One from the vault here. An article I meant to publish after the other Kangaroo Island posts and somehow forgot. Anyway, as the saying goes; better late than never. So here goes…
Here is a quick rundown of some of the other places we visited and odd things that we saw on our Kangaroo Island trip. You can catch up on other places and sights by checking out the other three blog posts here (part 1), here (part 2) and here (part 3).
Emu Bay Beach is a nice spot on the north east side of the island. It’s not far from where we hit the kangaroo/wallaby jackpot (see Part 3).
Craft Beer on KI
No visit to the island would be complete without a visit to this place. KIB = Kangaroo Island Brewery. Maker of several fine craft ales. Some of which were sampled (of course).
Silo Art on Kangaroo Island can be found near the town of Kingscote. These silos were painted fairly recently and were completed in late January 2022.
The main feature is a massive 25 metre tall Kangaroo; apparently the largest Kangaroo mural in Australia (I can believe that). On another side there is a huge Glossy Black Cockatoo. The work was painted by artists Cam Sale and Andrew Davis in only took (an almost unbelievable) four weeks to complete.
The artists added some incredible detail to the silo towers, including limestone rocks under the Kangaroos feet. Zoom in and you can see a flock of little Corellas sitting amongst the trees.
Just a quick word about the Sand dunes at Vivonne Bay – aka Little Sahara. These were not worth the effort. Well, visit by all means as they are large enough to impress but forget about the sled/sand-boarding. It is nothing like doing it on snow and almost impossible to get any speed up to be worth talking about. I guess the same is true for any ‘sand dune boarding’ location. We went because Dani wanted to have a go. Fair play to him for wanting to try, but it was very disappointing. Save your money and just walk the dunes.
This weekend we head off on a trip to Tasmania. This is the smallest of the Australian states – by some way. Still a fairly large island Tasmania lies about 250km south of mainland Australia, truly making it that bit more down-underer…
Using our old friend mapfight.xyz you can see the size of Tasmania compared to Spain and Great Britain.
Also it’s worth breaking it down even more as Tasmania seems so small compared to other states we have visited. So here it is compared to parts of the UK plus one of the biggest and perhaps most visited region in Spain.
So even though it does not seem as big and daunting as other states, Tasmania will still be big enough for our week long trip.
Tasmania – Much Further South
Yes, it’s true that Tasmania is even more down-underer than mainland Australia. As such the weather will be cooler and potentially wetter. As usual we plan to take in as much as possible in the time we have so it will be another whistle stop tour. But there should hopefully be some great posts on the way and some awesome photos. Let’s just hope the weather holds up…
Incidentally the term “down-underer” was first used by New Zealanders who made that great comedy series Flight of The Conchords. It was never actually said (as far as I know) but appeared on tourism posters advertising New Zealand. Well the term fits equally well for Tasmania as far as I am concerned.
If you have never seen Flight of The Conchords I can highly recommend it. For me it is up there with the best ever comedy series such as Fawlty Towers, Father Ted and the like.
I think the coastal town of Busselton deserves a separate post so here goes…
Busselton is a typical small seaside town with impeccable beaches and close enough to Perth and Margaret River to ensure enough tourists will keep on coming. Only 50km north it was another easily reached day trip from our base in Margaret River.
Although this is the west coast the beaches of Busselton face northwards as the coastline veers out further west forming what is called Geographe Bay. The beaches here are picture perfect but the main reason many tourists come here is the pier – known as Busselton Jetty. There are several reasons to visit this piece of history.
The Busselton Jetty is 1.841km long. It is the longest timber piled jetty in the southern hemisphere and is operated by a non-profit community organisation known as Busselton Jetty Inc. Ticket sales go towards jetty maintenance and conservation.
You can walk the pier or take a train ride that runs for 1.7km. At the end of the jetty is an amazing underwater observatory.
Vertical Coral Reef
The 8-metre-deep Underwater Observatory at the end of the jetty is (apparently) one of only 6 natural aquariums in the world! (That seems like a very low number for the whole planet, right? Anyway…) What makes this place so interesting is the way the vertical timber piles holding up the jetty have been colonised by coral and plant-life. This is effectively a vertical coral reef.
