Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Margaret River to Cervantes

Yellow route: Margaret River to Cervantes - 1600km
Total so far: 14'100km

We liked the area of Margaret River very much. Especially our camping at Glenbrook Station, 8km south of town, was a gem, which we found through Wiki Camps. Camping in farmland with trees, close-by paddocks with horses, a donkey, lots of kangaroos, basic amenities including a camp kitchen and very interesting other campers made us stay there for 4 nights. 

We did a wine tour by bike, although the lady at the tourist information strongly discouraged us from doing so because cycling is soooo dangerous (obviously she was a non-cyclist)! At Leeuwin Estate we had a fabulous lunch but didn’t buy a bottle of the award winning Chardonnay priced at a hefty $95. With fully loaded „batteries“ and in beautiful weather we cycled to Prevelly, the Margaret River mouth and the famous Surfers Point. 

Camping at Glenbrook Station

Entrance to cellar door at Voyager Estate

Rose garden at Voyager Estate

Margaret River mouth

Sufer's Point at dusk

On Saturdays a farmers market is held in Margaret River and reason enough for us to stock up with good food. It was so far the best farmers market we came across. A wide selection of products, growers who sell these and just a very good and busy vibe. The most exclusive thing we bought were Cantucci from an Italian lady; they go very well together with Port, we find! All in all we agree with the town’s nick name „Mark-up River“, as not only the prices for the wines but for everything (our camping excluded) are steep. At the same time the service provided there lacks the personal touch we like so much in most of the places in Australia.

 Impressions from the farmers market

We followed the coast towards North, were impressed by the natural spectacle of the Canal Rocks (a series of rocky outcrops forming a natural canal), enjoyed the white sand and the turquoise sea, a scenic walk at Cape Naturaliste as well as the fabulous cafe at Bunkers Beach.

Canal rocks

In Yalgorup NP (north of Bunbury) the campground at Martins Tank recently got a full work-over and is now very flash. We enjoyed the privacy before the Easter rush. Lake Clifton impressed us with the Thrombolites (rock-like structures but actually living organisms, which are descendants of the earliest living organisms on Earth and known to have existed for over 650 million years) which can be watched from a nice boardwalk. The other walk in the area left us unimpressed, at least we got to see the typical peppermint trees which are typical for the area. 

Thrombolites - not just normal rocks

Port Mandurah reminded us of Fort Lauderdale in Florida, where Oliver once was involved in a project of building a futuristic steering control system for a luxury catamaran. Although the houses along the channels were less posh and less roomy than in Fort Lauderdale, Port Mandurah is still amazing, knowing that more than half of the properties are holiday only residencies.

Channels in Port Mandurah

A full week in Perth was about to follow. We wanted to escape the Easter traffic and at the same time get Kasbah serviced by professionals. Therefore we were very thankful that John opened his driveway — and in fact his house — to us and made our stay very special and enjoyable. 
Greater Perth is very much a cyclist friendly city and puts a lot of money into cycle lanes and paths. We got the most out of this by cycling twice to Fremantle and once to the CBD. The geographical disposition of WA’s capital is quite spectacular and offers many beaches as well as the beautiful Kings Parks and some trendy neighbourhoods. Over Easter the Street Arts Festival was on in Fremantle and we were thrilled by the Cuban band El Son Entero which managed to „infect“ everyone with their rhythm — so much that the whole crowd was dancing and at one stage most musicians were replaced by people from the audience – and the sound was just as good!
We also did a tour in the Fremantle prison which was very worthwhile. Another part of recent history: last inmates left 1991. We most enjoyed the evenings with John and Julie on the veranda, but got also some culinary highlights in cafés and restaurants. Bivouac Café in Northbridge offers a 
Wagyu Burger to die for and the Mary Street Bakery Café in Mt. Lawley serves a coconut rice which is so incredibly flavoursome and creative that I have to try to copy that into our camp kitchen repertoire….

 View of Perth's CBD from Kings Park

 Lighthouse in Fremantle

 The cuban band el son entero

 Entrance to tourist market in Fremantle – about the only attraction open on Good Friday

 His majesty's theatre in Perth

 Fremantle prison

We left Perth for New Norcia, Australia’s only monastic town, as they advertise it. The visit which included a 2 hour tour, the Art gallery and museum were all very worthwhile to spend a full day there. 

 Monastery New Norcia

 Abbey church New Norcia

The Pinnacles meant to be the next stop and as our Hema map lead us the wrong way (we wanted to take back roads to Cervantes) we ended up at Numbung Station, which is a working farm and since 12 months an excellent camping spot. Brian, the farmer, drove us to the national-park boarder where we could climb his „own private“ sand dunes, explore impressive Pinnacles and even the sand boarding worked out well in the wet sand. It is so pleasant there, that we stayed two additional nights. 

 Nambung Station with camping

 Spectacular sand dunes....

 ... and Pinnacles

 Sandboarding is fun

On Sunday, Brian took us on a scenic flight

Since Easter Monday we have had rain every day. Fortunately most of the time during the night but these rainfalls were quite heavy at times. This makes the landscape very green, but we would still prefer sunshine. We are sure to find this up North!