My Home – Brisbane

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Here is one from my archives.  Although this was written a while back it is still current, weather wise, beauty wise and time of year.

Sometimes we forget what we have in our own backyards.  I am always reminded of what a beautiful place I live in whenever I have visitors as I am “showing off” my home city.

However, on Sunday morning while I was driving to church which is in New Farm, I decided to stop and take a walk along the River Terrace overlooking the river.  It was a perfect winter’s morning.  It was about 8C degrees which then warmed up to about 26C.  Yes perfect, but probably too warm for winter.

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Brisbane, which is the capital of the state of Queensland, has a population of 2.4 million and is in north east Australia.   It is the gateway to the famous Gold Coast which is only an hour drive south and also to the Sunshine coast which is north.  Brisbane has a humid subtropical climate with hot, humid summers and dry moderately warm winters. A typical winter’s day would rarely fall below 20C, however our nights can be very cold.

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Brisbane River

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Brisbane River

Brisbane River

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As I wondered on the walkway along the top of the cliffs in an area known as Kangaroo Point I took these photos.  Kangaroo Point is on the south side of the Brisbane River looking towards the city and central business district.

This is a beautiful location with so many things you can do.  You can walk or ride a bike from Southbank across the river, you can go up and down the steep stairs for exercise, you can have a picnic or BBQ next to the river or on top of the cliffs, using the free gas bbq’s and picnic tables and chairs, you can rock-climb outdoors, kayak, abseil, roller-blade and more. Daytime or nighttime are both beautiful here with the city lights or sun.

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After your walk, if you feel like stopping for a coffee or refreshments, there is a great Café  with these stunning views overlooking the river and Brisbane city.

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Probably the best view of  Brisbane city is from Kangaroo Point.  

It is so easy to access, by bus, river cat, ferry or car.

Beautiful Jewel in the City – Stanley Park

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While staying in Vancouver, I was fortunate enough to visit Stanley Park – several times.

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In the heart of downtown Vancouver, this lovely park is big and beautiful. The scenery is fantastic, the park is well maintained and there are plenty to see and do. You can go to the aquarium, see the totem poles, walk the sea wall, run/walk/cycle, catch a horse carriage or have a picnic. Positively, it is the perfect spot to spend a few hours in Vancouver to recharge the batteries and catch your breath after a long international flight. And the park is the perfect spot to feel the breeze, to reconnect with the trees, and to see many smiling faces.

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Created in 1888 Stanley Park is almost an island and covers many acres. It has a lake and beaches. There are trails all over where you can experience the birds, flowers, trees and the views. You can drive through, or take a long walk, or bike through it. While walking along the seawall, you can see North Vancouver and the Lionsgate Bridge. Stanley Park is one of Vancouver’s jewels. It is a 400-hectare park located on a peninsula near the downtown area of Vancouver.

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Lost Lagoon at the entrance is the favourite watering hole for the thousands of birds that grace the park. The old growth forest is circumvented by Park Drive and the sea wall where  you can take in the many beaches and lookouts.

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On my first visit we spent almost an entire day in the park exploring and then, for lunch we enjoyed a wonderful picnic in the park with a group of First Nations folks. After our fabulous picnic in the park, I chose to take an old fashioned horse drawn carriage ride which meandered for about an hour  through this thousand acre wonderland. This fully guided and narrated tour, stopping at many of the parks highlights was the perfect way for this weary traveller to explore and cover many kilometres of magnificence.

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Our tour lady was very informative not only on the history and sights in Stanley Park, but of our beautiful horses, who are very well care for. The tour was leisurely and we saw numerous major sites of the park. The 9 O’Clock Gun, Totem Poles, Seawall, beaches, Beaver Lake and Lost Lagoon, are just some of the highlights on this tour.

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The park is very well maintained and there was plenty of space wherever we went, The Totem Pole area and the various sculptures and buildings kept us entertained and educated, and the scenery is amazing, especially by the waters edge. The fact it is an island makes it even more special as it feels isolated, somewhere  nature can thrive, which I certainly felt when we walked around Beaver Lake. Yet when you walk to the water’s edge and look out across the water you realise you are right in the middle of Vancouver.

