Castle Rock/Castle Bay

Not to be confused with Castle Rock in the Porongurups, there’s also a Castle Rock just north of Dunsborough in the Meelup Regional Park.

Castle Rock framing the bay to the East

With it’s turquoise waters, white sand and several picnic tables and barbecues overlooking the beach, it makes an ideal place to enjoy a bite of lunch.

A lovely spot to sit and eat lunch

The locals stopped by for a chat and to see if we had anything on offer for them

There’s walk tracks near by, including a short 1.2 km track that will take you to one of the most popular beaches in the South West, Meelup Beach. With plenty of photo opportunities on offer as you walk it could take you a while.

An inviting track leading towards Meelup Beach

An interesting rock along the path

If you’re feeling particularly energetic and agile, I believe you can also climb Castle Rock, although I’ve never attempted it myself. One day I might give it a go, I’m sure the views from the top would be amazing.

If the weather’s warm the bay provides a lovely spot for a swim and a cool off, and I’m certain there’d be lots to see if you fancied a bit of snorkelling too. There’s plenty here to keep you occupied for a few hours, so a place worthy of putting on your list should you be visiting the South West of WA. I’m lucky enough to live near by, so this place is somewhere that even the locals like me take the opportunity to visit several times a season.  What a pleasure!


Sugarloaf Rock

Sugarloaf Rock is one of the south west region’s most spectacular coastal land formations. It’s not hard to see why it’s one the hallmark images of renowned Australian Landscape photographer, Christian Fletcher, or why it’s graced the cover of Australian Geographic magazine. If it’s not at the top of the list of any landscape, or would be landscape photographers who visit the area, it should be.

I’m told the sea-sculptured rock is spectacular to see when the weather is stormy with the seas crashing all around. I’m also told that one of the greatest sights is to see the sun sinking over the horizon, changing the colour of the rock continuously as it sets into the Indian Ocean. Or you can see it as we did this week, on a calm, sunny day, surrounded by crystal clear waters. (Reminder to myself – visit again in stormy weather).

Situated within the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, the gigantic towering granite rock emerges from the ocean, very close to shore, but completely surrounded by water. The best place to view it is from the purpose built viewing platform. Although it would be easy to wade or swim over to the rock and attempt to clamber onto it – Please don’t. The rock is a haven for nesting sea birds, including the red-tailed tropic bird from September to February.

To get to the Rock by car, leaving from Dunsborough drive along Cape Naturaliste Road for approximately 10km. Then turn left onto Sugarloaf Road. The narrow, winding road ends after three kilometres at the car parking area for the rock.

Or you could walk. Three kilometres to the north is Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse where the 140 kilometre Cape to Cape walk track commences. The first few kilometres of the track offers great views of Sugarloaf Rock, and is wheelchair and pram accessible. There’s  stunning surf and beautiful bays to look down on to one side of you, and native Australian coastal bush full of birds and wildlife on the other. I’m told there’s benches conveniently place along the way to allow walkers to sit for a while to drink in the stunning vista’s or to just listen to the peace  – Only a few more weeks and my ankle should be sufficiently healed to allow me to see for myself……. Still small steps though at the moment, in fact only about twenty of them to take me from the car park to the viewing platform.

What a pleasure it is to be getting out and about again.


Dog friendly Bunker Bay Cafe

The moon boots off, and I’m starting to get out and about again. Still a way from walking marathons, or even kilometres for that matter, but walking from a car park to a cafe is definitely welcome and do-able now.

Last week we packed what we needed for a few hours out and about with Mr Tilly. When heading out with Tills, the days of donning a hat and tucking a credit card in our back pocket are long gone. Now it’s check first if a place is dog friendly. Once that’s sorted, then make sure the dog blanket is secured in the back of the car, fill our pockets with dog treats, top up the doggie water bottle, check we have enough poo bags (sometimes up to three may be needed), and of course, our own hats, and a credit card.

