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Oceania » Australia » Western Australia » Bunbury
May 11th 2011
Published: May 13th 2011EDIT THIS ENTRY

Firstly, just a note about our blogs. We’re not entirely happy with the new format that has been imposed upon us but we can’t do anything about that. Apologies if you’ve got used to the old layout, as we had, but we hope you can adapt to the new one. We’ve noticed that it’s easy to overlook some of the photos, particularly if they spread into a second page. They don’t always but, if they do, you have to scan down the screen to the very bottom of the official “bumph” attached to the blog and they will appear when the cursor passes over them. Thanks for reading and good luck!

Tuesday 10th – when we finally dragged ourselves out of bed, another perfect clear blue sky greeted us. We did think we might go off to Koombana Beach very early and then get breakfast in town, but it didn’t quite work out like that. Still, we were there at about 10am but the dolphins weren’t! I walked along, paddling in the sea, towards the Dolphin Centre where quite a few people had congregated. Did they know something we didn’t? No - they were actually waiting for the Dolphin Cruise vessel to come and pick them up. But it was very pleasant just being in Koombana Bay and time easily drifted by. The cruise boat appeared spot on eleven o’clock and we had a cup of tea and some fruit cake as we watched the boat slowly cruise towards the centre of the bay. It was still within good viewing distance so we thought that if they came across any dolphins then we would be able to see them too, but no such luck. After a while the vessel cruised further away and disappeared through a gap in the sea wall into what we now know is another part of the Leschenault water system. We drove out of Bunbury in the same direction the boat had gone and got as far as the outskirts of Australind before we found a water-side car park. Alas, the only thing we saw there was a lady selling eggs!!

We had decided that today, as with yesterday, we would have lunch out and then visit The Big Swamp - an area of wetlands close to the centre of Bunbury. So we drove back into town and went to the same cafe as yesterday.
This huge cargo ship dwarfed everything elseThis huge cargo ship dwarfed everything elseThis huge cargo ship dwarfed everything else

as it came out of Bunbury Port
After lunch we chose to follow the coast road, our usual route in and out of town, to get to The Big Swamp but Graham thought it would be good to explore the lighthouse area of town on the way. What a stroke of inspiration that was as we happened upon a tall lookout built by funds from the local Rotary Club. It was a terrific tower and in a brilliant, elevated location and gave a fantastic 360˚ view of Bunbury. The inspiration was because, after a while, I spotted some dolphins frolicking near the marina – the opposite side of Koombana Bay from the Dolphin Centre. They were too far away to take any decent photos and I didn’t have my SLR camera but at least we had seen some Bunbury dolphins at last. We spent quite a lot of time up the tower – it was brilliant – but then we drove on to The Big Swamp. This was another fascinating area of Bunbury, a town which is quickly becoming one of our favourite places because of the variety of things to do. It’s a fairly quiet time of year for wildlife and birdlife but the way The
On the left is Ensign MacLoud and on the right Captain BunburyOn the left is Ensign MacLoud and on the right Captain BunburyOn the left is Ensign MacLoud and on the right Captain Bunbury

Henry William St Piere Bunbury was the first European to travel overland to what was Port Leschenault and the town was renamed Bunbury in 1836 in his honour
Big Swamp is arranged with walkways, cycle-paths, boardwalks and bird-hides, it’s an interesting place at any time of year just to stroll around. And that is what we did for about an hour or so and even then we had hardly scratched the surface.

On our way back to the chalet we diverted to an area called Back Beach which seemed to have a rather strange “breaker” phenomenon. It’s a very popular surfing area but some of the more adventurous surfers are attracted by a combination of breakers which come together at right-angles. A rock formation at one particular point seems to throw back the incoming rough waves creating a sideways wave movement which then meets a normal incoming wave so that, when both waves are large (which is often) it creates quite a spectacular effect. It was here we had our afternoon cuppa and cake before returning to the chalet prior to going out again. On our way back we visited Maidens Reserve – an area we imagined to be like some we have come across before – a place where the females of the aboriginal tribes would gather away from the menfolk to discuss “women’s things”!! This thought had been endorsed by a couple of large statues of semi naked ladies at the entrance to a housing estate immediately opposite Maidens Reserve. How more wrong could we have been? Apparently the name was given by some early French explorers who, from their sea-going vessel, had seen two large peaks which they thought resembled parts of a lady’s anatomy (I’m not making this up!!) and named the area accordingly. The aforementioned statues were simply endorsing the history of the area.

