Thursday, 4 February 2016

Travelling with my overseas visitors - Wonders of the Valley of the Giants

About 50km from Denmark and just 20km from Walpole is one of Western Australia's most popular attractions - the Valley of the Giants within the Walpole-Nornalup National Park.

And this is where it all started - The giant tree surrounding this old Holden was a much loved tree int he South-West. At 24 metres wide, people would drive their cars through the hollow trunk to take that must have photo. Eventually from old age and the compaction of the soil around it's shallow roots, the tree fell down.
This spurred the development of the Tree Top Walk and Ancient Empire boardwalk in 1996, where visitors can now enjoy the tingle forest with minimal impact.

This is where it all started... - myself, our friend and my Mom behind the fake Holden

An entry fee of $19 ($13,50 for pensioners, overseas pensioners not included) gives you access to the Discovery Centre with displays and information and a gift shop, the Tree Top Walk - a 600mt long metal walkway , 40 metres above the tingle and karri tree canopies, and as you leave the Tree top walk you can wander through the Ancient Empire, via a trail across the forest floor between red tingle trees that are over 400 years old. 

One of the spans of the Tree top walk

The Tree Top Walk was designed to complement the tingle forest, made with weather resistant steel and the pylons blend into the forest. The whole structure only occupies 4 square metres of forest floor. 
The highest point
 When you exit the walkway you walk into the Ancient Empire - plant life in this forest is unique to the South-West of WA. Some plants can be traced millions of years back to the continent of Gondwana when Australia was joined to what is now Africa, India, Antarctic and South America.
The boardwalk is well set out protected with chicken wire so you don't slip in wet weather, plenty of seating along the way so you can contemplate nature, a few lookouts - all beautifully done!

You can see an elevated lookout above this giant root
Stretched side by side in the hollow of an ancient tree - me , my Mom and our friend
My Dad, our friend and my Mom inside another giant tree
Another bench to observe nature

Just outside this area we came across a plaque for the Bibbulmun track - this is Australia's only long distance walking trail, 963 km long,  starting in Kalamunda, a suburb in the "hills" of Perth, running along the Southern Ocean at Walpole, and following the coast until it ends in Albany, 120kms away from Walpole.

It is named after an Aboriginal language group, the Bibbulmun, who inhabited some of the areas on the south coast. The track is marked with a stylised image of a rainbow serpent.

Anyone brave enough to walk this trail?

Hope you enjoyed the Valley of the Giants!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Monday Mural - travelling bus

Another mural I saw while holidaying with my family in the South of Western Australia during December.
This lively mural of a VW bus carrying surfboards was painted on a wall in the lovely town of Denmark
Painted by a group of young artists that belong to "Tha House" youth group in Denmark.

To see more murals around the world click here.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Grand opening of Perth's new playground

The most controversial of Perth's development - the $440 million Elizabeth Quay - was opened to the public today after 4 years of construction. 

The project is not totally complete as a few buildings with both residential and office space are still to be constructed in the next 5 to 7 years.

The area was developed out of the former Esplanade Park area, creating an inlet, new ferry terminal which will move from the nearby Barrack Street , a mini island and suspension bridge across the water, boat moorings....
About four million people are expected to visit this area every year and when all completed, about 10 thousand people will work there.
Just for the inauguration day today 25 thousand people were expected!

We managed an early evening visit, as the day was far too hot at 38C and we waited until sundown to leave home.

The area was packed with people wandering around and enjoying all the entertainment on offer, and the kids were having lots of fun at the water park. 

Kids having fun in the water park. The Swan bells Tower at the end

By the bridge a sculpture by Noongar artist Laurel Nannup - a 5 mt high bird with wings stretched on a boat, tells the story of how the Aboriginal people saw the arrival of the British colonists on the sailing ships.

Me in front of the Bird statue
The double arch over the bridge was packed with people awaiting the light and music show that would start at 8pm.
A bit of a disappointment...maybe because we were on the bridge quite far away from the music and water show, so couldn't see or hear much...

The launch events will run for 3 weeks, including laser and water shows projected from the water at 8pm until 10pm daily (every half an hour for 10 minutes).

You can see the thousands of people lining the bridge

The Swan bells Tower, and to the left are the balls from where the laser light show would later start
From those massive balls sprouted water for the water show (hardly visible from the bridge)
More rides for the kids
A view of the city and the artwork at the entry to Elizabeth Quay

Another massive sculpture - Spanda - by WA artist Chritian de Vietri, represents water ripples. The 20 metre high scultpure cost 1,3 million dollars, can you believe that?

Spanda (the illuminated building is the Perth city council)

The Florence Hummerston kiosk dating back to 1927, which was up the road was dismantled brick by brick and reassembled on the island at a cost of $11 million!! Compensation to the lease holders of the restaurant that operated there, plus costs of dismantling and rebuilding...  It will now reopen as a restaurant with a new operator.  This I think was a waste of money, 11 million!!! Crikey.

Florence Hummerston kiosk (still in the finishing stages)

After the visit we wanted to have dinner, but the entry to the pop-up restaurants in the area had huge queues and we opted to go further up to the city centre to find a restaurant.     The city proved to be a bit emptier, everybody must have been at the opening...

