For the past week, I’ve been walking around on a cloud, almost impervious to the pre-Christmas rush at work and in the shops. This was because of a short holiday to the Margaret River region of Western Australia. With a 4.5 hour flight and a few thousand kms, it was a different country there – the summer temperatures are higher, the sky was bigger and bluer, and the soil redder under the sun.
We saw quokkas, a native Australian that is almost only found on Rottnest Island, off the coast of Perth. Quokkas are endearing creatures, with a leisurely hopping gait – imagine a snail doing its best impression of a kangaroo. The two shops on the island had (somewhat ironic) no-quokka barriers in the doorway. We heard that ‘Rottnest’ is Dutch for ‘rat nest’, because the first Dutch explorers thought they were giant rats.
We spent much of our time outdoors, exploring. Augusta, established only 40 years after white settlement on the other side of the country. Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse at the point where the Southern Ocean meets the Indian Ocean. The unexpected sight of wild flowers along the coast (I think they are only in bloom for about one month every year!).
And of course the endless beaches with pale white sand and sapphire blue seas. We sank ankle-deep into the fine sand walking along parts of the 140km coastline (which is only a tiny fraction of Western Australia’s coastline…this state does everything on the grand scale). The 140km coast is one of the top ten walks in Australia, and I want to come back next year and walk the whole distance.
Margaret River region is known for its vineyards and good food. During the day, we imbibed good stuff at vineyards – one was built in a striking Cape Dutch style with elegant details, perfect symmetry and melodic lines. When not in a vineyard, we ate in quirky cafes and bustling tapas bar/restaurants.