Picnic at Margaret River’s Surf beach

There’s only a couple of weeks left of autumn, and with a fine, slightly cloudy day forecast, it seemed like ideal weather to head down to Prevelly Beach for a picnic. For those unfamiliar with the Margaret River Region, Prevelly Beach is located approximately 10kms from the inland township of Margaret River. It’s the home of the Margaret River Classic (Professional world Surfing Championship), an international event scheduled to begin in ten days time. The competition will take place over a 12 day period with the top ranked 34 male surfers, and 16 top ranked female surfers in the world expected to be here to take part.

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Augusta, the small town where two big oceans meet

Augusta, a small town with a permanent population of just over1000 people, packs a hefty punch when it comes to scenery. In the hot summer months the population expands dramatically with tourists flocking to the town for everything it has on offer, including cooling winds off the two oceans that meet close by at the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse.

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Picnic at Alexandra Bridge (day use area)

 Alexandra Bridge is located approximately 26kms north east of the township of Augusta, at the southern end of the Margaret River region. There’s a camp ground a little away from the river, and a day use area overlooking the river. We were already staying in the campground, but decided the day use area overlooking the river would be a better spot for a forest picnic.  Being only 26 kms from Augusta, and not much further from Margaret River, we didn’t have far to drive to find some good food, and good wine, worthy of the gorgeous forest setting. If  you happen to be  staying anywhere towards the southern end of the Margaret River region, and you fancy a forest picnic,  Alexandra Bridge is not far away, and well worth considering.

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Picnic at Gannet Rock

For today’s picnic we headed to the small coastal stretch of land running north west from Dunsborough to Cape Naturaliste. There’s lots of bays to choose from along this stretch of coastline, with Meelup, Eagle Bay, Castle Rock, and Bunker Bay being some of the better known ones. Today we chose one of the lesser known ones – Gannet Rock.

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The sun sets on another holiday

We had a fabulous few days away with our good friends, Kaye and Brian.

Great company

The first three days in Albany served as a great reminder of how much Albany has going for it. We’ve all promised ourselves a return visit.

So much to do in Albany, gorgeous walks, stunning beaches, and much, much more

For our final night we moved on to a farm stay, Ayr Sailean, approximately half way between Denmark and Walpole. At $23 for a powered site it was considerably cheaper than the nearby caravan parks, and is well located for sightseeing around the Denmark/Walpole area.

Farm stay camp ground

There were plenty of friendly farm animals. My Tilly enjoyed touching noses with the small pony, but then he wanted to do the ‘rear end sniff thing’.

The pony was happy to have Mr Tilly check him out, they almost rubbed noses

I was a bit worried the pony may have given him a bit of kick for his effort.

Why do dogs insist on the rear end sniff!

The sun-set for our final night was gorgeous.

The sun sets on another holiday

And after the sun set came the fire pit.

A red wine or two around the campfire to finish off

Don’t you just love a camp fire!

Damn, we forgot the marshmallows

A fabulous mini break, and time spent with a fabulous couple – a great reminder of just what a pleasure life can be.

National ANZAC Centre – Albany WA

On our second day in Albany we put Mr Tilley into doggy day care so as to be able to visit the National ANZAC Centre. The recommendation is that at least two hours would be needed.

Our last visit to Albany was early in 2014, and this interactive, museum experience wasn’t opened until November 2014 so this was our first opportunity to take a look. I’m pleased we did, and yes, at least two hours were needed.

The National ANZAC Centre overlooking King George Sound

Upon entry each visitor is given a card with the details of an actual service man or woman who left for Gallipoli, from Albany, with whom to identify. There are little screens throughout the centre on which to place the cards for details of that persons life to be revealed. We were taken through their lives from enlistment to their eventual death.

My soldier, Alan Duncan Stitt, was from Ashburton near Christchurch in NZ. I’m from Christchurch, I wonder if he served with any of my ancestors. Stitt enlisted for service on 14 August 1914. They departed from Lyttleton Harbour and sailed into King George Sound, Albany, to join a convoy of ships ready to sail away to the war. They expected to be heading to England and to be fighting on the Western Front.

They were informed whilst at sea that they would not in fact be going to England and the Western Front as anticipated. Instead they were to sail to Egypt and await further orders. The orders came and on the 25th April 1915 they landed at Gallipoli. Stitt was amongst the first to land.

He participated in all the major battles of the Gallipoli campaign and was wounded three times. In November 1915 the decision was made to abandon the peninsula. On the night of 17th December, almost eight months since the first ANZACS landed at Gallipoli, 10,000 New Zealand and Australian soldiers were  evacuated.  Stitt was in the last group.  He was there from the beginning of the Gallipoli campaign right up until the end.

Having survived Gallipoli Stitt then moved on the the Western Front where he was wounded for a fourth time. He finished his service as one of the youngest Lieutenant Colonels of the NZEF.

After the war he moved to England to marry his english sweetheart, and the two moved to Kenya in Africa. Stitt returned to active service during the second world war serving with the British forces in East Africa. He died in 1950 at the age of 56, from causes unknown.

We all know about the war, we all know about the Gallipoli landing, and we all know about the terrible toll it took on the Australian and New Zealand soldiers. To have a real soldier to follow through the campaign brought it all to life in way that no movie, nor any book has ever brought it to life before.

King George Sound was the last sight of Australia for the many soldiers who never came back

Not only can you follow your own man or woman, the museum provided a small hand held radio which links into all the photos of other soldiers and nurses and plays the relevant account of their war experiences. Some of the accounts were from letters with a voice reading the words. It was easy to imagine the accounts given were first hand.

A statue in the foyer of a soldier giving his horse a drink from his hat

The war to end all wars – most of us have only a vague idea what the first world war was all about. Who knows if the solders knew why they were fighting. But fight they did, and many died for their efforts. Those that survived came back with both physical and mental scars, and many lived for long enough, as did my soldier, to realise that the Great War that was supposed to end all wars, whilst won by the allied forces, didn’t end all wars. When will mankind learn!

Chain-saw wood carvings in Albany, WA

A chainsaw was used to carve this chainsaw

We’ve just spent three lovely nights in Albany WA with our good friends Kaye and Brian. We had a few things ear-marked to do with the first being  a visit to the Darrell Radcliffe Sculpture Drive, located at 333 Mercer Drive, Albany. There’s a sign at the gate asking visitors to remain inside their vehicle, and there’s  a donation box at the conclusion of the trail.

I’d recommend taking at least a 30 minutes to drive the trail, and stopping from time to time to look high, low, close and far away. There’s an amazing amount of sculptures. Some are very tiny and would be easy to miss, some are long and thin and close to the ground, also very easy to miss. And others are huge, and while their size makes them unmissable, the detail takes a few minutes to obsorb.

A man with his dog at his feet, and owls at his head

Take a closer look at the detail in his face

And now I’ll let the rest of the pictures speak for themselves:

Pilgrims

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This is one of many with dogs featured

Check out the chicks in the nest

Serenity of pouring water

A quiet place to read a book

The detail was superb

A honeyeater

A cowboy on his bronco

My favourite – the flute player. Look closely at his eyes, they’re carved out of the wood (not stuck on)

These are only a few of many sculptures to see. The detail was unbelievable, and to think they’ve all been carved using a chainsaw – incredible. The eyes of the flute player captured me, and was my favourite. Can you pick a favourite?

Next time you visit Albany WA, please put this place on your list. It’s amazing! And unbelievable that it’s an unsupervised, drive through place, with only a donation box at the end of the drive. Thank you Darrell Radcliffe for allowing us access to your property, and for sharing your wonderful artwork with us.