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.
We are not heavy wine drinker and decided to only visit 1 vineyard in Margaret River. We picked Voyager Estate as it is known for their magnificent property and they are one of the few who conducts a wine tour around their estate. We learnt in the tour that the building design was inspired by the wine estate in South Africa and the founder wanted to build a wine estate which is beautiful, with manicured gardens and as an attraction on it’s own.
We booked the Estate Tour (AU$35) way in advance and only to realize that we are the only 2 people coming for the trip for that day! We love our private tour and our guide was really friendly and gave us a lot of insights to the history of the estate and the wine making process.
Some views of the estate.
Where are all the juicy berries! We also get to learn the different methods of cultivating the vines.
We got a peek at their warehouse. A pallet for you sir?
We were lucky enough to catch them bottling the wine. As the vineyard in Margaret river are generally small and they only does bottling in certain months of the year, they engaged the services of such mobile bottler which goes around the various vineyards bottling for them in the truck.
We then visited the wines ageing in barrels.
And got a taste straight from the barrel!
There after, we had a private session of wine tasting which is also part of the estate tour!
After the wine tour and tasting, we decided to stay for lunch and the restaurant is equally beautiful.
On weekends, do make reservation as they can get a little crowded. We picked an Entree & Main set (AU$60) and a Main & Dessert set (AU$55) to share!
First the entree, we picked Herb Crusted Venison, Lemon and Truffle Potato Puree, Artichoke Chips and Roasted Tomato and it was great! It is nice that we get to taste various exotic vegetables like artichokes which we rarely see in Asian cooking.
As for the mains, I opted for Black Angus Beef Fillet, Celeriac and Truffle Puree, Wild Mushroom and Roasted Heirloom Carrots, Kipfler (a type of potato). I love my beef and it is juicy and really tasty.
He opted for the healthier main, Pink Snapper, Roasted Sweet Potato, Fennel cream, Snow peas and Orange and Herbs Salad.
Dessert was Hazelnut and White Chocolate Torte, Coffee Essence, Lemon Curt, and Candied Hazel Nut. It was really smooth and I love the fragrant of the hazelnut in this dessert but the white chocolate portion is a little too sweet for me. We then ended this lovely part of our visit with a cup of tea.
After Truffle Hunting and lunch at Manjimup, we headed back towards Margaret River to check in to our second AirBnB stay! While researching, I fell in love with this place and had intentions to stay here for 3 nights but we only managed to secure for 2 nights. AirBnB awarded them with a Superhost title and I can see why! Everyone had raving reviews for Rosaleen and her place is gorgeous and she is really thoughtful!
Here are the pictures.
Entrance to the Loft House
A little herb garden at the side of her house
Old map of Margaret River. Her place is beautiful decorated, it looks straight out from Home Decoration magazines.
Look at the details in decorating!
The cozy living area and kitchen.
The kitchen is fully equipped to whip up meals and Rosaleen provided every condiments and basic necessity you can imagine. A really thoughtful and generous host.
Provided simple croissant for breakfast.
Dark chocolate too for a little treat.
Milk, yogurt, eggs, jams and butter!
Even some chilled water!
All sorts of condiments provided!
Equally well provided.
Up on the second floor!
Great effort put in decorating little corners.
Love the sleeping robe provided! Truly better than hotels.
I would definitely recommend this place to all my friends and family traveling to Margaret River! The location is central to all the attractions and small town and isn’t her place amazing? You can find her loft over here.
After we booked all our accommodations for the trip, we started booking for the activities. However, somethings didn’t go as planned, we initially intended to go for the Moondyne Cave Experience tour at Margaret River the day we left Busselton but the cave was closed. It is supposed to be a caving experience where you get wet and dirty climbing and crawling around the cave.
We then lucked out by chancing upon Truffle Hunting Season at Manjimup and quickly signed up for it. The tours conducted by Truffle & Wine Co are only available during the winter season and during weekends only. It is really popular among the locals and you need to book way in advance! We booked almost a month in advance to secure the seats.
