Monday, 30 May 2011

Last day with Kate, Warwick and Norah

Saturday was our last day with Kate, Warwick and Norah so we decided to finish as we began with a visit to Little Creatures Brewery which we enjoyed as much as our first visit except that we didn’t have a week to look forward to. As you can see Norah really enjoyed her pizza crust!

Kate wanted Norah to at least put her feet in The Indian Ocean to complete her holiday adventure so off we went to Cottesloe beach (set amongst some of the most exclusively priced real estate in Australia) and duly dabbled our feet.

Sadly back to the van and cabin to pack ready for the trip to the airport in the morning. So no more playing “where’s Norah” or looking for her in the back seat!

What a fantastic time we’ve all had and now after a short trip to an auto electrician to have the air conditioner in the car fixed we are planning and looking forward to our trip onwards and upwards.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Friday - Swan Valley (again!)

Norah began her day with a lesson from Grandpa on how to use the computer mouse, including a quick rundown on the replacement costs involved when they absorb too much love from Norah.

We decided to revisit the Swan Valley area again today as some of the places we were keen to try were closed on Monday.

The weather here today has been the best we’ve had since arriving in Perth and it was lovely sitting outside at the various breweries, distilleries and of course the Margaret River Chocolate Company.

Norah is becoming very well travelled and enjoyed her visit to the Ironbark Brewery where we had lunch although I hasten to add that the cup she is holding was empty.

Only one more day with our visitors and then we’re on our own again. We had planned to leave on Monday morning but on the way home today the car air conditioner started to make extremely unfriendly noises so we have booked it in to be looked at on Monday morning so at least another day here before we head off as we don’t want to risk anything not working as we travel to much warmer areas.


The public transport system here is amazing!  How can it possibly be so hard for Victoria to have an efficient transport system, and a ticketing system that works, we asked ourselves. We started our day by catching a very clean low line, easy to load stroller onto, bus right out the front of the caravan park. For $3.70 each we travelled on the bus to the transfer point where we proceeded through a very clean (again!) no graffiti station and waited momentarily guided by very efficient signage on the platform from where we travelled into the centre of Perth! Fantastic.

We spent a very busy walking day looking and shopping around Perth which is a lovely city with many old buildings and plenty to see. As you can see Norah enjoyed her day and we took this photo of her with one of the many sculptures we saw.

We were able to make a couple of very good purchases --- is the whole retail world on 30% or 50% off? Anyway we were happy and left feeling very satisfied with our day.

Again, we caught the train back to the station and stepped straight on to the bus --- not even a moment waiting this time and everyone leaves the bus thanking the bus driver who actually has a voice and says “you’re welcome” in return! 

Hope someone in Victoria from the transport system has a holiday here and sees this!

Quiet Day

After our busy days we decided to have a quiet day and left the park late morning for some ‘retail’. Kate and Sue felt the need for some girl time so a manicure was called for as we seem to do on holidays. The men and Norah, as supervising escorts, amused themselves for a while with a short shopping session.

After lunch we returned to the park and then went to the spa and Kate, Norah and Suey had a lovely time. The pool and spa at the park are huge, the spa more the size of an average pool but so warm. We really enjoyed our swim and Norah demonstrated her new found skills from swimming classes and charmed everyone of course!

We enjoyed a lovely dinner back at the cabin joined by Justin and Felice, who are friends of Kate and Warwick’s and their two children Soolia and Rheef.

Thursday we think we’ll use the excellent (by reputation) public transport to go into the big city of Perth ---- maybe even do some shopping!!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Swan River

After our highly successful day at Freemantle we set off for the Swan Valley to imbibe in some splendid beverages and fine food.

Firstly, we went to the Margaret River Chocolate Company which we had highly recommended to Kate and Waz having visited this outstanding establishment in Margaret River. It did not disappoint and we were forced to sample many chocolate pieces and enjoy a hot chocolate. The ladies at the shop were even more obliging than the staff at Margaret River and Ian was just about force fed four chocolate apricots.  He had already devoured a whole packet from the Margaret River Store so it was not as if he was tasting a new sensation. However he took a hit for the team and soldiered on!

