Prescott and I are in Australia! We’ve come for the three-day weekend (it’s Hari Raya Haji, the Muslim feast of sacrifice, back in Singapore) and for Prescott’s birthday. Our journey started with a flight into Perth, where we started off our day at a restaurant called Office at Harrogate. One of the crazes (now a few years old) in Australia is avocado toast, and I’d really been wanting to try some. Mine (which was called a “smashed avo on toast”) came with sumac roasted tomatoes, feta, a poached egg, bean sprouts, arugula, and hazelnut dukkah. Think a giant salad on top of a large piece of sourdough bread spread with avocado, and you’ll get the idea.
Perth is a fairly young city, and we only saw a few sections of it from the windows of our ca, so I can’t really comment on whether it’s likable or not. But I was interested in these solar flowers, which sat in front of an office building across from our cafe:
We hopped in our car from there and drove south, roughly along the coast. We’re in the very southwestern corner of Australia:
Much of our drive took us past scrubby farmland and short forests. We made our first stop at the surprisingly enjoyable town of Bunbury, roughly two hours south of Perth. The town has wide streets and short buildings, all of which reminded us towns in the western US. We stopped at Benesse for hot chocolate (Tina) and coffee (Prescott). I like that they serve their sweet, hot drinks here with fluffy marshmallows:
We poked around the town for a bit, stopping at a cool maker/co-working space that used to be an old theater …
… and taking in the local mural art:
As we continued our drive south, rain clouds began to gather, and we were treated to a series of beautiful rainbows:
We took a scenic detour through Ludlow Tuart Forest and Tuart Forest National Park, and wow, were we glad that we chose this side road. A tuart is a species of eucalyptus tree that is native to a very small area of southwestern Australia, and these parks are aptly named; we found ourselves in a deep wooded area with strong, tall trees all around.
What made us pull over weren’t the trees (though they were stunning) — it was those little white dots you can see near the bottom the photo above. We walked over the damp forest floor and found ourselves among a dizzying array of calla lilies:
They were amazing — some of the flowers were the size of my head:
It was like walking through a fairyland.
In the middle of our sighing over the beauty of the landscape, we looked up to see two kangaroos hopping away! That was incredibly exciting — I actually let out a shriek of surprise and delight.
We later found out that (1) these calla lilies are invasive and grow like weeds here and (2) the locals generally consider kangaroos more of a problem — because they eat all of the vegetation and have no natural predators — than an asset. But we were thoroughly delighted by both. Kangaroos hop very quickly, though, so we only have flower pictures.
Our next stop was in the town of Busselton, which offered our first real look at a beach:
Busselton is best known for its jetty — which, at 1.5 kilometers, is the largest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere. In the late afternoon light between rain showers, it was stunning:
There are train tracks on the jetty because you can take a tiny train to the end if you don’t want to walk the whole way. We didn’t see the train — I think it’s being restored at the moment — so we walked most of the way out.
We saw fishermen out on the jetty, and baby seagulls, and this crested tern:
We had fun on our walk, despite the fact that the weather grew more ominous as the wind picked up …
Our final destination was Margaret River, a town with a good supply of tourists who come here for the wineries and good restaurants. We had great woodfired pizza at Swings, a restaurant that was bustling with locals and tourists alike.
It’s a chilly spring week in southern Australia — highs in the low 50s and nights down in the 40s — but few places seem to have central heating. This is puzzling, because they definitely have winter here. I’m grateful for the electric blanket on our bed!
Also, as a side note, I’m not sure what to make of these, except to say that food in other countries sometimes surprises me: