A Travellerspoint blog

Perth, Fremantle and Rottnest island

farewell Australia.... You were amazing!

rain

Our last two weeks we rented a lovely Air BNB in Fremantle to sell our beloved car and camping equipment and explore Perth and surrounds. We managed to sell beautiful Bruce and relax for a few days. We spent a nice day exploring the city Perth, shopping and walking between the skyscrapers. Fremantle however we prefer. It is full of lively cafes, shops and history, the streets are lined with beautiful colonial buildings and it is on the Indian Ocean with a marina and busy working port. We visited the famous Little Creatures brewery, indulging in several different beers to try, walked around the maritime museum and ate breakfast at hipster cafes.
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On our last full day in Australia we decided to visit Rottnest Island, an island in the Indian Ocean, 30 minutes from Fremantle. We rented bicycles and rode the whole way around the island, 22km. Although it down poured with heavy rain several times the island is stunning. The cycle road take you right around the coast and the views over cliffs and the bright blue sea are beautiful, through Heath, up and down hills, past lighthouses and gorgeous beaches. We finished at the main settlement, Thompson Bay and had a cold beer at the pub overlooking the ocean. The best thing about Rottnest however is the happiest animal on earth.... The quokka. They are everywhere and they are Just adorable. They are curious little things and seem to smile at you, following you around.
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After almost two years in Australia we have seen a lot. We have travelled from Melbourne, all the way up the east coast, across the desert to Darwin and then all the way down to Western Australia. Through Victoria, new South Wales, The ACT, Queensland, Tasmania, The Northern Territories and Western Australia. Australia has won our hearts, we have loved every second. There is no where else on earth you can swim next to a whale shark, dive on a reef so big you can see it from space, snorkel with a humpback whale, trek through a rainforest, see a dinosaur stampede in the desert, see sand so red and sea so blue, walk beneath an ancient forest of giants, hunt for truffles, sheer a sheep, see the best fireworks on earth, drive on the beach, see a platypus, swim along side a sea turtle, explore deep red gorges, walk through snow up a mountain, sailed past exotic islands and kissed under waterfalls. Australia... You have been so much more than we expected and will forever be in our hearts.

Posted by Chelsandliam 04:03 Archived in Australia Tagged australia perth fremantle rottnest_island Comments (2)

A beautiful three weeks in Margaret River

all seasons in one day

We initially planned on spending a week here but enjoyed it so much we spent close to three. We stayed at a working farm camp spot called Big Valley. It is a gorgeous friendly campground, complete with chucks roaming, working dogs to fuss, a baby pig to cuddle and new born lambs to bottle feed, as well as guinea pigs, rabbits and sheep. We explored the entire South West coast from here as it is in the middle.

The area is absolutely stunning, the coast is rugged, the forests look enchanted and the produce, wine, beer and more are everywhere. There are hundreds of places to visit so spending so long here was easy. In winter it is very cold but we had lovely evenings meeting people around a warm camp fire. We even managed to do a couple of days work on a neighbouring farm to get some spending money for our time in Fremantle.

It was packed full of fun and new things. We spent time on a wine tour, visiting several wineries, learning about good wine, cheese, chocolate and nougat producers as well as liquor and beer and came home stuffed and giddy. We rented mountain bikes and rode a mountain bike trail through the muddy forests next to the river and had a picnic. We visited both stunning capes, lighthouses, walked on the longest jetty in the Southern Hemisphere, awed at beach views and explored caves, watched the surfers, tried to track down stingrays at Hamelin bay and walked along cliffs, staring out to the ferocious winter ocean. We drove on a four wheel drive track with friends, through the forests, through thick mud, sand, rocks and creeks. We visited countless breweries, having tasters and lunch with a good view. We made homemade pizzas, played beer pong, played a LOT of competitive Yahtzee with popcorn and sat around the camp fire.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time here and met such nice people to enjoy it with. Australia never stops amazing us, we love every minute.

