Cape to Cape and Beyond

Trip Start Apr 05, 2011
Trip End Nov 15, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Monday, May 23, 2011

It was a wet day as we drove out of Walpole headed for Hamelin Bay. The constant drizzle afforded us the opportunity to see the forests brought to life as we travelled along the highway. Every now and then a ray of sunlight broke through the clouds and danced off the freshly washed leaves. It was a gorgeous drive.

Our eyes were constantly drawn to the trunks of the giant trees which lined the highway and stretched high into the sky almost touching the clouds. The trees where complimented by the fresh vibrant green undergrowth of the forest and the rich red earth that lined the roads edge.

As we traversed the countryside at times the heavy rain made us wish we were curled up in front of a fire sipping a local red rather than being on a highway with the big white beast in tow.

Hamelin Bay is set in the Leeuwin–Naturaliste National Park. A rustic camping ground; we were able to choose our own site.  We looked at the camp map and were drawn to an area and headed up there… it wasn't long before we realised this was more appropriate for camping than caravans and that we needed to turn around.

It was tight, very tight.  At one stage we were stuck perfectly straight between a tree and a retaining wall with barely inches at either end! After a quick OMG Rod showed his superior towing skills and patiently manoeuvred our way out of there. Having learnt our lesson we pulled over and walked through the camp to choose our site.  We found this much easier and vowed to do it in future.

Surrounded by old peppermint trees we almost had the place to ourselves. We could just walk out onto the beach and stroll the length of Hamelin Bay. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side and once again we were unable to enjoy the resident stingrays.

We enjoyed rediscovering Augusta, Margaret River and the surrounding areas.  We immersed ourselves in the stunning nearby Karri Forest, meandering along the Boranup Forest Drive soaking up the fresh forest scent and fun 4WD tracks.

Being animal lovers (with the exception of reptiles!) we couldn’t resist staying on a working cattle farm at Cowaramup just 15 minutes north of Margaret River. We enjoyed being able to feed a menagerie of animals including sheep, goats, horses, donkeys and cattle; my personal favourite being T-bone the resident greedy cow! 

Now located more centrally to the vineyards we enjoyed visiting numerous wineries and savouring their wares along with admiring their grand cellar doors. Margaret River wines have long been a favourite of ours so it is an area we could never tire of visiting.

Next we were off inland to visit friends Mick and Ilonka on their vineyard located not far from Donnybrook.  Mick just happened to be in Donnybrook picking up supplies as we passed through town and gave us an escort.  As we drove along the crest of the hill looking down across the stunning farmland of Fiddler’s Green we thought for a moment we were in Tuscany!  The paddocks were a lush vibrant green with the vines traversing the hills bursting with a blend of rich autumn tones, contrasting against the healthy green undergrowth.  The homestead was bathed in the early afternoon sun.

Ilonka’s parents Eva and Frank were visiting from over East and we enjoyed their warm welcome along with their interesting stories.  It wasn’t long before we were out in the back shed surrounded by wine making apparatus. With numerous barrels at work aging the wine Mick was kind enough to give us tastings directly from the barrels. This was wine nirvana.  Imagine being able to blend your choice of grapes to perfect a wine for your palette.  It was wonderful to be able to see a small part in the process of wine making and share a touch of the experience.

We enjoyed morning walks along the top boundary of Fiddler’s Green, again looking back over the vines, homestead and out into the distant hills. We enjoyed dinner parties with delicious food, accompanied by great wines and interesting conversation. We thank Mick and Ilonka for their lovely hospitality and for restocking our caravan wine cellar!

If Fiddler’s Green was wine nirvana, Tradewinds was farm nirvana. As it happens our friends Robyn and John (whom we had caught up with in Peaceful Bay) live just up the road on the other side of Boyup Brook and this was our next stopover.

Set in a generally fertile farming area we were blown away by the beauty of the very Australian bushland.  With rolling green hills, Jarrah and Redwood trees abound while granite outcrops break up the smooth flowing landscape.

We were pleased to be able to catch up with Robyn and John once again and were greeted enthusiastically by our K9 mates Jazz, Uno and Nippa. Robyn and John had been kind enough to leave their big burning off bonfire for our visit so we headed up to the corner of the paddock with chairs and drinks in hand to set it alight!

As we sat around watching the tongues of fire dance high into the vibrant twilight sky we continued reminiscing about the interaction we had enjoyed over the years.  We hadn’t seen a bonfire like this since the old 'cracker’ nights we experienced as kids and were loving it.

The next morning we headed over to a neighbouring farm and were in heaven when we helped feed the cattle; actually helped may be a generous term… we accompanied John on his rounds! We patted the gorgeous old horses, shooed hundreds of sheep from the gates as we drove through and generally had a ball.

For Sunday lunch we ventured to the top of a neighbouring hill to enjoy a BBQ.  The views were amazing stretching out over the surrounding farms and bushland.  It was so nice and relaxing to be sitting up on this hill with a blazing fire soaking up the country air and enjoying the banter.

We got immense pleasure from the resident sheep and new autumn lambs which included twins.  To build the trust of the sheep and have some of them eating out of our hands was amazing. Each afternoon we enjoyed lamb crazy hour when the lambs would bounce or spring back and forth across the paddock with each other. Both Robyn and John were amazing hosts and we thank them for their generosity.

Reluctantly leaving our friends and farmstays behind us we headed back to the coast and the Margaret River area.  We stayed at Gracetown and finished off the last couple of things we wanted to do.  We were delighted when we visited the Windance cellar door to have Amelia (from the last series of Farmer Wants a Wife/Husband) host our wine tasting. Amelia was delightful; vibrant, warm and friendly, she told us of some great places to stay when we head up north.

We opted to spend our last couple of nights in the area at Busselton.  The caravan park was five star, the amenities were by far the best we have seen on our trip and the facilities throughout the park were top notch. Included was a heated indoor/outdoor pool so we took the opportunity to take a well overdue swim.

We enjoyed a lovely long walk – upward of 6kms each way along the edge of the bay, along the jetty and into the Busselton town centre. We meandered around the stores before tackling the trek home… It was a really relaxing stopover before heading north to the Perth area.

Highlights of the Capes:

-          Hamelin Bay

-          Hospitality of friends; The Edwards and The Kennas

-          Margaret River Wineries

-          Taunton Farm stay
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Val S. on

As always, a great read... full of descriptives and its not fiction! So nice to hear the journey is full of surprises, beauty and fulfilling your dreams. Can't help but smile as one reads of the bonfire (and yes, reflect on one's own childhood) the farm stay and then or course looking at Lyndal in front of all those barrels of 'you know what'... was the glass half full or half empty????
Continue the journey of adventure, you so deserve it.

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