Lot 80

When we arrived to live in Busselton approximately 18mths ago our neighbours to be, Kaye and Brian, introduced themselves. I’m so pleased they did. Not only have they both become great friends, Kaye also introduced me to a women’s walking group, and through the walking group I’ve made some fantastic friends and acquaintances.

We meet in the car park of a local beach cafe two mornings a week, walk for an hour along the beach path, and follow up with a coffee. There’s usually at least eight women, but sometimes the numbers can be up around 20. Everyone walks at their own pace, so there’s never any pressure to keep up with the leaders. We walk, we chat, we coffee – and chat some more. It usually takes about an hour around the coffee table before we’ve put the world to rights and can head on home to get about our daily business.

Putting the world to rights after our morning walk

Once a month we lunch together, with the people having birthdays that month choosing the place. Being at the head of the Margaret River wine region, there’s no shortage of cafes and wineries to choose from. The choice for April was, Lot 80.

Lunching at Lot 80

Lot 80 is located north of Dunsborough at Eagle Bay (54 Sheens Road). Turn left onto Sheens Road off the Meelup Beach Road. There’s a small section of dirt road, but definitely ok for two wheel drive. They are open from 11am – 5pm Wednesdays and Thursdays, and Friday – Sunday from 11am – 7.30pm.

They have a good wine list, and a selection of tap beers and ciders. However, I believe they’re really making a name for themselves with their selection of gins. They have a whole room dedicated to, ‘Gin Master classes’ and gin tastings, with close to 200 gins to choose from. As well as gins from all around the globe, they have around 15 tonics to select from. The gin tastings cost $25 per person, with five Australian gins, and four international gins to sample.

My favourite – Sangria was on the specials board

The food menu was just the right size. I get nervous if menus are to large – not only do I have trouble choosing, but I also wonder how a restaurant can keep the ingredients of an extensive menu fresh and still keep the prices within reason.  Everyone seemed happy with their selection, and most tried to chose small meals or entrees to save room for desert.

The fish ‘n chips looked pretty good

I chose the trio of Vegan dips – Peas, mint and crispy lychee; almond & vanilla sweet potato; and spiced hummus; served with Turkish bread ($18). Both the hummus and the sweet potato dips were good, but that green minty pea dip – well that was really good! And the Turkish bread – I would have thought Turkish bread was pretty much the same everywhere, but this was extra special. Soft and fluffy on the inside with a crispy, salted, lightly oiled crust served nice and warm and toasted. I know I said we tried to order small,  but with six big pieces of Turkish bread, there was no way I was going to have room for desert if I finished my meal. Much as I hate to waste food, I had heard the deserts couldn’t be forfeited. So, what was I to do……Gee we waste a lot of food in the Western world!

The sticky date pudding was worth saving room for (but isn’t it almost always). I wished I’d taken a photo of it as it had a rather unique shape as far as sticky date puddings go, causing a few giggles from the ladies nearby. I’ll leave you to imagine the shape, I don’t think you’ll need me to describe it further……

I was very happy with this months choice of restaurant. Good food and good company – what a pleasure!

 

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Keep the home fires burning

The fire bans have finished for the year. We don’t have an inside fire so we’ve acquired an outside fire pit – perfect to sit around for our finger food Friday nights.

Paul wanted to wait until dark – I was to impatient

As darkness fell the flames came to life

As the flames took hold a hose came over the fence – Our friend and neighbour had seen the smoke and decided he’d better come to the rescue…… LOL! Now Brian’s starting to get a bit of reputation with flames and fire (or perhaps he’s always had it) – so rather than risk him completely dousing our flames, we thought he and Kaye had better come over to share a glass of red and soak up the ambience with us.  Anyway, what’s better than sitting around a fire pit in your back yard? Having friends sitting around it with you of course!

On a recent camping trip Brian took some amazing photos of flames through a glass of red wine. Paul copied….  I couldn’t post these next two photos without acknowledging the inspiration.

A photo inspired by our friend and neighbour, Brian Love

A glass or two of red, and Casper came to visit – can you see him?

We had our sausage sizzle, then we toasted marshmallows to celebrate the first fire in our new fire pit. There’s an art to getting a marshmallow toasted perfectly. Sometimes I hold them to close to the flames and set them on fire. And sometimes I get them to perfect only to wait a second to long – and they drop off the fork into the fire. But when they’re just right, all crispy on the outside and warm and gooey in the middle…… Yum!!

