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Yay! Finally... a meeting with the ever elusive platypus!!

Devonport to Deloraine

all seasons in one day
View Tasmania with 2 toddlers! (Winter 2013) on Goannaray's travel map.

As you can probably tell from the title of this blog, this day turned out to be a rather enjoyable highlight of the trip. With Sonia and myself finally being able to see a platypus in the wild. And for a decent length of time too, not just a quick glimpse!

But before we get to that, we couldn't leave Devonport without a visit to Mersey bluff,... and go through Latrobe again, without a return visit to the Anvers Chocolate Factory and Cherry Shed!

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We hadn't originally planned to stay in Devonport, and wanted to keep moving relatively quickly, but didn't want to miss out on something iconic to that area either. So on leaving the Devonport Discovery Holiday Park, we asked the reception staff what they'd recommend that was quick and simple to see/do for toddlers around Devonport. They recommended the Mersey Bluff lighthouse. It was an interestingly painted lighthouse, with distinctive red stripes facing out to sea. We held Kaden, and had to keep an eye on Sonia with the cliff edges being so close, but she enjoyed being able to run around the lighthouse and look down on the crashing waves. The view across the mouth of the River Mersey wasn't too bad either.

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There was no way Clancy would let us drive past this place again without picking up some more extremely yummy chocolate! After visiting it for the first time during the Latrobe Chocolate Winter Festival, we found this visit to be much more relaxed and enjoyable. Less people, easier parking, different things being made etc. We also found another rather fun children's activity available, that we previously hadn't seen. A bouncy truck. The truck was on springs, and Sonia really did not want to leave it! We finally managed to coax her out of it to go and taste some different chocolate samples at the Anvers Tasting Centre. Took a while to decide what we'd buy, and ended up choosing a mixed box of truffles. We'd previously bought a mixed box of pralines. Both very yum!

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As with the Anvers Chocolate Factory, we couldn't bypass the Cherry shed again without restocking our supply of chocolate coated cherries. While Clancy picked up the desired treats, Sonia, Kaden and I went to have a last play and look out of the big cherries.

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After missing this attraction during the Latrobe Chocolate Winterfest, I'd been looking forward to having a quick glimpse, but had since forgotten that there'd now be an entry fee involved. So yes, considering Clancy wasn't really interested, I'd already seen a fair bit of this sort of thing traveling around the south west of WA, our time frame, and the cost to go through, we decided we'd skip it this time as well, and push on to see if we could see a platypus instead. So after obtaining more information about the Warrawee Reserve, saying goodbye to the big flying platypus, and picking up some Subway for lunch, on we went in search of a good picnic spot, and the ever elusive platypus.

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The Warrawee Forest Reserve isn't far out of Latrobe (follow Hamilton St, which turns into Shale Rd), with the last section of road through the reserve being gravel. We found a nice picnic spot nestled in a bend of the Mersey River, and enjoyed our lunch with a decent sized flock of friendly Superb Fairywrens or Blue Wrens as they're otherwise known. Sonia and Kaden really enjoyed watching them zip around chasing crumbs or whatever else they could find.

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While I fed Kaden, and waited for Sonia to finish her lunch, Clancy wandered around looking at different things, and found about 22 marbles scattered around the picnic area we were at. Seemed like they kept popping up everywhere! After Sonia had finally finished eating, I took her down to be able to throw some stones into the river while Clancy watched Kaden for a while. Sonia really enjoyed being able to do this, seeing how far she could throw them, and how big a splash she could make. I enjoyed the numerous smooth, flat river stones that were around for skimming. I managed to get one to bounce atleast 10 times, but generally averaged about 5-7 bounces. I thought that was pretty good!

What's down here Dad?

What's down here Dad?

Moving on from the picnic area, we found a boardwalk bridge that'd been removed for some reason. It would've allowed us to cross over the creek that ran between two ponds/lakes, as a shortcut to the main boardwalk and viewing platform. Instead, we now had to walk the whole way round the big pond/lake to get there. Clancy didn't really feel like having to return via the same route round the lake/pond to get back to where we'd parked the van, so decided he'd keep Kaden and stay near the gazebo on that side of the lake.