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Posted by Chelsandliam 21:05 Archived in Australia Tagged australia margaret_river Comments (0)

Truffle hunting in the South East forests

sunny

We had booked onto the truffle hunt a few days before, not really sure what to expect but the sound of trained Labradors hunting for truffles, taste tests and wine appealed to us so we were excited. Luckily for us we had spent several days at Sids campground the days before, every night sat around a big camp fire with a lovely elderly man called Bill who's passion was photographing and writing about fungi in the local area. He had been educating us on fungi, why it was so important and the different kinds there was so we were very excited to learn more and hunt for some in the ground. Meeting special people like Bill is one of the beautiful things about what we are doing, we love listening and learning about other people's lives and passions and when we came back from our hunt he had left but in our box of pots and pans we found a lovely note and one of his beautiful pictures of a special type of fungi he had been telling us about. It was a coincidence to meet and fungi enthusiast right before we go on a truffle hunt and sitting round the fire in the evenings with Bill was a pleasure.

Our truffle hunt started at 9.30am in a small town called Manjinup and upon arrival we were greeted by a lovely lady called Deb who showed us in brought us a coffee and we sat in front of a roaring log fire in the cellar door until it started. The cellar door is an old farm building but it has been converted into a bar, shop and cafe and is really beautifully done. Once everyone had arrived Deb introduced the farm and its beginnings and educated us on truffles. To farm truffles farmers and scientists work together, they grow the mushroom spores on juvenile trees and then plant these in a plantation. After several years these should multiply and eventually fruit. Truffles are a rare and very expensive type of fungi. They grow under the ground and have a symbiotic relationship with certain types of trees, they attach to their roots and work with each other, mostly oak and hazelnut trees. When the fungi fruits a truffle is formed under the ground and then they are left to mature and harvested in winter. They normally lay quite close to the surface and they infuse the surrounding soil with a strong delicious scent. This is where the dogs come in. They are trained to hunt for the smell of mature truffles. They walk through the plantation telling the harvesters where to look.

We then smelled and sampled some truffle in the form of a delicious cauliflower and truffle soup which had finely sliced truffle on top. It was absolutely yummy and had such a warm rich flavour. After we had learned about the truffles and the process the farmer takes to grow them we headed out to find some for ourselves. We washed our boots of any soil from outside and jumped into a carriage that was pulled by a tractor. This took us on a tour of the plantation and vineyards and met up with a dog and handler at work. Kate and Scrappy were already in the field and a team of handlers and dogs work dawn till dusk throughout the season. They walk the rows of trees, finding the truffles and marking them with a pink ribbon. Then a team of harvesters follow and dig them up.
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Kate and Scrappy had an amazing bond and Scrappy was calm and impeccably trained. She went round everyone for a fuss and then it was back to business, we watched her trainer ask in hand gestures where the truffles were and scrappy went off, found them, touched her nose to the ground and pawed the ground. Kate and us followed and we were shown how to check if they are mature and dig them up. It was beautiful and amazing to watch the dog work and follow digging, never quite know what to expect. Sometimes they were tiny black balls, other times they were huge gnarly looking things, bigger than a hand. Every time Scrappy found one she got a treat and by the end she was getting a little distracted and tried to trick us a few times, pawing in places where they were none. Kate would then ask where it was and she would shamefully look away and walk to a different spot. We absolutely loved it and enjoyed watching Scrappy and Kate and joining in. Each time we unearthed a truffle we passed it round smelling it as each truffle smells a little different, some stronger than others as they are graded in different classes. In total we collected 1.2kg go truffle which is over $2000 worth. We couldn't help but get our photo with Scrappy as we had been so impressed with her and after a short journey on the tractor through the farm we were back in the cellar door.
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A big table had been set up and we were invited to do a wine tasting of all the wines they produce and sell. We went through all the wines, whites, rose, reds and desert wines whilst our host explained the key flavours and the differences in producing them. It was lots of fun and they were delicious. We were then shown to the cafe and we had a sit down lunch, everything on the menu was truffle themed and the highlight for us was the truffle and mushroom risotto which was creamy, earthy and rich.
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It lasted all day and it was almost 4pm by the time we got home. After lunch we were given a merchandise bag with information and souvenirs inside and we bought a bottle of our favourite wine to enjoy at a later date. It was a brilliant day of learning, fun and indulging and was something totally different we have never experienced before. We are so glad we decided to do it and would totally recommend it.... Thank you Truffle and Wine Co :)

