Tuesday, April 24, 2018

FLINDERS RANGES & ADELAIDE APRIL 2018

FLINDERS RANGES & ADELAIDE

APRIL 2018


We first visited Adelaide, the Barossa and south to the Fleurieu Peninsula in 2014. This visit we travelled 460km north to the Flinders Ranges - the largest mountain range in South Australia and one of the oldest landscapes on earth. Once the height of the Himalayas, 540 million years of erosion have whittled the 430km long range down to a modest 1,170 meters at its highest point. 



A brood of four we all met in Adelaide just after lunch and after a quick shop for some picnic supplies, we headed up the A1 to Wilpena Pound Resort an approximate 5 hour drive.

At Quorn we stopped for dinner at Emily's Bistro. A family owned business, Emily's family have been in Quorn for five generations. The bistro used to be the town's Emporium and still boasts the original flying fox register along with other artifacts of years gone by. The food and wine was excellent and it is no wonder that Emily's Bistro is one of the town's drawcards. The fresh bread is also to die for and we were told that the bistro's baker is a young man who has recently followed his wife (the community nurse) to Quorn. I hope for the town's sake he stays!

Unfortunately, it was dark when we initially drove through the quaint historic town, however our waitress filled us in on some of its history and how it is often used as the setting for Australia television dramas (The Shiralee) and movies (Wolf Creek).

Wilpena Pound Resort is a 1.5hr drive from Quorn, however it felt like it took a lifetime to get there. With little traffic on the road and overcast night skies our car headlights (on high beam) were the only illumination for miles around. I have never seen so many wallabies and kangaroos on the road. Given it had rained earlier in the day, the animals were out drinking the water off the road and weren't bothered at all by our headlights or horn.



Wilpena Pound Resort offers accommodation for all types of travellers including: powered/unpowered camp sites, hotel rooms and safari tents. We stayed in a family safari tent which slept the four of us and included a bar fridge, kettle and ensuite.

Wilpena Pound is the gateway to many walks. However, we decided to start our day walking into Arkaroo Rock.  Located about 15 minutes drive from Wilpena Pound, the walk to Arkaroo Rock is a 3km circuit. The walk is a gentle incline, so a good beginners walk and the indigenous rock art is well worth the effort.

We had decided on a picnic lunch, however hadn't anticipated that we would complete the walk as quickly as we had. With that we decided to head back to Quorn and see the town that we had missed the previous evening.

Quorn was once a significant railway town and in 1917 became the crossroads of any north-south/east-west travel in Australia. During WWII it was a vital service point for trains heading to Alice Springs and carried over one million troops heading to Darwin and on to PNG.

Arkaroo Rock Art

Arkaroo Rock Art
The Flinders Ranges were first settled by white people around 1840. The semi-desert was hard country for pastoralists with many forced to give up on the land. Kanyaka Station was once a thriving successful sheep and cattle station, however now all that is left are the Homestead ruins.

Kanyaka Station Ruins

Hills Homestead, Wilpena Pound
Hills Homestead is another example of pioneering hardship. Walking from Wilpena Pound, the homestead walk is a 6.6km circuit through a narrow gorge with Sliding Rock above. This is the only way to enter the Pound. The Hill family arrived from Hawker in 1899 and successfully grew wheat. Unfortunately, as there was only one way in and out of the pound, heavy rains in 1914 destroyed the road they had built. Consequently, the Hill family abandoned the Pound. The still standing stone cottage is a gentle reminder of how hard life could be.

We dined at the Woolshed Restaurant at Rawnsley Park which was very welcoming and the food was a lamb lovers dream. Rawnsley Park is working sheep farm, so it is only natural for the chef to showcase the properties own lamb among other favourites. It was a delightful experience. The property also has guest accommodation. 

Blinman is the highest surveyed town in South Australia at 614m above sea level. For a small town it once boasted a population of 1500, however today just 22 residents make up this peaceful settlement. Located approximately 50km north of Wilpena Pound it was initially pasture land until shepherd Robert Blinman discovered a copper outcrop in 1859. Although Blinman gave his name to the township, he didn't own the land where he found the copper. Although, he and some mates bought the mining lease for the area, which they later sold at great profit to the Yudanamutana Copper Mining Company of South Australia.