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Sonia and I continued on around the big lake/pond to the start of the boardwalk, but decided we'd continue on down through the bush beside the following smaller pond, before coming back to check out the boardwalk. Whilst doing this, we spotted bubbles rising in the smaller pond, but didn't think much of it, as we'd seen similar bubbles in the big pond/lake, and nothing seemed to come of them except an occaisonal duck or other waterbird.

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We continued on, following what seemed like an old track round the pond, and came to a sort of causeway across an outlet for the pond to flow back into the Mersey River. We squatted down behind some reedy bushes and continued to watch the bubbles for a while. Much to our surprise, a platypus surfaced, and started skimming across the surface of the pond directly for the causeway!! It changed direction a bit as it got closer, and duck dived to rummage around the reeds, bushes, and banks of the pond leading away from the causway. I managed to keep Sonia quiet, and tried to get as many photo's and videos as possible to take back to show Clancy.

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I didn't really want to move in case we scared it, but this decision ended up being made for us. The platypus seemed to have had enough of scrummaging round the edges of the pond near where we were, and went to climb out and over the causeway! It spotted Sonia and I near the bushes not far away, and quickly dove back into the pond. I decided that would be the best time for us to make an appropriate get away, and leave him/her in peace.

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We headed back to the boardwalk and viewing platform, where we found Clancy had driven our van to wait on the road above it. After getting a few more photo's and savouring the area a while longer, Sonia and I climbed the bushy bank to have fun showing Clancy the photo's and video's we'd taken of the platypus.

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And once again.... another not to be missed chocolate opportunity! Clancy ran in and picked up some chocolate coated raspberries, then stayed in the van with a sleeping Sonia, while I took Kaden for a walk around the lake near the cafe. It was a nice short walk that could have accommodated a pram ok. There were also various interesting signs providing information on the history, and flora and fauna of the area.

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The Melita Honey Farm is located in the small town of Chudleigh, between Mole Creek and Deloraine. It had a lot of fun interactive displays for both young and old alike, prividing a vast amount of educational information. I found the indoor glass beehive rather interesting, being able to see the bees working in the hive. Sonia however prefered to watch the bees coming and going from the regular box hives through the window outside.

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She also enjoyed a display set up where you'd have to look through a small viewing window, to see colourful picture panels moving round at the push of a button. She did need my help to lift her up to the viewing window for that one though. And we all enjoyed tasting the many different varieties of honey and nougat available! We would've loved to bring some different varieties of honey home with us, but would have had to surrender them as soon as we landed back in WA due to quarantine regulations. So nougat it was instead.

Posted by Goannaray 20:21 Archived in Australia Tagged lakes birds chocolate winter view wildlife tasmania river rocks walk pond cherry lighthouse picnic playground platypus latrobe toddlers warrawee_forest_reserve 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! northern_central_tasmania interstate_overseas Comments (0)

Liffey Falls and Pencil Pines at Pine Lake

Using Deloraine as a base

all seasons in one day
View Tasmania with 2 toddlers! (Winter 2013) on Goannaray's travel map.

We camped beside the Meander River in Deloraine at the Apex Caravan Park, and managed to enjoy an early night thanks to arriving a bit earlier, and constantly improving evening routine. This campground had required us to ring earlier to be able to obtain a key for the amenities, which we picked up from the caretaker living across the road and railway tracks. In the morning however, when I went to return the key, I didn't see the board on his front verandah for early morning key drop off's, and woke him up knocking on the door! So for those likely to be staying there and wanting to return their keys earlier, make sure you ask what they want you to do for this, and be very observant!

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It was a bit of a trip into the Liffey Falls State Reserve from Deloraine, with the smaller more bendy access road to the falls turning to gravel not long after leaving the A5 Highland Lakes Road. If we'd had a bigger style motorhome, I don't know if we would've made it round some of the tighter slippery wet bends ok. It was definately worth the trip in though, with a nice easy walk, and some rather picturesque falls.

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The track to the upper cascades was a gentle to moderate downhill walk that we could've easily taken the pram on. There were quite a few steps involved to get down to the bottom of the main falls though (still only gentle to moderate steepness), so we carried both Sonia and Kaden in baby carrier backpacks (Kathmandu and Ergo) to help reduce time. Sonia didn't want to return in the backpack however, so she walked for most of the return trip back up to the carpark and picnic area. Numerous informative signs were posted alongside the track which also caught Sonia's attention, as they incorporated a variety of drawings from primary school aged children helping to depict the written information.