Posted by Chelsandliam 23:11 Archived in Australia Tagged australia truffles manjinup truffle_and_wine_co Comments (0)

The mighty southern forests

all seasons in one day

Driving from Parry Beach was another beautiful ride, through woodlands and farms, bright green fields and we had finally had a break from the rain. Our first stop was into the forest around Walpool to The Valley of the Giants. This is a place in the forest where they have built a boardwalk through the trees but we had gone here more for the Ancient Giants Boardwalk. This was a route on the ground that took you through some of the oldest trees in the area, the Giants and explained about the flora and fauna. The trees here are tingle trees, a type of eucalypt and the trees in particular around this walk are red tingle trees. They grow tall and often grown outwards, they hollow out and so have huge circumferences often with spaces in the trunk to walk through. Here there are several trees which have huge cave like trunks that are so wide people used to park their cars inside them at one point. These trees however, although very tall only have shallow root systems and need lots of rain to grow so are only found in this part of Australia and are very sensitive to driving or walking over the roots. We wandered through the forest looking in amazement up at the trees and walking straight through their huge trunks. It was like a movie set with red gnarly trunks everywhere, huge archways and dense forest. It was beautiful.
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After a coffee and some shopping in Walpool we visited another sight called the giant tingle tree. This was two huge trees in the forest. One of them had grown huge and widened at the bottom so you could walk through it. Around its circumference at the base measured a huge 24m. It was a pretty amazing sight.
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We then tried to find a camp that had been recommended to us, Sids. It took us a while to find it but when we did it was worth the effort. It is a tiny site on a farm and the owner had made a real effort to make it comfy. There is rustic but immaculate showers and toilets, a big campfire, and a little kitchen with a wood burning stove inside in case it rains to keep warm. It is pay by donation and it recommends $5 which is super cheap so we set up camp. This will be our base for exploring the surrounding are for the next few days and we are happy to pay more than the recommended donation for such a lovely little spot.

We spent our time here exploring the amazing Karri forests in the area. Annoyingly our National Parks pass had ran out the day before so we bought a day pass and decided to drive on the Karri explorer, a scenic drive through the different regions, parks and forests.

First up was the Gloucester tree. This is one of the famous climbing trees. In the past huge Karri trees had been used to climb and keep a look out for fires by the fire brigade as from the top you can see for miles and miles. Several of these trees still have their climbing spikes and you can climb up to the top, to the observatory area. Looking up at the Gloucester tree we knew we wouldn't be going to the top. It is 53m high, with steel bars coming out of the sides and some wire meshing wrapped around to stop you jumping off. It was terrifyingly high and the people at the top were like ants. We did a short bush walk in the forests around here and they are beautiful. Hugely tall, straight Karri trees dominate the landscape and walking in the cool fresh air through the trees was just lovely.
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From here we drove to big brook dam and pretty reservoir with walks around it and had a stroll along the water in the sunshine. The roads here are unsealed, dirt roads and is a gorgeous scenic drive through the towering forests, winding up and down the hills.
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We decided to also stop at Beedelup Falls which was a lovely little bush walk through the trees to a powerful waterfall. The walk took us along the falls to a lookout and then we crossed the river and walked along the other side. To get back across we had to cross a tiny suspension bridge which was fun as it moved a lot and there was a sheer drop into the river below.
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Our last sign on the scenic drive was the Bicentennial Tree, another Karri climbing tree but this one towered over the forest at a staggering 65m. Half way up was a lookout so we decided we would try to climb to this rather than the top. Liam immediately decided not to but Chelsea gave it a go and managed about half way up to it before quickly returning to safe ground. They are amazingly high, so high that the lookout at the top can sway a metre and half each way if it is a windy day. Just watching someone else climb it is scary enough for us, they disappear into the tree top it is so high.
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On the way back we decided to stop off around Pemberton for a warm drink and were recommended the Lavender and Berry farm as they do really good cakes. They have famous pancakes and scones so we ordered one of each to share. The small serving of pancakes we ordered turned out to be huge, with homemade ice cream and berry sauce and the scone was giant. It was a lavender scone with local honey and cream to have with it and it was absolutely delicious. The farm itself is in a stunning location, on a lake surrounded by beautiful lavender gardens. At the back they have friendly farm animals, miniature horses and alpacas and we had a stroll around.
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On our final day we had planned to do a full day bush walk through the forests but the rain was torrential again so we had to stay around the log fire at camp as it was too wet to take our tent down and move on. Nevertheless we had a cosy day in front of the fire and it is good to have a day doing nothing in particular once in a while. The Southern Forests we have really enjoyed. It is a beautiful, ancient area full of bright green moss, huge trees and mushrooms everywhere. The local produce, cafes and small country towns are friendly and lovely to warm up in if the weather is rubbish and when the sun comes out the scenery is stunning.
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Posted by Chelsandliam 22:56 Comments (0)