This is quite a phenomenon, as the western coastlines of other southern hemisphere continents (e.g. in Africa and South America) have no coral growth below 5 degrees south. The “reef” at Busselton jetty is made possible by the Leeuwin Current which brings a narrow band of warm water down the Western Australian coastline during autumn and winter. This warm southerly current leads to a diverse array of tropical and sub-tropical species in Geographe Bay, resulting in coral growth at a latitude of 33 degrees south.
There are 300 marine species that call this Jetty home. You get to see them through eleven viewing windows at various levels within the 9.5 metre wide observation chamber. It is all very well done. And with the “reef” being vertical the type of wildlife can vary at each level.
It is definitely worth a visit especially when the proceeds go to conserving the jetty and hence the curious vertical coral reef that is continually evolving. If my knee injury wasn’t such a problem I would have preferred to walk the jetty but taking the historic train ride was fun. One of those little trips you just have to do…
Brewery On The Beach
Back on dry land, right at the start of the jetty, is a craft beer Brewery. Basically straight off the beach and into the large shed selling brews made on the premises and the usual selection of food. Being next to the jetty and basically right on beach meant a captive holiday audience. Sure enough it was packed!
I liked the way they identify their beers at the pumps using different pastel coloured beach huts (see photos). Nice touch that. As for the quality of their beers I would not say they are the best I have tasted but they are certainly as good as most. As always these places are much better when less crowded but this was the height of the summer school holidays so the crowd and the wait was fully expected.
As always when in these places you just have to try a tasting paddle…
Please feel free to share this post with anyone who you think may like it, hit the like button and sign up for email/twitter alerts. Thanks for reading.
Here are a few more points of interest close to Margaret River…
Please remember to hit the “like” button and subscribe (if you haven’t already – email and/or Twitter). Also please feel free to share this post with anyone who you think may like it.
The Beach at Hamelin Bay – only 25 minutes away from Margaret River – is a must see. Yes, the beaches are fantastic, but the real reason to come here is the huge stingrays that come right close to the shore. These beautiful creatures come right up to you when you paddle in the shallows even allowing you to touch them. Needless to say Dani loved it.
I think it’s fair to say that Dani is becoming a little blasé about a lot of things. The amount of truly amazing things he has seen and done since we came to Australia is mind boggling for me. So it is hard to gauge how he really feels about it all. When I was his age the best we had was a week’s holiday to the coast in a caravan or holiday camp, usually within an hour or two drive from home. That’s not to say we never enjoyed it. We did. A lot! You make the most of what you have. I always agreed with that old saying. But to me, when I was Dani’s age? Wow! The thought of doing and seeing what he has this past three years would have blown my mind.
Dani the Stingray Whisperer
River Mouth and Surf Beaches
More or less directly west of Margaret River town the river itself meets the sea. Yet it didn’t quite make it into the Indian Ocean when we were there. It was the middle of summer however. When it rains I am sure the river will flow right into the sea. Maybe at high tide the two would meet in summer too? We never got to see either.
Just down the road is Surfers Point; a go to site for surfers, windsurfer and kite surfers.
Why do they do this?
This is a lookout near one of the beaches in this area. Incredibly they build and maintain these things but fail to keep the “view” clear. In this case the beach is not visible because the trees have grown to big – as they tend to do if left uncut. This happens a lot in Australia. So much money is spent on making (in some cases) elaborate walkways to reach a well built lookouts, only to leave the plants grow wild. There is no lookout! Unless you consider looking into a tree as a lookout. What’s the point? Cut the vegetation!!
My iPod is now a fixed feature in the car. Just as well as there are plenty of good songs on it (as well as a few dubious ones) and it helps to keep Dani occupied on longer journeys. In other words it prevents him from feeling car sick if he can listen to his own song selections.
The other day I was driving in the car with Dani and he selected a few songs off the iPod. Totally on his own and listened to them in full. All three were long songs by the way as you are about to find out. These are the three tracks he chose:
Dogs (from the album Animals by Pink Floyd) 21st Century Schizoid Man (from the album In The Court of The Crimson King) In The Court of The Crimson King (title track from the same album by King Crimson)
Dogs is a personal favourite of mine. Probably the best track on possibly Floyd’s best album. The other two are classics sung by Greg Lake (on his one and only King Crimson album appearance). I had the pleasure of seeing his (own) band perform them both live many years ago. I couldn’t have picked a better trio myself. I sat there enjoying the tracks as much as he did thinking proudly to myself ‘my work here is all but done’. But of course it never is. Is it?
