Anyone would think we haven’t been on a plane for two and a half years! This morning, the Travel Bees were literally the first through security and into the ‘lounge’ at Busselton Margaret River airport.
It was hard to contain our excitement. Not only were we getting on a plane, but for the first time it was from our home town. No drive to Perth, no fluffing around with car parking, no fighting the crowds to check in. This flight is a game changer for anyone who loves Melbourne or loves to travel! 🙋♀️
We did however get a tad wet! Busselton Margaret River airport is pretty basic. There is a check in desk, security, a lounge and a cafe (more like a kiosk). That is it. You walk across the tarmac to the plane and when it is raining….. you get wet.
For me, all that just adds to the charm. Simplicity is sometimes very welcome and when you haven’t been interstate or done any international travel for two and a half years, it is the perfect reintroduction to flying.
We are super excited to finally be getting another travel adventure. We feel lucky to have landed in Melbourne with all of our luggage. A small delay of one hour is nothing to complain about. Given the situation in airports throughout Australia this week, we know we are one of the lucky ones.
Tonight, we have fully bellies (a couple of wines in for Mr and Mrs Travel Bee) and are contently settling down for the night at the airport Park Royal in Melbourne. Tomorrow we pick up the hire care and head for the mountains.
Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined hosting a wedding in our backyard! But yesterday, Miss Colombia and Mr Italy got hitched at The Hive!
Needless to say, our adventure of hosting travellers continues to surprise and grow our family. New and unique experiences are becoming the norm but I feel certain……. this week will be etched in our memories forever.
It all began a few weeks ago when Miss Columbia and Mr Italy announced they were going to get married. We were very excited for them and agreed the ceremony could take place in our garden followed by a lunch for fifteen. It was to be low key, with only a few close friends.
At first we didn’t tell the children, although I think by this stage they are becoming accustomed to unusual happenings in our backyard. When we told them last week, there were a few wide eyes and ‘are you serious?’ comments but they were game and ready to get involved.
What followed, was a day that can only be described as magical. The low key event suddenly transformed into a day that involved contributions from everyone invited. Each little detail as surprising and endearing as the last. With little discussion between parties, we were astounded at how everyone found their role and the whole day came together.
The afternoon before, we arrived home with our secret bag of decorations to find the best man cutting the groom’s hair! We were surprised and entertained by such a sight beside our shed. But the surprises didn’t stop there.
The hairdresser of wedding eve became chef on wedding day with a stream of pizzas flowing from our oven followed by Crostata for dessert. Another friend suddenly transformed into a Columbian wedding singer with Spanish music flowing from our garden.
Miss 12 took on the role of ring bearer and Master 15 cinematographer, recording the whole event for the Colombian and Italian families. Mr and Mrs Travel Bee you ask?? Yes, you guessed it….. we were the stand in parents rushing around decorating, stressing over small details and popping the champagne.
It truely was a day to cherish. There were secret tears and not so secret tears, smiles to end all smiles and a general relaxed feel of people who embrace the ride of life.
And when the day came to an end, some retreated home, some to their camper, one to our couch and us to our beds. I for one could not sleep. I don’t know whether it was the excitement of the day or the expresso martini I had mid afternoon but I was buzzing!
Today, things have settled down and ‘normal’ backpacker activities have resumed including the return of one boy!!
One boy is part of a convoy of campers that have stayed at our house over the last few months. Vans that have been converted in the most ingenious ways to provide a home to the backpackers of Australia. A bed, sink, compartments, solar panel and a water tank. All the essentials comprising a home away from home.
But, I have a soft spot for one boy! I have loved watching the Italian boys come together to help their fellow traveller Master 19 fit out his van with all the key items his more seasoned compatriots have advised.
At the tender age of 19 one boy’s owner is a brave kid who is lucky to have found such generous and experienced country men right here in Busselton. There is no doubt he was the shyest wedding guest but when we found out his age we were so impressed with his quiet and courteous nature.
