I woke to a wet pillow, not my own doing. The rain was constant, not a break in the downpour throughout the evening. The rain had made it’s way through the slightest gap between the canvas and the hard surface of the van – the first real evening of constant rain from our entire trip! Reflecting back on the evening we had, I recall a moment when Caroline and I had retired for the night, through the noises of the rain and wind Caroline heard a scratching sound outside where we were laying (Just to put it in perspective, our bed is an expandable part of the caravan. It has a solid roof, with three sides made from a canvas material and extends beyond the main frame of the van). The scratching was constant. I immediately thought it was one of the kangaroos we had previously spotted in the caravan park was trying to scratch it’s way into the caravan for a spot of shelter. Being the brave soul that I am, I picked up one of our head torches and opened the door swiftly, to try and catch the kangaroo by surprise. Fortunately there wasn’t a kangaroo outside – I don’t think the little head torch would have been enough to stop the kangaroos we have seen in Denmark! It must have been the torrential rain…
For the first time since the 1st December, unfortunately Trixie did not come to visit. We believe due to the antics of the girls yesterday Trixie decided not to join us as the girls had been too naughty. Fingers crossed he visits tonight as the girls have been good today!
With terrible weather forecasted for most of the day, we decided to engage in some indoor pursuits over breakfast. The plan of attack was to drive to Albany for an impromptu, yet necessary, haircut for me, visit the National ANZAC Centre followed by a look at a replica of Brig Amity – all of this before lunch. A cunning plan to entertain the girls hoping that they may have a good sleep over lunchtime!
First things first. Haircut. I decided before breakfast that my hair was getting a little annoying. Too short to (dare I say it) tie up in a ‘man bun’, too long to not worry about. First priority for the family today was to cut Samson’s locks.
With Caroline as co-pilot, she located a reputable salon up for the job, no need fussing away with one of those ‘barber shops’, Caroline scouted for salons with Wella or L’Oréal product ranges – supposedly indicative that the hairdressers would know what to do with the lion’s mane. For most humans, trying to find the best salon over a 25 minute journey in a foreign state (and town) is not something that can be easily achieved. Caroline had found the best salon, booked an appointment and made sure the time fit in with our schedule. I have to admit I did need to press the accelerator a little more than desired, but made it to the salon on time. Time for a shampoo and haircut – I was particularly looking forward to the head massage!! The girls came to join me in the salon after completing their FaceTime session with their daycare buddies, Mia and Charlie. My haircut was almost complete and Ava walked up to me whilst in the chair stating “You look normal” – good to know I can still keep the beard!!
We headed for a fantastic coffee and mid morning sustenance following another great BeanHunter recommendation, ‘The Naked Bean Coffee Roasters‘ where the girls and I witnessed beans moving from roasting to blending – such a beautiful smell, all those lovely roasted beans! A slight drive down the road and we were at the National ANZAC Centre, Albany.
The National ANZAC Centre is an incredible building atop of a Mount Adelaide overlooking the waterway outside of Middleton Beach. The centre is dedicated to honouring the ANZAC’s of the First World War and provides a chance to connect with soldiers that fought in WW1. An amazing monument to brave men and women.
Upon entering the building, each of us received a card with a picture of a soldier upon it, including their name and rank. The idea of being provided the card was to follow the journey of your solider through the war, using interactive multimedia displays, artefacts, film and audio – it was a truly touching experience that connected us all to what the soldiers had endured. Seeing video footage of the soldiers marching onto the boats leaving Australian shores when entering the building, I could see that Caroline was already starting to tear up. Audrey turned to Caroline and said “The soldiers are coming, I’m scared”. The sound of thousands of young men, marching in line unaware of what they were about to face. I held in the tears initially, but found myself emotionally speechless and fighting back the tears at the soldiers accounts of the war.
When we left the National ANZAC Centre, I felt empty. I can’t express the feeling that came over me. Proud of the efforts of the ANZAC’s, yet extremely saddened by the cost of war. Going to dawn service is something that Caroline and I have committed to ever since we started dating. Visiting the National Anzac Centre has made this pilgrimage once a year even more special!
We drove to our next destination, the Brig Amity replica, a replica of a boat from the 1800’s – a few kilometres down the road. The Brig Amity, ‘Brig’ meaning two masts and ‘Amity’ meaning friendship was a ship that was used to transport 23 convicts, 21 soldiers, domesticated animals and seeds to grow crops from Sydney to King George Sound, the large harbour of Albany, Western Australia. Being battered by storms along the way, the voyage took over six weeks.
