In this final post of our Western Australia Road Trip holiday, I will be documenting some of the tips learnt from our trip! Hopefully this will come in as a handy reminder for our future road trips! If you missed out on all the sharing on the sights and attractions, you can find them here.
Let’s begin with some handy tips for your upcoming road trip to Western Australia!
(1) Getting a Data Plan is a no brainer and Optus came highly recommended by many friends! It is affordable and for AU$2 a day, we got 500 MB a day which we never once did exceed the limit. It comes in handy when you need to check the operating hours, address, food recommendations etc during your trip. Both of us bought the SIM card and it was surely useful when we need to make calls to each other and to our AirBnB host to inform them that we are checking in late. More importantly, you can use Google Map which serves as an important backup when your GPS fails, and trust me, there are times when the GPS fails us. When we were driving to the ferry terminal at Fremantle to take the ferry to Rottnest Island, the GPS we rented indicates that our car is in the middle of the sea.
(2) Pick an affordable and reliable Car Rental Company. We booked our car via Baywaters Car Rental (No Birds) also through a friend recommendation. We picked an MPV which is huge and comfortable for long journeys and probably because it is not the most popular choose of car for most couples, the car is very new and clean! No complaints at all and the booking, collection, and return process was easy and fuss free! We rented their GPS for AU$7 a day and also opt in for their Top Cover at AU$7 a day. With the top cover, it means that if you get into any accident, we do not have to pay a single cent. A friend pointed out that if we were to purchase travel insurance (which we did), we actually didn’t have to opt for the Top Cover. Any damages claims would be covered by the insurance! So here’s a reminder to only opt for Top Cover if we didn’t get any travel insurance.
(3) Do bring along your sunglasses as the sun in Australia is way brighter than in Singapore! On most days, it is just clear blue sky with little clouds!
(4) Another reminder for us is to bring a huge selection of songs in MP3 and the cable to connect to the car. Most of the music channels in Australia are playing songs which are unheard of. Probably their local music and after a while, we miss our Mandarin songs!
In the end, we listen to our own Singapore’s local radio using internet radio using our phone and put the phone in the cup holder to amplify the music. This we learnt from Uncle Sim’s So Simple Commercial by VISA.
But once we are in the rural freeway, we are basically out in the juggle with no network. Our phone was in SOS mode for hours. We drove in silent for a long while.
(5) Renting a GPS is a must. It is more like a backup plan when Google fails you. You may think that your Google Map can save you, but as mentioned earlier, when you enter their freeway/highway, there is no network at all. Even when we went to Manjinup for truffle hunting, right in the car park, the mobile network was very weak.
(6) Do bring lots of mobile portable chargers or one with huge capacity. We initially brought the mobile charger plug which we can plug into the car to charge our phone. But we soon realized that we need the plug source to keep our GPS alive. Thankfully we brought along 3 portable chargers for this trip. Before going to bed every night, we got to charge 2 phones, 2 iPads, 1 camera and 3 portable chargers.
(7) Do stock up on water and snacks on the first day of the trip. The journeys are between 2 to 4 hours on most days and sometimes we had late lunches!
(8) Do pee whenever you see public toilet and I’m not kidding. Public toilet is hard to come by especially when you are driving in the middle of the forest. Of course if you don’t mind peeing in public, I don’t think anyone will stop you, but we didn’t try that. There was once our bladder almost burst and it was frustrating hunting down a toilet.
(9) Do watch out for animals! We saw 5 dead Kangaroos and hit a bird during our trip and had a close encounter where we were seconds away from hitting a kangaroo which appeared out of no where. These kangaroo seems to be on suicidal mode! There were a few gory scenes were we saw a headless kangaroo and another with lots of blood on the ground. The bird we hit was a case of unfortunate event. To avoid the bird, we swerved to the next lane but the bird did the same to avoid us. We heard a thud and the rest was history.
(10) Do not attempt to drive at night. The sun set pretty early in Winter and around 5pm, it starts getting dark. If you must drive at night, try to only drive around in their town. We planned it in a way that we will reach our resting stop by 5pm and only drive out to their town to buy groceries.
Can you imagine driving at night while crossing towns on their highway. Look at the picture below, did you see any street lights? When we walk out of our apartment in Margaret River wanting to empty our bin, it was pitch dark. We quickly turned right in after 3 seconds. City dwellers like us took a long while to get used to such darkness.
