Goodbye 2020 from Geographe Bay – Western Australia

It has been a tough year for travel blogging (and just about everything else!). I started with some writing about Japan, a wonderful ski trip we were lucky enough to enjoy just before our world changed. Then I wrote of my experiences home schooling and a short trip to Pemberton before trying out my ‘virtual travel blog’.

‘Virtual’ writing just wasn’t the same. There was a lot of research and with research comes referencing. In the end it felt like I was writing an assignment for school or university and we all know, assignments are a chore. Blogging was never meant to be anything I felt I had to force myself to do. The whole reason I love to blog is because there is no right or wrong, it is just my thoughts and observations gathered together for myself and others to enjoy. It isn’t to regurgitate what others have already said.

Geographe Bay looking towards Dunsborough and Cape Leeuwin

This time last year I was excitedly putting the finishing touches to my new website and blog ‘The Travel Bee’. I shut down my old ‘Stressaholics’ blog and filed my previous entries (that could pass as travel writing) into categories, as I dreamed of the trips we had planned for 2020 and 2021. I couldn’t wait to write about the destinations we were travelling to and to share it with friends and family. Little did I realise that our January trip to Japan would be the last overseas holiday for a very long time and that travel writing was about to become very hard indeed. As it turns out ‘Stressaholics’ may have in fact been a more fitting blog for 2020, but I believed I was leaving my stress behind!

Within weeks of our return we were thrown into a world of lockdowns, masks, hand sanitiser, travel restrictions and social distancing. Terms we had never heard of suddenly became everyday talk. Some eleven months down the track and we seem no better off (on a world scale that is). Yes, we have a vaccine but we all know it will take time for this to be rolled out in our country let alone the world. In the meantime we battle on, listening to frightening statistics and news of outbreaks, hoping the next one isn’t in our own backyard.

Shark net swimming area Busselton foreshore

So as 2020 draws to a close, I am sharing with you a selection of photos I have taken here in my own backyard over the last few weeks. Every time I go down to the beach it blows me away how beautiful this place is and I often find myself clicking away as if I was a tourist. The beach, the ocean, the sky and the wildlife. Each day is new, fresh and exciting. This is a place to forget about Covid-19 and the dramas of 2020.

Cloud magic over Busselton jetty
West Australian emblem black swans cruising the bay

I don’t know what 2021 holds for me or my blogging nor for our world and the curse that is Covid-19. I do know that this year has taught us so many things, not the least of which, is that we have to enjoy every moment we are given. We don’t know what is around the corner. We can’t wait for things to change or get better, we have to find meaning and satisfaction in our daily life.

A cloudy day skiing on the bay

‘ We are not all in the same boat. We are in the same storm. Some have yachts, some canoes and some are drowning. Just be kind and help whoever you can’ don Miguel Ruiz Jr.

We have all had so much taken away from us this year, but this experience has been different for everyone. Some have coped well and others have not. Some have felt they are in their canoe with no paddle, others completely paralysed with no direction whatsoever.

The only way forward is to be making constant readjustments in direction. There are many ways to get to the things we want in life and mostly it isn’t via a straight line. I for one, have always wanted to take the straight line approach and get annoyed when my straight line becomes bendy. I feel like someone is out to get me or that I have done something wrong. This year has been a good lesson in showing me that we are all subject to the bends. No one could get anywhere in a straight line in 2020!

Underwater observatory Busselton Jetty

2021 is our chance for some new hope. We know there will be bends in the road and some big mountains placed in our way, but 2020 has surely given us new skills in negotiating these obstacles. My wish for 2021 is that things ease up for my family and friends that are doing it tough, that we can all make wonderful memories, even in the bad times and that each day we grow stronger and more resilient.

Just like each new day in Geographe Bay, here’s to a new, fresh and exciting year. One filled with hope, kindness and a whole lot less pain.

TTB

The Maldives – virtual adventure – Part 1

First up on my travel wish list is the Maldives. We had a trip booked to the Maldives and Sri Lanka for January 2021 but Covid-19 had other plans for us. Our dreams of an exotic island getaway and safari are now on hold for the foreseeable future.

