Monday, December 30, 2013

Augusta to Pemberton

Pemberton is a small village with a population of just under 800, although at this time of year that swells quite a lot. The township is set in the picturesque Western Australian Southern Forests. When we first decided to stay here we kept hearing how the area was famous for its trees. This didn't seem like such a big deal, that was until we got here and saw the beauty and size of the Karri. The Karri tree, which is a type of Eucalyptus, is a tree that grows up to 90 metres in height, making it one of the tallest trees in the world. This tree is native only to the South West of Australia. In days gone by  a series of fire lookouts were constructed in the top of a few very tall Karri trees. The first Karri fire lookout tower, called The Big Tree, was constructed in 1938. By 1952, eight tree towers had been constructed. There are still three of these fire lookouts open to the public. For those people that are a lot more adventurous than me are able to take up the challenge of climbing two of these trees. The Gloucester Tree at 72 metres in height is one such tree. I couldn't believe that not only were people climbing these huge trees but they were allowing their children to climb them. There was one little girl around 10 who climbed to the top. I can tell you it had my legs shaking and I was safely on the ground. The Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree is another tree the public can climb just out of Pemberton. The lookout was first pegged in 1988 as part of Australia's Bicentennial celebrations. At 75 metres above the ground, it is the tallest lookout with a 360 - degree view of the old growth Karri forest.

Amazing Tree Canopy

Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree

If you ask me these people are crazy!!!

Marianne North Tree - The Burls on this tree are amazing

The undergrowth was delicate

For someone who hates heights Shane did pretty well going over this swing bridge
The caravan park we are staying at is literally on the edge of the forest. The sounds of Nature are beautiful to listen to. But you have to catch it early in the morning. As it's school holidays at the moment it isn't long before the kids in the park are yelling, screaming and carry on as only kids can and should. I must admit I have had a bit of a re-education on just how noisy kids can be. But something that has really surprised and shocked me is the way some parents talk to their children. The family staying next to us have a little boy about 6ish, and from what I can tell he is a bit of a handful. But I have never heard a mother talk to a child in the way she is. I think she is so angry with this little man that she has forgotten he is her cherished baby. It makes me sad.

With tomorrow being the last day in 2013 I would like to take this
opportunity to wish you all a very very Happy New Year and may your
2014 be filled with lots of love, laughter, health and above all FUN.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas in Augusta

Well that's another Christmas done and dusted. Mine was nice, quiet and certainly different than how I usually spend it. It was difficult being away from my beautiful family but at least I got to speak to them. I hope yours was all you wished it could be. I always look at the week between Christmas and New Year as a time of reflection on how my past year has gone. This years reflection week looks back on a year that has been pretty fantastic. 2013 started off on a bit of a rocky road with Shane being diagnosed with cancer, but after successful surgery he is now slowly on the mend. We were very proud and happy to have Mikayla and Finn join our wonderful little family. But probably the most life changing thing that has happened this year is our journey around Australia. I have learnt so much, not only about my country but also about me. I am definitely living my dream.
Cheers !!

It may have been a bit smaller than usual, but it was still yummy!!

Boxing Day - Fish n' Chips looking over the Blackwood River

Such a peaceful sight

What will 2014 hold for me? Who knows, but I do know it will be fantastic.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Cave Country

The Margaret River region is home to over 100 caves, although only a handful are accessible to the tourists. Four of these such caves are Lake Cave, Moondyne Cave, Jewel Cave and the one we went to visit Mammoth Cave. Some of the caves are also accessible to experienced cavers only. The caves in this region are nestled in the spine of the Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge. Mammoth Cave is a gigantic cave nestled amongst giant trees. The reason we picked this cave to check out is because it is a self-guided cave, so we could view it at our own pace while learning about the caves formation on the MP3 provided. While walking under the amazing stalactites and around the gigantic stalagmites and beautiful shawls the commentary explained the fascinating story of how these such caves are formed and how some 10,000 fossils accumulated in the Mammoth Cave. At the exit of the cave we emerged into a sunken forest. I could definitely never do adventure caving but there is something about being in a cave so far under the earth. 
We drove through a beautiful forest on the way to the caves.
 I think they are Karri Trees, maybe somebody can verify that.

