The Retirees on the Move Again – Tasmania in Ten – West Coast Wilderness Railway

Watered and fed we returned to our caravan park, slept as best we could then showered in the freezing cold of the ablutions block the following morning, before boarding the Mt Lyell No 3 steam engine for a ride from Queenstown to Dubbil Barril. The West Coast Wilderness Railway is a reconstruction of the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company railway in Tasmania between Queenstown and Regatta Point, Strahan. The railway is significant because of its Abt system to conquer the mountainous terrain through rainforest, with original locomotives still operating on the railway today. Now operating as a tourist experience with a focus on sharing the history of the Tasmania’s West Coast, the original railway began operations in 1897 as the only link between Queenstown and the port of Strahan. The railway utilised the Abt rack and pinion system for steep sections and the gauge is 3 ft 6 in. The Abt system was devised by Roman Abt, a Swiss locomotive engineer.

A rack railway (also rack-and-pinion railway, cog railway) is a steep grade railway with a toothed rack rail, usually between the running rails. The trains are fitted with one or more cog wheels or pinions that mesh with this rack rail. This allows the trains to operate on steep grades above around 7 to 10%, which is the maximum for friction-based rail.

We stopped at various stations (now abandoned except for the tourists attending the trip), panned for gold at Lynchford, walked through a cold weather rain forest, and saw trestle bridges built by hand from forest timber, witnessed a hand operated turntable at Dubbil Barril and were feed every step of the way. The “guard” Thomas told us the story of the two Irish miners Crotty and Bowes Kelly (and co-opted two passengers into playing the parts) along the journey making some of the more boring parts entertaining.

We started with sparkling wine and salmon canapes before arriving at the gold town of Lynchford where we panned for a tiny speck of gold. Yes only one tiny speck was found. Here we saw the F O Henry sign above the shop door reminding us of the demount-able store we saw in a picture in the Hall at Lake Margaret and F O Henry went on to become one of Tasmania’s wealthiest men.

After panning for gold we had scones jam and cream before our next stop to take on water for the boiler after our engine had got to the top of the mountain. We got to see the rack and pinion system in operation.

After this stop we cruised down the mountain through the gorge amazed at the rugged country through which the railway had been built by manual labour and into Dubbil Barril where we strolled through a forest walk whilst the engineers turned the engine around for the trip back to Queenstown. The turntable is manual and lots of steam is expelled during the process and not just from the engine. On our return journey we snacked on salad wraps and hot chocolate. Thomas finished his tale of the rivalry between the Irish miners and how that determined the death of some towns and the survival of Queenstown.

After a very enjoyable journey we went home to the van and commenced our journey to Hobart, still full from all the food on the train. It is one of the longer legs of our journey and we encountered a full moon on the way finally arriving at Paul and Emily’s house in South Hobart around 6.30pm.

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The Retirees on the Move Again – Tasmania in Ten – Queenstown

We said farewell to Strahan the following day heading towards Queenstown in the rough and rugged mountains of the West Coast. Queenstown’s history has long been tied to the mining industry. First explored in 1862, alluvial gold was discovered at Mount Lyell in 1880 but when the gold petered out in 1892, an Irish miner by the name of Crotty began searching for copper. In the 1900s, Queenstown was the centre of the Mount Lyell mining district and had numerous smelting works, brick-works, and sawmills. The town in its heyday had the world’s biggest copper mine and had a collection of hotels, churches and schools that have all significantly reduced since the reduction of mining.

Owing to a combination of tree removal for use in the smelters and the smelter fumes (for about 40 years), and the heavy annual rainfall (about 3 metres per year), the erosion of the shallow horizon topsoil back to the harder rock profile contributed to the stark state of the mountains for many decades. There was a brief boom in prosperity in the 1980s, with the building of several nearby dams by the Hydro. The Darwin and Crotty dams that comprise Lake Burbury were built during this period. But hydro power had been introduced to the area much earlier at Lake Margaret.

