My Visit to the Ultimate Margaret River Region WA

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We set off from Perth driving south towards Margaret River where we spent 4 wonderful days staying at the Margaret River motel in the heart of Margaret River. On the way, our first stop was Busselton for lunch and where we spent time at the Busselton historic jetty including a ride on the train to the end of the jetty to visit the underwater observatory.

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Busselton

Margaret River and its premium wine region is the place for indulging many passions. Situated at the tip of southern Western Australia, the Margaret River Region offers some of the best South West sights, attractions and experiences in one convenient location. From Perth, it’s an easy 2.5-hour drive to the region, which stretches from Busselton down to Augusta. The density of this part of the South West allows you to hop from award-winning wineries and bespoke art galleries, to stunning beaches, tall-timber forests, flowing rivers, world-class surf breaks and ancient caves – all in a single day

When we arrived at our accommodation we were all thrilled as the location was perfect, the rooms huge and the restaurant very suitable for all our needs. Although the weather was cooler than up north with some light showers it really was perfect for tripping around and exploring.

From our base in Margaret River we journeyed daily to see some remarkable sights including the Canal Rocks and Flinders Bay, Augusta and Cape Leeuwin lighthouse which is the most south-westerly point of mainland Australia.

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Point Leeuwin Lighthouse

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Point Leeuwin

We visited several wineries including Happs Winery which is a family run winey and then Zanadu winery where we enjoyed tastings of some delectable wines.

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Happs Winery

We spent a few hours in the delightful Cowaramup Village or affectionately known as Cow Town, with its distinct village atmosphere and very unique Cow theme showcasing statues of cows around every bend. The shopping here for local artisan products was outstanding with many of us finding some fab stuff to take home

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Cowaramup Village

Lunch one day was at the Margaret River brewery which has a fabulous atmosphere, great good and wonderful local beer samples.

We visited and explored the magical Prevelly Beach with its walking trails along the sand dunes, and spent time exploring Boranup Forest where we explored many of the trails and took dozens of photos of the stunning wildflowers.

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Prevelly Beach

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Boranup Forest

On our trip back to Perth travelling on the Bussell Highway we stopped for lunch at the Bunbury Dolphin discovery Centre and enjoyed a great lunch at the café/restaurant in the centre before spending a couple of hours in the discovery centre which was outstanding.

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Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre

Then we were back on to our coach for the easy 3 hour trip back to Perth, arriving early evening with plenty of time to get ready to go out to dinner.

Beauty and History – Busselton Jetty

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Enroute from Perth to Margaret River we stopped at the famous Busselton Jetty.

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The city of Busselton is about 200 kilometres South of Perth on the southwest tip of Western Australia.  It is known for its sheltered beach where we visited the 19th-century Busselton Jetty. This wood pier stretches nearly 2km to the Underwater Observatory, where life in a coral reef is on view. This is the longest jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. It was built in 1864 and modified over the years and is constructed of wooden piles. The jetty has a rail line  with an electric train that took us out to the observatory.

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We settled in to the Stocker Preston Express for a very pleasant 15 minute ride along the jetty, including narration about the history of the jetty.  This electric jetty train which is powered by solar panels travels across the Indian Ocean to the Underwater Observatory, located at the end of the Jetty, where we were greeted by friendly volunteers. This Underwater Observatory is one of only 6 natural underwater aquariums in the world.

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There are six flights of ten stairs within the Observatory however there is a lift which allows access if the stairs are not for you. I was very happy to take the stairs as we stopped at every level to listen to our guide’s explanations and see through the large glass windows. We descended 8-metres below the ocean’s surface marveling at the natural wonders that lie beneath the Jetty where we viewed the awe-inspiring forest of vividly-coloured tropical and sub-tropical corals, sponges, fish and invertebrates.

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From the base of the observatory, the corals on the jetty pylons are gorgeous, and there are plenty of interesting fish to see – both small and large. I think one of the nicest aspects to this observatory is that the fish are ‘free’ – this is not an aquarium with captive fish. This is open sea and the fish are free to come and go as they please. I was fascinated watching a cute little seal frolicking and performing for us,  with a big smile on his face.

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This fantastic open sea observatory was a memorable experience. The guides/volunteers were knowledgeable and enthusiastic and so friendly.  I was so thrilled to see the abundance of sea life.

You can take the little train back however we opted to walk the jetty. It was a very easy walk with seats along the way and it only took about 15 minutes at a casual stroll.

