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Margaret River and Perth Areas

Written on: Thursday December 14th, 2006

A journal entry from: The Winter of 2006/2007

Thursday December 7th. We all stayed in bed a bit later on our first morning in Gracetown.  We?d decided to do some exploring and hopefully get in a bit of a hike, after spending a day in Joberg airport, 9 hours on a plane and 3 ˝ hours in a car, we were ready for some exercise.   There?s a 90km walk called the Cape to Cape walk which can be picked up at various points so we decided to drive 40kms to Augusta, have a look around and pick up the trail there.  The trail began along the ocean clambering over rocks and some beach walking but then took us into heavy bush, I don?t think the trail has been used much as we were having to fight our way through at times.  The flies were terrible but we persevered and after 45 minutes reached the view-point where we?d intended to turn around.  A brief rest and a few photos and we were on our way back to the parking lot.  


We were hungry now and decided to try a recommended fish and chip shop in Augusta, this gave us the first laugh of the day.  When we were ordering Jean said to the guy ?Put it all together? meaning that we just wanted one bill, when the food arrived, wrapped in paper, it was a big mound of chips with fish and calamari piled on top.  We asked the chippie (slang for fish and chip vendor) where the local golf course was and he pointed us in the right direction.  We toyed with the idea of playing 9 holes just so we could say we?d played at Augusta but the flies were getting on our nerves and on reaching the course we saw that the greens were sand greens, we weren?t in the mood for that.  The price was right though - $10 per person and ?put it in the honesty box?. 


The Margaret River area is made up of lots of bays with good surfing spots and cute beaches, it?s also the wine area of Western Australia and has only just been ?discovered? so at this point is quite unspoiled. This was to be our R & R time but the weather and flies were not cooperating, no worries though we can do some exploring.


On Friday we played golf at Margaret River golf course, our experience with most Australian courses is that they?re not highly manicured but the layout is always interesting.  At Margaret River the greens and tee boxes were reasonable but the fairways were a bit rough, we all enjoyed the layout though and it was a long course, almost 7,000 yards for the men and 5,700 for the ladies.  Kangaroos were lazing under the trees, many of them with babies, Mike got a neat photo of a Roo with a baby hanging out of it?s pouch.  After golf we went for a lunch at one of the wineries, we?ve found the wineries in South Africa and Australia very overpriced for food.   Jean and Mike did some wine tasting but Roger and I like to sit and relax over our wine - besides we feel like drunks at the wineries as we?re the only ones that want to drink full glasses, everyone else spits the wine out after a taste ? what a waste!!


On Saturday we drove north to Dunsborough, stopping at several bays along the way.  We stopped at one called Sugar Loaf and again picked up the Cape to Cape trail for an hour?s walk.  This was a much more used part of the trail, the path was sandy and we could see the ocean the whole time.  At our turnaround point we looked down into a cove and there laying on the sand was a dead creature, not sure whether it was a small whale, sea lion or just a big fish.  Leaving Sugar Loaf we headed for Dunsborough, there were tons of sandy beaches, we specked one out for tomorrow,


Got a bit of lunch in Dunsborough at a pie shop and then took a circuitous route back, there were so many wineries ? Mike reckons there are about 80 in this area.  When we saw a Margaret River Chocolate Factory we had to stop though, yummy chocolate tastings.  There were tons of people there probably because Christmas is coming up and they had some good gift ideas.


Sunday we played golf at Dunsborough, our tee time was 10 am, we arrived at 9:30 am and were told we could go right on.  We couldn?t believe there was hardly anyone out there on a Sunday morning but we almost had the course to ourselves.  It was a good course, quite new with lots of dog-legs and lots of water, we all enjoyed it.  Afterwards we went back to yesterday?s pie shop picked up some food and took it to the beach that we?d found yesterday.  There are some beautiful beaches in the area and the one we picked had some grass and shade as well as a sandy beach and gorgeous turquoise blue water.  Jean and Roger had a swim, Mike and I sat and people watched, oh and we may have had a bit of a sleep too.


Monday we said good-bye to Margaret River and drove to Perth, we stopped at a couple of coastal places on the way, one had the longest pier in the Southern hemisphere 1,800 metres, we walked the length of it, so that was almost like walking half a golf course.  We stopped for lunch at another beach but the flies were horrendous, hopefully we just picked a bad time of the year as far as the flies go, if they?re like this all the time, the Perth area isn?t the place to be.  Arrived in Perth and found our B & B at Trigg which is a small suburb of Perth.  We decided to walk to a restaurant for dinner but being Monday most places were closed so after an hour of walking, we came back to the B & B and picked up the car, drove to Hilary?s Harbour which was bustling with people and lots of places to eat.


