Margaret River, Rottnest Island, Cervantes WA (June 12-17, 2017)

Having been to Western Australia only once, James and I couldn’t wait to get back! And as an added bonus we were meeting our best friends Katie & Jeff there. When James and I moved to Melbourne nearly 3 years ago, we didn’t know a soul. When I finally told my work I was moving to Australia, a friend of mine instantly said “I should introduce you to my friend Katie; she and her boyfriend just moved there. Come to think of it, I think you guys will really get along!” We were keen to meet any and everyone, and after a brunch date with Katie and Jeff it was pretty obvious we had made lifelong friends. Living 16,000 kms away from everything and everyone you know and love can be pretty tough, and Katie and Jeff became part of our Australian family. Long story short, we couldn’t think of a better way to enjoy our last few weeks in this amazing country!

After arriving in Perth, we headed to Margaret River right away for a few days of relaxing and (of course) enjoying all the beautiful wine the region has to offer. We arrived just before dinner and had a pretty lazy night at our wonderful Airbnb. The next day, we were ready for action! Our first stop? Well, naturally we needed to get some good coffee. And lucky for us, we had an amazing spot right near our Airbnb: Yahava Koffeeworks. This place roasts their own beans (we picked some up for our hand grinder and aeropress) and makes a mean latte. After getting caffeinated, we headed to Leeuiwn Estate for a quick tasting and to get some photos. They are currently undergoing renovations (it’s the off season after all) and this already beautiful winery is sure to be even more gorgeous when they are finished!

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A pit stop at Hamelin Bay Wines

We’d decided to drive south that day, as far as Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. Along the way, we passed Hamelin Bay Wines and decided to drop in. This place was great; outstanding views and incredible wine. We were on our way to Hamelin Bay to see/feed/pet some stingrays but before we knew it, it was pouring buckets. No matter – we had a few nice bottles of wine and a wood fireplace waiting for us so we decided to retire early.

The next morning, we set back out for the south. After a quick stop at Yahava, we made our way to Hamelin Bay but, unfortunately (perhaps due to the season or high tide?) there was not a stingray to be found.

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Hamelin Bay Visit, June 2017 VS January, 2017 (Below)

Despite this, the view was incredible so we spent a few happy moments on the beach before continuing south.

Next on our list was the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse – the most south-westerly point in Australia.

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It was cold and windy, and made for some beautiful and moody scenery. But before too long we were ready to hop back in our car and head north. By then we were jonesin’ for some eats and decided to go to Cheeky Monkey Brewery. It’s a great spot (especially in the summer, which was when James and I first visited it) with lots of outdoor space and great views.

After, we headed to Vasse Felix which we had visited for lunch back in January, but neglected to do a tasting due to the summer crowds. Luckily when we showed up we more or less had the place to ourselves and were able to take our time with the tasting. Vasse Felix was the first winery in the region, and has fantastic views and beautiful wine. We decided to pick up a few bottles for later in our travels 😉 After a few more tastings (at Mad Fish and Cape Mentelle) and a quick stop at Providore to get some of their delicious garlic infused olive oil we headed home for a night of cards and to get some rest.

The next morning, we made our way back up to Fremantle to catch the ferry to Rottnest. We made some pretty good time, and had the chance to grab a bite before heading to the dock. Katie and Jeff had scouted out The Raw Kitchen and we were all too eager to give it a go. We were not disappointed! James and I shared the roasted brussel sprouts (my fave!), beetroot kimchi and yellow coconut curry while Katie and Jeff opted for the beetroot carpaccio, herbed cashew ‘goats’ cheese and live pad thai. There was not a morsel left on any of our plates!

We made our way to the ferry and had the pleasure of watching a few dolphins as we waited for the Rottnest Express to appear. The ferry over (a quick 30 minutes) was beautiful – the sun was shining so it appeared the weather was working in our favour! When we got to the dock, we headed straight for our accommodations which was an ocean view cottage with a small kitchen and BBQ; perfect for our group! And it only took 5 minutes to spot our first quokka – there are heaps of them in and around the cottages (likely hoping for some tourists to accidentally drop some food!).

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The next morning we woke bright and early, ready for a work out on the beach, We had planned to rent bikes and do a lap of the island later, not realizing that would be a pretty great workout in and of itself! You can hire bikes on the island for $30 for the day (which includes a helmet and bike lock). We picked ours up around 10am and were on the road before 11.

According to the bike map, to do the full lap including the Western Tip was 4-5 hours, but we were done in just over 3. It was a beautiful, sunny day but not quite warm enough to swim so I imagine on a summer’s day you could really take your time with it.

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Wven though we were making good time, we soaked up the views and even stopped for lunch at the Wadjemup Lighthouse.

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The late afternoon consisted of lazing around and reading, but hey – we’d earned it. Before dinner James and I took a walk to get a few more quokka pictures. Honestly, I think I have more of James trying to pose with the quokkas than I do of the actual animals!

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Rottnest was beautiful, and it’s got a whole lot more than quokkas! The views are stunning and the fact that there aren’t any cars on the island gives it a nice isolated feeling. But we were only just getting started on our WA trip!

The next morning, we took the first ferry out of Rottnest to collect our rental car in Fremantle. 2 hours later (after waiting in Fremantle, being told the car we rented was actually for sale and eventually driving to the Perth airport to get a car) we were on our way. When flying back from Taveuni, James and I met a lovely couple (Jackie and Mal) who mentioned they owned a cafe in Lancelin which is about 2 hours north of Perth. Since it was on our way to Cervantes, we decided to stop in.

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The Lobbster Trap was so cute, and the food was delicious! Jackie had mentioned when we met them that she would sometimes take her grandkids to the sand dunes down the road so after lunch we decided to check them out. We had no idea how big they were!

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It took a bit of convincing on mine and Katie’s part that, even though we had a vehicle with 4 wheel drive, we shouldn’t actually go up any of the dunes. The boys didn’t actually need much convincing and it’s a good thing because we saw 2 SUVs stuck while we were there.

Back on Indian Ocean Drive, we made our way toward Cervantes with a stop at Namburg National Park to see The Pinnacles. There are hundreds of limestone formations as you drive through the park – truly an awesome sight.

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Since we were close to sunset, we decided to go to the beach. Kangaroo Point was only 10 minutes away (and on our way to Cervantes) and I had read that you can sometimes see Kangaroos on the beach. We were all hoping to see one and I was especially hoping to snap a picture for my Dad, who so desperately wanted to see a kangaroo on the beach during his last visit. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any but we did see some pelicans and got to take in a pretty amazing sunset before making our way to our accommodation in Cervantes.

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Today, we’re back on the road heading for Kalbarri. More on that in the next post!

-Catie

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