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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Our next leg after Perth has taken us down to Margaret River which is the wine producing area of Western Australia. They boost that it’s one of the best wine producing region in Australia although it only produces a small percentage of around 10% of Ozzie wines but it holds 25% of the top wines in Ozzie. The whole Southern region of OZ has similar weather patterns to Cape Town so I guess all the wine would be produced along the Southern base of Australia. Margaret River is a very young wine producing area in relative terms but so far it has produced some outstanding wines.

We have pitched home in a very quaint and beautiful Caravan Park called Gracetown Caravan Park which is just a short drive from the Margaret River Town. The place is so quite and tranquil. We are nestled amongst some trees and it really feels like a little piece of heaven. Since our ordeal with the Ozzie flies we decided that it was a good idea to equip ourselves with more fly resistance camping equipment so before we left Perth we went to BCF (Boating, Camping, Fishing) which is like Outdoor Warehouse on steroids, wicked place and you need to be careful or you might end up walking out with half the shop, and we found ourselves the ideal solutions to our fly problem. It’s a gazebo (Hexagon) and it has fly screens all the way round. Marvellous idea since one can use this as a place to run away from the flies and you can cook in it and essentially do pretty much anything including just chilling out and reading your book or typing this blog as I’m doing now. So now we were excited. We had a solution for the freaking Ozzie menace and we where super keen on getting our backs on the flies. We arrived at Gracetown and pitched our marvellous addition to our camping arsenal only to start noticing that there isn’t a fly to be seen. Not even one freaking fly! Bastard. It’s now too cold this far South and winter is on its way so there is a distinctive chill in the air. It feels weird, just a few days ago I hadn’t worn a pair of shoes for days on end. Didn’t even know where I had left them. Now I’m sitting here at 20h30 with a tracksuit pant, beanie, jersey and polar fleece jacket. I think the sun up North boiled my blood and now suddenly the temp just dropped thru the floor. There are some tough Ozzie nutters running around here with Shorts, T-Shirt and slops as I’m looking around. They must be laughing at me.

Well, at least the addition we made to our camping equipment gives us a place to put all our stuff and do our cooking and chill out after dinner. It hasn’t been a waste besides we are going to go North on the other side again at the end of this trip and it’s going to get very warm once again and we will run into our mates the flies.

So when in Margaret River one must do as the tourists do and go on a wine tasting tour. Absolutely! Now it’s taken me a fair amount of time to get Lynda interested in wine. She absolutely hated the stuff. As you know, Lynda hardly drinks so I had a feeling we were in for a jolly fun day. The pamphlet said something like “at the end of the day we will assist you and your packages back to your door”. This should be a scream. We got picked up at 10h45 in a bus with a bunch of other wine connoisseurs which was piloted by Gary our host. Gary was a card and had a handle bar moustache which fitted his perky character. Everyone on the bus was very quiet and to themselves, something which was not to last very long. We stopped off at our first spot which was Tassell Park Wines and so the tasting began. We got a little talk in how to taste wine. Look, Swirl, Sniff, Drink or that’s what I got out of the lesson. This was fantastic as they poured one after another and Lynda and I pretended we were connoisseurs from the valleys of France. Well, needless to say, after the tasting at our first spot, Lynda was on top form and the bus was not the same bus we climbed into at the beginning of the tour. Our second stop was Brookwood Estate Wines and Lynda became the favourite as she hosed herself uncontrollably at the dude giving us the whole diddle daddle speech about the wines on his estate. This dude was a scream. He was the only guy on this tour with a wicked sense of humour and he really got everyone going. Super guy and their wines where also top notch. Lynda and “the comedian” hit it off and he kept picking on her and calling her out which made Lynda laugh even more. This stop was also our lunch stop and just in time because if we continued to “taste” anymore wine without eating anything it was bound to really get horrible. Lunch was rather interesting with a variety of local dishes both genuine Ozzie and Aboriginal. We had some Kangaroo (ye ye, how could we eat Skippy) and it basically tastes like venison. It’s pretty dam good and now I know what one can do with those hundreds of dead Roos on the side of the road everywhere. Lunch was wicked and the different tastes where an explosion on the pallet.

From there we needed to head off to have desert at the Chocolate Company. Wow, what a place, just chocolate everywhere. We bought a few things including the chocolate massage edible oil as one does. Never know when that will come in handy, excuse the pun. I got a decadent hot chocolate just so that I could line the stomach in order to continue my wine tasting.

We then went to Hayshed Hill Wines and Knee Deep Wines which where, in my opinion, not so great wines for me but maybe by this stage I don’t think I could tell the difference between wine and Pepsi so maybe it had nothing to do with the wines but either my sober state or the fat Ozzie chick with the birds nest hair do on her head telling us about the wines at her estate which had Lynda in hysterics. Then I had the misfortune of losing my mind a little and telling the Ozzie chick that there are two words missing at the bottom of her logo, Knee Deep. She shouldn’t have asked me what they were but she did and I shouldn’t have answered but I did and the answer was “in shit”. Ok, so this was the time when they should exercise the part on the brochure that says “at the end of the day we will assist you and your packages back to your door” otherwise I might just be “Knee Deep in shit”. But before we could get dumped back at home and in case we had not tasted enough alcohol we where to make one more stop at the Bootleg Brewery. I got brave and ordered a platter which had six fairly big tasters on and I proceeded to try and rid my pallet of the wine taste. Bad move, too much mixing. We then moved on from there to the final stop which was the cheese factory or better known as the Margaret River Dairy Company. We tasted some cheese and hit the road so that Gary could get rid of his bus of hooligans. He put a couple of golden oldies on the radio and had the whole bus singing along at the top of their voices. Scary stuff but a hell of a lot of fun. The day was a blast and I’d highly recommend the Bushtucker Wine Tasting Tour if you are ever in the Margaret River region.

