Because It’s There

Sun 5th May 2019

Sunset at Cape NaturalisteHaving hired a car when we arrived at Perth airport 3 days ago, it really is time that we used it. Today, we start on our Southern loop as we explore the south-west corner of Australia. We’ve about 250km to drive (short by Aussie standards) and no particular plans or need to rush. So, we pootle along, staying close to the coast in a (mostly vain) attempt to catch some scenery. In particular, we hoped that the lakes by the coastal town of Mandurah might provide some photographs but not the case in the time that we had. (Though it would have been rude not to have stopped for a coffee!)

Lunch at the old court houseAs a result of our dawdling, by the time we arrive at the seaside town of Busselton, it is way past the official Hornsey lunch hour of 1pm. I’m all in favour of declaring a national emergency, but instead Janet finds a little café that used to be the old magistrate court / jail house. From my pre-trip research (contrary to appearances, it isn’t entirely a case of making it up as we go along) I knew that there is a jetty (pier) in Busselton. What I didn’t know was that a) the jetty was 1.8km long; or that b) it had a train running along the length of it. We now know that it is the second longest wooden pier in the world (after Southend apparently) and that construction started in the 1850s for the loading and unloading of goods. I can only assume that it needed to be so long because of the shallow slope of the beach.

No, no, no, no, no!It was inevitable that we would end up walking along the entire length of the jetty – though equally, we were never ever going to ride the tourist train along it. I could use the excuse that we needed to go down the jetty because the direction of the sun meant that taking photos of the jetty from the shore was next to impossible. But a better explanation is the one that Hillary used of Everest – because it’s there. In any case, the train was no quicker than walking even though we stopped for photographs at points along the way. Dotted along the jetty were gulls, fishermen and sculptures (in order of decreasing frequency) and at the end of the jetty there is a natural underwater aquarium. Presumably, a room with glass walls at the base of the pilings – but we’ll never know if it was any good (cheapskates!)

Stations along the length of Busselton jettyWith the day’s step target in the bag (my rolling average is now at over 12k steps) we need to move on – especially so as sunset is around 17:45 here at this time of year. When planning our route, we did consider staying in Busselton, but in the end decided that we’d rather be further down the peninsula of Cape Naturaliste (more reminders of French settlement here – we do need to get a handle on the history of this side of Aus). Instead, we decided to stay in the small town of Dunsborough as nearby there is a lighthouse, a couple of rock formations and a series of caves – all of which we want to photograph. In the end, its an easy decision as to which we want to do today and which tomorrow – the caves will shut shortly and are completely unaffected by the external light. The lighthouse and the rocks, on the other hand, are prime sunset targets.

Seagulls waiting for the wind to die downAfter a quick turnaround in our B&B, its back in the car and up the cape to the lighthouse. Only to find that the entrance to the lighthouse grounds closed at 5pm and furthermore, when we eventually get a glimpse of it, it is surrounded by scaffolding and plastic sheets and is clearly being renovated. So, scratch that but there is still time to head to the nearby Sugarloaf rocks before sunset. Here we are much more successful. Whilst the wind and the clouds make for some a dramatic sky and waves crashing on the offshore rocks, they did keep the sunset colours muted and absolutely ruled out flying my drone. There were a few other souls braving the weather to get the view but otherwise it was very quiet.

There's a lighthouse under there (somewhere)On the drive out, through rolling scrubland, I’d seen a kangaroo hop across the road (only the 3rd or 4th kangaroo that we’ve seen – none of which we’ve been able to photograph). Now that we are heading back in the dark, I remember how the Uluru bus driver managed and drive the car firmly in the middle of the road straddling the white lines and only pulling over when I see the headlights of an oncoming car. This seems a fine strategy to me – I really don’t want to have to explain a kangaroo shaped dent in the car to the hire company – fine, that is, until I see flashing blue & red lights in my rear-view mirror. The policeman wanted to know why I was in the middle of the road and at least understood my kangaroo aversion and after a breath test (no problem) and a warning about speeding cars coming the other way we were off again.

Sugarloaf rockGreat food at Blue MannaAt last, we were off the clock and could really do with relaxing. However, Meelup B&B is a little way out of town and we’ve found that there is relatively little streetlighting in Aus so walking to town for a restaurant is not a great idea so it’s back in the car again. What we do find when we get into town is the Blue Manna Bistro – a modern restaurant with the chefs on display in the kitchen only separated from the diners by a wooden counter. Our initial feeling that there is a good vibe to this restaurant is reinforced when we catch sight of a serving of beef steak on a bed of mash, topped with carrot & greens and surrounded by jus just departing the kitchen – that’s one less decision to make. When the menu arrives the rest of the decisions just fall into place and we have to go for the scallops (with edami beans, mushrooms and beansprouts). Why? Because it’s there!

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One Response to Because It’s There

  1. Nick J says:

    Just been catching up on all your blog posts. That’s a lot of reading already! Uluru sounds like it was magical. Enjoy the driving a watch out for those kangaroos and cops. Nick & Sue xx

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