After that starting experience we felt it was now late enough (11.15am) to begin our research into beers having decided that we still needed to locate the beers owed to Warwick for the dismal football result. Somewhat disappointed to find that a number of breweries were closed on Tuesday, we settled on The Mash Brewery from where we bring you the first photo in the series “Where’s Norah (Wally)” as she shows the delight of Lamb Sliders which were mini lamb burgers essential accompaniments to beer sampling. Very nice beers they were too.

Onwards we went, to the Feral Brewery Company where we were able to avail ourselves of a sampling rack of different beers which we felt went very well with the various dishes Warwick and Kate purchased for our lunch including calamari, duck wantons and pork pate.

Norah snoozed through much of this visit but we did manage to get a photo nonetheless. However on the way home we discovered that the Chocolate Company again needed our patronage and from here we have a further photo!

A quiet night at home with a venison roast purchased at Margaret River and off to bed to plan the next adventure.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Little Creatures!

No we’re not talking about bugs or other nasties but a wonderful day spent at the Little Creatures Brewery!

We decided this morning on the recommendation of Warwick’s best man to try this place so off to Freemantle we went. Well as soon as we arrived we decided this was “the place for a village”. We settled on a table near the water and in the interest of researching the very best of ales available at this fine establishment began a small tasting experience together with some very tasty nachos and pizzas. As you can see we really enjoyed our day and Norah, although she didn’t try any of the beers, certainly did enjoy the pizza crust we offered her instead and seemed quite content to snooze afterwards whilst we went for a lovely walk .

We also drove along the coastline and admired the magnificent coastline and marvelled at the housing being constructed whilst dreaming of a jackpot in Lotto to fund our dreams.

On the way home we indulged in a little retail therapy having spied a Myer centre which needed our patronage.

A beautiful day which ticked all the boxes for us, now to plan for tomorrow!

By the way if you are familiar with the “Where’s Wally?, get ready because this week we’re playing “Where’s Norah?” !!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Perth (or thereabouts)

Now before anyone casts aspersions about Sue’s ability to navigate or to know where the hell we are we are staying in Perth at Karrinyup Waters Resort for a whole week! It is so unusual for us to put down the legs on the van and settle in I know you will all want to know why.

Here is the reason. We have visitors!  Last year we started our holiday with Pete and Dawn at Forster and later met up with Kate and Warwick at Townsville. This started a bit of a tradition and this year we visited with Pete and Dawn for a week just prior to starting off and now Kate, Warwick and…….. Norah have come to see us in Perth. It is just lovely and we are really enjoying having some time with them as Sue was getting just a little sad at not seeing Norah, and Warwick was not helping by suggesting that Norah might have forgotten who she was!

After leaving Margaret River we set off in reasonable weather to travel to this area to find accommodation for all of us. The weather on the drive was dreadful and Ian even stopped a couple of times as when the wipers don’t make any progress on full it really doesn’t do any good to keep on driving. It is quite unnerving when you see flashes of lightning and thunder very soon afterwards. Ian even commented on how close it was so it was time to stop.

We stayed a couple of nights in an average park in Rockingham to give us time to look around and discover that accommodation is not all that easy to get. However with the assistance of a very friendly receptionist in a park that didn’t have any vacancies we finally found a park quite close to the airport which was convenient for the night Kate, Waz and Norah were arriving. When I say quite close, we now know that the planes fly all night. However we have moved on and our new digs are great, central to all the things we want to do over the next week so we have extended to stay here until our visitors go back to cold Victoria.

We picked up the hire car seat and cot for Norah and it is a great service if you ever need to use it and quite inexpensive. It operates as franchises and Kate says there is one in Shepp too! Things you learn when you become grandparents.

Today we went to a couple of markets, one was a farmers market and we are finding these to be great, so much fresh produce and loads of variety and delicious stuff to eat. All good for us of course! Norah is quite happy to munch on different foods now and our photo shows what she thinks of venison sausage.  Yummy!  She even saves a bit for later down the front! The only trouble was when Grandpa lifted her up her bounty feel to the floor from where she would have retrieved it had we let her.  It is certainly going to be a fun week.

