CANOEING UP MARGARET RIVER

Margaret River, PassageBlue 20It is almost 10AM; we hop into our canoes and begin paddling from the mouth of the river at Prevelly beach. It is a serene, although slightly arduous paddle upstream with friends and other canoeists. The clouds hang low and the morning air smells of the sea and wild bush herbs. A small estuary marks the beginning of the wide rivermouth, closed to the ocean by a nearby sandbar. Along the way, our guide tells us the story of Margaret river; how it came to be, its early settlers and its long history. He soon gestures for us to skirt along the riverbank to examine the wild herbs that line both sides of the river.

Margaret River, PassageBlue 4Margaret River, PassageBlue 11Margaret River, PassageBlue 2Margaret River, PassageBlue 6Margaret River, PassageBlue 12Margaret River, PassageBlue 5By noon, we park our canoes by a grassy bank to learn more about the native plants and wildlife indigenous to the area. Nature has its ways of calming the mind and spirit – after all, peace is uncovered in the wildest of places. Our guide sets up a wonderful spread of both raw and cooked wild food on the ground; laid out before us are kakadu plums, grilled crocodile, slow roasted beef, smoked emu and kangaroo, wild turkey, quondong fruit leather, local olives, chutney, bunya nuts and wild chili sambal among many other appetising bush foods.

Margaret River, PassageBlue 1Margaret River, PassageBlue 19 Margaret River, PassageBlue 18Margaret River, PassageBlue 17 Margaret River, PassageBlue 16I lay slices of smoked emu, kangaroo, tomato and mango chutney, spiced mushrooms, lemon myrtle and basil pesto over two fragrant slices of tomato bread, topped with thick cubes of mature cheddar cheese, and enjoyed my lunch in the shade of a nearby tree. Kenneth makes his own little concoction of a sandwich with slices of wild bush turkey and emu, complete with generous portions of pesto and chutney. After a slow, quiet lunch we explore the nearby caves before making it back to our canoes.

Margaret River, PassageBlue 14 Margaret River, PassageBlue 13Margaret River, PassageBlue 10Margaret River, PassageBlue 7 Margaret River, PassageBlue 9It is a slow, easy paddle back to the estuary. Our guide tempts us with a little race to the finish but we change our minds halfway and decide to make the most of our remaining journey back. We clamber out, tugging our canoes across the shallow river and plod toward the shore.

Margaret River, PassageBlue 8Margaret River, PassageBlue 3Here we are, back where we first started by Prevelly beach. We had a wonderful time with Bushtucker Tours and we hope to be back sometime soon.

Margaret River is located in the southwest of Western Australia, almost 280 kilometres south of Perth. The main route via the Kiwana Freeway and Forrest Highway is a three hour drive by car. We also visited Vasse Virgin, a charming olive oil soap factory and the Gralyn Estate winery during our short four day stay in the region.

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Looking for more day-long adventures in WA? Take a ferry from Fremantle’s B Shed and explore Rottnest Island by bike.

THE UNDENIABLE ALLURE OF ROTTNEST

CYCLING ROTTNEST ISLAND IN SIX HOURS

Rottnest Island, Perth We planned to do some island exploring in the Fall and couldn’t have made a better decision on Rottnest, an island made up of over 63 beaches, 20 bays and countless shallow reefs teeming with marine life. While snorkelling remains the best way to explore the island’s underwater playground, Rottnest’s beauty on land is best seen and experienced on foot or by bike. We arrived Fremantle’s B Shed at sunrise and before we knew it, we were on our way across the sea, cruising 25 minutes west toward Thomson Bay.

Excited and hopeful, the weather looked promising enough for a day-long cycling adventure. Our plan was to pedal all the way to the west end of the island to Cape Vlamingh and back.