I can’t help but wonder if in only four short years Master 15 might find himself on the other side of the world experiencing one such day!! A frightening yet humbling thought.
There is one thing for sure, our backyard is never dull. It looks like we will only have the pleasure of the now Mrs Columbia and Mr Italy for the rest of this week. Only time will tell what happens next!
It has been 8 months since I have written a blog. It has been 8 months since I have had anything to say about travel! It has been 2.2 years since we left Western Australia. We have however, recently discovered a new way to bring travel to us.
There are a surprising number of people traveling in Australia that have been here since before the pandemic. These people are bolstering our workforce, holding many a town together but with housing shortages all through regional Australia, they (along with many locals) have found it difficult to find places to live. We have the space, so we decided to welcome some travellers into our home.
What an amazing experience this has been and continues to be.
First up we hosted Miss Spain. This super smiley girl breezed into our lives. We met her once over coffee and wanted to keep her! She stayed for four months working three jobs and checking out the area when she had a spare minute. We enjoyed meals together (Spanish and Australian), met her friends, introduced her to water skiing and showed her some of the sights of Busselton. Inevitably all good things must come to an end and she headed home to Spain, but not before introducing us to our next guests.
Miss Colombia and Mr Italy have been with us nearly a month. There has been more water skiing lessons and shared dinners as we welcome them into our family and home.
As you can imagine, these people are a long way from home and over the last few months we have noticed how they pine for their home traditions and culture. Australia offers them so much but there is always a calling towards one’s home. Responding to a Facebook call out, Miss Columbia has been fortunate enough to met some of ‘her people’ living right here in Busselton.
Last weekend we were invited to a Colombian gathering…. in our own backyard! There was cocktails, beer, food, and Latino music. It was the most unexpected and enriching experience. We all loved listening to their excited Spanish chatter as they got to know one another. Master 14 and Miss 12 floated in and out, observing and enjoying their food.
But, the most memorable moment came when the four Colombians stood up excitedly and began salsa dancing across our deck. We couldn’t believe our eyes, Miss 12 was spellbound! It felt like we were suddenly transported out of our backyard and into the streets of South America and wow, could these people dance!
The way their hips moved, the confidence with which they moved in front of strangers and the sense of pure freedom was exhilarating. It was like they had their own language (to think they had only met a few hours prior!). It was just beautiful to watch.
Moments later, Miss 12 was up having her first salsa lesson, as they explained to us their traditions of learning to dance at family gatherings from a very young age. In minutes, South America leapt up on Miss 12’s list of travel destinations.
As the world begins to return to normal and travel is slowly coming back onto our agenda, we have realised there can be so many ways to experience the world and it’s different cultures. For us, hosting is one of them. From exchange students to backpackers to more experienced and mature travellers, we seem to be able to find common ground and understanding….. it’s that hunger to experience something new.
We have just booked our first flight in a long while. Whilst I don’t think anything is certain, I do feel there is a renewed sense of confidence as we dare to dream of a return to travel.
Covid may have given us many obstacles but it has also taught us to look outside the box. If our next trip doesn’t eventuate ……. well who knows what we might experience in our own backyard.
Finally……. here we are on holiday! It isn’t quite what we had planned for January 2021, but it is a getaway nonetheless and for that we are grateful. Sri Lanka and the Maldives will have to wait but will give us something to look forward to when this pandemic is all over. For my family and friends stuck in lockdowns or battling health problems, I hope that my blogs over the next few days will transport you out of your living room and into the beauty that is Western Australia so that you too can enjoy what WA has to offer.
Yesterday, we set out from Busselton at 7am ready to drive some 700km south east to Esperance in the Great Southern region of WA. The Travel Bee mobile was loaded to the brim with beach gear including chairs, umbrellas, body boards, snorkels, bathers, rashies, wetsuits and flippers. Inside the cab we had snacks, audiobooks, games and music. We were set for another great Aussie road trip.
