along the Munda Biddi tracks towards the Tingle Trees. It was a good ride and he clocked up 27km along the Frankland River to Monstray landing and back. I’m finally starting to ease up from my stiff legs but not enough to head for a run yet. We’ll be doing a bit of walking today so that will help me finally shake off the stiffness.

Drove out to Swarbrick first which is another forest art walk, this one is free though.

23-1 swarbrick door

 

It’s just a 800m walk through the forest, this one has some quite nice artworks. Drew and Maddy loved the big mirror at the start of the walk.

23-1 swarbrick mirror

 

Two Maddy’s!  Surely not!

23-1 maddy at mirror

 

There were just a few signs explaining the artworks here, another hot day though!

23-1 ring sculpture_

 

Chief photographer in action!

23-1 mirror with drew in it

 

Then lunch at Thurlby Herb farm, which doesn’t sell herbs, but has lovely gardens, a nice little shop and a cafe.

23-1 thurlby farm garden

 

We stopped for lunch, I had a homemade cauliflower and bacon soup which was delicious, Drew had a veggie pumpkin burger.

23-1 lunch at thurlby farm

 

We then drove out to Mount Frankland where there is a 2.5km walk to follow right to the top!

23-1 climbing to top of mt frankland

 

This was a bush fire look out and still is. It’s a kind of huge granite topped mountain, amazing views in all directions.

23-1 maddy top of mt frankland

 

There was a ranger there on lookout we got talking to. He’s up there on his own for 8 hours a day, sending back any sightings of fires and hourly weather reports.

23-1 going down mt frankland

 

Walking back to the car from the top, great boardwalk to allow us to safely cross the rock face.

23-1 walkway at mt frankland

 

Saturday 24th January – Time to get back on the bikes and check out Walpole!  We cycled along the Munda Biddi track from Coalmine Beach in to Walpole. Maddy was up for going on her own bike rather than the tagalong. She did really well, she’s such a trooper. We had a little wonder around Walpole, there’s not much to see, a few little shops and a few cafes. We found a café to stop for a Chai and shared the most amazing freshly made Mulberry Cheesecake ever! We then cycled back, it was 8km all up and she only fell off once!

We then took a drive out to Conspicuous Cliffs and Beach – view from the lookout

24-1 conspicuous beach

 

It was a cool and blustery day, not exactly a beach day but we enjoyed some fresh air and Maddy enjoyed playing on the beach.

24-1 maddy on conspicuous beach

 

Stunning coastal scenery!

24-1 conspicuous beach 2

Boardwalk to the beach

24-1 board walk conspicuous beach

 

Maddy enjoyed playing in the sand dune, running up and down.  We tried to fly the kite but the wind wasn’t quite strong enough really from the beach, it was when we up at the lookouts!  On the way back to the car we saw a snake at the side of the track. Probably another Dugite, venomous but timid, exciting all the same!

24-1 snake board walk conspicuous beach

 

On the way back to Walpole we stopped at a Bead Gallery which was a shop within someones house really.  I was expecting much much more to be honest, I have more beads and could have done a far better job and it’s only a hobby for me!

Drove on to Peaceful Bay which is really just a caravan park, a bay and a fish and chip cafe adjoined to the caravan park.  We had read reports that these were the best fish and chips for miles around!  We were tempted for ourselves but it was a bit early and we’re really trying to be healthy, Maddy loves her fish and chips though and was hungry so we treated her.  They were excellent, I think Drew and I pinched a fair few hot chips…

The beach would be lovely on a hot day, it’s just not really a beachy day today!

Peaceful Bay

24-1 peaceful bay with car

 

Playing at Peaceful Bay

24-1 peaceful bay with maddy

 

Just as we were driving out of Peaceful Bay we stopped and saw some funny things hanging in the trees, so we got out to have a look.  There were lots and lots of art works that have been created with shells and bits of driftwood infact anything that must have been found on the beach!

24-1 decs hanging peaceful bay

 

They were really quite lovely hanging in the trees, we must try to do something similar with all the gazillions of shells that Maddy and I collect.  Drew reckons we have half a ton of shells collected so far, he may be exaggerating, I doubt we would have more than two or three bin liners full….

24-1 hanging decs at peaceful bay

 

Sunday 25th January – We’re packing up and leaving today, heading to Denmark, but not before we’ve done a ride and a run this morning. I haven’t run for a week now as I was sore after climbing the big tree for about 3 days! So it was a tough run this morning and just a short one.

We then pack up and headed off along the coast, Denmark is just 55km away so a nice short easy drive today.

Manjimup

Manjimup

Sunday 18th January –It’s just 100km from Wharncliffe Mill, Margaret River to Nannup, which is where we plan to stop for lunch. It’s a quiet drive across there, lots of forests and rolling hills, beautiful. The area is dry though so the fields are yellow and dry here too. Looking forward to seeing some green fields again once Autumn comes.

Nannup is a quaint little town, few shops along the main street and plenty of little cafes.

What a cute fence, each fence post is painted by someone in the local community, including school kids.

18-1 nannup fence

 

We have a wonder along the street before we choose a café to sit outside for some lunch. It’s quite a hot day today, in the 30’s with little breeze.

Cafe for lunch

18-1 cafe lunch spot nannup

 

Lunch was lovely, home cooked quiche and salad for me and a pie for Drew. Beautiful little garden.

18-1 lunch spot nannup

 

Cute toilet at the cafe

18-1 toilet at cafe

 

Nannup is very quiet compared to Margaret River, very quiet indeed. We did however find this scary red back in the park…

18-1 nannup red back sculpture

 

Another sculpture – Nannup

18-1 sculpture nannup

 

We then drove on to Manjimup just another 55km to where we are staying for the next 4 nights.  We chose a little caravan park just outside Manjimup, Fonty’s Pool that Drew had read about in his Scoop Magazine. They found us a lovely spot at the far end of the park backed up against the fields and forest beyond. Great spot as it was noisy near the pool!

