Entries from February 2016

ESPERANCE, WA

February 25, 2016

After the long drive across the Nullarbor, three days & three nights in Esperance was a welcome break…The town is great! Lots of young families, it’s super kid friendly, so much so that we spent our first afternoon enjoying the brand new playground and facilities on the foreshore, enjoying excellent coffee (for the first time in a few days!) from the Coffee Cat, a food truck that calls the new playground home. Bliss!

It’s not often that you see a picture of something, and it lives up to, or surpasses your expectations…Lucky Bay, in the Cap Le Grand National Park was BREATHTAKING. We were taken by the landscape all through Esperance, but this national park, a one hour drive out of town was incredible.

We saw plants we had not seen anywhere on our travels…unique, and ancient! The biodiversity was amazing, the flip side of all this was vast areas that had been devastated by the bushfires that swept through only weeks before.

We came up a hill, and on the other side, the whitest sand I’ve ever seen, paired with water that can only be described as aquamarine, and kangaroos on the beach (until Kinga decided she was going to teach them how to jump, bye Kangas!) The sand was squeaky (something to do with the high silicone content!?), much to the kids delight, and they revelled in running around making the sand screech…we walked up the south end of the beach, over mounds of dry (slightly pongy sea reeds) and climbed up the cliffs for a different perspective.

Also worth checking out, a short drive down the road is Thistle Cove, more of that beautiful pure white sand, and cliff looks outs to open ocean… next stop Antarctica should you get too close to the edge!

Fiona is an ex-Sydney sider (though originally from WA!) who now owns the Esperance Chalet Village, and was really one of the highlights of our stay…she went above and beyond to ensure we got the most out of our trip; from recommendations of where to eat,(Ollies Cafe for beautiful healthy breakkies & smoothies, call ahead, they are a bit random in their operating hours!) to walking us along a creek and over dunes to get to the local beach, to hooking the kids up with playmates (her kids are similar ages to ours) and pony rides! The chalets were a very welcome change from accommodation across the Nullarbor, with lovely beds (and bedspreads that were NOT bought in the 1980’s!) and mod cons. Top spot, just out of town!

Worth noting that Esperance is very far south, and seems to enjoy its own micro climate…It can get very fresh, even in summer, so it’s a good idea to pack some trackies & a hoody… the wind that blows in from the Southern Ocean is COLD!

Esperance has a feeling of a fast growing town and this hardly surprising given it’s proximity to so much natural beauty…Definitely worth the distance travelled!

We stayed at

Esperance Chalet Village

Frank Freeman Drive | Esperance, WA, 6450

We ate at

Ollies Cafe

51 The Esplanade, Esperance WA 6450

Taylors beach bar & Cafe

1 Taylor Street, Esperance WA 6450

Golden Orient Chinese

49 Dempster St, Esperance WA 6450

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NULLARBOR, SA & WA

February 18, 2016

When I started telling people that we were planning on driving from east coast to west, I was met with one reaction: Horror! “WHAT?! you can’t be serious? With the kids? It’ll be NULLARBORING! Why don’t you just FLY?!”

I was a bit concerned, but I needn’t have worried. I set aside my preconceived ideas of what an Aussie desert might look like, and took it all in. The driving was hard going at times, and if I’m honest, I only drove 2 hours out of the total drive, as I found passing road trains and other oversized vehicles pretty hairy. But I found the scenery enchanting. Varied too, for a desert; brimming with life. We saw loads of wildlife, both alive and not so alive (such variety in roadkill! Roos, lizards, snakes, birds, and even a bull!) and we enjoyed the subtle changes in landscape and plants between townships.

We stayed overnight in Ceduna (though I wish we’d stopped in Streaky or Smoky Bay, after the fun of Port Lincoln, Ceduna was a bit of a let down) and in Eucla, and finally Norseman. Eucla is the friendliest of stops on the eyre highway, and the staff at the motor hotel are lovely. Check out the specimens at the bar…they are well and truly pickled! Snakes! It was easy to imagine Norseman, now virtually a ghost town, in it’s hey day during the gold rush, as a vibrant outpost. The old Railway motel would have been quite something in its day.

So here’s a list of things that I recommend you do along the way!

Be sure to bring plenty of water! And it’s not a bad idea to stock up on fresh food in the bigger townships, as food along the eyre highway can be a bit hit and miss. Important to note too, that there are serious quarantine checks at the WA/SA border, and all fresh food must be surrendered. Yes, even that bunch of bananas you had every intention of eating 2 hours ago. And didn’t.

