Margaret River: The river

I was visiting the south west of the state again recently and, as usual, had a wonderful time. I always enjoy a wander through the main street of Margaret River when I’m down there and this time was no different.

DSCN1335What was different this time though was that I took particular note of the river itself.

When you mention Margaret River in the south west of Western Australia most people immediately think of the picturesque country town with it’s world class surfing beaches or of the wineries in the region or the gourmet food that the area is renowned for, but nobody really thinks of the river that the town sits on.

So I did a little bit of research. The Margaret River is believed to be named after Margaret Whicher or Whyche who, depending on your source of reference, seems to have been either a friend or a cousin of John Bussell, an early settler and explorer of the area.

The river rises in the Whicher ranges and merges with the Indian Ocean 65km away near Cape Mentelle.

In the summer the picturesque riverbank as you enter the town is teeming with visitors, when I was there a few days ago, with the constant threat of rain and the thunderstorm that had passed over a couple of hours earlier the picnic grounds were rather empty and one lone youngster was playing in playground.

But even in that weather it was a very picturesque spot. It’s also the beginning of the 13.5km rails to trails walking/cycling track that takes you north as far as Cowaramup. It’s on my list for the next time I’m down there.

It’s also worth taking a drive to the mouth of the Margaret river near Prevelly, a beautiful coastline with magnificent surfing beaches where you can watch the waves in contemplation, enjoy a picnic on the beach in the nicer weather or maybe take the dog for a walk up the river.

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Step #1 – Reassessment

DSCN1359From Everest Base Camp to the south west of Western Australia. Three months, family dramas, a dose of redundancy and a reality check later and I think I’ve begun to understand the luxury of being able to do what I wanted to do and the pleasure of being able to enjoy every day.

Today I’ve driven to the mouth of the Margaret River and watched the waves pounding the rocks as the river surged outwards into the Indian Ocean, I’ve bought a bottle of Semillon Sauvignon Blanc from a boutique winery, I’ve eaten a lunch of mushroom risotto on the balcony of another winery surrounded by the lush greenery that is the south west of this state and now I’m heading off to buy venison sausages.

Is this life not a luxury?

Tomorrow I’ll be on my way back home having had a relaxing and thought provoking few days.

Life, as is its wont, is not prepared to let us rest on our laurels for too long and insists on throwing the odd curve ball our way. When this happens we tend to react instinctively, often retreating into ourselves and possibly making rash decisions. What I’ve learned that we need to do though is to stop, to gather our thoughts and to assess how best to move forward, not to rush in where those proverbial angels fear to tread.

A few days, a few weeks, however long it takes.

Only a matter of weeks ago I was existing on a diet of carbs – pizza, pasta and potatoes, I was pushing myself physically and mentally to achieve my goal and I was walking in the shadow of some of the highest mountains on the planet.

After an amazing and momentous experience life then decided to slap me in the face and I was brought crashing down to earth, reality hit me in all its forms.

These few days away has seen a regrouping, a reassessment of my life. Sometimes what we think we want, what we believe we need, is in reality just a pipe dream. Yes, our fantasy life is appealing but is it what we really want or need?

We all have dreams of what we would like our life to be but if we had all that we wanted, would we be happy? Generally, I think not. Life is not about getting all that we want, life is about making sure that there is always something that we are aiming for.

Our future goals are what make our life worthwhile.

Going Rural

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe small country town of York is about an hour an a half east of Perth and it’s a place that I’ve never been to. Not that there’s much there, but it is a quaint olde worlde town that deserves a stopover.

I was there yesterday, the beginning of the week, but apparently it’s better to visit later in the week or on the weekend when it ‘comes alive.’

A friend has gone rural and settled herself on the outskirts of York on a couple of acres and is in her element. Chickens, geese and a couple of sheep, affectionately named Salt & Pepper (and you’ll see why in the photos), and open paddocks, she’s even bought a ride on mower.

She has room to move and to breath.

Not a bad way to live.

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What a cute chicken house – or should that be coop?

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Meeting Salt & Pepper – not sure I’m an animal person!

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Pepper – posing or threatening?

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Val’s new toy.

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The ‘joys’ of country living – bogged in the fire break!

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They have impressive street corners in York.

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Pieces of Perth: Forrest Place

An enduring memory I have of Forrest Place is sitting having coffee early one morning and watching as hundreds, possibly thousands, of workers poured from the railway station opposite and marched through Forrest Place. All purposely heading in one direction.

It was like a scene from a sci-fi movie with the population all being drawn by some invisible force towards an unknown destiny. In this case it was offices and shops that were drawing these people to their daily grind.

But I digress from the point of this particular post. Forrest  Place has always been a link between the railway station and the shopping and business district of Perth. Created in 1923 as a thoroughfare for traffic it became a large pedestrianised square in 1987 and is now an iconic spot where you can meet for coffee or a light lunch, enjoy one of the many activities it hosts or just sit in the sun and people watch.

The square is a combination of the old and the new. The west side still houses the beautiful old buildings of the Post Office (built in 1923) and the Commonwealth Bank (completed in 1933). The Donnybrook sandstone of their facades has weathered wonderfully and creates a time capsule that has gradually been surrounded by modern development.

The eastern side of the square has the modern glass and chrome of Forrest Chase the shopping arcade that houses Myer and a multitude of boutiques and specialty shops.

Over the years Forrest Place has become the place to go to, to participate or simply be a bystander as meetings, rallies, school holiday activities, markets and fashion parades take place.

But the powers that be are introducing a sense of fun into Forrest  Place. In 2011 a modern green sculpture was erected at the northern end of the precinct. The winner of a competition to find a suitable work of art the sculpture has had mixed reviews. Officially titled ‘Grow your own’ it’s more colloquially know as ‘The Cactus’ and my personal opinion is that it’s probably been placed there to distract the eye from the road works and extensive redevelopment that’s currently going on behind it.

When I was there recently I spent some time watching as children and adults alike enjoyed the walls of water that erupt from the paving creating ‘rooms’ that change configuration every few minutes.

If you’re in Perth on holiday you really can’t miss Forrest Place and its attractions. If you’re a local who rarely visits the city, make the effort, take the train into the city and spend some time learning what the place has to offer.

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Pieces of Perth: The Muse Cafe

A new series of posts I’m hoping to continue … cause … how many of us really see our own city?

Yesterday I had reason to visit the city  – Perth that is – and found an amazing café that I didn’t know existed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Muse Café is lodged in the old gaol, part of the Perth museum. It’s run by some young things and they have done brilliant things with the small gaol cells available to them. Each one is decked out with comfy couches and quirky coffee tables.

The coffee was really good and the chicken and sage sausage roll, served with salad greens, a lovely twist on the traditional.

Even if you’re not into museums you should search out this café – you could unlock your muse here.

A simple flat white - but look at the spoon.

A simple flat white – but look at the spoon.

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Where’s the best café in your city? I need to know for when I visit.

Answer Me This ……

Do you find that getting away from real life for a while, even for just a few days, does you good, do you come back energised and full of enthusiasm? Or does it leave you feeling a bit flat, not sure what to do next? Are we simply masking symptoms with a temporary change of scenery?

And while you ponder that deep and meaningful, here’s some photos from my recent couple of weekends away in Mandurah.

The early morning sun hits Dolphin Quay

The early morning sun hits Dolphin Quay

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