 

Sightseeing Cruise – Perth to Fremantle for the Day

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We boarded the cruiser at Elizabeth Quay in the city of Perth for our leisurely cruise down the Swan River to Fremantle

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We glided along the river, admiring the waterfront scenery of Perth’s downtown skyline, upscale suburbs with their very large mansions and yacht clubs. We saw all sorts of water craft from the tiny to the very opulent, including folks taking sailing lessons at the sailing clubs along the way.

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This picturesque cruise came with some very lively and interesting commentary for most of the cruise.  The cruise, which took about an hour and 20 mins from Perth to Fremantle was really excellent with so many beautiful sights. There was inside and outside seating but I chose to stay outside for the entire trip. It was so fun and relaxing and the weather was perfect.

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After an hour and 20 mins we arrived at Fremantle

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Fremantle is a lively port city southwest of Perth in Western Australia, where the Swan River meets the Indian Ocean. On the edge of the Indian Ocean, Fremantle has great ocean and river beaches to enjoy.

This pedestrian-friendly city with unique winding streets offers you a glimpse of a colonial and Gold Rush past in balance with a modern and vibrant present

I stopped for coffee at a café near the cruise terminal before boarding one of the many local red CAT buses to take a tour around the city. As lunch time was approaching my stomach reminded me that it was time to meet up with my friends at Joes Fish Shack at South Beach. Gosh, what a fun lively area South Beach is. It certainly is worthy of a full day. Next time!

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This well known tourist attraction of Fremantle, Joe’s Fish Shack has been a part of the shore front for many years. The inside has lots of fishing and ocean related decor as well as the front and back of an old VW kombi van which looked fabulous. The restaurant is right on the water at Fremantle wharf area with scenic views of the water through the many large windows. Joe’s offers full service dining in comfortable and quirky surroundings. It was bubbling with happy people, great atmosphere and good simple food. This was such a fantastic fun experience.
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After lunch, from the restaurant I took the blue bus back to the train station which is in the centre of town and hopped in a train to travel back to Perth city. It was all so so easy. Public transport in Perth and Fremantle is outstanding.

Fremantle is a city rich with history and alive with modern culture.

I really  enjoyed Fremantle and hope to return again soon.

 

 

Delightful Denham, on the Coral Coast of Western Australia

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Just 10 hours drive, Denham is 837 kilometres northwest of Perth. Denham is part of the Shark Bay World Heritage area and lies on the western side of the Peron Peninsula.

We checked in to the Heritage Resort which is right in the centre of town. My front room with balcony overlooked the beautiful beach and Shark Bay

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Gorgeous and relaxing, with beautiful beaches and clear blue waters, Denham is a great gateway for exploring the beautiful and fascinating Shark Bay World Heritage Area.

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From Denham we visited some of Australia’s most amazing natural wonders, including WA’s famous  Monkey Mia dolphins, Hamelin Pool stromatolites, Eagle Bluff and Shell Beach.

Monkey Mia

Just a short 30 minutes drive from Denham lies Monkey Mia, best known for the bottlenose dolphins. This is where we experienced dolphins swimming close to shore and also enjoyed our cruise on the magnificent Artistocat catamaran.

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Hamlin Pool

Is home to the most diverse and abundant examples of stromatolites in the world. While they may look like ordinary rocks, stromatolites are considered ‘living fossils’.  They are in fact microbial reefs formed by cyanobacteria. We walked along the 200m boardwalk that provided us with  excellent views of the stromatolites.

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Shell Beach

Most beaches in the world are full of sand, but Shell Beach is made up of millions and millions of shells.  These shells come from the abundance of cockle in Shark Bay, making this very interesting beach unique and rare. The water around the beach is much saltier than usual and crystal clear.

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 Eagle Bluff

Just 15 mins from Denham, Eagle Bluff is a high cliff overlooking the ocean and surrounding area. The water here which was just so so clear houses the largest sea grass mass in the world which feeds the Dugong living in the area. These Dugong each eat about 70 kilos of sea grass per day. We took a leisurely walk along the boardwalk where the ocean views from this vantage point were breathtaking, and we saw turtles, rays and large fish in the shallow waters below.

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At the end of each fabulous day we met up on the Resort lounge balcony to enjoy a cold glass of champagne while we relished the extraordinary experience of a Western Australian sunset.

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Another simply stunning experience during my time in Western Australia

Australia Day, in NSW – 2020

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Once again I made my annual pilgrimage down to Iluka in the northern rivers area of NSW to celebrate Australia day with my family. Iluka is surrounded by Bundjalung National Park, World Heritage listed Rainforest, the mighty Clarence River and the South Pacific Ocean and is famous for fishing for both river and deep sea enthusiasts. It is abundant in rain forests, stunning wildlife, long secluded beaches with clean sand and crystal clear blue waters. The town is off the beaten track and I would describe it as an ‘untouched seaside resort’.