19-1 setup at fontys pool

19-1 setup at fontys pool 2

 

The pool looks different to the pools we usually see in caravan parks, it’s a natural spring fed pool, huge, with lots of inflated tyres in, and a few ducks. Maddy is keen to get in!

19-1 fontys pool

 

Monday 19th January – There is so much fresh produce and fruit in this area, there’s a fresh produce shop just a kilometre up the road from the caravan park so we were keen to head there for some locally grown fruit and veg. Turns out it was all fruit but crazy cheap prices.  Avocado’s so cheap we bought about a dozen for $5!!!! We stocked up on apples and stone fruit and oranges… will be juicing some of these!

19-1 fresh produce shop - warehouse

 

We then drove over to the Truffle and Wine Company which is a cellar door another few km’s up the road.

19-1 truffle and wine company entrance

 

We had a wonderful wine tasting here, the girl who served us had only been there a few months but was so friendly and helpful.  We loved the wine and sent another case back to Sydney.  Then we learnt all about the truffles, how they are grown and harvested and enjoyed tasting some truffle oil, truffle honey, truffle mayonnaise among a few other gourmet products.  We learnt that these are the same as the french style truffles and this business is the largest exporter of truffles in the Southern Hemisphere.  Truffles are pretty expensive though, about $2,500 a kilo or $2.50 a gram!  Mind you, you don’t need much, they say about 6 – 8gm per person in a main dish, so up to about $20 a head just for the truffle flavour!

19-1 inside truffle and wine company entrance

 

They have 2 full time truffle dogs which work during the truffle season – beautiful looking dogs.

19-1 truffle dog

 

After our wonderful time at the Truffle company we went to the Timber and Heritage Park in Manjimup especially for Maddy, it  had an awesome kids play area which of course she made the most of!

19-1 manjimup timber and heritage park playground

 

complete with flying fox!

19-1 timber and heritage park maddy flying fox

 

Maddy insisted I have a go… can’t say I minded too much, lots of fun!

19-1 timber and heritage park nikki flying fox

 

And then we drove around a lap that took us to the King Jarrah Tree which is reported to be over 520 years old and over 50 metres tall.  It was almost cut down in about 1910 but narrowly missed it’s fate when it was declared Crown Property!

19-1 king jarrah tree

 

Then on to a lovely old church, Dingup Church or St. Thomas’s Church which was built in 1896 and was used by early settlers as both a school and a church.  Lovely little place.

19-1 st thomas' church - dingup

 

Inside Dingup Church

19-1 inside st thomas' church - dingup

 

and back for a swim in the afternoon back at Fonty’s pool. I did a few lengths while Maddy and Daddy played in the tyres.  The water was  bit green… with a lot of things floating around in it, including lots of ducks… not sure if the floaties were algae or duck poo… best keep my mouth shut!

19-1 maddy in tube

 

Maddy had a wonderful time diving off the great diving board though – no fear here!

19-1 maddy off jetty

 

Back at the caravan that evening, while Drew played with his photo’s, Maddy and I enjoyed an hour colouring in together

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The finished artwork

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Made a wonderful pasta for dinner with our purchase of truffle oil and some kangaroo chorizo! Yum Yum!

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Tuesday 20th January – Drew went for a bike ride first thing, to check out the Munda Biddi track which runs not far from the camp site. The track wasn’t great though, bit overgrown in places.

 

 

First stop in our exploration today was the The Gloucester Tree, which is a Marri Tree and one of the original fire lookout trees and stands 53 metres tall.  I climbed this when I came to Australia back in 1989, so here I am pretty much 26 years later, it doesn’t seem to have changed any.

20-1 maddy with sign

 

We were there early which was a good thing so we got to climb it alone, one of the worst parts of climbing it last time I remember was trying to pass people coming up or going down on these skinny little poles…

20-1 maddy on tree 1

 

Drew went up first while I found my courage to go up it again. He found it pretty scary and was shouting down “this is not for the faint hearted…” as he climbed! He got to the top pretty quickly though, probably so he could stand on the solid wooden platform for a while rather than the skinny poles you climb.

20-1 looking down to maddy

Drew took his camera and took lots of photos going up and coming down, I wasn’t taking anything, needed my hands just to hang on!

20-1 looking down

 

Maddy wanted to go up but I just couldn’t let her, there is a scrappy bit of netting along the outside of the poles but nothing underneath to stop you falling, I just couldn’t bring myself to let her climb, it was hard enough for me to go back up there again.

20-1 maddy on steps

 

As I started to climb I started to feel a little sick and a little bit wobbly, I did have to have a serious word with myself to complete the climb, it would have been too easy to turn back and not do it.

20-1 nikki on tree

 

But I kept going and going and made it all the way, with wobbly legs and all! I didn’t stay long at the top, just enough to catch my breath, then I was on my way back down again.  It’s pretty hard work!

20-1 nikki on tree 2

 

Climbing down is actually worse than the climb up. Step by step hanging on to those thin poles I made it back safely, phew! I was pretty happy that I did it, “do one thing a day that scares you”…. That’s my motto and that was one successful day!

20-1 maddy & nikki on tree

 

View from the top of the Gloucester Tree!!!

20-1 view at the top

 

My legs were still a bit shaky after the climb but we did one of the short circular walks around the forest, just 800 metres or so to stretch our legs….

This is one of the things I love about this area, roadside fruit stalls, I love fresh locally grown produce, so much better than buying from the supermarket!

20-1 roadside fruit stall pemberton

 

We then drove in to Pemberton and found a lovely gallery and café, Holy Smoke for a spot of morning tea!

20-1 holy smoke cafe & fine wood

 

A chai tea for me and a coffee for Drew and a piece of naughty cake between us as reward for our achievement!

20-1 holy smoke cafe entrance

 

We then drove down to Northcliffe to do the understory, which is a series of sculptures in the bush. It cost $26 for the 3 of us to get in, you get audio guides which explain each sculpture as you walk along the trail. The guides are the actual artists talking about their work. While we listened to that Maddy has some little story nooks to find and a series of 5 audio stories along the trail too which was excellent for kiddies. She loved it and listened intently to every one.