This time we chose Bunker Bay Cafe. The cafe is situated overlooking the stunningly beautiful Bunker Bay, and is in-between several national parks. Dogs aren’t allowed in the neighbouring national parks, most of which are absolutely gorgeous. We’ll save those for days when we leave Tills at home on ‘guard duty’. The Bunker Bay area where dogs are allowed, whilst not of any great distance, is never-the-less a welcome little stretch of beach adjoining the forest. For anyone visiting the area with their four legged friend, this place is definitely worth putting on your list.

The fully licensed cafe is approximately 35 mins from Busselton, 10 minutes from Dunsborough or about 50 minutes from Margaret River.

The dog, off lead exercise area

A shady spot on the deck

Open to the public for breakfast from 8.30am, through lunch until mid afternoon, the cafe has rightfully earned itself a good reputation of serving pretty good food. They also have a good reputation as a function centre in the evenings, and there would be more than one or two couples who have tied the knot overlooking the stunning bay.

We were there on this occasion to enjoy a late morning coffee, and one of their famous muffins. Thursday’s home baked muffins were blueberry and dark chocolate – oh dear, we usually share, but these sounded too good for sharing. We indulged in one each with a cup of flat white coffee (for my overseas readers – a flat white coffee in Australia is a cappuccino without any chocolate or cinnamon sprinkles). The muffins were as good as they sounded, I’m pleased I didn’t have to share. The coffee was perfect too. And that view…….

Calm today, but when the surfs up watching the surfers from the cafe provides great entertainment

I’m still not able to walk on shifting beach sands, but after our coffee Paul and Tills enjoyed their wander along a different beach.

New rocks to clamber over

And new seaweed to eat

Then home again. What a pleasure it is to be getting out and about again.


The Busselton Jetty and it’s underwater observatory

So much to see

There’s so much to see and do in the Busselton/Margaret River, and it’s easy to get complacent about what’s on our own doorstep. Every now and again we set out on the tourist route, to get a fresh and renewed appreciation of this wonderful area that we have the good fortune to call, ‘home’.

Recently, we visited Busselton’s iconic jetty, took the train ride to the end of the almost 2 km long structure, and went down into the beautiful underwater observatory.

It’s a long walk out – we took the train

First  though a bit of background on the jetty:

In 1865 a 150metre long jetty was built to cater for cargo vessels importing and exporting timber and other produce to and from the Busselton area. The wooden jetty was continually extended until by 1960 it had reached 1841 metres, making it the longest timber jetty in the southern hemisphere.

However, by 1971 the jetty had ceased operation and quickly deteriorated, receiving little in the way of maintenance. Then in 1978 Cyclone Alby struck, taking out much of the first 700 metres of the old jetty. The government of the day decided to demolish the remainder.

They hadn’t counted on the spirit and tenacity of the people of Busselton. Groups were formed who successfully lobbied to obtain funding for the the restoration and upkeep of the structure. I’m so pleased they did.

Amazing life and colours on the piles

The encrusted piles of the jetty are predominately jarrah logs, 16 metres in length, sharpened at one end and driven 4 – 5 metres into the limestone seabed. The cross beans give the piles support and strength to support the decking above. The 12 metre wide decking provides the shade required for the unique marine life on the jetty piles beneath.

An underwater observatory was constructed for the jetty on land at Henderson Shipping yards, and then towed by tug boat to Busselton. Upon arrival, the 550 ton observatory was secured to the sea floor using 18metre long bolts, and opened officially to the public in December 2003.

The jetty is, without any doubt, the most iconic structure in Busselton. Extending out into Geographe Bay almost 2 kms, it remains the longest wooden pylon jetty in the southern hemisphere.

If you’ve never seen the delights that gather around jetty pylons, especially in the clear waters of Geographe Bay, you really must put a trip out to the underwater observatory on Busselton Jetty on your, ‘must see and do’ list.

What lies beneath is a stunningly beautiful underwater garden.

