Our very first real road trip ever~
Took the 7.45am SQ flight from Singapore to Perth. No more overnight flights, thank you. While ascending, Baby2 had her milk, and Baby1 had some Ricola Pearls. As expected, Baby1 was kept entertained throughout the flight watching cartoons. Baby2 unexpectedly fell asleep halfway through (good for us), and we had about 2 hours of quiet and peace before reaching Perth.
Once landed, we quickly hailed a cab to the campervan rental office. Waited for quite a while as the staff forgot about our orders! We rented a 6 berth campervan because Dear1’s parents were along for the trip. Once the campervan was retrieved, we raced down to nearby Belmont Forum to get lunch/dinner. :( Alas, by 4.30pm, all the shops were closing, and there wasn’t much edible food left. We had Japanese take aways. Mad rush to get a SIM card (to call the campervan park to confirm our late check in), get groceries and water, and dinner. We couldn’t get any SIM card. It was kinda a bad start to our holiday.
Dear1 started driving at 80km/h. But as the night and roads got darker, we were literally toring through the night at 100km/h. Finally after 2.5hrs of drive, we reach Koombana Bay Discovery Holiday Park. Luckily the Park left the keys in the “Late Check In” safe for us as agreed in our email. We drove to the designated lot with our ensuite toilet. Being our first night, in a windy rainy night, where the surroundings seemed void of anybody else, we quickly showered. Brr, the night was cold!
Throughout the night, our campervan kept swaying in the wind. Even after we turned off the lights for the night, I was really worried that our campervan might be blown away by the wind. Sleep was bad, being awaken constantly by the passing beating rain.
Good to see some daylight. We drove to nearby The Happy Wife and had a sumptous breakfast. Nice! Did the Check In and Check Out, and off we drove over to next-door Dolphin Discovery Centre. The narration by the retired uncle was informative and interesting. If you leave the tank open, the octopus will just climb out. Can you believe that!? Dear1 was quite disappointed that we can’t waddle in to the sea to see dolphins. With that kind of cold and drizzle, we are better off staying in the warm indoors.
Some quick grocery shopping at a nearby supermarket before setting off again.
Busselton Jetty is the next stop. What strong winds! At the counter, we were told that the Train and Observatory was closed due to bad weather. Baby1 was very disappointed; she was so looking forward to take the train to the jetty. I was equally disappointed after realising that the Observatory that Dear1 mentioned was actually underwater. No wonder I don’t see any lighthouse. :p We bought a stamp and sent a postcard from the Interpretive Centre.
Lunch was at nearby Old Post Office Tea Rooms. It was a simple cafe, but the sandwiches were pretty not bad. After lunch, all of us headed back to the car first while Dear1 went to the washroom. And it started to rain again. Dear1 braved the rain back but got all soaked. The passing shower stopped completely barely 5 mins later. “Passing Showers” totally took on a new meaning for us…
Following the GPS, we headed on the route to the Margaret River Dairy Company. And we past by the sign that says Margaret River Dairy Company, though we were still a distance away from the exact location according to the GPS. Alas, the GPS was off!. Made a U-turn (not easy when our campervan is so huge, on a single lane dual carriage road). At the so-called facory, we didn’t see any machinery, though we had a sumptuous sampling of the various cheeses there. Bought a large tub of yogurt (since we can’t appreciate cheese!)
Next stop: Margaret River Chocolate Factory. We reached at 4.30pm, half an hour ahead of its closing time. But the main doors was already locked! We were literally locked out though happy satisfied shoppers were continually streaming out with their bags and bags of shopping. Angry!!
Headed off to Morris Anytime for our dinner. As a family friendly restuarant, they provided coloring paper and pencils for the kids to doodle while waiting for the food. But at AUD 38 for a main course, we thought that the serving was very un-Australian – smallish….
After dinner and it was check in at Sunflowers Animal Farm. Finally located the owner in the dark farm house, and finally looking forward to a proper shelter over our heads and some warm steady water for bath. But as soon as we unloaded our luggage and got the fire place burning (yes, real fire place, need to start your own fire, and load with real fire wood), there was a power outrage! It was pitch darkness and the only light source was the dancing fire lights. Luckily the power came back on about an hour later, but we were mindful that power might go off anytime soon so didn’t quite want to risk taking a shower…
Next morning, the weather seemed very fine. Still a bit chilly, but at least it wasn’t wet like the past 2 days. And indeed we were lucky to have good weather this morning. Toured the farm, had 2 bucketfuls of animal feed where we went around feeding all the farm animals. The kids had a chance to pick up little chicks with their hands, and ride a pony too.