Twirling marshmallows on the end of a toasting fork

I’m definitely more a summer person than a winter person, but when I sit in front of glowing fire I start to have my doubts. Each season definitely has it’s place.

Cold weather pleasures

 

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!

Pioneering spirit

I’m sure anyone who enjoys a bit of camping must have a bit of pioneer spirit in them. I think I have. Renovations that would turn many into princesses seeking short term, alternative accommodation will see me embracing the challenge of getting back to basics, and managing as best I can.

Many years ago we had slate laid through all the living areas in our house. At the same time we were having new carpets laid in the bedrooms, and new skirting boards throughout. We couldn’t access the house through any of the external doors for over a week. We moved all the beds out under the pergola, and prayed it wouldn’t rain. We moved the fridge outdoors under cover, and cooked nightly on the barbecue. Our camp sink came in handy for washing the dishes,  and we climbed through a window to access the toilet and shower.

Kelvin was in his early teens, and Alice around ten. We lived like that for close on two weeks. It was a great bonding experience, and we all loved it.

Our current kitchen and ensuite are undergoing a bit of an overhaul. The kitchen’s completely out of action, our ensuite only has the vanity unit undergoing changes.

The gutted kitchen

New kitchen equipment is stored in lounge

For this renovation we’ve set the garage up with a couple of spare tables to double as storage shelves and preparation benches.

I bet our pioneering ancestors would have loved a microwave

Our laundry trough is our washing up sink. Most things from the kitchen are packed into boxes, and we only have enough things out to get by with. I imagine what we’re managing with though is most likely still considerably more than our poor forefathers would have had. Our microwave is certainly getting good use.

The laundry trough makes a great kitchen sink

By Monday of next week the kitchen should be ready for the sink and dishwasher to be plumbed in. Tuesday should see the kitchen operational, but not complete. The splashback can’t be ordered until this afternoon when a few things are in place to allow for measurements. It should all be complete by 9th May.

But there’s more…..We’ll have time to get things packed back into their rightful place in the kitchen, and then preparation for the new living area floors will begin. That’s going to mean moving all the living room and dining room room furniture as well as the fridge into the garage. We’ll have a few nights when we won’t be able to sit in the lounge with the heating on, nor will we be able to watch TV. Just like our great, great grandparents, we’ll have the choice of lighting a fire pit in our back yard and watching the flames dance as darkness sets in, or we can have early nights with a good book. Fire bans have finished now, so I rather fancy getting the fire pit out! It’ll be just like camping – only in our own back yard, and with our bed to snuggle into when the day is done.

Boranup Camp Ground

As you drive down towards Augusta on Caves Road in the South West of Western Australia you’ll find yourself driving through the some majestic and very stately Karri Trees. This is Boranup Forest.

Caves Road winding through the Karri trees

The Karri Tree is the third tallest species of tree in the world, growing up to 90 metres high.  They grow strong and straight up, with their trunks separating into branches only after their trunks are high up.  In Autumn their pale grey bark sheds, revelling new orange/salmon pink trunks underneath. They’re native to the South West, wetter regions of WA.

Boranup scenic drive takes you on a circuit through the forest

A semi circular drive will take you through the forest, with look outs on the way. There’s picnic spots dotted around if you’re only there for a day trip. The drive is gorgeous, but it’s only by stopping for a while that you get to hear the birds, and breath the ambience of the forest. What a pleasure!

Well maintained dirt track winds through the forest – suitable for 2 wheel drive

Towards the southern end of the scenic drive, the road branches off towards a campground. There’s only seven small sites suitable, each only recommended for tents or camper trailers, although I’m sure you could probably get a small off road caravan into a couple of the sites. Each site is well shaded by a mix of native trees and shrubbery.

The campground visible through the trees

Fire pits with barbecue plate

Each site has it’s own picnic table and a fire pit with a barbecue plate. Fires are banned through the summer months though, so if you’re planning a visit through the summer make sure you take your own gas cooking facilities.

Drop toilets

There’s drop toilets – not flush of course, but sure beats digging a hole.

A couple of campsites closer together

Three campsites are in close proximity – great for friends to camp together, but still far enough apart that you’re not on each others knees.

