And so to my final post inspired by our trip south of Perth. Our route has taken us from Perth, through Margaret River, Pemberton, Walpole and Denmark to our final destination, Albany.
Albany is the oldest permanently settled town in WA. It was founded on 26 December 1826, predating Perth and Fremantle by over two years. Its creation was part of a plan to thwart French ambitions in the area.
As it was too early for us to check in we headed down to the town centre to stretch our legs and grab a bite for lunch. It was a lovely day, albeit very windy.
Found ourselves on York Street and dropped in to Cosi’s Cafe for a spot of lunch and a coffee. York Street is very busy but at the same time has the feel of an Australian country town.
While in York Street, we ventured into the visitor centre and booked ourselves onto a four-hour river boat cruise for the following day. We also decided that we would take a run out to The Historic Whaling Station after we had checked in at our hotel.
This was our second visit to Albany, Gerry and I having been here some eighteen years ago. It only seemed fitting that we should stay in the same hotel, The Dog Rock Motel …..
…. named after the large rock shaped like a dog’s head.
Having checked in and unloaded the car we set off to be educated about the whaling industry. The following is from Wikipedia …..
The Whaling Station, which closed operations in 1978, has been converted to a museum of whaling, and features one of the ‘Cheynes’ whale chasers that were used for whaling in Albany. The station was the last operating whaling station in the southern hemisphere and the English-speaking world at the time of closure.
On the way out to the whaling station we stopped off at the Vancouver Lookout to absorb the scenery …..
….. seems like every turn of the road offers us a new perspective.
Tearing ourselves away from the fabulous views we soon arrived at the Historic Whaling Station (previously known as Whale World). There is lots to see here, and whatever you think you know about whaling, this place will show you how little you know. For me, the overriding factor is the sheer brutality of the whaling process. There are some pretty graphic pictures around the site and, for the people who worked here or on the ships, it was a tough life. No health and safety regulations, no protective clothing, no sick pay and no pension.
We spent an enlightening couple of hours at the Whaling Station. No matter what you think of the morality of whaling, you have to remind yourself that was a different era. The world has moved on.
And so did we, heading back into Albany and the Dog Rock Motel to rest up prior to dinner.
We had dinner at Lime 303 where I was talked into having a cocktail, a “Blue Lagoon”. Needless to say I was soon back to drinking beer. The cocktail was like an alcoholic Gatorade…. Yuuuk !!! Regardless, the food was very, very good.
The next day we were up early and down to Emu Point ready for our river cruise aboard the Kalgan Queen …
Once we were all aboard we were treated to a display of pelicans and their party tricks. Our skipper would feed them but only after they had “danced”, twirled around on the water. He did this while explaining about the pelicans and there abilities and traits. As the Kalgan Queen is a glass bottomed boat we were also treated to the view of a large sting ray cruising under the boat.
After the regulation safety notices we were off on our journey, across the sheltered waters of Oyster Harbour and then up the Kalgan River.
As we crossed Oyster Harbour our skipper pulled out a whistle and tried to attract the attention of White Breasted Sea Eagles. Unfortunately, they did not put in appearance. However, later as we were running up the river we were treated to the spectacle of several Osprey plunging down to collect the fish thrown out onto the river.
Part of the cruise package is a wine tasting at Montgomery Hill Vineyard. To be quite honest, it was a waste of time. We all agreed that we would rather have stayed on the boat and perhaps travelled further upstream.
The folks in the tasting rooms made no attempt to tell us about the wines, didn’t even ask about individual likes or dislikes to try and match their products to our tastes. Most unlike any tasting I have ever been to before.
The only positive was the view from the tasting rooms and terrace …..
After thirty minutes or so we were bussed back down to the river and back on board the boat. Here we were treated to hot Billy Tea and Damper as we headed back down the river and on to Emu Point.
En-route we encountered other river users / inhabitants …
Back on shore we bade farewell to the Kalgan Queen and to “Perch” …
The cruise had been around four hours duration and was well worth the money.
After a spot of lunch the afternoon was spent fishing off the shore at Emu Point. On my first cast I caught a blowie and although I had many bites I didn’t manage to land another fish. Steve, on the other hand, despite also be plagued by blowies, managed to land a Port Jackson Shark.
While we were fishing there were rays constantly cruising along the water’s edge. Fascinating to watch.
All too soon it was time to pack up and head back to the motel to wash up and head out for dinner, this being our last night down south.
The lucky establishment to be blessed with our custom was the Mean Fiddler Restaurant. It was very busy and when I enquired, about a table for four, was informed that they had more tables upstairs but that there would be about a thirty minute wait.
Upstairs was much quieter and also cooler. Our waitress seemed to be a bit eccentric, a bit like Julie Walters as the elderly waitress in the Two Soups sketch from Victoria Wood As Seen On TV.
Quite early on, the waitress had handed out some crayons and informed us that we could use them to draw on the table-cloth, if we wanted to.
Despite the eccentricities of the staff, the food was good. By the time we had our main meal, the other upstairs customers had gone. We had the room and the balcony to ourselves and were able to wander around perusing the artwork and other curiosities.
From the balcony there was a view, both, up and down York Street.
After our meal we once again headed back to the motel. Sad with the knowledge that we had to head back to Perth the following day.
And so it was that the following morning we headed out on the Albany Highway for the journey home.