Sunday, 25 July 2010

Perth and Margaret River

Catching up on recent travels, I must write about the adventures we had in Western Australia during the last week on May. Looking for somewhere to visit on our way to the UK, we decided that Perth was our best bet as it is en-route and comes highly recommended.

There were a few things that were pretty much guaranteed about our trip – some sun, some rain, meeting members of Tom’s extended family, and a nasty insect encounter. These four elements are part of nearly all of our Aussie adventures! We had a few extra surprises this time though, and neither Tom or I will be forgetting this trip in a hurry...

Perth is one of the most isolated cities on earth, and is a four hour flight from Melbourne. We were lucky to be greeted at the airport by our own personal guide, Tom’s second cousin Karen! Karen is sister to Merryl, who regular blog-readers will remember from our Brisbane trip over Easter. After a tea-stop at Karen’s home, we ventured into the city, which I must admit was nice but relatively underwhelming compared to other Australian cities. The beauty of W.A. lies outside of Perth however, and this would become apparent as we ventured further over the course of our stay.

Perth CBD

For Tom, the beauty of W.A. was right under our noses in the Crown Plaza hotel. He is an avid fan of Australian Rules football, and threatened to take me to an away game for our team, St Kilda, that ‘coincidentally’ happened to be scheduled for the weekend that we were in Perth (hmmmmm). Fortunately I was spared watching live football whilst on holiday, as lunch with Tom’s relatives was scheduled for the same time as the game. I could tell he was disappointed by having to split his allegiance, but this soon dissipated when we discovered that the St Kilda team were staying in our hotel! As Australia’s equivalent of David Beckham lingered in the hotel lobby, Tom was like a kid in sweet shop. He had his shirt signed by lots of his favourite players, and posed for a photo with his footie hero. I don’t think he could concentrate on anything else for the rest of the day!

Next on the list of activities was lunch with three of his second cousins and their families! Karen had organised lunch at a waterside restaurant in the beautiful Fremantle, and it was wonderful to finally meet the people that Merryl, Karen and Tom’s Great Aunt Marian had told us so much about.

The sun came out in time for a day trip to Rottnest Island, 19km off the coast of Perth and home to the quokka, a rat-like cat-sized marsupial, which is much cuter than it sounds! With no cars on the island, Tom and I rented bikes and had a fabulous day riding around the 18 square kilometre island, discovering white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. Well catered for tourists, the island has its own branch of Subway, and Tom was in heaven eating his foot-long cheese-steak on honey oat whilst on a paradise beach. I must admit thinking to myself, this would be a damn good place for Tom to propose... I’d have to wait a few more days for that however.

My first time on a bike in at least 12 years

Beautiful cove at Rottnest Island

Clear blue waters

Subway in the sunshine!

My new friends, the quokkas!

After saying goodbye to Perth we ventured South to the famous Margaret River wine region. A carefully planned driving route through several local coastal towns was a total wash-out due to driving rain. Disappointing, but at the end of our drive was the amazing Quay West Bunker Bay resort! We stayed in a really smart garden bungalow, and the lounge and bar area of the hotel had an open log fire and a cosy-warming atmosphere. Shame it wasn’t the weather for the infinity pool! As with any Australian hotel room that is anywhere near vegetation, we had to battle the insects. Within 15 minutes of arrival, Tom had ejected two spiders and a small frog from our room!

We spent our days touring wineries and driving the local region. The food and wine was delicious but the weather was on the whole grey and miserable. Who needs sunshine and warmth when your boyfriend is about to ask you to marry him though? Our trip was rounded off wonderfully by Tom’s proposal on his birthday, and for more on that, read my previous posts!

Australia's most popular rose

View from our Bunker Bay hotel

Celebrating Tom's birthday and our engagement at Vasse Felix

Delicious lunch at Vasse Felix

Tom on his way to write something very important in the sand..

Sporting the ring!