With that, I hope you will have a safe and enjoyable road trip! This is our sad face after returning our car! Can’t wait for our next road trip!
In this second post on Perth Mint, I will be sharing on some sneaky pictures I took inside the Gift Shops and the Jewelry and Bullion Shop. If you have read the first post, you would have known that there is a strictly no photography policy in the Perth Mint.
After reading on Tripadvisor, I got to know that there are many interesting gifts and souveniors sold in Perth Mint but there were very little shared online. So for the benefits of my shopaholic friends who wishes to know what’s selling at the Perth Mint, where you can pick up some interesting gifts, I took some sneaky pictures. Please pardon the blur pictures!
The Souvenir Gift Shop
At the right side of the building, there is a room where souvenirs are sold. Over here, the souvenirs are generally more affordable and this area is not heavily guarded.
There is also pretty paperweight and pen for your office colleagues or bosses.
Coin banks and other stationary in the shape of Gold Bars. There are a lot more which I couldn’t take any pictures of without arousing the suspicion of the retail staff. Silver and Gold Coins Retail Section Other than the boring coins like those Zodiac Ones or Commemorative of SG50 ones which is usually seen in Singapore Mint, Perth mint has got many interesting ones which appeals to young at heart like us!
If I have a daughter I will get the Princess Ariel one for her! So pretty!
And if you have any friends or love ones getting married, you can also get these! Nice!
These Alice in the Wonderland ones are lovely as well! For the full coin collection, you can also check it out on their website.
On the left side of the building is where all the expensive jewelries are sold. Over here, it is guarded with a few uniform guards and staffs. For overseas visitors, there are Tax-Free Shopping at the jewelry shop if you spend $300 or more. Do bring along your passport and travel ticket.
Other than these, there are also pink diamonds for sale but there are really really expensive. You can also can the bullion coins at the jewelry stores.
Inside the jewelry store and at the corner of the room, there is another small room where people can buy bullion bars or sell their gold bars/coins or jewelry. There is a screen outside the room where they should the live price of each item and the estimated live price of the bullion bars and coins are also listed in their website here.
Before I went to Perth, I’ve emailed and asked the Perth Mint on some procedures on buying gold bars there as a tourist and here are some information if you are planning to get them too!
Payment will be via Cash at the Bullion Desk as they do not accept credit cards for bullion bars. However they do take credit card for bullion coins up to AU$1000 and certain surcharges apply depending on the products you purchase.
For any bullion purchase over AU$5000 (accumulatively), they require a valid driver’s licence showing your photo, signature and current residential address. Should you not hold a driver’s licence, a valid passport or Proof of Age card, together with a utility bill in your name showing your current residential address, issued less than 3 months ago. This is to comply with AML/CTF laws in Australia as regulated by The Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006.
The operating hours of the Bullion Desk are Monday to Friday (excluding Public Holidays) between 9am to 5pm. So even though the Perth Mint Tours are available on weekend / Public Holiday, the Bullion desk will not be open.
The buying process is not sexy at all, even though I was really excited with the purchase, it is more like going to a bank. You get seated, tell them what you want through the glass panel, hand over the cash, they hand over the bar and a A4 receipt in a paper bag.
If you get the bars from the other distributors, you will not have a chance to buy a gift bags. The cast bars do not come in any packaging and it is just like a stone in a paper bag. So you have an option to buy the bags if you shop at the Perth Mint.
I have been monitoring for months on the prices before going to Perth, we reach Perth on 23 July 2015 and when we got there on 23 July 2015, a Thursday evening and on 24 July 2015, the price was really low. It was the lowest in 5 years and right after China devalued it’s yuan. I didn’t wait till the planned day according to the itinerary to visit Perth Mint but instead, quickly went in the morning on 24 July 2015 to pick up my first ever Gold Bar! I got a Perth Mint minted 1 gram Gold bar and also a 1 ounce Cast Gold Bar! I love their cast bars and such small cast bars are really really hard to find in Singapore. The smallest I’ve ever seen is the Valcambi 50 gram cast bars or the Pamp Suisse 100 gram cast bars! So little ones like this 1 ounce (approx 32.15 gram) are so difficult to find!