Copper mining occured in the area from 1862 to 1918 when the ore ran out. Blinman mine became the largest and most productive copper mine in the Flinders Rangers, with miners predominantly from Cornwall, England all searching for a better life.

The Blinman Mine Tour is well worth the drive to visit this outback town. The mine is also wheelchair accessible, which we believe is the only one in Australia (if not the world!). Our guide made the whole story come to life. Hats off to the local residence who have worked hard to keep their town on the map. If you can't get to Blinman for the mine tour, then just go for a traditional home made Cornish pastie at the Blinman General Store.


From Blinman we took the scenic route via Glass Gorge to Parachilna and lunch at the Prairie Hotel. The hotel offers accommodation, an art gallery and of course food and beverages.

Don't be scared to have a taste of the outback by choosing the "Feral Antipasto", the "Feral Mixed Grill" or even a 200g Emu burger!

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Prairie Hotel, however would have loved it even more without the flies - I suppose thats all part of the outback!

Feral Mixed Grill

We returned to Wilpena via the Brachina and Bunyeroo Gorges. This is a far more scenic side of the Flinders as Brachina Gorge provides a pathway through a rock sequence of its geological history. Rocks exposed along the gorge are between 500 and 650 million years old. Twelve different formations can be seen along the route which are all clearly signposted.


Our last night in the Flinders and we opted for a campfire dinner with friends. 



Burra is just east of the Clare Valley and around 3 hours drive from Wilpena. Like Blinman, Burra was once a copper mining town with majority of its miners being of German, English, Scottish and Cornish descent. It is understood that most of the Cornish miners who eventually ended up in Blinman, had worked at the Burra mines.

Burra Mine Site
The Burra mines, at their peak, supplied 89% of South Australia's and 5% of the world's copper. When the mine was exhausted and closed the population dwindled. Today the town continues as a historic tourist centre and is one of the best-preserved towns of the Victorian era in Australia.

Another pub lunch at the Sevenhill Hotel. A cooler temperature and no flies at our indoor table. The food was excellent.

Arriving back in Adelaide, we stayed at the Quest on Franklin. Well located and comfortable we walked to dinner at Golden Boy, Thai Restaurant. WOW!

Adelaide Central Markets are always on our agenda for any visit. They are a great way to spend a lazy breakfast and pick up supplies for a picnic lunch or snack. They are also close to China Town, so a yum cha brunch is on offer too.

Adelaide Central Markets
Carrick Hill is one of Australia's oldest period homes, complete with its original contents. Located near the Belair National Park (about 20mins drive from central Adelaide), the property, which was owned and built by Edward "Bill" and Ursula Hayward in between 1937 and 1939 was bequeathed to the public. Carrick Hill was a centre of stylish living and remains an important example of the lifestyle of two wealthy and cultured Australians of the mid twentieth century.


Harndorf
Anyone who visits Adelaide is likely to visit the German town of Harndorf. Complete with German pubs, restaurants, butchers and antique stores, this quaint village has quite a history.

The Bridgewater Mill is a nice place to stop for a look at the old Flour Mill or for a picnic and wander through the park.

And, don't forget to stop at Mount Lofty Summit for a view over the city.

After all our car travel, our teenage son (who had slept most of the time he was in the car) was desperate to burn some excess energy. Fortunately, he found Pumpt an indoor skate park where he could hire a skateboard or scooter. A great place for young and old!

Another walk across town to dinner at Africola. I have to say that the food in Adelaide is remarkable.

Adelaide is very much a smaller version of Melbourne with everything centrally located and free trams making the city easy to traverse. The University of Adelaide is also well located close to city along with the sports arena, entertainment centre and other general places of interest.

Glenelg and Henley Beaches are probably the closest to the city, with Glenelg on the tramline. We had lunch at Salt @ Henley
Glenelg Beach
Our last evening in Adelaide and we had booked tickets to see a play at the Dunstan Playhouse. We enjoyed dinner at Madame Hanoi in the Casino before walking the short distance to the theatre.

We drove 1604km in just under a week!



