Le Chic En Rose

Diaries of an independent traveller

Wyalup Rocky Point Bunbury

Just by way of a postscript to my last couple of posts about the Ferguson Valley (see here and here) I should mention our base of Bunbury. We were lucky enough to be staying with my cousin for the weekend only a stone’s throw from the seashore.

 

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Back Beach Bunbury

 

Bunbury is a port city about 2 hours south of Perth and many people just breeze through en route to the Cape Naturaliste/Margaret River area further south. It has a rich colonial heritage and has really reinvented itself as a tourist destination in the last decade or so. You can read up more information here.

 

A major attraction are the bottle nose dolphins, which often swim close to the beach in the Koombana Bay waters. The Dolphin Discovery Centre is a popular place to visit and learn more about these beautiful creatures.

 

We didn’t have much time to look round Bunbury itself on our recent visit but we did do a couple of waterside walks, one to the bay and the other in the Back Beach area to Wyalup Rocky Point.

 

Even if you’re heading on down further south, Bunbury is a great spot in which to break the journey. The town centre has many cafes and restaurants and the nearby beach promenade makes a good place to stretch and unwind!

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Guide to Bunbury Waterside Walks

 

Next week back to complete my Berlin posts after a few weeks hiatus!

 

Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

Dardanup Town Centre

Dardanup is the pretty settlement that leads you into the charming Ferguson Valley. With beautiful scenery, forests and also a part of Perth’s Geographe Wine Region this unspoilt area, south west of the city of Bunbury, has much to offer as we found out last week (see here).

En route home we had a brief interlude walking round the old town centre. Full of old world character, Dardanup has many charming buildings harking back to the early European settlement days of the 19th century. The name is derived from the indigenous word, “Dudingup” meaning “a place of swamp reed”. The bus shelter proved to be a wealth of information!

 

The town has a strong Irish Catholic heritage dating back to early European settlement times and there is still a little church adjacent to Our Lady Of Lourdes School.

 

 

The former state school, Dardanup Primary, has now relocated away from the historical centre to the outskirts of town where newer housing has been built. However the heritage listed old school building has been revived as the town visitor centre surrounded with a beautiful memorial rose garden.

 

 

The Ferguson Valley Visitor Centre was officially opened in 2008 and you can read up more about the interesting history of the project here. It is named the Don Hewison Centre after one of the craftsmen who worked on the original building restoration in 1988 and who died in a tragic accident 3 years later.

 

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Dardanup – Visitor Centre and Memorial Rose Gardens

 

Sleepily basking in the sun, the town was a delightful place for a late afternoon stroll and the sort of place that tourists often bypass – a hidden gem indeed!

 

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

Little Rock - Lennard Drive Scenic Route

The weekend before Christmas we headed down to Bunbury, a couple of hours south of Perth, for a mini getaway. We’ve visited the wineries of the Margaret River region in South Western WA on many occasions (see here, here and here for previous posts) but with time being of the essence we decided to stay closer to home and on the Saturday explored the lesser known but equally picturesque Ferguson Valley.

Just 20 minutes or so from Bunbury you reach the town of Dardanup, which marks the start of the Ferguson Valley. There are a number of scenic drives, which take you through rolling countryside, forests and river valleys dotted with pretty rock pools and streams (extending into the Wellington National Park and Collie River basin). The valley is part of the Geographe Wine Region and is home to several boutique wineries and a range of cafes and gourmet restaurants.

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The Wellington Dam, part of the Wellington National Park, is one of the best known landmarks and we found our way there by the back route occasionally taking a wrong turn down an unsealed road! There is a look out point and kiosk at the top of the dam but we wanted to find a winery for lunch and they were back in the other direction.