We got back to camp to find Skippy’s cousin who we just munched earlier, sitting around with his buddies eating away on the lawns next to our tent. Cute fellows. Quite cuddly. What a stunning day. Smiles all round and a good feeling inside. We cooked dinner and heard some possums having a good go at each other in the distance. Peaceful night none the less.

The following day we decided to go and tour around the area and find some other things less mind altering to do. We went off to do a little caving. They have a few caves in the area but I wanted one that was self guided simply because I like the sense of adventure and taking my sweet time while ambling thru the cave. We stopped at Calgardup Cave and got kitted up for our stroll down into the earth. The cave was not one of those that will stop you in your tracks but it had its own beauty. We strolled around and took a bunch of pics and stared at all the formations. Nice little tour.

From there we headed off to the Boranup Karri Forest which is home to the Karri tree. This tree can grow more than 60m in length and they are magnificent to see. You can drive thru the forest which is pretty cool because you get to go deep into it and really get surrounded by the beauty. A quite place where you get to see a fair amount of bird life. We stopped for lunch and went for a short walk to stretch our legs. I spent most of the walk clearing webs from my face and hair much to the amusement of Lynda who was canning herself at my web clearing techniques.

This weekend Margaret River holds a surfing comp called the Margaret River Pro. All the hot guns are in town although I didn’t hear Slater’s name as I know he is one of Dirk’s hero’s so I’m not quite sure how Pro this comp really is. I’ll have to ask Dirk if he envies me popping in at the comp. Just for Dirk, I decided that I had to go check it out just in case it was a good comp to be at. At least I can be cool when I tell people “ye, I was at the Margaret River Pro mate, were where you” kind of thing. This comp takes place at Surfers Point in Margaret River which has some fairly wild surf. Biggest I’ve seen so far in OZ as all the places we have been to don’t have waves past my waist height. I guess I’ve been at the wrong beaches as far as surfing goes. I read about the one girl on the comp that is just 18 years old and only has one arm. She got taken out by a shark two years ago but that didn’t stop her. In fact she was back in the water surfing less than a month after the shark thought her arm was a pretzel. This is one inspiring story and it’s no charity for this girl as she is ranked second against able bodied people and she is whipping ass. This girl is a great inspiration to anyone and she has already written 4 books and is well on her entrepreneur career. A true inspiration.

12 April 2008 and we leave Margaret River to make our way to where ever the next destination might be. On our way we read more about the Karri forests and we read about a tree that they have made a make shift stairway up in order to look out over the forest so that they could spot fires from afar. We decided that we needed to have a look at this tree which has a look out on top standing 65 meters above the ground. 65 meters is more than good enough of a height to BASE from so another reason to have a look at this rather tall tree. The staircase which it has is simply long metal rods which have been hammered into the tree going up in a spiral fashion around the tree. You climb up it like you would a step ladder and it wraps around the tree all the way to the very top of the tree. Half way up it has a platform so that one can take a rest and grab your breath back. At the top there is a series of platforms going up in stages one above the other. At this point there are proper ladders that go from one platform to the next until you are at the roof of the forest. Hells bells, I wish I had a tree house like this when I was smaller in size. Wicked stuff. It was really around 60 odd meters as my BASE eye could tell. There is even a trap door to the very roof top of the last platform and they were so considerate to have made the roof at the top nice and flat so that one can use it to run off. Perfect BASE! Only problem would be one or two branches sticking out but my guess is you would clear these ok at worst you might bend them with your foot. They are small branches so this would never be a real problem. The other issue would be the rest of the forest in front of you once the canopy opens. The area does offer a small clearing and I think it might be enough but boy you are going to have to be on those break toggles faster than a Jewish boy loses his foreskin. I think it’s doable but unfortunately my rig is sitting back in Joburg at a warehouse. I’m making a mental note of this one and one day I think I’ll certainly be back to re-evaluate. Check out the pictures of the tree on our gallery under Margaret River. I’ll be back.

The rest of the day we simply hit the road and wound our way down to Albany. The forest just simply seems to go on and on and on thru winding roads over hills and down valleys. This has got to be the prettiest drive so far. On either side of the road the Karri trees tower and their branches meet at the very top of the canopy which can be up to 60 meters above the road. Truly a magnificent sight. It feels like you are in a game of sorts flying along an unreal landscape. The choons are pumping hard as Lynda selects the true Hard Style classics and we are having our own private thumping party on board. The contrast is quite surreal with the absolute tranquil and quite surrounds of the forest outside and the crazy setting going on in our car and in our own minds. Here we are while millions of people on the planet are perhaps worrying about the “what next” factor and here we are quite oblivious to what is coming up next. It makes me smile that here we are, living out our dream, the EdLyn dream.

Keep well boys and girls,
Eddy & Lynda