However, signing up for this tour means waking up really early for the drive down to Manjimup and it wasn’t the most efficient route for our 12 days journey as it is really close to Pemberton where we will be heading there towards the second half of the trip. It costs us AU$60 each for the truffle hunt and no, it does not include lunch and you cannot bring home the truffles you found.
We gathered here at their Cellar Door for a short introductory session and we learnt quite a fair bit about the history and growth of black winter truffle. We also got to try a little of the truffle and were really eager to get out hunting for them at this point! Before this session, we only associate truffle with truffle fries, but getting up close to learn about how truffle grow was an interesting experience!
Here is our truffle hunter and Daffy (truffle hunting dog)! Daffy is really camera shy and as she is young and inexperience, she can get a little distracted during the session.
First she is instructed to go find the truffle, the truffle hunter will usually asked her “Where are the Truffle, Daffy?” before Daffy go around sniffing for the black gold!
Once she finds it, she will start pawing the spot and sit at the side waiting for her reward.
We will then start scrapping the soil really gently while trying to uncover the truffles!
Can you see it already?! It is really hard to spot them as it looks like a clump of soil and we cannot be digging around it too vigorously for fear of damaging these prized pieces.
Tadah! If you are lucky, you can find a cluster of truffle in a spot! There are many chances for everyone to get their hands to try hunting for the truffle, I tried digging a couple of times and it is really exciting when you manage to dig for a huge one. But at times, you may end of finding really tiny ones too.
The most valuable size and shape are the ones rounded like a golf ball size. These are most valued by the top chefs around the world as they can be sliced into perfect circular pieces and plated beautiful on each dishes. The tiny ones will often be used to make condiments or for flavouring.
You definitely have to get your hands dirty to hunt for one!
While not hunting for truffle, we were all trying to play with Daffy and trying to get a good picture with her and I wasn’t too successful in that.
This is a perfect experience for kids too! Look at that cutie!
These are all the truffles hunted by the group! The going rate is AU$2.50 per gram. Can you imagine how much that basket is worth?
After hunting, we were treated by some wine tasting and some quick look around on their truffle infused condiments.
We made a reservation for lunch and if you didn’t, the guide will check with you again before the session begins. We had to decide on what’s for lunch before the start of each session and the food really yummy! Great for truffle fans! While waiting for our food, we also walked around and basked in the sun!
What a fabulous view for lunch!
We ordered the Appetizer and Wine Pairing Set #1 (AU$30) to share and really love it. The black truffle pate with liqueur shiraz jelly is the bomb, we didn’t had enough of the seared beef fillet with roasted vegetable, pine nuts and black truffle dressing and the black truffle infused brie gave us an idea on making it ourselves one day.
I ordered a Confit Duck with Black Truffle Potato Mash (AU$35) and expected a crispy duck confit. But this wasn’t too bad and the black truffle potato mash is awesome.
There was a Chef Special for that day, and he ordered the Beef Fillet salad (AU$30) and it was great!
If you are planning a trip in Western Australia during the winter months, please do not miss this experience! We really enjoyed ourselves and had such fabulous time there.
The last post on Day 3 of our trip would be on the place we stayed in. We found Prospect Villa in AirBnB and got to learn that the Villa was built in 1844 and is reported to be one of the oldest house in Busselton. We thought (ok, I thought) it will be cool to stay in really old houses to experience the different types of lodging in Australia and booked the Ensuite room on the ground floor.