20-1 swarbrick maddy listening

 

The sculptures were a curious bunch, as were the artists. Some were just weird, some were just awful and some were really quite good.

20-1 swarbrick maddy & nikki

 

We liked the little people in the forest and the flowers growing up the burnt out tree trunk, and the wooden ring around the tree. It was pretty hot out there though, it’s a 36 degree day today!

20-1 swarbrick little person

 

We then found a Marron Farm so stopped there for a look. Marron are a little bit like lobster or crayfish. The farm is a series of tanks with Marron from the local dams, it seems the local farmers grow them and bring them in.

20-1 forest fresh marron outside

 

You can buy them of varying sizes, the bigger they are the more expensive they get. The cheapest were $48 a kilo for the smaller ones, up to $62 a kilo for the larger ones.

20-1 looking at marron

 

We bought 5 medium sized Marron, 2 each for us and 1 for Maddy to try. It cost us $65 including 2 ice packs, they were $56 a kilo. It’s pretty expensive stuff, never tried it before, hope it’s worth it!

20-1 bought marron

 

We then tried to find Big Brook dam but got a bit lost on the forest tracks so doubled back and ate lunch in the car.

We then went to visit Mountford Organic winery and cidery, lovely place, built by the owners. It was one of the sons who looked after us. His father had started the winery 28 years ago. We tasted all the ciders first, I quite liked the cider, they even had a scrumpy. Then we tasted all the wines, we were a a bit disappointed in the quality of these wines and didn’t really like many of them, which is a shame because we really want to find some good organic wines we can start buying instead of bottle shop stuff! Still we liked his 2 top reds which were 2004! So we came away with 6 bottles of cider and 3 wines.

20-1 mountford wines

 

They had a rather interesting gallery above the cellar door, this dress is actually made of the skim off the top of the wine as it’s being fermented.

20-1 dress made frm wine

 

He told us how to get to the dam so we followed a new track and found it.  Such a hot day it was quite a busy spot, we’d taken our swimmers so got changed and hopped in.

Big Brook Dam

20-1 big brook dam

 

The water was not as cool as the ocean is! It was pretty nice really. There was a wonderful sandy beach.

20-1 big brook dam from water

 

Maddy loved playing in the water and in the sand at the edge. It had been a hot day so we were all glad to have a refreshing dip!

20-1 big brook dam from beach

 

We then headed back to the camp, what a long day, from before 9am to after 6pm, we can sure pack it in!

We popped the Marron in the freezer as we had bought them live and they had been sat in the esky all afternoon cooling, but were still a little lively.  We boiled a big pan of water and popped them in for the 5 minutes as instructed by the marron farm guy. Once they were cooked we plunged them in to cold water then prepared them a bit like a lobster, head off then split down the middle. Marron have 10 legs and 8 of them are too skinny to eat, just the claws have meat.

We opened a lovely bottle of Voyager Estate Sav Blanc and ate the Marron outside in the late evening sunlight watching the sky turn to pink then purple. The Marron were delicious, not to dissimilar to lobster, perhaps a little fresher then most of the lobster we buy and certainly tasty enough. Maddy loved them too and devoured far more than her share of 1 whole Marron!

 

Wednesday 21st January – We’d booked a half day kayaking wilderness adventure today, with Andy.  We were to meet Andy at a wine centre near Pemberton at 8.30am which was about 45 minutes away, so we were up and organised and on the road with coffees in hand by 7.30am.

Only problem is that I have woke up really stiff in my legs and arms today, I can only think that must be from climbing the gloucester tree yesterday! How can that be! It was a fair climb but it didn’t feel enough to make me feel this stiff and sore, surely not after all the running and cycling I have done recently! Not happy… not ideal to be getting in an out of a kayak when I can hardly move my limbs!

Andy was already there and waiting for us and soon another family with 2 kids also arrived. So just the 2 families on the morning tour. We jumped in the back of Andy’s Landcruiser and he drive us about 10 minutes down the road to the canoe launch point. The kayaks were all doubles and big flat bottomed stable ones. Drew and Maddy shared one kayak and I was in another.

21-1 maddy before kayak

 

The other family didn’t seem to have kayaked as much so we set off slowly while they got the hang of things. I was quite eager to get moving but that wasn’t going to be the case… this was a slow cruisy kind of adventure it seems.

21-1 kayaking with trees

 

We paddled up the river, which was quite beautiful, while Andy chatted to us about the river and it’s history and the area etc.

21-1 maddy & drew in kayak

 

We kayaked for an hour or so until we got to a little bush camp where we hopped out and Andy made us a cup of tea of coffee and served some of his home made cake and some crackers.

21-1 kayak tea break

 

Andy was quite an interesting character, been doing these kayak tours for 21 years now, along with some other part time work with Landcare. He sure could talk!  He was very knowledgeable but half a day was enough!

21-1 nikki under branch

 

We had a swim, the river was pretty warm really, then headed back.

21-1 maddy swimming in river

 

By the time we’d got out and loaded the kayaks back on the trailer and got back to the car it was past 1.30pm, it had been a lovely relaxing morning.

We were all hungry so we checked the maps and headed to Jarrah Jacks Brewery and winery about 10km away hoping they’d still be serving food.

21-1 brewery

 

What a lucky find, they were serving food and had an amazing tasting plate menu. We ordered 1 each, a meat one and a seafood one to share and a beer tasting paddle to share too. The kids menu was great too, a buffet style arrangement where kids could help themselves from a range of sausage rolls, fish and chips and pasta, and 2 deserts, jelly or chocolate mouse. Perfect!

21-1 lunch at brewery

 

Our platters were served as 1 large platter and they were amazing. There was Marron, prawns, smoked salmon and scallops. There was cheese, sour dough, sun dried tomatoes, beef, chorizo, even a pork belly. There was olive oil and balsamic, dukkah, pesto and several other sauces and condiments. What an amazing selection and only $28 a head! Heaven!

