Sunday, December 10, 2006


We're enjoying our second house swap. We left Adelaide and flew to Perth to be met by Cally our swapee, who gave us tea, directions and keys to her lovely house in Dunsborough.

Dunsborough is a three hour drive due south from Perth. It is a small attractive coastal town situated in Geographe Bay, part of the Indian Ocean. It is close to the Margaret River wine region and we are looking forward to sampling its produce - actually we stopped at a local bottle shop, in the interests of research you understand, and stocked up on a couple of regional wines with names like Swagman's and Swooping Magpie, prior to our winery tour on Monday.

Drink driving is out of the questions here as new limits are set at .05 and the maxim "Keep it below 5" is everywhere, anything over incurs an instant driving ban, which effectively means you can't drink a drop and drive, so we are being picked up by a mini bus. Hooray!

We've spent the last few days nesting - shopping, unpacking, relaxing, reading newspapers, and walking in the locality. Lovely walks along the coast. If we can summon up the energy we could do the Cape to Cape walk between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin in the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park. I rather think we will lower our sights to the 14k between Dunsborough and Cape Naturaliste! Some of the local names are a bit Frenchie, due to Frenchman Baudi coming across the place in the early 19th century.

We've done an exploratory car trip along the section of coast between Dunsborough and Cape Naturaliste callling in at a number of small sandy coves: Meelup which had lots of lovely grassy shade; Eagle Bay a long sandy bay with a few houses and the even longer sandy beach at Bunker Bay where a large sign proclaimed a development of 150 villas is due to take place. What a shame.

At the head of the Cape we visited the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse. Built in 1903 from limestone blocks quarried at Bunker Bay initially it ran on whale oil then kerosene. Electricity arrived very late, about 25 years ago. This is one of a number of lighthouses built around the Australian coast in the early 1900's - we've already seen Norah Head for example. This time we went inside and we climbed the original teak spiral steps with a polished brass handrail to the lamp platform and admired the prism crystal lens inside, which to replace today would cost $5 million. Then we stepped outside and were blasted by the wind but enjoyed the fabulous views over the Cape to the Indian Ocean. It is the end of the whale migration season so we didn't spot any but we did see a magnificent, enormous, at least 6 feet plus, kangaroo hopping around. The three old lighthouse keepers cottages have not had to cut their lawns for at least the last three years as the kangaroos keep it well manicured.

We've also dropped into the Wardan Aboriginal Centre for an introduction to the Wardandi culture and view of life. We did a fascinating bushwalk looking at various plants and their uses. We learnt for instance that Balga, the Grass Tree, (Xanthorrhea) found only in Australia, is used as a source of food and drink. The flowers catch dew for an early morning drink, important as traditionally travellling Aborigines did not carry their water with them; the flowers can also be soaked to extract the sweet nectar. The flower spikes are used as fire drills to get a fire going and as torches. The trunk of the Grass Tree - they used to be call Blackboys, but as you can imagine this is not acceptable, indeed not even mentioned, at the Aboriginal Cultural Centre - is used for firewood and also provides a resin beneath the bark that is mixed with kangaroo poo to make a thick gum for fixing axe and knife blades to their handles. The resin also has medicinal uses, I think it was ground down and used to aid digestion. The grass is also used to make beds and shelters. An amazing all round plant really, we have them in the garden here at Dunsborough and they are a lovely architectural addition to any garden.

At 20 - 25 degrees it has felt a bit chilly compared to the heat of Brisbane and Adelaide - where it was 41 degrees yesterday! It is due to heat up here too - no doubt just as we are going to watch the cricket back in Perth! It's going to be hard to drag ourselves away from here I have to say!


PMM&L said...

Very nice indeed. The beach looks amazing. Hope all the flies are gone now!!

axx said...

Yes - mostly thank goodness! There are still the odd ones with an finly tuned sense of direction that fly staight up my nose!

All the beaches are amazing here, one way or another.