After check out, we drove back to the Margaret River Chocolate Factory (this time with a vengeance) and sampled and bought chocolates. Lunch was at Cullen Wines, one of the many wineries in Margaret River. Again, it’s location was not accurately marked by the GPS, and we were really relieved to finally reach here for our sumptuous lunch. We also bought a bottle of wine to enjoy for the rest of our trip.
On our way to our next destination, we stopped at Augusta to stock up on groceries.
Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse was next. As Baby2 was not allowed to go up the lighthouse, we got the grandparents to go up while we stayed on the ground with the paid audio tour. As usual, the kids had fun playing with the radios (which were meant as audio guides). Dear1 and I didn’t get to hear much of the audio from the radio, so the only explanations were what we could read from the numbered signs. Still an interesting experience for us both.
As the wind was still cold, we headed back to the campervan while waiting for the grandparents. An opportune time to bring out the road trip presents – a Lego car and an Lego campervan, one each for the girls. Papa was more excited in assembling and ‘helped’ Baby2 complete the campervan toy. So much for being her present. :p
Taking the Caves Road, we reached Hamelin Holiday Park before night fall. No dinner tonight as when we reached Karridale Tavern, they were not serving dinner that night! Luckily we had instant noodles with us so dinner was a simple meal of instant noodles with sausages, cooked at the outdoor kitchen.
We were supposed to empty the toilet waste every other day, but as there wasn’t much waste on our first 2 days, we decided to only empty it today. Alas, we were told that we needed to go to a Shire in order to dispose ‘chemical waste’. Oh dear, means that we need to make another trip somewhere. Emptied the ‘gray Water’ (water from washing) nonetheless, and we set off to Lake Cave.
Again, the GPS was not accurate and we had to locate the entrance of the Caves based on road signs. Once reached, the counter chap confidently told us that Baby2 has no problem going down to the cave, unlike the Lighthouse which we presume had difficult-to-climb steps. Nervous and full of anticipation, we descended into the cave, stopping now and then when it was time to listen to the Guide. There was a long flight of steps down, and I had to grip Baby1’s hand real tight. Dear1 carried Baby2 all the way down, and had to stoop and bend over a narrow and low part. “No problem into the cave, just that you’ll gain a lot of muscles!” we thought afterwards.
Next, we went to Bootleg Brewery for lunch. Ordered this tray of 8 beers. A very interesting mix – first time trying coffee-flavoured beer. All the main course were very generous and yummy too. It’s the first time since arriving in Australia that we got a sense of the “Australian size” meal. Bought a bottle of beer to enjoy later too. After lunch, we sat by the lake enjoying the warm sunshine and view, and even watched a group play giant sized Jenga.
After the sumptuous lunch, we proceeded to Simmo’s Ice Creamery which was a short drive away. The ice cream scope was generous too. The adults ate ice cream while the kids played at the play ground.
By the time we reached Harvey, we were still feeling very full. Decided to order take aways from Trattoria Briscola (Italian restaurant) to bring to the Harvey Hills Farm Chalet to eat. The portion was generous too, but I was still too full to appreciate it. The fruit wine that we bought from Cullen Wines was surprisingly nice, which we drank out of wine glasses provided in our farm house.
In between transporting our barang barangs from the campervan to the house, Dear1 and I took the chance to admire the stars. The farm was really in the middle of no lights, so the sky view was really excellent.
Woke up to a refreshing farm atmosphere. In the brightening morning light, the scenery was even more charming. Lush green pastures and clear open skies, in a cool light breeze. So fresh!
Today, the farm activities were entirely different from those in the first farm. The children got to hold a rabbit each in their lap, we went around scattering the feed to the chickens, fed the ducks out of our palms and had sheep nibble carrots out from our fingers. So very up close!
After check out, we went to Harvey Fresh. Wow, so many orange trees! Orange trees are not very tall in actual fact! And seeing so many brightly oranges on trees lifted our mood even more. We bought a packet of orange juice from the store and it was so orangey and nice too. Thumbs up!
Before returning to the rental office to return the campervan, we had to empty the waste first. Along the way, we stopped by a Shire. Apparently you need to do it at a sullage point. Oh my. Finally found the place with directions from the lady at the Shire. It is basically just a hole in the ground, like the one where we emptied the black water. As socially responsible people, as with the Australian culture, we finally emptied the waste. Phew.
