The plan was to get to the airport in plenty of time to set the boys up in a corner to watch the airplanes while I got Mom and Uncle S and brought them to the boys for a surprise! Well, the best laid plans…..we hit major traffic on the freeway out to the airport (forgotten what traffic can be like in a city!) so we got there after the plane had already landed and our new arrivals were collecting their bags. Kia was completely overwhelmed by the surprise of seeing his beloved and much missed Mamani – he just kept clinging to her and even shed tears of shock and joy!
It was an all too quick visit (of course) – Uncle S (visiting Sydney along with the rest of Dad’s family) stayed only a couple of days, but we can’t thank him enough for the huge effort of crossing the country just to be with us! He had such tremendous patience with the kids and went along with all our plans and it was great to spend some time chatting about our family back in England. We spent one day at Rottnest Island – beautiful island paradise, but really not recommended for a day trip. It was a hugely expensive ferry ride over (and extremely rough and nausea-inducing to boot!) and the island is basically a collection of lovely beaches and coves perfect for all sorts of water-play (fishing, swimming, snorkelling) – so you need at least a few days to explore them at your leisure. But November is way too cold to get in the water anyway! We did see quite a few quokkas though!
A much more relaxed day was spent at magnificent Kings Park (another place where all the hype is actually true) at the Synergy play area. There are other playground areas within the park, but we couldn’t drag the kids away from the little lake with baby ducks and the dinosaur statues! And their playtime with other kids meant Mom and I could do some catching up with all the gossip from home. Of course the weather was flawless! We did end up “dumping” the kids with Mom a few times (so easy to fall back into the old routines) – one day was spent in Freemantle where I visited the Freemantle Prison (very interesting tour and story about this prison which was built in colonial times and only closed its doors in the 1990s), Mike ran around doing some errands and the boys kept Mom busy running around the playground near the marina.
On our last day together, Mom and the boys caught the ferry across from Perth to the zoo – apparently it was even better than Taronga Zoo! I spent the day at the WA Museum (the main exhibit area about the history of Swan River colony was closed that day, but they had a wonderful Indigenous history area including a great section about the Stolen Generation) and Michael got to spend some quality alone time at a 4WD show. It was sad as always to say bye to our beautiful Mamani, but at least this time it will only be for a month! Kia did a great job holding it together ;o)).
We spent the better part of the next day at the Rockingham foreshore. Being a Saturday it was packed full of local families enjoying the sunshine. It was too cold for our boys to venture into the water, but they were happy with sandplay and time in the playground. We always need a couple of quiet days to recover from the excitement and whirlwind of a family visit! The next day we spent a lovely few hours on a beautiful sunny day in Mandurah walking along the lovely marina canals (the kids’ new obsession are houseboats which are basically any boat that you can sleep in and there were plenty moored in the marina and even a few for sale) and having lunch on the waterfront. Mandurah has a very laid back (and expensive) feel to it and we were sorry to leave it so quickly.
Kia was unwell the next day, so we all had a very quiet day inside and gave him a whole day (!!) to recover! The next day we drove out to Cape Naturaliste and did a 4km loop walk to the various lookouts. Absolutely gorgeous! But flies out in force again which always dampens our enthusiasm for the outdoors. Kia and Mike had gone ahead and Tiran and I had to bush-bash our way back to the road when we lost sight of the minimal track markers – Tiran made sure to tell Daddy that it was him that showed Mom the way out of the bush (yeah right!!). Although a few people had seen some whales off one of the points, we weren’t so lucky this time. We drove down to Eagle Bluff beach for lunch – what an absolutely idyllic spot. The water actually wasn’t too cold, but we had to rush back to Busselton and our tour of the Underwater Observatory.
The jetty at Busselton really is something to see! It’s nearly 2km long, with a train that runs the length of it and an underwater observatory at the end. We arrived just in time for the train ride (with 30 seconds to spare) to take us for our tour in the observatory. While interesting, it actually wasn’t necessary as all the information is displayed on boards throughout the place anyway. The observatory descends 8 metres below the surface with massive windows on 3 different levels where an artifical reef exists along the pylons of the jetty. Definitely not disappointed in the array of fish we saw, but the whole experience was over-priced ($75 for the family). Kia and I opted to walk back along the jetty – another beautiful day and lots of people fishing (we saw one guy reeling in a fish that was chased all the way back by a cormorant – he nearly caught himself an easy dinner)!
I have to say I really wasn’t prepared to be so thoroughly enamoured with the southwest corner of WA!!