Jurien Bay – Turquoise Coast – Western Australia

With the Covid pandemic still rampant and travel restrictions frequent, July has called for another holiday at home here in beautiful Western Australia. Whilst we would have liked to find a hot and sunny location to brighten the winter blues, in reality it has been a battle to find a destination at all. With everywhere in WA booking up earlier than usual and only a week to play with, our choices were limited.

In the end, a cabin at Jurien Bay tourist park, four and a half hours from home, seemed as good a place as any…… and it would have been……. until the forecast showed a massive storm front rolling in affecting the whole south west corner of WA. We were worried.

We arrived late on Saturday evening and knew Sunday may be our only sunny day in which to explore what Jurien has to offer. After a good sleep, we headed down to the beach (some 200m) from our cabin door and discovered the monthly markets. We strolled through an array of soap, bag, toy, art and craft stalls before filling up on a yummy stuffed potato then grabbed a coffee and headed out to explore Jurien Bay jetty.

Jurien Bay jetty

When you come from Busselton, jetties can often be quite anticlimactic (after all we have the longest in the Southern Hemisphere at home) but this one offered something different….. a curve. Why, I am still not sure but I am assuming it must be something to do with prevailing winds… and wind there has been. On subsequent walks along this jetty we have been soaked by freakish waves and had trouble staying upright while being hammered by gusts. This has made for a rather exciting time walking along the 162m jetty and is likely a highlight the kids will remember.

As the pictures show, in summer Jurien would be a wonderful place to chill out by the beach, fish, cycle, swim and enjoy the good old Aussie bakery pie. There is a snorkel trail with an artificial reef just north of the jetty which boosts underwater signage and many varieties of sea creatures. In fact, I didn’t realise this whole bay from Wedge Island to Green Head in the north, is considered a marine park offering fantastic snorkelling, diving, fishing and swimming as well as being home to large colonies of Australian sea lions. My heaven in summer!

Jurien Bay beach

In winter, however it is a whole other story. When the rain set in on Monday our choice of activities became very slim. At the best of times teenagers can be difficult to please. When there is rain, wind, intermittent wifi, no games consoles, no bookshop and more rain and wind, it can be quite a battle to keep everyone happy. The Travel Bee and friends have had to get a little creative.

Out came the games…. Uno, Trivial Pursuit, Bananagrams, a deck of cards and Beat the Parents. Although reluctant at first, even the teenagers are discovering games can be quite fun. Things are getting quite competitive and rather loud in the evenings.

The kids are learning some old ways to have fun and the parents are just glad to be away from the pressures of home and work. This is a true holiday, full of rest and recuperation….. just what the doctor ordered.

TTB

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

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

Awesome Augusta – WA

Monday was a public holiday here in Australia. The forecast was hot, hot, hot. This little ‘Travel Bee’ and her kids were in a lazy mood after spending some 12 hours of Australia Day at the beach boating, skiing, swimming and eating with friends and family. We wanted to veg out.

But, Mr ‘Travel Bee’ was having none of it. We had a day off and we were going on a day trip to his favourite day trip location…. Augusta. He piled us into the car with a chorus of moans, cranked up the air conditioning and we were off.

The 90km journey was pretty uneventful. The kids eventually accepted their fate and fell asleep. Nan and myself gazed out the window and commented on how dry the vegetation looked. Dad just drove.

When we reached Augusta Bakery (a must when visiting) and stepped out of the car, we could not believe how a 90km journey and less than an hour in the car could drop the temperature by 11 degrees. Instead of a sweltering 36 degrees it was a pleasant 25! Perhaps Dad wasn’t so silly after all.

As usual the bakery pies were yummy. The pastry was flaky and rich, 3 out of 5 opted for the beef and mushroom pie, Nan got the beef and I had satay chicken sticks, chips and salad (a weird choice for a bakery I know, but I enjoyed it).

From here, we headed down to the foreshore in front of the Colourpatch cafe. We set up the chairs, esky and kayaks and settled in for the afternoon.

Augusta foreshore

Miss 9 and Dad headed off on an adventure on the kayaks, while Master 12 and I headed into the water with the skim ball. The water was warm and inviting and we enjoyed meeting people out on the sandbank. We chatted as we threw the ball. We met a kid who spent the afternoon picking up seaweed, rowing it around ‘selling’ it to people. It was so nice to see a kid using his imagination to play, just like we used to when I was a kid.

The kayakers setting off on their adventure

Nan dipped her toes in the water and enjoyed her time watching us frolick in the water, from the shade of a pine tree.

Just like magic as we exited the water we heard the call of a Mr Whippy van in the vicinity. We set off on our mission, following its call as it drove around the nearby caravan park. Finally we found our target….

Then, just to finish off the day we were gazing out into the river finishing our cones when a dog caught my eye. He was out quite deep swimming along. Suddenly he seemed to panic a bit and changed directions a few times, seemly not knowing where to go. Then his reasoning became clear as 4 inquisitive dolphins cruised up beside him. His owner whistled and he headed into shore as there was a scramble of people heading towards the dolphins, our kids included.

So, the Augusta adventure concluded with a close encounter with dolphins. They swam around and under the kayaks, putting on a show for their occupants. If there was still any doubt about Dad’s idea for the day, it was all dissolved in that moment.

Honestly there is a dolphin in this picture I promise!

And so, the message is clear……… Even when you don’t feel up to it, even when tiredness takes hold, even if it all seems too hard…… don’t waste a single day, because who knows what it might bring. Well done Mr Travel Bee, it was a grand idea!!

TTB

Combating the holiday blues…. with food!

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!

TTB