W.eekend A.way

11 Apr

Easter was not about chocolate eggs this year but we did still get to spend it with each other. I flew to Perth in Western Australia (WA) to meet up with James and then we borrowed his friend’s car to travel down to Margaret River for the Easter weekend.

I’d heard that the beaches over in WA are some of the best in Australia and James remembered them from his first journey to Australia as an Officer Cadet many many years a go! The coastline was certainly beautiful, the sea was a really vivid blue/green and where there was vegetation, it provided a really scenic backdrop but unfortunately we hadn’t counted on the impact last year’s bush fires would still have. The fires tore right through the Margaret River wine region from around the end of November and the charred remains of bushes and trees were evident right down to the coast, which meant the sand wasn’t as white or soft as it usually is on the West coast. Having said that, we have been a bit spoilt with beaches over here and a few of the less affected ones were…. Well, we couldn’t complain:

The first night we stayed in a town called Busselton on Geographe Bay, home to the longest timber jetty in the southern hemisphere.

Then it was on to the Margaret River area where we stayed for a couple of nights. The town itself is not on the coast but slightly inland and on a river. Called Margaret. There’s a real bohemian character to the place, a colourful mixture of surfers, hippies and artists among the tourist crowds. Throughout the whole region there are dozens of art galleries and artisan workshops. Of course, we had to stop in at one of the handcrafted furniture shops so James could see if his skills were up to scratch! I think he’s considering taking it up again after realising you can sell a table for $25,000 and he reckons all he needs is a good supply of sand paper. There were more arts and crafts on display at the handmade market, although this was probably more my thing: handmade cushions, candles and jewellery. There were some  wooden bowls to keep James happy too.  That morning we’d gone to the farmers market, which served us our second breakfast; loads of cheeses, chutneys, fruits and chocolate to sample.

We are really starting to feel the temperatures cool off and evenings are becoming a lot chillier, although we still had sunshine everyday. Having said that, it still peaked at 29 while we were in WA and we spent one morning down at the beach. The thing you get a lot of in that part of Australia are waves: massive waves. There were always plenty of surfers out on the ocean and it was amazing to watch the sheer size of the waves rolling in.

We ended up driving all the way down to the other end of the peninsular, passing some beautiful countryside, and forests and eventually to Cape Leeuwin lighthouse, the most south-westerly point in Australia and where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean. Quite bleak and very windy.

We couldn’t come to this area of Australia without visiting at least one winery. It is what the region is famous for after all. One of the most prestigious wineries is Leeuwin Estate, where we went first for a quick tasting. It was set in really stunning grounds and although we’re about as far from having sommelier palates as you could get, their Art Series Chardonnay at around $90.00 a bottle went down a treat. We also popped into the oldest winery in the region, Vasse Felix, which was the first to establish in MArgaret River in 1967. We didn’t do any tasting there but it was good just to see the estate.

Our final day we spent in Perth, wandering around the city but for our last evening we drove to Cottesloe, on the outskirts of Perth to watch the sun set. If you live in Sydney and want to see the sunset over the ocean in Australia, you do have to fly the 5 hours to other side of the country. I think it was worth it.

(I have put an album of the WA trip in the photogallery.)

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