Mammoth Cave - Amazing Stalactites - hold on tight

Beautiful Shawls

Grand Stalagmites - might reach the roof

We came across this bronze statues of a naked girl, on a skateboard her hair and blind fold flowing in the wind as she hurdles down the hill. There wasn't a sign with it so I have no idea of the how or why's. I'd love to know it's significance of it?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

Just down the road from where we are staying in Augusta is Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse which is the tallest lighthouse on the Australian mainland and third highest in Australia overall. Cape Leeuwin is situated where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean on the very South West corner of Australia. Known for it's treacherous reefs, rocks and weather Cape Leeuwin is regarded as one of the most dangerous coastlines in the world. The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse was built in 1895 to safely guide ships travelling to Australia's eastern ports. The lighthouse still guards one of the worlds busiest and most important shipping lanes and remains an important historical and meteorological weather station.
Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

I just bought a new fish eye lens for my iPhone and had to try it out.
I think this lens will get used a lot.

Indian Ocean meets Southern Ocean
 Nearby the Old Waterwheel, a wooden water wheel that once supplied water to the lighthouse from a fresh water spring in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge. The water wheel has now calcified from the lime in the water, and although the wheel no longer turns, water still trickles over the structure, as fresh as the day the water wheel was first erected.

The Old Waterwheel - the seagull in the top was having a drink
of fresh water that still trickles down the calcified wheel.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Busselton to Augusta

While we were in Busselton we just had to visit their most popular tourist attraction the famous "Busselton Jetty". Extending 1.8 kilometres across stunning Geographe Bay, the heritage listed Busselton Jetty is the longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. We boarded the famous Jetty Train for the slow ride out along the jetty before reaching the amazing Underwater Observatory at the end of the jetty. Once inside the observatory we descended 8 metres to the ocean floor via a spiral staircase to discover the amazing forest of vividly coloured tropical and sub-tropical corals, sponges, fish and invertebrates. The eleven viewing windows at various levels along the staircase gave us a close up look on some of the 300 different marine species that live beneath the jetty.
Busselton Jetty

Jetty Train

The view from the observatory windows was just like looking at a painting


All of a sudden this guy swam in front of the window. They were installing some sort of scientific equipment for the CSIRO

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Family, Food and Fun

Before I talk about what we have been up to I just have to introduce you all to my brand new grandson Finn, who was born yesterday December 18th. I can't wait to hold this beautiful new little addition in my arms. 
Welcome Finn Christopher Paul Clohesy
Yesterday we once again headed of to check out what this region has to offer. As I have mentioned this area is a huge wine growing region, but with it's very fertile soil it's also home to much more than just wine. First stop off point was the village of Yallingyup. There wasn't much there but it did have some beautiful beaches. Apparently this is the first place in Western Australia that anyone surfed the waves. This great statue is to honour all the surfing community. There have been a few deaths in this area from shark attack - two quite recently. We were talking to a mature surfer and he was saying that it's not unusual for him to see several sharks every time he goes out for a surf!!! 

Bronze Surfer
 We then headed  down to "Canal Rocks" with a portion of coastline where the wild Indian Ocean has worn canals up through the rocks. You got some idea of just how wild the ocean can get in this area. 
Canal Rocks
Our next stop was at Cheeky Monkey Brewery for a taste of what they made. Once again the beer I chose was quite fruity, but nice.

Then it was time for lunch so we headed for the quaint village of Cowaramup, affectionately know as "Cow Town".  Why "Cow Town" you ask? Cowaramup is home to a wonderful herd of 42 lifesized fibreglass Friesian cows and calves wandering the streets, parks and shops of the village. The reason the cows are here is a carry on from the famous "Cow Parade" that was staged in the Margaret River area back in 2010. 
Very Christmasy
Every where you looked there were cows!!

