July 27th, 2016

Travelling Denmark Western Australia

The beautiful town of Denmark Western Australia, won our hearts. It’s lush forest provides the perfect setting for intimacy and the scenery is stunning. We took the Scotsdale Scenic Drive through the Williams Bay National Park and drove to The Greens Pool, a popular snorkelling spot.

Greens Pool near Denmark Western Australia

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 Rocks near Denmark Western Australia

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 Western Australia

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

The Lake House Denmark Western Australia

Saying goodbye to The Lake House was hard…

The Lake House Denmark Western Australia

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!

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July 20th, 2016

Western Australia Highlights near Albany

There’s so much to love on the scenic drive to the Port City of Albany. This part of Australia displays a beautiful contrast with rich red soil and green bush land. For the next few days we’ll be experiencing Western Australia highlights near Albany.

Margaret River Road

Western Australia Highlights near Albany

After travelling through Augusta, Premberton and Denmark, we arrived at Albany. Albany is the oldest settled city in Western Australia and has a rich history. Albany is also very famous for its migrating whales. Massive Humpback and Southern Right Whales only visit in late May to early October. So if you want to see them, you really need to schedule your trip at that time.

We booked into the The Beach House at Bayside, a family-owned hotel with terrific hospitality and a great breakfast! At the time of our visit, the owners were building higher-end apartments just down the road. They should be well and truly completed by now. If B & B accommodation is not really your thing, these apartment would be a great option. Of course, they will be differently priced.

The Beach House Breakfast

Western Australia Highlights near Albany – Whalers Station

The Whaler’s station is one of Western Australia highlights near Albany. So if you want to get an overview of the station’s history, I would definitely a guided tour. In 1978, the last whale was taken at Albany in 1978. What remains, is an historical account of those times.

Original Whaling Boag

Western Australia Highlights near Albany – Whalers Station

Believe me, on this tour, you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck. We were surprised by the extensive use of very clever technology. There’s a great 3-D presentation (glasses supplied). Three large oil tanks have been converted into small theatres. The actual film footage of this bleak period provides quite an impact. But its the display of whale skeletons in a separate warehouse, that’s an absolute showstopper!

Blue Whale skeleton

Western Australia Highlights near Albany – The Gap

Our next stop was at The Gap, located in the Torndirrip National Park, 10kms from Albany. The Gap is a a 24-metre drop to the sea and the Natural Bridge. There’s no better display of the Southern’s Ocean’s awesome drama. Do wrap up warmly, as it can be cold.

The Gap viewing platform

Western Australia highlights near Albany – The Gap

An accessible viewing platform allowed us access 40 metres directly above the foaming torrent below. I’m proud to say that out of the two of us, I was the only one brave enough to step right to the edge. It really is quite daunting to look down.

The Gap viewing shoe

But so worth it!

The Gap Albany

The scenery and rock formation provides a very powerful image.

The Gap rock formation

 National Anzac Centre

The National Anzac Centre is a state-of-the-art interpretative museum overlooking the King George Sound. For atmosphere alone, it is a must-do tour. Each visitor is provided with their own audio technology.  This means that you can just stroll around at your own pace.  It’s incredibly moving to hear the actual letters and diaries of these soldiers being read out. The mood here is both respectful and somber. Each soldier is given respect, no matter what side they fought on.

National Anzac Centre Albany

Western Australia Highlights near Albany – National Anzac Centre

On entry, there’s a continuous reel of real footage showing soldiers marching through a street. The sound of their boots is like a slow beating heart and it is quite haunting.  The lighting within the museum is subdued. Photos were difficult to take, as no flashes are permitted. I was able to get  a photo of this beautiful bronze sculpture.

National Anzac Centre Albany2

After the National Anzac Centre, we headed on back to Albany and just in time to catch the late afternoon sun.  It may be winter here but the temperatures are very mild. I’m loving these beautiful white-sandy Australian beaches.

Albany Beach

 

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July 19th, 2016

Margaret River highlights

Wine Tasting

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 the best wine-tasting experience of the day. Bill’s happy to share his vast knowledge and strong opinions on what constitutes a good wine. 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 a fee charged for sampling the top tiers Voyager wines.

Voyager Estate2

Coffee and Chocolate

The Leeuwin estate nearby is definitely worth visiting and a good place to lunch with a cafe and 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 fascinating 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

Prevelly Beach

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

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.

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July 15th, 2016

Top attractions Yallingup Margaret River

After first basing ourselves in Bunker Bay, we visited the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse. The wind’s been fierce today, but it was a pretty easy 5-min walk from the lighthouse reception area. It’s really hard to photograph lighthouses, when you’re trying to stay on your feet. Time to move on to the top attractions Yallingup Margaret River.

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

Gunyulgup Galleries

Some of the top attractions of Yallingup Margaret River are the Gunyulgup Galleries. We liked The Studio Gallery which featured beautiful collections by leading Australian artists. For a really special purchase, this would be a good place to start. Ths photo only shows a fraction of what is available. 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, 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 featuring original and eye-catching silver jewelry.

Yallingup Jewellery gallery

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

Top wineries and artisan food

There are wineries galore here and quite a few stand-outs. Vasse Felix, Cullen Wines and Hay Shed Hill are just a fraction 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 sending many samples my way.  We left with 3 different varieties, all 75% dark chocolate. I’m not ashamed to say, there are only two left and the day is far from finished.

Gabriel Chocolate2

 

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July 12th, 2016

Exploring Perth and Fremantle Australia

Discovering Perth

We’re currently exploring Perth and Fremantle Australia, before taking our ‘loop’ road trip to the Margaret River area.

Perth City

Basing ourselves at the Fraser Suites Hotel in downtown Perth, has been a positive experience. The staff are professional and friendly. The suite has a short passageway leading into the main living area and is spacious. We loved the endless options for breakfast.

Fraser Suite breakfast1

After arriving in Perth after an 8-hour flight, we craved some exercise. With the sun on our backs, we strolled around the lovely Queens Garden (not to be confused with the much grander Kings Garden).

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. On a hot summer’s day, it would be a great option.

Perth Explorer

The Perth Explorer bus stops at key points 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. 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 of viewing liquid gold being made into solid gold. 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 cruise to Fremantle on a purpose-made vessel (1 hr 4mins). The latter option caters to the mass market and while it may not suit everyone, its a very scenic cruise with an interesting on-board commentary.

Perth Swan River Cruise

Fremantle is a port city known for its maritime history, beautiful Victorian architecture and 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 very animated. After coffee, we explored little bookshops and a furniture makers.

Fremantle street

The Fremantle market operates on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and is definitely worth a visit, as is the Maritime Museum.

fremantle Maritime Museum

Walk around to the side of the museum and you’ll be greeted by a 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

 

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