Fortunately, we saw the writing on the wall months ago and booked a ‘back up’ holiday within Western Australia. We are looking forward to our visit to Esperance in a couple of months and I to the prospect of some real-life travel writing. It will even entail a few similar details with pristine beaches and clear waters, unfortunately no elephants or leopards though.

But…….. for now I am on a ‘virtual’ mission to learn more about the Maldives.

Image care of: https://www.ttgasia.com/2020/06/01/maldives-outlines-guidelines-for-reopening-of-resorts/

The picture says it all. Sun, sand and sea……… three of my absolute favourite things in the world. Throw in some coral, fish, a snorkel and some good food and I am truly in heaven. These are the reasons I have wanted for many years, to visit the Maldives. I imagine stepping off my own jetty and immersing myself into a world of colour, life and intrigue. One that is so far removed from normal life, I will be able to think of nothing but what is in front of me.

There will be lots of ‘oooos and ahhhs’ from the children and we will madly try to get each others attention to point out fish, wonderful coral and sea turtles. In the evening, we will shower and stroll along the board walk to indulge ourselves in a scrumptious dinner. We will chat about the amazing creatures we saw and plan for windsurfing lessons and snorkel tours. Then we will sleep like babies to the sound of water gently lapping beneath us.

Sounds amazing right??……

Until recently I hadn’t really thought about the logistics of how all that happens. Things like………………. how there is even electricity on an island in the middle of the ocean? how does the food come in? how do guests get their fresh water to drink? how do we even get to these remote places? is travelling here sustainable? This week I switched my bedtime reading to research on the Maldives and in particular how this tiny nation is coping amid our rapidly changing world.

The answer is not too well. If I could have picked any destination in the world to blog about the impacts of climate change, I could not have picked one that is more affected. Some predict, that if sea levels continue to rise at current rates, 75% of the Maldives will be under water by 2100.

Heaven ……. gone. Just like that.

As a nation that produces very little carbon emissions themselves, Maldivians must feel pretty miffed that they are going to be affected by the rest of the world’s choices in such a catastrophic way. To top it off, they are by no means a rich nation. In the past, other more affluent nations such as Japan, have helped build sea walls for the capital of Male. Today, the Maldives is still classified a ‘developing’ country. Although they do get funding from the United Nations ‘Green Climate Fund’ and their economy has greatly improved in the last couple of decades (with an increase in tourism) it still might not be enough to build the sea walls required to protect the islands from rising sea levels.

I should stop here and let you know some important figures. The Maldives are a collection of island in the Indian Ocean off the southern tip of India. The country is made up of 26 atolls or groups of islands. In total there are around 1190 islands (yes you read that right!) of which, almost 200 are inhabited. Now you should have some idea of why it is so difficult to protect this place.

In 2008 the Maldivian president at the time sensationally looked into purchasing a new homeland, to move his citizens and basically just let the islands sink (apparently a piece of Australia was even considered!!) This idea has since been shelved, but it just illustrates how bad the situation is and how long we have known there is a major problem. Today’s ideas are focusing more on increasing revenue through tourism and selling off islands privately. The government is also looking at moving residents onto fewer islands, condensing the population and thereby reducing the number of islands that need protection.

From what I have read, it seems difficult to come up with a consensus on what should happen. There are ‘catch-22s’ with any of these solutions. Increased tourism means increased flights, bigger airport, more land clearance, more carbon emissions, more demand for water. The list goes on. But the question remains, where else can they generate the necessary revenue? In the end it will likely be a combination of tactics.

One thing is for sure, the tourism industry is mighty important to the Maldives’ economy and accounts for around 39% of the GDP with fishing coming in as the second largest industry. As you can imagine, the absolute last thing this country needed right now was a pandemic!! Just when the country’s economy was improving, Covid-19 is likely to again force this country back into some hard times. It is clear to me, that when we can, we should still go and support this little country that depends so much on tourist dollars. If we don’t………… well, they might literally sink (and I might cry).