On the the last Friday before we head back, I also popped by the office of ABC Bullion to get their 1/2 Ounce Gold Bar. The price of gold is still low and these are cute like a button.
I love cast bars for their ruggedness and the fact that I can touch and hold on to it. Mint bars are prettier to look at but I don’t like that they are trapped in the Assay cards. But 1 gram ones are cute and affordable enough. Such 1 ounce and 1/2 ounce cast bars are much more common in the older days and in Australia / New Zealand. Look at this collection of Vintage Cast Bars that is circulating in the gold collector’s community. No one really knows who it belongs to but they are the dream of cast bars collectors!
When I have the spare cash lying around and when the price is low enough, I will go grab the Pamp Suisse 50 gram or 100 gram cast bar! Till then, one can only dream. I must be poison by the powerful Pharoh’s God to have such lust for gold.
I’m on leave today and will be sharing with you on the last attraction that we visited on the last day!
On the 12th day of our Western Australia Trip, after returning our rented vehicle to Baywaters Car Rental, we walked over to the Perth Mint and joined their tour! I am deeply in love with gold and was really looking forward to this tour. I’ve read mostly good reviews on Tripadvisor about the tour except for it’s pricey entrance ticket at AU$19 for adult and it’s no photo policy inside the building. You can only take photos of the building exterior on the outside of the building.
Inside the Perth Mint, there are generally 3 areas of interest, (1) Exhibition and Gold Pour, (2) Gift Shop and (3) Jewelry Shop and Bullion Trading Office. The exhibition and gold pour are only accessible via the guided tour but anyone can pop in to visit the gift shop and the bullion office. I will be sharing on the Exhibition and Gold Pour Tour in this post and the rest in the next post.
Exhibition and Gold Pour Tour
Upon entering the building, there is a counter on the left which sells the tickets for the tour. After payment, you will be tagged and while waiting for the tour to begin, you can start shopping around the gift shop.
The tour begins at the outside of the building where some history on Perth Mint and the gold mining industry in Australia were shared.
We soon realized that our young friendly guide will also be the one demonstrating the gold pour and assisting us with the minting of our customized coins. A fine example of multitasking! Once inside the tour, I didn’t take any photos for fear of getting kicked out of the tour. But for the benefits of my readers, I’ve done some research and got these pictures off other people’s blog or random websites where they have successfully taken some photos! Haha.
Source: The Perth Mint Blog
Upon entering the darkened exhibition, you will be greeted with the world’s largest gold coin, all shimmering and weighing 1 tonne of gold! It revolves enchantingly, seemingly calling out to you in the strangest manner. It is surrounded by presentation screens which share the power of gold over time and how gold is associated with God back in the days of Pharaohs.
After the short presentation, you then walked through a series of exhibitions displaying natural gold nuggets, pure gold bars and minted gold coins along with stories from the old prospectors.
Source: Scott Traveler
Source: Scott Traveler
Source: Scott Traveler
Source: 12 Fly
You will also get to attempt to lift up a heavy gold bar in a heavily secured room. I merely lifted the bar to less than a centimetre.
Source: 12 Fly
After viewing the exhibition, it is finally the highlight of the tour. A spectacular gold pour demonstration where we see the gold being melted into glowing molten lava-like state, poured into a cast mold, dipped into cooling water and out came a huge shiny bar of gold. This session itself is worth the AU$19 if you’ve never witness a gold pour before.
Source: Scott Traveler
Source: Remote Traveler
Source: 12 Fly
After the gold pour demonstration, we visited the other section of the exhibition where you can weigh yourself and find out how much you are worth according to the day’s gold price if you are made out of solid gold.
This is the only time when you wish you aren’t worth that much. Haha. There after, you can also mint your own souvenir coin for AU$2 just to see how an empty coin is stamped and minted. I also got a plastic capsule for AU$1 just for the fun of it. The quality of the coin minted at Perth Mint is much better compared to those souvenir coins we saw at the various attractions all over Western Australia. This is probably the cheapest souvenir in Perth Mint.
At the end of the tour, visitors can also customized their own souvenir coins in pure silver coin, gold plated coin or even pure gold coin!
