16th November to 27th November.
Our first trip to Hamelin Bay to view the mantra rays was unsuccessful, so never ones to give up we decided to head there on another much sunnier day. We eventually found a carpark as it was quite busy and proceeded to walk down the sand path to the beach. It wasn’t too packed but it was pretty busy, so we headed down to the shoreline to have a look for these infamous rays and found……none 😦 Whilst the water was crystal clear and blue and the sand was a stunning white color underneath we could not spot any rays, we stood there for about 10 minutes looking up and down the beach but still nothing. So we decided to wander up the beach to where the boat ramp and quite a few people were swimming and fishing, to see what they were catching and as we were walking up there we noticed that a few people were ‘looking’ at something in the water up past the boat ramp, so up we quickly walked and finally we saw what we had come to see. There were 2 mantra rays, a huge one and another little baby one and it was amazing just watching them as they glided along the shallow water on the shore, stopped then turned around again and went back along the line of people now starting to mill around. I didn’t actually touch them but Jess said they were quite slimy and were very friendly.
After a few rest days we got back into tourist mode and headed north to explore around Cape Naturaliste, Bunker Bay and Meelup Beach, which are just north of Yallingup and Dunsborough. The lighthouse at Cape Naturaliste wasn’t as big and grand as the one down south at Cape Leeuwin and therefore only cost us a gold coin donation to walk the short distance to the lighthouse from the house. It was also surrounded by a wire cyclone fence so there was no spectacular views or photos, which was a bit dissapointing. On our way back south we called into Bunker Bay, which was a little bay on the east side of Geographe Bay, I was impressed as there was a little cafe there which sold not too bad coffee (pity about the service though…) This little bay was also home to the Bunker Bay Resort, a quaint little upmarket holiday resort away from the summer crowds. After the girls had a swim and I had my coffee we bade farewell to Bunker Bay and only headed a short distance down the road to Meelup beach which had come highly recommended. Meelup beach, home to the HMAS Swan wreck, located a little bit off the shore, is also a good spot for whale watching and picnics and whilst it was stunning it was quite busy, therefore we all voted that Bunker Bay was our fave place for the day!! On our way home we drove down the main street of Dunsborough and were quite impressed with what we saw, it was a beautiful little town with some gorgeous houses and surrounding property, unfortunately it seemed that the whole of WA was there so we didn’t stop for a sticky beak as we had a deadline to meet…….Millers ice cream closed at 4:30 and we just had to make it before it shut!!!!!!
During our last couple of days we also went back up to Busselton for the day, we didn’t bother doing the full jetty walk as we had already made the trek and also visited the aquarium at the end of the jetty a few years prior. So instead Nik grabbed his fishing gear and settled in for a few hours mid way along the jetty whilst the girls and I went for a walk back to the main street and shops in town. We had a wander around town, but our favourite place by far was the gorgeous little bookshop located in Fig Tree Lane, called Barefoot Books, which was also owned by the father and step mother of our travelling buddies, ‘The Stricklands’. We spent at least an hour in this bookshop, each of us entranced in our own areas, Jess already settling herself in the reading corner reading her favourite books. We all bought at least one book, secretly wishing we could have taken so many more!!!! Afterwards we headed back to the jetty to check up on Nik, who had caught a few squids, have lunch and play on the park and relax in the shade. We had a lovely day, which of course was finished off with yet another ice cream, thank god we are only gluten free not diary free!!!!
As we had promised the girls earlier we also spent a day at the Margaret River Maze, it was a stunning place and quite a hard slog too, finding our way into the maze. We had decided to make it a bit harder and head off in pairs to find the different ‘animal seats’ and head into the lookout in the middle. It was hilarious listening and watching the girls running around in circles, yelling and screaming that they had found it only to have them run back past us saying no wrong way. So after a good 10-15 minutes we all eventually made our way seperately into the centre where we met two lovely couples who were also staying at the park we were at. Standing up on the decking of the lookout we then spent the next 45 minutes having a great chat to them whilst the kids mastered the maze by finding their way out and then back in at least twice. Eventually our little genius maze runners dragged us away and out of the maze where we also wandered around the gardens, playing all the interactive games and puzzles, later on we all agreed that we had a great few hours at the maze and the gardens were wonderful and relaxing. After running a few errands in town of course we had to finish off yet another hot day by cooling down with another Millers ice cream…………
As we had made oursleves at home here at Big Valley we spent the last day tidying up and getting ready to head off the next day, however we did head out for afternoon tea at the Berry Farm just around the corner from Big Valley. We had scones, jam and cream, coffee and milkshakes, then the girls played on the playground and we then purchased a few jams and pickles from the shop as well as two bags of avocados for $5 each!!!!!!!!
Finally after nearly 3 weeks down in Margaret River it was time to pack up, we had thoroughly enjoyed our time at Big Valley Campground and highly recommend it to anyone staying in the area. We met quite a few other long term travelling families and the kids spent most of their free time playing with all the other kids up in the ‘Magic Tree’, they still continue to talk about the magic tree and how awesome it was!!!! So after we sadly said our goodbyes and vowed NOT to call in to Millers and get an ice cream on the way out of town we headed off onto our next destination and adventure on our OZLAP…….