Play the Nullarbor Links: An 18 hole course that spans 1,365 kilometres with one hole in each participating town or roadhouse along the Eyre Highway, from Kalgoorlie in Western Australia to Ceduna in South Australia. An excellent excuse to stop, stretch your legs and avoid fatigue. At one hole there were two families of emus (complete with babies!) and a dead snake!
http://www.nullarborlinks.com

Stop off at the old Eucla Telegraph Station ruins (the station served as an admin office in 1877 for both Western Aus and South Aus!) then walk through dunes to the ocean. Wear shoes, take water, sunscreen and a hat. We forgot to!

Stop at one, or more of the Bunda Cliffs lookout points. Nothing between you & Antarctica…and so many hues of blues, there’s something mesmerising about the ultra blue waves crashing into the streaky layered cliffs.

Keep your eyes peeled for road trains and gigantic farming and mining vehicles and equipment. Interesting for the younger passengers, and it pays to be in front of them, not get stuck behind them, doing under 60 kms in a 110km stretch!

As a last resort, make sure you have a movie loaded on a charged iPad…!

And so, driving cross country was a rewarding rite of passage for this Australia loving Kiwi! I’ve done it now, and I am glad I did.

We stayed at:
BIG 4 Ceduna Tourist Park
29 McKenzie Street Ceduna

The Railway Motel
106 Roberts Street Norseman

Eucla Motor Hotel
Eyre Highway Eucla

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PORT LINCOLN

February 11, 2016

Port Lincoln is a top spot! I’m convinced that the combination of a beautiful natural environment, an outdoorsy lifestyle, and a seafood rich diet means that everyone is pretty laid back, and content with their lot. There’s a really good vibe about the place! It might also be because it has reportedly the highest concentration of millionaires in South Australia, no doubt as a result of its abundant fishing…good times!

First order of business in a town that proclaims it is seafood capital of Australia, is to taste the wares! Sarins at The Port Lincoln Hotel came highly recommended, and for good reason. Oysters are a polarising bunch, and it’s taken me some time to get into them, but I love them now, and can’t get enough of that salty, creamy, mineral hit. I think we had 18 straight up! They were SENSATIONAL! We also shared a seafood platter, that fed the whole family, it was HUGE. And delicious! Spanking fresh… writing about it now is making me salivate a touch! Sarins is super kid friendly too, we sat on the deck outside, overlooking Boston Bay, and there was plenty of room for the kids to run around.

We were super keen to get our hands on some of the tuna the town is so famous for, but it seems that all the good stuff is frozen and shipped overseas, which was a bummer, but in the process of trying to track it down we happened across The Fresh Fish place, where we had leather jacket cheeks & chips…sounds strange, but was OFF THE HOOK (ah! so many fish puns!)

The Lincoln National park was one of the highlights of our whole trip west…I could have happily spent a week there! Unlike some of the other national parks we visited, this one was only 15 minutes out of Port Lincoln, an easy drive for hot & bothered passengers, big and small alike!

It’s huge, and I think we saw two other cars the whole time we were there, and no other humans. We did spy loads of native inhabitants though; a blue tongue lizard, huge big black swans and loads of other birds, and unconfirmed snake and loads of fish, but of course! Mallee scrub is synonymous with Aussie coastal bush, and is so robust and hardy it looks fake. It must have rained just before we came through, as wildflowers were everywhere! Heaven.

We decided on a tiny strip of sheltered beach near Horse Rock, on the Boston Bay side of the park. The coastline on the southern side of the park is pretty wild by contrast, with limestone cliffs and large swells. I sunbathed, the kids swam & played in the sand…it was perfect.

I’m so pleased that we stopped in to the Port Lincoln Visitor Information centre before heading to the national park, as they pointed out which beaches were accessible to non 4WD’s, which beaches were kid friendly, and most importantly, to keep our eyes peeled for razor fish, named for their razor sharp shells…they are actually not fish as such, but more like a GIANT mussel, they pop up out of the sand vertically, and because the shells are the same colour as the sand they can be a bit tricky to spot. A bit of local knowledge can go a long way!

I feel there’s still much exploring to be done in this top spot; a visit to Coffin Bay, a swim with the sharks/tuna/seals (Mez has done both sharks & tuna and LOVED it!), maybe some fishing? I have an inkling we’ll be back…!

We stayed at
Port Lincoln Foreshore Apartments
100 Tasman Terrace
Port Lincoln, South Australia

We ate at
Sarins at the Port Lincoln Hotel
1 Lincoln Highway
Port Lincoln, South Australia

The Fresh Fish Place
20 Proper Bay Road,
Port Lincoln, South Australia

Its worth popping in to the Port Lincoln Visitor Information Centre
3 Adelaide Place
Port Lincoln

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