Tomorrow we are off to the Swan Valley to visit some breweries (still owe Waz six stubbies) and other foodie and wine places. Oh dear, I do hope this doesn’t end untidily!

Monday, 16 May 2011

The really last Day at Margaret River

Undeterred by our lack of success at the brewery’s yesterday we set off again determined to find some beers.

However we also wanted to travel up to Cape Naturaliste lighthouse so a very wise decision was made to go to the lighthouse first. Always thinking, that’s us.  Another beautiful fine day saw us walking along the path around the lighthouse and out to the whaling observation points. To say this coastline is beautiful is seriously underrating it but it’s the best we can do beyond oooh and aaah a lot. The path was a firm sandy one and we noticed numerous tracks from the lizard population, however we only saw one large lizard happily catching the warm sun and quite unperturbed by us. Hope Jesse likes this photo!

After the lighthouse it was down to business (beer business, that is!) and we were off in search of really good beer. We went to the Bush Shack Brewery which had a very promising list of beers including delights such as strawberry, lemon and of course ginger beer. Alas, they had had a very good Easter and there were hardly any left so we tried a couple and THEN inquired about take-away. No take away. Geez we have to find another brewery now.  However the next one was no better and Ian partook on his own this time. The last brewery did have small samplings but by this time we were both aware that enough was enough and only had coffee. They didn’t have bottles to take away either or we could have been sorely tempted tho’!

Ah well we live to fight another day or brewery as the case may be!

Another Day at Margaret River

On the odd occasion we have had a small wager with Warwick on the results of the football match. Previously we offered a small wager when Adelaide played Hawthorn. Ian was sure we were on a winner, but unfortunately Ian found it necessary to buy Warwick a six pack of beers which he really enjoyed. Last weekend as we listened to the footy we had a pretty good chance when Adelaide looked as tho’ they were going down so a return wager was quickly organised. We lost again.

In the interests of providing some local beers from Margaret River we set out yesterday to check out the breweries of which there are a number. Unfortunately small samples are not the norm at them all so a couple of quite large samplings took place before we established they don’t have bottles for sale except for a huge bottle containing approximately two litres and costing $40.00. So, sorry Warwick that just isn’t going to happen! However at one brewery there was a cow attired in aqualung gear, flippers and spear gun. With Sue’s history at such establishments we offer a photo as proof that it was really there. 

We’ve said we are staying on a farm which is great and last night the rams came for a visit as the grass was fractionally longer on our side of the fence. This photo is taken only a metre from the van.

It was another lovely day with only one remaining and the weather has been fantastic, about 22 degrees during the day and 16 overnight.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Margaret River the day after the last day!

We decided to make an earlier start and go to the Farmers Market for some healthy food and cleaned up with organic fruit and veg and Ian found a couple of artery blockers in the patisserie section. At least the economy has had a heart starter thanks to us. We have taken the deductions evenly from both inheritances.

We then drove up to Busselton and walked the 1.84km each way along the Busselton Jetty which is the longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. It was originally constructed in 1865 and after more than a century of use and servicing over 5000 vessels the Busselton Jetty closed as a Port in 1973.

A decline in Government funding and Cyclone Alby in 1978 saw the formation of a community group to raise the funds to restore and maintain the Jetty which now has a small train taking people to the end to the Underwater Observatory or if you have had a really good time the day before, you walk! Part of the way on the walk the history of the Jetty relates that the ladies and some “other ladies” would promenade up to this point and beyond that the real work of the port began!

We walked all the way up and back for the good of our health and then on the way home had an incredibly good ice cream. Nearly a good nutrition day! Oh well there is always tomorrow. More wineries we think!

Margaret River next day!