Tuesday, January 9, 2018

RAINBOW COAST, WESTERN AUSTRALIA - DENMARK, WALPOLE, ALBANY

RAINBOW COAST
JANUARY 2018

Its been at least 15 years since we have frequented the beaches of Denmark and WA's Rainbow Coast and since our return to Perth, we've questioned why it had taken so long for us to return. 

Parry Beach Breaks view from the villa
Denmark is approximately a 4.5 - 5 hour drive from Perth down the south-west highway. The drive alone through the Karri Forest Region is one of the prettiest, so there is no hurry to get to your destination. 

We rented a villa at Parry Beach Breaks. The three bedroom, self-contained villa was very comfortable. Situated between Walpole and Denmark, Parry Beach Breaks is a working farm and is close to Parry and Hillier Beaches.

Parry Beach Breaks is a working farm

There is plenty to do in the area. Whether it be lazing on the beach, visiting the Tingle Forest Valley of the Giants in the Walpole-Nornalup National Park, driving to Albany to see the blowholes, gap and natural bridge or just traversing the coast on one of the many walks.

We did the 6.2km walk from Lights Beach to the wind turbines. Part of the Bibbulmun Track, the walk offers stunning views of the coast. 


Greens Pool

Elephant Cove

Lights Beach 


Natural Bridge, Albany

Monday, January 8, 2018

TAPEKA DEL MAR, BAY OF ISLANDS NEW ZEALAND

TAPEKA DEL MAR
NEW ZEALAND
CHRISTMAS 2017

This is the second Christmas we have had at Tapeka Point. The first was in 2010 and we enjoyed our family holiday so much, we decided to do it again. It's just taken us this long to get the family all together!

Tapeka Point is just over the hill from Russell. A quaint little town showcasing some of New Zealand's oldest and most historic buildings. 

Located in the Bay of Islands, Tapeka Point is about a 4 hour drive north of Auckland and approximately 45 minutes from Whangarei. A vehicle ferry to and from Opua runs from 6am - 10.00pm and if you miss the last ferry, you can travel the scenic route to Russell.

We rented Tapeka Del Mar a fabulous, well appointed house on the waterfront. As we were a large group we also rented Tapeka Bach which shares the same expansive lawn right on the beach. Both houses offer kayaks, dinghys and Tapeka Del Mar has a mooring that can be used on request.

The Bay of Islands offers a smorgasbord of fresh produce such as BIG Snapper, green-lipped mussels, pippies and squid.




















Fortunately, we had a boat that we were able to fish the deeper waters from, however we caught squid from the dinghy near the local reef. I also caught an octopus, but let him go when escaped the bucket and scared me to death! We collected pippies at Long Beach at low tide and scavenged mussels off Black Rocks.


There are plenty of other things to do in and around Tapeka Point/Russell. There is a great walk just behind Tapeka Bach which gives breathtaking views of the bay and Islands. There is also a walk into Russell via Jims Walkway, up past Flagstaff Hill and the monument and then down to Russell through the bush. You could even catch a glimpse of a Kiwi if you are lucky.

Old Stone Store, Kerikeri
 




We did take a day trip to Kerikeri and the visited the Old Stone Store. And spent Christmas Eve at Oke Bay. A bit of a windy road to get there, but well worth the drive and climb up over the hill to the protected beach.



I would never tire of this kind of holiday. There is something to do for everyone and the vista is absolutely beautiful.









Wednesday, September 6, 2017

ROTTNEST ISLAND, WA



ROTTNEST ISLAND
WESTERN AUSTRALIA


We have frequented Rottnest (Rotto) for the 20 odd years we have lived in Perth. Just 20km from Fremantle (30 mins by boat), it is a must for a day trip, long weekend or extended break. As Willem de Vlamingh wrote in his journal when he landed on the Island in 1696:

"I had great pleasure in admiring this island, which is very attractive, and where it seems to me that nature has denied nothing to make it pleasurable beyond all islands I have ever seen, being very well provided for man's well-being, with timber, stone, and lime for building him houses, only lacking ploughmen to fill these fine plains. There is plentiful salt, and the coast is full of fish. Birds make themselves heard with pleasant song in these scented groves. So I believe that of the many people who seek to make themselves happy, there are many who would scorn the fortunes of our country for the choice of this one here, which would seem a paradise on earth".