21-1 lunch

 

The beers were pretty impressive too, a paddle of 6 and larger measures than we’d been having recently.

21-1 nikki & drew at brewery

 

The view from the restaurant was wonderful, over the vines and dam and on top of that they had 2 gorgeous dogs, one particularly beautiful one called Zelda which was a cross German Shep/ Labrador and had the most beautiful temperament, I watched her for ages, she was beautiful, we could have taken her home there and then!

21-1 dogs at brewery

 

Then we discovered the winery and brewery was up for sale at $1.7 million, including the 12 hectares and everything…. Tempted, very very tempted! Before we left we tasted their wines and loved their Rose, Sav Blanc, Merlot and an 11 year old Cab Sav which they were selling off at $10 a bottle, bargain!

Back to the camp Maddy was keen for another swim in Fonty’s pool, so I took her there for an hour while Drew had some alone time at the van, catching up on this wine app.. I caught up with some blogging while she played in the pool with the rubber ring and jumping off the diving board. I wasn’t keen to go back in duck poo pool again, Maddy didn’t seem to mind though.

 

Thursday 22nd January – Leaving today heading for Walpole, not such a long drive, only about 130km all up so a nice slow easy morning.

 

 

 

Wharncliffe Mill / Margaret River – Part 2

Wharncliffe Mill / Margaret River – Part 2

Tuesday 13th January – There is something about this place, I get goosebumps as we drive back up the lovely tree lined track that leads to Wharncliffe Mill.

Claire is on reception when we get there and she’s pleased to see us back again, she finds us a great spot near to where we were last time and also next door to Caz and Craig and near to where Rach and Pete will be camping as they are joining us in a few days.

We get set up and then I dash off to stock up at the organic farm shop and then Woolies.  In the afternoon I take Maddy back to Sunflower Animal Farm while Drew goes for a mountain bike ride.

Maddy loved being back at the animal farm. We found her favourite baby rabbit that she named Rosie, she had grown up quite a lot and is quite a bit bigger than she was 3 weeks ago.

2015-03-10 13.17.44

 

There were also 2 new baby rabbits which she named Lucy Longwhiskers and Flossy Fluffy Ears. The chicks had grown and been moved to another cage and some new ones had taken their place, it seems they get a new batch every 2 weeks. This time there were also 2 ducklings in with the chicks which were extremely cute!

2015-03-10 13.16.58 (1)

 

The guinea pigs had been moved to a pen outside.  We learnt that after we were last here, when 3 guinea pigs had been born just a few hours previous, another 15 were born the very next day. We found them all outside and they had grown quite a lot too. Maddy enjoyed catching the little ones, which are much easier and cuter then the adult guinea pigs.

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We hand fed the joeys and the calf and the lambs, the joeys seem to have grown too!

2015-03-10 13.20.20

 

This time we got to feed to pigs as a delivery of out of date bread had just arrived from the local supermarkets. That was lots of fun, this time I was a little bit more careful not to get snapped at!

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Maddy really enjoyed herself once again, we really need to get this girl some pets when we get home!

Drew really enjoyed his ride, loving these tracks!

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More crazy cows!

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We’d booked in for dinner at Miki’s Open Kitchen, a Japanese Restaurant in Margaret River that we had wanted to visit when we were here last time, gets great reviews and you needed to book a week in advance!

Miki’s Open Kitchen – Japanese

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We knew why, what a fabulous spot, the food was amazing, as was the service, it was a wonderful evening.

2015-03-10 13.24.01

 

Highly recommend this one.  It wasn’t that pricey for what you got either, land we took byo, oved it!

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Wednesday 14th January – We are heading south today to visit the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse and Augusta, so we are up and off fairly early without any exercise today.

14-1 augusta sign

 

Augusta is about 40km south of Margaret River, we went to the lighthouse first, wow it was super windy!!!!

14-1 augusta lighthouse from distance

 

We did the 30 minute tour which was not too dissimilar to the other lighthouse we’d done a few days ago.

14-1 inside lighthouse

 

This lighthouse however is much taller then the Cape Naturalist Lighthouse and built in 1895 boasts being mainland Australia’s tallest lighthouse.

14-1 lighthouse

 

Another crazy cow… they’re everywhere!

14-1 cow & lighthouse

 

This spot is also the meeting point of the Indian and Southern Oceans, the sea today was really rough.

14-1 meeting of the oceans

 

Maddy and Daddy having fun again

14-1 maddy holding tip of lighthouse

 

This part of the coast is particularly famous in Australia’s history, it marks where Matthew Flinders first began mapping the Australian coast.

14-1 flinders sign

 

The view from the lighthouse

14-1 view from lighthouse

 

After the lighthouse, we stopped off at the water wheel which was built to provide fresh water for the lighthouse.  It was quite a clever system.

14-1 water wheel

 

The water wheel – what’s left of it anyway

14-1 water wheel 2

 

After the lighthouse we drove around the coast and through Augusta, we had planned to stay for the afternoon and sit on the beach but it was just too windy.  Augusta didn’t really attract us too much, although I am sure it looks a lot different on a nicer day. They say it’s always windy though!

We drove back through Witchcliffe and stopped there to have a quick look at the candle shop, which wasn’t very interesting.  We then tried to visit Swallow tail winery but there was nobody home, we tried calling and ringing the bell!

14-1 visit to deserted winery

 

Looks like a beautiful little place, shame there was nobody there.  We peeped in the cellar door and there were crates of wine, we could have taken as much as we’d liked, no need for security here clearly!

14-1 visit to deserted winery 2

 

We drove over to 38 degrees olive place to get a couple more bottles of olive oil then headed back to Wharncliffe Mill.  We drove through some of the beautiful country lanes on the way back, so pretty. We feel so at home and so happy here.