Soft white Telesto coral

Orange sponges, pretty pinks and blues – an underwater rainbow

You can walk the length of the jetty for a small fee, or there’s a train that can take you either one way or the return trip. I’d recommend visiting the observatory while you’re there.  There is a small cost involved to use the jetty, with a slightly bigger cost to take advantage of the train. The fees charged for using the jetty, and the admission fees to the observatory all contribute to the ongoing maintenance and restoration of the Jetty.

What a pleasure it is to live in Busselton!

Footnote: I’ve noticed posters popping up around town that indicate you can now ‘walk under the jetty’. I haven’t as yet checked out the details, but if you’re coming to the area you may want to check this option out.


Busselton Skate Park – not for the faint-hearted

A couple of years ago I saw my first ever proper ‘skate park’ at Bondi Beach. Paul and I stood and watched, mesmerised – and terrified.

These parks are not for the faint-hearted, and definitely are not for me. But to watch kids, the teenagers, and even kids as young as four or five tackling the biggest of the big dippers, – gobsmacking!

Just north of Busselton’s iconic jetty, and overlooking beautiful Geographe Bay, and the jetty, Busselton boasts it’s very own skate park. And just as awesome as Sydney’s Bondi Beach Skate Park I might add. Quite a claim to fame for this quiet little back water place with it’s well above average population percentage of retirees.



One of the most photographed buildings in the area – the start of Busselton Jetty

With guests not far off arriving for the Christmas period, including two youngsters of around the early teen years, I thought a sneak preview of something other than beautiful beaches in the area may be in order. So, Emma and Luka – perhaps you may consider packing your skate boards, maybe even put one in for ya dad. I think ya granddad though will probably chose to just watch and be ready to pick up the pieces should there be any mishaps.


For the beginners…


And the intermediate levels..


Two teenagers checking it out



In my wildest dreams I couldn’t imagine I ever, at any stage of my life time, could have tackled even the beginners area here. The one for the more experienced – well, me coming down that slope could only figure in the wildest of my nightmares. Even though of me whizzing down there almost brings me out in a cold sweat. But the kids do it with little fear. Surreal !!!


Mr Tilly’s first big day out

Yippee, Tilly’s now fully vaccinated, and we can take him further afield without fear of him contacting the deadly Parvo Virus.

He started puppy training last week, and the comment was that we have a very intelligent dog on our hands. The comment came with a bit of an implied warning – beware, if you’re not firm he’ll run rings around you both! And don’t we just know it….. But so far we’re very happy with his progress, and his training.

We’re aware he needs lots of stimulation, so with spare time on a fine day last week it seemed the perfect opportunity to take him out and about. We started by attaching his lead, which usually means a walk to our beach – and didn’t he just let us know we weren’t living up to his expectations when instead of heading in the direction of the beach, we attached him to his tether on the back seat of the car. We ignored his complaints, and within a minute or two he had settled back to enjoy the ride.

First stop, Gracetown. Gracetown’s a gorgeous little surfing town near to Margaret River. The township’s small, with virtually no commercial facilities, but with some very expensive real estate. The surrounding location is gorgeous.

The 135 km Cape to Cape walking track has a section that follows the shore-line on the edge of the town. Most of the Cape to Cape walk meanders through National Parks, but the section on the edge of Gracetown is Dog Friendly.
We had only followed the track a short distance when we came across steps (lots of steps) leading down to an interesting rock beach. Tilly wasn’t sure at first how to tackle the steps, but one flight down and he had found his rhythm and would have made short work of the remainder had he not been on his lead. As it’s the first of the warm weather we have to be very snake aware as they start moving about, finding warm spots to sun bake in. So, even if he had fully learned ‘recall’ yet, he still wouldn’t be walking freely at this time of the year in bush areas.

Returning to the car, the next stop was directly above the surfers. The surf was good, but not fearsome by their standards. Believe me, it can get fearsome in that area. You’ll notice in some of the photos the surfers wear helmets for protection. The rides they get are good and long – but if dumped, the power of the water above, and the reef beneath can have dire consequences.

Note the crash helmet

The power of the waves as they crash into a rock

One more beach stop at Prevelly Point, Margaret River’s world famous competition surfing spot. There’s been a lot of work done on the foreshore since I was last there. What an awesome spot to sit and watch awesome waves, and the awesome folk who are brave enough to surf them.

