A Travellerspoint blog

March 2014

Weekend Getaway 1: South West WA - Harvey

Saturday - Monday: Harvey... Gnomesville... Donnybrook... Busselton Jetty... Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse... Ngilgi Cave

sunny
View Wkend Getaway 1 - South West WA (Mar 2013) on Goannaray's travel map.

Leaving mid Saturday morning of the March long weekend, we arrived at Harvey in plenty of time for a climb up to the top of the Big Orange located at the Harvey River Bridge Estate Winery. Before heading to the information centre and surrounding parkland for lunch.

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I can do it Dad

I can do it Dad

1... 2... 3... 4... 5... ... ...

1... 2... 3... 4... 5... ... ...

Entrance to the Big Orange was by gold coin donation, and we were rewarded with decent views over the citrus orchards and surrounding countryside, and some interesting historical photo's and information about the orchards and Harvey Fresh.

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After having a good look through the information centre and picking up some brochures and information on camping sites (all close national parks and bigger townsite campgrounds totally full for the long weekend!) Clancy got lunch ready, while I took the kids to see a bit of the gardens and find some ducks in the nearby Harvey River.

One section of the information centre was set up to exhibit information about the areas and homesteads that got swallowed up by one of the local dams. Showing photo's, and even part of one of the homesteads walls. Out behind the main information centre is Stirling Cottage Tearooms set in the Stirling Cottage replica. Known to be the home of May Gibbs (author of Snugglepot & Cuddlepie) during 1885 - 1887.

I found the 'Box of Water' rather interesting - engineered to measure volumes of irrigated water for this south western area. I think the kids were less interested in the ingenuity of it, and more in the availability of being able to climb and have fun with the water!

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The surrounding gardens were really well maintained, and I had fun trying to keep Sonia and Kaden from interupting a wedding that was occuring in one section of the gardens. Not too much of an issue once Kaden found the ducks however!

After lunch, we paid a $5 deposit (returned when Key returned) and picked up a key to access the Internment Camp Memorial Shrine about 200m up the hill. Both Sonia and Kaden didn't seem to mind the walk too much, but then weren't too impressed with us constantly telling them not to touch once we were inside looking at the shrine, and trying to read all the displayed information surrounding it and its history.


Posted by Goannaray 21:41 Archived in Australia Tagged history monuments fruit western_australia harvey weekend_toddler_adventures_wa south_west_wa wkend_adventures_swregion other_sw_wa_areas Comments (2)

Weekend Getaway 1: South West WA - Gnomesville

Saturday - Monday: Harvey... Gnomesville... Donnybrook... Busselton Jetty... Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse... Ngilgi Cave

sunny
View Wkend Getaway 1 - South West WA (Mar 2013) on Goannaray's travel map.

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Hot air ballooning gnomes

Hot air ballooning gnomes

Princess Gnome!

Princess Gnome!

The information brochure for Ferguson Valley that we picked up at the Harvey Information Centre, turned out to be very helpful. Showing a more detailed map of the area, which allowed us to get off the main roads, and see more of the picturesque hills and valleys of the area. It reminded me very much of where I spent much of my childhood in Toodyay.

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Gnomesville itself was amazing! Showcasing some rather creative ideas from numerous different people and groups. I can't think of anywhere else that has such a showcase of gnomes. Definitely worth taking the detour to have a quick look. Which then, depending on your appreciation of gnomes... may turn into a bit more than 'just a quick look'!! Who knows, you may even want to add to the population!

Wait for me Kaden!

Wait for me Kaden!

Smurfs

Smurfs

Country music gnomes

Country music gnomes

Gnomesville PCYC Windmill

Gnomesville PCYC Windmill

Gnomesville School Bus

Gnomesville School Bus

Gnomesville School Bus

Gnomesville School Bus

Gnomesville Detention Centre

Gnomesville Detention Centre

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Posted by Goannaray 15:16 Archived in Australia Tagged western_australia gnomes toddlers gnomesville weekend_toddler_adventures_wa south_west_wa wkend_adventures_swregion collie_area other_man_made_things Comments (0)

Weekend Getaway 1: South West WA - Donnybrook

Saturday - Monday: Harvey... Gnomesville... Donnybrook... Busselton Jetty... Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse... Ngilgi Cave

sunny
View Wkend Getaway 1 - South West WA (Mar 2013) on Goannaray's travel map.

