Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Opera House. Bridge. Harbour. It must be Sydney!

We can't believe we are here. We have spent most of our time taking in the Harbour, the bridge and the opera house. We have photographed each site in extreme detail, down to each tile on the opera house and each rivet on the bridge, from all directions and time of day. The place is awe enspiring and we love it, although our feet are worn down to our kneecaps.

We got a travel card so have used all modes of transport - especially the ferries! We are about two miles from the harbour so the busses have taken a bashing.

Fi found a wool shop on the first day (Needle Craft and knit bar) which took up some time...

Yesterday we took a tourist trip into the Blue Mountains, where we saw massive forested gorges, waterfalls and sites to please the eye.

We took a ferry to Taronga Zoo and saw (and photographed) many exotic creatures with an amazing backdrop of the harbour. This was especially obvious during the bird display and all photos incsude the bridge and opera house (we'll add photos when we can get reasonable internet access).

Today we walked through the Botanical Gardens and sat on Mrs Macquaries' seat! (she didn't complain).

Fi now starts 3 days of intensive workshops, so for her the sightseeing has sort of come to an end (until we reach Singapore next week).

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Manjurah and Leaving Perth

Our final experience in WA was visiting friends Fi had made before I arrived. They had made us very extemely welcome and were very generous to their guests.

When we arrived, after a cuppa we were whisked away to their friends' house on one of Manjurah's many canals (Murray Lakes). They had a view from their house to die for, topped off by the presence of a boat bobbing up and down, about to take us, with some wine and nibbles, along an eye popping journey of the residences along the canal. This was followed by a real Aussie BBQ - our first (and last) this trip. Everyone there was so friendly and generous, we had a wonderful evening. The only way we would be able to reciprocate would be to offer a trip along the english canals by the gas works. Well, Dave would enjoy it anyway.

The following day saw us at the Manjurah inlet quays on another boat this time to spot Dolphins. It went along more astonishing canals with even more astonishing and apparently often empty properties of A$2m plus value. We saw no Dolphins on that trip, but were rewarded with some sightings while we were eating at a cafe later. The Estuary at Mandurah.

A resident of Mandurah.

After sad goodbyes it was a long drive back to Perth, retuning the car and the trip to Sydney.

More later!

The Treetop Walk and Manjimup

We left the hotel at Walpole and went East to the treetop walk. There was a LOT of rain around, but we managed to avoid all that. The TreeTop walk was situated in a Tingle Tree forest and consisted of platforms which you walked along which took you to 40m above the jungle floor - along the treetops. What was quite disconcerting was that the whole structure swayed (it was designed to!), but it meant that Dave hung on for grim death inbetween frantic grabs for the camera and amazing pictures. What was strange was that there were NO birds to be seen or heard...

Quite an experience!

We then had a 120km drive to Manjimup our next stop. We went thought some delightfully colonial towns such as Bridgetown and Balingup. A chance viewing of the signpost to a "Craft Shop" led us on a 2km detour to the Old Cheese Factory. This was a Tardis of a place with room after room of souvenirs and antiques. Each room led to another room which could not possibly exist stuffed with, well, stuff.

Finally we found Dingup House - an old colonial residence built in 1870 and lovingly restored by its current owners, who housed resident in the old building while they occupied a newer part. Not what other landlords would have done...

It was truly beautiful with period furniture and a very welcome log fire. They were not expecting us despite confirming by phone, but it didn't matter -we were the only ones there and they made us very welcome. It was amazingly quiet expect for some really spooky bird noises all night and the following morning. A great stay and highly recommended.

We spent a little time in Manjimup, but it was suffering from a lack of cash investment and has a run down feel. Fine for residents but not a must stop experience for tourists (apart from a good set of shops).

Next stop was Manjurah.


It was sunny when we woke up so we decide to do the WOW ECO-cruise through the Walpole and Nolunup inlets in the morning. It was a lovely cruise with a very entertaining and informative host. Most of the way down it was sunny. We then had rain for about 10 minutes and then it was lovely and sunny again. We stopped at a jetty on the south peninsular and walked over the hill to the beach on the ocean side. The beaches are amazing, sandy and empty but the sea can be quite dangerous as there big waves and quite a strong undertow.
We walked back to the boat and had coffee. While we were sitting there a number of pelicans few over. It was amazing to see they gliding on the wind currents. We then travelled back to Walpole through another rain squall and arrived in sunshine again!
This is the Swarbrick Saw Mill (this is for our Swarbrick friends - the Swarbs were BIG in Walpole...).

After the boat trip we went for a car drive to Conspicuous Bay. We had to go down a gravel road to get there and were the only people there. Another amazing beach with lots of surf waves and we even paddled in the Ocean. This is the Southern Ocean but it was pretty warm. We will have to go for a paddle in the Indian Ocean before we leave WA and when we get to Sydney we can paddle in the Pacific Ocean!

More around the Pemberton Area

The main attraction in Pemberton is the Gloucester Tree (named after the Duke of Gloucester who was a Governor General in the 9130s). In the '30s they developed a system of putting lookout posts on the top of very tall Karri trees to use to spot forest fires. The Gloucester Tree is one of 3 lookouts still in use and if you are OK with heights you can even climb up the tree using the pegs as you can see in the photo. Dave was about 8 meters off the ground. The lookout is about 70 meters off the ground!

As we left Pemberton we visited the Cascades, a small rapids type waterfall. We were able to walk on some of the rocks as the water level was fairly low.

