Walking round one of our regular local haunts this week, Carine Glades Nature Reserve, we came across the beautiful horses from the local Riding for the Disabled scheme. Calm and placid, they were quietly enjoying some morning tea (in their case chomping away on the grass). They were completely unmoved by us or the presence of our dog, Winston Le Schnoodle (who was, I might add, on his best behaviour).
Apart from the attraction of the horses there are some pretty trails round the lake and through the woods at Carine Glades. There’s also a playground area, sports facilities and even a dog playground though we have yet to venture there with Winston as he’s liable to get anxious and over excitable round other dogs unless he knows them!
I’m staying a bit closer to home today after Mlle’s adventure in Broome last week (see here for post).
We always enjoy a trip out to the Perth Hills on the eastern edge of the Perth metro area but never seem to get out there as often as we’d like. In fact it’s only a 45 minute drive from our house, which is nearer the coast.
A couple of weeks ago we headed out to the Kalamunda Farmers Markets in search of our preferred olive oil supplier who, alas, no longer comes to our local market. Once you turn off the highway the road leads up a steep scarp lined with native trees and shrubs. There is a spectacular view back across the coastal plain towards Perth City Centre from the lookout point just off the main road.
The pretty suburb of Kalamunda nestling on top of the scarp has the feel and character of a country town. As often happens when I start researching information for these posts I come across new details so, despite many years living here in Perth, I didn’t realise how Kalamunda got its name. According to the Kalamunda & Districts Historical Society,
“Kalamunda is situated approximately 25km inland from Perth, Western Australia in the Darling Ranges. The district evolved from the timber and orchard industries and became a popular holiday venue for the people of Perth and Fremantle. The name Kalamunda derives from the Aboriginal ‘Cala’, meaning bush, and ‘Munnda’, meaning hearth”.
I realised looking back that we’d actually made a similar trip to the markets almost a year ago to the day (how the world has changed since then!). I thought I’d already posted about Kalamunda before but obviously hadn’t so the photos are a mixture of old and new!
The market takes place each Sunday from 8 am to 12 noon just off the main street and is well stocked with stalls selling locally grown produce – seasonal fruit and vegetables, organic meats and smallgoods, cheeses, potted plants, herbs and flowers, artisanal breads and sourdoughs, jams and spices, handmade soaps and other gifts and the list goes on.
We picked up a fine selection of biodynamic olive oils from Angus of Guinea Grove Farm in Gingin – the flavours are superb! I especially love the citrus ones and the basil crush and use them all the time in cooking.
After an hour or so spent wandering round the stalls including picking up some pretty antique china from a 2nd hand shop (I can never resist!), we headed up the street in search of refreshments. Hidden away at the top end of town we found a little square off Railway Road home to the Zig Zag Cultural Centre. The complex includes an art gallery and visitor centre plus a charming little cafe called Mason & Bird where we indulged in morning coffee and cake.
I found the Kalamunda and Districts Historical Society website a treasure trove of information. The local museum is just down the road from the Zig Zag Cultural Centre and is set out in the form of a historical village. The village, which has been reconstructed using original buildings, is situated on the site of the former Upper Darling Range Railway station. Once an important transport hub on the Zig Zag line, the station was built in the 1890s to service timber transportation from Canning Mills to Midland Railway Station. The Historical Centre has reduced its opening times owing to Covid restrictions so check the website if planning a visit – we must make sure we go there one day ourselves before too long!
Another place managed by the historical society and which sounds well worth visiting is Stirk Cottage, a lovely old timber weatherboard home, which was built by early hills pioneers Frederick and Elizabeth Stirk back in 1881 and was home to their brood of 9 children!
How times have changed since 1881! Well stocked up with supplies and provisions, we wended our way past the display of pretty red and white roses back to our car.
This week for a change I’m including a post on somewhere I’ve never been to (despite living in Western Australia on and off for 30 years!).
Our daughter, Mlle, headed up to Broome in the north west Kimberley Region, for a week’s holiday in August. She was lucky enough to be able to stay with a friend who now lives and works up there and has shared some photos and insights with me for the blog.
Broome is a very long way from Perth! It takes 2 and a half hours to fly there. If you wish to drive, you have to cover 2,240 kms and although technically it would take you just under 24 hours non stop (according to google) in reality you need to allow 2-3 days and longer for sightseeing.
Broome is also in the tropics with a completely different climate to Perth. It really just has a wet and a dry season. The Broome Visitor Centre provides some useful information. The dry season runs from May to October and has beautiful warm days (average low to mid 30s) with mild evenings. Not surprisingly this is a very popular time for tourists from Perth and the south west to head north to escape the winter storms and cooler southern weather. The wet season from November to April is far hotter (often well into the 40s) with high humidity and monsoonal weather from January to March. As a result it isn’t so crowded with tourists but the weather can be quite off-putting.
Broome has a wonderful location sitting on a north/south peninsula with Cable Beach (Indian Ocean) on the western side and Roebuck Bay and Town Beach on the eastern side.