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Uh oh!!

Uh oh!!

I'm coming...

I'm coming...

The main drawcard for us to Donnybrook was the amazing humongous playground! The abundance of fruit in certain seasons (namely apples and pears) would be another good drawcard for many too.

Donnybrook Playground

Donnybrook Playground

On the way out of Donnybrook, heading towards Capel, we pulled into Ironstone Gully Falls. A small gully/stream that would have a rather picturesque waterfall in wetter months. Considering it was the beginning of March, it was rather warm, and bone dry everywhere. So instead of an interesting waterfall, we enjoyed some dark red/brown rocks and radiating heat. Sonia and Kaden enjoyed running around and jumping on the rocks till we decided they were a tad too close to the edge of the dropoff where the waterfall would start, and headed back to the car. During cooler, wetter months, this site would make a rather nice free campsite.

Posted by Goannaray 21:46 Archived in Australia Tagged creek playground western_australia campground toddlers weekend_toddler_adventures_wa south_west_wa wkend_adventures_swregion collie_area parks/playgrounds Comments (0)

Weekend Getaway 1: South West WA - Busselton Jetty

Saturday - Monday: Harvey... Gnomesville... Donnybrook... Busselton Jetty... Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse... Ngilgi Cave

sunny
View Wkend Getaway 1 - South West WA (Mar 2013) on Goannaray's travel map.

Looking back to shore

Looking back to shore

We arrived into a very busy Busselton just before lunch time on Sunday, and were rather unsure how far we'd end up having to walk to get to the Busselton Jetty due to parking issues. We were pleasantly surprised and found a fairly well shaded spot really close to the jetty and information centre. Zipped into the information centre to pick up whatever information we could find (specifically a list of available campgrounds in the area, and what there was to do surrounding the jetty), then onto the jetty itself to purchase tickets to the Underwater Observatory (UWO) and have a quick look through the museum.

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The first available tickets were for in 3hrs time and also included a return trip on the Jetty Train. This worked out really well, allowing us to enjoy a relaxed lunch and swim. We got a few interesting looks over lunch, having a picnic around the back of our dual cab hilux. We'd parked reversed up to a carpark island with pine trees in it providing plenty of shade, so laying the tailgate down for a table, Clancy sitting on one end of it, Sonia clambering all over the baggage in the tray, Kaden in his pram, and me on a camp chair... we enjoyed a quick, cheap, make as much mess as you want (within reason!), picnic lunch! Only thing we forgot was to take a photo!

Window 2

Window 2

Fish!

Fish!

Going for a swim, we found the water rather cold at first, but soon got used to it and rather enjoyed it. It was nice and calm while we were there, so mixing that with the gentle slope of the beach, it made for a rather fun and enjoyable, kid friendly experience. Clancy wasn't too enthused on getting wet, so Sonia and Kaden took turns begging Mum for 'spin/swing' out in the deeper water. Some older folk enjoying a relaxing swim nearby pointed out a decent sized crab slowly scuttling away in the water, not far from where I was spinning/swinging the kids. I'm glad they did, as not only did I not want to get nipped, but it was interesting to watch as it slowly continued on it's way.

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To get to the end of the 1.8km jetty, you can walk, take the train, or possibly even ride a bike. We decided to take the train considering it was included with the UWO ticket, and would let us get away faster to head to our camp for the night. As it was a long weekend with rather warm weather, there were plenty of people enjoying the jetty. Fishing, walking, swimming, jumping/diving off the jetty... people everywhere! The train was well and truly at full capacity as well. One group of people who arrived a bit later during the boarding time ended up having to find individual seats scattered throughout the length of the train, rather than being able to sit together which they weren't too happy with. But yes, it was an enjoyable ride for all, and made the trip to the end of the jetty a fair bit faster and less strenuous than walking.