In my next installment I will discuss how the resorts on these tiny remote islands are doing their part to reduce their carbon emissions, helping to regenerate the coral reefs and assist in protecting the fishing industry.

The Virtual Travel Bee

https://amp.theguardian.com/environment/2017/mar/03/maldives-plan-to-embrace-mass-tourism-sparks-criticism-and-outrage

https://blogs.worldbank.org/endpovertyinsouthasia/bracing-climate-change-matter-survival-maldives

https://www.oyster.com/articles/17-things-we-wish-we-knew-before-we-went-to-the-maldives/

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2125198-on-front-line-of-climate-change-as-maldives-fights-rising-seas/

https://mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKBN1ZG0XS

https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/01/23/maldives-protect-mangroves-further-loss

https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-are-the-biggest-industries-in-maldives.html

A life on our planet

#sustainabletravel#alifeonourplanet

For months (since the start of the Covid pandemic) I have been searching for new inspiration. I have asked questions of myself…………..How can I be travel writer when I can’t travel? Do I have anything else interesting to say? I tried a parenting blog about the challenges facing us and our children with Covid, but it fizzled…… mainly because I live in an area that for the last six months has been really quite unaffected by it all. Our children here in WA, have a normal life again.

Our government has virtually shut us off, not only from the rest of the world, but from the rest of the country. This has been great on one hand, we have all felt very safe and have had the luxury of carrying on our day to day activities in our new normal way. We haven’t had to worry about outbreaks or our friends getting sick and dying and for that I am truly grateful. However, on the other hand it has felt somewhat isolating. Families have been torn apart and as we approach Christmas there seems no end in sight to our separation. It is fortunate that we have such a vast state with so many areas we have yet to explore, but for me it is just NOT normal being this restricted.

I have been thinking about what it is to travel and what it means to me. I guess in a nutshell, I love to see something new, to see the way different people live their lives and to see the vastness and complexities of our planet. This has got me thinking about our planet because I guess that is really what I am in love with! We don’t treat her well and one does have to wonder if this virus is just one of mother nature’s ways of beginning to reset some of our wrongs. There is absolutely no question earth is in trouble.

Last week I watched David Attenborough’s ‘A life on our planet’. I started it alone but in hearing what I was watching, the family slowly gathered. Without me saying it, one by one, they all realised this was something they needed to see. At first it was like watching a horror movie. The statistics of what has happened to the world in one man’s lifetime is utterly staggering. The tears flowed (well for me anyway). The children’s jaws dropped. My husband shook his head. My son in particular looked very worried. But there is hope. David came to the rescue, telling us what needs to be done and that we DO still have time to fix things. But things must change.

What really hit home for me, is that age old mentality of ‘well I can’t fix it on my own so I might as well carry on as I am’ just isn’t going to cut it any more. We all need to be in on this. There are changes we can make that I had never dreamed of and that really are not that hard. For example, I hadn’t really thought too much about what we choose to eat or where our money is invested and how it impacts the natural world. In essence, the main thing that is required is space. Space to ‘re-wild the planet’ as David calls it. The amount of space taken in food production for example, is truly astounding.

So, how does this affect me and my travel writing? Well, it made me realise that to travel in this day and age may in fact be a very selfish act. There is my carbon footprint to consider, the impact I have moving around delicate parts of the planet, the food choices I make when I am away, just to name a few. With this in mind and no end to our current situation in sight, it is time to join the rest of the virtual world and embark on some virtual travel writing. To love my world and to explore from afar.

What is stopping me from doing some research and writing about the places that I want to travel to? To do it armed with new knowledge and from a slightly different slant? To explore how humans have affected my destinations and how we humans are now trying to mitigate our wrong doings. To find out how, when I finally do get to visit these places, I can do so in a sustainable fashion without making things worse for our planet. I could even take a step back into some of the places I have already visited and look for the things I missed when I was there.