14-1 road home

 

When we got back to Wharncliffe Mill, Caz and Craig had just arrived and were setting up next to us, the girls were straight out on their bikes doing laps of the park. Savannah enjoyed playing on my iPad on our bed.

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Our set up next to Caz and Craig, happy to be together again

18-1 wharncliffe mill setup

 

We had dinner together with Caz and Craig and the kids, it was chilly so we all sat in our van while the girls watched a movie. I tried a new recipe on them, a vegan zucchini noodle satay recipe which was wonderful. We were trying to have a night off the wine but it didn’t happen, we ended up having such a lovely evening I think we drunk a whole bottle between us, and demolished plenty of cheese too… so much for a super healthy vegan evening, still we had fun!

 

Thursday 15th January – Loving being back here because it’s so easy to do exercise. Drew went for a ride and then I went for a run. Tried out my new waist belt to keep my phone in which worked a treat! I ran pretty well too, managed about an hour of running time and only towards the end did my knee give way. I met a girl while running with a dog and ran with her for a while chatting which was nice. I also came across two ladies on the most beautiful black horses you’ve ever seen, they were glorious!!!

Rach and Pete are due to arrive today, could be anytime though. We didn’t have any plans for the day and ended up pretty much just hanging around the park all day. I made some biscuits which the kids devoured pretty quickly and then some good healthy juice for lunch.

Rach and Pete arrived late afternoon, it was wonderful to see them.  They set up a tent not far from us, we had a barbecue together in the evening.

 

Friday 16th January – We were up pretty early but Rach was up even earlier, seems their camp bed had deflated in the night… so not so comfy for a lie in… they wondered off to the beach for an early walk and brekkie and Drew and I got in a bit more exercise, a ride each! I enjoyed a ride along the rails to trails track to Cowamarup and back, about 20km all up. I almost came to blows with 2 huge grey kangaroos that came shooting out the forest right in front of me, that was exciting for a moment!

We had planned a day of wine tasting and breweries with Rach and Pete and Caz and Craig were going to check out A Maze n with the girls. Maddy decided to tag along with them rather than come wine tasting with us, can’t blame her!

First stop Voyager Estate, wow what an amazing cellar door, this was the most extravagant cellar door we’ve visited, beautiful.

16-1 tasring room buidling

 

Seems Voyager was established by the son of the man who started the Tom Price mine, so quite a lot of mining money here… The gardens were just amazing, we saw at least 3 gardeners working away as we strolled through the grounds.

Me and my gorgeous Rachel – love this girl so much x

16-1 nikki & rach_

 

They also have a huge Australian flag as you drive in, seems it’s one of the largest flags in Australia, and was at one time larger than the Canberra Govt flag…

16-1 voyager garden

 

The wine here was all very nice, we purchased a few bottles, we can’t buy much more as we have 5 cases of wine in the van as it is!

16-1 cellar door

 

They had these special little tasting rooms which were beautiful where you could pay to have a private tasting of their best wine. Next time….

16-1 tasting room

 

This would be a nice spot for lunch, although we didn’t stay there, the setting looked lovely and the menu sounded great, and fairly reasonably priced for such a stunning place, not today though, we heading for a brewery!

Cowamarup Brewery for lunch, Drew and I shared a tasting paddle of their beers; Rach and Pete of course had to have 1 each!

16-1 cowaramup brewery

 

Cowamarup Brewery

16-1 inside cowaramup brewery

 

We shared a cheese and meat and pickle platter between us all and some wedges for lunch; it was lovely sitting in the garden there, really nice. This brewery was much smaller and quieter than the others we have visited in the area. Still a bit odd not having Maddy, nice but odd! Mind you, loose a little one and gain a little ‘un!

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After lunch another winery, this time Vasse Felix, Drew and I had had lunch here but not done the tasting, so we came back to do that. We liked the more expensive wines, the $50 to $70 a bottle ones… but we weren’t that keen on the cheaper end, even the $27 a bottle wasn’t great really, so for the first time we left the winery without buying anything!!! Rachel did buy one bottle though, so not all bad!

We then headed back and had a quick change and turnaround as we are going out tonight with Caz and Craig and the kids to the Colonial Brewery where there is live music on and $10 pizzas! It’s been a cool afternoon and is already getting cold so we all put on a few extra layers; I even broke out the jeans and cowboy boots again!

We had a great evening, sitting outside eating and drinking while the 3 kids played in the huge playground. It was really busy, and really cold!

 

Saturday 17th January – Drew was up for a run this morning, so he headed off first thing, I didn’t feel like a run today so enjoyed finishing off my book so I can pass it on to Rach, she’s an avid reader like me!

After a spot of brekkie we all headed off to Margaret River markets to stock up on some good produce. We’ve loved this market; it was nice to go back to some of the stalls such as the Gordo’s wine, the Kim Chi stall and the quail eggs. Caz and Craig and the kids were there too, picking up pretty much the same produce as us!

It’s going to be a hot one today, so we planned to head to Hamelin Bay beach for the afternoon. The drive down Caves Road to Hamelin Bay is just beautiful, we love the Bonarup Forest, such amazing trees…

Hamelin Bay was busier than when we were here a few weeks ago. We set ourselves up and soon Caz and Craig and the kids joined us. It was hot so lots of dips although you don’t stay in too long because it’s a tad cool, refreshing…

17-1 hamelin bay

 

We wondered down to the jetty to see if the Manta Rays were there and yes they were, we got to touch them again and this time some fishermen came in and gave them some fish scraps and before we knew it there were 8 or more large Manta Rays all jostling for the fish, getting a bit agro too with their tails up! Got to be careful… that’s what killed Steve Irwin!

We stayed on the beach for a good 2 or 3 hours and by then we’d had enough sun, the kids had a ball surfing, the surf isn’t great here but they made the most of it.

17-1 hamelin bay maddy

 

On the was back from the beach we stopped to check out Redgate Beach.

17-1 redgate beach sign

 

Another stunningly beautiful beach, we didn’t go down but took a few shots from the top.