We are all under constant bombardment from the (almost) total shit that is the majority of modern music. Often surrounded by it and feeling helpless at times. The struggle continues my friends. Who knows what garbage will be churned out at the next America’s Got Talent TV contest? Or for that matter any country’s version of “The Voice”. It hardly bears thinking about does it? It remains a tough struggle against the relentless onslaught. Production lines of crap “music” courtesy of the TV companies.
Yes, it sometimes feels like a lost cause. Like the 300 Spartans trying to hold off the might of the Persian army at Thermopylae. But we brush ourselves down and soldier on. And this recent victory, however small, gives me great hope for the future of our youth. Ah, those delicate sounds of music from bands with similar colours in their names (Pink and Crimson in case you’ve forgotten – please keep up)… True classics.
I can stand tall knowing that the lad has been taught well…
Oh, and the title of this post? That is of course a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song from their classic album Déjà Vu.
I have yet to get Dani to listen to that one. But it will come…
We left Albany and headed for our final base before returning to the Perth area. A few nights in Margaret River, a town on the river of the same name, in a great central location for all sorts of places of interest.
Firstly: Please remember to subscribe for emails and/or Twitter (if you have not already) and hit the like button. And, as always feel free to pass these posts on to anyone you think may like them…
Albany to Margaret River
The drive from Albany to Margaret River was relatively straight forward – apart from my right knee being incredibly painful. Driving an automatic car when you left leg is injured is quite easy. You simply don’t have to use it. It’s different with your right leg however. I needed to lift the leg from one foot pedal to another in order to brake and then accelerate. It was painful but we had a good run with reduced need for stop-start driving. It was still the best part of a 4 hour drive.
Margaret River is definitely one of those places that has come a long way in recent times. The town centre although still very small is mostly new looking. The area is famous for its wines but there are also some amazing coastal areas within easy reach. I guess this is a great base for so many things to see and do within just over an hour of driving.
It is not a very picturesque town but the location of Margaret River is fantastic.
The town is named after the river, which is presumed to be named after Margaret Whicher, cousin of John Garrett Bussell (founder of Busselton – watch out for a future post for this place) in 1831. The name is first shown on a map of the region as recently as 1839. The first settlers arrived around 1850 and timber logging soon followed around 1870. By 1910, the town had a hotel which also operated as a post office. In earlier days the area was widely known for hardwood timber and agricultural produce. You can still see examples of just about any food produce in the region.
These days the area is best known for its wine production, surfing and tourism; attracting (so they claim) an estimated 500,000 visitors a year. The coast to the west of the town is famous the world over for its surfing locations.
There is nothing of great interest in the town of Margaret River itself, but it is definitely a pleasant place to stay with enough places to eat and drink. And it’s a great base for the many vineyards and awesome beaches in this part of WA.
The Big Climb.
No. Not another one of “The Bigs of Australia”. This one refers to what for me was more of an ordeal than a touristy visit. We visited the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. One of the few I have ever seen that allows you to enter and climb the spiral staircase to the top. The Lighthouse precinct is heritage listed. The climb to the viewing deck consists of 176 steps. It was not easy with my injured knee – tougher coming down actually – but I had to do it. It is not often you get the chance to go to the top of one of these old lighthouses. Daniel meanwhile practically ran up.
Cape Leeuwin lighthouse is directly south (about 53km) from Margaret River and occupies the corner of a peninsula at the southwestern most point of the continent. This spot marks the dividing line between two huge bodies of water – The Indian and the Antarctic oceans. To the right the Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean (as they refer to it here) lies to the left.
Here the headland that the lighthouse is built on draws a distinct line between the two great oceans (see below). To the right is the Antarctic Ocean. To the left the Indian Ocean
Before we left we took a peek inside the lighthouse museum where there was a scaled down version of the lighthouse as well as a LEGO model.
