Archive | Western Australia RSS for this section

Western Australia Road Trip Tips

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!

IMG_8872

(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.

P7230383

P7230384

(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.

P7240388

(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!

P7240400

P7240402

(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.

P7240405

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.

IMG_8939

(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. IMG_9243

(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.

P7281119

P7281122

(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.

IMG_9238

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!

IMG_9308

Day 11 of Western Australia Trip, Quokkas and Cycling on Rottnest Island

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.

IMG_9284

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.

P8021579

P8021580

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.

P8021581

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.

P8021598

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.

P8021601

P8021602

P8021607

Mission accomplished! A photo with the Quokka!

P8021611

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!

P8021613
P8021615

The hilly path begins.

P8021616

That’s where we want to cycle to! Our first stop, the lighthouse!

P8021618

P8021622

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

P8021623

P8021628

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.

P8021636

P8021629
P8021632

P8021637

P8021638

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

P8021640

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.

P8021644
P8021643

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.

P8021678
P8021646

P8021658

Have you seen a sleeping quokka? Even when they sleep they look so cute.

P8021659

P8021663
P8021688

Day 10 of Western Australia Trip, Sand surfing, Lancelin

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.

IMG_9270

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.

IMG_9273

IMG_9271

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.

P8011553

P8011555

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.

P8011556

That’s us all excited after seeing the sand dunes!

P8011577

If you think you will look so cool attempting the sand dunes, you are wrong. The reality is more tumbling than anything!

P8011557

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.

P8011566

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.

P8011567

P8011568

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.

P8011558

P8011563

We only rented a board and took turns riding it.

P8011561

P8011562

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.

P8011570

That was the end of our sand surfing career. Haha.

P8011572

Day 10 of Western Australia Trip, Lobster Shack and Lake Thetis, Cervantes

P8011533

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.

P8011534

P8011535

P8011536

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.

P8011539On 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.

P8011537When our food came, we were the only ones who bought the Grade E set and it came in a large plate instead of a metal basket. You can imagine when all the envious eyes staring at us!

P8011540

Just looking back at the pictures is making me saliva! I want!

P8011541After lunch, we made a quick stop over at Lake Thetis.

“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

P8011542There isn’t much going on at the Lake Thetis but we were there to visit the Stromatolites.

P8011543

P8011544Look at those strange round rocks growing in the lake!

P8011545They may look like rock but there are actually living organisms, what a strange sight.

P8011547

P8011551

P8011546 It sure is windy there!

Day 10 of Western Australia Trip, Pinnacles Desert, Cervantes

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.

P8011475

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.

P8011484

That’s the man running back from the car after we forgot our tripod stand.

P8011478

Look at this! Here are some of the nice photos we took! Thankful for the handy tripod stand.

P8011485

P8011488

P8011490

Display our goofy side. Haha

P8011491

The phone is in the picture because we are using that as a remote control. Heh

P8011492

I’ve always wanted to take nice yoga poses picture out in the nature and we jumped at the chance in the Pinnacles.

P8011497

P8011500

P8011509

P8011512

P8011518

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.

P8011519

That’s monkey grabbing boobs pose.

P8011520

And that’s erm, monkey grabbing you know where.

P8011516

Finally a decent fun pose!

P8011524

Pinnacles is also a perfect place to take some emo pictures. Haha

P8011526

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!

P8011529

There is also a lookout point to see the Pinnacles from a higher ground.

P8011530

Can you see the ocean beyond the desert!?

P8011531

That’s the kind of path if you drive in.

Day 9 of Western Australia Trip, Shopping at Swan Valley

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.

P7311430

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.

P7311432

P7311431

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.

P7311434

P7311429

They also have other honey which are infused with flavours.

P7311437

P7311440

They have other honey and bee themed souveniors as well!

P7311439

P7311458

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.

P7311448

P7311447

Oops, caught him sneaking around looking for toilet.

P7311456

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.

P7311449

P7311450

I love Perth, there are essentially no crowd everywhere we go! Haha.

P7311455

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!

Day 9 of Western Australia Trip, Orange picking at Chittering Valley

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.

P7311351
P7311355

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.

P7311358

We were given a map like this to indicate the type of oranges growing in the plantation.

P7311359

P7311360
P7311373

P7311374

The man at work, aiming at the biggest and juiciest ones while I pose around pretending to be picking oranges. Haha.

P7311376

P7311378

So fresh!

P7311388

P7311390

This is our pick for the first two types of orange, the Navel orange and the Low Acid Orange.

P7311391

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.

P7311398
P7311399

P7311401

The man working again.