Sustainable energy: wind and solar powered lights Busselton foreshore

In reality many of the places I dream of visiting don’t even exist in the way I imagine them. Places like the Great Barrier Reef isn’t what it was 20 years ago, the open plains of Africa have shrunk, rainforests are half the size they were. Yet in my imagination they are how it was…… in their ‘hay day’. As David Attenborough says himself, he has been incredibly lucky to see what he has in his 93 years but also not. Seeing the decline before his very eyes must have been terrifying.

If you have not already, please do yourself, your family and our world a favour and watch this film. It will invoke shock, sadness but above all hope. Let us ‘re-wild’ earth so that our future generations can enjoy what we have.

The Virtual (and hopefully sustainable) Travel Bee

Windy Harbour/ Salmon Beach – D’Entrecasteaux National Park WA

Our last full day in Pemberton called for a day trip. The weather was looking ok (well as best you can expect in the middle of winter down south). We set off and headed to Northcliffe where we planned on having morning tea but when we drove through, we saw no café!! We needed coffee and everywhere has a café – right??!!

Correct. We found it around the corner and were all immediately intrigued by it’s name; Hollowbutt Café. Obviously a reference to the trees in the region, I immediately felt I was in a slightly quirky Aussie town. After reading, it turns out it is named after an attraction, the ‘hollowbutt’ in Forest Park (must check that out next time). Anyway, the coffee was good and although the cake selection was limited, we were all very happy with what we had to eat. By all accounts it looked like a place that catered well to the many walkers that pass through on the Bibbulman track with good wholesome food. My carrot cake was delicious.

From here, with full tummies we set out on the road towards Windy Harbour. Mr Travel Bee and I had done this route once before and I distinctly remember wondering why anyone would bother! On that day, the weather was awful and at the end of the road there was a basic caravan park, a boat ramp and a beach. I don’t think we even got out of the car. But, others had told me what a lovely place it was, so I was determined to see it from a new perspective.

Along the way we stopped off at Mt Chudalup, a granite outcrop that protrudes out 185m over the surrounding Karri Forrest and offers fantastic views of D’Entrecasteaux National Park. The Summit Walk Trail to it’s top, is well worth the effort. Signage recommends a 60 minute round trip but with rain clouds on the horizon when we reached the top, we were able to complete it much quicker! The trail itself is a mixture of steps, gravel inclines and granite slopes so is not suitable for all (including it seems, Master 13 with his groin injury! Slipping on a granite face did nothing to shorten his recovery time).

Mt Chudalup
The rain is coming

After our quick descent, we all bundled into the car just as the rain started and I feared Windy Harbour would be a repeat of our last effort. However, by the time we arrived the rain had stopped. Yes it was still just a caravan park, boat ramp and beach. This time though I did notice a bait shop before getting out of the car and walking up over the sand dunes to a park bench. From here, we could see the beauty of the beach and it’s attraction……….. if it was summer!

The best new discovery though, was not the bait shop. It was the sign to Salmon Beach. A 5 minute drive around the coast revealed a lookout and a stunning coastline of dramatic cliffs and rocky outcrops that immediately reminded me of the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. I never even knew it was there!

Salmon Beach

So, I get it now…..

Windy Harbour is definitely worth a daytrip.

My recommendation…… make sure YOU GET OUT OF THE CAR (even if it is pouring down)!

TTB

Pemberton – Southern Forests WA (part 2)

We had friends coming to join us for the last two nights of our stay in Pemberton. For what was to be a relaxing few days in the forest, it had a rather dramatic start. On their way into town they were flagged down at the side of the road to assist in a freak accident. Termites had eaten away at a tree causing it to fall into the road just as a poor unsuspecting family were passing by. The tree clipped the bonnet of their car, which consequently rolled and was lying upside down at the side of the road.

The occupants of the car (grandparents and their two young grandsons) were all out, another passer-by having already helped and called emergency services. Understandably, all were in shock. Our friends tried as best they could to comfort them until the ambulance arrived. They were all astounded no one was seriously hurt. Needless to say, when they did arrive at the retreat, a strong cup of tea and debrief was in order before starting our adventures together.