BROOME SUNSETS AND BEACHES
Every single night they are spectacular! You can pick a different beach each night and you won’t be disappointed! The camel picture was taken on Cable Beach (probably the most famous beach up here) and camel rides are very popular especially at sunset.
Other beaches Mlle and her friends visited were Gantheaume Beach and James Price Point (out of town).
This attraction was probably the highlight of the trip. There’s a camping spot called Coconut Wells about 30 minutes drive from Broome’s town centre and Mlle and friends arrived the night before, camped nearby then in mid morning made their way to Coconut Wells.
When they arrived the day before the dam looked completely empty. They walked up the coast to an inlet and as the tide rises you float all the way from the inlet back into the dam (where they had parked) with the high tide coming in very fast. Mlle described it as a very relaxing experience (I would not have felt the same way!). She did say to bring plenty of sunscreen (it was 40 degrees the day they went) and they also had a floatable eskie for beers (very Aussie!). The tide variations in Broome are HUGE and lots of tourists get caught out. The tide allows you to do the “Float” about once a month.
Broome has the oldest still operating outdoor cinema in the world – see here for more info.
Broome Historical Museum – covers a lot of the history of the pearl divers (Broome is renowned for its pearls). There’s a huge Asian influence to this day (Japanese, Chinese, Philippines etc) which Mlle didn’t know about until going there (and neither did I). See here for info about the Broome Historical Society and Museum.
MAIN TOURIST PLACES IN TOWN FOR DRINKS/BEST FOOD
Matso’s – has amazing ginger beer (apparently very popular here in Perth too)
Mangrove Hotel – overlooks Roebuck Bay, stunning place for a sundowner drink and meal.
The Aarli – Mlle had an amazing meal here and her friend reckons this is the best eatery in town.
The Roebuck – Mlle suggests somewhat tongue in cheek that this is possibly not for my target audience but for anyone interested there is a wet t-shirt competition here every Thursday night and the winner takes home $750!
Hire a 4-wheel drive if possible, so you can drive to the beaches to watch the sunset and go off-road for camping etc.
Also Mlle would highly recommend the dry season (as I said earlier she went there in August) as it gets really humid and hot for the wet season.
Personally I can cope far better on a hot dry Perth day that gets to say 35 degrees in the summer but wilt if we get an unusually humid day in the mid 20s or so. If you go up north in the wet season be prepared!
So that’s Mlle’s guide to Broome! Many thanks to her for sharing her tips and insights!
A pictorial post this week – another selection of photos from our trip down to the beautiful south west cape area of Western Australia (see here for previous posts in this series). The winter woollies have long since been replaced though as these photos were taken in mid July!
Gnarabup Point and Beach is a few kilometres to the west of Margaret River, the main township in the area. It is an idyllic spot where the native bush slopes down to meet the sparkling waters of the Indian Ocean. We first discovered it in the early 1990s and have many happy memories of holidays here when our children were small. Unfortunately there was a terrible bushfire in the area a few years ago (see here for a news report) and for some time the beach area looked like a lunar landscape. Fortunately nature has proved resilient and many plants and shrubs are growing again though it will take longer for the trees to regenerate to previous levels.
We had lunch overlooking the beach at the White Elephant cafe accompanied by several seagulls keen to get hold of our food! The photos belie the intensity of the wind – cutlery, food and umbrellas all went flying at one point or another. Owing to Covid restrictions, food was takeaway only at that point though I think you can probably dine in now as restrictions have eased further here in WA since then.
After lunch we had a pleasant walk up the hillside to the lookout point, which is a perfect spot for taking photos. It was a glorious crisp and sunny day – the perfect winter’s day in our part of the world. An information board provides details of the Wardandi people, the traditional custodians of these south west lands and also gives you a glimpse into the migratory cycle of the whales.
It is a serene and peaceful part of the world and a place that always draws us back.
A new recreational facility has recently opened along the coast just to the north of us. With the slightly unfortunate name of Whitfords Nodes (no idea why it is called this!) it has incorporated the existing parkland of Hillarys Beach Park and surrounding native bush to form a new development known as a “health and wellbeing hub”. There are a couple of children’s play areas, picnic zones and also two separate lookout points designed to give you a workout. You certainly get this as multiple steps lead up to one viewing area and a steep winding path up to the other.
With Perth enjoying fresh spring weather at present, not too hot and not too cold, it was the perfect location for a walk last weekend. The only problem was that dogs have to stay on the coastal path. I duly left Monsieur and Winston Le Schnoodle down by the sea and headed up to the first lookout point to take some photos of the ocean, Hillarys Boat Harbour and enjoy the colourful display of wild flowers.
I have a few more Western Australian posts to do then I’ll complete the last remaining overseas trip still to write up – Alaska and Seattle. After that I’ll have to find a way to spin things out till we can travel again …….who knows when? In the meantime we do enjoy our walks and the opportunity to get outside into nature now that the weather is warming up “Down Under”.
In my last post I covered the Torpedo Trail around Yallingup, which started from historic Caves House, our base for a few days break in July (see here for that post).