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Attractions in the open areas of the park include; a lovely rose garden, stunning cultivated garden beds, a miniature train ride, an outdoor theatre, and a display of First Nations totem poles. The park also contains sculptures, restaurants, magnificent views, and the Vancouver Aquarium.

I so enjoyed this wonderful park which is regarded as the “lungs of the city” for all its greenery and gardens, And it is free.

 

Spectacular Views from Eagle Bluff, Coral Coast, Western Australia

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One of the many places that we visited while staying on the Coral Coast of Western Australia was Eagle Bluff. This is a spectacularly high cliff that overlooks the Denham Sound and is located about 20 km south from where we were staying in Denham. This area is named after the osprey or sea eagles which nest on the rock island just offshore

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From the car park, we walked along the boardwalk to see the breathtaking views out across the water which was crystal clear and clean.  The boardwalk lies over the ocean where we could see osprey and sea eagles flying around, and dugongs feeding on massive seagrass meadows. Here is the largest sea grass mass in the world supplying food for the dugongs that eat about 70kgs each per day.  From this raised boardwalk there were views of two small limestone islands once mined for guano and now important breeding bird colonies. The larger island is called Eagle Island.

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We were stunned by the abundance of fish and coral in this stretch of water and we were lucky to see dolphins and dugongs.

What a look out  with amazing views of the ocean and cliff faces. The board walk on top of the cliff looking down into the crystal clear unruffled waters of Shark Bay is undoubtedly a wonderful, wheel chair friendly 400 metre boardwalk. This excellent boardwalk along the cliff tops has guidance photos and information relative to the areas below and in the distance.  This is yet another wonderful part of this World Heritage Area.

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This was a well worth trip from Denham to take in this remarkable site where bird life can be viewed in abundance along the craggy shoreline of the islands offshore

This photo-spot is perfect to get a feel for the coastline of this area, in particular the cliffs and the beaches

Exploring Brisbane on foot

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This is another post from my archives. Exploring Brisbane on foot was such a wonderful experience I am sharing it again.

After over 20 years of living in Brisbane I thought it was time that I learned some more about my city. Although I have been in to the city many times I have never actually taken the time to explore it.

So, I booked a tour with Brisbane Greeters.  It was by accident that I recently learnt of this wonderful program here in Brisbane.  I contacted them and organized to do a walking tour of Brisbane precinct. I met with my guide Bruce, at King George Square outside Brisbane city hall.  I was excited to do this tour however I was not prepared for how good it was.

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Lucky me, I was the only “tourist” for this guided tour of our city. We started our tour in the square discussing Bruce’s plans for the tour. He made some suggestions and then with my input he customised the tour to fully suit me. Bruce gave me a brief overview of the history of Brisbane before we headed off.

We started our tour in the City Hall.  City Hall is considered to be one of Brisbane’s finest buildings. The building has been used for royal receptions, pageants, orchestral concerts, civic greetings, flower shows, school graduations and political meetings.

City Hall does offer its own guided tours of this lovely building so my visit with Bruce was certainly enough to whet my appetite to return one day for a tour.  In the meantime, from Bruce, I learned that the white marble staircase in the entrance is made using marble from Carrara in Italy, the bell tower was inspired by St Mark’s in Venice and the dome was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome.

From the city hall we walked over to the Brisbane Arcade which is a heritage listed shopping arcade and was built in 1923. Definitely one of if not the nicest shopping arcade in Brisbane consisting of beautifully designed shops offering high-end jewellery, clothing, antiques and much more.

Our tour continued up Queen St to North Quay to the heritage listed Treasury building, which now houses Brisbane’s Casino.

The tour included many of Brisbane’s original buildings – the commissary which is home to the Royal Historical Society of Brisbane, and  Old Government house which is located on the grounds of Queensland University of Technology at Gardens Point.

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The QUT campus is home to public arts venues, museums, top fitness facilities, and our state-of-the-art Science and Engineering Centre.