If you noticed the wordings on the screen, it says “Australian Trip” at the top of the design, which we thought is a little strange. We changed it to Australia Trip in the end. There are many templates to choose from and you can input any wordings that can fit into the design.
In the next post, you will get to see some sneaky pictures I took of the Gift Shop and Jewelry and Bullion Shop.
On the second last day of our trip, we went to Rottnest Island. We only booked the ferry tickets 2 nights before after confirming the weather will be a dry and sunny day! We booked via the Rottnest Express’s Bike package and also used an online coupon code we found in one of the brochures we picked up at the airport. In total, we paid AU$184.53 for discount for two and inclusive of taxes and bike hire.
We decided to take the boat at Fremantle, Northport Terminal as there are many parking lots available and all day parking at AU$12. For fear that we will tired ourselves out, we booked a return trip at 2.10pm instead of the early evening timing. So we had almost half a day to tour the island, which in our opinion is just about right. But you need to pedal hard as we only pedal 2/3 of the island and give up part towards West End. We reached Rottnest Island at 10.45am and Rottnest Express had prepared our bike and helmet all ready for us after arrival.
A huge pelican greeted us upon arrival! Helmet is a must on Rottnest Island and bike is the best to get around the island. For individuals who do not want to work out or for seniors who can’t really walk the distance, they can also join the bus tours. There are no other means of transport as the island do not allow other vehicles except for emergencies or service vehicles. I wished they had electric bicycles though, but clean water and electricity is limited on this island.
There are two main highlights on this island, (1) the amazing biking route which includes a lighthouse and the crystal clean sea view and (2) their native animal, the Quokka, which is now known as the happiest animal on earth.
The Quokkas look like huge rats who hop around but with a much cuter face. They are also not afraid of people and are rather curious when you approach them! You can be sure to spot them as there are a lot of them! Most of them are found near the settlements which is at the beginning of the cycling route near the jetty.
Mission accomplished! A photo with the Quokka!
We then continue cycling which is the beginning of a torturing journey. If someone tells you that Rottness Island is a little hilly, they are lying! It is more than a little! Probably 30 – 40% of the journey is filled with hilly path!
The hilly path begins.
That’s where we want to cycle to! Our first stop, the lighthouse!
We didn’t go up the lighthouse as we have already visited 2 lighthouses during this trip. The view from the lookout point at the lighthouse. What goes up, must come down. Sighhhh
Some of the stops when we couldn’t resist the beautiful sea view! I read that Rottnest Island is a great place for snorkeling during summer! There are many wreck sites to snorkel in.
After cycling up and down many hills, at many points, we ended up pushing up the bike and I am thankful for him who is manly enough to push up two bikes! Haha
In my mind, I kept cursing the hills, thankfully the beautiful view distracted us most of the time. After we completed two thirds of the cycling route, we stopped for a quick lunch which we packed over. There are a few cafes and eateries on the island but we were afraid that we didn’t have enough time. We were left with only 35 minutes after cycling for a quick meal.
After our quick lunch, we were left with some bread and went back to the Quokkas to give them a little treat. Some bread won’t hurt right? Oops.
Have you seen a sleeping quokka? Even when they sleep they look so cute.
The last stop on Day 10 is to attempt sand surfing at Lancelin. We made a stop at a petrol station which also rents out sand board. I am not sure if this is the best place to rent sand board as we saw other places renting out sand boards along the way after renting at the petrol station. When we reach the sand dune, we also notice that some of the sand boards they used comes with a strap to hold on to at the front of the board, this will probably makes the sliding much easier.
Perhaps you can try renting from somewhere else and if you really can’t find the shops which rent out sand boards, you can rent from this petrol station.
We took a picture of the map which brings us to the entrance of the sand dunes. The entrance is really obscure as there were no proper signage or landmark. When we reach the sand dune area, we parked at the front car park and took a 5 minutes walk in. We saw many other cars which drove right in and park right in front of the dunes and cursed ourselves for not driving in.
The sand dune is there for anyone to surf at their own risk but if you are wary of your own safety, you can also join tour groups which comes with guides.
That’s us all excited after seeing the sand dunes!
If you think you will look so cool attempting the sand dunes, you are wrong. The reality is more tumbling than anything!
This happen when you pick a slope too gentle, the board won’t move and we look like an oversize child on a toy car attempting to inch it forward.