After driving along some of the most twisting roads in Tasmania, we finally arrived in Queenstown greeted by the Galley Museum (formerly the Imperial Hotel) in view of the Queenstown Railway which would be the highlight of our stay in Queenstown. After locating our caravan park, we returned to the Galley Museum and for the grand sum of $5 each we were able to look through the relics of the mining industry and community that grew up in that rugged and remote place. It is a tremendous community resource displaying photos and memorabilia of the town from foundation through the turbulent and prosperous years of the gold rush and the copper boom into the more mellow years of tourism. Each of the rooms of the hotel was brim full of the memorabilia, including a room dedicated the Royal Order of the Antediluvian Buffaloes.

As we left the museum we were fare welled by one of its stalwart inhabitants.

We had learnt about the Iron Blow, Mount Lyell Mining company and North Mount Lyell Mining company and some of the rivalry between two Irish miners Crotty and Bowes Kelly and were to learn more about them on our railway adventure tomorrow.

On the way to the Iron blow we passed a waterfall but the walk way was out of action due to a rock fall and travelling back down we got a good idea of the size and scope of Queenstown. Returning to the township we stopped at the Skopa which is a hill overlooking part of the town and it is decorated with a canon left over from a re – enactment of a Boer war battle.

Kerry had booked a tour of the Lake Margaret Hydro Power Station and due to the time of the year we found ourselves the only persons on the tour. In 1911 the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company decided to make more extensive use of electricity in its smelting operations. It selected Lake Margaret, a small lake high up on Mount Sedgwick, to the north-west of the town, as its catchment area. The water was originally conveyed from the dam via a 2.2 kilometres (1.4 mi) wood stave pipeline. The Australian Woodpipe Company was consulted and employed to construct the wooden pipeline. The Mount Lyell Mining & Railway Company determined that not only was a wooden pipeline cheaper to construct, but it was also more efficient and durable than iron or steel. The local native Tasmanian timber King Billy Pine was studied but it was decided not to be suitable. The wood stave pipeline was subsequently constructed from Oregon Pine (Douglas Fir), which was imported from Canada. The timber was shipped to the west coast town of Strahan and was transported to the Lake Margaret precinct via the ABT Railway (more about this tomorrow). This pipeline rapidly deteriorated and in 1938 was replaced by a King Billy Pine wood stave pipeline, with the timber sourced locally. This pipeline was still in service until the 30 June 2006 closure of the Lake Margaret Power Scheme.

In June 2008 a decision was made to return the Lake Margaret Power Station back to operational capacity. Lake Margaret system was reopened in 2009. The refurbishment included rebuilding the 2.2 kilometres (1.4 mi) wood stave penstock for the Upper Power Station. The upper power station was reopened on 12 November 2009, and the lower power station on 23 July 2010. We toured the site visiting the former workers’ cottages and their Hall, the Upper power station and the weir with views of the wooden portions of the pipeline. When visiting the workers’ cottages, we saw the description of the vegetables grown by the workers spelt out in stones by those workers who revisited the township on a “Back to Lake Margaret Reunion”.

After the tour we returned to town and our caravan park. We decided we would go to the empire Hotel for dinner. Another of the 14 hotels established during the boom times, it boasts a staircase made out of local blackwood which was sent to England for manufacture and returned to the hotel for installation. The meals were quite reasonable and the poker machines gave up their bounty to Kerry.

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The Retirees on the Move Again – Tasmania in Ten – Macquarie Harbour and Sarah Island

Next morning, we excitedly awaken to a fine day and the hope of fair seas for we are sailing to Hells Gates, Bonnet Island, Sarah Island, the Petuna Fish Farm and the Gordon River. After a false start (forgot our boarding passes) we boarded the Ocean Spirit setting sail at 9.00 am. We had the opportunity to look at Strahan as we awaited casting off.