End of Busselton Jetty

End of Busselton Jetty

Busselton Under Water Observatory

Busselton Under Water Observatory

Window 1

Window 1

The Underwater Observatory was great! It's basically a huge 9.5m diameter pipe or chamber with stairs slowly spiralling down around the inside of the walls. Windows at various levels allow you to look out at the fish and coral of the artificial reef growing underneath the jetty. Sonia and Kaden enjoyed looking out at all the fish and coral, but I think the stairs were a bit more enticing to them. Constantly wanting to run up and down. It's about 8m down to the ocean floor, and after listening to the guide's explanations on the way down the stairs, you're able to stay down there nearly as long as you want. Bearing in mind, if you miss the return train trip, you'll have to walk!

Window 3

Window 3

More Stairs!

More Stairs!


Posted by Goannaray 20:33 Archived in Australia Tagged bridges ocean wildlife beach walk western_australia busselton weekend_toddler_adventures_wa south_west_wa wkend_adventures_swregion other_sw_wa_areas Comments (0)

Wkend Getaway 1: South West WA - Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse

Saturday - Monday: Harvey... Gnomesville... Donnybrook... Busselton Jetty... Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse... Ngilgi Cave

sunny
View Wkend Getaway 1 - South West WA (Mar 2013) on Goannaray's travel map.

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From where we camped at the Four Seasons Holiday Park between Busselton and Dunsborough, it didn't take long to get out to the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse. Meaning we got there not long before they opened, and were able to go on the first tour for the day. The lighthouse grounds and cottages seemed really well maintained, with a bouncy castle and large connect four game available for kids. These caught the immediate attention of both Sonia and Kaden, and most of the other kids who later arrived as well.

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As we were also planning on visiting Ngilgi Cave that day, we got a cheaper ticket covering both attractions. However, as they said, we could've used the Ngilgi Cave ticket any time over the next few months. It didn't have to get used that day.

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The tour around and through the lighthouse was really interesting. For both adults and children alike. Having no real previous knowledge about lighthouses, being able to see inside and climb up the internal stairs to see it working, as well as hearing the history of how it was built, how it was previously operated, and the maintenance involved, was great. Some of the main things that caught my attention were the weight and size of the turning lead crystal (original still in place and working) sitting on mercury, it's special flash sequence, what the duties of the lighthouse keepers previously entailed (tireing work!), and how the surrounding landscape had changed. I also found that having looked through the small museum of lighthouse paraphernalia before going on the actual tour, rather helped my understanding of what I saw and what was explained on the tour.

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If we'd had more time, some of the surrounding walks would've been really good to do as well. Definately somewhere to return to. Hopefully sometime around September/October to try and see some migrating whales from the lookouts off the coast.

Posted by Goannaray 20:39 Archived in Australia Tagged history lighthouse western_australia toddlers cape_naturaliste weekend_toddler_adventures_wa south_west_wa wkend_adventures_swregion other_sw_wa_areas Comments (0)

Wkend Getaway 1: South West WA - Ngilgi Cave (Yallingup)

Saturday - Monday: Harvey... Gnomesville... Donnybrook... Busselton Jetty... Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse... Ngilgi Cave

sunny
View Wkend Getaway 1 - South West WA (Mar 2013) on Goannaray's travel map.

See any fairies?

See any fairies?

Ngilgi Cave, formally known as Yallingup Cave, is located not far from... you guessed it, Yallingup! After visiting the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse (where we'd picked up a cheaper dual ticket for both lighthouse and cave), we continued straight on to see the cave. And lucky for us, timed it just right to get onto the next tour before lunchtime.