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There were quite a few picnic tables available, including some undercover ones. As we were leaving, driving around the picnic/parking area circle, I saw the sign for the Big Tree. Clancy stopped and stayed with the kids in the van for a while, allowing me to quickly run in to see the 50m tall Browntop Stringybark tree and grab some photo's. Not far from the picnic area toilet.

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I'd read that Pine Lake beside the Highland Lakes Road, was one of the best and easiest spots to see Pencil Pines. Considering it wasn't too far from the Liffey Falls turn off, we decided we'd drive up to have a quick look. The drive on its own was worth it, as there were some really nice views of the Great Western Tiers. There was ice on the rocks beside the road, and with a strong wind blowing over the lake, it made for a rather cold walk. As Clancy wasn't really interested in going for another walk and the kids had once again fallen asleep, I left them in the warmth of the van and ran down the boardwalk to see the trees closer up, and grab some more photo's.

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We got back to Deloraine in time for a picnic lunch at the Deloraine Train Park beside the Meander river. We found this to be a great spot, as it looked to be well maintained, had a fenced in playground for younger children, a bigger open playground for older kids, old train that could be climbed on, decent toilets, and nice views of the river and bridges. We were lucky it was nice and sunny at that time, as both Sonia and Kaden really enjoyed being able to play freely on the fenced in playground. Before continueing on to see some of the sculptures around the town, we went for a walk over the fun bouncy walk bridge across the river. Sonia had a lot of fun trying to get it to bounce with some help from mum!

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Posted by Goannaray 05:46 Archived in Australia Tagged waterfalls lakes winter view tasmania walk sculpture tiers picnic campground deloraine toddlers liffey_falls pencil_pine 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! northern_central_tasmania interstate_overseas Comments (0)

John Forrest National Park

Nature's day trips from Perth with Toddlers

all seasons in one day
View Nature's Day Trips from Perth with Toddlers on Goannaray's travel map.

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We’d previously driven past this national park numerous times a year when heading into or out of Perth, but had never gone in to have a look. So this year we decided to change that and check it out. Finding that several trips were in order to fully appreciate each of the main attractions. Making for some very enjoyable days out in nature.

History

The park is enveloped by the cultural history of the Nyoongar people who lived nearby or traveled through the area, and also further colonised history, as the original eastern rail line ran through there from 1896 – 1966. During the Great Depression of the 1930’s, sustenance workers also did a lot of work in and around the parks headquarters, helping to make it the wonderful place it is today.

National Park Station

National Park Station

Train Crash

Train Crash

Swan View Tunnel

Swan View Tunnel

As one of the parks’ information brochures explains, the area was originally declared as a conservation reserve in 1898. Making it the oldest national park in WA. It later become John Forrest National Park in 1947 in honour of the famous explorer and statesman, Sir John Forrest (Premier of WA 1890-1901).

Access

As this is a National Park, there is an entrance fee (currently $12/vehicle without annual pass), and depending on what you’re wanting to do, there are several access points to the John Forrest National Park. The three main entrances that access the national park headquarters and developed area are located off the Great Eastern Highway between Midland and Mundaring.

Lookout over Perth

Lookout over Perth

The first signed entrance when heading east away from Perth is opposite the Bilgoman Aquatic Centre, which takes you on a scenic drive through part of the park before reaching the entrance toll booth. Near the beginning of this road is a lookout point allowing you to look west over Perth towards the coast. Take note that the gates on this road are shut by 4pm daily, so it’s recommended that all visitors should exit this area by 3:45pm to avoid being locked in!

Gate deadline...

Gate deadline...

The second entrance isn’t as well sign posted, but is the shortest route into the main park area. And the final entrance road is opposite the Glen Forrest Shopping Centre.

For parking and walk in access to various walks and sites, without having to pay to go through the main entrance, Pechey Rd in Swan View, Toodyay Rd between Red Hill and the Red Hill Auditorium entrance, and Victoria Rd in Hovea are other possibilities.

