South by southwest

24 05 2008

No, not the conference in Austin, Texas!

Catching up on the past few days…

On Tuesday evening our friend Dave arrived from the US, via the AODC conference on the Gold Coast, the 3-day Indian-Pacific train trip across Australia, a 3-hour coach trip from Perth to Bunbury, and a 1 hour car trip with my husband to our house. After he’d had a decent shower and checked his email from the past four days, we dined on my “Seven Mules” pumpkin soup (an Australian favourite he can’t get easily in the US) and my husband’s favourite—lamb burgers. Lots of talk, laughter, and catching up!

Wednesday was a GORGEOUS autumn day. Sunshine, a few clouds, no rain, no wind. By late morning we were off to the Donnelly River Holiday Village so Dave could experience the kangaroos and emus ‘up close and personal’. They didn’t disappoint. Because there was almost no-one there, the kangaroos decided we might just have some food for them (we didn’t), so they hopped on over and got very friendly with us. It was mostly the females and the young ones, then the male ambled over to keep an eye on his ladies. While all this was going on, a couple of emus were checking us out too, but they aren’t quite so cuddly or friendly! More photos… (BTW, the entire village is up for sale—36 cottages, store etc. all for $2.9m!)

We headed back to town and out to our block of land which Dave was mightily impressed by. Of course, the green grass and blue sunny skies helped. We also popped in for him to meet some neighbours who have just moved in to the rammed earth house they’ve been building for the past two years or so.

Next stop was The Cidery where we sampled some ciders and had a light lunch. Dave’s a big cider fan so this was on the ‘must do’ list for him.

After checking out the main street of town, picking up the mail and some groceries, we headed back to the house to enjoy the peace and quiet and watch the birds. Late in the afternoon we popped in to the Bridgetown Hotel for Dave and J to play some pool, and to have one of their delicious meals.

Thursday dawned wet and windy. By late morning we were on our way to discover more of the southwest of our fine state. But the rain meant that outdoor activities were off the list (not that any of us were that keen anyway…). We had a long lunch at Jarrah Jack’s brewery in Pemberton, then hit the road around 3pm. Below are the Honey Tempura Prawns from Jarrah jack’s.

I thought it would take about 90 minutes from there to my sister’s place near Yallingup, but it took more than two hours. We arrived at the farm after the sun had set but there was just enough light to find the keys! Over by the dam was a family of kangaroos, so Dave got to see them jumping around in their natural habitat.

We had a really big storm come through on Thursday night, and being so close to the coast (less than 10kms), it was very wild and woolly at the farm. Dave slept in one of the upstairs bedrooms and he thought the roof might blow off at one stage!

On Friday we drove out to Canal Rocks where the ocean was absolutely ferocious—but majorly spectacular.

Then we headed south again to Margaret River, stopping in at Vasse Felix and sampling some of their lovely wines. Lunch was a delicious 100% Wagyu beef burger for each of us at Settler’s Tavern in Margaret River, then we scampered to the car in the rain and headed north again, through Cowaramup and out to Cape Naturaliste. The aim was to show Dave some of the spectacular wild scenery on this part of the coast, but unfortunately, you can’t go to the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse these days without being on a paid tour, and it was too wet and windy to negotiate the 400+m walking trails to the cape. Bunker Bay is now closed off with commerical developments and you can’t get access to the beach without walking. Eagle Bay and Meelup were almost impossibe to see because of the heavy rain, so this part of the trip was very disappointing for me as these were some of my favourite places in the region. Lots of driving but with not a lot to see or do because of the inclement and inhospitable weather.

We stopped in to see my parents briefly, then headed to Bunbury for Dave to catch the late afternoon coach back to Perth for his midnight flight to Sydney then his long flight on Saturday to LA. We only got to achieve a few of the things I had on the ‘things to do and see’ list. The rain and storms on Thursday and Friday, and the later starts than expected meant that I had to remove a few items from the list. No matter. For me, it was a nice break from work and a chance to catch up with Dave outside the confines of conferences; for Dave, it was an introduction to our little part of the world; and for J, it was an opportunity to drive to places and share some beers and wines and music information with a mate.

Most of all, though, it was a chance to spend some quality time with a good friend. Thanks Dave—next time you’re in Oz, perhaps we’ll do the Ghan train trip from Adelaide to Darwin together!


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