“Life is uncharted territory. It reveals its story one moment at a time.” Leo F. Buscaglia
Last week’s exploration started with a day trip to the historic township of New Norcia with my grandmother’s sister’s daughter Mary and her sister-in-law Sam. The very tranquil New Norcia is 132km north of Perth and founded in 1847 by a couple of Benedictine monks. It is Australia’s only monastic town and monks still live, work and pray there; as well as brewing a nice drop that goes by the name of Abbey Ale.
Tuesday saw me heading south courtesy of Bayswater Hire in my little Toyota Corolla. I discovered early on that there was an abundance of identical Bayswater Hire cars on the roads… and in winery car parks… most confusing. I quickly christened mine “one dessert to go 395” so I could remember the number plate 1DTG395. Arriving in Busselton I met up with my old friend, ex-Deni girl Sophie and followed her to the family farm near Nannup that she shares with her husband Matt and their children Alina and Xander and about 500 Angus cows.
Sophie had set aside Wednesday to act as a guide for me on an all-day tour of Margaret River wineries and food providores. Notably Voyager Estate, Leeuwin Estate, Cape Mentelle, Vasse Felix (our lunch stop… delicious albeit tiny amounts of food on very large white plates), Woody Nook, Margaret River Chocolate Factory and the Cambray Sheep Dairy.
By Thursday morning I was in need of serious exercise to compensate for the excesses of the previous day, so I walked the length of the Busselton Jetty and back again as a token gesture. Built in 1865 and measuring 1,841 metres it is the longest timber piled jetty in the southern hemisphere.
Leaving Busselton I drove out to visit and stay with more cousins; Barry, Jan and their daughter Emily, at their vineyard and olive farm at Margaret River. Later that afternoon we visited the Colonial Brewery to sample their five different types of beers. Colonial is an excellent microbrewery just down the road from the farm (I was starting to wonder why it had taken me till the age of forty one before getting to know this side of the family?).
Sampling wine made by Barry and Jan’s son Ryan and lunching at McHenry’s Farm Shop the next day, I was introduced to David Hohnen, one of the founders of the Margaret River wine region; he and his family established the Cape Mentelle winery and also Cloudy Bay winery in New Zealand. David took me to view his latest passion; free range Tamworth pigs, selling the end product through the farm shop and the Margaret River Farmer’s Market. Late that afternoon I joined Emily for a couple of hours riding through the state forest bordering their property; Jan lent me her beautifully mannered polocrosse mare Specs.
Saying goodbye to Barry, Jan & Emily I called into the Margaret River Farmer’s Market to take a few happy snaps to show our local Koondrook Barham Farmer’s Market aficionados Lauren and Katrina. Heading further south I discovered Cape Leeuwin, Australia’s most southwesterly point and where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet; then it was time to head east through the Karri forests to Albany. Stopping off along the way I climbed the Gloucester Tree, a huge Karri Eucalypt over 60m high (used as a fire lookout tree), explored the Valley of the Giants and completed the Tree Top Walk through the massive and very impressive Red Tingle trees near Walpole.
Waking up in Albany last Sunday morning I could feel every muscle in my body, the horse riding and tree climbing had caught up with me. Once again I had that run over by a Mack truck feeling, only this time it had reversed over me for good measure…