 

 

We ended up taking a one way road, Lennard Drive, part of the national park, which took us on an enchanting drive alongside the Collie River. We came to a pretty scenic look out spot off the road called Little Rock. At this point we realised that we had no mobile coverage and apart from a couple of intrepid kayakers were the only people around. It was such a beautiful little place and so serene and tranquil. I opted not to follow Monsieur, however,  when he decided to take a short cut back to the car via an overgrown bush path – open toed sandals and bush walks are not a good mix!

 

 

Fortunately we navigated our way back to the “main” road and found our intended destination, Hackersley  – a small winery blessed with an idyllic setting on a hillside overlooking a dam.

 

By this stage it was getting late for lunch (nearly 2pm) but we had a warm greeting from the manager who explained the set up. The menu, should we wish to eat, was degustation style – several fixed courses of seasonal produce (changed every 7 weeks). We were able to order one degustation menu between the two of us (having had a large meal the night before plus a healthy breakfast!). We did make an exception for dessert, however, as that was apparently difficult to divide into two!

 

 

It was a wonderfully relaxed way to eat made all the more pleasurable by the stunning setting on the veranda. The food, the wines, the service were all excellent and well worth the drive! Ferguson is an undiscovered gem – if you find yourself in South West WA it is a charming place to get away and only a couple of hours drive south from Perth!

 

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Lunch on the Veranda – Hackersley Winery

 

I’ll be returning to my Berlin series of posts very soon – just wanted to finish off the holiday season with a couple of posts about recent outings in the Perth and South Western WA region!

 

Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

Watermans Beach Western Australia

It’s been a hectic time here in the “Le Chic En Rose” household. We had a lovely Christmas joined by our daughter, Mlle, from London. Time seems to have flown by all too quickly and she left us just in time to see in the New Year back in the UK. Apparently she has barely left the heater since she got home!

We have had rather a cool summer so far by our standards but it is all relative and today it’s really heated up for the start of the New Year. Here to start off the blog for 2017 are a few photos of some of our recent walks down by the sea.

 

 

We were so sad to read about the horrible attack on the Christmas markets in Berlin, a city that we have very much enjoyed visiting. One of my treasured Christmas ornaments was brought back for me by Mlle a few years back from the Berlin markets.  I’ll be resuming my articles about the vibrant city of Berlin shortly.

 

 

In the meantime, wishing everyone a very happy and peaceful New Year!

 

Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

 

 

Pleasure Boat On The River Spree Berlin

Apart from taking a walking tour (see here and here for more details ), another great way to see Berlin is by taking a river cruise. We hadn’t done so on our first trip to the city so were keen to make amends this time.

There are a large number of pleasure boats cruising along the Spree and the main mooring point was on the river bank opposite the Berliner Dom literally a stone’s throw from our hotel. They all seemed to be offering a similar tour – about an hour up and down the river so we hopped on board the first boat in the “taxi” queue and took our seats.

 

 

We had an entertaining guide who talked us through the sights in both German and English whilst we sat back with a couple of drinks admiring the view. We couldn’t have picked a better day – it was a glorious sunny spring afternoon with a gentle breeze. It’s a fascinating way to get a feel for the city and the contrasts and heritage of the place.

We started off back tracking towards what’s left of the old medieval heart of the town sailing past the Nikolaiviertel  (Nikolai Quarter) at a leisurely pace. I’ll be doing another post on this area in due course but for now by way of a preview some photos.

 

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We glided back to the bridge, passed the Berliner Dom to our left and caught sight of some of the museums, which make up the famous Museum Insel (Museum Island).

 

 

We sailed past the Government Buildings including the impressive Reichstag (see here for an earlier post about our visit there during our first Berlin trip). We also had a good view of Angela Merkel’s private balcony complete with greenery in case you are wondering why I zoomed in on a rather nondescript concrete office block!

 

 

Turning a bend in the river we had a stark reminder of Berlin’s divided past with the White Crosses Memorial (Weisse Kreuze) coming into view. This poignant tribute is located on the river bank near the Reichstag building as a memorial to those killed trying to flee into the west from the GDR. The white wooden crosses are marked with the names of 13 people killed, mainly between 1961 – 1965, and a further one is a tribute to the unknown victims.

