Busselton, quite a lovely little seaside town. First impressions were that it was a bit like Manly, but possibly a little smarter – with trendy restaurants and cafe’s everywhere. Now don’t get me wrong, Manly is very smart and has the same things to offer with respect to trendy restaurants and cafes, there just is something about Busselton that puts it a little ahead of Manly.
A lovely breakfast outside the van, crunching on artisan bread/toast with jam with a hot cup of coffee in hand. It is such a relaxing feeling not having to ‘be somewhere’ or have ‘jobs around the house’ to do. The most challenging decisions seem to be ‘what will we eat’ and ‘what is there to explore’ in our different locales. Being the 1st of December, we also enacted one of our small families rituals of opening up the first square of the girls advent calendars, which Nonna and Gramps had posted to use a few weeks back. As in previous years, the official use of the advent calendar makes the Christmas period much more real, a countdown for Caroline, myself and the girls!
Initial plans were set, Caroline was going to go for a run after breakfast, while the girls and I hit the playground for a little jumping on the multi-coloured bouncing pillows. The girls and I had a fantastic time! Playing chasing, imitating different animals and a little wrestling with daddy – very special time. Caroline found us on the play equipment and after she had a little bounce, we decided we would try and hit the Jetty.
We booted it through town at a top speed of 70km per hour. It was quite liberating not having the van behind us, giving us the opportunity to dodge the local WA traffic. We arrived at the Jetty with moments to spare. Caroline raced ahead and purchased the tickets while Audrey and I took our time to arrive. Shortly afterwards our mode of transport arrived. We were greeted by a train driver in blue overalls called Humphrey. He sat in the front of the train, a lovely red engine with brass coloured wheels, pulling around 12 carriages. We climbed aboard with the other travellers, to the end of the Jetty – a two kilometre trip on rickety tracks.
So why such a long jetty I hear you ask? With initial construction commencing in 1853, the jetty was constructed to provide access to deeper water for shipping access into Busselton. Spanning almost two kilometres in length and a depth of 8 metres, you can appreciate that the ‘bay’ area is quite shallow – reinforcing the need for the longest wooden jetty in the world. After ten minutes we arrived at the seaward end of the jetty to the underwater observatory. An impressive building made of reinforced concrete and thickened plastic to provide viewing windows. Constructing the observatory building back in 2003 was a mean feat in itself, being constructed on land, the building was then sent via tug boat and submerged to the bottom of the harbour, before they then reversed the pressure to remove the water.
During our underwater experience, we had a guide that had a fantastic knowledge of the jetty and local marine species. It was amazing to see fish and coral/barnacles of different sizes and colours – similar to what you see when you go scuba diving. Most of the fish species were juvenile, but the lady quoted there were approximately 150 different species of marine life that have been identified from this one landmark.
We returned from the Jetty and restocked our supplies for our trip tomorrow to Margaret River before the girls returned to the caravan for some quiet time. Being relatively child free, Caroline was having a lovely time reading her Kindle and finishing her second book sitting in the sun, while I continued punching my way through my fourth book. I think I should remain on schedule to finish the book before week’s end!! During this child free time, Caroline was playing around on Facebook and noticed that friends of ours, Mark and Amanda were heading up for the IronMan on the weekend, along with one of Mark’s training buddies Duncan. We exchanged a few text messages and locked in dinner plans for a catch up whilst in Busselton!!
An afternoon filled with more swimming, Audrey once again excelled, swimming unaided to the stairs and returning for more ‘exercise’ as she put it – swimming back to the noodle, which I was moving farther away each time she was attempting another swim leg. Ava, continued her ‘mermaid’ routine, spending more time under the water than on its surface. It has been so fantastic to see the girls become stronger in the pool while we have been away. With any luck we will be able to find either caravan sites with pools, or local swimming pools that the girls can continue to practice their swimming.
For dinner we headed out for pizza to join Mark, Amanda and Duncan. Despite it being an all you can eat pizza night, we could only manage 5 pizzas between four adults and two children. Poor form from the ‘IronMen’!! Carb loading should be part of their pre race meal plan!! It was fantastic catching up with Mark and Amanda. Despite only living about five kilometres apart from each other in Sydney, it took us both to get to the other side of Australia to catch up. Mark and Amanda we need to fix this when we are both back in Sydney 🙂
Busselton does seem to be the melting pot of meeting people you know. After trying a few beers from ‘Cheeky Monkey’, a local brewer from Margaret River, I glanced across the room and saw another familiar face. An ex-work colleague from AstraZeneca, Chris Brown, had also arrived in town and thought pizza would be the best option pre-race, so we had a little catch up. I decided it was time to return to my table when Chris referred to my current hirsute state as being suitable for any ‘Jesus’ castings that may be coming up. I took it as a compliment – it is the season after all!!
Before putting the girls to bed, we reminded them of another family ritual that we have during this time of year. It seems that between December 1st and the 25th December, we are visited by one of Santa’s elves, affectionately named “Trixie”. An elf that has been sent by Santa to check on the girls, ensuring they are behaving themselves. The funny thing we have learnt about Trixie, is that he/she (as all elves are gender neutral) gets up to mischief, using causing a mess for the girls to find the next day!
I am sure there will be many photos of Trixie and the girls discoveries on the lead up to Christmas!
Tomorrow Margaret River bound, with maybe a lighthouse and a cave en-route. More wine, beer, chocolate and relaxing. Such a difficult way to be spending our time!!!! On final note, tonight’s blog was accompanied by another of the bottles we were gifted from Caroline’s old school friend currently living in Broken Hill. Tonight we had a 2014 ‘The Gig’ Shiraz Grenache Upper Reach from the Swan River – a lovely drop to aid in the writing of this blog. Thank you John once again!!