17-1 redgate beach

 

Another beach to explore better if we get to visit this area again, not sure about the sharks though!

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As I hadn’t done a run or ride this morning I just fancied getting in a bit of exercise for the day, so decided on a bike ride, we asked Rach to look after Maddy so that Drew could join me too. So we headed off on the rails to trails track once again towards Cowamarup, just for an hour. We did the same ride I did a couple of days ago on my own. I find it so difficult to ride on these tracks when the ground gets soft with my thin tyres, so Drew and I swapped bikes and it was amazingly better with the fatter tyres, although his bike is too big for me and the seat too high, and too skinny… I didn’t try it for long. It was great to get another ride in though, just one last one together…

While we were riding Rach was tasked with getting Maddy and Kalyra in the shower, seems it all turned out rather well! How lovely for Maddy to have big sis around!

We planned to have our dinner together tonight, Rach and Pete and Caz and Craig and the kids.  I’d bought some chicken and venison, I tasked Rach and Pete with a salad and Caz cooked a quinoa salad and some roasted sweet potato. The kids ate first then headed off to play in the park and on their bikes on last time.

We had a wonderful evening, the food was excellent and Rach and Caz were in charge of the tunes. Lots of wine, lots of laughs had by all.  A possum came along in the tree right behind us, to entertain us all, Rach enjoyed feeding it some carrot, nature lover like me x

17-1 possum wharncliffe mill

 

The kids came in at dark and watched a movie on our bed, ended up being quite a late night, gone 10.30pm by the time we packed up, I hope we weren’t making too much noise again, I fear we might have!

17-1 possum eating carrot wharncliffe mill

 

Sunday 18th January – Packing up today to leave, very sad to leave this camp ground, we’ve loved Wharncliffe Mill, and sad to be leaving the Margaret River region too. We made a cooked breakfast for us and Rachel and Pete before we left then packed up and said our goodbyes to Rach and Pete and Caz and Craig and the kids. We’re likely to be ahead of them for a while, not sure if they will catch us up or not! So very very sad saying goodbyes.

Its just 100km to Nannup, which is where we plan to stop for lunch.

Bussleton/ Dunsborough

Bussleton/ Dunsborough

Saturday 3rd January – We were on the road by about 9.45am, it’s about 220km and a two and a half hour drive.  We’ve done this drive twice already pretty much so it’s all good.

We’d booked and paid for this park in advance. Busy check in, we got a great spot though, both for the caravan and the villa mum and dad were staying in. It was another fabulous villa, 2 bed and this one was a bit larger then the one we’d had in Woodman Point. 

9-1 polly & brian cabin

 

Once we’d got set up and unpacked we went in to Bussleton for a bit of a look around. We walked along the beach front to the famous 2km long jetty and then back again.

Bussleton Beach and Jetty

3-1 busselton beach & jetty sign

 

Bussleton Jetty is really pretty, we will come back another day to walk it’s length and visit the oceanarium at the end.

3-1 busselton jetty

 

Arty shot from user the jetty looking back towards the information cent

3-1 busselton jetty info centre

 

There was a lovely ice cream cart on the beach front selling gelato complete with authentic Italian salesman

3-1 gelato cart

 

The beach has one of those water parks too looks fun but perhaps more for older kids

3-1 busselton beach & jetty

 

Sunday 4th January – As Maddy had another sleepover at nana and grandpa’s we took the opportunity to get some more early morning exercise in. Drew went for a ride and I went for a run in my new joggers! The joggers were great although I didn’t run as well as my last run, managed about 30 minutes before my knee started to play up so tried a bit of sprinting and interval training which isn’t easy, sprinting doesn’t half make you puff!

We then headed off to the Bussleton markets, which were OK but not quite Fremantle Markets or Margaret River. There were some pony rides which Maddy loved!

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Then we headed to find somewhere for lunch, Drew had passed a sign for a restaurant called Little Fish on his bike ride so looked that up and the reviews sounded great, so we drove out there and managed to get the last available table!

4-1 lunch at little fish

 

Lunch waw absolutely awesome, we shared some light meals / entres but they were good sized so it was plenty for the 5 of us, washed down of course with a lovely glass of wine. Another beautiful spot and the food was wonderful, we enjoyed this lunch as much as any other we’ve had over the last few weeks. Highly recommend this one! The grounds were stunning too.

The dam at Little Fish

4-1 sculpture at dam

 

There was also a gallery there to look around with some expensive and really trendy pieces.

This is one of the sculptures in the garden

4-1 maddy in sculpture

 

After lunch we drove over to Aravina Estate winery, this is one flash winery – there is some money here! We learnt it’s owned by a guy that has a consulting firm to the mines, seems he employs over 300 people… yep lots of money here!

4-1 aravina estate sign

 

With mum and dad at Aravina Estate winery

4-1 nikki & fam at aravina

 

The owner must be a car enthusiast as at the back of the cellar door and restaurant there was a huge warehouse sized room without about 20 classic cars in.

4-1 cars at aravina

 

There must have been several hundreds of thousands of dollars in the cars alone.

4-1 maddy & drew with car

 

Dads not that keen on wineries, which is interesting as he drinks more wine than the rest of us…  but at least here he had something to keep him amused while we tasted the wines.  Interestingly out of all the wines we tried here, we were not actually that keen on any of them, so only purchased a couple to be polite.  It was a beautiful place and the restaurant and the shop that sold all sorts of upmarket homewards but it just all felt a bit too pretentious for us, I’d rather go to the smaller family run cellar doors and have a good old chin wag with the owners.

4-1 maddy with car & polly gas

 

We then went to do something more Maddy related, so headed to Yallingup Maze.

4-1 maze sign

 

It’s a bit pricey for all 5 of us so just Drew and Maddy went in the maze and mum, dad and I sat in the air conditioned café and played some of the puzzles that are scattered all over the tables. It’s a wonderful café for families, they have so many unusual puzzles to play with which are also for sale in the shop. Drew and Maddy enjoyed the maze very much too!