After Pemberton we continued south to Walpole.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Pemberton Area

After 2 nights in Margaret River we moved on to Pemberton but on the way we visited the Jewel Caves and Cape Leeuwin light house. Much of this area is limestone so there are a number of caves yu can visit. We visited the Jewel Cave which was quite stunning. I haven't seen such a variety of stalagtites and stalagmites including 'straws' which are very thin straight stalagtites up to 5 meters long.

We continued on south to Cape Leeuwin the most south westerly point where the Southern Ocean and the Indian Ocean meet. We didn't actually go up the lighthouse but we could see the 2 oceans, one on each side of the point.

After lunch we travelled north and east to Pemberton on the middle of the Karri forests. Karri trees are one of the many varieties of gum tree that grow very tall with very straight trunks. On the way to Pemberton we stopped at the Beedelup falls. Due to the very dry weather (before we arrived) the falls where not as spectacular as they can be after the winter rains

We stayed in a chalet at the Lavender and Berry Farm. The chalets overlook a lake with the farm shop/cafe and gardens on the opposite bank. Another very pretty area which was more landscaped than most places we have stayed. They also do excellent pancakes!

And here are some roos we saw on the way!

Margaret River Area

We stayed at some lovely chalets, the Riverglen chalets, 10 minutes walk from Margaret River. The chalets are set in a wooded area near (but not overlooking) the Margaret River.

Margaret River itself has lots of cafes and eating establishments and some interesting shops. I found some hemp yarn at The Hemp Shop and an amazing bead shop where all the beads where in jars just like a sweet shop.

The Margaret River area is very famous for its wines but it is very difficult to decide which wineries to visit. Dave wanted to visit a brewery so we went to Cowaramup Brewery where he sampled 4 of their beers and then went to a small family winery nearby which turned out to be really lovely.

As it was late in the afternoon we where given personal attention and even taken round the back to see the grapes in some of the vats and the old fashioned grape press they where going to use the next day. We tasted 3 white wines and 3 reds and all of them were very good, good enough for us to actually buy a white and 2 reds, but we will have to drink them before we come home.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Indian Ocean

After Perth and a great trip on the Swan river "wine tasting" (or getting a bit sqiffy as it is also know), we took a car (hope the owner doesn't find out) and went South.

First port of call was Bunbury, which had an amazing shopping centre for somewhere in the middle of nowhere. The beach was great with lots of butch waves. Just like being in Cornwall! (hope no-one from Oz is reading this...).

Then we visited Bussellton which has the longest wooden pier in the Southern Hemisphere. It is nearly 2km long and was built to allow deep ships to tranship goods. We started the walk in beautiful sunshine, but finished completely soaked as a rather surprising and very wet squall sprung up...


Hi, Dave here! I thought I'd give Fi a rest. Perth is apparently the most isolated city in the world. In the UK I'd equate it to Southampton. It's very nice and at the start, was very hot and sunny. As with all cities there are key views, so here is the Perth cityscape in the day...

and at night!

There is a wonderful building called the Swan Bells which houses an old set of bells from St Martin in the Fields which the Queen gave to Perth to celebrate the bicentinery of the founding of Australia. When we were there, bell ringers were actively using the bells and there was a gallery where you cold see the bells ringing. Finally at the top there were brilliant views of Perth and the River Swan.

Visiting the wheatbelt

After teaching workshops at a number of places in south WA my host took me to stay with her daughter in Bruce Rock to show me another type of country to the area Dave and I are visiting.
The picture below is of a salt pond near Quariading on the way to Bruce Rock. The pond on one side of the road is pink (the one in the picture) but on the other side of the road is more blue. The little white specks are salt on dead tree branches.

The next picture is just a view from the car of wheat fields or stubble as they are at the moment. I did also see quite a few sheep in some of the fields as the farmers farm wheat and sheep but all the sheep are very dirty from the dust etc. Everything is very dry as it is the end of their summer.

Knitting Seminar

I didn't have a chance to say much about the knitting seminar which was almost 2 weeks ago now. All the ladies were very enthusiastic and very nice to me being a visiting Pom. There were 2 other tutors, one from Queensland, Trudie teaching cut and sew and one from NSW, Dianne teaching 'Beginnings and ends'.

The seminar started on the Friday evening with a BBQ and 'Make and Model' fashion show. Unfortunately due to the wet weather the BBQ was a meal inside so I still haven't had a real Aussie BBQ. Some of the garments in the make and model were very good.

Saturday dawn VERY wet, they had all April's rain in one morning! I must have brought the English weather with me!

I taught 3 sessions and in the evening we had a dinner followed by a fashion show. There were some very interesting garments and I am hoping to get some images to put on my blog at a later date.

Sunday I taught another 3 sessions and then we finished with a 'Show and Tell' session with all 3 tutors.

Overall a very enjoyable (although tiring) event.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Travelling around

Dave joined me last Sunday night. We had 3 days in Perth and then started travelling yesterday. We stayed in Bunbury last night and are off to sample some wines now!

I will write some more updates and post pictures when we can find a good internet conection.

Having a great time.

Friday, April 04, 2008

First day in Oz

I arrived late on Tuesday and on Wednesday afternoon I was taken out to see the Caversham Wildlife Park (on the north side of Perth). The wildlife park just has Australian animals and birds.

These are some of the pictures I took.

Can you tell what it is yet!

The possom managed to walk up to get some food.

Entertaining the public is a bit too much for this Koala

Helen talking to one of the kangaroos