Wine Country

Trip Start Jan 10, 2005
Trip End May 10, 2005

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Flag of Australia  ,
Saturday, March 12, 2005

We've hit wine country and stopped at a couple of vineyards yesterday. There are dozens here, quite well known for their chardonnays and semillions. We decided that two a day the limit - any more and we wouldn't have been fit to drive! There are also lots of other things to stop and taste: cheese, chocolate, beer.

We stayed at an out-of-the way campground last night and the last 5 km reminded us of why so many people here have four-wheel drives. It was really rough road, but we made it! Our campsite was rife with green parrots. The plant life is amazing, particularly as Australia is an island and has largely remained untouched - thus there are some very old species of flora and fauna. Some of the trees and buses look like they came out of Jurassic Park!

At our campsite, Martin had difficulty getting the fire started because the wood was damp, but a few eucalyptus leaves got it roaring! Eucalypte leaves contain an oil - you often see soap and skin care products containing eucalyptus oil. No wonder fires can get out of control with the leaves acting as an accelerant! Once we had our campfire started, the wood burned for a long time because it's so hard - not like our poplar and fir trees. The smell is also wonderful - kind of a sweet scent. Eucalypts are tough, though. A fire seldom kills them.

Margaret River is the hippie hangout of Western Australia; there were plenty of "longhairs" (like Martin) about. There are lots of buskers on the street and craft shops (pottery, woodworking, glassblowing, painters).

A few kilometres to the west is Prevelly Beach, known for its laid back atmosphere and it's surf. We happened upon a surfing competition as we were driving by and stopped to spectate for a while.

There's also numerous caves along the SW coast. Rather than visit one with pretty lights, we decided to explore one in its more natural state. We were issued hard hats and flashlights at the entry gate and made our own way through the cave. At one end, we turned off our flashlights and experienced total darkness - and complete silence.

Tonight we stayed at another remote campsite not far from the coast. This time, we travelled about 14 km on rutted roads, but the trip was well worth it. The huge karri trees are amazing; they reminded me of the "Ents" in the Lord of the Rings. While relaxing in our camp chairs, we witnessed a kookaburra in hot pursuit of a magpie. Several kookaburras came out at dusk - I was able to get quite close for some fairly good photos.
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