“Our place is large and our bed looks straight out to the beach. As I write this it is early morning and I have a coffee, sitting on the balcony looking at our stunning ocean. The waters are calm at the moment because the breeze isn’t in. The water is turquoise and blue with soft waves I can hear crashing onto the shore. The air is so clean and crisp and people are busy exercising on the bike paths. Bike riders, joggers, casual walkers. Surfers sit on boards waiting for a wave out to sea. The Norfolk pine trees gently sway and the sky is blue, bright blue with fluffy white clouds. Yes it sounds idyllic. Because it is”.
We have just been home for Christmas and it was great
We had planned this trip home to Australia since we first arrived in Manila. We had to return home within the year for visa purposes. At the time when SB said we needed to book I told him to just do whatever, I was not in the head space to think about going back to the home I had just had my heart broken leaving. The dates were tentatively set for a trip at Christmas. SB decided the length and the dates and I was okay with that.
Helloooo decent coffee…how I’ve missed you
I was only really able to think about it a few months ago. It was when I had got over the bump of the first six months. That first six months is the time it takes to transition into your new life. I found it to be pretty true. One day I realised I was happy and okay and didn’t mind living here, in Manila. That was when I felt emotionally ready to confront returning home and all that the thoughts brought up.
We planned our trip to be able to spend as much time as we could on our short visit, being with family and friends. We broke the trip into threes. The first three nights were in Perth. We spent time with friends and it was so wonderful. My soul was refreshed, I was refueled. It was like time had not passed us by. We sat around chatting loudly, the children played. Tears were shed as we shared stories and caught up on the space we had missed in each other’s lives this past year.
We went to the beach. Back to our beach
Sandcastle at Scarborough Beach, Perth WA
“Monday morning came and we woke to another perfect day. The ocean was calm and bright blue. We went down to the beach and as we stepped onto the sand the shark siren went off. I felt like I was really home. As is our way here people stood up, looked around and when they could not see a fin, they carried on as usual. Just not in the deeper dark waters. The children frolicked, the water was freezing and SB took them out one at a time into the deep to catch waves. I helped FB build a sandcastle and she busily collected shells, seaweed and feathers to decorate our castle. It was great, just sitting on the sand, having the gentle waves lap up. The sun was really strong. The day was going to be a hot one. The sand on Scarborough Beach is coarse. It is yellowish-white too. Where I grew up in Albany, the sand is white and fine. So soft you don’t get that course grazed feeling on your skin as you sit and dig, building sand castles.”
Back to business – Chasing Gulls
We had three nights in Bunbury at SB’s mum’s house. The children ran around the yard exploring. BB rode on Grandad’s ride-on mower. FB coloured in with her Nan.
A top pick for something to do with children in Bunbury is to visit the Dolphin Discovery Centre. Located in the heart of Bunbury this volunteer based business provides a few different options for getting up close and personal with dolphins. We went to the Interaction Zone, which is a section of beach where the Dolphins often come up to visit. We were lucky on the morning we went as the Dolphins arrived early and one of them brought her calf. It was truly delightful.
Beautiful Dolphin with her Calf
Bunbury is not a big place but it is close to the stunning South West Wine Region. Later in the day SB and I drove the children down to Dunsborough which is one of my favourite places to be. We went to my favourite beach, possibly ever, Meelup ‘Place to see the moon’ in Meelup National Park. Meelup is derived from the Nyungar words ‘Meela’ – your eyes to see, and ‘Meeka’ – the moon. This beach faces north-east and so it is one of the rare places here that you can see the sun and the moon rise from the water. This beach is special to me. It is really beautiful with crystal clear waters, white sand and rocky surrounds. The beach sits snugly, protected by the slopes of the dense forest surrounding it. In summer, the winds flow from the south-west and so the beach is protected and perfect for children. Large trees grow down to the beach, providing shelter from the sun. Kangaroo poo is scattered around everywhere. This area is where you can keep your towels and belongings and set up your picnic. You just need to find a space your towels will be safe from the kangaroo poo. The sand at Meelup is always piping hot and you run as fast as you can down to the water which is always icy cold.