We arrived in the late afternoon, drop our bags and took some pictures then left for the supermarket. Upon coming back from the supermarket, the sky is already dark and we realized that this place seems a little creepy. The old original photos of the original family and how the house looks like back then in black and white photos didn’t help either. The decorations were really fitting of the era back in 1800s and we were initially rather spooked out. The kitchen is at the back of the house and we went there to heat up our food in really dim lights and dark surroundings. During the second round of heating up our food, I left the keys in the room and locked ourselves out in the cold dark house. I know that they have another 2 rooms on the second floor and a small cottage at the back of the house and I went up the creaking stairs to see if there is anyone. Unfortunately, there were only creaking sound and more black and white photos which greeted me. We then headed over to the small cottage and lucked out to find another Vietnamese couple cooking and staying there. The cottage was modernly furnished, spacious and had a kitchen and I would love staying there instead. We then called our AirBnB host – Priscilla – who came to save us within 10 minutes! Really thankful for her. Despite all the drama, we had a very comfortable stay in our room and there were no supernatural activities at all. The room was really cozy and very comfortable too. I would suggest checking in the early afternoon and get yourself oriented before it turns dark. It is great if you book the entire place if you have a huge group of people, otherwise, you can book the cottage which is more modernly furnished. Here is the listing in AirBnB Here are the Pros and Cons of staying at the Ensuite Room at Prospect Villa
- Central Location, it is at the corner of town and short distance to supermarkets. There are many eating places around and a Petrol station right next door
- Friendly and helpful host
- Cozy and comfortable room
- In room heater available, we stayed during winter and am not sure how is it like in summer, didn’t see any air conditioners though. You can probably check with the host.
- Perfect for individuals who love old world charm and would like to be transported back in time
- A common kitchen available for use which is good for heating up food or preparing simple meals.
- Not for the faint hearts and people with active imagination
We had to close the mirror before sleeping.
The last stop on our itinerary is Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse. Do plan your visit according to the lighthouse tour timing. Even though they state that their operating hours is between 9am to 5pm, you can’t access the lighthouse without participating in the tour. This is the same for some of the caves and all of the lighthouses which we visited. The last tour starts at 4.30pm.
As we wanted to visit the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse in Augusta as well, we bought the 2 lighthouses pass for AU$30 which saves us AU$4 each.
Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse is a short and stumpy lighthouse and it is really adorable. Even though it is short, it is sitting on a high hill. After visiting both Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin Lighthouses, I thought the guide here is better. Because of the lack of height, the guide gave a more detailed sharing on the history and how the lighthouse operated. It is also perfect for people who didn’t want a long climb and yet learn about the lighthouse. The view from Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse wasn’t too bad, but Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse’s view is far superior.
Below this huge green revolving machine, there is a layer of Mercury which allows the top to stay afloat and turn in ease. A lot of lighthouses eventually went crazy towards retirement and at first, many thought it is because of the job and the isolation in staying at a secluded location away from civilization. But now, they conclude that it is likely that many of them went crazy because of mercury poisoning.
A peep at the huge and thick crystal lens which they imported from the Great Britain then.
The lens from outside.
Pretty nice view right?
The light bulb used for this lighthouse is much smaller than the one at Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. They used the light bulb on the right. Yes, a few of these tiny bulbs are able to light up the lighthouse because of the lens!
We arrived at Busselton Jetty for lunch and headed over to The Goose Beach Bar and Kitchen. The food was great but a little pricey even for Australia standard. But it is right next to the jetty and we had a fabulous view of the sea and jetty while dining indoor.
Had a Seafood Chowder (AU$34.50) which is filled with lots of fresh ingredients and a Grilled Tasmanian Salmon with prawn and artichoke salad (can’t remember the price, and it is under Today’s special) ! One of the better meals we had.
The Busselton Jetty is 1.8 kilometres long and it is the longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere! It didn’t take very long to walk to and fro on the jetty in the perfect weather! For individuals who can’t walk the distance, there is also a Jetty Train which is really slow moving. You can also decide to buy entrance ticket to go down to their underwater observatory after viewing the live feed at the visitor centre.
Just keep walking.
Towards the end of the walk!
From Fremantle, we woke up bright and early to drive towards Busselton, it is a 3 hours drive from Fremantle to Busselton, but in between, we routed to Gnomesville for a quick stop. We finally left the city and headed towards smaller town and greater nature. The drive to Gnomesville is nothing but scenic and when we arrived, the mystical village of Gnomesville is right there on our left. We were surprised by it instantly as we expected to walk deeper into the forest instead of seeing it right by the side of the road.