Boarding the vessel, you get a real appreciation of how difficult times would have been over the six week period. The bottom two levels below deck had low ceilings. To traverse these floors I had to hunch over whilst simultaneously squatting – a crab like walk allowed me access through the small rooms. Ava and Audrey were fine, a veritable cubby room for them, while Caroline thought she was ok with the ceiling height, banging her head on the ceiling whilst traversing the ladder to the next level. Secretly I think Caroline was happy hitting her head, she may have even jumped to perform this miracle – as I am sure she will never have the chance again to hit her head on a ceiling!! Fortunately I agree with the adage, ‘good things come in small packages’! Caravan life in comparison is ‘glamping’ compared to what these convicts and soldiers endured – and here I am complaining about a wet pillow!!
Leaving Albany heading for Denmark, we ate the sandwiches Caroline had made earlier in the car hoping that the girls would fall asleep when we arrived back at the caravan park. After waiting for around 20 minutes, hearing Ava and Audrey squabble/dobbing over whom was “out of bed” and “who had their eyes open” we decided we would commence the afternoon festivities. A visit to Pentland, an animal farm where you get the opportunity to feed, pat and cuddle various animals including koalas, alpacas, pigs, rabbits, hamsters, sheep, goats and camels – the one animal we haven’t seen alive during our travels!!
We received small bags of feed before entering the farm and moved toward the first attraction, the koala, whom surprisingly Ava was keen to pat. Describing the koala and “soft but stinky” it would be interesting to hear how Ava would describe the other animals!! Next stop was the goats. Pushy and rude would be my words, however gentle when you gave them food. They were extremely skilful in manoeuvring their heads to find the food!
It was almost 3pm and time to feed the crèched animals, some baby cows, goats and pigs. Ava lead the charge feeding the cows and pigs, holding the bottles with sheer determination yet in a motherly way. All those sessions where she uses her imagination with Audrey to play mum and baby had paid off – she was a natural! The cow and pigs absolutely smashed the bottles – stopping their raucous noises suggesting they were satisfied with her feeding techniques! After feeding the baby goat, which I did, we visited some donkeys, Scottish highland cows, a horse that followed us up and down the fence for more feed, an emu and camel among other animals, as well as a 2 day old Alpaca. The highlight for the day was a young alpaca Ava named ‘friendly’ and a kangaroo, which she happily fed by hand. Audrey stood on the sideline as her big sister led the way. The farm was a fantastic experience. So hands on, such a worthwhile experience to build up their confidence!
Before retiring to the caravan for the evening, it was my time to go to a farm a little more up my alley, a wine farm called Singlefile Wines.
In true tasting form I worked my way through the white and red varieties while Caroline had a slight sip, as she was designated driver. The lovely lady at the cellar door had provided a spittoon for use, totally unnecessary as far as I was concerned – I was prepared to embrace the full experience of this vineyard!! Known particularly for their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir’s, the vineyard has vines in a few regions within the Great Southern region. Denmark for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Frankland River for their Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, Porongurup for Riesling, along with Mount Barker and Albany providing high yielding fruit.
The wines we were particularly impressed with were:
- 2014 Pemberton Fume Blanc – a Sauvignon Blanc style that is extended in oak
- 2015 Pemberton Pinot Gris
- 2015 Denmark Pinot Noir **
- 2015 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc
- 2016 Chardonnay
- 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot – Frankland River **
While purchasing a few bottles from this cellar door (the ones indicated by the **), I have to say I was particularly taken by all the wines listed above. Good news is that Singlefile Wines should be available in Sydney through Vintage Cellar.. Yippee, no need to send a case home!!
We arrived back at the caravan park after a quick supermarket shop, cooked dinner and settled the girls for the night whilst Caroline and I attended to our usual evening pursuits – blog writing, photo sorting etc. Impressed with the Singlefile wines, we opened the 2015 Denmark Pinot Noir with dinner and had a ‘splash’ from the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot. A fantastic way to warm up your insides whilst braving the cold sumer we are experiencing through Western Australia!!
Tomorrow, a new adventure. We pack the van and head to Albany for two nights!!
Chicky’s edit : I asked Ava this evening what she learnt today from the ANZAC centre – her response was “that some people come back from the war and some don’t”. I then asked what she had learnt from the convict boat, her response was “that the people that run the ship live in better conditions than the convicts”. I then asked about the animals “that alpacas are friendly and I don’t need to be scared to feed them”