The Spree marked the boundary between the eastern borough of Friedrichshain and the western Berlin one of Kreuzberg. Between 1949 and 1989 these two places, so close geographically, were a world apart from each other in a divided Berlin. Our guide told us with great sensitivity some harrowing stories of children falling into the river and no one being allowed to rescue them for fear of being shot at by the East German patrol guards. It was a sobering reminder of the contrasts and complexities of Berlin.

 

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White Crosses Memorial Berlin Near Reichstag Building

 

On a happier note the sunshine had brought out many people enjoying a spot of sunbathing by the river. The pretty greenery of the Tiergarten came into view along with cafes lining the river and our guide turned his microphone off at this point (not that it had been intrusive) and let us enjoy the rest of the cruise at our leisure. Amongst other places of interest we came across the Haus der Kulturen den Welt (House of The World’s Cultures), which is Germany’s national centre for the promotion and discussion of international contemporary arts (housed in what was formerly called the Kongresshalle). All too soon we arrived back at our starting point. We had thoroughly enjoyed our jaunt along the Spree and disembarking headed off to enjoy some afternoon tea in the sun.

 

 

I’ll be continuing the Berlin series in the New Year. With Christmas approaching and our younger daughter, Mlle, arriving from London for a 3 week visit later today, the blog will have a mini hiatus. I’ll still be coming on here though from time to time and will try and post some “#justanotherdayinwa photos” as we’ll be going out and about a fair bit over the next few weeks. In the meantime wishing everyone a very happy Christmas and very best wishes for 2017! Thanks for reading Le Chic En Rose – I value the support and blogosphere community very much!

 

 

 

Copyright © 2016 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

Hackescher Markt S Bahn Entrance Berlin

We’ve visited Berlin a couple of times in recent years – once in 2013 and the other earlier this year (Monsieur also made a day trip to East Berlin with his West German host family as part of a school exchange trip way back in 1978!). Both our recent trips were in spring, when the weather was pleasantly mild without being hot, the spring flowers were out and it was warm enough most of the time to enjoy the outdoor cafe lifestyle. It can get chilly at night though and quite windy so jackets and jumpers are still definitely needed!

I’ve done a few posts about Berlin before (see here, here and here) but I wanted to bring all my photos and stories together into a series. Obviously this is my personal insight into Berlin – there are so many aspects to such a fascinating place, which somehow has managed to survive terrible destruction and reinvent itself into the modern, eclectic and culturally diverse city of today.

It’s certainly not the prettiest of cities with so much building work going on (just as much as far was we could tell in 2016 as there was back in 2013). We had an interesting insight into this as we stayed both times at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Karl Liebkneckt Strasse, linked to the famous Unter den Linden by the bridge over the River Spree. On the other side of the street the former communist era palace has been ripped down and work is underway to reconstruct the Kaiser’s Palace with an original Baroque exterior albeit with some modifications. Estimated to be completed by September 2019, it will house the Humboldtsforum Museum and a congress complex.

 

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Fernsehturm Berlin With Construction Work In Foreground

The Radisson Blu proved to be an excellent base situated right on the river front with its pretty walkways and cafes. Part of the vibrant Mitte district (straddling both the former west and east zones of the city), it is also near the Museuminsel (Museum Island) and the famous Alexanderplatz dominated by the iconic Fernsehturm (Television tower).

 

 

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the stylish and modern Radisson Blu, which had a range of guests of all ages and nationalities, many of them appearing to be independent travellers like ourselves. The lobby has an amazing feature in the form of the AquaDom, the world’s largest freestanding cylindrical aquarium! You don’t have to be a hotel guest to visit it but we didn’t bother paying our discounted entrance fee to go in as we already had superb views of the fish, especially when we went up and down in the lifts.