4-1 maddy in maze looking at 3D sign

 

The maze had lots of secret doors which was a bit different – lots of fun!

4-1 secret door in maze

 

Monday 5th January – Maddy stayed at Nana’s and Grandpa’s for the night so Drew and I could get an early bike ride in, we were up at 5.15am and on the road by 6.00am, this time heading along the coast bike path towards Dunsborough. The path goes all the way, along some fab tracks along the beach and through some great streets, we were admiring the houses along the way very much. We rode just past Dunsborough and turned around at the 15km mark then headed back in to Dunsborough to find somewhere to get a coffee. Found a great little coffee shop open, very hip, and had a coffee and a raw muesli ball to share. We then rode back, getting a better speed up, it was quite flat, averaged just over 19km per hour and covered 32km, not bad and back by 8.10am!

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Maddy was up and having brekkie with Nana and Grandpa.  We all got ready to go to the beach as today is forecast to be hot, high thirties! We’d heard Meelup Beach was good which is about 15km south towards the cape.

5-1 Meelup beach

 

It was a lovely little bay although busy, we found a spot and Maddy and Daddy built a sandcastle while we had a sun bake. The water was crystal clear and a bit cold but we had a swim, even mum had a little dip.

5-1 maddy on meelup beach

 

We only stayed on the beach about an hour and a half, was getting too hot so we headed back to the van to shower and have some lunch. It’s great having mum and dads air conditioned villa. We made a healthy juice and some crackers for lunch.  We’ve pretty much done all our cooking around their cabin, it’s nice having the space!

After lunch we decided to go visit some wineries, hoping they’d be cool… first one Cape Naturaliste, great spot, beautiful property.

Cape Naturaliste Cellar Door

5-1 cape naturaliste winery

 

The grapes are grown organically although they are not certified, all their wines also get great James Halliday ratings and they are one of his 5 star rated wineries. We pretty much liked everything we tasted so another case was sent back to Sydney…. We had a wonderful time talking to the two owners, Jenny and Craig.

Their new sandstone house was gorgeous

5-1 house at cape naturaliste winery

 

The owner told us tales of having a Dugite snake in the open roof space of the cellar door on a number of occasions, one time the local snake catcher came and removed one and another time a snake dropped on to the floor right next to a customer who was wine tasting. We couldn’t help keep looking towards the ceiling while we were there….

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After that we drove on to the chocolate place, Gabrielle’s, great chocolate, much more upmarket, we did buy some nice dark chocolate and an ice cream…

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Then one more wine tastes, Happs, another beautiful spot, with gorgeous gardens and a gallery and pottery.

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The wine was good especially the Malbec and another few bottles were purchased… this winery had a system for preserving the opened bottles of wine at the cellar door with nitrogen pumped in to the bottles.

Happs Winery 

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Very hot day, back to the van for a home cooked dinner and early night. In the air conditioning…

 

Tuesday 6th January – After such a hot day yesterday, this morning was overcast and threatening rain, in fact I think it may have even rained a little in the night, although I didn’t hear it. Drew still went off for his ride this morning.

I waited until Maddy woke up before I could go anywhere, she didn’t rise until Drew got back, so I headed out a little later and went for a walk with mum. It was an overcast morning when we set off but the sun came out and it was quite lovely.  Mum’s struggling a bit with her ankle today and was limping about 20 minutes in to our walk so we turned around and headed back, we managed to get back OK and still get 40 minutes in which isn’t bad. She’s keen to walk most days but at home has nobody to walk with. We are loving the walkways along this coast, beautiful.

It was hot when we got back so we decided to have a swim in the pool, which is just next to mum and dads cabin.

6-1 in pool at can park

 

Not sure why but this morning it was almost empty in there, we had the pool pretty much to ourselves for a good hour. Maddy enjoyed playing with Drew swimming up and down and mum even came in for a dip.

6-1 maddy under water in pool

 

We had lunch in their cabin and then headed out for a drive around.  First stop a jewellery place, which had stunning hand made jewellery, mostly silver, very nice, but very expensive, about $800 a bangle.

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Then on to an art gallery which was also lovely, in lovely grounds with some really nice paintings, again very expensive, some in the $6,000 mark. The gallery owner was busy talking another customer and didn’t even say hello to any of us… I guess he thought we didn’t dress well enough to be able to afford any of this stuff…

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We did rather like this piece…

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Then on o Eagle Olives which had wonderful olives and oils and dukkas and jams… we could have easily stocked up there but managed to come away with just some olives and sour dough.

6-1 eagle bay olives entrance

 

These cows are dotted around all over tis region, this one’s colourful! They were part of a charity fundraiser I do believe.

6-1 cow at eagle bay olives

 

Great gardens too, really nicely done.  Drew loved them, we’re getting garden envy!

6-1 garden at eagle bay olives

 

oh and 3 donkeys! These ones were really friendly, I do love donkeys, so does Miss Maddy!

6-1 maddy feeding donkeys at eagle bay olives

 

Then on to Eagle Bay Brewery for a beer tasting, what a great spot overlooking a lake.

6-1 eagle bay brewery at table

 

We had a paddle of beer between Drew and I and mum and dad shared one too, and a bowl of naughty chips… lovely hour!

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Mum and Dad sharing a beer paddle

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Popped in to Coles in Dunsborough for some fish for dinner, prawns, marinated octopus, herring and smoked trout!

Drew and I decided to get a quick bike ride in when we got back, just an hour before dinner.  We rode out on to the track that follows the coastline in to Bussleton and back.  Just 15km or so. It’s so beautiful here, we really do love this part of the world.

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The beach here goes on for miles and miles, it’s quiet and calm and seems quite protected from the winds. Looks like it might be good for fishing too!  We actually didn’t ever get to fish while we were here, another reason to go back another time.

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As we cycled back we came across a snake on the path, probably a Dugite, venomous but fairly shy, we threw a stone at it and it slithered back in to the bush. It was very exciting though, I do love snakes!

