Monday, February 18, 2008

Margaret River & the South West – Day 14 and 15

Sad to leave the smelly caravan park with possible mass murderer running amuck, we headed south towards Western Australia’s wine growing region. Our first stop was the town of Bunbury. Bunbury is sort of the northern most town of the popular southern wino region. We stopped in at the tourist information centre to get some info and a game plan. The kindly old lady at the info booth offered us some information about a boardwalk around an amazing protected waterfowl area, but quickly resigned to the fact that we would not be staying long, allowing me the dignity of not putting on too much of a feign for her beloved shire. I, like most visitors to the region, was really looking for the most direct route to the free plonk (wine) that the vintner’s were trotting out in hopes of duping the multitudes of half cut wannabe oenophiles into paying way too much for pretty decent wine.

Armed with a sufficient intel on the many vineyards of the Margaret River region, we head off for a quick lunch and stratagery session. Our selected lunch spot became the town of Busselton a bit further down the track. We would’ve hung with the protected waterfowl in Bunbury, but fellow travellers had given us tip that the birds in Busselton flew upside down as the town wasn’t worth shitting on. As I’m still not familiar with all Australian colloquialisms, I wasn’t sure if this was a euphemism or a rare oddity, which are quite common in Australia. Turned out to be the former, as we saw no upended, yet still airworthy birds but did find a gorgeous seaside town with the longest public pier I have yet to see. This thing had to stretch at least a ½ mile out into the sea.

The wino run turned out to be a bit of a let down. The crowds were low and the people friendly at each of the wineries that we visited, which was nice. But we knew we weren’t buying and it would’ve been much more fun with more than one person drinking. Glenda thought one of us should stay sober to drive and I thought that should be her. But apparently I’m not Aussie enough yet to get shitty while me missus chauffers me around beautiful rolling hills…don’t tell immigration.

We’ve had our sights set on bush camping the whole trip and now get our first opportunity. We found Conto Springs Campground in the Leeuin-Naturaliste National Park. The park runs between two capes (big chunks of land jutting out into the ocean) and encompasses nearly130 kms of coastline.

The campground held the biggest trees we’ve yet to see and had big wide camp areas so it was easy to have your own space even though the place filled up by nightfall. This spot was nice enough that we quickly opted for a second night.

As we still have not found cool weather, we decided to find a swim beach the next day. Conto is good for fishing, but not safe to frolic in. If you’re ever in this area, Havelin Bay is your best bet for swimming. There was also a pirate looking vessel moored in the bay, but I don’t have too much more in formation on that. We saw no actual pirates. Anyway, I was itching to get a line wet, so we found a fishing kit we could do and still get under budget. I had never fished in the ocean before, but even without knowing what I was doing, I still managed to land a couple of herring (6-8 inches.)

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