Gnomesville is not an official tourist spot, and how it is formed is still a mystery to all. Whoever left the first Gnomes there started an unofficial village for the Gnomes, and people from all over the world started coming and bringing their Gnomes and leaving them here. There are some which was left there by charity organization while many were left from visiting individuals. It is a strange sight really, and I’ve never seen something like that in anywhere of the world. Even though they look really cute in your garden, no one will steal them and bring them home. It is known that it will bring the person bad luck to take them away from their village. When we visited, there were 2 other couples and a family with young children. Definitely an interesting place for a quite stroll and photo taking if you like Gnomes.
There are gnomes of all sizes and some looks really old and creepy but many looks really cute.
There are everywhere!
In the late afternoon, we drove over to Fremantle’s fishing harbour where many will head over for fish and chip and seafood. Instead, we headed over to enjoy a short evening walk to watch the sunset.
We also took a short stroll to Round House and enjoyed the scenery there.
View from the to of Round House.
Thereafter, instead of staying for Fish & Chips, we drove to Missy Moos! We bought a Groupon Deal where 2 burger set costs us only AU$19! I’ve read about Missy Moos and their reviews aren’t too bad.
Even though the place looks really shabby and nondescript, and for any 2 burgers off their menu and a huge butch of fries just for AU$19. It is the cheapest eat out meal we had in Australia and we can’t complain. He picked Higglety, Pigglety which was average, but my Jack & Jill is fantastic!
We got them to serve only 1 serving of fries instead of two, and still couldn’t finish them. Heh.
A short walk from the Fremantle Prison, we headed over to the Fremantle Market. It is a market selling lots of fresh produce, hot food and some souveniors. This market opens only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We went on a Friday and later towards the end of the trip, we headed back after Rottnest Island on a Sunday.
Compared to Singapore and their local supermarket prices, Fremantle Market has one of the cheapest fruits! The above are prices we took on a Friday. We learnt from our second visit to the market that, if you were to come on a Sunday afternoon, their last day of operation of the week, a lot of their fresh produce will be on sale! So if you want to grab good deal, come on a Sunday afternoon for their fresh fruits and vegetables.
It is a bustling market filled with lots of tourists and locals!
For lunch, we had a panini and soup. Their seafood chowder is yummy, which we slurp it all up before taking photo!
We also had Dosukoi Ramen Ramen which is a popular ramen place and it is rank the top few in Perth. I think our Ippudo is much better but it wasn’t too bad for Asian food standard in Australia.
There is also a cute colourful piano for anyone to play. Neither of us are musically incline and had to give that a miss. Hah. In the end, we didn’t buy anything except a little souvenior for a friend who requested for a Koala.
We then headed over to the Cappuccino Strip where San Churro is at, yummy churros is a must have and we had it towards the end of our trip. We also walked over to Common Ground on 82 High Street, Fremantle. They sell locally designed and produce crafts and decorative items, and I’ve been following their Instagram for a while and had been eyeing on a few goodies from them.
In the end, I got the following items for my future imaginary home. Bought the wooden bunting banner during the first visit and the print art in the second visit. It ain’t cheap though, the wooden bunting costs AU$15 each while the art print costs AU$25. But other than food in Australia, they aren’t many things to buy and bring home! So I thought I should splurge a little on some pieces I like. Haha.
I love the wooden bunting banner and I picked out “Wild & Free” and “Adventure is waiting”, I thought it will look strange if there were only 2 of them and got him to pick one more. He picked “Just be” which incidentally, forms a sentence “Just be Wild and Free, Adventure is waiting”. How nice. The print work “You are Perfect” serves as a daily reminder to self to be confident, even when we wake up feeling lumpy and ugly.
The first activity of the day after checking in to Hamptons Inn Bed and Breakfast was to visit the Fremantle Prison! We joined the Prison Day Tour Package at AU$28 per pax which included the Doing Time and Great Escape tour.
Personally, I very much prefer the Doing Time tour which brings us around the prison and showing us how the inmates used to live in there. The Great Escape tour mainly revolves around stories on inmates attempting to escape which requires more listening than exploring. I got a little tired in the middle of the second tour and if you only have the time to do one tour, do the Doing Time tour! Before you show up at the prison, do check online on their tour timing and arrive 10 minutes before the tour.