P7311412

That’s us with the Mandarins wishing all an advance Chinese New Year.

P7311405

P7311415

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!

P7311420

There are also other oranges and handmade jams on sale. We saw a some locals popping in to buy oranges from them.

P7311421

Way too much oranges.

Will share more on the sights of Swan Valley in a separate post.

Day 7 of Western Australia Trip, Pemberton Tramway, Pemberton

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.

P7291261

P7291255P7291256While waiting for the tram, we took some pictures with the older train on display.

P7291259P7291264

P7291265On the tram and off we go!

P7291272

P7291277Remains me of the train ride we took in Alishan Taiwan, except that the tram here is much more comfortable and less crowded.

P7291290Crossing many of such old wooden bridges. Pit stop!

P7291295P7291293

P7291297P7291302Ahoy!

Day 7 of Western Australia Trip, Big Brook Dam and Forest Marron, Pemberton

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.

P7291232

P7291233P7291236Even though we didn’t get to fish for any Marron, we made a pit stop in town to buy some Forest Marrons.

P7291240P7291246P7291247These 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.

P7291248

P7291250IMG_9187There are simple instructions to cook it and you only need salt and water to cook them! In order to manage them before cooking, we need to put them in the freezer for 10 minutes to knock them out.

IMG_9185Tested the first one and it was a boiling success! Heh.

IMG_9188

IMG_9189IMG_9191And 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!

Day 7 of Western Australia Trip, Gloucestor Tree, Pemberton

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!

P7291231

P7291223

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.

P7291217

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

IMG_9179

IMG_9182

That’s me!

P7291179

Almost there! This is the structure at the top of the tree!P7291178

P7291177When you finally made it up the 153 pegs, you will be rewarded with this view!

P7291183

P7291188P7291185

P7291191My 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!

P7291192

P7291194After the climb, you can walk around the national park and enjoy the beautiful karri forest!

P7291197

P7291201P7291203

P7291204P7291225

P7291230

Day 6 of Western Australia Trip, Forest Lodge Resort, Pemberton

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.

P7281127

P7281132

P7281129

P7281131P7281133

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?

P7281137

P7281139

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.

P7291141P7291143

P7291144

P7291148

P7291149

P7291150

P7291156

P7291158

P7291145P7291146

After breakfast, we went to explore the vicinity of the resort and am really glad to have this beautiful view for breakfast!

P7291153P7291159

P7291160

P7291163

P7291166

P7291167

P7291168

Day 6 of Western Australia Trip, Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

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.

P7281080

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.

P7281117P7281082

P7281084I love lighthouses! If only Singapore’s lighthouses is this accessible!

P7281088

Beautiful view.

P7281090

Up the lighthouse

P7281091

P7281094P7281095

The ventilation window.

P7281096

The view of the Southern and Indian Ocean at each side.

P7281097

P7281098P7281105The guide took a beautiful picture of us! This is one of my favourite picture of us in the trip!

P7281106P7281107A very poor panorama picture because of the lighting coming from different angle.

P7281110

P7281113

Love the facade of the lighthouse.

P7281115

P7281117P7281118Couldn’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.

Day 6 of Western Australia Trip, Hamelin Bay, Augusta

After visiting the whales and having a quick lunch, we popped by Hamelin Bay hoping to catch some wild rays but we didn’t have the luck! Took in the cool breeze and the beautiful view instead. I heard this place is great for sunset!

P7281077

This is what’s left of the jetty.

P7281076P7281075

P7281074P7281070

P7281067P7281064

Day 6 of Western Australia Trip, Whale Watching, Augusta

P7280997

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!

P7281002

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!

P7281005P7281007P7281008Yummy Arnott cookies and hot beverages were provided on board.

P7281015

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.

P7281017

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!

P7281032

Saw lots of humpback whales.

P7281036P7281041

P7281042

P7281044

We got a good spot right next to the captain!

P7281045

While waiting for the whales, we got to know a little bit from about them.

P7281053

We also popped by to visit the seals!

P7281056P7281060

Another check on my never ending bucket list!

Day 5 of Western Australia Trip, Mammoth Cave and Lake Cave, Margaret River

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.

P7270940P7270942P7270944P7270946

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.

P7270956

We met the guide who unlike his hippy and rugged look was really soft spoken.

P7270960

The view from below at the entrance of the cave.

P7270958

The only way in.

P7270959

Watch your head!

P7270961

Once you get through this. You will be blown away.

P7270962

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.

P7270963

The cave is really small, and it is a short boardwalk to the end of the cave.

P7270966

But look at the view, I can stay here for hours.