On Vlamingh's arrival he saw a giant jarrah, numerous quokkas (a native marsupial), and thinking they were large rats he named the island "rats' nest" (Rattennest in Dutch) because of them. The quokkas still inhabit the island and don't shy away from having their photo taken. 

Our day trip this spring, was like no other. Rotto is currently being upgraded and we were pleasantly surprised to see an installation of nature walks which take you off the beaten track and connect you with the history of the island.

The five walks interconnect and you can use the transport network to help navigate the different areas. We chose to walk the Gabbi Karniny Bidi. The near 10km, well signposted walk traverses the salt lakes, showing off the dramatic landscapes of the coastal dunes and woodlands.

Bikes are not permitted on the nature walks and bench seats are well located so you can stop for a drink, photo opportunity or even bite to eat. Just remember that there is nowhere to refill your water bottle along the way, so make sure you carry plenty to drink.



Most of the walks are on uneven pathways, so watch your step and beware of snakes and other reptiles.

Don't forget to take your swimmers. Although you can't swim in the salt lakes, the Gabbi Karniny Bidi traverses the beautiful beaches of Geordie, Fay's & Longreach Bays, The Basin and Pinky's.
Geordie Bay


Hats off to the Rottnest Island Authority for this spectacular way of seeing an old destination!







Wednesday, August 23, 2017

PORONGRUP RANGE WA AUGUST 2017

PORONGRUP RANGE
WESTERN AUSTRALIA
AUGUST 2017

It's been cold and wet in Perth, year 12 final exams are looming for our eldest, so we decided to make a tree change for a long weekend and visit the Porongrups. Located 360km southeast of Perth, 40km from Albany and 15kms from Mount Barker, the trip from Perth took us approximately five hours down the Albany Highway (with a couple of stops along the way).



We booked an AirBNB - Woodlands Retreat - for the weekend. It was everything we could have asked for; a cosy two bedroom with ensuites, laundry, kitchen, fireplace, and a fabulous spa room with glorious views of the huge granite formations which make up the Porongrup Range. An entirely unique property.

The Porongrup Range was formed with Gondwana and is recognised in the National Heritage List. Giant karri trees and open jarrah forests cloak the granite mountain range, which houses a magnitude of fauna and flora.


Taking advantage of the breakthrough fine weather we headed out to Balancing Rock and Granite Skywalk.

The level 5, 1.5km walk takes a good hour or so return, so make sure you wear appropriate footwear/ clothing. Hiking up through the bush and then climbing a steel ladder, you reach the Granite Skywalk; a suspended walkway that hugs around Castle Rock. The views from the top are breathtaking. From here you can see all the way to the ocean off Albany over the fields of canola in full bloom.


Day two, the weather didn't look particularly inviting so we headed down to Albany.

Albany was the first European settlement established in Western Australia and signs of the town's history can still be found in the Heritage precinct.

Middleton Beach Boardwalk is a 5km walk from Ellen Cove to Stirling Terrace in the city. The dual pathway offers stunning views of coast and Frenchmans Bay.

Ellen Cove & Middleton Beach Boardwalk
One experience not to be missed when touring Albany is a visit to the National Anzac Centre.
Located in the Princess Royal Fortress, the interactive museum overlooks the harbour where over 40,000 Anzacs departed for the Great War.

Day three and the weather had fined up enough for us to take on the challenging three peaks. Starting at the Tree-in-the-Rock carpark we followed Nancy Peak Walk (3.7km), taking us past Hayward Peak, Nancy Peak and Morgan's View.

The walk isn't for the faint hearted, however the views from Hayward Peak across to the Stirling Ranges and then from Nancy Peak towards Albany are well worth the effort. With all the wet weather we have had, parts of the walk were slippery and slow going, so again make sure you wear good walking shoes.

Nancy Peak Walk
Nancy Peak Walk

Views from Hayward Peak













Devil's Slide is a side trip from where Nancy Peak Walk meets Wansbrough Walk. The 730m walk zig-zags through the bush and over rocks until it opens up onto the rock slide. It's a more challenging walk (especially in the wet) than the Nancy Peak Walk.

Devil's Slide Walk


All up Nancy Peak Walk with a side trip up Devil's Slide and returning to the carpark via Wansbrough Walk and walking at a relatively fast pace took us just over 2 hours.