We’ve just visited Injidup Natural Spa, which is a naturally occurring spa pool of foaming and bubbling water set in a chasm in a rocky headland, in south-west Western Australia. As Indian Ocean waves pour water into the pool it foams and bubbles, creating a spa effect.
It’s winter now, so there was no one in the spa pool, but I can imagine how inviting this bubbling pool would be on a hot summer’s day!
Our house sit is near the southern end of the Cape to Cape Track, a well know walking path which runs for 135 kilometres between the lighthouse on Cape Naturaliste and the lighthouse on Cape Leeuwin, in south-west Western Australia. Many people walk this track, usually over about seven days. We aren’t planning on doing this, but there is access all along the track, and we have sampled it at many places along its length while we’ve been staying here.
I went for a swim at Augusta’s most popular swimming beach this afternoon, at Davies Road in Flinders Bay.
Like all the coastline around here in the south-west of Western Australia, it’s a very beautiful spot. The weather here seems to be endlessly perfect, too, with mostly warm windless days and clear blue skies while we’ve been here, as it was today – perfect for swimming and admiring the scenery!
South-west Western Australia has a long association with the timber industry. Before the European invasion this corner of Australia was covered in a huge ancient forest of Karri, Marri, and Jarrah trees. Timber was being cut here 130 years ago and exported all over the world. As is usual with the timber industry, the cutting was rapacious and pretty much all of it was cut down.
We’ve done a walk through Boranup Karri Forest near here, but it’s only re-growth forest (although, at 130 years old, the trees have made it to a good size); so we decided to head out to find some real old-growth forest.
Here in Augusta, we are on the edge of the Margaret River Wine growing area, and we see vineyards whenever we travel around the region.
I’m not big on doing the winery crawl, but I don’t mind doing the occasional tasting, as I did when house-sitting in the Barossa Valley eighteen months ago. And it's always entertaining to watch and listen to the verbal convolutions as dozens of irrelevant adjectives get manipulated into the service of describing wine. For example: I tried a ‘muscular’ wine the other day!
Augusta, where I’m currently house-sitting, is on the estuary of the Blackwood River; it’s a huge and very beautiful body of water, and I haven’t had an opportunity to get out on it until today.
The Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club (from the Swan River, between Perth and Fremantle) brought two St Ayles skiffs, ‘Ripple’ and ‘Dotsie’ down here today to promote these boats, and to see if they could kick-start a local interest in them.
Here in south-west Western Australia the coastline is always beautiful – it seems that wherever you find your way to the coast it's stunning and unspoiled.
This area is the Margaret River Region; it’s well known for a few things and one of them is excellent surfing. (Some of the other things are great wine and great white sharks.)
We dropped into Cowaramup bay for a look, and found it to be yet another beautiful place, and a surfing hot-spot with nice waves pumping.
I'm house-sitting in Augusta, in the Margaret River Region, in the south-west of Western Australia.
The region is defined by Cape Leeuwin in the south, and Cape Naturaliste in the north. There’s lots of limestone here, with a huge limestone ridge running virtually from one cape the other. As I’ve noted in a previous post, limestone creates interesting landscape features. The limestone dissolves into the water that permeates through it, leaving cavities under the ground. With enough time those cavities enlarge to become caves, and this whole area is riddled with them – more than one hundred are known.
Our house-sit in Augusta is only a few kilometres from Cape Leeuwin, which is the south-west-most point of Australia. It's a wild place at the junction of the Indian and Southern Oceans.
As an east-coast Australian, I grew up with the dominating presence of the Pacific Ocean; I haven’t seen much of the Indian Ocean, so it’s exciting to be visiting its shoreline!
I'm house-sitting in Augusta in south-west Western Australia. This time we are looking after couple of dogs, a cat, and a couple of galahs (large Australian parrots).
We were in this area twenty years ago, so we're following up on some of the attractions that we saw back then. One of those attractions is Boranup Gallery, which exhibits handmade timber furniture mostly made from local Western Australian timbers jarrah, karri, and marri.
I'm flying from Canberra to Brisbane today for a house-sit. As always, I've got a window seat, and, as always, when I look out of the window, I'm struck by the humanisation of the land: this trip is 950 kilometres, and it's mostly flying over farmland.
The huge area of Australia is mostly modified (some of it heavily) for human use, except for some of its deserts – it’s a vast machine that serves humanity.
We are house-sitting in Mountain River, in Southern Tasmania. Our temporary pet this time is Kaya, the Alaskan malamute.
Mountain River district is in the Huon Valley, and it's named for Mountain River, which flows from the alpine plateau of Wellington Park. The main peak of Wellington Park is Kunanyi/Mt Wellington, which forms the dramatic backdrop of Hobart.
It’s a very beautiful area – a rural and wild valley surrounded by beautiful high mountains.
We have moved to northern Tasmania for our current house-sit – we are in Trevallyn, a suburb of Launceston. Trevallyn is on a high ridge to the west of the city, and we are on top of that ridge. Launceston city itself is just a few metres above sea level, but up on the ridge we are 130 metres up, so we get great views of the city and the mountains to the east. It’s a great location; and we are only thirty-five-minutes’ walk from the city centre.