Most of the 7 sites are separated by distance and shrubbery

The other four sites are surrounded by shrubbery – secluded and peaceful. The sites can’t be booked, but they rarely get completely full except during the absolute peak seasons (Easter).

The Cape to Cape walk track passes nearby.

A great place to camp if you’re walking the Cape to Cape track, or if you want to drive in with your tent or camper trailer. Be aware though, it’s in a national park, so your four legged friend can’t come with you. You won’t lack for furry companions though. There’s lots of ring tailed possums to keep you entertained as the daylight fades to night – more about these fascinating and endangered creatures later.

 

Jewel Cave

The Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park is literally riddled with caves, and perhaps the jewel in the crown from amongst them is the aptly named, Jewel Cave. Located just off of Cave’s Road at the Augusta end, Jewel Cave is the biggest of the show caves in Western Australia, comprising of three massive chambers on display.

Fully guided one hour tours are available.

Entering the cave was an almost surreal experience as we were met with an underground wonderland of some of nature’s finest and most dazzling displays.

Stalactites coming down from the cave ceiling

Home to one of the longest straw stalactites in Australia

 

Enchanting

magical

Like flowing honey.

Organ pipes

The pure white

 

And the pinks, and creams….

It was stunning.

The tour guide explained how the stalactites and stalagmites form, and provided quite a bit of relevant information. I, though, remained awe-struck throughout, and quite honestly to have absorbed the technical information would have taken away from the fairy-tale experience.

In the words of Lex Bastion (walkabout 1958) – Like all great works of art, nature had done her job slowly. Jewel Cave, created naturally and slowly over many thousands of years, is indeed a work of art. Nature at it’s finest, it is glorious!

 

Cape to Cape walk

 

The first section of the track


The cape to cape walk follows the Leeuwin/Naturaliste Ridge for approximately 135kms. It starts near to Dunsborough and finishes at Augusta in WA’s South West. To walk the full length end to end will take between 5 – 8 days depending on fitness level, and how long you plan to walk each day. Some of the walk is definitely easy, and in parts, even suitable for wheelchairs and prams. Some of it is more difficult with a grading of level 4 and therefore only recommended for experienced bushwalkers. If you like walking, and love spectacular coastal and forest scenery, then this walk is worth putting on your list.

The Naturaliste lighthouse

On Easter Monday we decided we’d make a start on the walk, and what better place to start than at the very beginning, at the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse. It was warmer than we’d thought, and the beginning of the track was quite exposed with no trees. We hadn’t taken water, as we only planned on a short walk, but we had planned to walk a little further than we actually did. A good reminder to observe the first rule of being in the WA bush – carry water. We’ve since ordered water bottles that can be carried in a convenient waist belt. We’ll prepare for a longer walk next time.

If we had taken water the first 3.8 kilometres (plus the same in return) from the lighthouse to sugarloaf rock would have been a breeze. This first section is definitely all wheelchair and pram friendly, and includes boardwalks in sections that would otherwise be a bit tougher.

Boardwalks in the first section of the walk allowing wheelchair access

A cormorant drying it’s wings to watch on the way

One of our friends completed the full Cape to Cape last year. He whittled away at it, section by section whenever a spare day gave him the time, posting some incredible photos on face book after each section. He definitely wet my appetite to give it a go, and I’d love to complete the whole walk in the same way – day walks. Section by section whenever time and weather allows, and coming home to my own bed after each days walking. I’m keen to get started beyond the wheelchair friendly beginning, but whether or not I’m capable of doing the soft sand sections remains to be seen.

I love beach walking on firm sand, but soft beach sand is hard work. From past experience, some of the grade 4 sections of this walk include several kilometres along the beach in soft, deep sand. I think I’ll manage most of the forest sections of the track okay, and once those parts are out of the way, perhaps I’ll just have to do the harder bits – just to be able to tick the whole track off my list.

For those of you who want to do the track end to end camping along the way, there are places to stay. There’s four campsites with pit toilets and rain water tanks spaced along the track, which are only accessible by hikers. There’s also drive in camp spots at Conto’s, Point Road, and Boranyup Forest, as well as privately owned caravan parks along the way. You can either pitch your hiking tent, or perhaps hire one of their self contained cabins in the caravan parks for a sleep in a real bed.

With our summer now over and the cooler autumn weather on the way, it’s perfect for bushwalking. Watch this space for some more photos and information on the track as we tackle some of the sections in the coming weeks.