Recharging in Albany

Albany to Denmark

rain

It seemed our luck with the weather had ran out and we continued to get cold, windy rain. Since we had spent several nights and days in torrential rain we decided to look for a cabin or hotel around Albany just so we could become normal humans again, rather than drenched ogres living in the wilderness. We found a cosy motel just outside Albany and had the longest, hottest showers of our lives and settled in for a night or pizza, a warm bed and TV. We managed to book an AirBNB in Perth for our final weeks and a flight finally and absolutely relished in the warm comfort of a room for the night. It was bliss.

We explored Albany the day after. It is on King George Sound, a lagoon overlooking mountains and for us dark, moody clouds. The buildings are colonial and have been converted to pubs and shops along the front which is very pretty. Albany is the first settlement town in WA and has a replica of the ship that brought settlers over called the Amity on its shores. It also has a whaling past and we explored the south coast peninsular, down to natural bridge and the gap. Here the mighty Southern ocean has carved a spectacularly rugged coastline. There is a constructed platform that takes you out over the furious sea at the gap where in rough weather the waves pound the cliffs and sour upwards. The weather was bitter cold, wet and windy but this added to its ruggedness and you could really see how harsh and cold the Southern ocean is.
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From here we had a short drive through very scenic green countryside and farms to a tiny town called Denmark. Here is a hub for produce and dotted around the town in its hills are wineries and local cheese, chocolate toffee and more. We had seen a beautiful cellar door called The Lake House so headed here for a wander around. It has a five star rating and its premium wines have scored a high 96, 97 being awarded the best wine in the country and is one of the prettiest cellar doors you can visit. It is a cosy cottage set on a lake, surrounded by vineyards. Inside is a cosy, timber build shop, restaurant and cellar door. They make their own wine infused preserves which you can try as well as grape seed oil products and we were greeted by a lovely man who told us what they had on offer. We decided to stay for some lunch and a glass of wine and he offered us a wine tasting so we could decide which one we liked. We assumed we would be trying a couple of wines we were interested in but he asked if we would like to try red or white. We decided on red and then he spent at least half an hour pouring us taster after taster of every red they sell, explaining the differences in how they are grown and barrelled and how they should taste. We went from cheap and cheerful wines right up to reserve bottles of Shiraz and specialist grown reds. It was amazing and we learned lots about wine and drinking wine. After picking our favourite we sat down with a glass and ordered a vegetarian tasting platter for two. When it arrived it was a huge feast and had all sorts of things on it, including lots of their special preserves, local cheese, home baked bread, frittata and spicy veggie lentil patties. We ate it leisurely, overlooking the lake and ended up spending several hours we enjoyed it so much. It was a rare treat for us and we bought a bottle of our favourite.
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This area of South West WA really is beautiful, even though the weather is cold this time of year. The coastline is wild and rough and inland it is bright lush green, covered in cows and sheep. We camped in the rain again at a council run property called Parry Beach and the caretakers thought we were mad, camping along this area in winter.... Even though they had a pet chicken called clucky. :)

Posted by Chelsandliam 22:50 Archived in Australia Tagged australia denmark albany Comments (0)

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