Broome to Busselton via Coast Road in six days – Day one

All good things must come to an end, as did this years sojourn to sunny Broome. Having travelled to Broome a little too quickly via the inland/Mount Newman Road, we decided to take a slightly more leisurely trip home via the coastal road.

Day one – Broome to Cape Keraudren, 466kms (5 1/2 hours driving time)

We filled our thermos ready to make coffee at our first stop, had the caravan hitched up and the inside secured ready for an 8am departure. As Mr Tilley had shown signs of travel fatigue on our rushed trip to Broome, we determined the return trip would comprise shorter driving days, with more rest stops. Goldwire, a pleasant little roadside stop 1 1/2 hours from Broome seemed like a good distance to travel before stopping for breakfast.

Suitably replenished and our travel mugs filled with hot coffee we journeyed on, this time with me at the wheel. This was the first time I’d towed this rig. Paul’s happy to do long days of driving, and I’m a happy passenger, but good sense tells me that, ‘just in case’, I should feel confident driving with the caravan behind. No problems – it towed beautifully, but I was still happy to hand back the wheel at our next stop, which was less than an hour down the road at another comfortable roadside stop, Stanley. That left a comfortable three hours to our destination for the the first nights stopover.

We arrived at Cape Keraudren around 2 PM. We’ve stopped there before, and it’s just gorgeous. There’s four camp grounds at the cape, which are located via 6 kms of dirt road turning off the main highway just south of the Pardoo Roadhouse. Same as on previous visits,  we again chose the section named Sandy Beach, which overlooks the ocean on the Eastern side of the Cape. Living on the west coast of Australia, opportunities to see the sun rise over the ocean are rare. We couldn’t let this opportunity go by.

A gorgeous camp spot overlooking the water

The tides are much the same as in Broome – huge, or should that be HUGE. We were parked up close to the water at high tide, yet seemingly miles away for the water line when the tide is at it’s lowest. It was around 2pm when we arrived, and the tide was on the way out, fantastic! Time for a relaxing lunch before we took Tills to explore the rock formations and pools left behind by the receding tide.

To the rear of our van were some shrubs which the Zebra Finches seemed to love.

Our lunch time entertainment

Pretty little birds with beautiful markings

Lunch finished and the tide had sufficiently receded to allow for a great walk with plenty to see. Rock formations that were completely underwater at high tide were now fully  exposed. Compacted sand sufficiently drained of seawater allowed for comfortable walking between the rocks, and rock pools made great places for Mr Tilley to splash through as we wandered around.

The water which covers these rocks at high tide, is now quite distant.

It’s an amazing feeling to walk under rocks that only a couple of hours previously were completely under the ocean’s waters.

There’s miles of rocks to walk around at low tide

Tilley exploring one of the many rock pools – this one in a bit of a cave

The tide rose through the night, and then receded again before morning. We awoke to a glorious sunrise over the tidal flats.

Sunrise over the water – a rare sight for those of us who live on the west coast

We left with the sure feeling that, ‘We’ll be back!!’ And what a pleasure that’ll be.

Next day, Cape Keraudren to Miaree Pool – watch this space.

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Walking on Cable Beach

There’s always plenty to see when walking on Cable Beach.

Sea birds diving for breakfast beside a fishing boat

Wings tucked in close for streamlined water entry

A perfect entry – worthy of the Olympics

It took Paul several attempts to manage to get the full descending dive. What he didn’t manage to capture was the success of the dive when the bird surfaced with his breakfast. Maybe next time….

The planes, frequent at this time of year,  fly low over Cable Beach to land not far away.  If we’re directly underneath Mr Tilley gets a bit of a fright, but soon recovers to watch them disappear over the dunes. His curious gaze always follows them until they’re out of sight.

Another plane load of visitors arrive scaring a bird as it comes in to land

And another plane load disappearing over the dunes

There’s cyclists to see. These wide tyre cycles, suitable for beach riding, are available for hire close by to the parking lot at Cable Beach.

Cyclists and a jogger enjoying  early morning exercise on Cable Beach

There’s plenty of people on the beach in the morning, but providing you time your walk to coincide with the lower tides, you’re always able to put a comfortable space between yourselves and others.

Mr Tilley loves it. He’s a bit like our friend Brian. Kaye, Brian’s wife, says he can’t walk from one end of a mall to the other without making at least two new friends. There’s regular canines on the beach that Mr Tilley recognises and greets now like they’re old friends. And there’s new possible friends that he introduces himself to, referencing and cataloging their individual scents with a sniff in the places that dogs use for this purpose.

This boy gets a bit too boisterous for smaller dogs if off his lead. He’s a regular that  Tills recognises now and always says hello to. They’re happy to see each other despite Bluey’s seemingly concerned look.

By the end of each morning’s beach walk I’m sure Mr Tilley has made at least two new friends. I don’t think Brian sniffs his potential new friends rear ends though for future recognition. Such are the delights of the canine ‘meet and greet’ system!

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!

 

 

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.