There are all sorts of vacations. Two weeks ago, we were in Shanghai Disneyland, trying to see and do as much as we could in our time there. I just got back from Western Australia, where our pace was much slower and relaxing. It was a wonderful trip!!
Perth is a 5-6 hour direct flight from KL. Which in my book, is a short flight. We landed in Perth, spent the night at the Pan Pacific Hotel, a very nice basic hotel. We left the next morning and drove down to Augusta, the very southwestern tip of Australia.
So our plan for our second day in Western Australia was basically to drive to the town of Margaret River. The concierge at the hotel was so helpful. He gave us a great map with all the wineries in the Margaret River region and told us about the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. That is where we decided to go! It was about a 4 hour drive from Perth to Augusta. We don't drive much in Malaysia, so the trip itself was very enjoyable.
We saw a few of these signs! I never had time to snap a picture, so I had to grab one online. Then I was on the lookout for some kangaroos! I would not be happy unless I saw some.
Just past Augusta is the lighthouse, the tallest one in mainland Australia. The very tallest lighthouse is in Tasmania, a future destination for us!
This is one of the first signs we saw as we walked up to the lighthouse. It was not the last time we saw this sign!
You have to pay to go up the lighthouse. I believe it was $20 AUD. Joe and I were the only two on the tour, which was nice, since space inside the lighthouse was limited. This was the view from one of the windows on the climb up.
This is where I tell you that my pictures do not begin to do justice to this view!! The white breaks you see in the distance is actually where the Southern (or Antarctica) Ocean and Indian Ocean meet!! National Geographic named the view from the Leeuwin Lighthouse the third best ocean view in the world! Numbers one and two are in Mexico and Hawaii.
I just wanted you guys to see these corbels. This was a very functional lighthouse, built to save lives. But they still made it beautiful. And one more story. Out in the ocean, not far from shore, is a large rock. If you drill down below the rock, through the center of the earth and go out the other side, you will be in Washington, DC! This spot is the furthest spot from Washington in the whole wide world!! A reporter from the Washington Post actually came here last year to do a piece on this place. This lighthouse was one of the highlights of our trip and we just learned of it that day.
Our tour guide suggested our next stop-- Hamelin Bay. There are stingrays in the areas but we didn't see any right here.
We parked our car and went for a short hike. This is part of the Cape-to-Cape Trail. It is a very popular trail going from Cape Leeuwin to Cape Naturaliste. It is 183 km, or about 114 miles. Gorgeous views at every turn. I would like have spent more time doing this hike.
It was hard to leave the turquoise ocean, but we still needed to get to our hotel
This is the grounds for the Grand Mercure Basildene Manor, in the town of Margaret River. Funny enough, it was originally built in 1912 by one of the Leeuwin Lighthouse keepers.
The grounds were amazing.
Basildene Manor is actually a bed and breakfast with the prettiest fruit displays.
Margaret River is a wine-growing region in Australia. Our next day was spent doing a wine-tasting tour in the area. We went with Bushtucker Tours and they did a great job. We also enjoyed the beginning of fall colors in the region.
Lunch was provided on the tour. The dark meat all the way on the right is kangaroo and the one beside it is crocodile! They were pretty tasty. On the way back from the tour, in the late afternoon, we saw some kangaroos in a field by the road! Great way to end this day.
Our next day was another traveling day, from Margaret River back up to Fremantle. We took a slight detour to Cape Naturaliste, to that lighthouse.
It was worth visiting, but the views were not as spectacular as the ones from Cape Leeuwin.
This tour guide recommended we visit this outcropping of rocks called Sugarloaf.
The guide also suggested we eat at Bunker's Beach House in Bunker Bay. This place was very close to Cape Naturaliste and right close to the water. I loved the location and was just hoping for a decent salad or sandwich. What I got was this Moroccon-spiced fried chicken cutlets with a cucumber kimchi. Hands down the best meal of the whole trip!
Our destination that night was Fremantle, which is not far from the airport in Perth. We stayed right at the harbor. This was the sunset view from the Bathers Beach House restaurant. It was the perfect place to have a drink and dinner and watch the sunset. There is actually a whole area here close to the harbor, with lots of restaurants and small carnival.
Probably the highlight of our trip was visiting Rottnest Island. You have to take a ferry there (unless you have your own yacht.) You can either leave from Perth or Fremantle. It takes about 30 minutes to get across. Be sure to buy your tickets online ahead of time. I waited until the night before and a couple of the morning times were sold out. If you want their website, click here. We were forced to leave at 8:15, which actually was a good time to go, so it was okay. We beat some of the crowds of the day. We had the best weather on this day!
All the colors of the water were amazing. Reminded me of all the colors in The Maldives.
There are no cars allowed on the island. There are some buses that take people around the island. Most people get around on bikes, which you can rent online, along with buying your tickets, or we rented ours at the ferry jetty. You can also rent snorkel equipment and can bike to several snorkeling locations on the island. Since this was fall in Australia, at 75 degrees F, I thought it was borderline for swimming. Perfect for biking, though!
We rode our bikes along, stopping to soak in the views in several spots.
This is the point where I will confess some boat envy! We saw some kids get off the boat on the right, ride their kayak to the beach, and go swimming. Not a shabby way to spend a Saturday!!
We spent about 3 hours cycling around. They say you can cycle around the entire island in 3-5 hours. That is not for the faint of heart. There are lots of hills. And you are in direct sunlight. Be sure to bring plenty of water with you. I assumed we could find water on the way. I was wrong. We went back to our starting point and had lunch and looked around some of the shops. You can take a bus tour that will take you to see all the island. And they also have motorized bikes which I think would have been a better way to see more of the island.
Rottnest Island got its name from the Dutch explorers who visited the island long ago. They thought these animals were large rats.
They are actually Quokkas! A marsupial, in the same family as Kangaroos, quokkas are mainly found in Rottnest Island and Western Australia. They are very friendly and are quite happy to pose for pictures. Part of the fun of visiting Rottnest is to find a quokka. I saw several, all surrounded by a crowd of people.
We returned back from Rottnest in the late afternoon. This was the view from our balcony at Be. Fremantle, the serviced apartment where we stayed. We sipped some wine we purchased in Margaret River and watched all the boats come in. So lovely and peaceful!
On our last morning, we had breakfast on 'Cappuccino Row', a street in Fremantle that has lots of restaurants and cafes. We picked one recommended online. Hmm, Australian breakfast food is quite different from American breakfasts. Or the places we tried were just way hipper than we are. Let's just say, it was interesting... But across the street from our cafe, there was this large furniture store. the outside had probably the most amazing murals I have ever seen!
It was a fun five days in Western Australia!