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Colin and Sue’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 29 Mar 2007

Location: Western Australia, Australia

MapWe arrived in Perth to hot hot hot temperatures - all a bit of a shock after Tassie. Unfortunately just as we got used to it (and after we posted our warm fleeces home) the weather changed and it's been surprisingly cool during the day and positively cold at night (we lit a cosy log fire one evening - not what you expect after a barbie on the verandah). We also had a couple of days of rain - to the delight of the locals although this area isn't particularly drought struck (no worries on the harvest front for wineries here). Anyway enough of the English obsession with the weather.

We've spent two weeks in south west Australia - home of beautiful coastal scenery, magnificent tall trees and last but not least delicious wines in the Margaret River area (we now know why it's called a "cool climate" wine region). We hired a car and have had a pretty relaxed time cruising (as they say here) down the coast from Perth and then across to Albany. The distances are very manageable here unlike other parts of Australia although we've still done over 1,000 miles. We stayed at a real mix of places - backpackers - one good, one bad; some motels and some great country cabins - the last of which was a converted railway carriage (really well converted but to return to the weather obsession a bit chilly).

The animal highlights were paddling with dolphins (we paddled, they swam) before a dolphin cruise at Bunbury; seeing lots of kangaroos everywhere but especially watching the local kangaroos as we ate breakfast from our railway carriage and then feeding them; and the fabulous birds everywhere (parrots, rosellas, parakeets, pelicans, galahs etc - and sorry John, we're not sure which are which).

Colin decided to get energetic and had his first ever surfing lesson (more weather obsession - in the pouring rain so not the classic Aussie experience) - he didn't stand up but did really well although he is still suffering the after effects of bruised ribs and aching muscles. Soon after we watched some heats of a surfing championship at Margaret River where he really got into all the surfer terminology (reef break, left hander etc). He also climbed the Dave Evans Bi-centennial Tree - a 68m tall karri tree, pegged for fire watching with a sort of tree house at the top - quite mad as the rungs are hammered in round the trunk but there's no safety cage and it would be quite easy to fall, slip through etc. Still, although he said it was quite scary, the views from the top across the canopy were magnificent. The wimpy one settled for a tree top walkway with sides and rails and an air of solidity and safety. The sporting non-highlight was waking up at 4am to watch the second half of England vs Andorra - at least we didn't watch it all.

The south west wine has been very good - especially the Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon mixes (aka SBS's or SSB's depending on the mix) which we don't really go for at home. They are a Margaret River specialty and we tasted some really good ones. There are also some really good reds - mostly Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignons. We had a half day tour to 5 wineries - not sure how discerning we were by the fifth - and visited one or two or three more ourselves.

We're looking forward to moving on to Singapore and Malaysia - Australia has been good but it's time to leave the English speaking world again and get back to dodgy food and exciting buses!