Now, one might think that an eight hour journey across anywhere in Australia would be boring. You imagine long plains of brown grass, red dirt, sand and not much else……………….. perhaps a few kangaroos. Yes, there were kangaroos and yes there was brown grass but we did see a few things to capture our attention along the way.
The first, was the flocks of brown sheep (very unlike the shampooed version of sheep in New Zealand!) huddled together under the smallest patches of shade. They looked so funny all squished up and I imagined how hot it would be under all that wool with the harsh Australian sun beating down. Then one of the sheep spotted the farmer’s ute coming. He jumped up to head towards breakfast and in true sheep style the rest all followed. It was quite entertaining, watching these animals run like maniacs after their leader.
Next we saw the weird silhouettes of the Porongurups burst their way out of the ground and onto our horizon. This is one of the very few ‘mountain ranges’ of Western Australia. They are actually large granite domes that only rise 670m (again I compare something to New Zealand and conclude these are not really mountains but more like………. bumps). They are however, over one billions years old making them the oldest range in the world!!
Miss 10 and I were also entertained by the Giant (or Humongous) Jenga stacks of hay bails and the strange trees that looked like exotic mushrooms, with long naked trunks and branches and only a few leaves on top. All the way, we were reminded how scary it can be in outback Australia with evidence of many bushfires.
We took note of the town names and tried to work out their meaning. Most are named by the Noongar people who are the native Aboriginals in the south west of WA. In their language the suffix ‘up’ means ‘place of’ and a good portion of the towns included this term. Boyanup, Mumballup, Noggerup, Kojonup, Gnowangerup, Jerramungup. We were also counting the towns we passed but when Miss 10 took a nap we lost count! I think it was about 12.
We made one significant stop in Kojonup. ‘Kodja’ refers to the stone axe made by Aboriginal people from the stone in this area. We had been recommended the Black cockatoo cafe where we enjoyed a coffee and homemade sausage roll before checking out the native rose bush maze. This followed the story of three local women and would be very interesting if you had the time to read all the information.
After some 9 hours we made it to our destination of Esperance. Not one game was played, the audiobooks were not listened to and there was very little music heard or snacks eaten. As it turns out, there are plenty of things to keep your attention while travelling in 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.
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.
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.
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.
‘ 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!
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.
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
Travel can be gathering a few friends together, jumping in the car and heading out to investigate something new. Living in the South West of WA, I am spoilt for choice in terms of nearby day trip destinations. Here, there are bespoke businesses and attractions opening regularly, not to mention a stunning coastline that provides endless walks and vantage points from which to admire the beautiful Indian Ocean.
My new mission is to get out there and enjoy them….. So this week, The Travel Bee went to visit bees at The Colony Concept in Metricup! This is a new shop/cafe that has recently opened to showcase Southern Forest Honey.
When you enter, you are greeted with an array of honey and honey products. You can taste and compare a variety of honeys from different local flowers and trees. It is quite surprising to discover the distinct tastes of Manuka, Karri, Marri, Jarrah, Forest and Wildflower honeys.
In this well stocked shop, you can purchase honeys, meads, shampoos, soaps, beeswax food wraps, candles, bee keeping equipment and much more.
For me however, the most interesting part was the room next door, the ‘Bee room’. Here, you are able to see inside a hive and discover the real meaning of the saying ‘Busy Bee’. Staff explain how the hive works and the roles of the bees. It is fascinating to watch the nurses, builders and cleaners going about their business. If you are lucky you can find the Queen in amongst all the worker bees and see baby bees emerging.
There is plenty of information about the plight of the honey bee, their importance to our ecosystem and what we can do to help maintain their colonies. You could spend hours here learning about these interesting and crucial creatures.
When exiting the bee room be sure to stop and taste the infused creamed honeys and meads. My favourite was the ginger creamed honey, which I purchased to take home to the family. I wasn’t sure whether the kids would like it, but it turns out Miss 9, Master 12 and Mr travel bee all loved it, it’s subtle ginger taste not overpowering the honey but rather perfectly balancing it.