Only 2 months ago this part of the northern Rivers of NSW was engulfed in out of control bush fires. My family were evacuated from their home several times but thankfully, the dedication of the firies saved their house.

This is how amazing the Australian Bush is; This area was a raging inferno 6 weeks ago.

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Australia Day is our official National Day which is celebrated annually on January 26th. It marks the anniversary of the arrival of the first fleet of British ships into Port Jackson Sydney in 1788. In contemporary Australia, the holiday is marked by the presentation of the Australian of the Year awards. It is an official public holiday in all states and territories and celebrated with festivals, concerts and ceremonies, large and small, in communities and cities around the nation.

For us, it is time with family.

The beginning of our day commenced with our early morning walk where we were watched by some of the locals. I did notice that there were not as many as past years. They are always so curious and usually only hop away when we start to get very close to them.

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Then it was time to take the boat out on the Clarence River. We launched the boat at our usual spot, Brown’s Rocks. Once again, we were blessed with glorious weather. We motored on down the river to where the mouth meets the Pacific Ocean, between the towns of Iluka on the northern side and Yamba on the south.

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We slowly cruised around the Yamba side of the river where there were many fantastic looking boats.

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We eventually pulled in to Moriarty beach where we all dived in to the clear blue water. Moriarty Beach can also be accessed from the township of Iluka by foot or by car. Yachts, motor boats and house boats continued to arrive to the “secluded” beach while we were there and before long it was turning in to a very popular spot. And why not, it is beautiful.
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After a full and fabulous morning out on the water we cruised back up the river to home.

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It was not long before friends and neighbours were joining us for our very Aussie backyard bbq. An Aussie barbecue is a great Australian tradition and almost a must on Australia day. It was a very long afternoon of swims, prosecco, beers, laughs, great food including a lamb roast and finishing off with a wonderful Australian sweets platter.

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Our weekend celebrations also included visitinga local beach with our doggies who I must say had a fantastic time running in and out of the ocean. Many of the beaches in the area are dog friendly which is wonderful for us.

The beaches are clean, deserted and offer tranquility. When there are people, they are very few so it is most likely that you will have the beach to yourself on most days. Iluka is a popular tourist destination in holiday time however due to its small population the beaches are pretty much empty other times of the year.

Another perfect Australia Day weekend.

My Perfect Nature Cruise – Monkey Mia, WA

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From where we where staying in Denham we drove the short distance north for our visit to Monkey Mia.

Monkey Mia has been on my dream list for many years so I could barely contain my excitement as we drove up. Famous for its wild dolphin experience, Monkey Mia is surrounded by rusty red sand dunes, white sandy beaches and water teeming with wildlife.

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Dolphins close to shore

Our planned cruise on the Aristocat 18 metre luxury sailing Catamaran was for 9am departure so we had enough time to make a short explore around the beach and resort area before boarding this fantastic vessel at the end of the pier. Both the captain and the 1st mate were gorgeous young ladies. These very capable, interesting and friendly young ladies are excellent sailors.

As the shoreline melted away we were on high alert for dolphins, dugongs, turtles and other marine life.

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The girls, who are very knowledgeable were excellent and explained everything to us for the entire time. They did their best to find sea life for us; we saw Dugongs, dolphins, stingrays, turtles, and flying fish.

It was pretty hot out on the water so many of us ladies got to refresh in the boom net which was super welcome and super fun.

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Aristocat is the only boat licensed to interact with marine life in the Monkey Mia Exclusion Zone, and Restricted Dugong Access Zone. The vessel itself is spacious with plenty of indoor and outdoor spaces, 360o viewing and is exceptionally clean and well maintained. It was very comfortable and suitable for all ages from small children to elderly as there is plenty of comfortable seating and it is easy to walk around the boat with handrails to hold on to.

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After we finished our cruise, many of us swam and played in the pristine water. Dolphins were nearby as they come in to shore often for feeding. Pelicans were lazing around on the sand and later emus were seen walking on the beach. Today dolphins are only fed according to strict guidelines and under supervision of Parks and Wildlife Service officers to ensure the dolphins continue to hunt and behave naturally.

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Before our departure from Monkey Mia we had enough time to enjoy a coffee and lay back on the chaise lounges overlooking the exquisite view of the beach, ocean and boats and to reflect on this perfect morning.

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Monkey Mia was everything and more than I expected.