 

 

 

With an excellent public transport system, Berlin is easy to get around. We mainly used the Hackescher Markt S Bahn station about a 10 minute walk away from our hotel. As well as the local overland trains we took from here, Hackescher Markt is also a major tram interchange with trams running down the Oranienburger Strasse and the old Jewish quarter towards Friedrichstrasse. The square in front of the station has become a popular hub with street performers entertaining the patrons of the many cafes and restaurants dotted round the perimeter. Even more so on our first trip, we found it easy to eat here at night as we just hopped off the train and had a meal before going back to the hotel.

 

 

Hackescher Markt is also the “East Berlin” meeting point for city walking tours (the western one is at the Zoologischer Garten Station). We did three walking tours with Original Berlin Walks during our first stay. I’d highly recommend at the very least their introductory tour, Discover Berlin, as this really helped us to get our bearings and work out what we wanted to explore further. All the guides were extremely knowledgeable, linguistically skilled and very entertaining. The ones we had were mostly PhD students who had a wonderful grasp and understanding of the history of the city and the political and social context. The exact meeting point was outside the Weihenstephaner Restaurant, which seemed to suit Monsieur very well!

 

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Weihenstephaner Restaurant Berlin – Meeting Point For Original Berlin Walks

Next week we’ll go on a river tour along the Spree. In the meantime “Tschuess”!

 

Copyright © 2016 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

 

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Back on line after last week’s hiatus though my computer is still being a bit slower than I’d like it to be!  It needed 2 new RAMS, which the computer tech guy explained was to help it multi task! However since the photos I want to use this week are still on my iPad, I’m having another go at a WordPress app post as it will save me stressing my poor computer trying to upload them all!

Highlighting another delightful spot in the Perth Hills this week, where we celebrated our elder daughter, La Chic Maman’s, birthday the other weekend. Roleys On the Ridge, as its name suggests, sits perched on a rocky cliff in the hillside suburb of Roleystone. Although only about 4o minutes out of the city centre you really feel away from it all here with the native vegetation and quaint country character.

The food was superb as were the accompanying wines and we had a wonderful view across the rolling bushland from the enclosed terrace area. There is an outdoor terrace too but we thought it was easier to mind our two little granddaughters (aged nearly 4 and 19 months) indoors rather than worrying about them trying to clamber over the balcony. The only issue I had was the child friendliness of the outdoor area as the rocks, that the little ones were keen to explore later, dropped right down to an almost sheer cliff on the other side! That didn’t detract from a wonderful lunch however – the desserts were particularly delicious!


Next door to Roleys are a few pretty shops selling amongst other things organic food produce and herbal toiletries. There is also a charming cafe if you just want a quick coffee rather than a full meal. Roleys is only a couple or so kilometres from Araluen Botanic Park, which we visited last week (see here and here for previous posts). It is a wonderful location for a Sunday lunch or celebration meal (they cater for wedding parties too) and the views are priceless!

 

Copyright © 2016 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

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Alas after being temperamental for the past few weeks my home computer decided to have a total nervous breakdown yesterday collapsing into repeated blue screens with “the kiss of death” then it packed up altogether. Hence I’m only able to use my iPad for the next few days whilst it is at the computer repair shop. I don’t find the WordPress for iPad app at all user friendly but it may just be me!!

So an abridged version of this week’s planned post! We had a lovely day out at Araluen Botanic Park about 45 minutes south east of central Perth in the hills suburb of Roleystone last month. Spring is always a highlight here with the tulips a big attraction. This year even in October they were not fully out as a result of the colder than average winter we have had. They were still pretty impressive though and the wisteria was magnificent. We took our two granddaughters on the little train, which trundles through the park and admired the extensive collection of camellias and rhododendrons. Chalet Healy makes a great lunch spot and we were also entertained by a Celtic musical band playing in the grounds near the cascading stream. In the meantime here are a few photos from our recent day out. Hopefully my computer will be restored to normal service by next week!

