Getting away in my own backyard: The South West

  Since my return home two months ago, my wanderlust has not slowed, slackened or subsided in the slightest.  I have been restricted in my travels thanks to my pitiful bank account and uni commitments limiting my time. So I have fed my addiction with short trips down to the gorgeous South West region of Western Australia.  Stretches of secluded beaches, wicked surf breaks, acres of untouched national parks and an abundance of culinary treasures:  it is one of my favourite places on earth and just a few hours out of town – my own little backyard paradise.

 down south

busso jetty

The very first weekend I was home, with four cars full of family and friends we made our way down to the small coastal town of  Gracetown.  A lovely four hour drive south of Perth.  By the time I reached our beautiful beach house in Gracetown, I had satisfied every yearning I had while away in Europe:  I had soaked my pasty skin in the warmth of that piercing Australian sun.  Finally feeling fresh air and sun rays on my now snow white limbs that had spent the past four months covered in thermal wear.  I had dragged my hair and bathed my skin in the salty ocean waters and finally got back out on the surfboard.

House view
View from Gracetown house

I drove hours – yes hours! – through tree lined roads without passing through a major city or over boarders.. Just paddocks, small towns, a few petrol stations and good ol’ Australian bush.  Caves Road, a 111 km stretch from Yallingyup down to Augusta, is one of my favourite roads to drive.  A windy track lined with trees and with numerous wineries, breweries, caves and surf breaks every five minutes of each other there is so much to explore on the one road.

caves rdmap caves road
Caves Road

Just a few weeks later I shared the South West with some friends visiting from Germany.  We made it to Yallingup for sunset and watched a group of surfers take on some decently sized waves as the sun slowly descended behind them and the skyline filled with layers of purple and orange hues.  It wasn’t long before I noticed a fin popping up behind the group… then another… we watched as two dolphins rode the waves all the way into the shore. Showing up the group of surfers nearby who were all now frozen in awe. For the Germans who had only seen dolphins a few times before it was a gorgeous sight and a highlight of their entire Australian trip.  For me any dolphin sighting especially when they are that blissful and free in their natural environment is a very special moment.

surfers sunsetdolphin

It just so happened that weekend was also the Margaret River Pro.  We went down to watch on the day of the finals and arrived just in time to see Kelly Slater and Australia’s Joel Parkinson battling it out on 6 foot waves in the nail biting last minutes of their very close semi final heat.  Perched high up on the cliff, it was still a mission to find a good line of sight in the crowd of hundreds.

surf

signed hat
A fan wears her hat signed by the competing surfersmargs pro crowd
A massive crowd came out for the event

We couldn’t pass by Dunsborough on our way down without popping into Simmos Icecreamery:  The best icecream in the West, dare I say Australia!  Unfortunately they had run out of my favourite flavour Ginger and Cinnamon (try before you judge) but the expresso I did have, was just as good.  The fudge rippled Burnt Salted Caramel, Choc Trio packed with choc bits and the multi-award winning Vanilla Bean are amongst their best sellers.  The friendly counterhand piled our cones high with super generous servings,so much so it was too heavy for one of the girls and her icecream fell right of the cone.  Within seconds she had another one placed in her hands piled just as high.
simmos
Simmos has always had it’s resident icecream eating emu, but these school holidays they have two resident camels joining the mix taking children and adults alike for bumpy camel rides under the supervision of Humpy Camels.
IMG_0405camel rides
The sweets didn’t stop there.  A trip down south is not complete without stopping at the Margaret River Chocolate factory, if only just to gobble down handful after handful of white, milk and dark chocolate pieces from the giant sample bowls.
chocolate
Filling our bags with samples
And for a good night out down south, I am a big fan of the Margaret River Tavern.  For a small casual bar in a country town they get some pretty great acts.  Posters of past and upcoming acts line the venue walls, within the last month they’ve had Sticky Fingers and Cloud Control to name a few. Think quality local and Australian roots, reggae, indie and blues: the music fits the venue and the town.  My last visit there was no different, a Perth roots and reggae band had everyone dancing before the end of their first song.  Enticing the entire bar to the dance floor or at least up of their seats with that undeniable reggae groove and some wicked guitar riffs.

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I could probably start an entire separate blog on my travels to the South West.  I’ve had my fair share of samples at wine tastings, dined at award wining restaurants, strolled through gorgeous gardens and vineyards and even seen concerts at many of the countless wineries in the region.  Visited the factories of just about every delicatessen, from chocolate to cheese and even nuts and cereals.  Explored deep into caves, marveled at forrests karri trees over eighty meters in height and surfed, swam and snorkeled with all kinds of sea life just meters off the shore.  Each time I venture down to the South West there is something new to do and plenty of old favourites to revisit.

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