Day 121 – Thursday 13th October 2011
This morning we left our picnic area camp spot and made a little detour inland to Moora, where Andrew’s sister Liz lives. We had a quick but lovely visit with Liz and the kids. We realised that it’s the first time we’ve been inside a house since we left! The boys were pretty chuffed with sitting on a lounge and watching all their old favourites on ABC 3. Daniel made good friends with Liz and was quite taken with her.
Liz had to work at midday so we said our goodbyes and were back on the road, heading towards Perth. We stopped for the night at another rest area, just down the road from Yanchep National Park where we wanted to visit in the morning.
Day 122 – Friday 14th October 2011
Up early to pay a quick visit to the supermarket at a town called Two Rocks, then on to Yanchep National Park. This is quite an interesting national park, as it has the standard ‘natural’ type areas for bushwalking, etc, but then it has an area with a lake, a chocolate shop and cafe, the information centre, and manicured gardens with green grass, big trees, ducks and kangaroos. There was also a koala boardwalk, the purpose of our visit this morning, and we managed to spot 10 of the 11 koalas living within the enclosure.
After a play on the lawns it was on the road again to find a caravan park in Perth. We chose our caravan park based on price and ended up staying in an interesting park that was mostly made up of interesting ‘permanents’. It didn’t matter as we weren’t planning on being in the park much.
Day 123 & 124 – Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th October 2011
This morning we paid a visit to King’s Park, with a brilliant playground, for a couple of hours of playing while we waited for Renee and Ashley to be home for a visit.
Renee and Ashley live right in the city in a big apartment building. After driving around the block several times we finally concluded that there was absolutely nowhere to park! A quick phone call to Ashley and he was able to get us permission to park in the apartment buildings loading zone. It’s way bigger and busier than Adelaide.
We spent a lovely afternoon on the 15th floor in Renee and Ashley’s apartment, and we were lucky enough to have a perfect view of the aerial acrobatics of some stunt planes that happened to be doing tricks right out the front, over the Swan River. The boys loved it. (Time to play, spot the plane).
On Sunday we came to visit again, this time with caravan in tow, and luckily were able to park in the loading zone again. Today was quite warm so we went for a dip – well, the boys did – in the pool on the 4th floor, but the water was freezing.
More stunt plane antics viewed from the balcony, and another delicious lunch care of Renee and Ashley’s wonderful cooking. Thank you!
After saying goodbye, we made our way to a rest area about an hour out of Perth, and just down the road from Pinjarra, where we plan on shopping tomorrow.
Day 125 – Monday 17th October 2011
Visited the Pinjarra shopping centre to do our weekly food shop, and then on to Donnybrook, a small country town with the largest free entry playground in Australia, thanks to an anonymous benefactor who donated $1 million for it to be built!! Hundreds of volunteers and a bunch of local businesses also pitched in, and it’s quite an impressive sight.
We booked into the Donnybrook Transit Park and dropped the van off before heading back down to the playground, which is walking distance from the transit park.
It was extremely busy, with over 100 children there by my headcount! It’s very well thought out, with a toddler section up one end, with exercise machines for the mummies right next to it, a ‘medium’ kids section in the middle, complete with huge, 4 storey towers & curly slides, then a bigger kids section at the end, with rope climbing and rock climbing things. Then there’s the drink fountains, toilets, grassy area and undercover bbq area. Definitely worth the little detour to go through Donnybrook if you’re anywhere near there.
The boys spent several fun-filled hours here before we headed back to the van, with the promise that we’d visit again tomorrow before leaving.
The transit park turned out to be a lovely spot to stay. It’s very picturesque, nestled between the town’s green, white picket-fenced oval and a tree-filled river bed. The bbqs, kitchen and toilet blocks are all brand new and we had the key to an entire bathroom – with shower, basin & toilet – all to ourselves! No little cubicles with other people right next to you – it was great.
After a very overcast day, it rained all night.
Day 126 – Tuesday 18th October 2011
Luckily, the rain stopped long enough for us to get another play in at the playground, before heading to Dunsborough and the home of ‘Simmo’s Ice-cream’. Simmo has created something like 100 flavours, with about 40 to choose from in store at any one time. There is also a big playground out the back of the store.
After much deliberation, we chose –
Ethan – Vanilla choc chip
Daniel – banana choc chip (okay, I chose that one for him)
Jack – Boysenberry sorbet
Andrew – Snickers (mmm!)
Me – Lemon Cheesecake (it had the biscuit crumbs and everything!)
Some bizarre flavours – like licorice! – would have been nice to try but I didn’t want to risk buying an entire ice-cream of it in case it was more weird than yummy.
All five flavours we tried were delicious. I think the Snickers was yummiest, but my cheesecake one was awesome too – it tasted exactly like frozen cheesecake.
I would have thought the boys would be all playgrounded out, but they still had a good time playing at Simmos.
The ice-cream was too good to share with their pet emu.
Down the road a bit more and into Margaret River, which is just beautiful with lots of green fields and forests. Our drive into the farm we chose to stay at, Big Valley Campsite, was stunning.