Stalectite window

Stalectite window

Stalectite

Stalectite

One rather wise thing that the staff recommended to us at the main desk, was to ensure that the kids (and us too if we needed) utilised the toilets before going on the tour. As it'd be about an hour or so before we got back and had access to facilities again. I'm guessing they'd had some misfortunate experiences! So yes, after a prompt visit to the toilets, and a quick play on the playground, it was time to start the tour.

The tour started with the explanation of an Aboriginal legend, a battle between a good spirit (Ngilgi) and an evil spirit (Wolgine), that gives the cave it's current name. This was also portrayed rather well in some eye catching (to kids atleast anyway!) artwork located around the start of the tour waiting area. Then it was on and down in to the cave itself via some rather steep steps.

Ngilgi Cave Formations

Ngilgi Cave Formations

Ngilgi Cave Curtain

Ngilgi Cave Curtain

The guides provided a basic rundown of the cave at the base of the entry/exit steps, then let you wander through at your own pace. Letting you take as long as you wanted, with a guide located partway through to provide extra information and answer questions if required. At that point, they also had quite a few pieces of stalectites etc, that you could hold, and touch, and see what colours they made when light was shone through them, not just on them. Unfortunately for us, my attempts at photography did not turn out anywhere near as good as I'd hoped. These are the better few.

Ngilgi Cave Formations

Ngilgi Cave Formations

Amphitheatre Roof

Amphitheatre Roof

The formations themselves seemed fairly similar to those I'd seen in numerous other caves around Australia and the world, but it was still really interesting. Especially with all the different coloured lights they had set up to highlight the formations. What caught Sonia's attention, was a tunnel that had been made which allowed kids (and kids at heart!), to travel from the base of the entry/exit steps, down to a lower level of the cave. I followed her down, and had to keep reminding her to slow down so she didn't run into the person in front of her! Lots of fun for both of us. After that however, the main attraction for both Sonia and Kaden was trying to climb the hand railings, and once again... running up and down the many steps and walkways!

Ngilgi cave tunnel

Ngilgi cave tunnel

Echidna carving

Echidna carving

Kaden ended up falling asleep in my arms by the end of our slow cave journey, providing me with an impromptu workout climbing all the paths and steps to get out of the cave. Then while he continued to sleep, the rest of us started on a picnic lunch. To be ended with the promised ice creams and a look at all the interesting artwork in the nearby studio. Some really amazing pieces available if you have enough money.



Posted by Goannaray 23:11 Archived in Australia Tagged art paintings history walk cave western_australia yallingup toddlers ngilgi_cave weekend_toddler_adventures_wa south_west_wa wkend_adventures_swregion other_sw_wa_areas Comments (0)

Wkend Getaway 1: South West WA - Planning, Camping, Travel

Saturday - Monday: Harvey... Gnomesville... Donnybrook... Busselton Jetty... Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse... Ngilgi Cave

sunny
View Wkend Getaway 1 - South West WA (Mar 2013) on Goannaray's travel map.

What worked... or didn't! ... for us.

Planning

Considering this was going to be our first weekend camping trip for the year, and first one as a family of four... the planning felt like it took quite a while, was more involved, and generally bigger than what it hopefully will be for future weekends.

  • Where to go - I did a lot of online research. Finding things and places that looked interesting, and placing them onto a My Custom Google Map so we could get an idea of where abouts things were located. I showed Clancy the map and let him choose where he'd like to go/see... and that was it. A few destinations, and general direction chosen!
  • Where to stay - Considering the whole idea was to camp... we obviously needed somewhere that allowed camping. I would've been quite happy to set up a very basic camp anywhere in some bush, but Clancy wasn't too enthused with that idea. So a compromise was met and it was decided whatever campground had availability in the area that we were in at the time, would be the place to camp.
  • What to take

Tents
Bedding
Food & Water
Cooking/eating equipment
Maps
Clothing
Toys
First Aid
Toiletries

Camping

Looking back through all the weekends photo's. The only one we could find related to the actual camping side of things was this one taken by Miss 3yr old Sonia whilst setting up the tents :)

Hm... what's this?

Hm... what's this?

