Cool morning – around 15C. First tourist venue for the day was the Busselton Jetty – 1,841 metres long (the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere). At the end of this pier is an underwater Observatory. However, owing to ‘poor visability’ this was closed today, so we headed back to the car and drove to the next venue – the lighthouse at Cape Naturtaliste about 20kms away. It was a lovely drive in – bushes and shrubs all in flower – very pretty. One thing we have noticed in the past few days is the amount of arum lillies growing wild everywhere. Some of the paddocks on some of the farms are almost all arum lillies. Very pretty, but they are certainly taking over and they are now considered to be a noxious weed.
The lighthouse at Cape Naturaliste is one of the 209 still in operation in Australia. This lighthouse was built in the early 1900’s after there had been 16 shipwrecks on this point. There were 3 houses for the keepers and in the early days their shifts were 4 hourly every day of the year. The guide explained how much work they had to do in that 4 hours. Because they had to handle mercury on a regular basis their life expectancy was not very good. It was an arduous life. Part of the tour included entry into the lighthouse and a climb up the spiral stairwell up to the actual lamp. Another interesting fact explained to us was that the light revolves around 24 hours a day- the reason being that if it was stopped and if the angle of the sun was correct the prism is capable of starting a bushfire up to 18 km away- similar effect to what we can do with a magnifying glass.
These lighthouses were certainly quite cramped. After explaining all about the lamp we were then allowed out on to the outer railed platform which circled the lamp. The view was amazing. While we were watching the guide saw a couple of whales breeching in the distance so we were all able to see that. We had our binoculars so it was great to see them.
We left Cape Naturaliste and then drove a few kms. to Sugarloaf Rock. This was a scenic spot where the spectacular ocean view could be watched from a couple of viewing platforms. We walked to the first viewing area and there was a chap there (travelling this area on a push bike actually) taking photos of the beautiful flowers and plants and birds between the platform and the ocean. He told us that there was a pod of dolphins swimming just below us in the surf. Sure enough we saw them. There must have been 20 or more. When a large wave started to break we could see them in the curling wave which was transparent. Absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately my dear little camera which usually does such a good job does not have a great telephoto lens so it was impossible to take a photo. We then walked to the highest platform a short distance away and sat and watched for a short while and as well as still being able to still see the dolphins we could also see a couple of whales in the distance. On our walk back to the car Ian saw a 4ft long brown snake on our path – it just watched us as we carefully walked by – did not move at all. If he had been on the farm this snake would have received a different reaction.
We then drove along a scenic coastal route to Eagle Bay and Meelup. We sat in the car in a park right on the beach at Meelup and had our lunch. The scene was lovely. There was no-one on the beach or on the water, but no doubt in the summer this area teems with people. The water was quite calm and it was very peaceful.
After lunch we then did another scenic coastal road via Yallingup to Margaret River. Yallingup was a smaller version of a seaside town in Victoria – lots of houses built into the hill sides- all endeavouring to get the best view of the ocean. And WHAT A VIEW! Amazing. Once again we managed to see a couple of whales out to sea.
We then continued on until this road turned east towards Margaret River. We knew this area is famous for its wine – but it should be more famous for its wineries. There must have been dozens and dozens of them on this small stretch of road. The scenery was lovely – sometimes open paddocks, sometimes corridors of really tall trees, and sometimes bushland. The only grazing there was one deer farm.. We were told that most of these wineries are situated on what were once dairy farms but over time they have all changed from dairy to vineyards.
We drove through the township of Margaret River- a typical busy tourist destination – shops and restaurants and cafes and clothing stores everywhere and for a weekday it seemed to be very busy. We then drove out of Margaret River and headed back to Busselton. We had seen an advertisement for a local dairy farm which had its own icecream shop so we detoured down that road. We passed the dairy and it was good to see friesian cows again. The countryside looked fantastic. Obviously good dairy country because in this part there was no irrigation. The shop had a display of about 14 different icecream flavours. Ian chose the ‘wildberry’ and I chose ‘caramel’. They were absolutely delicious. We sat outside on a verandah which was fortunately out of the wind as it was quite cool. We got chatting to other travellers there and really enjoyed the detour. There were 2 imitation cows on the lawn outside the shop with pretend udders (made of the black rubber teats used in calf feeders) and there was a milking stool placed near the cow, and a bucket under the udder. Anyone could sit on the stool and pull on the’teats’ and a milky substance would flow into the bucket. Quite innovative and we did see a few people get a photo taken whilst doing this.
On the way back to Busselton we passed through the tiny township of Cowaramup. This town has made the most of the first three letters of its name and throughout the main street there are fibreglass friesian cows and calves. Each shop helped in the purchase and placement of these models (the cows are actually ear-tagged with the names of the various shop owners) and they have proven to be quite a tourist drawcard. Unlike the fibreglass cows in Shepparton which are painted all types of colours and designs, these are all friesian, and the artist who painted them went to great lengths to paint them in an authentic pattern, by photographing hundreds of cows and using these photographs as models for his painting the cows. We were told that the economy of the town really lifted once these cows were placed along the main street.
We then returned via Busselton where Ian refuelled for tomorrow’s trip.When we returned to our Van we got talking to our ‘neighbours’ who are in a cabin next to ours. We had a good long chat. Certainly meeting new people is one of the benefits of travel.
We have pulled the heater out and are using it every evening now as the weather gets quite cool. The temp today never rose about 17C but it was sunny and pleasant. Seems this is going to be the type of weather we can expect while we are in this part of W.A. We have noticed that the names of many towns and districts here in the south west end with the two letters ‘up’ and have found out it is from the local aboriginal dialect and the U-P means ‘place of’. Interesting.
Love to all, Janese and Ian