Before the tour, we checked out their small gift shop and saw some cute gifts!
Before the start of the tour, the coordinator will ring a bell and in we go into prison! The following pictures were from the first tour, Doing Time!
This is where the inmates strip themselves butt naked for checks before registering themselves in.
These nets were installed first to prevent inmates from committing suicide, but because the nets were so rough and hard, it didn’t do much except to prevent dead bodies from dirtying the floor. However, it did protected the prison officers as the prisoners often throw their metal buckets filled with shit. Literally.
Ok, maybe a look a bit too happy to be in prison!
There is a church build for them too and not all attendees are devotees. Most of them just needed a breather out from their cell.
A bare minimum!
According to the guide, this prisoner who drew this is still alive and he is a serial rapist but was given parole on good behaviour. And even though the artwork looks nice, they are not original creation. He is merely replicating famous artwork.
This is a work of a prisoner who wrote a message for his daughter.
The funny guide also demonstrated how punishments were carried out back in those days.
This is a gloomy place and there is a strange chill to it. This is where the prisoners were hung. The next series of pictures are taken during the Great Escape tour. There were no overlapping sights between Doing Time and Great Escape Tour.
A Catholic church was also build for the prisoner later because they started having a lot of Irish origin prisoners.
This picture is taken when one prisoner was found hiding (and trapped) under the floorboards for days while trying to escape. The prison officer thought that it was really funny and if they were to tell it to the rest of his colleague, they may not believe him. In the end, he covered up the floor board, got a colleague to watch him and went back to take a camera and took this picture. The prisoner face is blurred out a little because he is still alive in his senior years.
The first thing we did in Fremantle is to check in at Hamptons Inn Bed & Breakfast! Thankfully, the room was ready when we arrived and the host Neil was really friendly, helpful and accommodating as well! It is in a quaint, cozy old house and love it to bits! One of our favourite stay during our trip! We check out our room and I will strongly recommend this place if you are traveling to Fremantle. We stayed in the Suffolk Room.
- Central location, less than 10 minutes walk to Fremantle Prison, Fremantle Market and Cappuccino Strip
- Free Parking
- Free Wifi
- Free Basic Breakfast
- Comfortable, cozy and clean room
- Mini Library which is free for all to browse and if you find one which you enjoy reading, you can bring it along for the rest of your trip!
- Free Port for those who needs a little alcohol to put you to sleep
- Bathroom gets a little too wet after shower as they use rain shower but there is no shower curtain.
This little gem is a rare find and we love this place to bits! See below for more pictures!
I’m back from the 12 days road trip in Western Australia and I can’t wait to share with you our journey in details and also to document them for future references!
We took Scoot and arrived Perth in the early evening but it is already dark when we reach! The first task upon arrival is to buy the local data SIM card! Optus came strongly recommended by my friend and it seems like many savvy travellers also knew about it.
They were having a promotion which costs only AU$2 a day for 500 MB each day and it was more than enough! I used it constantly for Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Google Map and even use it to create personal hotspot to load work emails in my iPad and we have never exceeded the daily limit! We were in Western Australia for 12 days, and it should have cost us AU$24 but there is another concurrent promotion where you only pay AU$20 for AU$30 credit. With that, we ended up having AU$6 credit left after the trip! What a fantastic deal! After settling our SIM card, we took a cab to Perth City and checked in to Perth Ambassador Hotel on Adelaide Terrace. This hotel was picked for the proximity to our car rental place which we will be picking up the car from in the next morning!
We walked over to Bayswater Car Rental with our luggage (less than 5 minutes walk) to pick up our car and left our luggage in there before walking over for breakfast! Manhattans on Hay cafe is owned by a Chinese Malaysian couple and they are one of the more affordable breakfast place throughout our trip. By affordable, I am saying according to Australian standard, my simple meal is AU$5 and his is slightly below AU$20.
We then walked over to The Perth Mint to pick up some gold bullion as the gold price was hovering at a 5 year low that morning. I will share more pictures on The Perth Mint in the later post as we went back on our last day for their tour!
We then went back to our car and drive over to Fremantle! The beginning of our adventure!