Firstly we sailed to Hells Gates (so called by the convicts sent to Sarah Island between 1822 and 1834 as it was hell on earth) the sea entrance to Macquarie Harbour and the location of Bonnet Island and its lighthouse. As we approached the Gates and passed the penguin colony on Bonnett Island, the wind blew hard and the cold grew immensely. The boat seemed to be struggling against the wind and tide. We passed the lighthouse at Hells Gate turned around and returned from whence we had come. Once we had our back to the wind the lake returned to a table top and the boat now moved easily across the water. We made our way to Petuna Fisheries sea farm where they raise Ocean Trout. We watched as an attendant hosed the pellets into the farm pen and the water rippled with a thousand fins.

From there we went to Sarah Island. The Macquarie Harbour Penal Station, established on Sarah Island, operated between 1822 and 1834. The settlement housed mainly male convicts, with a small number of women. During its 12 years of operation, the penal colony achieved a reputation as one of the harshest penal settlements in the Australian colonies. The penal station was established as a place of banishment within the Australian colonies. It took the worst convicts and those who had escaped from other settlements. The isolated land is ideally suited for its purpose. It was separated from the mainland by treacherous seas, surrounded by a mountainous wilderness and was hundreds of miles away from the colony’s other settled areas. The only seaward access is through the treacherous narrow channel Hells Gates.

Despite its isolated location, a considerable number of convicts attempted to escape from the island. Bushranger Matthew Brady was among a party that successfully escaped to Hobart in 1824 after tying up their overseer and seizing a boat. James Goodwin was pardoned after his 1828 escape and was subsequently employed to make official surveys of the wilderness he had passed through. Sarah Island’s most infamous escapee was Alexander Pearce who managed to get away twice. On both occasions, he cannibalized his fellow escapees. For a short period, it was the largest shipbuilding operation in the Australian colonies. Chained convicts had the task of cutting down Huon pine trees in the Gordon River valley and rafting the logs down the river to the Island. Eventually the heavily forested island was cleared by the convicts.

It was finally closed in 1834. Most of the remaining convicts were then relocated to Port Arthur. However, 10 stole the last ship built on the Island “the Frederick” and sailed her to Chile to escape. The ruins of the settlement remain today as the Sarah Island Historic Site. The Parks and Wildlife Service website reports the following about HMS Frederick;

“Perhaps the most remarkable escape attempt occurred after the official closure of the penal settlement. Twelve convicts, under the supervision of several soldiers and Master Shipwright David Hoy, remained behind to complete the fitting out of the brig, Frederick. Despite the fact that specific orders concerning the completion of vessels in the yards had mysteriously been mislaid, the men dutifully carried out their tasks with ‘great propriety, executing Mr. Hoys’ orders with promptitude and alacrity’.

After the launch of the Frederick in January 1834, ten of the convicts seized the ship. They landed their overseers on the beach, leaving with them half of their supplies. The convicts then sailed the Frederick south of New Zealand and onto the distant coast of South America. Six weeks later they abandoned the Frederick off the coast of Chile and rowed the ship’s whaleboat the remaining 80 km to shore.

Passing themselves off as wrecked sailors, the men were welcomed into the community and several soon assumed positions as shipwrights and respected members of the community. Several married local women, while six of the men made a further escape to America and Jamaica.

Ultimately, the long arm of British law caught up with the four remaining men, bringing them back to face the Hobart gallows in 1837. At their trial, two of the escapees, William Shires and James Porter argued that they were guilty only of stealing a ‘floating bundle of wood and other materials’. As the Frederick had never been registered, there was some doubt in the Chief Justice’s mind as to what legally constituted a ship. Further, the ship had been seized in enclosed waters and not on the high sea — a requisite for charges of Piracy. It was these legal technicalities which saved the men from the gallows. Nonetheless, the men were transported to Norfolk Island for life.”

