Margaret River wildflowers

A Land of Sweeping Plains and Flooding Rains (Part 6)

Sometimes one of the best things about a road trip is the journey, other times it is the destination. In this case it was both of these and more, for it also meant catching up with family and friends. Two weeks after leaving the east coast of Australia we finally reached our destination on the west coast, Perth, the current home town of our eldest son and his wife. Perth is a beautiful city and I love any excuse to visit this amazing city on the Swan River, but most of all, I love the chance to spend time with Jason and Elisa. We walked in the nature reserve near their home and discovered an abundance of magnificent wildflowers. We did the same in the Botanical gardens in Kings Park which are in the heart of the city and display a fabulous array of native flowers from all the regions of Western Australia. Being late September was the perfect time, it meant the wild flowers were in full bloom. 








The Swan River wine growing region is on their doorstep, so naturally we always spend a day exploring a winery or two, the Margaret River Chocolate Factory and a coffee and fudge factory that were irresistible!

All the touristy things aside, it was great to simply catch up and spend precious time at their home chatting, seeing the improvements to their garden and patting my two 'grand-doggies' Peppa and Phoenix.

To my delight I also had the opportunity to catch up and have lunch with two amazing friends. One is a girlfriend I became very close to when we were both expats in what seems like another lifetime.  Back in the 90's we lived in Thailand and our husbands worked together. Bringing up an Aussie family in a foreign country very different from ours, produces a bit of a culture shock and tends to bind you together forever. Whenever I visit Perth we try to get together if possible. The other lunch was even more amazing as it was with a friend I had not seen since my wedding day some 32 years ago! He had moved to Perth for work and we had lost touch, thanks to the wonders of the internet we were now back in contact and hubby and I were able to enjoy a great lunch catching up on all the years we had missed in his life. It was wonderful! 

Next on the agenda was a couple of days down south in Margaret River, wine growing capital of Western Australia. Friends from Sydney coincidentally had booked a great holiday house and invited us to join them. We have been to Margaret River a number of times over the years, but like Perth, I never tire of visiting this beautiful region. The wildflowers were still in full bloom and we were lucky to spot whales not once but twice! The beach beside the mouth of the river is a well known surfing destination for the west coast and is also popular as part of the world surfing competition. It was great to see the area had been upgraded since our last visit. The local council had obviously spent quite a reasonable amount providing paved walkways and seated areas. We sat there and watched a number of whales breaching out beyond the wave breaks. In the evening we were able to sip Margaret River wine, taste Margaret River cheese while laughing with great friends on the balcony of the house, watching more whales and the golden glow of the sunset over the ocean. It was perfect. We had a day exploring boutique wineries we had not discovered on earlier visits as well as cheese and chocolate factories we had not been to before. There was no need to do the limestone caves, I think we have covered most of them on previous visits. This was a short stay after all and not the time to do any caving'





On the way back up to Perth we paid a visit to another long time friend from Thailand days. Lunch at their place meant more wonderful memories, great laughs and a fabulous walk along the beachfront at Mandurah. Returning to Perth we had one final visit to make, dinner with friends hubby worked with in Darwin and a special stop by the Whipper Snapper Whisky Distillery to pick up a few special purchases as we have a small interest in the company. It was time for a taste of the product. I admit I am not usually a fan of whiskey but found myself pleasantly surprised by the flavour. I can appreciate that it is becoming a preferred alternative for the palette of many young businessmen.





We then had one last evening with our son before heading north for the final leg of our journey. As usual it was heartbreaking to say goodbye but I know he has to lead his own life. After all it is part of the natural cycle of life for the young to leave the nest and venture forward on their own journey. It is now our time to continue our next chapter in life also. Life is itself a journey we should embrace and enjoy each and every moment we share with loved ones.

When you travel, is it the journey or the destination you look most forward to?

Next week: Geraldton, Monkey Mia, Dolphins and more wildflowers.

A Land of Sweeping Plains and Flooding Rains (Part 5)

'Are we there yet?" Sound familiar?  It is a constant question we here as a parent whenever we attempt a road trip. Games, activities, books, songs, everything a resourceful parent can think of is usually needed to keep the kids occupied along the journey.

Yet oddly enough, it had been a week since departing home and I had not been tempted to say it even once!

To say the scenery so far had been nothing but spectacular is an understatement and the experiences so far had been surprising and outstanding. We had still so much more ahead of us.

