Sid’s campground

A lot of thought went into planning the inaugural trip in our new caravan. Our requirements were firstly fine weather. Then somewhere that welcomed dogs, somewhere that had fire pits, and somewhere with space so as we wouldn’t be camped on top of someone else. Using Wiki Camps, Paul thought Sid’s campground, near Northcliffe looked like it would fit the bill perfectly,  and the week-end looked like it was going to be clear of wind and rain. We hitched up and headed off.

Paul had done his research well. The place was perfect.

A lovely bush setting with plenty of space

At $5 per person a night, this place is fantastic. Or for $10 extra per site there was even power. We chose to have power for our first trip so as we could try everything out. We were directly opposite the fire pit and camp kitchen, and our site faced the north sun – perfect!

A big fire was lit every night for campers to sit around and swap stories. Unfortunately Paul forgot to take his camera when the fire was burning bright

Sid has put a lot of work into welcoming campers to his 100+ acres of natural bush. There’s several little rustic camp kitchens throughout the camping area, each equiped with the basics for cooking and washing up,  including wood heaters with plenty of wood for burning. Also dotted around are several toilets, or toilet/shower rooms, including a loo with a low window providing a great view of the forest. The water’s hot, the loo paper plentiful, and there’s even liquid soap at all the basins. It’s better equiped than most caravan parks where we would be paying the better part of $40 for a night.

There’s a lot of thought and work gone into creating walk tracks around the property for campers to enjoy.

Perfect tracks for dogs to walk

“come on you two”, he waits patiently for us to catch up

Lots for dogs (and people) to look at

Flowers planted around the camping area

with interesting pots for the colourful plants

Tall trees to walk under

One of several dams to walk around

Such a peaceful setting – note the table and seat in the distance, one of several dotted around for campers to find a quiet place and enjoy the peaceful sounds of the bush

Our first two night trip to christen the new van couldn’t have been in a better place. There’s clearly lots of wild flowers and orchids just waiting for spring to bloom and we’ll certainly be back to see them. Sid’s campground – what a pleasure!

 

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Goanna Cafe and Gallery

On the last Wednesday of the month my walking group celebrate any birthdays from the month over lunch. The choice of venue is made by the birthday girls. It was my choice in May, so I chose the Goanna Cafe and Gallery, a regular choice with the ladies, and one that never fails to please.

Two tables this month

The second table sharing a joke

Located in Quindalup, towards the northern end of the Margaret River wine region the licensed Goanna Cafe is best described as quirky, unpretentious and relaxed. Their menu showcases the best and freshest of locally sourced ingredients in a choice of simple, understated dishes that taste superb.

House Lasagna of pumpkin, cauliflower, parmesan with sage and walnut beurre noisette, charred broccolini and mixed leaves

Sunja’s Korean Bibimbap, mixed rice with Asian vegetables, marinated beef mince, fried egg, kimchi with soy sauce & Korean hot sauce on the side

I choose the Korean Bibimbap – it was delicious. There were of course lots of other choices on the menu but I’ve only mentioned the ones I took photos of. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their meals, and followed with coffees and sweets chosen from the cake cabinet.

Mmmm – what to choose. I chose the home made rocky road, it hit the spot perfectly

A small gallery on the premises carries an evolving range of local artwork, jewellery, scarves, homewares, and produce, with a focus on handcrafted and quality pieces. The cafe predominantly gives space to emerging artists allowing them an opportunity to develop their work in a supportive environment.

I love scarves, but resisted on this visit

More items in the gift shop

The cafe is very popular on weekends, so it’s wise to book. There’s a normal playground for the ankle biters, as well as an adventure playground. Dogs are welcome too in the outside eating area with plenty of undercover tables to choose from.

Adventure playground to keep the young ones entertained

It’s situated in a lovely bush setting, which has been taken advantage of by the addition of a Sculpture Walk.

One of several sculptures

It’s not the first time the Walkers who Lunch have dined here.  As always there were no complaints, so it certainly won’t be the last.  Goanna Cafe, as usual, was a real pleasure.