We stopped at the Pantry café on campus for our well-earned lunch and coffee.  After our small rest we headed off through the botanical gardens which is on the river and which Qut is attached to.

We had many stops along the way to our destination of St Stephens Cathedral the heritage listed cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of the city of Brisbane.

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I learned from Bruce that part of the stone used in the construction of this magnificent building was taken from Kangaroo point just across the river.

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Kangaroo Point

Bruce’s wealth of information was fantastic. He is very passionate about Brisbane and was so informative the entire time.

I have been on many walking tours around the world but this would definitely be the best guided walking tour I have ever done, and, it was free. Bruce informed me that there are many cities around the world offering this personalized free service.

I later googled Greeters Organisation and discovered there are in excess of 90 cities world-wide offering this fabulous service including several cities in Italy.

Fascinating – Stromatolites, Hamlin Pool, WA

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On our way from Denham to Geraldton we stopped off at  The Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve. This reserve is about 40 km off the highway from the Shark Bay turn off. Hamlin Pool nature reserve  is a protected marine nature reserve located in the UNESCO World Heritage listed, Shark Bay, in Western Australia. Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve is one of only two places in the world with living marine stromatolites, or ‘living fossils’.

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The 127,000-hectare nature reserve boasts the most diverse and abundant examples of living marine stromatolites in the world, monuments to life on Earth over 3,500 million years BP

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After arriving at the free car park, we started at the Hamelin Pool and took an hour to go along the boardwalk and take a look at the stromatolites, which are thought to be the earliest form of life on this planet, expiring oxygen into the air, for everything else that followed. There are tiny fish living in the extremely salty water which can be seen from the boardwalk, together with some pretty birds which seem to live under the boardwalk.

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This visit gave me a small insight into some of the history of the development of life form(s) on the planet. It was definitely a ‘wow’ experience viewing the stromatolites formations. The interpretive signage was very informative and there were many trails to explore.

A boardwalk which has been constructed out into the water to give a good view of the area is fantastic with information boards placed around the walk. While we were there, we were lucky as it was a low tide and the formations were visible above and below water.

The microbial mats and stromatolites are prehistoric life forms. To me, the stromatolites look like something out of an alien movie. The stomatolites and cockles thrive in the hyper saline waters of the bay.

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The stromatolites are all over Hamlin Pool, so the raised boardwalk protects the stromatolites from damage caused by walking on them.

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It was really interesting to read and understand about the formations that looks like you are in another world.  Seeing and learning about stromatolites was a very new experience for me, but reading the information boards helped me to understand what I was actually looking at.

It became very apparent that I was observing something astonishing.

 

The Day the Giro d’Italia came to town

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My blog posts “jar” is getting very empty so I decided to re post this story about a tremendously fun day I had while I was staying in Arezzo.

 

Not long after I arrived in Arezzo I could feel that something special was happening.  While wandering around exploring, I saw the barricades being installed and of course all the signs and banners. The Giro d’Italia was coming to town.

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I have never really been a big fan of bike racing, although I do enjoy watching it on tv but mostly for the scenery. But, it did not take me long to be caught up in the excitement of the town.

While enjoying my morning coffee in the Piazza Grande, about 6 middle-aged men in lycra arrived. They were all from Australia and New Zealand. Listening to them, I learned that they were all ex Olympians or Commonwealth games winners.  They were here to watch the race. This just added to the excitement of being in Arezzo on such a special occasion.

Everywhere I went there were flags and banners and barricades for the race and many hours before the cyclists were due, people were already beginning to line the streets. The atmosphere was electric with a party feel.

There was a big van decorated in the official Giro d’Italia colours in the Piazza Monaco Guido which was just near my accommodation.  In fact my window overlooked it all. There was a loud speaker with the constant recording announcing the race and offering Giro packs for sale.

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I bought a pack for 10 € which consisted of a pink cap, a pink t-shirt and  a pink plastic “clapper”.  It was official; I was caught up in the moment.

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There were several marquees and media booths set up, truck after truck of equipment and lots of police around.

