Denmark, Margaret River and southern WA
Feb 12, 2006
|Day 2 in WA the hire car was delivered and we put a fair few Km's on the clock that day...driving from Fremantle to Denmark via Albany. We followed the straight Albany Highway for hours and the landscape remained the same - very uninspiring, or maybe we just got very bored! Lunch in Albany with a quick walk down to the sea and a toilet stop was all we saw there, but the waitress did make a very good recommendation on what to see: the Gap and Natural Bridge. These impressive rock formations were in the cliffs alongside harsh breaking waves. Over time the hard granite of the Natural Bridge will weaken and break down and will form another Gap, whereas the area behind the Gap is likely to form another Natural Bridge - nature working it's business. It is also at this point (fact that Dad loves) that the Australian island used to be fixed to Antarctica over 40 million years ago (give or take) and the 2 landmasses are now moving apart at a speed of 5cm a year!
3 nights were to be spent in the land of luxury of Chimes Spa, just outside of another small town called Denmark. Here I was spoilt rotten, having a massive double bed, with fresh ironed sheets, towels and even a spa bath overlooking the gardens! Also was treated to a lovely, and much needed facial (thanks Dad). Here we met Peter and Mary, a very nice couple from Kent, who won their month's trip to Perth by buying some cattle! They joined us for dinner a couple of evenings and both times we were the last to leave the restaurant....at an extraordinary 2130!!! (couldn't get over the fact that everyone seemed to go to bed before dark, and didn't start eating dinner later than 1900!) Lucky I had Mum and Dad for company else not sure who I could have found to talk with.
Despite the lack of life in Western Australia, it can not be argued that they have the most incredible coastline, with long, sandy beaches and great surf. We spent a lot of time walking off the huge breakfasts of crepes, eggs etc. strolling along the beaches in bare foot, while catching the rays and dipping feet into the water. Beaches we visited included (but I may not have remembered them all): Peaceful Bay, Ocean Beach and Green Pools. At Green Pools there was a sheltered area where the water took an amazing green / blue colour and hence the name. Here there were also some massive granite rocks, called Elephant Rocks, because they all took a form that could resemble an elephant. Did drive some 65Km or so to Walpole, another local town, and that was really a waste of time - not even sure it would be classified as a village in UK. Everything was such, except the cafe where we could at least get a drink.
This area is famous for its karri forests, which are massive, massive trees. We visited a place called Valley of Giants, where the old, white branches stick out of the treetops as it supposed to look like giants' fingers pointing towards the sky. Here a 600m walkway has been constructed (using no cranes or helicopters, for those interested) reaching 40m in height - a very pleasant walk.
By means of a slight detour on the substantial drive to Margaret River we visited the Gloucester Tree. The 60m Gloucester Tree was chosen for a fire lookout in 1947, one of a network of lookouts built in the karri forest. The tree was named after the then Governor-General of Australia, His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester, who was visiting Pemberton as the lookout was being built. Today, visitors can climb 60m to see one of the most spectacular views of the karri forest. I arrived with no intention of climbing the steep rebar ladder rungs, drilled into the trunk, but as I was there...and then I remembered that I really do hate heights!! Got to the top at my own pace with quite a sweat, but coming down was harder as my legs were shaking and I had to take each step with both legs. I held on so tight and had aching muscles the next day!! But the view was great, and I even looked down - should have taken my glasses it was sooooo far! Also do not recommend anyone does this in flip-flops (aka thongs out here but would hate to create the wrong vision there) as it forbids at the bottom, but I didn't read the sign before ascending! Saw lots of beautiful green parrots which actually came and fed out of people's hands.
Prevelly Beach was yet another beautiful spot for a swim and a stroll along the sandy beach. Went on a little detour on the way back and found ourselves in Voyager winery, sampling just a few wines...not our favorite but bought 2 bottles for later anyway. Turns out the others in the B&B ended up clearing out the fridge and whipped our bottle!! However, we were quite content sitting on the balcony watching the kangaroos as they timidly entered the garden to feed on the watered green grass. At dusk kangaroos were everywhere.
A little bit more cultured and heading up north we drove to Cape Naturaliste and did a tour of the lighthouse. This was just one of a series of lighthouses along the tretuous coast! Following Geographe Bay through Dunsborough another stop-off was at Busselton to see and walk along the 1850m long jetty. Would have visited the Underwater Observatory at the far end had we not just got behind a massive group and would have had to wait for too long (yes, maybe a little impatient!) That evening we stayed at Bunbury, which for some unknown reason was very busy, and having not booked accommodation took advise to take what we could - the sofa was very comfortable. And it was Valentine's Day - Mum and Dad had the privileged of me joining their romantic Thai meal!!
Returning to Fremantle to return the hire car (which actually never got picked up until 2 days later!) we popped in to the Maritime Museum whose displays included the stern of a very old boat rebuilt from remains found on the seabed recently. Thought this was THE museum, but turns out there is another newer one nearby, but had our brains filled by then!
Parents final day, and still having not managed to do any kayaking we hoped to on Rottnest Island. Arriving on the ferry on Rottnest Island the weather was pretty bad, so instead of sunning on the beach we started off on a walk. The weather typically got better so at the far end we stopped for a swim in a lovely bay. Saw lots of the rat / kangaroo creatures.
Said a sad "farewell to Parents who returned to UK.