My friends and I settled out in the alfresco area over looking the dam for a spot of morning tea. I was impressed with all the finishing touches from bees painted on the walls to the bee inspired crockery.
We opted for the scones and a coffee each and were treated with an unusual selection of toppings. Here, instead of just jam and cream, there is fresh butter, apple and cinnamon infused honey, homemade plum jam and whipped cream. The scones were a generous size allowing for them to be cut into quarters to enjoy each different topping.
And enjoy we did! We all had a great morning tasting, learning about bees, enjoying morning tea and some great conversation.
For those with children there is also a nature playground featuring logs and tyres (no plastic), designed by kids. We didn’t try it out but all have kids and agreed it looked pretty good!
A highly recommended south west day trip both for visitors and locals alike. 20 minutes from Busselton there is something here for everyone.
If you ever want an excuse to come and visit the wonderful town of Busselton in Western Australia, then the famous Busselton Jetty Swim is it. In its 25th year, the 2020 swim saw a record 3300 swimmers hit the pristine waters of Geographe bay and brought some 10,000 people to the foreshore to watch the spectacle.
In my opinion, you are unlikely to witness an event with more excitement, professionalism, grit and determination anywhere.
As the name would suggest, it is basically a whole bunch of people swimming around a jetty. But……. it is not just any jetty, at 1.8km it is the longest wooden pile jetty in the Southern Hemisphere! That is a big swim, straight into the Indian Ocean. You can swim the distance of 3.6km solo, in a duo or team of 4 or in a recent addition to the event, you can walk out and do the mile swim home.
In my 10th consecutive year, my husband and I (due to a lack of training this year) decided to do the duo together. Having mostly completed solo swims in the past, it was quite a different day for me. Today I was able to actually watch part of the swim from the jetty. What a treat!
It began with 50 elite athletes taking off first. These men and women hitting the water with a hunger and strength you couldn’t help but envy. The way they were able to glide seemingly effortlessly through the water was amazing to see. They vied for their place as they headed out into the depths.
The rest of the field started a minute behind in a new ‘rolling start’. 8 swimmers were sent off every 4 seconds. This made for a continued wave of swimmers for some 40minutes. Swimmers wore coloured caps determined by their estimated finish time, allowing swimmers of similar capabilities to be grouped together.
Meanwhile, things were hotting up at the front of the field. The two leaders were clear of the pack as they rounded the end. I was lucky enough to watch them come past as I arrived at my start post 1.4km out. These two guys literally playing cat and mouse as they curved around trying to stop each other drafting. They were neck and neck the whole way in.
In the end, it was a sprint finish with only 1 second separating them. The winner a 17 year old boy from Bunbury just up the road. I could not have been happier for him. I have watched him rise through the ranks and it was clear last year he was a force when he came in second. Third place going to one of his training mates. It was clear though, that what looked like an effortless swim, was in fact a swim in which they gave everything. The winners were spent at the end, embracing each other before bending over hands on knees to catch their breath.
Of course by this stage, I was in the water (I have only seen replays of the finish). Our swim was so enjoyable! After a rather hectic changeover where we lost a lot of time, my husband and I met in the water, he tagged me and I was off.
The first 400m to end was probably the hardest as I tried to find my rhythm. There were swimmers all around me, some swimming straight, some not. It is pretty crazy, but as I rounded the end I settled down and found my groove.
From there, the years of experience kicked in. I knew which buoys I had to sight, how my line should be and how far from the jetty I should be. I just cruised along, the odd song flitting in and out of my head, I thought about what I would say if I was interviewed at the end (strange I know but it actually happened one year!) but mostly I just let the rhythm take over.
I realise now, that is what I love most about swimming, the rhythm. It is like my body just completely takes over and it all just flows and happens naturally. Considering the number of people out there, there were few times today that the rhythm was broken. By the end I felt great, I could have kept swimming and swimming in my own little world! It truly felt, in the midst of thousands of people, that I had escaped! I almost felt disappointed it was over!