And if you found the perfect slope which is not too gentle and steep enough to slide down, you can only try to hang your butt on the board for as long as you can.
But shortly after, you will come crashing down. It can get really fast and we wished we rented a board with a strap to hold on to. After the few seconds of fun, it’s back to climbing up the slope with our board. I must say, it is a lot of hard work for that few seconds of fun.
We only rented a board and took turns riding it.
There is nothing for us to hang on to except to put our hands at the back of our board. We also attempted to slide down with two of us on the board and it is a lot of fun! Because of our combined weight, it slides down much faster and being at the back, at least I can hang on to him. But I cannot imagine his face when riding in front in full speed. Please be warned that the sand is so fine that it gets into everywhere and definitely not for people who are clean freaks! After a few rounds, we had enough of it! It was a tiring session! Haha.
That was the end of our sand surfing career. Haha.
Lunch at Cervantes after visiting Pinnacles Desert is at Lobster Shack! When we visit this place, it is filled with Chinese tourist from tour groups and individual tourists on road trip like us too. There is a lobster factory tour as well but we were not impressed with their online reviews for the tour. This is the only more touristy place we visited but no regrets! The food is expensive but the grilled lobster is absolutely yums.
We bought The Ultimate Lobster Lover with Grade E Lobster (their biggest on the menu) at AU$65 and another Ultimate Lobster Lover with Grade B Lobster (their medium size lobster) at AU$43.
On hindsight, we would have bought two sets with Grade E lobster because the bigger one is so much juicier and sweeter! We didn’t had enough of it! He lovingly sacrificed and let me have most of the Grade E ones! Awwwww. The Seafood Medallion taste a little strange and we are not a fan of it. The set comes with way too much fries too.
Just looking back at the pictures is making me saliva! I want!
“The lake is one of only a few places in the world with living marine stromatolites, or ‘Living fossils’. The microbes that build stromatolites are a species of cyanobacteria and are similar to those found in 3500 , which are the earliest record of life on Earth. The lake’s stromatolites that look like rocky lumps have been dated to about 3370 years old. Stromatolite communities grow as the this layer of bacteria on their surface deposit calcium, cementing sediment into bulbous structures. Blister mats of cyanobacteria can also be found growing on the margins of the lake in the flood zone. These mats are sensitive and easily disturbed.” – Source: Here
On the 10th day of our Western Australia road trip, we drove 3 hours out of Perth city to visit the Pinnacles Desert in Cervantes. We have to pay AU$12 per vehicle to enter the area and had a lot of fun just exploring and taking photos there. It is a little like the rock formation in Ye Liu, Taiwan, except that it is a lot bigger, much more spectacular and without the crowd and tourist!
When we were there, there were less than 10 tourists exploring the huge place and we were left on our own to take photos. The only rule in Pinnacles is no climbing on the rock formation for safety reasons.
You can choose to park your car at the parking lot and walk in to explore or to directly drive into the desert area. We choose to drive in as our car is a rental car and we don’t have to do all the washing! Haha. There are little corners that is marked out for visitors to park their vehicle along the route.
That’s the man running back from the car after we forgot our tripod stand.
Look at this! Here are some of the nice photos we took! Thankful for the handy tripod stand.
Display our goofy side. Haha
The phone is in the picture because we are using that as a remote control. Heh
I’ve always wanted to take nice yoga poses picture out in the nature and we jumped at the chance in the Pinnacles.
When it is his turn to take some photos and he didn’t want to be left out taking Yoga inspired poses, he started displaying strange “Kung Fu” poses. What an idiot! Haha.
That’s monkey grabbing boobs pose.
And that’s erm, monkey grabbing you know where.
Finally a decent fun pose!
Pinnacles is also a perfect place to take some emo pictures. Haha
Thank you for trusting me in planning out the itinerary for most of our holidays! Just follow me and I will bring you around the world!
There is also a lookout point to see the Pinnacles from a higher ground.
Can you see the ocean beyond the desert!?
That’s the kind of path if you drive in.
After visiting Golden Grove Orchard we headed back to Swan Valley to buy some food souveniors for family and friends.
One of our favourite stop is House of Honey which has a wide range of honey for us to try. He loves honey and in the end, he carted a huge carton back.