Things to see and do

There are quite a few tracks available to explore including the John Forrest Heritage Trail, which is a section of the Railway Reserve Heritage Trail (RRHT). Some tracks are wheelchair accessible, some are for walkers only, others allow bicycles, and some that pass through the park boundary also allow horses and dogs for the sections located outside of the national park. All of these tracks allow you to enjoy the natural bush and wildlife of the area.

John Forest Heritage Trail

John Forest Heritage Trail

With regards to prams, we found both the RRHT and narrower trails between the main attractions that we visited were quite suitable and relatively flat. There were also informative signs located along the RRHT explaining various interesting points, but not along the narrower walk trails.

Waiting for mum!

Waiting for mum!

Riding... riding...

Riding... riding...

Train, arrow, waterfall, tunnel... I choose... waterfall!

Train, arrow, waterfall, tunnel... I choose... waterfall!

As explained further below, the gardens and picnic areas are also rather nice for young and old to be able to enjoy.

Some of the main highlights or sights to see include:

Swan View Tunnel

Swan View Tunnel

Swan View Tunnel

Swan View Tunnel

Inside Swan View Tunnel

Inside Swan View Tunnel

This is a 340m long inactive railway tunnel built in 1894-95 for the Eastern Railway. The jointed granite, and clay seams in the area caused difficulty with the construction, requiring a masonry-lined face to prevent rock falls. This however reduced the inner diameter of the tunnel, which along with the steep gradient, caused smoke accumulation. This resulted in near-asphyxiation of train crews, with the first serious incident occurring in 1903. The worst accident in the tunnel was in 1942 when several train crew workers were asphyxiated, causing one death. A new line was built around the tunnel for trains going up (east), which was completed in 1945. This Eastern Railway line route was finally closed in February 1966, coinciding with the opening of the new eastern rail route through the Avon Valley. (References and further information: ...1... ...2... ...3...).

Light at the end of the tunnel!

Light at the end of the tunnel!

Hint: Remember to take a torch! It is doable in the dark, but some form of light source is definitely appreciated. Especially if you’re riding a bike and there’s still puddles around. We forgot a torch, but managed to get through the tunnel ok using an assistive light app I had on my phone.

Shall we go through?

Shall we go through?

The bike stayed upright!

The bike stayed upright!

From the main picnic area of the national park, it’s about a 5km return trip along the RRHT. Going this way, you’ll pass the National Park Falls along the way. Or for free access and a shorter walk, you can park near the Pechey Rd, Morrison Rd, Swan View Rd intersection and walk or ride in to the tunnel from there.

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  • National Park Falls

Jane Brook drops sharply over about a 20m rock face before continuing to flow through further boulders, creating a rather picturesque scene. Late winter and spring (especially after recent rains) are the best times to view these and Hovea Falls as the brook generally dries up over summer.

Hold on... Look...

Hold on... Look...

Don't go too far!

Don't go too far!

Exploring around National Park Falls

Exploring around National Park Falls

Exploring the rocks and bush around these falls with toddlers can be both a lot of fun, yet also slightly stressful. Requiring the need for you to constantly know where they are and what they’re doing, as there are both water and cliff hazards that they may not necessarily recognise.

National Park Falls Lookout

National Park Falls Lookout

In the water, out the water, in, out, in, out ...

In the water, out the water, in, out, in, out ...

National Park Falls

National Park Falls

It’s about a 2km return trip from the picnic area along the RRHT. An alternative route is following a section of the Eagle View Walk Trail which follows along the northern side of the Jane Brook (RRHT is on the southern side). Being a narrower trail and closer to the brook, this track provides a slightly different perspective of the brook and surrounding bush compared to the RRHT. The variety of flowers available to see along this track during spring is also rather spectacular.

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Or, if you’re prepared for a slightly longer walk, you can park near the Pechey Rd, Morrison Rd, Swan View Rd intersection and walk or ride in past the tunnel.

  • The national park main picnic and entrance area

As mentioned above, a lot of work was completed during the Great Depression of the 1930’s as part of relief employment, including gardens, paths, picnic shelters, and other infrastructure. It may appear more run down now than what it did then, but it is still a really nice place to enjoy a picnic and relaxing time out in nature (barbecues are also located throughout the picnic areas).

