After an entertaining night for some (Caroline reported back from a visit to the ladies bathroom that there where a male and female showering together in the womens toilet!) We had a relaxing start to the day. Breakfast outside, the girls playing ‘Duck, Duck, Goose’ with our next door neighbour Lily, and Caroline talking to the animals, having a collared parrot perch on the back of her chair whilst eating breakfast. She was unaware that the bird had positioned itself there and remarked that if she didn’t know it was there she would have jumped out of her skin!
We prepared the caravan for departure while the girls continued to play. The plan of attack was to visit the Gloucester Tree, visit Picardy vineyard then head to Walpole. A little after 8.30am we got in the car, to be greeted by Trixie! He had removed Caroline and my sunglasses from their ‘home’ and tucked himself in! Ava thought that Trixie had moved himself into the car to watch the girls during our 150km journey today. I believe Trixie made himself comfortable in the car as it felt a little more like home – on departing Margaret River we pimped up the car a little (Christmas style), adding some tinsel along with a ‘Santa’ bottom attached to the nudge bar!!
Arriving at the Gloucester tree, Caroline was first to make herself prepared to climb the tree – truth be told I did some preparing of myself prior to thinking about climbing, needing one last stop to the bathroom!! The girls climbed a few rungs, then passed the baton to Caroline, who performed an up-and-down of the tree in around 20 minutes. Caroline was extremely brave on her ascent of the tree. No ladders involved here, just metal beams inserted into the trunk at random intervals. The ‘ladder’, if you want to call it a ladder, spiralled around the tree a few times over the 53 odd metres. Caroline did a sterling job, the girls chanted below “Go on mummy you can do it” from Ava, while Audrey was asking mummy to “come back down”. Caroline made it to the top for some fantastic views (she smuggled my phone in a case around her neck and in between her top and her bra!). When she descended, I took a few breaths. To be frank I was absolutely XXiting myself with the prospect of the climbing the tree. Netherless, I started my ascent and probably made it a quarter of the way (possibly a third if you allow me to overestimate a little) before turning back. I just couldn’t do it. Clearly I was a little more safety prone than Caroline – or the mad English man that did the climb in his thongs (flip flops for you English folk – don’t want you to conjure up any inappropriate images). Feeling defeated by the ‘tree to do’ in the area, I felt was my right, nay my privilege to climb the steps to a few vineyards before leaving Pemberton. Just a little more my style!
First stop after the big silly tree was Picardy Wines, a single sourcing vineyard approximately 10 hectares in size. We entered an amazing barn where we saw the equipment that was used to produce the wine. Entering a humble cellar door that looked more like a science experiment than the cellar doors of Margaret River (pipettes and bulbous looking glass calendars) we then noted an adjoining room which contained all the barrels – what a sight! I was hoping that we could undo the corks and sample straight from the barrel.
The owner of Picardy mentioned how his wines are heavily influenced on French wines (including Bordeaux) and preferred using cork rather than screw top, to allow the appropriate amount of wine oxidation. Before beginning our tasting, he opened the bottles in a spectacular fashion with a hand held corkscrew, emitting a perfect ‘popping’ note from the bottles opened. Sampling through the white and reds on offer, more purchases were made – some for cellaring, some for consumption along the way. The wines purchased were:
- 2014 Picardy Chardonnay
- 2014 Picardy Pinot Noir
- 2013 Picardy Shiraz
Next stop was the vineyard we tried to visit yesterday, Lost Lake Wines, a smaller vineyard than Picardy – approximately 9 hectares in size. Another single sourcing vineyard, family run by a husband and wine team. Ashley took us once again on a tasting through their wines. At this vineyard we tasted some exceptional drops including (as well as buying):
- Honey Merlot – a chilled sweet merlot
- 2014 Lost Lake Chardonnay
- 2014 Barrel Select Pinot
- 2009 Blanc de Blanc Sparkling
Truly delicious wines. After talking to the winemaker, Ashley, it seems that he moved away from his previous endeavours at Lion Nathan Brewery to start their own thing with Lost Lake wines. In my mind it was definitely the right move – it may be hard work for them, but we will happily enjoy the spoils of their labour! A small world once again, Ashley’s wife, the other half of Lost Lake Wines, is the daughter of Sunnyhurst Wines – a vineyard we visited (and adored) in Bridgetown!! The girls were entertained by their son and dogs whilst we tasted. What a stunning setting..
Leaving Pemberton, we commenced our journey to Walpole traversing the windy tree covered roads. The single carriageway engulfed with enormous trees. Smoke in the distance, we didn’t know whether we were driving into a bushfire, or back burning! Fortunately it was back burning – we continued our journey towards Walpole.
We set up at the Coalmine Beach Holiday Park (another beautiful buses setting), made some lunch and then headed out of town to the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk – this sounded like a tree climb that I could do! The area was populated by a species of Eucalyptus tree known as red tingles, which are unique to the small area around Walpole and Nornalup and known to live for over 400 years! The trees are uniquely characterised by their huge buttressed bases which can have a circumference of up to 20 metres! Some of the trees have hollowed out bases caused insect and fungal damage, followed by fire burning out the dead wood. As these trees have shallow root systems, the buttress base provides stability for these giants.
Situated 40 metres above the ground, a suspended walkway spanning 600 metres was constructed to provide a ‘tree top’ view of the area – ensuring that visitors to the area could marvel at these trees while protecting the delicate root system. While the trees ‘weren’t as large’ as the one Caroline climbed in Pemberton (according to Caroline they were nearly 20m shorter), I was pleased with the view and felt reasonably safe with the walkway. Being honest, the walkway did sway quite a bit and had maximum recommended ‘people loads’ along the route – something that made me slightly panic on the architectural stability of the structure. To me it felt a bit like walking on a trampoline, albeit suspended 40 metres above the ground. The girls loved it, running from one part of the walkway to the next – totally carefree!
After completing the Giant Tree Top Walk, we walked a little further to take the walk amongst the base of these huge trees for a walking tour of the “Ancient Empire”. On this walk we had the chance to see the buttressed bases of the Red Tingle trees. The girls performed a dancing and singing routine in the amphitheatre of one tree, while another provided an Alice in Wonderland moment, with the girls walking through the tree ‘door’ to the other side. I think my favourite tree in Ancient Empire was the tree that has been named “Grandma Tingle” – named due to the gnarled and wrinkled appearance and her almost human character. This matriarch of the forest measures over 12 metres in circumference, 34 metres in height and is estimated to be over 400 years old. Now I could insert a reference to the Grandma’s in my life (Nonna, Nanna, Gran) but no need to do you think? 🙂
Final destination for the day was to visit the largest of the Red Tingles around, the “Big Daddy” of trees suitably known as the Giant Tingle Tree – the oldest living eucalypt in the world! We descended through the winding track, glancing at small information points along the way that described why these trees were unique to this area. From what I read along the way, the reasons for the unique fauna were a result of when Australia separated from Gondwanaland – the area itself had a Jurassic feel about it!
The girls were tired, so I had to carry them back the 800 metre, slightly inclined path. The girls are definitely getting heavier! I slung Audrey over one shoulder, Ava over the other. We made it back to the car in time to cook dinner and rest up – tomorrow we head to Denmark. Denmark, Western Australia that is!!
Apart from fantastic meal that Caroline has put together of fajitas, we will have this with a 2012 Sunnyhurst Barrel Aged Chardonnay. YUM!