This is a working sheep station – they have about 600 acres – and the grassy area just by their house and sheds has been made into a campsite for tents and caravans – showers, toilets, dump point & washing machines – everything you could want from a caravan park but without the bad parts. The area is really lovely and we are camped right next to a paddock full of sheep. And all for only $30 a night! We haven’t stayed anywhere that cheap since Wyndham.
We all very quickly proclaimed it our most favourite place ever.
Jack’s quote, while sitting on his chair under a tree, watching the sheep grazing – “Doesn’t it feel like you’re doing the right thing when you’re this close to nature?”
Only one little negative experience today – while running my hand absent-mindedly through Jack’s hair this afternoon, I felt a little bump and found…a tick!! Bleeaargh! Worst of all, I can’t even think where he would have got it from, except the Yanchep National Park, and that was DAYS AGO! Yuk. We had been warned by a fellow traveller that we were entering tick country, but I thought nothing else of it.
Needless to say, being the paranoid mother that I am, all children have now received extreme hair cuts to enable fast detection of any such further unwelcome, blood-sucking visitors. (Ethan and Jack have number fours, but we thought that might be a tad too harsh for Daniel).
Day 127 – Wednesday 19th October 2011
Ahhh, I love the smell of sheep poo in the morning.
After a glorious morning waking up on the farm, we headed out to see what Margaret River had to offer. A trip down the main street revealed a playground to waste some time in, a glass blower (closed, but we’ll come back and visit later) and a fudge factory. Free tastings of four different flavours, then we let Ethan and Jack pick a flavour each to buy a pack of. Unfortunately, their vision only extended to ‘mint choc’ and ‘banana choc’, so I think we’ll have to pay another visit for some peanut butter fudge, or cheesecake, or passionfruit, or one of the other very interesting sounding flavours. It was still delicious though.
After browsing the other interesting little shops in the main street we headed off for a scenic 4WD drive through some forest – very pretty.
Back at the farm we extended our stay for another four nights, then the lovely owner gave the boys some buckets of food to go and feed some of the sheep and some goats, and also showed us their chickens and rabbits (for eating).
We also sat and watched the men shearing for a while, which was actually quite fascinating. I thought we’d get over it after watching one or two, but we ended up sitting there for quite a while.
Day 128 – Thursday 20th October 2011
Next thing on the list for Margaret River, the chocloate factory and cheese factory! A few nice tastings at the chocolate factory and a very expensive, one little choccie each ($1.80 each for a little round truffle!). Jack had rasberry, Ethan caramel, Andrew coffee, Me honey, and Daniel had a little cookie flavoured white chocolate. They were quite potent so one was enough anyway.
Not being ‘cheese’ people really, we only tasted the vintage cheddar at the cheese factory, but it was delicious so we bought a little waxed block of it to have for lunch on some crackers.
A quick visit to Cape Mentelle winery for my mummy’s favourite wine (and maybe one for us too – because it will go so nicely with the cheese).
Now on to Amaze’n, a place with a big hedge maze and a bunch of other little mazes and puzzles – a bit like what puzzle park used to be like I guess. As well as several mazes, bbqs and a playground, they also had hoola hoops, frisbees, skipping ropes, quoits, bocce, and some tables in the gardens with snakes and ladders, checkers and other games. It was a beautiful place, with lots of time and care put into their gardens. We saved the hedge maze for last and did the smaller ones first – a ‘turn left’ maze – a hedge about knee high – where you could only turn left or go straight, you weren’t allowed to turn right. I figured it out after about 10 minutes, then on to the stepping stone maze where there was a guy who had been trying to figure it out for about an hour he reckoned. Andrew got that one first, in about ten minutes, and I felt a bit sorry for the poor chap who was still standing there staring at it!
The hedge maze was really fun – apparently it took about 15 years to get it to the stage where it had grown enough to be open to the public, and it has a full-time gardener. It also has 1.5 kilometres of paths! It took us 35 minutes to solve, and you also had to find 8 bench seats inside it, each with a different animal, like this crocodile one. We all really enjoyed it.
Day 129 – Friday 21st October 2011
Hopped in the car this morning to go on our next Margaret River adventure, and the car wouldn’t start! Even with a dual battery – the other battery wouldn’t start it either. We ended up getting a jump start from another guy staying here, and when he checked our voltage it was found that the batteries weren’t charging (same problem as we had back in Yulara).
So, we drove straight to the auto-electrician who confirmed it was the alternator. He reckons that it is probably the same problem from Yulara, but the soldering that Andrew did back then in Alice has probably just bought us time up until now. Luckily it’s happened here, instead of at a rest area in the middle of nowhere, and it just means that now, instead of leaving on Sunday, we have to stay until Tuesday when he can fix the car.
Ah well! Being stuck at Big Valley farm in Margaret River is far from a chore. It’s quite lovely, but a shame that we can’t use the car in the meantime and instead will have to just hang out here.
So, that’s the last week or so. Nothing spectacular to report blog-wise, but a very pleasant week for us, with visiting family, playgrounds galore, and scrumptious food and wine to be had.
We’ll be here til Tuesday, then will probably take another week to get over to Kalgoorlie, then won’t be long before we’re crossing the Nullarbor. ETA, last week in November.
Speak soon XXX