Vasse Felix

What a busy time we’ve been having lately. Sunday 27th May, my birthday, commenced a busy week of wining and dining, and wow – did we commence it in style.

Paul took me to Vasse Felix winery and restaurant for lunch.

We arrived just on time so didn’t have time to take advantage of the wine tasting. Walking upstairs to the restaurant the first thing you see in the huge, and tastefully rustic dining room, is the suspended fire – I want one!

A warm welcome

We were shown to our table, and our waitress for the day introduced herself, and explained the menu. It’s a small menu, exactly how I like a menu to be. When it’s small there’s a much better chance of everything being fresh. The menu changes daily according to seasonal produce. With things listed like, Straciatella, Betel leaves, Bigoli, and Duck Yolk it definitely needed some explanation. I hadn’t heard of most of them, and even if I had, I’d never tried them.

Explanations given, we made our choices. Firstly a glass of bubbles for me, and a half glass of Cab Sav for Paul to have with our starters of sourdough with whipped burnt butter to share, marinated olives for Paul, and Marron, orange, chilli, and rice in a betel leaf for me.

The marron came as a shelled tail with the other ingredients in a betel leaf, served on a small hot rock. I was told that I was to roll the leaf around the marron tail and eat in from my fingers, much like a small taco.

The verdict on the starters: The marron – very different, and yummy. The bread delicious, the burnt butter – so good I’ve tried to replicate at home (the waitress told me how), the olives – ok.

Next came our shared entree of Duck parfait, stout and  chicken skin, served with Lees crisp-breads. The Duck parfait was a sort of whipped pate, very light, and I gather the stout was an ingredient in the parfait. I believe the crispy crumb sprinkled over the dish was the chicken skin. The Lees crisp-breads are made from the left over yeast sediment from the bottom of the chardonnay barrels.

The verdict on the shared entree: Wow, Wow, Wow!!! I have never, ever tasted food so good before. I moaned in ecstasy trying to savour every bite, but at the same time trying not to cram it in quickly so as to get more than my share. I hope I didn’t sound like Sally in that famous scene in, When Harry meets Sally.

Next our mains. Paul chose a fillet steak with Davidson plum, beetroot and hay (not sure what the hay was,  it wasn’t hay that a horse would eat). I chose the Pork, eel, eggplant and miso. We had a side of broccolini, romesco, lardo and almond with it. I had a half glass of the cab sav with mine. I’m happy with only a few sips of any wine, so Paul had to finish it for me (no hardship for sure).

The verdict on the mains: Paul declared his delicious. Mine was tasty but nothing memorable (perhaps that was because I was still in seventh taste heaven after having the parfait).

Then onto deserts: I chose the Mandarin, honeycomb, milk. Paul opted for Cropwell Bishop Shropshire cheese served with blackcurrant gel and lavish crisp breads (plus an additional portion of the Lees crisp-breads that we had with our parfait)

The verdict on the deserts: Paul thoroughly enjoyed his cheese and said the blackcurrant went perfectly with it. The Mandarin desert, which was a sort of a mandarin mouse with a mandarin sponge topping – well if I hadn’t just had the best food I’d ever eaten by way of the Duck parfait, I may well have been declaring the Mandarin desert the best food ever. It was light, and creamy, and absolutely delectable.

We spent nearly three hours over lunch. That length of time for two people can sometimes indicate the service was slow and the courses dragged out. Not so – everything including the timely service of the drinks and each course was absolutely perfect. Needless to say, Vasse Felix has jumped to the top of our list for special dining in the south west. It’s in front of anything else we’ve tried by a county mile.

And now before I close off this post, I’ll give you a bit of photographic tour around the public part of the winery.