After we returned the campervan and got our 8-seater car from another car rental company, we proceeded to Cottesloe. We had to go to the office to retrieve the keys first. The staff there were very nice, and the lady assigned to show us on how to open up the sofa bed kindly agreed to lead the way and show us the sofa bed after we told them that we had to go off for a dinner appointment soon.
After a good night’s sleep and a nice warm bath (the apartment bathroom came with a warmer, and there were sufficient blankets for all of us, geez), we set off on foot for breakfast. But after walking for 15 min, the shops were still not in sight, though we clearly past by some resturants on our drive up from the office to our apartment yesterday. We decided to head back and finish up the remaining rations of bread, baked beans and noodles.
Today is Fremantle day, and we drove to Woolstore Shopping Centre to park the car first, after hearing that car park charges are pretty expensive here in Perth city. The parking coupon is only available for max 4 hours, so means that we’ll need to come back to top up the ticket later. Hmm…
Did some shopping at the Fremantle Market and proceeded for our Fish and Chips lunch. A friend had recommended Sweet Lips but we couldn’t find it (by this time, we were already very tired taking turns to carry Baby2, so didn’t want to explore further), so we headed to the popular Cicerellos. Ordered 2 fish and Chips, and a seafood platter. The fish and chips was considered okay for that price, but it’s not a taste that I’ll want to come back again. Also, Cicerellos as well as Fremantle, is the first place in Australia where I felt was very touristy – there was really a lot a lot of tourists everywhere!
Went to the Shipwreck Museum, found a cafe where we had drinks while Baby1 had her afternoon nap (finally). It was supposed to be a relaxing day today, but the children’s naps completely drained my energy, so much so that we bought Chinese take aways for dinner (again!?). We went back to the apartment, exhausted.
Another good night of sleep. This morning, we were determined to locate a proper breakfast place. There was brochures in the folder that Cottesloe Beach Apartments provided, and we went along with Bluewaters.
After the yummy breakfast, we went to Caversham Wildlife Park. Dear1 had borrowed a GPS from his friend, and we had a bit of getting used to before we are familiar with this GPS (the one in the campervan was provided by Kea and had to be returned with the campervan; that device was more user friendly compared to this one). As Dear1’s friend had bought this about 6 years back, the Wildlife Park was not marked in this GPS. We can only key in the coordinates and try to locate its entrance using the road signs. At one point in time, we almost lost the way, but luckily we did not retreat. The wildlife Park is so fun! Baby1 held a real snake over her arms, we stroked some iguana and had a picture taken with a wombat. Also, Baby1 got into the kangaroos’ enclosure and went up close, and we all touched and had many photos taken with koalas up very close. Never before have we had such up close interactions with so many animals all in the same zoo.
After trying to appreciate art in Western Australia Art Gallery, we went over to Murray Street Mall to people-watch. A busy shopping street, but as it’s quite hard to lug 2 toddlers for any shopping, we felt that it would be more fruitful to proceed to King’s Park for some quiet time. Alas, the Stickybeaks Cafe where we wanted to have our dinner closes at 4.30pm (we reached at 4pm), and that totally spoiled our dinner plan. With only a ground sheet and a drink, we had a little “picnic”. In actual fact, the kids spent all the time playing at the playground. The camera battery had to go flat at this time, and we forgot to pack spares in our day bag! No chance to take pictures of the brilliant sunset which we saw the previous day along the coastline where we stayed.
Since tonight’s dinner plan was thrown off, we found a restuarant, Barchetta, along Cottesloe facing the ocean on our way back to catch the sunset. The daylight got dimmer as we ate our dinner. Halfway through the food, we saw the sun disappear under the horizon. Wonder if Baby1 will remember this? (14 Oct 2014: Dear1 asked, Baby1 remembers.)
Finally it’s time to go home. Packed up everything, put the keys to the apartment under the mat, and went back to Bluewaters for breakfast again. As we were early, we decided to do some last minute shopping at Belmont Forum which is near to the Airport. Alas, the shops only open at 11am!
Finally bought the nogurts (as requested by a relative) from the Airport, and it was home sweet home to Singapore.
Once out of Changi Airport, we smelled haze. Did we escaped any haze?? It turned out that the haze in Singapore had worsen that very day! Urgh!