Once everyone had begun to unwind, we headed out to Cascades for a walk. Having had a lot of rain over the last few days, the rapids were quite spectacular. There is something so soothing about the sound of running water and the sway of trees in a forest (and the laughs and shouts of happy kids as they explore). The adults chatted as we took our time wandering down the path.

What is not soothing however, is then watching your child scale a 65m tall tree! The Bicentennial tree is in fact the highest lookout tree in the world and my fearless 10 year old daughter conquered it with relative ease. Having climbed the Gloucester tree last year, this one was next on her list. She had talked about it for days, I had hoped and prayed she would back out when she got there. No chance.

I was a mess. I paced. I pretended to watch the pretty birds flitting around. I paced. I swore. I listened to peoples shocked comments about the little girl up the tree. I paced.

Fortunately Mr Travel Bee is ok with heights and was able to stay with her the whole way up. He too could scarcely believe she was doing it, but she was absolutely determined she would get to the top………….. and that they did. We are so proud of her mental strength but I must say, it does worry me going forward quite what else she may get up to. As the saying goes; ‘the sky is the limit’ and she is set on becoming an astronaut. Who are we to question?!!

After the big descent and as the adrenaline levels (and stress levels) plummeted we all realised we were starving and headed to the The Crossings Bakery for much needed sustenance. From here it was back to the retreat for another relaxing afternoon and evening.

Warmth, wine, friends and family. What could be better?

TTB

Pemberton – Southern Forests WA (Part 1)

With holidays close to home being the ‘thing of 2020’, we headed off to Pemberton for a relaxing start to the July school holidays. Just an hour and forty minutes from home, it is an easy stress free drive (unless a tree falls on your car – to be explained in part 2). We set out late on Saturday morning, stopping in Nannup for our obligatory coffee at the Blackwood café before arriving at our Airbnb at 3pm.

Over the years, we have visited the area several times and have been lucky enough to stumble upon Blue Wren Retreat. This tranquil house is found just east of Pemberton nestled away amongst hobby farms, trees and rolling green hills. The house itself sleeps up to twelve guests and caters to visitors of all ages. Inside, there is literally a full DVD library, board games of all descriptions, a fully equipped kitchen, wood fire and comfy beds. The garden is a bird lovers paradise with wrens and parrots flitting around all day and secret reading spots scattered under the trees. For the kids (ok…. and adults), there is the shed. Filled with bikes of all sizes, table tennis, table soccer, air hockey and more, there is much fun to be had………even when it is raining!

On night one, we headed to Treehouse Tapas and Wine bar for dinner, having had it recommended to us. Who would have thought Pemberton was the place to go for Tapas?! Our kids wondered what it was all about, taking a while to warm to the idea of sharing their food. However, once it was on the table, they were sold. The barman said he rarely saw kids get into it like they did. There was an array of Spanish inspired food with a few Pemberton specials thrown in. Mr 13’s favourite was the marron cooked in truffle infused butter! Miss 10’s the stuffed mushrooms. I loved it all!

The following day we did not leave the retreat other than to stroll down the road to visit the horses, sheep, alpacas, dogs, ducks and geese that lived around the neighbourhood. The remainder of the day was spent reading, doing a jigsaw and playing some family games of table tennis and air hockey. By the end of the day, the stresses of the last few months had melted away. Honestly my mind felt fully at rest. It is important to mention at this stage, there is one very important thing missing from this house………… phone reception.

After a complete lazy day, we headed out to the Big Brook Dam for a walk early Monday morning. Between rain showers we were able to wander down the path and check out the little beach that would be a beautiful swimming spot in summer. We were also able to show Nan the Kookaburras as they laughed at us from their vantage point high in the trees (likely spotting the incoming rain shower before we did!).