A tasting booth which lets visitors try all their honey and the different flavours of their infused honey. There is even a tasting note for each honey.
Look how happy he is. In case you are wondering how much their honey is, this is the price for their Jarrad honey. Jarrad honey is one of their most popular honey which is only available in Western Australia. The honey is from their prized Jarrah tree (Eucalyptus marginata) and it has antibacterial and antifungal benefits. Generally speaking, honey is much cheaper in Australia than in Singapore.
They also have other honey which are infused with flavours.
They have other honey and bee themed souveniors as well!
This three bottles are only for his personal consumption. We got a whole lot to bring it back for our staffs.
After honey shopping, we pop by Mondo Nougat to get my sister her Apricot Nougat.
Oops, caught him sneaking around looking for toilet.
Next door is the popular Morish nuts. Mondo nougat and Morish nuts can also be found in Fremantle Market if you don’t want to make the trip down to Swan Valley.
I love Perth, there are essentially no crowd everywhere we go! Haha.
There are the nuts I got for my family, be warned, even though they are very yummy, especially the Jumbo Family Mix (spicy) they don’t come cheap!
After settling down in Perth City the day before, we headed out to Swan Valley bright and early! Swan Valley is like a mini Margaret River but the view is not as spectacular. It is however popular because it is a short drive from Perth city. We drove pass Swan Valley and headed straight for Chittering Valley first. Chittering Valley is another 15 – 20 minutes drive from Swan Valley.
We research online that Golden Grove Orchard is open for orange picking during the Winter and Spring season! It is the peak period for citrus harvest and while we were there, we picked navel oranges, low acid navel orange and mandarin oranges! There is no admission fee but there is a minimum pick of 5kg and it cost us around AU$20 (I think). Not the cheapest oranges you can find in Perth but the experience more than made up for it. I read online that if you are going in a big group, you can arrange for a tour. But when we were there, we were the only ones requesting for orange picking.
The staff warned us that it can get very muddy and slushy in there because it rained heavily the night before, but we braved ourselves and had a lot of fun.
We were given a map like this to indicate the type of oranges growing in the plantation.
The man at work, aiming at the biggest and juiciest ones while I pose around pretending to be picking oranges. Haha.
This is our pick for the first two types of orange, the Navel orange and the Low Acid Orange.
There are lemons too but we are not allowed to pick them. After completing the picking of the first two types, we need to go back to get a pair of scissors to pick the Mandarin oranges and we lucked out because they just started sorting out the oranges according to its size.
The man working again.
That’s us with the Mandarins wishing all an advance Chinese New Year.
That’s our 4 kg of oranges. In the end, we paid for 5kg for the 4 kg of oranges as there were really way too much oranges to consume in 2 days. On hindsight, we should have plan to visit this place during the beginning of the trip, then we would have enough oranges for the entire trip!
There are also other oranges and handmade jams on sale. We saw a some locals popping in to buy oranges from them.
Way too much oranges.
Will share more on the sights of Swan Valley in a separate post.
On the 8th day of our trip, it is a Thursday, and on Thursday, it is their late night shopping in their sub urban malls but not in CBD. Late night shopping in CBD happens on Friday instead. So instead of cooping up in the hotel with everything else closed at 5pm, we headed out to Galleria Shopping Mall at Morley. There are a few pharmacies if you want to buy cheap supplements, there is also K-Mart, Target, Coles and Woolworths and if you are into Pandora, there is one too. We did window shopping and had a quick dinner before buying some groceries back.
I love their home decorations items in K-Mart and Target! It is really affordable and they are so pretty! I would have carted a lot back if I have my own place! Here are some pretty ones. I always find Australian’s home decorative items really beautiful and affordable, when we were at Margaret River downtown, we also spotted a few shops selling beautiful and affordable decorations and homewares!
These are from Targets!
Almost carted one of these book stands back! So pretty and only for AU$30!
And these are from K-Mart!
That’s all for the posting for this weekend, stay tuned for more as I share on other visits to other sights in Perth!
After checking into Mounts Bay Water Apartment, we took out car to the now Instagram popular Blue Boat House at at Swan River, 2 Kings Park Avenue, Crawley.