We took off to see some more of the sights, sounds and food of the region. We started our day with a visit to Eagles Heritage Wildlife Centre , a refuge and education facility which rescues and returns scores of raptors to the wild and also takes part in a breeding program for some endangered species. We fell in love with these majestic birds on our first trip away especially at Alice Springs. After a very inspiring talk from a ranger there Ian was even persuaded to drag dead roos from the road to hopefully prevent another bird being killed.

However this time we met “Chris the Kite” who is a young kite born and raised in the refuge and now he is one of the stars. We were thrilled that there were only four visitors for the session we were at so we were able to have quite a while with “Chris” on our hand. Nancy who was our tour guide told us of the foibles that some of the birds have. One doesn’t like women wearing skirts, Chris is frightened by sunglasses and a number of other really strange things. When they are let out to take part in the display sometimes they don’t return to their cages during the day and some have been known to stay out overnight or longer. Probably the longest was a week, however they always turn up for the shows!  Could it be the tiny pieces of Ox heart they receive for swooping around for the half hour of the show!

After leaving Eagle Heritage the day went down rapidly, seeing us visit a number of very fine wine and food establishments. We managed to see the Venison Farm- yummy!, Olive oil products, Hay Shed Hill for lunch and a tasting or two. Then just because we could we went to the chocolate factory (really untidy here, may not be allowed to return) followed by the Providore (a bit more dignified there). Lastly to the nut and cereal factory (healthy, so quite safe there). Home after that!

Margaret River

After we left Shannon National Park we drove to Margaret River and settled into a park called Big Valley Campsite which is a small camp situated on a farm just out of Margaret River. We are sharing our campsite with the sheep and lambs who have a blessed life here with lush green pasture, rolling hills and a lovely climate. Each day we have spent here has been beautiful, the total opposite to what you are having we’re sure and we do have some sympathy, but not too much!

Initially we decided on three nights, then a couple more and now we’ve decided to stretch it out for a week even moving the van on the second morning to a sunnier position!  Margaret River is everything you have probably heard and more. Our hosts at the park are most helpful and we set off with a map highlighting some of the sights.

On our first full day we  set off down the coast and watched as some surfies demonstrated their skills (???) in the fairly adventurous waves and on down to Cape Leeuwin, the furthermost south west point of Australia. We have included a photo of the lighthouse which we could only photograph from a distance as it was closed for maintenance. The coast line and beaches are all beautiful although none have compared yet with Cape Le Grand. As we walked along the beach two dolphins were very busy moving the fish along, much to the chagrin of the two fisher people, but as they were only twenty metres from us we were delighted.

On the way back we stopped at the Historic Water Wheel which was built in 1895 to supply water to the builders of the lighthouse and later to the Lighthouse Keepers’ Cottages. The water came from a natural spring and travelled along the wooden flume. As the water flowed over, the wheel revolved activating a ram pump which piped water to the lighthouse. It operated day and night delivering one litre at every stroke. The water in the spring has dropped over the years and now water to the wheel is pumped by an electric motor to keep it moist and prevent drying and cracking. The wheel is now encrusted in calcified lime.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Shannon National Park Day 2

On Sunday Ian thought he would like to go to Shannon and buy a paper and Sue tagged along for the ride which was fortunate as having left the van before 11am we returned at 5pm!  During our drive we travelled down some interesting dirt roads which we can’t do when we have the van on and we discovered Northcliffe and Windy Harbour which seemingly appeared out of nowhere and is the most incredible settlement of 50 or so tiny houses made of fibro, crammed together with hardly a metre in between, no backyard or front yard for that matter, painted in any and every colour including a beautiful canary yellow one ….. with a for sale sign. What a fantastic patchwork studio it would make and what a wonderful Mothers’ Day present it would …….. have been!!!  

And then the dream ended and we went on to Pemberton before returning to the camp resolving to visit the Bicentennial Tree (fire spotting tower built in 1988) on our way out in the morning. There are still four of these magnificent Karri trees which are still used as fire spotters when the weather is unsuitable for flying. The Bicentennial tree is available for the incredibly brave or stupid visitor to climb which absolutely horrified Ian as he mumbled (several times!) about the obscene OHS risk and how can they let just anyone climb 75 metres around and around this massive tree with only the staircase made from spikes nailed into the tree for support. At the top of the tree is the three storey spotter’s hut which of course was painstakingly constructed by taking many of the requirements up the winding staircase to the top many times. Despite much cajoling Ian only went a short distance up the tree and we watched as two young Italian backpackers gingerly making their way down having made it to the top looking very pleased with themselves. 