From here we headed into town where the kids enjoyed a visit to the Pemberton miniature railway club, a browse in a gallery and a pie at the bakery. Then it was back home to another relaxing afternoon in front of the fire with red wine and a slow cooked casserole.

On Wednesday we had friends joining us for the last couple of nights (part 2). After all, it is only fair that we share such a wonderful and relaxing place!

TTB

The quirks of Augusta – Western Australia

The beauty of travel is the ability to change things up. Even in a place you think you know inside out, you can be surprised by what you might find if you choose to do things a bit differently.

We have visited Augusta at least twice a year for the last 8 years, yet something simple like renting an Air Bnb in the middle of town instead of our usual camping spot, makes the same place feel remarkably different.

This weekend our accomodation has been the ground floor of a stunning house perched high on the hills above the Blackwood River. Without a doubt, its most impressive feature is the deck and its view over the river. Ideally situated, it is 100m from the best coffee shop (The Deck Chair cafe), 100m from the river and 20m from the quirkiest shop in the south west (I still don’t know what it is actually called)! Master 13 wouldn’t want me to forget it is roughly 500m from Augusta Bakery.

View of the Blackwood river

Being winter, when we usually visit in summer or early Autumn, our activities were always going to be different to normal. This time, instead of spending most of our time in the water, we spent it wandering along the river and exploring shops. On our first afternoon we walked up to the bakery for the obligatory pie.

It was on the way back we met our first quirky character who happened to be a French bulldog wearing a pink coat. His owners had headed into the Thousand Suns cafe and left him to fend for himself in the Nissan Patrol (don’t worry it wasn’t a stinking hot day or anything). He had decided their time was up and was literally beeping the horn at them! It was so funny! At various intervals he would jump onto the drivers seat, stand on his hind feet and pump both front feet on the horn! Master 13 and I couldn’t believe our eyes or ears!

From here we strolled on down the road and into the shop opposite our holiday house. The outside gave only a glimpse of what treasures lay within. A few puzzles, towels and games were displayed but once you were in, you didn’t know where to look first!

There were books everywhere, all categorised and labelled, some new, some second hand. There were ornaments, nick nacks, mugs, lunch boxes, games, puzzles, records, audio books, crafts, jewellery, kids toys ……. it was very quirky! I was astounded by the shop itself, the shop owners who clearly have an astonishing eye for detail and a love for all things unusual and the behaviour of yet another dog! This time a Newfoundland whose owners led him slowly through the shop. He could barely fit in the isle but behaved like a saint. There was temptation all around and not once did he attempt to touch anything.

Throughout the whole weekend we met an array of interesting dogs. We walked along the path from the boat ramp at the bottom of our street around the river to the Colourpatch cafe. It was a lovely morning, we saw people fishing, black swans and frolicking dolphins. Unusually, there was not a single pelican. These quirky birds normally frequent this area and I always find their antics interesting, but no such luck on this visit. Instead we saw dog after dog, big small and everything in between.

River Ramble

We were disappointed to find the Colourpatch closed (Sunday morning on a long weekend?!) but knew exactly where to head for our coffee fix. At The Deck Chair cafe in the centre of town, Yahava coffee in hand we watched a French Bulldog puppy and a Dachshund socialising and a sleepy Chihuahua whose eyes kept closing while he sat bolt upright!

To finish our weekend away, this morning we headed to the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse. This is where the Southern and Indian oceans meet in an aggressive and spectacular fashion, although today was surprisingly calm. We have been many times over the years but wanted to check out the new interpretive centre in one of the old light keeper’s cottages.

We enjoyed the centre and thought that the $20 fee per family was reasonable (some of these types of things are grossly over priced). The interactive element was great for the kids, who particularly enjoyed the quirky photos that came to life.

So another successful, yet different trip to Augusta! This has been the first real opportunity in months to get away and break the cycle of what has been quite a trying time for everyone around us. It is quite fitting it has fallen on the Western Australia Day long weekend. I am fairly certain we are all appreciative of what it means to live here in WA this year more than any other!

The dogs of WA are enjoying getting out and about too!

