July 27th, 2016

Denmark Western Australia

The beautiful town of Denmark won my heart. It’s lush forest provided the perfect setting for intimacy and the scenery was stunning. On arrival, we took the Scotsdale Scenic Drive through the Williams Bay National Park. We stopped at The Greens Pool, a popular snorkelling spot.

Greens Pool

From The Green Pools, we took a short walk to Elephant Rocks area. These rock formations really do look like elephants retreating into the water.

Elephant Rocks2

Denmark has a great choice of secluded cottage and villa accommodation so if you like immersing yourself in natural surroundings, I’d definitely have a 2-nighter here. It was recommended that we lunch at the The Lake House winery restaurant.Michael’s eyes almost popped out of their sockets when our platter arrived. It was chock-full of artisan treats. Best platter ever!

The Lake House Denmark

We took a while over our coffee, basking in the sun and enjoying the tranquil views…

The Lake House Denmark2

Saying goodbye to The Lake House was hard…

The Lake House Denmark3

But we’re still working as we’re travelling so it was time to return to Albany. And you know what, the treats kept coming. Arrived back at our suite in the late afternoon to delicious homemade baking.

The Beach House at Bayview3

Don’t you just love generous hosts!

 

Happy Travelling

 

 

 

 

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July 20th, 2016

Albany Highlights Western Australia

The bushland scenery in the Margaret River Region is lush and beautiful.  The road on the way to Albany is incredibly pictuesque with the red soil contrasting with the greenery.

Margaret River Road

After travelling through Augusta, Premberton and Denmark, we finally arrived at Albany, our base for the next 4 days. Albany is the oldest permanently settled city in Western Australia and is well known for the migrating whales that come here at certain times of the year. We’re staying at The Beach House at Bayside, a traditional boutique family-owned hotel with old-fashioned values, terrific personalised service and a great brekkie!

The Beach House Breakfast

One of the star attractions of Albany is the Whaler’s station. We joined a tour to get the full overview of the station’s history. Thankfully, the last whale was taken at Albany in 1978. What remains is an historical account of those times. Here’s the original whaling boat, the conditions of which were pretty basic!

Original Whaling Boag

On this tour, you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck. First we were taken back in time to the audible sights and sounds of the processing factory. It was a grisly business. There was a terrific 3-D presentation (glasses supplied) and 3 large oil tanks had been converted into theatres displaying slideshows and actual film footage. But what about those massive whale skeletons!

Blue Whale skeleton

Our next stop was at The Gap which is situated in the Torndirrip National Park, 10kms from Albany. The Gap is a a 24-metre drop to the sea, and the Natural Bridge. Here you can see the awesome power of the sea and sensational views of the Southern Ocean.

The Gap viewing platform

A new universally accessible viewing platform allows visitors to stand 40 metres directly above the surging seas and I’m proud to report that out of the two of us, I was the only one prepared to go right to the edge.

The Gap viewing shoe

So worth it!

The Gap Albany

The scenery and rock formation is stunning.

The Gap rock formation

The National Anzac Centre is a sobering experience but I would not have missed it for the world.  It is a state-of-the-art interpretative museum overlooking King George Sound. With the clever use of individual audio technology, you can actually walk through the personal experiences of various soldiers. Respect is given to all the soldiers of this war.

National Anzac Centre Albany

When you first walk in, there’s a continuous reel of actual footage showing soldiers marching through a street. The sound of their boots is like a slow beating heart and it’s haunting.  The lighting within the museum is subdued and photos were difficult to get (no flashes allowed) but I was able to get one of this beautiful sculpture of a soldier and his dependable horse.

National Anzac Centre Albany2

Back to Albany in time to catch the late afternoon sun.  It may be winter here but I’m loving these mild temperatures and of course those beautiful white-sandy beaches Australia is famous for.

Albany Beach

 

Happy travelling.

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July 19th, 2016

Prevelly Beach Margaret River

Bill Bailey’s a straight talker and doesn’t believe there’s any romance in wine, just “bloody hard work”. Family-owned Brown Hill Wines is a scenic 12 km drive from Margaret River and if you want to meet the Patriarch behind the brand, don’t expect a purpose built tasting room, What you will get, is handcrafted premium wines consistently scoring in the top nineties.

Brown Hill Estate3

For us, this was by far the best wine-tasting experience of the day. Bill’s more than happy to share his vast knowledge, but be prepared to have your own opinions on wine shot down in flames. Next on our list was the beautiful 300 hectare Voyager Estate property.

Voyager Estate

The building inside is large with a restaurant, tasting area and lounge with a crackling fire. It exudes style. There is a complimentary tasting option, but if you want to taste the upper tiers of  Voyager wines, there is a charge.

Voyager Estate2

The Leeuwin estate nearby is definitely worth visiting and is a good place to lunch as they have a cafe as well as a full restaurant option.  A one-stop option for coffee and chocolate can be found at Margaret River’s Yahava Koffeeworks and Temper Temper Fine Chocolate. The Yahava Koffeeworks is a gem for coffee and tea lovers. The coffee beans are roasted and blended on site.

Koffeeworks margaret River

The Temper Temper Chocolate shop and factory was a large and warm place to browse on this wet and windy day. It specialises in sustainably farmed cacao from over 24 origins.