The crowds were already jockeying for positions behind the temporary barricades. I managed to find myself a great spot near the beginning of the cyclists entrance in to Arezzo.  I felt as though I was probably the only Aussie, in fact, non speaking Italian standing there, but I was totally caught up in the overwhelming excitement of it all.

Suddenly a motorcade of Italian police cars and bikes appeared around the bend with sirens blaring and blue lights flashing.

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Then a flash goes by, then another, then they are gone.  I had my camera poised to take the photos but they went by so quickly I was lucky to get any photos.

Apart from the slower cyclist and support vehicles it was all over.  The biggest surprise for me was the amount of team cars carrying spare bikes and parts.

I wandered off feeling so very fortunate that I experienced such a wonderful event.

 

 

 

 

2 months further on, here in Brisbane, Australia.

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Things here in Australia are changing every day, sometimes, hourly.  2 months ago, when I first wrote about the beginning of lock down for me, I really had no idea what to expect, how long it would last and in fact how well we would all cope.

I can honestly say with relief, that it really has not been too bad. Yes, there have been some blah days where I had no motivation but after giving myself a little pep talk I was able to move on and start making the most of every day. My days have been filled with many different activities including gardening, baking, crafting, many long phone calls, netflix, Youtube and of course internet/emails.

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We have been very blessed in Australia with our government acting quickly in the beginning of this situation and consequently we have lost less than 100 folks.

Recently, there has been a gentle easing of some of our restrictions here in Queensland which is very welcome, including the opening of parks and beaches and, allowing us to venture out from our homes.

During this past week, I went for my first social outing in about 8 weeks. It was great. We went out to Moreton Bay to the delightful suburb of Manly which is on the water. We sat at a picnic table setting protected by an awning that was long enough to cover about 10 of these picnic settings. We bought fish and chips from the local fish and chip shop and enjoyed it along with a nice pinot grigio. While keeping our social distancing we chatted with many other folks who were doing the same.

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As I enjoyed this simple but lovely day out I reflected on the here and now and thought that this outing was a little trip down memory lane for me. I remembered that while growing up, for us, a picnic enjoying fish and chips in the park was a lovely day out and a special treat.

For me, this lock down has reminded me of how happy we were with the simple things in life. Like a picnic in the park, or a walk along the beach, catching up with friends for a simple meal at home or just an evening walk around the neighourhood. It made me think, how did life become so complicated? Why is everyone “so busy”all the time?

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I am delighted to have been reminded in many ways and many times over the past 8 weeks or so, what really does matter and how easy it is to enjoy life without all the stress and expense.

My fish and chips in the park, was in fact, a special treat. 

Magnificent Kings Park in the Centre of Perth

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Kings Park is one of the world’s largest and most beautiful inner city parks. Kings Park was even better than I expected. The views are stunning and the vibe is awesome – you could easily spend days there.

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Kings Park is a beautiful oasis in the centre of the city, with cafes, playgrounds, nature walks, botanic gardens, treetop walks, bbqs, monuments, art galleries, statues, memorials and just a wonderful place to visit.

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On my first visit to Kings Park I was blown away by its beauty and size. I met up with friends for a day at the park, and a picnic lunch in a large rotunda which is situated in one of the best locations in the park. This rotunda comes with sensational views overlooking the city and the Swan River and the war memorial with its dedicated gardens.  From this location we spent the entire day coming and going while exploring many different parts of the park including the wonderful Aspects of Kings Park gallery shop. There were many guided walks, usually run by the parks volunteers. There were short and long walks through this exceptional park which is right next to the city

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Fashion using local wild flowers

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Kings Park is home to the spectacular Western Australian Botanic Garden, which displays over 3,000 species of the State’s unique flora. Two thirds of the 400 hectare park is protected as bush land and provides a haven for native biological diversity. The total area of Kings Park is 400.6 hectares and features both cultivated gardens and untamed bush land.

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One day at the park was not nearly enough for me, so I spent another day there on my own. I took the train in to the city and then took the free #935 bus on the short drive up to the park, from the city. Once again I was stunned by the sensational views over the city and Swan River and Elizabeth Quay, where we took the cruise boat to go to Fremantle.