TTB

Canal rocks, Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park – WA

With social distancing firmly in place and weeks of staying at home, we were in need of a new outing for fresh air. Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, here in WA we have lucky to be able to go out for exercise or mental health purposes as long as you follow the rules. We can only be in a group of two, or in a family group (who all live in the same house) and only within our local area.

So far, we have been for upteen bike rides and visited the same coffee shop almost daily. We are enjoying our new routine, but today being Sunday and a family day, we wanted to break out and do something different.

We jumped in the car and headed to Canal Rocks in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. This has long been a favourite of mine and a place we often visit in winter or on a windy day. Today was one such day. When the swell is large, the waves crashing over the rocks here is nothing short of spectacular.

To get the best view, we like to climb up on the rocks and then sit watching. Little Miss 10 other wise known as ‘mountain goat’ took off up to the top in seconds. Dad scrambled to keep up with her, while Mr 12 and I took our time climbing up.

The colours up there were utterly breathtaking. The red rocks contrasting with the blue of the sky and green of the ocean. The white/grey whisper of clouds enhancing the dramatic outlook. Even Mr 12, the most reluctant of us was captivated.

The visit however, is not complete without a walk over the bridge that crosses the canal. Here you can see down into the water before searching for crabs in amongst the rock pools on the far side. But, be sure to watch for waves! It is not uncommon for waves to wash right over the bridge and anyone standing upon it!

We certainly felt we had a blast of fresh air and were newly invigorated as we headed towards Dunsborough and our lunch. There was only one way to complete an Aussie morning out and that was with a pie. Tas’s Bakery is a favourite of ours for one particular pie……….. the surfies pie. For those that have not had the pleasure of eating one of these, it is a meat pie bottom with a top to die for. This consists of a layer of bacon pieces, an egg and is finished with a layer of crispy cheese. IT. IS. SO. GOOD.

I am sorry but I didn’t get a photo before I greedily consumed it!

Another great day out travelling our local area.

TTB

Busselton (early COVID-19) – Western Australia

I feel this overwhelming desire to write at the moment. Not that I think what I have to say is that important or particularly insightful. I am just an average person trying to go about my life like everyone else. But right now, that (the very essence of my life and yours) is in limbo.

All because of a virus.

A virus that 2 months ago sounded just like any other that frequently does the rounds. But, it turns out, this one is very very different. This has the potential to kill not only people we know and love, but the whole economy in which we live.

Travel has become a dirty word. If you have travelled recently people are scared of you. As you know, I love to travel. Fortunately, I haven’t recently travelled but it is a huge part of my life. My husband and I spend our money on travel, we work and save to travel, we spend hours thinking about travel. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that the sheer ability to travel could or would be taken away. But, here it is happening right now.

How does one be ‘The Travel Bee’ without travelling??!!!

However, I feel very grateful to be here in Western Australia. If I had to be anywhere in the world I am just really glad it is here. I know that if I can not travel for months, this place has so much to offer to feed my soul. From the amazing beaches, walking tracks and forests to the people of compassion and strength.

When I am not pretending to be a writer, I am a healthcare professional. This means throughout this crisis I will likely be working, it may not be in my normal role, but I will be on the battle field somewhere. I am lucky in that I will have an income, many I know will not. For me, the dilemma is my sense of duty at work vs my duty as a mother and family member.

I think the coming months are going to be very interesting indeed. I can already feel a change in myself, my focus and values are shifting. I read something the other day that I had to agree with. This is a wake up call to the human race. We have become greedy and too busy for others. This crisis will change that, there will be a silver lining and taking a step back into a more simple life will not be a bad thing.

Like I said. I am very grateful to be where I am. I love where I live and I love who I am with. We humans are tough and we are resourceful. We will get through this. Please remember to be kind. If you can help those that are less fortunate than you, do it.

There are some friends and family around us that are going to find the next few months very tough, both from a health perspective and financially. But if we stick together and support each other we will get through this.

