Hikes, wine, and a glorious sunset

Trip Start Jan 22, 2011
Trip End Feb 24, 2011

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Where I stayed
Discovery Inn

Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tuesday Feb. 1st

A late start today, as Suk had to spend some time organizing things back in Korea, and needed some internet time. I went for a nice morning walk along the beach, then came back and we tucked into another great cooked breakfast.

It was around 10am when we finally set off. Again it was cloudy, but we the forecast promised sunny spells throughout the day and clearing up later. The plan today was to drive to the Porongurup National Park and do some hiking. It’s only a small range, but I thought it would make for a nice morning. It took about 35 mins to get there. On the way we passed several small wineries, which all looked very inviting. Perhaps a sneaky visit after the hike I thought.

Upon arrival, we stopped into a local shop to ask for some advice on the walks and local wineries. Once again, the owner was more than happy to help us and provided us with a tourist map and guide of the mountain range. She also recommended a local winery to pop into after the hike. She was really helpful! She owned a cute little shop, full of trinkets and knick knacks and I felt guilty not buying anything, but it made for a nice look around. Thanks to the kind lady and her suggestions we agreed to do the Nancy Peak circuit.

As we approached the car park we marveled at the huge Kari trees towering all around us. I got out of the car and immediately felt the moist air and the distinguished smell of the trees and forest around me. Arh so refreshing! The noise of the birds singing and the loud buzzing of bees was everywhere, but at the same time it was a peaceful feeling.

The Nancy peak walk was a 3 hr walk! It started through the forest bottom weaving in and around the great Kari trees. The idea of being in the forest is really felt here. You are surrounded by ferns and grass almost as high as a person. You really do feel small in this place. Our first view was of Howard peak (took about 30 mins to get there) and wow what a view. The peak was on a huge flat looking boulder and the views down over the valley and beyond the river were lovely. It would have made an ideal stop for lunch, but as there was an another family there already busy munching away at their lunch, we thought we'd leave them alone and find another spot further along the trail to eat. We continued up over the rocks following the trail until we reached what had to be the top i.e. Nancy peak.

Again it was a huge smooth piece of rock that offered more stunning views over the hills and farms below. You could even see the sea about 35km away. We admired the views over a few bread rolls and grapes. The view over the Stirling ranges was awesome too, and you could easily see the entire range. The path now followed the crest of the mountain for about 30 minutes, it was tough going as I only had my sandals on and some of the rock was slippery. As we trudged on bouncing over the boulders and enjoying the views we continuously ran into both small and large lizards. It got to the point that we would run into one every few steps, and from a distance they looked like snakes so we were always a bit weary.

This part of the walk was fascinating not only because of the sweeping views, but also because of the huge rocks / boulders we would come across, some of which were in some precarious positions. We could see other peaks around us but were thankful when the path began to descend. It descended back down through the forest meandering between the Kari trees, until we reached the point were our route joined another route. From here to the end was very easy. The path was very wide and it easily led back to the car park. Wow! What lovely walk, a bit tiring, and probably more than we expected to do at the beginning of the day, but well worth it!!

We drove a little way down the road and came across a lovely looking winery (the one suggested by the woman in the shop) so we braved it and pulled in. We've never been to a winery before so had no idea what to expect. The house was a cute little wooden cabin on top of a small hill, surrounded by a huge flowery garden with a few picnic tables out front. Two dogs were running around playing, and two men were busy tending to the gardens. We were greeted by a woman who led us into a tasting area. What a cute little room. Wines everywhere! All different sizes, colors, and shapes! Very impressive! We went through about 5 different wines. The lady kindly taught us how to taste the wine correctly so we were experts by the 5th one. Suk loved it! Wineries are great you just go in taste a good number of wines then can just leave and go to the next winery if you don’t want to buy. Great! And some of these places offer food as well! Could easily get used to this! However, Suk really liked one of the wines we tried, so we paid for a bottle and said farewell.

So with a bit of wine down us the plan now was to drive over to Mount Barker to have a look around, a small town about 20 km west of here. So off we went again enjoying the lovely scenery. I'll never get bored of this!

Mt barker was nothing special! However, the sun was now coming out so it looked particularly pretty, but instead of sticking around we decided to drive on and try to get to Denmark for about an hour or so. Maybe a coffee and a little mooch around. It took us a while to get on the right road but then after all that decided we didn't really have the time to make it there and back to Albany before sunset. Oh well we'll be heading that way tomorrow anyway. Instead we agreed that heading back to Albany was the more sensible suggestion. We could go for a swim and relax on the beach enjoying the sun, that’s if it stays out. Also, we didn’t really want to be driving around at dusk because of the kangaroos. Too many tourists have had bad accidents. So back to Albany we went.

The weather now was amazing lovely clear blue skies wow everything looks so more beautiful in the sun. We arrived back and rushed down to the beach about 100 meters away! Nice. Middleton beach is quite big, but still quite empty only a few kids learning to surf and some couples splashing around. Suk didn't go in again, but I braved it and dived in. It was great, a perfect treat after all that hiking.

We then bought a coffee and took a very leisurely walk around the headland (Ellen cove – the wooden pathway I walked along yesterday). Arh bliss! We had sea views everywhere and the warmth from the sun soon dried me off. This path is very popular with walkers and joggers and we said hi to everyone! That's just what you do out here. Everyone was very friendly and always up for a chat. I got some nice photos too!

And then I spotted a huge sting ray floating around in the shallow waters beside the jetty. Awesome! It was so big, and literally swam right under me from where I was standing on the jetty! So beautiful! Not many people get to see these things! Soon I had a crowd around me, and then it swam off, but not before I got some great pics.

I walked suk back to the hostel as she was feeling tired and wanted to get washed up. However, I was eager for more exploring. John the owner suggested I take his bike and go down to Emu Point, so that's what I did. It's been a while since I've been on a bike, but it was a good one and I loved it. The cycle path followed the beach for about 3 km to a small lighthouse. It was a very easy road that weaved itself around the sand dunes. I stopped off a lot to get piccies. Now I wanna buy a bike!! I reached the light house had a quick look and then went round to the harbor to see the boats at sunset. I was really enjoying myself, and felt free without a care in the world. Could really get used to this!

I got back to the hostel and we enjoyed yet another delicious steak meal! Steaks are so cheap here, just how I remembered from ten years ago on my first trip to Oz. And again we were the only ones in the kitchen area. Lovely!

It had been a long day, but full of rewarding experiencing. I’m so glad we did the trek, as we nearly gave it a miss, and the winery was great too. We will definitely be visiting more! I also loved being on the bike, and have fallen in love with enjoying steaks and wine every night. This could be a bad habit we are getting into.
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