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Lovely dinner in, the fish was delicious.  We then played a card game called “up the creek” and had a wonderful night, lots of laughs!

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Wednesday 7th January – Drew took a break from riding today but I wanted to get another run in, so I headed off in my new runners even though I’d had a rough night feeling very nauseous again! Not a bad run, knee played up but managed to get further than the last run and clocked up about 50 minutes running and 30 minutes walking, not bad.

Quick turnaround at home as I had an appointment with the breast scan place at 9.15am, which turned out to be a waste of time as they needed me to go back for the results in 3 weeks, which I said I can’t do, so told me to call and book a GP appointment… grrr!!!! So we got a GP appointment in Bussleton and headed over there. Turns out the doctor thought everything was fine and gave me a referral for a mammogram when we get to Adelaide as we couldn’t get one here without going back to Perth!

Came back for lunch then headed out to explore some more. This time to the Flametree winery just between the caravan park and Dunsborough.

7-1 flametree winery

 

Absolutely amazing spot, great cellar door, lovely white building.

7-1 fam outside flametree winery

 

We enjoyed talking to the host Natalie. Liked most but not all of the wine so got away with just 3 bottles.

7-1 inside flametree winery

 

We then headed over to Bussleton as we’d booked on the tour to visit the oceanarium at the far end of the jetty. Mum, Dad and Maddy took the train the 2km to the end of the jetty, Drew and I walked.

7-1 busselton jetty train

 

It really is glorious along here, the sea is green and blue and crystal clear. Not as many people fishing as we thought and nothing caught.

Bussleton Beach

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Looking back to Bussleton Beach from the jetty

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At the end is a fish viewing area within the oceanarium.  A guide takes the group down to some viewing windows underneath the jetty where you can see the fish and various corals etc. It was quite lovely really.

7-1 fish under busselton jetty

 

The end of the pier has an oceanarium built in which is basically a building that goes down to the sea level with windows in which you can look out at what there is in the ocean.  There were all colours of corals on the old pilons of the jetty.

7-1 under busselton jetty

 

We all enjoyed it and then Drew,Maddy and Dad caught the train back and I walked the 2km back with mum.

7-1 under busselton jetty signs

 

We then had dinner at the Goose Restaurant on the waterfront right in front of the jetty, fabulous location and great food

7-1 place for dinner after jetty

 

Drew and I shared light plates and we enjoyed sitting overlooking the beach and view to the blue sea.

7-1 dinner at busselton jetty

 

Drew wanted to get some sunset shots of the jetty but it was a bit early so he dropped us off at the caravan park then headed back to get his photos.  He was out there until 9pm taking these shots, it was quite cold by the time he’d finished.

Bussleton Jetty at Sunset

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He got some real beauties though, worth the effort.  I think we may print one of these off!

7-1 busselton jetty front at night

 

Bussleton Jetty – this one is my personal favourite

7-1 busselton jetty back at night

 

Back at the van I put a hair die on mums hair then retired early to update the blog of the last few days adventures and to read my book.  Mum and Dad leave on Saturday, we’re not really ready for them to leave as usual, but we promised we wouldn’t change flights this time as we will see them as we pass through Adelaide in about 7 weeks time anyways.

 

Thursday 8th January – Drew was up and off early as he was joining a cycling group for a ride, so he set out for that. I called the office and spoke to the guys for an hour then headed out for a ride myself and Maddy had another sleepover at Nana and Grandpas. I had a wonderful ride, along the path to Busselton, beautiful day, 22km done, really enjoyed it and cycled well.

Riding in to Bussleton – great bike path all the way

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Looking down Bussleton Beach from the jetty

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Bussleton Jetty

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The beach directly in front of the caravan park between Dunsborough and Bussleton

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Drew enjoyed his 46km and cycling with the boys and catching up with them for a coffee afterwards.

We then went to the lighthouse at Cape Naturaliste to do the lighthouse tour, but this was the sign that greeted us…

8-1 Cape Naturaliste lighthouse snake sign

 

We did the tour anyway and really enjoyed it, didn’t see a single snake!   The young girl that showed us through the lighthouse was really informative, we all learnt lots about life as a lighthouse keeper.

8-1 Cape Naturaliste lighthouse going down

 

Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse

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Lighthouse Precinct

8-1 Cape Naturaliste lighthouse sign

 

Stunning views along the coast from the lighthouse

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Then we went to a winery Swings and Roundabouts for lunch, all they do is woodfired Pizza but they were very very good.

8-1 place for lunch

 

We did a wine tasting here too and just bought a bottle of Rose to have with lunch. Lovely spot sitting out on the lawn with a great view.

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Swings and Roundabouts for lunch

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We then went to Gralyn winery as they are pesticide free although not certified organic, only a small winery, on 11 acres and again one of the old wineries in Margaret River, we were really surprised by how expensive they were, the cheapest bootle of red wine was $85 to $110 , the cheapest was a white port at $55….

8-1 gralyn estate sign

 

We did get to taste everything and although it was great it wasn’t within our price range so we didn’t really want to buy, Drew ended up buying mum a bottle of the white chocolate port because she loved it. Seems as they are a small vineyard, on 11 acres, they produce limited quantity and now QANTAS serve their wine in Frist Class.

The vines at Gralyn 

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Beautiful cellar door – looking out over their vines

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Then we went to the Venison place to get some venison sausages and steaks for dinner, mum also bought some to take home.

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We then took mum and dad around for a little drive around Wharncliffe mill to show them where we had stayed, still love it there and not completely full!

Then we went to Brownhill Estate which was one of the oldest wineries, no flash cellar door here, just a corner of their warehouse. We loved all of their wines and ended up having a case shipped back to Sydney, all reasonable prices for the quality of wine.

Driving in to Brown Hill Estate

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Dropped in at our favourite help yourself organic fruit and veggie store and stocked up on supplies there, again nobody there, just an honesty system we love it.

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Inside our favourite veggie shop

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This is how the honesty system works… simple!