‘United we stand……………divided we fall’ Father John Dickenson

TTB

Crown Theatre and Casino with Tim Minchin – Perth WA

For our 2019 Christmas present, we booked ourselves a show package at the Crown Metropol. A night with no kids, dinner and a show. There really is no bigger treat for working, busy parents!

Finally, last night was our night……

We arrived at the Crown at 3:30pm to face a rather long queue to check in. It was hard not to feel a tad disappointed. Dinner was booked for 5:30pm and we had to check out early in the morning, so we knew this was our only opportunity to enjoy the pool. We could see the plans of poolside cocktails slipping away!

But……. we needn’t have worried, the efficient staff chipped away at the line and we were up in our room, bathers on ready at 4pm. We headed down to the pool to a glorious Perth afternoon, a few fluffy white clouds in an otherwise bright blue sky, sunshine and drinks (oh and a lovely crystal clear pool of course).

Although there were no sun-lounges free, we found a comfy spot in the bar area and ordered a mojito each. It was a delicious and refreshing way to start our evening, a little bit fancy but not too sweet or heavy. We sat and chatted to each other. It really was lovely to be able to reconnect without the interruptions of children and every day life. It felt like ages since we really talked and listened to one another.

We had a quick obligatory splash in the pool and headed up to the room with 30 mins to get ready for dinner. Of course, as you would expect, the room was spacious and comfortable with a definite touch of luxury and class, including a complimentary bottle of bubbles on ice.

Complementary bubbles

Metropol is the original hotel in the complex, first built in 1985 but with several renovations over the years, it still looks fresh. Not quite as luxurious as Crown Towers, but slightly cheaper and a step up from Crown Promenade.

We entered The Atrium restaurant in the heart of the Crown complex at 5:31pm (not bad at all, considering what we had already squeezed into 91 mins!). From here it was a glorious feast! The buffet included seafood, Japanese, Indian, Italian, Chinese, and Thai options, as well as a traditional English roast carvery. Mr Travel Bee went straight to the seafood bar as expected.

Seafood bar

I was more conservative, although perhaps it was just pretending and started with a bowl of soup. It wasn’t long though and I was filling my plate with all sorts!! I think for me the pork belly with the divine crunchy crackling was a winner. For Mr Travel Bee it was the Oysters.

Then, there was dessert. The pictures say it all…..

I couldn’t help it, I had to taste them……..

And so….. with very full tummies we headed into the Crown Theatre for a night of entertainment with Tim Minchin. A musician, comedian, actor, lyricist, and director, we had seen him in a few things on TV and been to see his musical Matilda but really didn’t know quite what to expect.

What we got, was an evening that opened our eyes to many many things. Let’s just say he is a tad eccentric and definitely would not be everyone’s cup of tea. But there is absolutely no denying the talent this man has. One minute he is skilfully playing the piano and singing songs about growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, the next lecturing us about the internet and it’s stupidity, then religion and world atrocities, next he was singing about cheese.

We laughed, sang along, sometimes dropped our jaws in shock, laughed again and I have to admit, nearly cried as he finished the show with a beautiful song he wrote for Missy Higgins. Tim is an extraordinary talent who sees the world just as it is……. ever so slightly screwed up (he has another less polite word for it!).

Before we could call it a night and head to our luxury king sized bed, we could not resist a night cap in the Casino itself. This place has always been one of my favourite places to people watch. It is fascinating to see how some people can lay it all out, risk everything, others cautious and calculating. Then there are those just so drunk they have no idea what they are doing.

I followed my previous rules, placing a $50 bill on a Roulette table. It took a bit longer than last time, but I was lucky enough to turn it into $110 before calling it a night, my win covering our fuel costs for the weekend.

This morning after a cup of tea in bed, we were up and off to watch our son play soccer. Although a pre-season friendly, there was plenty of nerves and apprehension but the boys did well with some very encouraging play.

Looks like we will be spending many a weekend in Perth in coming months. Shame not many will be spent at the Crown though (that is unless I win a bit more than $60 on the Roulette table!).

TTB