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’ve 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.
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.