Monday, 28 July 2014

Mom, Margaret River, and Mea Culpa

I know it's been a month since I last posted, mea culpa!  My gorgeous mom joined us three weeks ago for her annual pilgramage from Calgary to her far far away family.  It is completely amazing having her here, just sliding into our life without judgment, not to mention that every time I turn around, my dishes are done.

It always takes a couple of weeks to get our rhythm right, the pacing between the things an 11-year old wants to do, the things a spontaneous husband decides must be done now, and the things a near 80-year old can do, requires patience and a little ingenuity.  Somewhere in the pursuit of balance, blogging got lost but I'm back on track now.

Margaret River Chocolate Company

J was beginning his Term 2 break when mum arrived and we spent the first week happily showing her a little of Perth and Fremantle.  However between her jetlag and the rapid fire "here's the Indian Ocean", "there's Cottesloe Beach", "here's the Swan River", "that's a Kookaboora" commentary, I'm not sure how much she took in.  The second week, we drove south to Margaret River for a little family holiday.  The Margaret River region, for you non-oenophiles, is arguably Australia's premier wine-growing region, renowned for its superior wine, market-fresh produce, gourmet restaurants, and world-class surf breaks and beaches along the spectacular south Western Australian coast.

The paddocks at our little house

Murphy loving all the open space

Margaret River was an inspired and perfect fit for our varied age groups.  We three adults dragged J to four cellar doors over the week,  he brought a book, we took our time, he drank tea and ate scones, we tasted wine, and all were content.  The four wineries we visited each offered a fantastic location, as elegant and evolved wine production as I have witnessed in France, with a new world attitude that was refreshing.  The wineries for reference were: Cullen Wines, Vasse Felix Wines, Voyager Wines, and Cape Mentelle Wines.  There are dozens of other wineries still to be discovered in our future in the region.


In addition, our little rented house had paddocks leading to the actual Margaret River.  We quickly adopted an early morning routine of strolling with Murphy through the green paddocks filled with fields of Peace Lillies, Kangaroos, and Wallabies down to the river.  We'd leave mum at home with an extra cup of coffee while we explored and played.  Murphy, in spite of her very advanced age, thoroughly loved it.

Twice we deposited mum for a few hours in the township of Margaret River while we went caving.  There are dozens of caves in the region formed by fragile limestone along the spine of the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park.  Some have been developed as show caves, well lit and with relatively easy access in and out of the deep caverns.  We visited Lake Cave which was a spectacular example.

Lakes Cave, Margaret River

Later in the week, C2, J, and I ventured into Giants Cave, a VERY different experience.  In this case, we had to follow a barely lit trail through dark descents, ascend steep fixed ladders, and squeeze through tiny spaces between rocks.  Not for the faint-hearted but a great deal of fun.  It's always exhilarating to try something never experienced before.

Thinking this might'nt have been such a great idea after all

Yes, we had to squeeze through the tiny opening at the top of the ladder

The exit....such as it was
On our final day, we drove to the extreme south-western point of Australia to Cape Leeuwin where the mighty Southern Ocean collides with the Indian Ocean, and where Humpback, Southern Right, Minke, and even Blue Whales pause to rest on their annual lengthy journey north to more tropical waters where they give birth.   During this time of year, whales can be sighted from the beaches near Augusta and from the point, but we joined a small adventure boat heading out to open ocean to sight the pods.   Three boats headed out together in 3 directions to look for the pods, and we all had plenty of long-range sightings.

Cape Leeuwin, where the Southern Ocean collides with the Indian Ocean

After 90 minutes, two of the boats returned to Augusta.  Our crusty captain, however, knew the pod was close, possessed an amazing and respectful understanding of whale behaviour, and we were rewarded with an amazing show of Humpbacks in the natural environment.  The females with their protective male escorts (not their mates), flirty other young males trying to make an impression and the intricate social dance they perform.  It was memorable for all of us.  Mum even saw a Great White Shark which was following a pod of Common Dolphins beside our boat.  She was at the back of the boat alone with a crew member while the rest of us were at the front watching the whales.

Common Dolphins

The magnificent Humpbacks

C2's photography was just a little amazing on this trip.