Vines in all their autumn glory

Underground cellar in the distance, a bit like a hobbit home built into the hillside

A granite sculpture outside the cellar

A good selection of wines in the cellar (so I’m told – I wouldn’t know a good wine from a bad wine)

The wine that first saw Vasse Felix hit the world market in 1972

There’s lots of big sculptures, here’s another one

And there you have a bit of a summary of Vasse Felix winery, located on the corner of Caves Road and Tom Cullity Drive, Margaret River. A dining pleasure!

 

 

Storm batters south-west WA

We awoke this morning to the sound of battering winds and torrential rain. Winds of close to 110 kilometres an hour battered our coast. The rain was the heaviest I’ve ever seen. At one stage it was so heavy that I could have sworn we had ocean waves crashing over the house. To say it was ‘sheeting down’ was an understatement.

By mid-day the worst of the front had passed over and we were able to take Mr Tilly for his walk. Usually we incorporate a beach stretch for him to have a good romp off his lead. However, when we arrived at where our beach usually is, it was nowhere in sight. The tide was high and we had big waves surging as high as the beach shrubbery.

Our boat launching ramp under water with seaweed dumped well above usual water line

The small jetty beside the boat launching ramp

Several residents were out inspecting the beach damage, with some even braving the elements on zimmer frames and motorised gophers. It was clear what we were seeing was mild compared to the fury of the storm and tides during the morning hours. The walking track that runs parallel to the shoreline showed evidence of the waves having washed over the path. The path was littered with sand and seaweed. Benches had been ripped off their stumps and dumped high up in the beach shrubbery, or overturned in the water.

A concrete bench seat washed into the ocean

The fury of the ocean has washed out tonnes of sand, carving away at our shoreline.  The normally calm waters were frothing and awash with thick seaweed long after the worst of the weather had passed over. I have no doubt that once the water settles from it’s fury, it’s going to be leaving most of that seaweed where our sand should be.

The water awash with sand and seaweed

Residents were chatty as they inspected the damage sharing stories of previous storms. One resident said they hadn’t seen the ocean so high and wild since when Cyclone Alby hit in 1978. Others said it’s just winter as usual.

Usual or not, it’s going to take a while for our beautiful beaches to return to their normal pristine condition. Will Mr Tilly care – not one bit, just as long as he gets to romp along the shoreline.  As far as he’s concerned, the more seaweed on the beach, and the smellier it gets, the more fun he has. A messy beach, while not my cup of tea, is a joy to our Tills. He’ll be prancing around and charging after seagulls just as soon as there’s any visible sand to romp on. To him it’ll enhance his beach experience, he’ll be jumping for joy amongst the seaweed, and thinking to himself – what a pleasure!

 

The new caravan has arrived

Last Thursday we headed up to Perth to pick up the new caravan.

We chose all white for our interior cupboards (I think the salesman thought we were a bit boring). We like the way white makes everything look clean and bright, and we’ll fit mirrors to the wardrobe doors and cupboards above the bed so as to make it reflect light even more, and make it look bigger. Our last van was all white, and we never tired of it.

Queen Island bed

We chose soft grey for our bench and vanity tops, and a slightly darker grey for the upholstery.

Small kitchen, with grill, 4 gas elements, a big sink and OK sized fridge

The kitchen is definitely small, but I think we’ll manage.

Seating for two with flip up foot rests (strong enough for Mr Tilly to sit on), and fold out table

The van is 9 feet smaller than the Travelhome, so we’re surprised at how much storage space it has inside. So far it looks to have storage space to spare, but of course we still have a lot more things to add yet – namely clothes and food.

Bathroom with wall mounted washing machine

Reasonable sized shower

We’re still a week or two off having our first try out run in it. Hopefully next week-end will be dry and we’ll be able to head to a camp ground, somewhere that’s dog friendly, and has nice big fire pit.

We have to clock up 1000 kms and then take it back for it’s first service. After that we did have plans for a big winter trip taking us through three states. However we have a few things happening at the moment including Paul possibly needing some major dental work, so I think that trip’s going to be postponed.