It is a 5 minutes drive or probably a 20 minutes walk from the apartment. There is no place to park at the boat house and it is really just by the road side and next to a bus stop. We parked further up at a residential area and took a quick stroll over. I had wanted to take some nice couple photos there armed with our tripod and all, but upon reaching the boat house, it was closed because it is structurally unsafe. You should have seen the disappointed look on my face.
On the 8th day of our long trip, we made the long 4 hours drive back from Pemberton to Perth City and it was a bitter sweet journey. The drive signifies the impending end of our trip and we will sorely miss the greens, wide open space and clean crisp air in those country side and small towns in Western Australia!
Upon reaching Perth city, we checked into our last accommodation in our trip, Mounts Bay Water Apartment. In this apartment, we will be staying for 4 nights and we booked their 1 bedroom apartment and we couldn’t be happier! We enjoyed our stay there and appreciate the big space, the kitchen, comfortable living room and bedroom. I can imagine myself staying here for a while if I am working here! Haha.
Here’s a quick Pros and Cons of this place
- Free Allocated Indoor Parking
- Free Wifi
- Comfortable and clean rooms
- Comes with kitchen, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer
- Daily housekeeping services
- Short 10 minutes walk to Hay Street and Murray Street
- Short walk to Swan River and perfect for morning jog if it wasn’t too cold
- Confusing drive there as it is right next to a highway and the exits are a little confusing. We keep missing the exit in our first two days!
Our morning view of the Swan River
On our itinerary is also a relaxing ride on the Pemberton Tramway. It is a scenic ride with a pit stop to view the cascading river and if you were to visit during spring time between September to November, there will be many colour wild flowers in this forest route. I would give this tram a miss if you don’t have much time in Pemberton unless you are here during spring or if you have young children in tow! It is a 1 hr and 45 mins ride and I am sure parents with young children will appreciate the rest on the tram while the children entertain themselves with the view! Haha.
It is an expensive ride at AU$24 per adult and there are only 2 time slots per day.
We also visited Big Brook Dam and this is also where locals can legally fish for Marrons during the annual open window of 8 January and 5 February.
These marrons don’t come cheap and you must carry a receipt with you when travelling with them, as it is illegal to fish for them during most time.We got close to 1 kg of Forest Marrons for AU$53 (5 pieces)! The bigger the size, the more expensive it is per KG. But they don’t usually sell the big ones to walk in customers as those are reserved by restaurant.
And that’s our dinner for the night. I don’t particularly like the taste of the Marrons as there is a soil taste like what you will usually get from freshwater fish and there isn’t that fresh sea sweetness like lobsters. Despite that, it is exceptionally fresh and it is still worth a try just for the experience!
The main reason why we planned for a stop in Pemberton is to climb the Gloucestor Tree! After reading about it online, I decided to give this a trip and add this to my bucket list!
This is the tree which we will be climbing! This tree is one of the many fire lookout trees which were constructed to the top of a few tall Karri trees in the 1930s and 1940s. Gloucester Tree is only 2 kms away from the town centre and visitors can climb up the 61 metres to view a spectacular views of the Karri Forest! To enter the Gloucester National Park, each car will have to pay a fee of AU$12.
Any visitor can attempt the climb, there is no guide, no harness and no helmet provided. The only way up is climbing these peg by peg. There is only 1 way up and down! I managed to climb up the tree, slowly but surely. At some point, my legs were shaking really hard. The fear of plunging to death is real.
It was a nerve wreaking experience and when I was up there climbing, I can only tell myself, just keep climbing, just keep climbing, one peg at a time and don’t look down! He has a fear of heights and I had to climb all the way up on my own! Can you imagine how nervous I was. When I was climbing up, I can only hear him shouting from below, “Dear, are you ok? You are really really high up already!”. Haha
My pants is stained with the rust on the peg as I tried to keep a 3 contact point each time! Another tip, I brought a glove along and that made the climb much easier! But the locals of various ages went up really quickly though!
After visiting whales and lighthouse in Augusta, we drove to Pemberton and check into Forest Lodge Resort. It is a short drive from their town centre which has a resort and some restaurants.
We booked Forest Lodge Resort Pemberton’s Superior Studio room which comes equipped with a kitchen! If I were to plan this trip again, I would not have trip to plan Pemberton together with Truffle Hunting in Manjimup. Unfortunately, truffle hunting is only conducted in the weekend.
