Another lovely morning. Breakfast in the caravan, drove back again to the quaint local winery and cafe (Nonna and Gramps, not exactly the same standard as JG’s but still quite lovely!) to purchase two dozen bottles of their 2010 Shiraz – to be posted back to Sydney. It seems that the lady whom served us yesterday had quoted us the wrong amount for our wine – the 2010 Shiraz should have been $18 a bottle, however they were prepared to honour the low price we had bought the bottles from the previous afternoon of $7 a bottle. Absolute bargain and a lovely wine! If you are interested here are the details of the winery: Jim and Annabelle Witham of HenryJones Winery&Cafe (08 9824 1513 email@example.com). Such lovely people, it is good to support the local trade!!
We continued our drive towards Katanning and tried to tire the girls out at the local playground. Katanning seems to have spent a significant amount of money on the infrastructure within the playground (raised by the local Rotary Club), including ‘big kids’ slides that were in excess of 6 meters in height! The playground is known as the “All Ages Playground“. I thought it was only reasonable to conduct a safety check of the equipment to ensure they were safe for the girls. After checking the footings were solid by conducting a ‘wobble’ test, I climbed up the steep ladders and WHOOSH! Safety check complete – although I didn’t encourage the girls to complete the same climb to the top of the slides! Apart from the other slides, there was an over accentuated see-saw, which we tried to see if we could strike a balance between Ava and Caroline with me on the other side. More weight was required, so Audrey joined Ava and Caroline and we achieved balance. A little scary when you think about it, I weigh the same as Caroline, Ava and Audrey! Maybe I will have one less glass of wine tonight…….Don’t think so!!
With a bit of time to spare, we had a coffee in town before heading to the Sheep Sale Yards and watched a few trucks unloading their B-Doubles of sheep. Caroline and I decided to have a bit of a guessing game of how many sheep were on each truck. Caroline guessed 150, while I guessed 300. We were both wrong! After speaking to one of the lovely truck drivers (Donovan he was your doppelgänger but with a mullet) he advised us that he had 600 sheep onboard, which would be sold for approximately $50-$80 each for mutton – and sold to overseas buyers. We saw many different varieties of sheep while at the Katanning Saleyards, some freshly shorn and dirty looking, others with white fluffy wool. The Donovan doppelgänger truckie took around 1 hour to unload his fleecy cargo, then had to drive 120kms to get his next load. He said they would probably receive around 20,000 sheep for tomorrows sale. It was fantastic to watch the drivers and cattle dogs in action. We watched a three legged cattle dog masterfully round the sheep up on the truck, traversing through the many levels – guiding them to the rear of the truck. Unfortunately this cattle dog had to have its rear leg amputated as it had cut it’s leg on an rusty piece of tin a few months back. With only three legs, the dog knew no different. Tail wagging once the truck was unloaded.
Before leaving the Saleyards we were greeted by a 9 week old cattle dog called ‘Louie’. An energetic little puppy that was fascinated with Ava and Audrey, almost seemed to instinctively round them up! Audrey clung onto Caroline for dear life, while Ava cowered behind me. Once the truckie said it was ok to pat the dog, the girls disposition changed and they willingly patted the dog (missing Jack dearly no doubt!).
After a few hours of driving, noticing more B-Double trucks travelling in the opposite direction filled to the brim with sheep, we arrived in Bridgetown, a lovely little town off the Blackwood River. Upon entering the town, we noticed there were a few things worth looking at after unhitching the caravan. First stop was definitely going to be the lolly shop, called ‘Ooh La Lollipop’.
Upon entering Ooh La Lollipop, we were immediately greeted by a gentleman in a tie died t-shirt wearing a green leprechaun hat, whilst a song from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was playing in the background. I am not sure whether it was the green hat or a slight tinge of what I thought was an Irish accent that made me think the chap was Irish, or a leprechaun – maybe the presence of the little leprechaun made the shop feel magical! The shop immediately bought Caroline and I to our childhood! Caroline was ecstatic when she noticed Revels, dolly mixture and pear drops, while I honed in on the white chocolate rocky road and some delicious handmade chocolate honeycomb!! I had to turn a blind eye to other favourites, including racing cars, raspberries and other delicious treats. Looking at the shop, I immediately thought of my brother Sam, whom would be in absolute heaven here with the amazing array of yummy treats! Sherbies, Redskins, Wizz Fizz and Popping Candy.