On one of the visitor information boards a conversation between a spotter and his superior during a fire is recalled as the spotter says he would like to come down because he feels unsafe with the fire so close. He is instructed to remain at his post despite the danger as they need the information he is providing!  Tough work for those men we think!

Just to show Ian did venture up the tree here is proof and also how beautiful our campsite looked as we packed up to leave.

Shannon National Park Day 1

We left Albany on Saturday morning and drove towards the Karri Treetop Walk which was spectacular. The Karri trees are immense and ancient. Some of the trees are 400 years old and have a girth of 20 plus metres. They are something to see both up close and from a distance via the Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk. We were fortunate to arrive just as a tour was commencing so we were able to hear about the history of the forest and the trees within. It was really hard to take a photo to capture how huge these trees are but Ian has given it a red hot shot so we hope you can somewhat appreciate how big they are.

After a lovely lunch in Walpole we drove on to Shannon National Park which was recommended by the tour guide at the tree top walk and settled into a very nice camp with great facilities. No power of course but hot water and toilets, what luxury and for no extra charge as Michael Caton said of his beloved Bonnie Doon …….. ‘serenity!’

Two nights here with some lovely exploring to do. 

Friday, 6 May 2011


We arrived in Albany after one night on the road and settled into a luxury Big 4 Caravan Park just ‘cos we can!

Our park is beside the ocean and has a beautiful walk along the beach and around the coast extending 35kms. If only we had brought our bikes this time we would be having a ball, however after not using them last year and having them covered in dirt we left them at home. Damn! Anyway we are walking a lot and enjoying that instead. The coastline here continues to amaze us and a feature in Albany seems to be the enormous boulders everywhere. Even houses are built around them and the gardens look beautiful with the huge boulders as a centrepiece in the landscaping.

We had a rainy day yesterday so only ventured out to the Sandalwood Factory which was very interesting. We decided to stay for an extra day and today the weather had improved so we ventured out to the historical whaling station which operated until 1978,  and then along the coast to the Blow Hole, the Natural Bridge and the Gap, all very spectacular.

After lunch we walked down the main street and found a beautiful Anglican Church, St. John the Evangelist with a lovely parishioner to show us through. The church was constructed between 1841 and 1848. We are not given to visiting churches on our travels usually but this was exceptional .

 Father Arthur Ernest White has been credited with holding the first ANZAC Day Dawn Service in Australia at Albany. Reverend White sailed with the 44th Battalion from Albany and for two years served as a padre to the troops in France.

Padre White returned from service in 1918 and was subsequently given the post of parish priest at the Anglican Church of St John the Evangelist in Albany. The dates given for the inaugural ANZAC Day Dawn Service vary, and 1918, 1923 and 1930 have all been suggested.

Father White is quoted to have stated that, 'Albany was the last sight of land these ANZAC troops saw after leaving Australian shores. Some of them never returned. We should hold a service here at the first light of dawn each ANZAC Day to commemorate them'.

We continued our walk down the hill and walked along the shore which has an ANZAC Walk. The walk details the history of the departure of the 30,000 troops, nurses and 7,500 horses who left from Albany for the First World War in 28 Australian and 10 New Zealand ships. Along the walks there are plaques detailing reminiscences of soldiers and also reports from the local newspaper and a lady who witnessed the departure. On the boardwalk over the water the railing details the approximate mooring and names of the many ships who departed in November 1914. It is an amazing memorial to these brave men and women and we were so pleased to have taken the time to read the plaques as we walked. We can only imagine what a wonderful place this would be for a dawn service on ANZAC Day.

We leave Albany on Saturday feeling we have really learnt some more Australian History which we found fascinating.