Caves House is a beautiful heritage-listed hotel first built in 1903 to service the burgeoning tourist interest in the newly discovered Ngilgi Caves. It has been a popular place ever since for tourists and locals alike. Although there are modern apartments nearby, which we have also stayed at, we loved experiencing the character of the hotel and the ambiance of a bygone era. The lounge area and bar with its roaring wood fire (we were there in July, mid-winter here) was the perfect spot to sit and enjoy aperitifs in the evenings.
I loved the classic furniture and elegance of the decor. Caves House has always been a popular spot for honeymooners and hosts many weddings especially in the warmer months under the arbor in the rolling grounds. Here are a few photos (again I’m struggling with the new WordPress editor but hopefully the upload works!)
We recently spent a few days staying in the pretty coastal town of Yallingup on the south west cape of Western Australia (see here and here for info from a previous trip). Our base was the iconic Caves House Hotel an impressive heritage-style building, originally built in 1903 by the government of Western Australia to provide accommodation for the visitors to the newly discovered Ngili Caves nearby.
Set in beautiful undulating grounds that gently slope down towards the sea, it is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of this coastal location. With no particular plan in mind we set off after breakfast on the first day of our trip heading towards the beach. It was a blustery July day (mid-winter in the southern hemisphere) and the south westerly wind was whipping in from the Indian Ocean. Caves House forms a section of the Torpedo Trail, one of many walking and hiking trails in this beautiful part of the world.
We intended just to have a quick stroll along the beach and head up back to Caves House to collect our car but after stopping for coffee in the beach car park, which marks the official start of the Torpedo Trail, we decided to follow the trail up the hill and see where it took us. The trail is, according to track grading in the information brochure, a Grade 3 level “Suitable for most ages and fitness levels. Some bush walking experience recommended. Tracks may have short steep hill sections a rough surface and many steps. Walks up to 20km.”
We found it relatively easy, but it wouldn’t be suitable for people with wheelchairs or reduced mobility. It is a 3km loop, which should take about an hour, although we took a little longer because we stopped to take all these photos. You pass through gentle woodland, coastal vegetation, rocky outcrops and down and (mostly) up a few inclines. There are various signposts along the way and the trail follows part of the Cape to Cape track, which runs 123 kms from Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse in the north down to Cape Leeuwin in the south west. We had hoped to do a longer trail, which would have taken us around the bay to Smiths Beach, but the recent heavy winter storms had washed part of the footpath away so that section of the trail was closed off.
With the new WordPress editor seemingly mandatory now, I’ve found writing up this post and inserting photo galleries something of a headache (to say the least) so below is an extensive pictorial record of our walk as this was the easiest way to format it! Hopefully I will gradually master the new system!
Heading to the top of the hill, we found ourselves briefly walking alongside Caves Road before heading once more into the woodland, which took us back to the leafy grounds of Caves House.
All in all, a lovely walk and we felt refreshed and ready for morning tea.
For more interesting and varied walks round the world head over to Restless Jo’s Monday Walks, a wonderful way to feel connected to the world at large in these strange times!
We were recently lucky enough to enjoy a few days break down in the beautiful south west region of Western Australia.
A perennial favourite of ours for a long time, we were astonished to realise it had been nearly 5 years since we were last in the Margaret River area – holidays abroad having taken precedence over local getaways. Indeed one of the pleasant benefits of travel restrictions has been enjoying our own backyard more. I do realise that we are so fortunate to be able to travel freely within our home state of Western Australia.
We’ve always loved Cullen’s winery and so made a point of visiting for lunch one day. I’ve collated all my previous south west posts here and you can read about Cullen’s winery here and here.
In the meantime a few photos of our relaxed lunch overlooking the vineyards – I always enjoy the winter and the starker beauty of the leafless vines.
I’ve still got a number of posts to write up about our Alaskan trip in 2018, which I’ll gradually do over the next few weeks or so.
It’s nice to have the memories as overseas travel for us Down Under will not be on the horizon for some considerable time to come.
However with regional travel restrictions now eased within Western Australia we recently took the opportunity to have a few days break down in the south west region of WA. It’s a charming part of the world, which I have blogged about before and have now collated all previous posts together here.
Our first stop was in Bunbury to catch up with my cousin and her husband. We headed up the pretty Ferguson Valley nearby to Green Door Wines where we enjoyed a pleasant lunch sampling their wines accompanied by delicious tasting platters.
On the way home we had a little detour. Tucked away by a little stream but well signposted you can find the quaint and rather kitsch settlement of Gnomesville.
Some years ago locals began setting gnomes in the clearing by a local roundabout and the settlement grew into a considerable tourist attraction. I’d seen the gnomes a few years back and our granddaughters went with our daughter and some friends in the last school holidays. Monsieur, however, felt he had missed out so we humoured him by driving by and stopping for a quick tour.
Despite many gnomes being washed away in the Great Gnomesville Flood of 2018, the settlement has been rebuilt and today the gnomes are once again thriving!