P7270971
P7270973P7270976At the end of the walk, the guide will then sit us down and show us a couple of different lighting to highlight the various parts of the cave.

P7270980

P7270983P7270984

P7270985

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.

P7270987

P7270988

The guide also switched off the light completely to allow us to truly enjoy the darkness of a cave. It was almost pitch black.

P7270981

We were also shown and held a piece of the stalactites.

P7270991

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.

P7270992

Back into the light.

Day 5 of Western Australia Trip, Voyager Estate Tour, Margaret River

P7270843

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.

P7270845They largest flag in Western Australia is found here among the perfectly manicured garden.

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.

P7270821Too bad that it is winter and there are no fruits on the vines, if you were to visit during March, there will be grapes hanging on vines which visitors on the estate tour can get to try!

P7270825If you visit during spring, these arches will be filled with roses and they have a rose garden which is open to public for free visiting!

P7270832Their tasting room is beautifully decorated and we went a little crazy taking photos and posing like The Boss.

P7270835P7270837If you are into wine, you can also sign up for their guided tasting session at AU$25 where you can sit down comfortably tasting and enjoying their wines. This is our beautiful guide from Norway.

P7270846P7270850And that’s our open air bus/truck we took to go around the estate, the perfect way to enjoy the scenery and the cool breeze.

. P7270857

Some views of the estate.

P7270868

P7270870

Where are all the juicy berries! We also get to learn the different methods of cultivating the vines.

P7270875

We got a peek at their warehouse. A pallet for you sir?

P7270876

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.

P7270878

We then visited the wines ageing in barrels.

P7270885

P7270907
P7270896

And got a taste straight from the barrel!

P7270899

There after, we had a private session of wine tasting which is also part of the estate tour!

P7270911

P7270918

After the wine tour and tasting, we decided to stay for lunch and the restaurant is equally beautiful.

P7270923

P7270924

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!

P7270928
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.

P7270929

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.

P7270930

He opted for the healthier main, Pink Snapper, Roasted Sweet Potato, Fennel cream, Snow peas and Orange and Herbs Salad.

P7270934

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.

P7270935//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Day 4 of Western Australia Trip, AirBnB stay at Margaret River

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.

P7260773

P7260775

Entrance to the Loft House

P7260774

A little herb garden at the side of her house

P7260776

Old map of Margaret River. Her place is beautiful decorated, it looks straight out from Home Decoration magazines.

P7260781

P7260798

Look at the details in decorating!

P7260780

P7260778

The cozy living area and kitchen.

P7260783

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.

P7260785

Provided simple croissant for breakfast.

P7260786

Dark chocolate too for a little treat.

P7260787

Milk, yogurt, eggs, jams and butter!

P7260788

P7260789

Even some chilled water!

P7260790

All sorts of dry noodles from pasta to Asian rice vermicelli P7260791

All sorts of condiments provided!

P7260792

P7260779

Bathroom is next to the kitchen.P7260784

P7260796

Equally well provided.

P7260797
Appreciate the space where I can unpack all my beauty products. A peep at our bedroom on the second floor.

P7260782

Up on the second floor!

P7260793

Great effort put in decorating little corners.

P7260794

Love the sleeping robe provided! Truly better than hotels.

P7260800

P7260799
Cozy and comfortable bedroom!

P7260795

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.

Day 4 of Western Australia Trip, Truffle Hunting at Manjimup

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.

P7260663

P7260674

P7260675

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!

P7260676

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.

P7260683

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!

P7260693

P7260698

Once she finds it, she will start pawing the spot and sit at the side waiting for her reward.

P7260723

We will then start scrapping the soil really gently while trying to uncover the truffles!

P7260694

P7260726

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.

P7260727Tadah! 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. P7260711

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.

P7260717

P7260718

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.

P7260713

P7260732

P7260735

P7260741

This is a perfect experience for kids too! Look at that cutie!

P7260743

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.

P7260746

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!

P7260749

P7260759

P7260761

What a fabulous view for lunch!

P7260748

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.

P7260763

 

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.

P7260764

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.

Day 3 of Western Australia, Prospect Villa, Busselton

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.

P7250653We 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

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • Not for the faint hearts and people with active imagination

P7250655

We had to close the mirror before sleeping.

P7250657

P7250658

P7250659

P7250656

Day 3 of Western Australia Trip, Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, Busselton

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.

P7250592

P7250595

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.

P7250600

P7250602

P7250603

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.

P7250604

A peep at the huge and thick crystal lens which they imported from the Great Britain then.

P7250607Time to head out for the view!

P7250612

The lens from outside.

P7250615

P7250617

Pretty nice view right?

P7250620

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!

P7250621

P7250624