First Impressions: Batthurst Point and the lighthouse 

Rottnest Island, Perth It was an Australian Pelican that we saw perched on a light post, as we waited for our bikes along the jetty. It still felt chilly at this point, so we kept our sweaters on as we took off from Thomson Bay. Up north we went to Bathurst Point where the waves broke across the Kingston sand bank and observed as a group of kayakers glided by, winds at their backs.

Rottnest Island, Perth, passageblue.comRottnest Island, Perth Rottnest Island, PerthRottnest Island, Perth

Pinky beach, a gem below the lighthouse to the Basin, a natural swimming pool

Much of the island is made up of low, grassy vegetation so we had an unobstructed view of the bay and beyond. Calm and protected, Pinky beach makes for a wonderful beach spot for families and young children. How much more beautiful can this island be?

Rottnest Island, Perth Rottnest Island, PerthRottnest Island, Perth Rottnest Island, Perth, passageblue.comWe moved on to the Basin, where we rested for a brief forty-five minutes as I loaded a fresh role of film into my camera. Not far off from the shore, a hole in the platform reef forms a large natural swimming pool, making the Basin a sort of swimming paradise, given the right temperature. Kenneth attempted a little dip and hilariously went no further than just a meter off the sandy shore, water ankle-deep before he turned back. ‘Too cold!’ he hollered. The locals seemed unfazed by the cold as they continued wading in the sea. We then cycled on to the Rottnest General food store at Geordie Bay for some water and light food supplies. Drinking water facilities are scarce outside the settlement so we made sure we had all that we needed.

Rottnest Island, Perth Rottnest Island, Perth Rottnest Island, Perth

Our open road 

As noon arrived, the clouds parted and it got warmer as we cycled beneath the sun. The beauty of exploring a new place lays in our taking in of the atmosphere; its smells, the weight of the breeze, the colour of the earth. I’ve held an enduring fascination with sand and rocks since I was a child – an interest in arenology as I later found out, so I take pictures of them. Kenneth still finds this habit of mine a little strange.

We cycled by more beautiful bays along the coast. The hours of cycling put me in a calm, meditative state. On our left, a sign read ‘Cape Vlamigh, 3.7 KM.

Rottnest Island, Perth Rottnest Island, Perth, Quokka Rottnest Island, Perth, passageblue.comRottnest Island, Perth Rottnest Island, Perth, passageblue.comWestward!

And before we knew it, we were at the wild, west end of Cape Vlamingh. A little out of breath, but thrilled to finally arrive. The terrain is different – wilder, greener and a boardwalk snakes outward to sea. Being the best point for whale watching in both spring and winter, there exists no solid landmass between here and Madagascar off the coast of Southeast Africa.

Rottnest Island, Perth Rottnest Island, Perth Rottnest Island, Perth, passageblue.comRottnest Island, Perth Rottnest Island, Perth, www.passageblue.com Rottnest Island, Perth We watched as the waves broke against the arches and loaded up on the sunscreen as the temperature rose. Just a few minutes away is Fish Hook Bay, a deep cove surrounded by high limestone cliffs featuring a gorgeous turquoise lagoon; perfect for long summer swims and underwater explorations. The water was so clear that we saw all the way to the bottom of sea floor.

Rottnest Island, Perth Rottnest Island, Perth

Cycling back: Cutting through the mainland

We cycled back through Rottnest’s low, grassy interior to set our eyes on a different landscape, cycling the track along Pink Lake and Lake Serpentine, passing by wind turbines along the way. The Pink Lake dries out in the summer and struck us as the most unusual among all the lakes we saw.

Rottnest Island, Perth Rottnest Island, Perth Rottnest Island, Perth, Passageblue.comWe got a little lost at the settlement but were back in time after a few turnabouts. With a final hour to spare before the last ferry departed, we ended our journey with pizza and wine and thought about our day. The entire trip had taken us about 6 hours. Slightly longer than what the bike maps had predicted, but still too short a time to fully explore the island.