We went into the Launceston CBD today, and we parked near City Park. City Park has a macaque monkey display, which I’ve described in a previous blog post. As always when we are going by, we stopped in on them to see what they were up to, and to catch another revelatory glimpse of their evolutionary connection with humans.
It was a quiet time of day for them, and, in a sense, they weren’t really up to much; but, as always, they do everything, including nothing, in an entertaining way.
We’ve been house sitting at Beaupre Point, at the end of the Huon Valley, south of Hobart. Beaupre Point is at the confluence of the Huon River and Port Cygnet, so there is plenty of water around. As with our house-sits in Cazorla, Spain, and Marcoola, Queensland, this property is an accommodation business The property has kayaks for the guests to use, and the owners are letting me use one while I’m here, so I’ve taken one out to check out the local waterways.
I'm house-sitting in Cygnet, Tasmania, again. This time I'm on the hills looking across Port Cygnet and the inlet. The dominant feature of my view is Mount Cygnet, the summit of a long mountain ridge. You can see Mount Cygnet from all around this area, so, by implication, the view from the top should be extensive. I’ve been eying Mount Cygnet off as a bushwalking destination for a while during my various house-sits here in Cygnet, and I’ve recently worked out how to do it!
I grew up in sub-tropical south-east Queensland, where there's not a lot of snow, so snow is something of a miracle to me – it's like it's out of a fairy tale. I've been hoping to get to do some bushwalking in snow before this winter is over. I have returned to Tasmania in the early spring, and there's still quite a bit of snow around at high altitudes, so this is my big chance to fulfil that dream.
Canberra is Australia’s capital city, so while I’m housesitting here I have the opportunity to visit Parliament House to watch our parliament in action – and that’s not always a pretty sight. But before I go into that, I'll give some context: a quick reminder about what our parliament is. Australians should already know about this – although I have my own slant on it – but they probably don’t; and non-Australian readers will need this tiny bit of background before I talk about my visit to our federal parliament.
Canberra is a totally planned city designed by the landscape architect Walter Burley Griffin. Before the city was built the area where it now stands was mostly two large sheep stations, Yarralumla and Duntroon. This blank canvas enabled Canberra to be designed with areas of open country, which results in a spread-out city with integrated areas of bushland. This is ideal for urban bushwalking, and means that I can go on a nice bushwalk straight from my front door!
My house-sit in Canberra includes the occasional house-sit at the house-owner family’s beach house at Tuross Head, on the adjacent coastline. Tuross Head is a small coastal village on the south coast of New South Wales on the beautiful east coast of Australia, about 270 kilometres south of Sydney. Because it’s on the closest adjacent coast to Canberra, it's a popular place for Canberrans’ beach houses.
I’m currently doing a short house sit in the suburbs of Melbourne on the way between Tasmania and Canberra.
I’m lucky to have crossed paths with the exhibition Van Gogh and the Seasons, the largest collection of Van Gogh artworks to ever travel to Australia, at the National Gallery of Victoria. It’s a great opportunity to see some of Vincent Van Gogh’s works with my own eyes.
My current house sit in Bridgewater, southern Tasmania, has put me in an area with some great bushwalking opportunities. One of these opportunities is Platform Peak, just outside of the nearby town of New Norfolk.
The walk to platform Peak is through forestry reserve land, which means that it is public land with a low level of environmental protection (it could be logged one day) and minimal walking facilities, such as maintained tracks and sign posting. This means that more care in planning and execution is required, compared with walking in a national park.
The Tasman Bridge is a graceful bridge that spans the Derwent River, joining Hobart city to the suburbs on the eastern side of the river, to the airport, and to the south-east of Tasmania in general.
The Tasman Bridge was built in 1964 so it’s over fifty years old, but it’s such a modern-looking bridge that it’s hard to believe that it’s as old as it is; certainly, it’s a surprise to see old photos of it covered in 1960s Australian cars, and it’s a surprise to see its original construction cost listed in £s (Pounds), as it was constructed before Australian Dollars came into existence.
But, regardless of the Tasman Bridge’s grace and style, it has a chequered history: it was involved in a serious maritime disaster. If you are in Hobart for long enough you are going to have to hear about, and consider, the story of the Tasman Bridge Disaster.
The Tasman Bridge is a long, graceful, and picturesque bridge that spans the Derwent River, joining Hobart to the suburbs on the eastern side of the river.
I’ve driven over the Tasman Bridge many times, as nearly everyone in Hobart and surrounds does, but I’ve never walked over it on its footpaths. I decided to walk over it as it’s quite high and promised the possibility of an interesting experience with good views.
Cornelian Bay is on the Derwent River, just upstream from Hobart and the Tasman Bridge.
There’s a walking path to Cornelian Bay along the foreshore of the river, which runs from the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. It’s quite a short and easy walk of about five kilometres return.
For the most part the walk is enjoyable but unexceptional – the views are quite urban and even industrial, but nevertheless pleasant and worth seeing. But this little walk does have its special point of interest: a collection of cute boatsheds that step out into the water!
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