From there we sailed to the Gordon River entrance into Macquarie Harbour. Prisoners from sarah Island were sent up here to log Huon pine for ship building and of course it was the centre of controversy in respect of a Hydro dam proposed to built on the river. The skipper moved from the wheel house (where there is no wheel but only a joy stick) to his external controls and moored the vessel carefully against a decaying jetty. We disembarked and walked through temperate rain forest where huon pine is want to grow – very slowly. To demonstrate how slow it grows there is a display of a log showing 650 years worth of growth and on the ground below us is a tree three times that size, albeit it has fallen over but it continues to grow and host some other trees as well. It is a short walk but you get the idea that inside one of these forests is a formidable jungle, cold bleak and not very hospitable.

After returning to the boat we enjoyed a documentary on the area whilst returning to Strahan. A great day. That night it was a burger for me and pizza slices for Kerry from the “greasy spoon’ next door to the caravan park. We had some respite from the camper by renting a cabin for these two nights. Luxury.

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The Retirees on the Move Again – Tasmania in Ten – Dove Lake, Tullah and Strahan

The following morning, we awoke to another cold day with grey skies and spotting rain. Nevertheless, we decided to visit Dove Lake and view the Cradle Mountain. The first shuttle was at 9.10 am and we were on it – apart from the driver the only ones on it. After 20 mins driving through the park we arrived at a car park with snow topped mountains in the background. On the far side of the car park was a sign board with all the walks available and Kerry selected the walk to the old boat shed. We walked past a couple getting out of their car with backpacks and bush walking sticks looking the very image of prepared experienced walkers. We walked along the edge of the lake, passing buttongrass and other alpine flora not realising we were walking in the shadow of Cradle Mountain. That couple from the car park passed us as we neared the boat shed. We started talking with them and learned they were walking to the summit of Cradle Mountain which was immediately behind us. After bidding them fair weather for their climb and taking a few snaps of the boat shed (I don’t know how long it has stood in that cold water but it seemed in good nick given the environment) we returned to that car park and caught the shuttle back to the caravan park and set sail for Strahan.

There is no mobile phone service on Cradle Mountain or its surrounds, so we blissfully thought the world had forgotten us until we reached Tullah (pronounced Tu-lah in Strahan and Tull -a in Queenstown) and we regained service and the urgent messages. Whilst Kerry rang home, I made a cup of coffee. Coffee cup in hand I walked through the mining memorial beside the highway. It had provided a convenient place to pull in and it also told an interesting story about the mining of galena (silver sulphide – the usual form of lead in its natural state) at Mt Farrell in the 19th century and later after the Depression a second strike was made saving the town till 1974.

Kerry finished her phone call and we moved onto Strahan. We had hopes of visiting Bonnet Island but the weather is against sailing through Hells Gates (or so we were told) so it is an afternoon of knitting and writing this blog.

That evening we visited Hamers Hotel for dinner. Not bad but a limited menu and a noisy woman who continuously laughed like a hyena.

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The Retirees on the Move Again – Tasmania in Ten – Cataract Gorge and Cradle Mountain

We slept in this morning till 6.45 am. Too bloody cold to get out of bed but I finally bit the bullet and went for my ablutions. Lovely hot shower followed by the cold atmosphere of the amenities block while I did my teeth and had a shave. On the return to the caravan, I turn on the gas and start breakfast of yoghurt with banana and porridge. We needed to get away so that we could visit the Cataract Gorge park before heading to our destination Cradle Mountain National Park. Following the directions given by our host we soon ended up in the parking area of the Gorge Basin. From there we walked across the suspension bridge, along the gorge wall and into city centre where a short distance away is the Penny Royal Amusement Park and then back again. We had a short stop at the kiosk for scones and coffee of course. Just after the Kiosk (or before if you are walking in the opposite direction are two trees both of enormous girth and height with each having a girth 4 times me. The rapids in the Cataract were deafening as against the smooth water fighting with tide below the basin. Then there was the rock that seemed to have hair – grass growing out of the rock.  The gorge is marked by towering granite columns and to my surprise sitting on top of the ridge is a residence. It must have magnificent views of the gorge and basin.