Instead it looks like we may be doing a few camp trips closer to home, enjoying some winter camping for a change. Irish coffee around a roaring camp fire after a day of bushwalking with Mr Tilly – well I think that’s going to be more pleasure than hardship.

So, that’s a bit of a look at our new van which we’ll be towing with the Prado. It’s quite a bit different than our 25 foot fifth wheeler with the Hi-lux, but I think it’ll do. Watch this space to see how we go with our winter camping.

Mr Tilly’s first birthday party

Mr Tilly will turn one on the 13th July. Some of you may remember we were supposed to get a puppy from a later litter. However, Mr Tilly was one of a litter of seven – all boys. Some people anxiously awaiting a puppy from his litter preferred to wait a little longer for a girl puppy in the next litter.

We treated our arrival much the same as we would have treated any new baby – that is, ya get what ya get! So when we were offered a boy from the earlier litter we accepted with joyful delight.

We didn’t go to the selection day, when all the new owners turned up to select their puppy. We were going to be happy with whichever of the seven little boy puppies came our way. The little chocolate coloured runt of the litter came to us, and we couldn’t have been happier.

Our little baby boy

Nine months later and we’re still besotted. Our little boy is the most gorgeous, the most intelligent, and the cutest little boy puppy that’s ever walked this earth. (And wo- be-tide anyone who chooses to dispute it).

Isn’t he just the best looking dog….

I’ve always wondered if the seven brothers would know each other if by chance they met up. It seems I’m going to get to find out. Today an invitation arrived via email for Mr Tilly to attend a birthday party on 14th of July in Perth being hosted by Bailey’s mum and dad (one of his litter siblings). The invitation has been issued to all six siblings.

It doesn’t say it’s a bow tie event, but perhaps we’d better get him one, just in case

We’re accepting the invitation of course. I do hope all seven boys are there. I can’t wait…. what a way for him to celebrate his first birthday. Of course there will be photos – so watch this space.

Hyde Park, Perth

Most times when we have cause to visit Perth we’re too busy attending to business, or catching up with friends and family to play tourist. However for mother’s day this year (in Australia – 2nd Sunday in May), we stayed a couple of nights at Alice’s (daughter), who lives in the northern suburbs of Perth.

We left Busselton early on the Saturday morning in time to capture the sun rising over the Busselton jetty.

Sunrising over Busselton Jetty as we left for Perth in the early morning

Arriving at Alice’s just after 10am, we had time for a quick cuppa before heading out for a picnic to an inner city park. Every city in Australia seems to have it’s own Hyde Park, and Perth is no exception. Located between North Perth and Highgate, a couple of the older inner-city suburbs, Perth’s Hyde Park provides a shady, peaceful retreat in warmer weather for people living or working near by.

Moreton Bay Figs provide plenty of shade

It’s an old fashioned style of city park with green lawns, flower gardens and lots of non-native trees including Jacarandas, Illawarra Flame Trees, willows, oaks, Plane trees, and huge wide-spreading, old Moreton Bay Fig Trees.

The great thing about the trees in Hyde park are the colours during the changing seasons. The plane trees turn orange and gold in autumn (autumn colour is rare in Perth).

Plane Trees in Autumn

The flame trees bloom with bright red flowers in spring and early summer.

Flame trees in Spring

Then the Jacarandas burst forth around November with their canapy of hazy purple.

Jacarandas in November

In the middle of summer everything is green, providing full, deep shade for the joggers, walkers or picnickers who frequently visit this  iconic park in Perth. However, in the dismal winter months the dense shade of the Moreton Bay Figs can make the  areas around those trees just a little on the gloomy shade for my liking.

As far as parks go around Perth, Hyde park is largely different to most in that most of the species growing there aren’t native to Australia. Whilst I prefer the native species, it was still be a welcome change to visit Hyde Park. When the sun is shining those Moreton Bay Figs are a real pleasure.

A shady canopy for ivy to flourish underneath

Perth’s own Hyde Park – providing a small sampling of European horticulture in Perths inner city area.