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.

Birthday celebrations in the forest

Our friends, Kaye, Brian, and Ken, as well as Paul and I, have all recently had, or are shortly going to have our birthdays. Additionally, Beth is going to be celebrating a milestone birthday in September whilst we’ll be away.  What better way to celebrate birthdays that fall in autumn (and spring) than to share a picnic amidst the tall trees of our favourite Boranup Forest.We found a lovely private spot in the campground with a fire pit still warm from the previous occupants. It didn’t take Brian long to find some twigs and get the fire burning again. There’s a fabulous wood heap provided only a short walk away, so once the twigs were flaming away, a few logs were added. Although it wasn’t cold, the day was overcast so the fire added the perfect touch.

We all shared the catering bringing a share of the picnic fare – Hot beef rolls with coleslaw, a glass or two of wine, and coffee or tea with cupcakes for after.

After lunch the walk track beckoned. A quick stop at a local tavern for a drink on the way home topped off a perfect day. Good friends, Boranup Forest, a shared meal, a couple of drinks and birthdays to celebrate – what a pleasure!

Cape Leveque

The Dampier peninsula stretches approximately 220 kilometres north from Broome. At the northern most tip lies Cape Leveque, and the Kooljiman Resort/camp ground. At this stage you’ll need a four wheel drive with good clearance to get there, but there has been on-going rumours that the road is soon to be sealed. (Those rumours have abounded since we first went in 2010 – the road remains the same).

We had the good fortune to include a trip to Cape Leveque in 2010.  There’s various places to stay on the peninsula, but as the Kooljiman Resort is right at the tip, it offers easy access to both the rising sun from the east, and the setting sun from the west. It’s an ideal location to see just how good the sun can be at different times of day.

Looking out to the right from our beach shelter

For our stay we rented a three sided beach shelter on the eastern side. We had our camper trailer at the time, and parked that beside the shelter, whilst Dianne and Bob set up a small tent inside. There was a cool water shower in the corner of the shelter, and a picnic table outside overlooking the water. The loos, and hot water showers were a bit of a trek away, but we often just made do with the cool shower in our own shelter.

And to the left

From the time the sun came up in the morning, to when it set in the evening the days were filled with so much to see and do. Being on the eastern side of the peninsula we had the joy of seeing the sun rise over the ocean, something rare for those of us who live in the west of the country.

The sun beginning to light up the sky

Sometimes we’d wake to an empty ocean view, and sometimes we’d wake, green with envy, when some lucky person or two had anchored their yacht just offshore.

Yacht anchored overnight

There was always plenty to do throughout the day. The water was only a few steps from our shelter, and absolutely perfect for a dip. In case you’re wondering, crocodiles and stingers are prevalent around the Dampier peninsula, everywhere that is except at the Cape. Apparently the tides there keep them away, or so I’m told. So we swam in safety, the guys managed to throw a line in a few times, and we went for plenty of beach walks.

Cruise ship anchored offshore

When we were at the shelter there was always something happening on the water to look at. Sometimes it would be a fellow camper doing some kayak fishing, or sometimes it would be one of the small luxury cruise liners anchored up ferrying passengers in for some shore time.

And then when the sun started it’s decent it was time to head around to the western side of the peninsula. Cape Leveque is famous for it’s sunsets, but it’s not as you’d imagine. It’s not the sky that brings artists and photographers from near and far to capture the glorious spectacle as the sun drops towards the horizon. As the sun sinks towards the horizon the rays hit the orange cliffs lining the shore. They shine bright, almost as if they’re lit from inside.

Cliffs lit up by the setting sun

Yes – these colours are for real

Just another place that adds to the ‘colours of the Kimberley’, and no trip to this glorious region would be complete without a trip to the Cape.

There’s various forms of accommodation at Kooljaman ranging from camping options, either in the campground, or at one of the beach shelters. There’s also different levels of houses to rent. Check them all out long before you arrive though to make your selection, and book early. They book out early in the season.

Just another wonderful Kimberley destination to add to your bucket list…..

 

The Horizontal Falls

Continuing on from The Buccaneer Archipelago…….

Swimming off the pontoon wasn’t an option

After witnessing the most amazing scenery to get to Talbot Bay, we boarded the pontoon to await our pre-lunch scenic cruise. As I remember it, it was a warm and humid day. A swim would have been most welcome, but on second thoughts – nah!! At the time we visited in 2010 the staff on board the pontoon used to feed these sharks. I think that today you can swim with them, (I guess from within the safety of a shark cage). I think the swimming is done near the pontoon, so quite likely, these same fish.

No diving off the boat either

After a bit of relaxation we boarded a small motor boat for our scenic tour. A gentle cruise around some of the Islands and waterways provided a bit of background to the flora and fauna in the area.

A Rock wallaby peering out from behind some rocks

Boat seats, or should I say saddles

Then back to our base for a barramundi fish barbecue lunch before boarding our jet boat for the excursion to, and over the Horizontal Falls.There were some bench seats on the boat, but most people chose the safety of straddling a seat with a bar to hold onto. Once we entered the falls, I’m sure those of us riding bronco style appreciated the security of that hand hold. I’m pretty sure I, for one, would have been white knuckled as I hung on.