Copyright © 2016 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

View Across Lake Como To Bellagio

A couple of weekends of Grandmum Le Chic duties hasn’t left much time for blogging! However although I could go on for ever (given the amount of photos we managed to take!) it’s time to say farewell to Lake Como for the time being. I’m just going to finish off the series with a montage of some photos of our daily morning walk along the lake at Menaggio. Not a bad way to start the day even if we did have a few cloudy mornings!

 

 

And here are a few favourites from our holiday. You can find the link to all the posts from Lake Como and the Italian/Swiss border region here.

 

 

Coming up I’ll be covering our trip to Berlin interspersed with some Western Australian posts I’ve been meaning to write up for a while.

Wishing everyone a lovely peaceful weekend and ciao for now!

 

Copyright © 2016 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

Como Harbour

Another trip down memory lane this week – a quick tour of Como City and its environs (you can find an excellent visitor’s guide here) where we stayed on our first trip to the lake in 2009.

 

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Lake Como Near Como City

 

We only had 3 nights here on this trip and arrived mid afternoon on the first day, which gave us in effect 2 full days. Our first evening greeted us with a bang in the form of a spectacular thunderstorm, which lit up the lake and thwarted plans for a relaxing stroll round the lake followed by dinner. We made it as far as the little bar on the corner of Piazza Cavour (our hotel the Metropole Suisse was on the opposite corner). Aperitivos turned into pizza as we contemplated how to get back to our hotel without getting soaked!

 

 

 

Next day was much brighter! Although as we rode up to Brunate on the funicular railway (see here), we could see the post rain haze persisting over the mountains. In the afternoon we took a short cruise on Lake Como up to some of the villages in the lower part of the lake, including Moltrasio.

 

 

The southern end of the lake is far more built up than the central lakeside villages (Bellagio, Varenna, Menaggio etc) but it is stunningly beautiful as well. Its proximity to Milan, about an hour’s drive away, and the major road and rail transport links make it an attractive proposition. It’s also only 15 minutes to the Italian/Swiss border point at Chiasso.  We’d come down on the train from Lucerne in Switzerland via Lugano and to avoid further travelling opted to stay in Como itself although we headed up to the central lake by ferry on our last full day in Italy.

 

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Lake Como Promenade

 

Each day we walked on the lakeside promenade and admired the gorgeous wisteria and the elegant Villa Olmo. The latter is a neoclassical villa built at the end of the 18th century and now used mainly for cultural events and exhibitions. We also watched the seaplanes of the Como Aero Club taking off and landing – a different way to see the lake though we didn’t book a flight!

 

 

Como has delightfully elegant streets, lovely shops and many churches and museums. In the Piazza Duomo you’ll find the late gothic cathedral dating from 1396. It wasn’t completed until the early 18th century when the cupola was added. The beautiful facade was constructed from 1455-1486. On our second night we enjoyed a superb meal at one of the many restaurants dotted round the piazza perimeter.

 

 

Our final day was spent exploring the central part of the lake stopping off at Bellagio and later Menaggio, which I’ve covered in detail in the posts about our most recent trip. It was aperitivos in Menaggio on our last day (see here) that made us determined to come back to this part of the world one day and we were lucky enough to do so this April.

 

View from Hotel Du Lac towards Lake Como

View from the front of Hotel Du Lac Menaggio

 

On the far side of the lakeside promenade in Como, you come to a small harbour with pretty views back towards Villa Olmo across the lake. The whole street at this point is lined with little cafes and restaurants. On our last night, we enjoyed a lovely dinner here sitting outside on the lakeside terrace. Like many Como restaurants the one we chose specialised in fish dishes fresh from the lake.

 

 

The rain stayed away and we were treated to a wonderful sunset over the lake with stunning colours of pinks, peaches and lilacs – a fitting way to end our first trip to Lake Como!

 

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Sunset Over Como

 

Copyright © 2016 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

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