It had taken seven days to travel through flooding rains, across sweeping plains and even the treeless Nullabor with its incredible rugged cliffs that drop into the Great Australian Bite, but we had finally reached Esperance in Western Australia and I had witnessed my first whale sighting. You can tell Esperance is known for whale watching, there is a fabulous sculpture in the park on the beach.

Next on our agenda was picturesque Cape Le Grand National Park. However, on the drive around from Esperance came another wonderful surprise, a must stop and see. In the middle of a farmers paddock we found a full size replica of Stonehenge. It stood complete as it once would have, some 3,000 or more years ago. We had so much fun walking between the stones, unlike the original in Salisbury, England that is roped off from tourists. This replica invites you to touch and feel the atmosphere. It is designed so that it too, can catch the summer and winter solstice. Naturally, I couldn't resist, I had to press my hands against the stones just in case I could travel back in time. (Outlander fans know what I mean.) Not that my husband would have been impressed if he lost me. Then it was time to run for shelter as the inevitable storm rolled in across the plains. We chatted inside the tourist centre to the very friendly owner while we waited for the rain to abate before continuing our journey to the cape.





Cape Le Grand National Park was everything we had heard it to be and more. Pristine pure white sandy beaches stretched around every corner and nestled in little sheltered bays. Rugged rocky outcrops of massive granite peaks rose in spectacular formation among the rolling heathlands that include an abundance of amazing wildflowers. Western Grey kangaroos are said to roam the beaches but we didn't see any while we were there. My guess is you would have to stay overnight in a camp site to see them at dusk or dawn the same as we see the kangaroos at home. There were many bushwalking trails to take advantage of to see the sights, unfortunately we did not stay long enough to take in any of the longer walks. So I have added that to my bucket list, I will return one day to do some of these beautiful walks.





That evening we were expected in the little country town of Mt Barker. Friends of hubby lived there and we were due for dinner. We enjoyed their company so much, one overnight stay turned into two nights. They drove us around town and the surrounding countryside, pointing out which farms were owned by which family members. We were convinced by the end that their families must have owned most of Mt Barker and the surrounding region. They took us up to visit a private little chapel on a hill overlooking the town, that had been there since the 1800's. The gardens looked really pretty with the canola fields in bloom as a backdrop before taking us to lunch in a quaint little winery. Until then, I had no idea this was a wine growing region of WA. I must admit, both the wine and lunch were rather yummy!

While there, we popped down to the coast to the town of Albany. I had hoped to see Albany on a previous visit to WA, we came close, but didn't quite reach it. Albany is an old whaling town, also famous as the place where our troops were sent off to Gallipoli at the beginning of WW1. On leaving here, this was the last time so many of our young men saw their home land. There is a huge museum in their memory here but we spent so long at the old whaling station museum we didn't have time to visit both. The tour of the whaling museum was fascinating. I am so glad the Australian government decided to stop the cruel slaughtering of such a magnificent and majestic mammal back in the 1970's. They are continually updating the exhibitions, adding more 3D and interactive sites. It is very informative with so much to see, do and explore, be prepared to spend a full day there. Also be prepared for the unexpected, we walked into the coffee shop only to hear my name called out and a lady rushed over to embrace me. I couldn't believe my eyes, we were on the other side of Australia and ran into someone we knew from home! How coincidental was that!

After our two and a half day visit with friends in Mt Barker it was time to start making our way up towards Perth where we would finally be able to spend some precious time with our eldest son and his wife. As we have previously visited the Margaret River region several times, (and planned to visit a bit later in this trip) we bypassed it after an overnight stop in Denmark, (the town not the country) and only stopped to take the occasional photo of wildflowers. Arriving in the south-west of WA in late September meant all the wildflowers that the region is famous for were all in bloom. The splendour of colour was everywhere.





It had now been almost two weeks on the road and I was so excited with the thought of seeing my son, yet I still refrained from asking the proverbial question, "are we there yet?" I was savouring every moment.

Have you experienced that "are we there yet?" feeling? If so, where were you heading? Did you enjoy your road trip? Please leave a comment in the comment box below.

Next week: Perth, family, friends, Margaret River and more friends.

Don't forget, if you have missed any of the journey so far, and you would like to catch up, it's easy, just click on any of the links below.