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I stopped for coffee at the outdoors café before making my own way around the parks many hundreds of lovely gardens. I explored fantastic and varied gardens, a tree walkway, war memorial, play areas for children, cafes, restaurants, extensive bush trails and picnic places which come with free bbq’s.

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These Botanical Gardens, with so many spectacular W.A wild flowers and other flora are organised into so many different ecosystems. To see all these plants in their native areas would require travelling thousands of km- and they are all here in one place. In fact, we covered thousands of kilometers  when we travelled for a week up the Coral Coast of WA to view the thousands of wildflowers.

So, if you want to see the Western Australia wildflowers and your time is limited, they are all here in the one place.

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Kings Park and Botanical Gardens – Magnificent.

Beautiful Happs Winery, Margaret River. WA

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It was only about a 30 minute drive from Margaret River township to Happs winery. Happs is a boutique winery in Dunsborough, Western Australia. This small winery with so much character is divine.

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We visited Happs in mid September, and found this to be one of our favourite wineries of the region.  The range of wines produced from their vineyard is due to the variety of grapes they grow. These wines include Chardonnay, Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Nebbiolo

There is quite a range of things to do, see and enjoy at Happs Cellar Door.  Here you will also find an extensive pottery, gallery and gift shop where we purchased some wonderful handcrafted items. The Happs Pottery and Art Gallery showcases beautiful artwork from around the South West region from pottery, jewellery, wood products, art and sculpture.

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We spent a very enjoyable time in the wine tasting room with Trevor who took us through some lovely wine tastings, taking his time to describe and compare each wine. All the wines were fantastic.

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This charming tasting room has an adjoining provedore on one side and the pottery gallery on the other. In the provedore room you can “build-your-own” picnic or platter at the Happs Hampers counter. This counter is stocked full of local cheeses, olives, charcuterie, crackers, chocolate, dips and much more. You can enjoy your picnic on the lawn or at one of the café tables outside or you can take your goodies with you.

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We chose to enjoy coffees outside at the little tables and chairs that were located on the veranda around the perimeter of the gardens. As much as I enjoyed the winery, the gallery and the tastings, my favourite by far was the exquisite and extensive gardens which are definitely tended to often with much love and care.

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All the wineries in this region are very good, but I thought that Happs had the best selection for my taste, beautiful grounds and gardens.

Beautiful and Serene Boranup Karri Forest, WA

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On our third day in Margaret River, after visiting Prevelly Beach we went for a wonderful drive through the Boranup Forest.

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Boranup Forest is known for its stunning Karri trees. These towering trees, some over 60m high, ripple across the valley.  This forest is an easy 25 minute drive south of Margaret River town along Caves Road

We drove along the length of Boranup Rd to take in the grandeur of these magnificent trees. The road is gravel but well maintained and fine for 2 wheel drive cars and our mini bus.

The sight of these enormous trees was amazing and the forest was a feast for the senses. The forest floor was tumbling with wildflowers, orchids and funghi together with the sounds of native birds and the fresh smell of eucalypt. The sunlight filtering through the canopy made the whole area mystical.

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We walked through this magical place with the trees towering above us and the ground covered in beautiful vegetation.  I felt so calm and at peace walking through the forest. There were times where I was transported back to my child hood where I was raised and spent hours exploring and playing in the natural bush and rocks of my own “backyard”

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The Karri trees are just simply majestic. The forest is so peaceful and serene. We stopped in one of the designated spots and stepped into a world of birdsong and wind whispering through the leaves. The serenity was amazing.

This is the perfect place to fully enjoy Nature and feed your soul. Experience the beautiful, majestic karri trees surrounding you and all the other sights and sounds peacefully yet powerfully recharging your senses. I felt as though I was enveloped by Mother Nature’s infinite abundance and filled with an inner harmony that will remain with me for a long time.

We took the short walk to Boranup Lookout, where we looked over the sweeping views of the forest and the coast and the stunning turquoise waters of nearby Hamelin Bay.  It was another magic moment.

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This forest with its stunning far reaching views, towering regal trees, windflowers that colour the forest floor and limestone rocks that frame it all is a photographers dream.