Back at the chalet we contemplated having a swim in the pool but remembered yesterday’s freezing experience and thought better of it. But Graham felt that the Rotary Tower would be an excellent place to view the sunset so we were soon back out again heading towards the lighthouse before the sun set. It was a fantastic location and a very special sunset and we lingered for some time before making our way back to the chalet again. Often in Australia there is no “twilight” - the sun goes down and it’s dark almost immediately. Here in Bunbury daylight seems to linger for a while so, even though the sun had disappeared, we were able to make our way back before it got really dark. We had a reasonably relaxed evening although time was spent doing some packing in advance of our return to Perth tomorrow. Our brief break in Bunbury was coming to an end - how time flies when you’re enjoying yourself!

Today, Wednesday 11th May and it was time to make our way back to Perth ahead of our continued journey north up the west coast of Western Australia. I had done much of the packing the night before so we were soon ready to hit the road. The journey would take between 2 and 3 hours but we were in no particular hurry. The sun was shining brilliantly and we had decided to visit a couple of our favoured places in Bunbury before we headed out of town. We drove past Maidens Reserve along the coast road and stopped at Back Beach. Already there were plenty of surfers enjoying the terrific waves and we sat and watched for a while. Then we drove to Koombana Beach which was probably our favourite spot for simply passing the time. As it was adjacent to The Dolphin Centre there was always a chance of spotting some dolphins but, as with all our previous visits to Koombana, we were unlucky. We spent time chatting to a young French couple who were travelling around Aus on working visas. They were from Burgundy and were hoping to find short term jobs in Bunbury before returning to the Adelaide area of South Australia area where they knew they would get jobs in a couple of month’s time. We had our usual cuppa and fruit cake and then made our way out of Bunbury towards Mandurah where we intended to stop for lunch. A few kilometers out of town we passed through Australind and spotted a “Natures Window” information centre on the edge of Leschenault Inlet and curiosity got the better of us - and we’re so pleased it did.

No sooner had we got out of the car than we saw some thrashing about in the water – just a few meters away. It was a dolphin “disturbing” the water to confuse and then catch fish that had congregated in the area. This activity carried on for some time before the dolphin drifted away towards the centre of the huge lagoon but then I spotted another one. Graham also saw a sea-eagle swoop down and take a fish before flying off with it and there were lots of other birds also in the area. We decided to investigate further and I rushed back to the car and got my big SLR camera in case there were some specials shots to be had. We walked across a boardwalk which linked the car-park to a long, man-made rocky walkway which extended for about a kilometer out into the inlet. The first dolphin then returned to where we had first seen it and began to follow us along the walkway. It ‘flew’ by us at great speed and continued on with its “thrashing” and feeding and was eventually joined by two others. What a shame we didn’t know about this place before. It was a fabulous location just a ten minute drive from Bunbury and abounded with dolphins and other wildlife – brilliant – yet another reason to consider Bunbury as our favourite location of all time.

Eventually we had to drag ourselves away and drove on to Mandurah where we arrived at about 1:30pm and found a delightful waterside restaurant for lunch. My nagging of Graham must have completely passed him by as he ordered a “Big Breakfast” while I had a more modest pasta dish.

We were soon back on the road suitably replenished and arrived at the Forrestfield Caravan Park at about 3:00pm. We had been told that Sweetie would be put on a site for us and all we had to do was find out which site she was on and “open her up”. Unfortunately, not everything went to plan - firstly, she had been left so close to a tree that Graham couldn’t reach the mechanism to drop one of the stabilizing legs down so he had to connect her up and move her over about a yard. But our cherished piece of wood on which we place the jockey wheel was missing – the staff had left it behind when they moved the caravan from the original site into storage. Graham checked the previous site only to discover that the couple now on there were using our bit of wood for their jockey wheel!! Graham joked with them about it – there was no way we could recover it – and they gave him another piece to use – not as good but adequate. So Sweetie was moved and set up again. Then we discovered that the water tap was sited so far away that our hose, lengthy though it was, wouldn’t reach the tap!! Now Graham was faced with connecting up and moving Sweetie again but preferred to move to the vacant site behind ours where the facilities (electric, fresh water and waste water outlet) were all easily accessible. I thought I had better check with the office first and they weren’t particularly helpful. The site behind ours was already allocated and they weren’t prepared to change their computer records to help us but they did offer us a choice of two other sites a little way away. We chose what we viewed as the better of the two sites but we had to reconnect Sweetie yet again and chose to move everything else by hand. We had already emptied everything out of the caravan when we first tried to set up and it seemed easier to carry it across rather than to reload it all back into the caravan. Eventually, after much huffing and puffing, we were set up, this time on a block site which Graham prefers.

Time had flown by and at about 5.45pm it was already beginning to get dark so we just settled down for the night. Later we watched a film – The Lavender Ladies – with Judy Dench and Maggie Smith and also a host of other well known faces. It was excellent but it finished very late. We had no trouble dropping off to sleep thinking about the events of the day and about preparing for our on-going trip up north - we’ll leave on Friday 13th!!





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Great spot for boogie boardingGreat spot for boogie boarding
Great spot for boogie boarding

with a right angled wave


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