We returned to the motor home about 11.30 am and punched in our next destination – Lake St Clare Caravan Park. Our GPS provides an overview of your chosen route and we suddenly realised that it was nowhere near our next adventure at Cradle Mountain. So we punched in “Cradle Mountain”. Not quite so easy. There is no address in our GPS for Cradle Mountain. Telephoned our caravan park and they confirmed we were at least 2 hours away from where we wanted to be. So ignoring our reservation at Lake St Clare we headed for Mole Creek that being the nearest spot to our destination on the only map we had. All ends well. Mole Creek is the gateway to Cradle Mountain National Park but we were side tracked by a helpful but not well informed tourist information officer at Mole Creek. We went to King Solomon’s Caves to fill in time going to Cradle Mountain only to find that we were an hour early for the next tour.

We arrived on the mountain around 3.00 pm and sorted out our evening tour, our accommodation, our evening meal and our national parks pass by 4.00 pm. Whilst checking on our booking for the Devils we encountered a wombat grazing quietly on the grass in the car park to the Devils Sanctuary. Returning to the caravan park, we rested until it was time to get dressed for the evening chill. We were booked to see the Devils after Dark show at the Tasmanian Devils breeding sanctuary but it was raining windy and below 6 degrees so some preparation was necessary. Dressed in everything we owned off we went to watch a short video on devils and Quolls then experience them being fed whilst our guide droned on and on (15 mins should have done it but he managed 2 hours) The devils the Eastern Quolls and the Spotted Quolls are all related and now are only found in the wild in Tasmania. And they all have a taste for possum.

So back to camp and our frozen dinners – you’ve done it again Mc Cain!

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The Retirees on the Move Again – Tasmania in Ten – Launceston

Our taxi’s waiting, he has blown his horn. Dinner time, we are ready but we’re too early so we find the restaurant and our cabbie shows us Penny Royal and the end of the Cataract Gorge after which our restaurant is named. Then we circle into the city and take a stroll through one of the malls into the second mall. The tattoo parlour is open and looking for business but we resist the temptation and move onto the lolly shop instead. Having purchased the supplies for the trip to Cradle Mountain, we walk the 500 metres to our restaurant past the site of the treadmill where convicts served as the power for the grindstone milling flour for the prison, past the TAFE college, past the only drive through bottle shop I have seen serving petrol and finally to the restaurant.

Inside this chic looking establishment is a mixture of industrial chic and busy restaurant. There is even a kids party happening. The wine list is surprising. Devils Corner Sparkling Cuvee, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as well as a Freycinet Riesling. We choose the sparkling cuvee – we are celebrating our anniversary so we share 6 fresh local oysters to start (they are large and plump – no swallowing these beauties) followed by salmon on the rock for Kerry and pork belly with cauliflower puree for me. Not satisfied we share a banana sundae on the frozen rock with salted caramel ice cream associated chocolate bits and popcorn with an added serve of lemon sorbet (to cleanse the palate).

All in all, the restaurant was pretty good and the food enjoyable. A good night sleep followed.

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The Retirees on the Move Again – Tasmania in Ten – Swansea, Freycinet Peninsula and Tourville Lighthouse

The following morning started with brilliant sunshine and a clear sky. Our plan was to go to Coles Bay on the Freycinet Peninsula and take the walk to Wineglass Bay. Kerry showered whilst I cooked the porridge and I showered whilst she cleaned up. We took a stroll to the waterfront of Swansea looking out to Great Oyster Bay where we found some great water front allotments for sale. However, there did not appear to be any rush to buy them.

The drive to Coles Bay was interesting in that we found that our path was dotted with wineries but we were too earlier for the cellar door to be open. So onto to Coles Bay and then Freycinet National Park for the trek to Wineglass Bay lookout. Now I had thought my ankle ligaments had healed sufficiently to do this trek but getting out of the van I twisted my ankle and my hopes were dashed as the walk is one and half hours long and up some steep pathways. So after grabbing a photo of the climb that might have been we ventured back to Cape Tourville Lighthouse.

