We travelled over to Perth on Wednesday for a family visit and a weekend with our grandchildren. First, we planned to spend a few days around Busselton in the south west of Western Australia.
Our departure was delayed for three hours due to the late arrival of our aircraft from Sydney. Sydney was experiencing a torrential downpour that day and it was causing havoc on the entire airline system in Australia. Flights were delayed or cancelled and the airport was full of frustrated passengers. Air traffic control would open Sydney airport for brief moments and closed it again as another storm cell covered the area. The Melbourne to Sydney air route is the second busiest in the world and a problem in Sydney stuffs everything up! Our flight was scheduled to leave at 9.05 am and we had been up since about 5.00 to get to the airport to catch it. The plane finally took off near 11.45 am and we had a very late breakfast on the flight. (It would have caused a delay of another hour to replace the food with a lunch meal and no one wanted to spend another 60 minutes doing that.
It was around 2.30 pm when we finally arrived into Perth. We were spending our first two nights at Busselton and much of the time that we had planned for sightseeing along the way had already gone. Western Australia, unlike most other states in Australia does not adopt summer time. I am fairly comfortable with the normal two hour time difference between the east and west coasts but a three hour difference, for some reason, is much more awkward for me. By the time we had dinner we were dog tired and found ourselves going bed at 8.00 pm after a long day. After all, we had been awake for fifteen hours by then.
The early history of European exploration of the Busselton area goes back to a French expedition in 1801 which brought Nicholas Baudin, with his ships the Géographe and Naturaliste, to the coast of Western Australia. Baudin named Geographe Bay and Cape Naturaliste after his vessels, and named the nearby river Vasse after one of his sailors, Thomas Vasse, who was lost as he went overboard and was believed to have drowned at sea. Busselton was one of the earliest settlements in Western Australia. It was first settled by the Bussell family, who moved there after the discovery of superior farm land in the area in 1834.. They established a cattle station and it quickly became one of the most prosperous stations in the colony,
The most outstanding attraction in Busselton now is the very long jetty. It is the longest wooden jetty (pier) in the Southern Hemisphere, stretching almost 2 km out to sea. Over the decades, it fell into disrepair but was renovated after major damage caused by Cyclone Alby in 1978 and a fire in 1999.
Western Australia is a haven for wildflowers. Many are bright and bold and some were very visible from the car as we drove along the highway. Many banksias (named after the naturalist who travelled with Captain Cook, Joseph Banks) were in various stages of flower. Some were mature yellow and gold flowers while other juvenile flowers were bright green
We were intrigued by many small trees that were covered in strings of white flowers. After some research, we found that they were Willow Myrtles. They are quite an attractive medium sized tree with a pendular habit. They have clusters of small white flowers that grow on the branches in between the leaves in Spring and summer. They look a bit like a willow tree as they have shiny leaves that hang from the drooping branches.
This area of WA has a rugged and dramatic coastline. Near the ‘Swings and Roundabouts’ Winery where we stopped for lunch, was Cathedral Rock. It is reached via a fairly nondescript road that is easy to pass by. While it is just a rock outcrop on the coast, it is also the most southerly breeding ground of the red-tailed tropic bird in the world. These birds mate for life and use the same nests year after year.
Another scenic area of coastline is the area around Canal Rocks , near the town of Yallingup. These are an ancient and unusual rock formation, extending from a peninsula south of Smiths Beach on the coastline between the towns of Yallingup and Margaret River. These massive banks of granitic gneiss have eroded along a dead-straight line running north – south, forming the striking “canal” feature. Several smaller canals cross perpendicular to the main canal. In wild and stormy weather, massive waves smash against the rocks and churn through the canals. It’s a spectacular sight to see, even on a relatively calm day. I walked out across a wooden bridge over the turbulent water to an island of orange granite rocks on the other side of the first canal to take some photos.
We drove back to Busselton through some farmland. It is clear hat this has been a good year for haymaking. Many paddocks are covered with hundreds of hay bales.
Yesterday, we drove back to Perth for dinner and a weekend with David, Yuki and the boys. Our last point of interest was to drive through the famous Tuart tree forest that borders Geographe Bay. It is the only area in the world where these trees grow. These sub species of Eucalypts typically grow to a height of 10 to 40 metres. Taller trees are often found at the southern end of the tree’s range while smaller trees are found at the northern end. The crown of the tree can spread up to a width of 25 metres.
These tress come win many shapes but the best ones are completely circular. The tree cutters in the pioneering days were quite lazy. They looked across the forest but rarely left their camp site..They were always going to get a round tuart. (A terrible joke, I know, but the best I can do at this time).