Tuesday we decided to explore Perth, drove to Kings Park (no soccer going as in Penticton?s Kings Park but some people playing cricket in their lunch hour).  Talking of cricket the Ashes are taking place in Perth this week, which is probably another reason the restaurants are full.  Anyway Kings Park is right in the city centre with great views of the Swan River and the city, we walked a few of the trails but it was really hot so we decided to try to get down by the river, good choice as there was a slight breeze coming off the river which made it much more comfortable.  By now it was close to lunchtime and we realised that the Swan Bells were going to be sounding.  These are a tourist attraction in Perth, some of the bells were brought over from St. Martins in the Field for the Perth centenary, others have been added to the bell tower and they?re played every day at noon.  So we paid our entrance fee and went in to watch the bell pullers and also get a look at the bells in action.  Very interesting, especially when one of the bell ringers got the tension wrong and the pull came off the bell.  The ringers then had to wait for the bells to stop moving before they could come up to the bell tower to put the pull back on. All the areas ? the bell tower, the bell ringers room etc., - are encased in glass, so we were able to see what was going on.


Then it was lunch at a café beside the river before taking a walk around town and then a look around the Perth mint.  There was a piece of gold in there that was found only two years ago somewhere close to Perth ? of course they?re not telling where ?  it?s worth over 400,000AUD.


Wednesday we drove to Hilary Harbour, picked up rental bikes and snorkelling gear and took the ferry to Rottnest Island which is 17km off the Perth coast.  The bikes were typical rental bikes, gears that don?t work, brakes that squeak but once on the boat we realised that they probably weren?t that old, just well used and poorly maintained.  They were placed on the deck at the front of the boat and the sea spray must have been constantly going over them ? every day, no wonder they were so rusty.  It was a windy day again which meant the crossing was quite bumpy, Jean and I weren?t impressed.  Once on the island we got on our bikes and rode along the coast line. There were loads of little bays, we picked up sandwiches for lunch and took them to one of the bays, the flies were there too though ? get out your food and the flies invade.  We specked out the bays and saw one where there seemed to be quite a few people in the water snorkelling so decided that was the place to be.  It wasn?t that good though, only saw a few very plain looking fish.  As we rode back to catch the ferry we stopped at another bay and that would appear to have been the place to be for snorkelling but by then it was getting close to ferry time ? missed out again!!  The ferry ride back was much smoother as the wind was behind us.


So here we are on Thursday December 14th our last day with Mike and Jean until we meet up again in New Zealand.  Mike and Jean played golf this morning but Roger wasn?t keen and I was ready for a day of doing nothing so we opted to have a leisurely breakfast and then had a long walk along the ocean for almost two hours.  There?s quite a bit of construction going on just down the beach from where we?re staying as next year and for two years after, Perth is hosting the Ozzie surfing championships.  They?re usually held near Brisbane.  Perth is only just starting to grow, it?s a bit isolated from the rest of Australia so doesn?t seem to have had the development that Brisbane and Sydney (and I assume Melbourne and Adelaide) have had but I think it?s only a matter of time ? it all depends on those pesky flies, they could keep people away.  The area where were staying is very natural, it just seems to be set up for the locals to enjoy and enjoy they do.  They jog, walk, surf and just generally make the most of their beautiful surroundings, which are unspoiled by restaurants, hotels and other commercial operations. After our walk we came back to our B & B, put on our swimwear and strolled to the beach ? it?s only about a ten minute walk from here, it was a bit windy again but that was welcome as the sun was hot.  


Mike and Jean have four more days in Perth when they?ll play golf and wine taste before flying to Adelaide for Christmas with Mike?s cousins.  Tomorrow we fly to Brisbane and meet up with our Australian family, so we probably won?t be doing too much blogging for a while, maybe once every two weeks, until we start our camping trip on January 16th.   Ben has a birthday party this weekend, it?s been a long time since we?ve been to a party for a 5 year old ? should be fun.  For those of you who don?t know, Kay, Ian and family are moving back to England in January, so our time with them will probably be quite hectic as there?ll be lots of stuff to pack or get rid of.  Hope you all have a super Christmas and our best wishes for the New Year.   Check the blog site in January 2007.