The Cape Tourville Lighthouse is an unmanned, automatic light, lighthouse built in 1971. The lighthouse replaced the Cape Forestier Lighthouse which had been situated on another island jutting off the Freycinet Peninsula known as Lemon Rock. The walk to the lighthouse is fantastic and gives great views of Lemon Rock and partial views of Wineglass Bay.

A cup of coffee and a biscuit in our house and then we were back on track for Launceston. But first a little wine tasting at Freycinet Cellars and Devil’s Corner Vineyard. We tried a few things at Freycinet and bought a bottle of bubbles for our anniversary and a bottle of savoury and spicy 2015 Louis Freycinet Pinot Noir. Devil’s Corner was a bit different. A spectacular view of the Freycinet Peninsula spread before us as we parked the van. In the lookout tower we were treated to even better views of the vineyard and the bay before going down to the cellar door. This is an offshoot of the Tamar Valley winery and gets its name from a dangerous spot for sailors in the Tamar River. The Cellar door appears to be a traditionally built building and the other outbuildings forming a bar restaurant and eating room are all containers fitted out for the purpose and disguised by a wooden skeleton surrounding each container. Once we were above the cellar door we could see that even the tasting room was a combination of two containers. We had bought provisions at the IGA in Swansea so we were able to lunch in the van with our dramatic view.

The trip to Launceston took a little over one and a half hours travelling through Campbelltown and we arrived at the Launceston Caravan Park around 3.00 pm. It had been a bit lonely on the road with no other camper vans but the minute we turn up in Launceston these others arrive. A few chores like emptying the night soil chamber had to be attended to and then to rest for some. Our anniversary dinner awaits us at Cataract on Paterson in Launceston.

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The Retirees on the Move Again -Tasmania in Ten – South to Tassie

It did not start off very well. I got out of the wrong side of the bed and stayed on that side all day with bad luck following me to rub it in. It started with the trip to the airport parking in Eagle Farm. Our GPS wanted to take us to the city and would not get that idea out of its little brain until we crossed the Gateway Bridge. Then when we get to Virgin Airline check in (I had checked in online), the queue to drop bags was longer than the queue checking in. Then the security check went badly wrong for no fault of mine – I tried 4 or 5 times to pass through taking off more and more clothing and once through got a hurry up from one of the staff as I was trying to redress.

Then everything seemed to settle down once we boarded the plane with free snacks and a drink (on Virgin) and a comfortable flight, luggage collection and hire car (actually hire camper van) collection until it came to showing us how to empty the “night soil canister”. Obviously the last hirer had not been briefed and he had left us a little present. I then set up the Tommy (yellow tack to the dash board just like Thistle) and we headed for Swansea on the east coast of Tassie.

We passed through Sorrell and travelled through some picturesque landscape, across the Prosser River until we came to Great Oyster Bay and finally our caravan park for the night.

We decided not to shower that night (it was too bloody cold) and went to the Barkmill Pub instead for a hearty lunch and dinner. There was a fabulous fire and we were close by so it was tragic when we had to leave to go back to our cold forlorn camper van. We had unpacked but it was just difficult to get into bed and the TV would not work. So it was lights out at 9.00pm on a hard bed wrestling Kerry for some bed covers.

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The Retirees Home in Brisbane – North by North West to Gayndah

About 5 hrs north by north west of Brisbane is the rural town of Gayndah. Renowned for its citrus, Gayndah is on the Burnett River and the Burnett Highway passes through the town. Apart from the citrus, the land is used for cropping and grazing. The Gayndah Orange Festival is held every two years to celebrate the citrus industry.

Exploration of the Gayndah area began in 1847 by explorer Thomas Archer and Surveyor James Charles Burnett. The first European settlers arrived in 1848, and the town was established in the following year. A post office was established at Gayndah in 1850. This suggests that Gayndah may be the oldest officially Gazetted town in Queensland though, a convict colony of 47 people existed on the Brisbane River, CBD site in 1825.