This place is paradise

Wilderness River Cruise – Kalbarri WA

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The Murchison River is the second longest river in Western Australia.  It flows for about 820 km from the southern edge of the Robinson Ranges to the Indian Ocean at Kalbarri.

Its path through sandstone cliffs makes for a stunning scenic view, excellent bush walking,  hiking, trekking, cruising and canoeing.

As Kalbarri is at the Murchison river mouth, the best was to see and experience it is by a cruise.

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We boarded our vessel at the Murchison River mouth.  Grant was our captain.

We followed the channel up the river with full commentary along the way, and best of all, there was no rush. This fun and entertaining cruise along the lower reaches of the Murchison River was spectacular.  The lower reaches are home to a number of species of birdlife including Ospreys, Kites, Pelicans, Egrets, Australian Shell Ducks, Black Swans and the local White Breasted Sea Eagles.  Along the way we spotted Emus, Kangaroos and Goats on the riverbanks. All were very curious and happy to stand and watch us cruise by. None of the animals were disturbed by our presence.

What a gorgeous and relaxing way to spend the morning in Kalbarri. Grant is an outstanding tour guide and he brought the cruise to life with his knowledgeable and amusing commentary. We learnt so much about the local environment and history of the area, all the while sitting back and relaxing on the very comfortable boat with beautiful views in every direction

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Grant landed the boat down the river where we could get off to explore the shore. Several of us hiked up to the top of one of the large sand dunes where we were able to enjoy amazing scenery up and down the river. 20191201_144403_resized

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About 3 hours from commencement, the cruise came to an end at the mouth of the Murchison River, which is one of WA’s most treacherous. It was impressive watching the water move through the channel and other boats come and go. We always felt safe with Grant at the helm – he knows this river and his boat so well.

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I did not want this trip to end as I loved being on this river with its endless magnificent scenery.

Wishing you a Peaceful and Happy 2020

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New years is the time for reflection for me, where I look back over the year that was and then think about the new year ahead.
My year started quietly in beautiful Coffs Harbour. It is always a good place for me to start my year in a wonderful part of Australia surrounded by family and friends
During the year I was fortunate enough to visit Coffs several times.

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Diggers Beach, Coffs Harbour

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In March, my good friend, Mary and I enjoyed a wonderful week at Kings Beach, on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland where we indulged in swims every day and many walks along the waters edge of the beach.

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Kings Beach

 

July saw me in Canada for a 5W gathering with members from around the world. My trip included a week in the Rockies, a week on Vancouver Island and 2 weeks in Vancouver.

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Driving through the Rockies, Canada

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West Coast Vancouver Island

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Horseshoe Bay, Vancouver

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Vancouver Harbour

After our gathering finished in Vancouver, 4 of us Aussies, took a week cruise up the inside passage to Seward, Alaska.

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Sailing from |Vancouver

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Hubbard Glacier

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Ketchican Town

 

September, I joined 25 women from around the world in Peth, Western Australia for another 5W gathering. Our 3 weeks in WA, included a week travelling up the Coral Coast on the Wildflower Trail, a week in Perth and a week in the fabulous wine and food region of Margaret River.

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Wildflowers Tour, Western Australia

And now I end 2019 in beautiful Coffs Harbour.

As I reflect I feel so grateful to have such a blessed life.
I wish you all a wonderful, exciting and safe 2020

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Christmas in Australia 2019

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Australia is the Land Down Under, where the seasons are opposite to the northern hemisphere.  It is mostly always hot here in Australia on Christmas day, so the heat of early summer has an impact on the way we celebrate Christmas

With the absence of cold weather and snow, many Australians spend Christmas out of doors, going to the beach for the day, or heading to camping grounds for a longer break over the Christmas holiday period.

My family’s traditional Christmas day always starts with exchanging gifts after breakfast and then we head to the beach for a short visit. In days past, we spent many hours in the surf at the beach before returning home for our late Christmas lunch.

We often have friends join us for Christmas lunch which is always a very casual, easy going and relaxing affair and also includes a rest in the late afternoon for most of us.

Due to the heat, many of us no longer serve a traditional hot roast dinner.  In our house, cold turkey and cold chicken and ham, seafood and salads are served instead. This is followed by the traditional Christmas plum pudding with brandy custard, ice cream or cream and also fresh seasonal fruits.  Pavlova, a meringue base topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit, has also become a popular Christmas dessert. We all have a laugh with the pulling of bon bons which hold silly little paper hats and useless trinkets.

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Bon Bons

Whatever your plans are for the festive season, enjoy. Thank you for reading my stories and thank you for following me.

Happy Christmas, Lyn

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