As the competitors met their supporters on the beach there was much smiles and excitement. Everyone super proud of their achievement. Each had their own story, from swimmers who had only just learnt to swim, to those breaking their personal best times to those overcoming illness or injury, their achievement was simply finishing.
As a life long swimmer and a coach of many kids, I still can’t wipe the smile off my face. Today, it wasn’t about the time, it was about being a part of something big. Bigger than you or me, something that teaches people just to get out there and give it a go because you never know what you might achieve.
I know it was on my doorstep, but the stories I saw today made me feel like I traveled a long way ………. perhaps I did in a funny sort of a way. Maybe it was a journey down the lane of perspective.
Returning from a holiday always sucks. There is something so liberating about traveling, the feelings of freedom and adventure. When it is all over you can’t help but feel trapped by the humdrum of normality.
For me, this week was tough. The kids are not yet back to school, so it isn’t quite ‘normal’ but it was near enough. There was work, food to cook, washing to do, sports commitments and health appointments to attend. There were big bills too, with the credit card being hit with overseas transactions and a set of braces for my son.
It was all starting to get me down. I had to have a stern talking to myself …….. life is what you make it girl! There is no point sitting at home wishing I was back on holiday. I had to get out the door and do something fun, meet some friends, have a chat and eat some yummy food. Oh and yes ……. start planning the next holiday!
Lucky for me, I had a work lunch scheduled yesterday. We met at a restaurant called Nicola’s on the main street in Bunbury. I was not familiar with the place, having not really visited the centre of town in years, but my colleagues assured me I was in for a treat.
I decided on the ‘market fish of the day’ as I often do (I don’t tend to cook fish often). It was crimson snapper on a bed of Parmesan mash, topped with an olive and tomato salsa. As I was driving, I accompanied this with a glass of lemon, lime and bitters, my go to ‘sober’ drink.
It was delicious. At first I thought it didn’t look all that big, but once I started eating I knew it would be the perfect portion. The mash was indulgent and filling with its hint of cheese, the fish delicate and perfectly cooked. The tomatoes and saltiness of the olives topped it off perfectly, each mouthful pure pleasure.
When I finished I felt perfectly full, not uncomfortable and not needing more. I thought to myself, a coffee would finish things of nicely. But then the waitress informed us of the dessert special for the day…… banoffee pie. Seriously, this is probably the only dessert I can not resist!!
Fortunately, one of colleagues came to the rescue and offered to share one with me. Perfect….. I could try the pie and not feel too guilty about it, I quickly agreed to the deal!
It was amazing with the richest most decadent caramel, topped with whipped cream and sliced fresh banana. A touch of raspberry coulis breaking through for a taste sensation.
As expected, the girls were quite right I had enjoyed a lovely treat. Not only was the food amazing but so was the company. I am the ‘newbie’ at work but they have all been amazing at welcoming me into the team and making me feel like a valued member. I am excited about the future holds with these lovely, kind women.
My day wasn’t over yet. After driving back home and having a little rest, the family headed out to meet some friends at Amelia Park tavern for dinner. I know…….. how terribly piggy of me!
It was so lovely to catch up with friends and get out of the house on a Saturday night. The kids all get on well and we barely saw them as they played on the lawn, from time to time coming in hot and sweaty for a drink or food. We sat and chatted while sipping our cider and wine.
When it came to eating, I had to opt for a salad with lunch still weighing quite heavy! I went for a roast pumpkin, mushroom and halloumi salad which was delicious. Presented slightly different to what I expected, the pumpkin in wedges on the bottom with the mushrooms and halloumi layered above, then topped with greens and crunchy chick peas (which were surprisingly yummy).
I guess home ain’t so bad after all! I just have to make myself get out there and enjoy it. There are so many wonderful things on our doorstep here and it is my mission this year to discover them. From food and wine experiences, to beaches, walks and boating. Look out South West WA, The Travel Bee is coming!