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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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.

Weather Extremes

I dedicate this post to my online friends in the northern hemisphere who are currently in the grip of severely inclement weather, mainly in the form of snow, not just ordinary snow flurries but the heavy falls that manage to make international news.

As I sit in airconditioned comfort in my lounge room, with the weather gods threatening temperatures over 40 degrees celsius here for the next 3 days, I watch as the news bulletin broadcasts scenes of snow lashed Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, Blonde from BlondeBrunetteTravel bemoans the grim weather in her hometown of Boston on Facebook. The airport is closed and the news readers tell us that the authorities are threatening prosecution to anyone who ignores the severe weather warnings and ventures where they shouldn’t.

Here in Perth we just cook if we step outside.

Talk about extremes!

Boston snow

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Is there anywhere in the world that is just right at the moment?

(The snow photo is courtesy of BlondeBrunetteTravel – please pop over and check out the antics of these sisters, trust me – it’s well worth a look see)

Seek Wisdom

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With Old Testament origins  ‘Seek Wisdom’ is the motto of the University of Western Australia, which this year celebrates its 100th anniversary.

In March 1913 it accepted its first students in a collection of timber and corrugated iron buildings in Irwin St. In contrast, the site today, on the banks of the Swan River in Crawley, welcomes new students into beautifully landscaped, tranquil grounds while its historic Winthrop Hall can’t help but inspire those who study under its gaze.

Yesterday I took a walk through the quiet grounds, before the influx of students for the beginning of the new semester in a couple of week’s time. The University of Western Australia holds a special place in my heart. This campus, its historic buildings, those who come to learn and those willing to impart their hard earned knowledge to those keen to make a difference were instrumental in defining for me who I am, who I thought I was, where I’ve been and where I’m going.

As I sat in Winthrop Hall in my fortieth year surrounded by other prospective students and the echoes of those that had forged a tradition and as I listened to the passion of those extolling the virtues of this university I began to understand the possibilities. I believed that I could and I vowed that one day I would be standing on that stage accepting that piece of paper that would show that I had.

With determination, perseverance, a lot of encouragement and the occasional kick up the proverbial from well meaning friends, I did what I set out to do – and more. I gained that wisdom and it wasn’t just facts and figures, it was a deeper understanding of that inexplicable thing that is life. I discussed, I pondered, I questioned and I learnt.

In the tranquil surrounds yesterday, when my intention was simply to take a few photos for this post, I found myself remembering and reflecting.

If you’re ever in Perth the beautiful grounds of this university are well worth a visit, here’s why …..

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The Sunken Gardens – a popular spot for weddings.

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The gnarled trunk of a tree equally as old as the university, if not older.

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One of the permanent residents of the Arts faculty – these peacocks and peahens roam freely throughout the grounds.

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And directly across the road!

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