There will be restaurants in the area, but they will only open at the end of February.

We returned home at 10,30 pm and it was still 35C, luckily there was a bit of a breeze...

I'll leave you with a picture taken in September 2014 of Elizabeth Quay under construction.
What a difference, and in my opinion I was pleasantly surprised at how good it all looks!

Sept 2014

Elizabeth Quay
The future Elizabeth Quay - expected to look like this when all the buildings are constructed

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Travelling with my overseas visitors - Beautiful southern beaches

From Albany to Walpole about 120km away there are dozens of beautiful beaches - this is the so called Rainbow Coast! 

Fifteen kilometers west of Denmark (direction Walpole) accessible from the South Coast Highway are the magical Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks beaches, which have been my favourites since I first travelled to the south coast of Western Australia.

Both beaches are sheltered by the rounded rock boulders and are side by side and ideal for snorkellers.
Steps to Greens Pool 
Giant rocks shaped like elephants at Elephant Rocks beach
You can either take the short walk around from Greens Pool to Elephant Rocks Pool, or otherwise walk over the rocky area. To access the beach at Elephant Rocks, you have to go down a flight of steps and then through a very narrow passage between two boulders and reach the calmest waters.
My Dad between the boulders that give access to Elephant Rocks Beach

Youngsters jumping from the rocks into the water at Elephant Rocks beach
A short drive away accessed via a bitumen road are Madfish Beach and Waterfall beach right next to each other.

Road leading to Madfish Beach and Waterfall beach
Barely visible at the end of the rocky formation on the photo above is a windfarm which was also visible from Ocean Beach in Denmark.
In front of Madfish Beach is Madfish Island, which is accessible in low tide, but it's apparently full of snakes! So a no go area!!
The waterfall at Waterfall beach runs into the sea, and apparently people use it to refresh themselves on hot days or just to wash away the salty water from their bodies after a swim.
All these beaches are surrounded by William Bay National park.

Madfish Beach from above
Madfish beach
Waterfall beach with the waterfall that runs into the sea

Just 30km from Walpole is Peaceful Bay on the Southern Ocean. During Spring it's a popular area due to the wildflowers.  With direct access to the beach is a  camping park where we camped the first time we went south.

Nearby is Conspicuous Cliff. It's accessed via a boardwalk and a small stairway down to the sand.
Climbing over 60 steps to the top, there's a wonderful cliff top lookout with fantastic views of the beach and river that flows into the sea. The climb is worthwhile, with various benches along the way, with various views, making the climb easier. My Dad is almost 83 and he happily climbed with me!

Conspicious Cliff - stairs down to the beach
My Dad at the top of Conspicuous cliff- views to one side of the beach
The little river running into the sea - view from the lookout
 I hope you enjoyed visiting the various beautiful beaches and hopefully I enticed you to visit our wonderful South West.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Monday Mural - Yellow, Blue and Pink flowers

As I mentioned last Monday, there were more sections to this mural at the Esplanade Busport/train station in the city.

It's a very long and tall wall and there were 3 more panels of flowers - yellow, blue and a pink one a bit further away under the building making it more difficult to see well.

The area is restricted to the buses and their drivers, so I wasn't able to get close to photograph it. All painted by the very talented Leanne Bray.

To see other murals from around the world check Oakland Daily Photo.

The Red flower shown last week and the pink flower hardly visible under the bridge

Friday, 22 January 2016

Travelling with my overseas visitors - Animal Farm in Denmark

Situated about 20km from Denmark on the corner of Scotsdale Road and McLeod Road, the Pentland Alpaca Stud - is obviously a popular destination. 
The entry price to the Animal Farm and Wildlife park was $14 for adults and $12 for pensioners which includes a bag of feed for the animals.
The farm also has a Craft Gallery and sells Alpaca garments. They are also Alpaca breeders as the name says and sell their animals.

There's set feeding times for some of the animals at 10am and 3pm and you can you can watch that.

Luckily for us there weren't many people around when we arrived, and as soon as we bought our tickets we were were handed an orphaned joey (baby kangaroo) to cuddle! Big smiles...

My Mom holding the joey

Outside some animals roamed around free and other were behind wire fences (probably not the best behaved ones...) but we were still able to pat and feed them.

My Dad patting a kangaroo

Me patting a koala
The couple of koalas they had there are Victorian koalas (from the State of Victoria), and live about 15 years. In Western Australia they aren't found in the wild. They eat eucalyptus leaves, which is very low in energy reason why they sleep up to 20 hours a day. They don't drink water either.

They also have alpacas and Llamas, which are originally from South America, but do very well in our WA climate, as well as camels, wolves, cows and horses, birds and a petting zoo with chickens, ducks, rabbits, goats, pigs and a few other animals which are the kid's delight!

Our friend feeding the Alpacas

My Dad feeding the greedy goats
The curious Camel
The Scottish Highland Cow
The shy Wolf
The Galah (cockatoo)
Various rabbits
Guinea Fowl
A very naughty and  hyperactive baby goat
This strange bird sat indoors. I originally thought it was a kookaburra, but I'm not sure...
We spent a couple of hours here and it was thoroughly enjoyable and of course to be able to see and touch some of the Australian native animals like kangaroos and koalas was the highlight of my visitor's day!