Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Perth, The Margaret River Region & the South West

We based ourselves for a week in Serpentine, approximately 40kms south of Perth to visit my brother. We were wonderfully dined & entertained  in Anna's beautiful home up the slopes backing onto the Serpentine National Park, overlooking the valley towards the coast. Having open spaces in the dining room, kitchen, lounge & bathroom etc was a real treat compared to our 17 foot home for the past 6  months :)
Getting up the drive way with our 3 tonne van nearly didn't happen though until we engaged low 4WD.
The views to the coast were magnificent, especially around sunset.



We spent many hrs visiting Kings Park & botanical Garden in the city. Kings Park is a haven for locals & tourists for a visit on glorious fine days. The area also overlooks the city & the large bay that is the Swan River. It was a lovely sunny Sunday & as many as 8 small planes were being put through their paces doing high speed & low altitude acrobatic loops etc over the river. Similar to what we saw on the telly during "The Red Bull air Race" event.
We're not sure if they were practicing for the up coming CHOGM or this a common occurance each weekend. Which ever it was, it was difficult to pull ourselves away from watching them & getting on with touring the 400 hectare park.


There's 1 dot there in the photo that is 1 of these planes.




The gardens were broken up into sections such as Banksia, Zamia - cycads - , Grevillea & Hakea, Roe displaying the plants from the Kimberley region, .........etc. Of course all of it was really pretty interspersed with lawn areas for picnics.

We visited Fremantle on a different day. Fremantle also overlooks the Swan river as it heads towards the ocean.
I think this was 1 of the many bays before the river narrows towards the few kms exit to the Indian Ocean

Of course we had to have a fish n chip  lunch on the board walks from 1 of the many restaurants around the fishing harbour
The area we were in is similar to the views we had whilst munching on fresh fish.
Fremantle is steeped in old history. This was the area 1st settled. There were many streets with beautifully restored old buildings such as the few below. The stone masonary on the buildings is beautiful

 1829








some from the early 1900's, I have several more pics .....................

I went bird watching around 1 of the wetlands & found this little family

We took a short boat ride visit to Penguin Island off the coast near Rockingham - almost like Redcliffe is to Brisbane, but smaller & with no connecting bridges. It has WA's largest colony of Little Penguins.
There were also many other breeding birds on the Island.
We only found 1Little Penguin - hiding under the many steps & board walks across the 12.5 hectare  Island. They are nocturnal on land & come ashore after sunset, so this sighting was probably a rare sight then.



The Island also has a large colony of Pelicans, many moved here from Mandurah due to development there. There's just as many again on the other end of the Island.
The island shores has several little bays / beaches like this with Limestone reaching down to the water





Caspian Terns & their chicks were not far from the board walk.

These Crested Terns weren't frightened by our close presence.

The Island was covered in thousands of nesting silver gulls & chicks in various sizes that were annoyed by our presence!!

We saw dozens of King Skinks amongst the low growth vegetation. Not sure why there were so many, maybe for this reason - due to the huge number of birds on the small Island.
Pretty sure this 1 wasn't just sunning itself.

We treated our hosts for the week to a beautiful lunch at the local winery - Milwood Estate Wines.

That's my lunch - not too keen on pink pork :(    Rod's steak was sumptuous & David had rabbit for the 1st time in his life, done in a risotto which he enjoyed.

Anna's meal on the other hand looked too pretty to eat :)

Desert any one??

Serpentine Falls wasn't far from where we were staying. The rainy season is during winter in southern WA.

After a relaxing week we left Perth / Serpentine & headed Wellington National Park, just west of Collie.

Our hosts were the over friendly locals with 1 Aust Ringneck Parrot landing on mt knee waiting for a handout.

Bussleton is just over 200 kms south west of Perth & is the hub for The Margaret River wine  Region.
Most of the > 140 wineries in the South West are around Busselton.  The much smaller & more expensive town of Margaret River some how got the nod for marketing the regions world renowned wines.

 Busselton's  1.6 km long jetty is famous for being the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere. It has an under water observatory at the end.

Looking back towards the mainland. Many young people were fishing along the jetty, some diving into the water despite the very chilly weather (chilly for us any way)

Dunsborough's beautiful white sandy beaches were spoilt by piles of sea weed. This section must have been spared.
Way on the west coast is Cape Naturaliste & it's lighthouse built in 1903.
The Cape Naturalist to Cape Leeuwin National Parks that hugs the almost entire western coast line  contains rare & endangered species of plants. Many ships came to grief in the area as coast line has numerous rugged rocky outcrops, with many rocky formations in the ocean as well not far off the coast.
The following few pics are the different lights used in the lighthouse until it was auto motated in 1978.




That's Cape Naturalsit tip 1 km  away.

Our over 3 km walk around the tip was indeed very pretty with wonderful wildflowers, rugged limestone projections in the landscape, & rugged outcrops along the coast. We also got to see many whales passing by as they headed south after their winter northern migration & calving.
This looking south of the tip


We even saw a few fur seals sunning themselves on the rocks down below us.