After making our purchases at the lolly shop, we headed towards another landmark shop for Bridgetown, an all year round ‘tasteful’ Christmas shop! Bursting from the seams with Christmas apparel, baubles in all shapes, colours and sizes and other Christmas paraphernalia, the shop boasts about being the North Pole of the South West. Noticing that we were a little ‘light on’ for Christmas decorations, Caroline purchased a few little things to ‘zhush’ up the caravan while I distracted the girls.
It was now time for a drink, so we decided to head to “The Cidery“- Blackwood Valley Brewing Company. A beautiful little building with a brewing house on the back of it. Upon entering the establishment, the lady working there advised us that she was about to start a cider tasting. Yippee! Caroline looked at me and said “Go on, you like cider more than I do”. I immediately accepted the gracious offer to try some ciders. Brewed on site with no preservatives, the ciders were very nice, but not nice enough to open the wallet. Having said that they did have a dark ale infused with truffle that I thought was worth trying before leaving the establishment for our next stop. A winery that Caroline discovered whilst waiting patiently for me called ‘Sunnyhurst Winery’, approximately 5 minutes out of town.
The winery was more Caroline’s forte than The Cidery, boasting a few awards for best wine. Not knowing much about the boutique vineyard, or it’s wines, we decided to undertake a wine tasting to familiarise ourselves with their award winning produce. After sampling the 2016 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc (SSB), a 2012 Oaked Chardonnay, a 2010 Basket Press Shiraz we then tried a white and red Port. After a fantastic tasting with one of the owners of the winery, we had come to the conclusion that we would need more wine for our travels – and to send more wine back home!
So within three hours of arriving at Bridgetown, we visited A lolly shop, a Christmas shop, a Cidery and a Vineyard. Not bad huh! What can you fit into three hours as well as feed the ducks in the caravan park???
For dinner tonight, Caroline cooked a spectacular Butter Chicken from Spice Kitchen – a simple meal that we will have to use at home more often. So simple and so tasty! Coupled with a Marlborough NZ Chardonnay we picked up in Hyden (Wave Rock), it was the perfect end to a lovely day!
Sitting at the dinner table, outside of course – a favourite meal location for the girls, more entertaining conversations around the “Aussie Wave”, a term that I had never heard until introduced by my English rose :). As a family we have assessed each other’s fly swatting techniques, or the “Aussie Wave”. Audrey uses her right hand in a constant horizontal ‘flutter’ to shoo away flies. Ava, has controlled swats, similar to what a cow does with its tail. Caroline’s Aussie Wave is conducted with the right amount of aggression, with fingers swatting within millimetres of her nose, while I seem to multitask – swatting deliberately with my right hand whilst exhaling through my nostrils (like an angry bull)! After swatting conversations, more education for the girls before bed time. We introduced the girls to Prince (or is it the ‘Artist formerly known as Prince’) showing footage of ‘Purple Rain’ and ‘Kiss’- definitely on the playlist for tomorrows drive! On watching some video footage, Ava asked questions such as “How old is the girl that danced with him” and “Why does he take his shirt off when he dances”? Caroline’s response – “Daddy takes his shirt off too when he dances”.
Last notes for the day. Ava seems to ask questions on absolutely everything. “Why is it green?, “Why does Prince look funny?, What does Trial and Error mean?” – every bloomin’ statement or conversation is followed by a question or explanation required as to what a phrase or terminolofy means – its exhausting but lovey at the same time. I suppose she is curious and absorbing all the information. Audrey on the other hand seems to be absolutely blossoming. She is eating constantly. Snacks whilst we drive, snacks when we park and eats all meals. Finally our little girl is putting on weight and growing out of her size 1 jumpsuit – she is three and a half after all!
Tomorrow is another short drive. Being in ‘civilisation’ (defined by Caroline as manicured gardens, sealed roads and a row of nice shops) we will check out the local scene for breakfast before stopping at Donnybrook, hopefully for some fruit picking, before arriving at Busselton – our last stop before hitting Margaret River.