Wine and Craft Beer
Wine has long been a big attraction in the Margaret River region with plenty of wines on offer. More recently craft beer breweries have popped up all over the area. We visited one or three…
So many breweries and vineyards. So little time…
Pioneer Cemetery at Augusta
Yes folks. Another! This time it’s in the small town of Augusta near the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse. We stopped in Augusta for lunch and passed this place so I felt obliged to take a look…
I suppose I do have some morbid fascination for these type of places but mostly I just like to pay homage to the brave – and often dirt poor – people who built these areas that we so freely enjoy nowadays. Anyway, anyone interested can study these information plaques. It’s all part of the history of Western Australia..
Ah… It seems ages since we last visited a place of justice, punishment and rehabilitation – even torture for some poor souls. So, here we are to put that right, with a visit to Albany Gaol.
This gaol is close to the old harbour front in an area containing several old heritage buildings and places of interest. Also a great steak restaurant by the way…
The gaol was built in 1852 for imperial convicts transported to Albany as skilled labourers. This is a common theme eh? The number of skilled convicts was surprisingly high all over Australia. It must have been very risky being a carpenter or stone-mason back in old England in those days. One little misdemeanour when out for a drink and BAM!! You suddenly find yourself being shipped off to the other side of the world where your skills got exploited to build a colony. I still think it was a clever idea by the authorities though. Many convicts worked on building the town jetty, manning the pilot boat and building the road to Perth.
The gaol was extended in 1873 and became a public prison including housing Aboriginal prisoners. The gaol was last used in the 1930s as a police lock-up and was put up for sale in 1941 as it was declared unfit for habitation. It remained derelict for years but was restored between 1989 and 1996 to become the museum we see today.
Warning: Readers may find some of the following photos disturbing…
Nowadays Albany has a modern prison which opened in 1966. It is set just off the road leading to the coastal beauty spots of Sandpatch beach and Albany wind farm. A dramatic stretch of coastline with very picturesque views of the ocean.
It is said that inmates in the new Albany prison can hear the ocean but never get to see it. Food for thought for those serving time…and even more so for those willing to commit a crime.
As always, thanks for reading and feel free to share this post (or any other you like). Please subscribe for emails of new posts and/or follow us on Twitter. And please don’t forget to hit the like button.
This whaling ship and station were still in use as recently as 1978. Whaling was – as we already knew – once an important industry in Australia. When the whaling station closed here it marked the end of the last shore based whaling station in Australia.
For Albany it was the end of 178 years of whaling. This museum crams in all that history and allows you to explore the ship as well as the oil storage tanks and out buildings containing tools used to process the whales as well as many skeletons…
Aptly named for me. After exploring the whaling station we went to nearby Misery Beach where I thought my left knee was recovered enough to play beach tag with my son. Too much twisting of course was always going to lead to another injury. I should have known better. As it turned out that injury was to the right knee. Probably equally damaged over the years and weakened – having taken most of the weight the past couple of weeks – yes; it went! Exact same pain as I had had in the left kneecap. Bloody Hell! This was not a lucky start to the new year eh? I spent the next few weeks recovering from that knee injury.
That said, Misery Beach is a great spot to relax if you ever get the chance. Great views across the Frenchman Bay. Even in the overcast weather we had that particular day.
Valley of the Giants
About 108km west of Albany, past the quaint (and crowded) town of Denmark, lies the Valley of the Giants. An old forest of tall trees many of which are several hundreds of years old. This is where they had one of those trees so big that you could drive your car through the trunk. Sadly that tree is no longer standing but there is a mock up of how it was and the car that was famously photographed driving through the trunk. Not as famous as that one in North America but similar theme…
There are still several trees that are large enough to walk through and even a treetop walkway that I decided to sit out due to my injured knee.
Also this forest is home to a type of quokka. I had thought that they were only to be found on a couple of islands, mostly famously on Rottnest Island off the coast of Fremantle of course – click here for that trip. We never saw one but we were assured that they do live here…
Torndirrup National Park
Torndirrup National Park covers most of the south side of Frenchman Bay peninsula. This area is convenient for half or full day trips out of Albany.
The park is home to many photogenic spots. Among others are the “Natural Bridge” and “The Gap” rock formations as well as dramatic clifftop lookouts. There are several beaches (including Misery beach) and Cave Point lighthouse
The scenery was so inspiring that Dani decided he wanted to take some photos using the zoom lens.