It was then that the days silliness started. We really shouldn't be let loose in areas that produce food, sweets in particular. Firstly in Cowaramup we walked into the shop "Candy Cow" which is well known for its yummy honeycrunch (honeycomb). So we just had to buy some, but they also had lots of other mixed sweets so of course we had to buy some of them too!! Then after visiting "Silk Road" which is Australia's first silk farm, we headed to "The Margaret River Chocolate Co." On their brochure it says "A World of Chocolate" and that's exactly what it is. As you walk in the door there are free tastings before the heady smell of chocolate envelopes you. Needless to say we walked out of there with way to much chocolate for two people to consume. 
Free Samples - Oh My - to much chocolate!!
So now I sit here surrounded by sweets and chocolate wondering why the hell did we buy so much!!!!
A portion of the sweets we bought!!!!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Escape the Heat

The last few days have been extremely warm here in Busselton, in fact from what I have heard from the locals this hot weather is quite unusual. But today the temperature has dropped to a comfortable 29c ish with a nice cooler breeze. As we don't have any air-conditioning in Myrtle (not that I want any) we spent a fair bit of time driving around the area in the air-conditioned car.
Sunday it was the day the local market was on. Lots of normal market stalls, some great fresh produce stalls and one that sold all sorts of local seafood. Of course we had to buy another kilo of prawns and very yummy they were too.

Some of the fresh produce at one of the local markets

A cuddle with Santa - he was a Scottish Santa and very sweaty!
 Yesterday we went for a drive to the Leewin Naturaliste National Park, out along the beautiful Geographe Bay coastline with it's white sandy beaches to the Cape Naturaliste.
Along the way we stopped at some beautiful beaches and also had lunch at one of the boutique breweries - Eagle Bay Brewing Co. Now I like the taste of beer so I thought I would give the Pale Ale a try. It was a very fruity brew in fact to me it tasted like grapefruit. I didn't really like it but the one Shane had a Mild Ale that tasted a lot better.

Just one of the beautiful white sandy beaches we saw

Family of Four at Dunsborough Beach
Eagle Bay Brewing Co. Mild Ale

I was surprised to see Santa and Rudolf in this farmers front paddock!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Bunbury to Busselton

We arrived at the Mandalay Holiday Resort in Busselton safe and sound. It's very busy because of the school holidays, but is a really nice place to stay for our week. Today's weather was a bit of a scorcher with the weather getting to almost 40c. We decided to drive inland to the Manjimup Cherry Harmony Festival for 2013. The drive through the countryside was nothing short of beautiful. One minute we were surrounded by rolling fields scattered with very healthy looking cattle, then all of a sudden the huge trees of the WA Southern Forests closed in on us and we were surrounded by huge magnificent pines and other sorts of tree. Also scattered amongst this beautiful scenery were the wineries that this region is well known for.
Driving through the beginning of the WA Southern Forests
The village of Manjimup was a lot bigger than I thought it would be and today the closed off streets were buzzing with art, market stalls, singing, dancing, wood chopping competition, a fashion parade and lots and lots of people. We wandered around checking everything out until the heat finally got to us and we headed to the Manjimup RSL (Returned Services League) for a nice cold beer before heading back on the road for our journey home.

Dancing in the streets

Chopping some wood

Even Rob from Better Homes and Gardens was there giving some tips

Music in the streets

A corrugated kangaroo

Miss (not so short) Cherry Festival

We took a different route to get back to Busselton and were certainly not disappointed with equally beautiful scenery as earlier.
Once again the names of the villages we either drove through or saw signs for amazed me. Such as Nannup, Palgarup, Wilgarup, Balbarrup, Nyamup, Darradup, Ballingup,
Mullalyup, Cundinup, Jalbarragup, Yoongarillup and of course Manjimup.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Merry Christmas from Bunbury

I've had a pretty quiet time the last couple of days as I've been a bit off colour. Not sure if I have a chest infection or it's just my asthma playing up. But I will be fine as I have plenty of time to rest up.
Well we had our Maron the other night for dinner and I must say they were pretty scrumptious. I wouldn't say they are any better than a nice big crayfish but they are pretty nice.
Our little table ready for our Maron meal

Yummy Maron

We are now packing up to head down to Busselton tomorrow all 64kms of travel. So needless to say we don't have to get up early to pack up. I'd  like to take this time to wish all my friends, family and readers a Very Very Merry Christmas and the Best 2014 you could possibly have. It will certainly be a different (lonely) Christmas for me as I won't be spending it with any of my family. The phone lines will be running hot. Oh by the way my new grand baby is due any day now - I awaiting a call to say Stacey (O'Sheas mummy) has gone into labour. I'm sort of hoping she holds off until Sunday as that will be my late Mums birthday.

My adorable grandson O'Shea enjoying his childcare Christmas breakup

My beautiful granddaughters Clare and Mikayla loving Santa