Sugarloaf Rock was just to the south of the cape

I mentioned earlier that the west coast of the south west is quite rugged. The waters are frequented by surfers to catch some amazingly big waves.
 The surf isn't that big here at Yallingup, but I thought they were impressive



Further down the coast is Canal Rocks. The walk way to the canal around the corner was impressive.
The canal lets the flow of water through a narrow gap in the rocks to come to under the walkway we were on to the bay on the right. The rest of the water comes over the top with the waves - depending how strong the current is.



Sections of the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park (tip of north to tip of south along the west coast)  has several caves. Only 4 are developed for tourism.
Ngilgi Cave is not far from Yallingup & covers several hectares in area.
There are thousands of statactites, plus many displays of stalagmite, helicitite and shawl formations.





We went down approximately 360 stairs  - that meant we had to climb that many towards the exit. 

Ribbon flow.






Dog tooth crystals


Just a short drive from Busselton is Wonnerup House. Surrounded by Tuart Forest, wetlands & working farms, Wonnerup is now managed by the National trust. It comprised of a farm house & out buildings plus a school.





Just 1 of the restored rooms.

Tuart trees are a majestic eucalypt tree growing only along the western coast of WA near Busselton. These trees grow up to 40 mtrs high & there is only less than 2,000 hectares left , making it one of the rarest forests in the world.

I took in a visit to the large estuary near Busselton. The bird hide hid many swan families like this 1.

This unusual creature is a duck - the Musk Duck. As you can see it has a floppy pendulum below it's beak. It also fans its tail during mating season. Mourn full call as well.

I had luck in finding 2 new parrots in the same area whilst walking in a nature reserve. The Western Rosella above, & Red Capped Parrot below.

Walking along the narrow walking trails looking for birds has its dangers - just a stumpy tail lizard - fortunately :)

We had been driving around the Margaret River region for a few days now & visited a couple of the wineries. We drove down many roads, passing dozens of wineries, many with opulent front gates.

Clairault's vinewards




This fancy front yard belongs to Laurence Estate wines

Coloured roses at the end of each row of vines depicts 2 purposes - the colour of the grapes producing red or white wine, & if the grapes became diseased, the rose bush will be affected 1st before the grape vines are.

Knotting HIll wines.

We chose to be chauffeured around for a day visiting 5 wineries, a cheese factory, a brewery, liqueur factory & a chocolate factory.
We tasted white & red wine, dry & sweet. I'm not a wine drinker (unless it's sweet) & find most of them too dry. But  a girls got to taste what she paid for :))

Lunch was at 1 of the wineries, with food provided by the tour company, dining on some 'bush tucker'. Smoked roo meat, turkey & roast beef. Each meat had a different sauce - using bush foods - of course. Bush tomatoes, mango, lime, ginger & different spices. Different & tasty.
1 item of 'bush tucker' was only tasted by 5 of the 10 people on the tour ..... it's no wonder there wasn't too many volunteers for it...............
This large grub was carved into 3 pieces. Rod had some, but not this little writer. The grub comes from Qld as most of WA's grubs aren't around til early in the yr.


Across the highway from this winery is a little church that was built some time in the early 1900's & still has congregations attending every Sunday.

The Grove Liquer Factory was where we had a brief but great encounter with all things sweet & beautiful :)
Unfortunately for us we were running out of time to fit every thing in, so we only got to taste 2 different liquers & 1  coctktail of 3 liqueurs - I don't know the name, but it was mighty nice :)

I wished I could take the lot home..............


Wall to wall of fancy bottles & different tastes.

We were rushed to the Choc factory just 10 minutes before closing time. I was a little disappointed here, as we only got to taste Belgium choc buttons, not the exquisite delights in the glass cabinets :( The take home treats we bought were beautiful.
Earlier in the afternoon we also visited a brewery where Rod had a tasting tray of 5 beers.

After we left the Busselton & Margaret River towns & its wineries, we went further south via the coastal road. We drove through a beautiful Karri Forest in the Leeuwin National Pk. 

 Hamelin Bay was picturesque with a beautiful white sandy beach, with quiet & seclusion if you stick around for awhile.
Cape Leeuwin lighthouse was built many years after the 1 further north for the same purposes. This lighthouse overlooks 2 oceans -

This is the most southern tip of WA where The Indian Ocean of the west meets the Southern Ocean.
 Whales pass this point on their way back for summer to the Antarctic Circle, we could see them further off the coast.

The pretty town of Augusta was just east of  Cape Leeuwin with pretty Flinders Bay on the outskirts of town.

The South West of WA south of Perth was really pretty following a good wet season over winter that is greener than your front yard. Thousands of hectares of valleys with grape vines or pastures with fat grazing animals added to the romance of it's beauty. Many conservation areas & National Parks are set aside to give the balance for natures beautiful flora & fauna. We also loved the rugged western coast. There were also many beaches with pure white sand that added more beauty against the deep blue water.

It's no wonder many people flock there during the hotter summer months for the Mediterranean style climate & leave in their droves during the freezing cold winters.



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