Looking back at the photos it all looks much more innocuous than it felt. In reality it was more exhilarating than any fair ground ride.

The jet boat was almost as long as the gap was wide that we were to go through. Fortunately, our skipper knew what he was doing. He lined us up, and then with all engines screaming and all of us hanging on for grim death, we shot full throttle upwards towards the horizontally, tumbling waters.

Entering the falls

about mid way

and then the final ascent

The falls receding behind us

Looking back the tranquility defies the reality of what we’d just experienced

We went back for another go, and a third, and maybe even a fourth. One things for sure, we couldn’t get enough of it.

Then back to the pontoon to board our seaplane for the return trip to Broome. Looking down on the falls on our departure it was hard to imagine the sheer force of the water. It looked so tame…

The falls again from the air on our departure

And that was our trip to the Horizontal Falls, now almost eight years ago. It was then, and remains so today the absolutely best travel experience we’ve ever had. Would we do it again? – I don’t know. I’m always a little weary of repeating something that’s provided an amazing memory. What if it isn’t as good as I remembered it, then the memory would be spoilt for ever more. So, much as I’d love to, and want to, I don’t know if I should.

We did the full day tour. The cost today for that tour is around $1000 (give or take a little bit). The half day tour (approximately 6 hours in total) is a little bit cheaper, and there’s an overnight option for a little bit more. For the overnight option, as I remember it, the pontoon has ensuite cabins on board. The overnighters usually get to experience going over the falls in both directions, using both the incoming, and outgoing tides.

Then there’s also a 4 night trip at the cost of around $4000. This option incorporates  some fishing and some pristine swimming holes away from the dangers of the crocs. I’m sure, there would be some spectacular scenery on offer cruising round the archipelago. If I was tempted into doing it again – I think this is the option I’d have to chose, just so as it incorporated a little more than before.But, as I’ve already seen both the archipelago from the air, and experienced the amazing Horizontal Falls, perhaps I’ll save the money for a completely new experience, a completely new pleasure!

If you haven’t already done the falls, the half day excursion is all you need to put something absolutely amazing into your own book of life. If you include anything extra, whilst enjoyable no doubt, in reality I’m sure it’ll only be providing background to the shining star – The Horizontal Falls.

This is an absolute Bucket List destination. For both Paul and I, it surpassed swimming with the whale sharks off Ningaloo Reef, and it surpassed our amazing glamping sojourn last year to the Mitchell Plateau and falls. Those two things, whilst both being absolutely stand out experiences, pale in comparison to The Horizontal Falls. Photos, nor relating the experience can come close to letting you live the experience vicariously. It’s something you have to do for yourself to appreciate it. So, if you haven’t already done this, and if it’s at all possible, please put this excursion high up on your bucket list, and make sure you tick it off. You won’t regret it.

 

 

The Buccaneer Archipelago

It’s almost eight years now since we visited Horizontal Falls. The falls are located near Talbot Bay in the Buccaneer Archipelago. To date, The Buccaneer Archipelago is a county mile in front of anything I’ve ever seen, and going over the Horizontal Falls in a jet boat is a country mile in front of any experiences I’ve ever had. More on the Horizontal Falls though in a later post – I suspect this one is going to be a lengthy chapter covering just the trip to get there.

In July 2010, whilst we were still working we took a rushed trip up to the Kimberley area, along with our good friends, Dianne and Bob. There were so many highlights on that trip, but the stand out highlight was Horizontal Falls, and that includes the trip to get there.

Firstly, from Broome,  we boarded a small (very small) plane to begin our journey. I think it was either a five, or six seater including the pilot. For this trip anyway it certainly held only us four, plus the pilot.

Smallest plane I’ve ever been on

First stop was Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm located toward the top of the Dampier Peninsula.  We were treated to a land-based tour which gave us an insight into the fascinating history of pearling, and how some of the pearls from the farm are chosen to be recognised as being amongst the most sought after and beautiful South Sea Pearls in the world. We were even allowed to try on one of their beautiful strands apparently valued at the time at around $20,000. (As I remember it, we were watched very closely).

Pearls fit for a queen, or at least a celebrity

After morning tea we boarded a small sea plane and headed out over the Buccaneer Archipelago.

1st ever seaplane ride

The take off on the bumpy, red-dirt runway was a bit hair-raising to say the least, but when we saw what was  awaiting us below, it was worth every bone shaking bump. The  most breathtakingly, beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen, with colours so vivid they didn’t look real. To this day it’s hard to believe what we were seeing hadn’t been photo-shopped way beyond reality. The 50 or so square kilometres of brightly coloured azure seas, with over 800 rocky islands, each fringed with mangroves and the vividest of moss green vegetation looked surreal to say the least.

The most amazing scenery

Surreal colours

So many Islands

Finally, the little gap in Talbot Bay came into view – Horizontal Falls.

1st view of the falls below

Down we went, landing on the calm blue waters before gently gliding in to the pontoon that was to be our base for lunch and an afternoon of exploring the islands – and of course, our Horizontal Falls adventure.

Landed, although that doesn’t seem like the right term for a sea plane on the water

To be cont…..