My Beautiful Meelup Beach, Dunsborough WA
As a child my family would come to Dunsborough every summer for a few weeks. We would stay in a caravan park and we always came to this beach. I would climb over rocks with dad looking for crabs and sit on the cool wet sand near the water and build sand castles. I always loved to do that. We would set up our towels under the trees on the grass and have picnics. Mum would lie on her towel reading a book or magazine, she isn’t one for swimming. They are happy memories and perhaps this is why this place is just so special to me.
“Have I mentioned how much I love kangaroos. Such beautiful creatures. Lots of poo”.
On Christmas Eve we set off again, this time down to Albany to my family home. We drove through the South West, down to Walpole where we took the kids to the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk.
“We are taking the scenic route. Driving down through Donnybrook, Bridgetown and Manjimup. Taking the road down to Walpole to the Valley of the Giants which we are so excited to show the children for the first time.
Driving along the road, the familiar roar of the car tyres on the asphalt create a meditative hum, calming children sad to leave their grandparents. Roads curve around and large expansive valleys open out. Fields are golden dry, trees dotting the landscape. The bush is green and filled with ferns, grasses and trees that grow tall to reach the sun. The sunlight filters down through branches thick with leaves. The mottled light creates patterns on the ground and I glimpse them like jewels as we fly past in our car, back to high speeds. This is farmland around here and in the heat of summer the sheep and cows lay wherever they may find some shade. Fields lay bare. Small towns we drive through overflow with character as old buildings are now home to small cafes and gift shops. I just love driving past old wooden sheds. Held up now with history yet they still house old tractors and bales of hay. The yearn for their stories make you eager to explore.
I haven’t walked in a paddock for years but you never forget the crunch under your feet as you tread over the dry yellow ground. That crunch of snapping stems of grass, of the rocks beneath your feet. You never forget that sound. I don’t.
We stop in Manjimup at a café. Coffee, milkshakes and sausage rolls. I have been craving my sausage rolls for the longest time. I was not disappointed.
Driving through the Karri Forrest
We leave, and on the other side of Manjimup the landscape changes as we enter the Kari Forest region. Lush green forest rises around us as the road winds. An eagle hovers in the air, searching out its prey. The forest is dense, the trees are narrow and tall, like they are competing against each other for sunlight. Which they are.
The weather changes and rain clouds appear. Sprinkles of rain spatter the windshield blending in seamlessly with the spatters of dirt and bugs that already cover the screen.
Large trees start to fill the space, tall Kari, marri, jarrah, tingle wood trees stand like statues. Tree spirits guarding this precious land”.
The Tree Top Walk is near Walpole. An internationally recognized nature-based tourist attraction, it is a 600 meter walk reaching 40 meters into the sky, where you walk through the tree tops of the native Tingle Trees. These are the Giants of the Valley. This place is stunning, a little scary, but stunning. The walkway wobbles in the wind and with movement so FB and I took our time. We walked through the discovery bit, around the giant tingle trees, reading about the forest, learning about life here. Cicadas were chirping. A gentle cool breeze caressed our skin. The chill in the air was so refreshing and the smell, well, the smell was like home. That forest smell you can only describe as fresh, as you breath out and the sound ‘arrrhhhh’ is swept away from your lips on the breeze’.
Valley of the Giants – Tree Top Walk & Discovery Walk Walpole, Western Australia
We made it home to Albany late in the afternoon and the children ran gloriously around the house and garden talking in loud excited voices. It was good to be home.
Middleton Beach, Albany WA
It was cold in Albany. That is not unusual. Sitting on the south tip of WA we get the wicked sea breeze. It is lovely to feel the cold, although I have my limits and soon found myself wearing Dad’s ugg boots. Mum laughed at me. Christmas was lovely and relaxed. We drove out to the wind farm like we usually do. We enjoyed time with family.
The Albany Wind Farm
All too soon it was time to leave
“We left Albany. I cried a bit. I stared out of the car window feeling glum”.
We drove back to Perth, got on a plane and flew to Singapore. From there we drove across the border to Malaysia, to LEGOLAND where we celebrated BB’s 5th birthday….but that is a story for next time.