Brave people

By this stage Mr Tilly was getting a bit tired, and we were getting a bit hungry. We headed inland to a place where Paul had been promising himself a sample of their ale – Cowaramup Brewing company. They have a lawned area where dogs are welcome, so Tilly and I settled down under the shade of umbrella while Paul headed inside to fetch some beers. A pint of IPA for Paul, and 1/2 pint for myself, and they provided us with a large bowl of water for Tilly. We ordered one serve of beer battered fish, chips and salad which we shared. It was easily enough for the two of us. The batter was crisp and delicious, but the fish was a bit tasteless and let it down a bit. The chips were perfect, and the salad small, but adequate. There were lots of choices on the menu, and we had trouble deciding on what would have. So, with the fish letting this meal down a bit, but everything else being absolutely perfect for a day out with our fur ball – we’ll definitely be making a return trip to sample one of their other menu delights.

Lunch over with we wandered around the grounds with Tilly’s leash extended so as he could romp around a bit. We don’t have any lawn, so the grassed area was something he hasn’t seen since he left his birth home.  He clearly loved it, jumping around happy as a pig as mud – or should I say, a pup in grass……

‘Are you looking at me’!

Grass – happy as a pig in mud

or ‘a pup in the grass’

He slept all the way home. He’s such a little treasure, a real pleasure!


Dog friendly – The Fire Station Bar, Busselton

Having the addition of a four legged family member changes our ‘out and about’ focus. Whilst we will still go out on our own from time to time, there will be many days where we’ll be wanting to include Mr Tilly in our outings.  Consequently, dog friendly venues are now on our radar.

You’ll notice I’ve included a new DOG FRIENDLY category. Posts such as this one will be listed under all the relevant categories – food experiences, tourism at home, WA the south west, and when appropriate will now also be listed under this new category – Dog Friendly.

On a particularly busy day last week we hadn’t had time to eat, and had passed our usual lunch time. We still had a number of things to do before we would be returning home, so we used the opportunity to try out a little boutique bar and eatery in the centre of Busselton’s Main Street – The Fire Station.

Located at 68 Queen street, Busselton, the fire station was constructed in 1936. Built in the inter-war, functionalist style of architecture, the building was used for its intended purpose until 1990. A number of years followed when it was  used by local art groups, or charity shops. In 2013 an application was made, and granted, for the building to be re-incarnated as a boutique bar, a welcome addition to the Busselton food and beverage establishments.

When we visited last week we didn’t have Mr Tilly with us, but when some patrons arrived accompanied by their fur baby we realised it was ‘dog friendly’. There’s an outdoor area to the side of the building, and also a pavement alfresco area where dogs are allowed. Not only did we not have Mr Tilly with us,  we hadn’t taken our camera either. So, apologies for the quality of the photos, all have been taken directly off the net.

From the food menu we chose to share a plate of steamed bao buns, along with a basket of chips with aioli. An IPA was chosen from the selection of rotating craft beers to wash down the buns. Both hit the spot beautifully.

After the light lunch had established the Fire Station is a venue worthy of a return visit, we enquired as to their happy hour offers. They offer ‘five at five’, between the hours  of 5pm  & 6pm week days. Five items are chosen each afternoon to list from between their food and drink menus. These are offered at the reduced price of $5. I’m sure we’ll find something to suit us when we return during their happy hour one afternoon, perhaps with Mr Tilly next time.

Now that we have our four legged family member, and are on the look out for places that allow dogs, we’re delighted to see an abundance of choices. Our last canine family member passed away almost 25 years ago. I remember finding the choice of places available to which she could accompany us were very few, and often far between. There’s so many venues, and places available now. Being able to include him in our outings is going to add to our outings, and to his lifestyle. It’ll re-enforce his acceptable social behaviour, and will help satisfy his need for mental stimulation. The positive changes in places that now accept and welcome dogs to their premises – what a pleasure!