Temper Temper chocolate

The hot chocolate looked dark and rich. You’d be spoilt for choice in this shop, with every variety on dispay.  The Madagascar chocolate was my fav.

temper temper chocolate2

I think my eyes are getting a little too bright – chocolate overload.  Time to head back to our base at Prevelly Beach and take our last walk for the day. Love this wild and beautiful beach.

Prevelly Beach Margaret River

Back on the road tomorrow, this time to through Augusta and Pemberton and onwards to the port city of Albany for a 4-day stay.

 

Happy Travelling

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July 15th, 2016

Yallingup Margaret River Wine Region

After first basing ourselves in Bunker Bay, we just had to visit the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse. The wind’s been fierce today, but it was a pretty easy 5-min walk from the lighthouse reception area. I’ve discovered it’s really hard to photograph lighthouses, when you’re trying to stay on your feet.

Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse

Most peoples perception of Western Australia is that of arid dessert land but within the Margaret River area there is much greenery and gentle rolling hills.

Margaret River lushness

Within the Yallingup area we visited the Gunyulgup Galleries. We particularly liked The Studio Gallery which featured beautiful collections by leading Australian artists. For something really special to buy, this would be a good place to start. I’ve only shown a fraction of what is on display. The larger paintings are displayed in pull-out sliding doors and they are stunners.

Yallingup Studio Gallery

The beauty of this art gallery is that it incorporates an award-winning Bistro Restaurant within a bush setting. That makes total sense – great food and art make good companions. Sorry Michael, but we have to move on, there’s so much to see before we stop for lunch.

The Studio Gallery & Bistro

Next stop is at a smallish handcrafted jewelry gallery. The silver jewelry was very original and eyecatching.

Yallingup Jewellery gallery

By the way, you’ll have no problem finding these places – they’re in close proximity to one another and everything is well signposted. You couldn’t possibly miss this sign.  Bought myself a pair of Merino wool socks here.

Yallingup Merino wool

There are wineries galore here and quite a few stand-outs, if you know what I mean. Vasse Felix, Cullen Wines and Hay Shed Hill are just a fraction of the number of wineries producing award-winning wines. We decided to lunch at the Hay Shed Hill Winery in their Rustico Restaurant. There is a very good reason why Michael looks so happy.  The tapas style food was terrific.

Hay Shed Hill Wines

After our tapas, salmon pizza and pear & walnut salad, we rounded off the experience with a visit to the Gabriel Chocolate Shop. I have been accused of overworking the word “divine” but how else can you describe this “bean to bar” experience.  Free sampling before you buy and so much choice.

Gabriel Chocolate

The friendly and helpful salesperson insisted on adding more meat to my bones by firing many samples my way.  We left with 3 different varieties, all 75% dark chocolate and I’m not ashamed to say, there’s only two left. The day is far from finished.

Gabriel Chocolate2

 

Happy travelling.

 

 

 

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July 12th, 2016

Exploring Perth and Fremantle Australia

We’re currently in Perth, getting ready for our ‘loop’ road trip to the Margaret River area.

Perth City

We’re staying at the Fraser Suites Hotel, located in downtown Perth. It’s been a very good experience. Professional and friendly staff, a spacious suite and quality breakfast options presented with flair.

Fraser Suite breakfast1

After arriving in Perth from an 8-hour flight, we craved some exercise and walked around the smallish but lovely Queens Garden (not to be confused with the much grander Kings Garden we’ll be exploring later).

Queens Garden Perth

Many attractions within Central Perth are within walking distance or a quick bus ride on the open top double-decker Perth Explorer.

Perth Explorer

The Perth Explorer bus stops at key points of interest in Perth, including the Perth Mint, a must-do for visitors who find the lure of gold irresistible.

Perth Mint

It’s worth paying for a guided tour which takes about 45 mins and begins with an interesting and amusing commentary about the Perth Mint’s history. And yes, a nugget this size was actually found by some very lucky person.

Perth Mint nugget

A short video show follows, then the grand finale – watching liquid gold being made into a solid gold bar. I would have loved a photo of this, but there is a no-photos policy for some parts of the Perth Mint building.

Fremantle

No trip to Perth is complete without a visit to Fremantle. You can self-drive from Perth to Fremantle (30 mins) or relax on-board a purpose-made vessel and cruise to Fremantle on the Swan River (1 hr 4mins). The latter option caters to the mass market and may not suit everyone, but it is a very scenic cruise with an interesting on-board commentary.

Perth Swan River Cruise

Fremantle is a port city known for its maritime history and beautiful Victorian architecture. It’s a different world entirely from Perth and has a relaxed vibe.

Fremantle architecture

There’s a great cafe scene here, particularly in one area known as the Cappuccino Strip. We chose Gino’s for it’s divine Tiramisu cake and great atmosphere. The staff were mostly Italian and the conversation was very animated. After coffee, we explored little bookshops and a furniture maker.

Fremantle street

There’s a market in Fremantle that operates on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.  The Maritime Museum is definitely worth a visit.

fremantle Maritime Museum

If you pop around to the side of the museum, you’ll be greeted by this magnificent old battler, a 48-year old submarine.

Fremantle submarine

I loved the Round House, the first permanent building built in the Swan River colony. It makes a great photo!

Round House Fremantle

There are many attractions in Fremantle and I’ve really only covered just a few of them. I’d definitely return for another visit and not just for the Tiramisu.

Gino's Fremantle

 

Happy Travelling

 

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