October 25 to October 29
(Geoff’s turn at the keyboard) We drove into town on Sunday afternoon, and by the time dinner was done knew that we were staying 4 nights. We had dropped into Morrie’s for a beer/cider, but after tapas and a dessert that were “to die for” (Catherine’s description) we booked our Wednesday anniversary dinner with them, and that meant hanging around longer than we originally intended. That turned out not to be a problem! Margaret River is the Niagara-on-the-Lake of Western Australia, with even more wineries, but there is a lot else to see and do. By the time we returned to Morrie’s for our anniversary dinner we had watched surfers in the big waves off the mouth of the river, watched kite surfers when the wind was up, toured one of the many limestone caves along the coast, stopped at the lighthouse at the point where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet, watched migrating whales off the coast (a long way off!) and consumed local wine, beer, cheese, cider, avocado, venison, chocolate, yogurt that Catherine says is the best she has ever eaten, and more.
We also had our first look at the magnificent karri forests; karri is the tallest of the gum trees at up to 70 metres, with a grey trunk and limbs and with no bark most of the year. The high canopy inhibits undergrowth and the interplay of light and shadow through the tall grey trunks was spectacular.
The region has many wineries but they are spread over a large area, and the fields of vines are interspersed with forest, pasture, and streams. The land undulates, and just driving around is a real pleasure.
We only stopped at a few wineries. I find it personally awkward to drop into a winery, as we did, where we are the only (potential) customers and where the wines are out of our price range. We did, however, stop at one place where the cellar door really was a big sliding steel cellar door, and where the tasting counter was not much more than a plank over a couple of barrels. The young man behind the counter was the assistant winemaker, and he gave us a quick tour of the barrel room. Then he noticed my beer t-shirt, and we ended up talking about beer more than his wine. He pointed us toward a local brewery where we enjoyed a pint and more food to die for the next day. (And we bought some of his wine.)
Wednesday evening we wrapped our Margaret River stay with the anniversary dinner at Morrie’s. The lamb and the duck were first class, and the staff treated us to a dessert wine to help celebrate the occasion. It was a good thing the campground was just a 15 minute walk away!
Ellensbrook Homestead (last picture, Cath’s notes)
When the Bussell family built this homestead in the 1860’s they situated it by a brook protected from the sea by sand dunes covered with vegetation. Aboriginal people, the Noongar, lived on the land part of the year and had a good relationship with the Bussell family. Of 13 children, 4 died. Alfred Bussell, the father wrote that when 12 month old Jaspar died, his wife Ellen stood leaning over the fence in her fried. The Noongar encircled her, tears streaming down their faces, then walked away in silence. “Why,” Alfred wrote, “would the aborigine come to share in the mourning for a white man’s child?”