19 May 2014
Lighthouse at Cape Leeuwen, most south western point in Australia
I was conscious of hearing rain in the early morning and by the time I got up and looked out the hotel window, I could see that it was still raining lightly. Checked the internet and the forecast for the Bunbury area was isolated showers for the next four days, so decided we might as well make the best of it and carry on with our plans for the day. By the time we set off “out came the sun and dried up all the rain” (like Incy Wincy Spider!) and everything looked clean and refreshed after the evening’s showers.
We decided to head south through the Margaret River area, and to the far south west corner of Australia at Cape Leeuwen. Cowaramup is the heart of the Margaret River Wine Region, affectionately called “Cowie” by its inhabitants. The streets are lined with statues of black and white Fresian cows. However the town’s name was derived from the local indigenous Noongar word Cowara, which is “Purple Crowned Lorikeet” that inhabit the area…nothing to do with cows! The cows however are a quirky distraction and very popular with visitors.
Statues of Fresian cows are prevalent in the streets of Cowaramup (“Cowie”)
A short drive further south brought us to Margaret River, a bustling wine country town with lots of cafes, galleries and shops. We called in to the Information Centre for maps of the area and places of interest, and had a delicious devonshire tea at the quaint Margaret River Bakery before heading for Augusta.
A wall of ceramic plates decorate the wall outside the Margaret River Bakery
Augusta is a lovely town on the banks of the Blackwood River, so after driving through the main street we made our way to the river that makes its way to the Southern Ocean at Augusta. We were excited to see a pod of three dolphins frolicking in the water, they are such delightful animals. The spot was The Landing Place, where Augusta’s first settlers landed on the “Emily Taylor” on 2 May 1830. A little further along the river is a plaque indicating the place where Capt Matthew Flinders first sighted the Leeuwen coast and started mapping the coastline.
The Blackwood River (left) and the Landing Place at Augusta, where the river opens into the Southern Ocean
The majestic white lighthouse at Cape Leeuwen can be seen across the water long before you reach the area. It is the third tallest lighthouse in Australia and commenced operation in 1895. It is located at the most south west point in Australia, where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean, and is an important working lighthouse and a collection point for meteorological data. When we paid our entry fee we were issued with an audio that we could play as we explored the many features of the site. The weather by this time was quite sunny with fluffy white clouds and we became quite hot as we walked around. It was special to gaze to the south and know that we were 5435 kilometres from Antarctica! Very interesting to learn of the various ship wrecks in the area in the early years.
One of the “Cowie” Fresians has found her way to Cape Leeuwen (left) and gazing across the Southern Ocean toward Antarctic.
Our return trip to Bunbury was via Caves Road which follows the western coastline. This area is known as having some of the best surfing beaches in Australia, and we were fortunate to see Prevelly, Gnarabup and Surfers beaches.
Located 10km west of the Margaret River township, Prevelly is situated at the mouth of the Margaret River and close to the beachside area of Gnarabup. Home of the Telstra Drug Aware Pro surf competition (formerly The Masters), Prevelly is internationally recognised for its spectacular surfing conditions. Around the corner from the main surf break, Gnarabup beach provides perfect swimming conditions with white sandy beaches and clear blue waters. New developments in the area include beachside pathways, cafés and accommodation with sweeping ocean views, making Prevelly the ultimate getaway for beach lovers. We loved all of these areas, the surf was up and the breeze was brisk but we spent as much time as we could there, before having to head for home as the day was nearing an end.
The south (left) and north (right) of Gnarabup beach
The plaque at Surfers Beach (left), the view of Surfers Beach (right)
Prevelly Beach where the Margaret River meets the ocean
Shortly after leaving these beautiful beaches we headed further north on the Caves Road, then turned to an off road that would lead us back to the Bussell highway Along the way we passed acres and acres of vineyards in the Margaret River area – there should be no shortage of wine from this area in the near future!
Back to the hotel and time to do some washing (before we ran out of clothes) then another dinner at Mash. We should sleep well tonight!