The room is generally clean and comfortable but because the kitchen is right next to the bed, we can only do light cooking.
While roaming around at night, we spotted this! Can you guess what’s this?
Initially, we thought it is some kind of big rat but it started out hopping around and when we asked the resort staff, they concluded that it is a likely to be a possum! We are lucky to have spotted it as it is generally a shy nocturnal creature. The next morning, we were treated with a hearty breakfast spread.
After breakfast, we went to explore the vicinity of the resort and am really glad to have this beautiful view for breakfast!
We visited another lighthouse, Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, in Augusta and this is a must visit! The view from the top of the lighthouse is breathtaking! In my earlier post on Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse at Busselton, we bought the 2 lighthouse tour pass and saved AU$4. Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse tour costs AU$20, AU$6 more than Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse but this is worth the AU$20.
Visitors have to join the guided tour in order to go up the lighthouse and as part of the tour, you will also be enjoying an audio self-guided tour around the premises where the lighthouse keeper stays in.
I love lighthouses! If only Singapore’s lighthouses is this accessible!
Up the lighthouse
The ventilation window.
The view of the Southern and Indian Ocean at each side.
Love the facade of the lighthouse.
Couldn’t resist and popped in AU$2 for a souvenior coin! Haha. This coin is of poor quality though, the edge is rough and it is starting to tarnish once I got home. The one from Perth Mint in a capsule is much better! Will share more of that later.
On the sixth day of our Western Australia Trip, we hoped on a boat to go hunt for whales! We booked online in advance with Naturaliste Charter after reading raving reviews on Tripadvisor!
We are lucky that we went on a weekday morning and there were only 1 other couple on the trip with us! We had the crew’s full attention and had plenty of space to move around the boat to get the best view on board!
It was a 2 hours trip and for the first half of the journey, there weren’t much action going on. Patience is key. Usually we have to try spotting for their spouts from a far and move towards them.
Once we spot them this near, we stop all engine and be prepared for the whale to mob us. This is when the boat gets really shaky and when you feel like puking your guts out. Thankfully we took motion sickness pills before that. Haha.
Look how close they are from us!
Saw lots of humpback whales.
We got a good spot right next to the captain!
While waiting for the whales, we got to know a little bit from about them.
We also popped by to visit the seals!
Another check on my never ending bucket list!
After lunch at Voyager Estate, we visited 2 caves in Margaret River. We initially only plan to visit Lake Cave but we had 30 mins before the start of the next tour at Lake Cave, we decided to pop by Mammoth Cave which is only a 3 minutes drive away. We bought the 2 caves pass at AU$40 instead of paying AU$22.50 for each cave.
Mammoth Cave as it’s name suggest is a huge and airy cave and can be access without a guide. There are MP3 available to kick start the self-guided audio tour. If one were to complete the tour, it will usually take an hour or two including the bush walk after the cave but as we were pressed for time, the ticketing officer advise us to just pop in to visit the cave and take the same way out without having to go through the bush walk. Do note that the last entrance to the cave is at 4pm.
Perhaps because we were rushing to complete the cave, we weren’t particularly marveled by Mammoth Cave and took a quick walk and completed the tour in 20 mins.
We then headed back to Lake Cave to join their last tour at 3.30pm. Do note that even though they state that their operating hours is till 5pm, Lake Cave is only accessible with a guide and we saw many disappointed visitors who came at 4.30pm and were not aware of the tour timing.
We met the guide who unlike his hippy and rugged look was really soft spoken.
The view from below at the entrance of the cave.
The only way in.
Watch your head!
Once you get through this. You will be blown away.
Isn’t this magnificent. I literally stood still and took a few minutes to take in this view. It is my favourite caves till date.
The cave is really small, and it is a short boardwalk to the end of the cave.
But look at the view, I can stay here for hours.
And this is the famous reflection of the ‘Suspended Table’ formation, which weighs several tonnes and seems to defy gravity as it hovers above the clear lake water.
The guide also switched off the light completely to allow us to truly enjoy the darkness of a cave. It was almost pitch black.
We were also shown and held a piece of the stalactites.
If given a choice, we would have just visited Lake Cave and save the money we spent at Mammoth Cave. But if you are bringing children, Mammoth Cave would have been a great place for them to roam around and explore.
Back into the light.