  • Campsites - Considering it was a long weekend, we weren't expecting many of the bigger, more common campgrounds to have any sites available. Harvey information centre confirmed this, stating most people who wanted to camp were being redirected to Logue Brook Dam. We preferred to keep heading further south, so after a bit of ringing around, found space available at the Kirup Tavern Camping and Caravan Park for Saturday night. This was a small but friendly campground beside the Kirup Tavern. Decent showers (Even had a baby bath and change table!! Still found the wash tub more practical though), basic kitchen and laundry facilities, grassed area for tents, and small playground across the road.

For Sunday night around the Busselton/Dunsborough area it was very similar. Needing to ring around a bit before finding somewhere that had a site avaliable. We ended up camping at the Four Seasons Holiday Park Busselton. This was a rather large, well established, older campground. The site we were given was a vacant site, located in a permanent van section of the park. Relatively close to the amenities and playground. This campground had a bigger outdoor kitchen with picnic style gas BBQ near the playground and amenities. So while Clancy got tea organised, I watched the kids, watch the hoards of other kids play! I could have given them their baths at that time, but considering the numbers of other parents doing just that, and the fact that they were yet to get rather messy eating... decided we'd wait till things had settled down a bit after tea.

  • Tents and Bedding - Figured we'd trial using the two small old dome tents we currently have. 4 person tent for us, 2 person tent for the kids. Set them up with openings facing each other, and worked rather well. The only real downside we found was that both tents were low, so constant bending over, resulting in sore backs. And having to open numerous zips, then climb through numerous small openings to check on the kids. So we're now planning to seriously start looking at maybe a taller, larger tent that will accommodate us all.

Bedding had been one of Clancy's main sticking points with not looking forward to camping. Not being able to sleep on a comfortable mattress. So prior to this trip, we decided to upgrade our single swag mats, and splurge on a 4WD Mat as it's commonly called. Self inflating, 10cm thick foam mattress. Definately not for hiking or backpacking! Deciding between 2 singles or 1 double, Clancy decided we'd go for the 1 double to share it's rolling up. He wasn't too impressed when I stated that if we got 2 singles, I was quite happy to roll mine, but he'd have to do his own!

  • Food etc... - To save on buying every meal, we took enough for each meal that we'd have while we were away. The 'fridge stuff' (ie, salad, cheese etc that normally requires a fridge (No meat though!)) I packed in a box that went behind the drivers seat, under Sonia's feet (covered with towel and pillow). With us slowly reducing it's volume, all the 'fridge stuff' survived the trip rather well. Despite the warm weather. Everything else, went into a cardboard fruit box with lid, that got packed on the tray of the ute (easily accessible, under a folded silver tarp for some insulation) with all the other baggage.

We took a small foldable camp table and stools, a bucket, and my old Trangia cookstove incase we stayed somewhere without kitchen facilities. The table, stools and bucket got used, but the Trangia ended up staying in it's bag on the back of the ute. Both places we stayed at had microwaves, which turned out being the easiest and fastest way for us to cook what we'd brought for the evening meals (thankfully some of the containers we had food in were microwave safe).

  • Miscellaneous - Once again... my trusty set of multifit plugs came in very handy! Some basic familiar toys for the kids were also appreciated. Along with a book or 2 each to maintain their regular tea, bath, story, bed routine.

Travel

Putting the question to Clancy (didn't worry me for this sort of trip), he decided we'd take my old dual cab hilux for easier packing, and access to all our equipment and baggage. This worked fine for this trip without any rain... however we're going to have to rethink our options once rain starts to threaten as we currently don't have a cover for the tray!

Kids and driving... they were both pretty good. But then again, they've both been brought up with fairly regular long driving trips, allowing them to get accustomed to it from a very young age. One thing Sonia enjoyed, was having a map of her own to look at.

Posted by Goannaray 21:49 Archived in Australia Tagged camping tents miscellaneous western_australia planning campground toddlers weekend_toddler_adventures_wa south_west_wa wkend_adventures_swregion Comments (0)

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