We left Brisbane at 2.00pm for an overnight stay with David and Veronica at David’s family home. Arriving at 6.30pm we were made warmly welcome by June, David’s Mum who sat us down to savoury mince on toast. A few wines and a good chat then off to bed as we have an early start tomorrow.

Kerry had an early morning appointment, so David and Veronica gave me had the grand tour of the town. Starting with the Big Orange and “Gay Dan” the mascot of Gayndah, we then moved onto the Duchess. Duchess Mountain is immediately to the south-west of the town and at 190 metres (620 ft) provides excellent views over the town (100 metres (330 ft) above sea level).

We then visited David’s old primary school St Joseph’s, and the former St Joseph’s convent next door now the Arts and Cultural Centre.

Then we picked up Kerry and off to Mt Debatable, a tabletop hill on the south western side of the town. The views of the countryside were remarkable. Leaving the top of the hill we circumnavigated the town to enter Gayndah from the north and then cross the Burnett River on our way home.

This is only a small snap shot of Gayndah as we had to leave to return home promising to return again.

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The Retirees Home in Brisbane – Travels to the Wild West – Day 6

Overnight between rubbers of 500, we roughly planned the trip for the following day. We wanted to get to one of the boutique breweries and finish the search for the best chardonnay. The next morning the weather again promised a lovely day. Any fears of rainy weather were long forgotten. First port of call was Cheeky Monkey Brewery. It shares premises with Killerby Wine and is very family friendly with children’s play area and cellar door. The tasting platter of 7 beers cost $15 and ample for two guys to share. The beer was different and yet very enjoyable but not readily available outside of the brewery. Kerry found a Sauvignon Blanc that she enjoyed at the Cellar door. Kerry H was still looking for the perfect Chardonnay and wanted to visit Woodlands to try their current vintage. Located in a woodland on a hill overlooking the vineyards the Cellar door was very appealing but the Chardonnay was $90 per bottle and Woody Nook still out shone it. Now satisfied that Woody Nook presented the best wine for the best value we returned to Woody Nook Winery.

We were now again in the northern end of the region and we thought we would go to Yallingup for lunch. Yallingup is a beach side village with excellent views over the cliffs and out to sea. The houses sink back into the undergrowth with the commercial area set well back from the beach. Cliff top walks allow visitors to take in all aspects but there is nowhere for lunch. Kerry H quickly refers to Google and soon we are on our way to Bushshack Brewery and the best Nachos on the coast. The brewery not only brews beer but alcoholic soft drinks – Sarsaparilla being my favourite. The Brewery was host to some vintage cars and the brewery was jammed so Nachos was about the only thing left on the menu. Sitting under the gum trees, the dining area is subject to aerial attack form Magpies. So dinner comes with a water pistol to chase off the birds which will rob from your plate as you eat.

In our search for the best chardonnay we had been advised to visit Credaro Wines. So after lunch we thought we would search them out before going to Prevelly Beach with a bottle of sparkling wine to watch the sunset over the ocean. Credaro has a magnificent vista from it deck and lovely surroundings. I was tasted out so I left Rod and Kerry to their tastings and checked out the gardens. Rod and Kerry H were not able to taste the premium chardonnay and purchased a bottle on trust. They were not disappointed.

We then moved onto Prevelly and were surprised to see surfers (in full wet suits because it is bloody cold) fighting out to the breaks right up to sunset. I trekked the beach until a rogue wave caught me out and then I joined the others to dry of and to watch the sunset.

Our last night at Margaret River finished as we started – a few hands of cards a nice bottle of wine and things to nibble on. Although Margaret River is only 3 hours south of Perth, we had plans to visit Island Brook and collect some wine as after all our tastings we felt they were still some of the best. With the cellar door opening at 10.00 we had to time our trip back for a 3.00 o’clock departure. Until next year when we will do it all again.

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