Rottnest Island, Perth Rottnest Island, Perth, PassageBlue.com

If you plan on spending a few days on the island, here are a few more activities you can do:

– The Wadjemup Walk Trail. Go on a self guided walk and learn about the island in an environmentally sustainable way.

– Take a free guided tour to learn more about the island’s history, flora and fauna. Gorgeous fields of purple daisies blossom in Spring – making it one of the best times to go on nature walks.

– Paddleboarding (or Bodyboarding for children) in Thomson Bay!

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FOURTEEN WEEKS

Baby Ry at 14 weeks www.passageblue.com As I write this post, Ry is turning six months in a few days and I’m slowly planning out his new feeding schedule while trying to put him down for his second nap of the day. He fights his sleep quite often, and reminds me so much of myself sometimes!

We love taking him for daily walks in the evening as the day cools – stopping under tall, leafy trees, allowing him to admire their silhouettes outlined against the pale blue sky. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we see flocks of Egrets in flight overhead – a sight that always leaves a smile on my face.

Baby Ry at 14 weeks www.passageblue.comBaby Ry at 14 weeks www.passageblue.comBaby Ry at 14 weeks www.passageblue.com

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A DAY IN FREMANTLE

FremantleThere is just so much to see and do in the lively port city of Fremantle. For us, the day began with a bowl full of chilli muscles, king prawns and fish and chips at Kailis Fish Market. Nothing better than fresh seafood in the company of good friends. After a walk along the waterfront, we spent the next few hours further eating our way through Fremantle Markets, sipping coffee and soaking up the atmosphere in the yard. Here are some of my favourite pictures shot on film;

Fremantle Perth Passageblue.comFremantle Perth Passageblue.comFremantle Perth Passageblue.com Fremantle Perth Passageblue.comFremantle Perth Passageblue.comFremantle Perth Passageblue.com Fremantle Perth Passageblue.com36AxFremantle Perth Passageblue.comFremantle Perth Passageblue.comFremantle Perth Passageblue.comFremantle Perth Passageblue.comFremantle Perth Passageblue.comWe’ll be back in Perth this Spring with Ry – and we can’t wait! We’ll be staying in the heart of Fremantle this time so hopefully we’ll get to see, taste and experience much more than what we did previously. If you have any suggestions on what to do with an almost one-year-old, do share!

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From Fremantle, book a ferry, hire a bike and cycle around Rottnest Island in a day, or get out of the city and tour the Margaret River region. We canoed up Margaret River and had the best time exploring the estuary and tucking into the best bush foods.

SUNDOWN IN FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

 C Y O'Connor Beach - McTaggart Cove Passageblue.comA walk one autumn afternoon through the low grassy dunes of the CY O’Connor Reserve led us to a stretch of white beach that glistened in the glow of the sun. It had been drizzling almost every day before, so the idea of having almost 800 metres of soft, white sand on a sunny day with barely another soul in sight was really nice – and while it took a while to sink in, we were certainly very grateful.

Our friends recommended the southern tip of CY O’Connor for our engagement shoot as we were in search of a quiet beach near the city. It’s a dog-friendly beach, so you’ll need to be a little careful when stepping around. We took some photos and spent the rest of the evening facing the ocean with our feet half-burried in the sand, watching as everything came to life before all light gave way to the night.

 C Y O'Connor Beach - McTaggart Cove Passageblue.com C Y O'Connor Beach - McTaggart Cove PassageBlue.com  C Y O'Connor Beach - McTaggart Cove Passageblue.com C Y O'Connor Beach - McTaggart Cove Passageblue.com C Y O'Connor Beach - McTaggart Cove Passageblue.com C Y O'Connor Beach - McTaggart Cove Passageblue.com  C Y O'Connor Beach - McTaggart Cove Passageblue.com

More WA adventures?

We cycled around the scenic Rottnest island in a day, paddled up Margaret River and spent a day eating our way though Fremantle markets.

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