Picnic shelter

Picnic shelter

Hello!

Hello!

Sit here mum

Sit here mum

The kids (myself included!) really enjoyed exploring the numerous paths and interesting picnic shelters scattered throughout the extensive native gardens. Being able to set up lunch while the kids played nearby in the creek was also nice. Something to note however… Watch out for the magpies and twenty eight parrots who like to steal food from your plate/hands before (or even as), it enters your mouth! Miss 3yr old Sonia was none too happy when the cheese on the sandwich she was about to devour disappeared in a whoosh of wind and feathers brushing her head from a rather pleased and successful magpie!!

Picnic lunch time!

Picnic lunch time!

Twenty Eight

Twenty Eight

Paddling

Paddling

Magpie

Magpie

The John Forest Tavern is also located here, with some rather yummy food available. The tavern staff put feed out for the kangaroos as well, so about mid-afternoon, you’re pretty well guaranteed to see a good sized mob of kangaroos up nice and close if you wish to. From bigger older ones, right down to small joey’s.

Kangaroos

Kangaroos

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  • Hovea Falls

These falls occur where the Jane Brook cascades down a large granite sheet, occasionally weaving amongst bigger boulders sitting on top of the massive rock face. Not as spectacular as the National Park Falls if you prefer typical falling style waterfalls, but still very impressive in its own way.

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Once again, constant monitoring of toddlers is required for water and fall hazards. Another thing we found to watch out for leading up to and around this area was meat ants. After quite a few unhappy encounters, followed by repetitive education and instruction (with frequent reminders!), Sonia finally realised that they weren’t too bad if you kept moving and stayed away from where their nests and trails were located.

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From the main picnic area, it’s about a 2km return trip along the RRHT. If you’d prefer to walk down amongst the bush closer to the Jane Brook, there is also a nice track available to do that. Or, for free access, you can park at the end of Victoria Rd and walk in from there.

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  • Glen Brook Dam

You see and pass this dam upon entry into the national park through the main entrance point. There is a walk trail leading around the dam’s perimeter (Approx 2.2km), but unfortunately there are signs up to say ‘Swimming not allowed’ due to the disturbance this would cause to the animals who use the dam as a refuge and feeding area. According to one of the signs there, the water is also neither treated or quality monitored, and is mainly used for watering the gardens and fire fighting.

No swimming <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_sad.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':(' title='' />

No swimming :(

Glen Brook Dam

Glen Brook Dam

Glen Brook Dam sign

Glen Brook Dam sign

  • Rocky Pool

As the name suggests, it’s a rocky pool in the Jane Brook, not far from where the brook exits the national park. So far I’ve only seen this area with very little water present in the lead up to summer. Lots of fun clambering around and over the abundance of rocks that make up the stream bed, and exploring the few remaining pools of water. From this, I could imagine that during winter with a better water level, it would be rather nice, with quite a few small rapids along this section of the brook.

Bridge near Rocky Pool

Bridge near Rocky Pool

Flower

Flower

Parking is located on Pechey Rd near where the brook goes under a bridge in the road. Tracks lead off in different directions from here, heading to different locations within the national park. So you could access this area from within the national park if you wished.

I have not completed this trail, but as the trail brochure states ...

The Eagle View Walk Trail is a 15-kilometre bushwalking circuit that leads you to several of John forrest national park’s less explored destinations. The trail is a bushwalker’s delight, covering a variety of relatively pristine habitats. It’s also more challenging than other trails in the park, but your efforts are well rewarded. Be sensible and allow plenty of time for the walk which, depending on your level of fitness, will take from about four and half to seven hours. This also depends on your interest in your surroundings as you go along.

Another good source of information about the trail can be found on the Inspiration Outdoors website.

So there you go, another excellent, not too far away place that’s just waiting to be explored and enjoyed :)

(References: Historical and other detailed information (not attained from personal experience) was obtained from the associated links inserted into the blog.)



Posted by Goannaray 21:16 Archived in Australia Tagged waterfalls walk tunnel picnic western_australia toddlers nature's_day_trips_from_perth john_forrest_national_park perth_surrounds Comments (0)

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