Dunluce Castle

The light was beginning to fade as we left the Giant’s Causeway and we had yet to find accommodation for the night. Heading to Portrush to do just that, we diverted to investigate Dunluce Castle. The ruins of the medieval castle perch precariously on the edge of a cliff and are reached by a bridge connecting it to safer ground.

1.Dunluce Castle

The first castle at Dunluce was built in the 13th century by the 2nd Earl of Ulster. In the 16th century, Sorley Boy McDonnell arrived from Scotland and based himself at Dunluce Castle, consolidating his territories in both Ireland and Scotland.

2.Dunluce Castle3.Dunluce Castle

He certainly couldn’t complain about the view.

4.Dunluce Castle

There is a pathway leading down to the cove, looking back at the castle gives a rather startling perspective.

6.Dunluce Castle7.Dunluce Castle

There is a story that the castle was abandoned in the 17th century after the kitchen , along with the kitchen staff, fell into the sea when the cliff face collapsed. It’s easy to believe but apparently a myth, as paintings from the 18th and early 19th centuries show that end of the castle intact.

8.Dunluce Castle

There are caves under the castle, although we didn’t venture that far.

9.Dunluce Castle10.Dunluce Castle

The north wall of the residence building collapsed into the sea sometime in the 18th century, I wonder how long before this one follows?

11.Dunluce Castle

Meelup Trail

Our last day in the Margaret River region dawned clear and sunny, perfect for a morning walk. The Meelup Trail starts at Old Dunsborough beach

1.Old Dunsborough Beach

and follows the coastline for 11.5 kilometres to Eagle Bay. We fortified ourselves with coffee from the Silver Bullet Espresso van, a gorgeous Airstream caravan parked at the boat ramp.

2.Silver Bullet Espresso

The detail in this lovely sculpture doesn’t really show in silhouette. Sculpture by the Bay is an exhibition of works held on the foreshore each March as part of the Dunsborough Arts Festival. This was the winning piece from 2015, installed near the boat ramp.

3.Dunsborough boat ramp

We walked past some beautiful homes with stunning views

4.Geographe Bay

before the trail narrowed and we were embraced by dense coastal vegetation.

5.trail

It was a bit early for most of the wildflowers,

but the magnificent Barrens Clawflower was putting on a wonderful display. Endemic to the south-west of Western Australia, the name is from the location where it was found in 1920, West Mount Barren.

Further on, the trail opened up and the coastal views were spectacular.

13.trail14.Geographe Bay15.Geographe Bay16.shags on a rock

Strategically placed seating invited a chance to rest and take in the view and perhaps spy a passing whale.

17.whale watching18.Geographe Bay19.Geographe Bay20.Geographe Bay

Granite rock formations lay scattered throughout the landscape

and along the sheltered beaches.

26.beach27.beach28.beach29.Geographe Bay

Lunch time was approaching and there were more wineries awaiting us. We returned along the same path,

30.forest

encountering this Shingleback lizard basking in the dappled sunlight.

31.Shingleback lizard

Isn’t he handsome?

32.Shingleback lizard

The Old Coast Road

After a bitterly cold, overcast weekend recently, we were greeted on Monday by a perfect autumn day. I don’t work on Mondays and so, we decided to drive along the old coast road to Ulverstone for lunch. With the top down, Cooper took us on a magnificent journey, reminding us of the natural beauty we have so close to home. We turned off the highway at Sulphur Creek, apparently named because of the perceived smell of sulphur in the area when first explored by Europeans.

1.Sulphur Creek

Sulphur is associated with volcanic activity, which has determined the landscape of northwest Tasmania. There is no longer evidence of the offending aroma, just a stunning, sandy beach.

2.Sulphur Creek3.Cooper at Sulphur Creek

There used to be a fabulous restaurant at Preservation Bay, hopefully one day there will be another to make the most of this wonderful vista.

4.Preservation Bay5.Cooper at Preservation Bay

Soon, we were in the gorgeous town of Penguin.

6.Penguin7.Penguin8.Ocean Road

As we travelled the narrow, winding road, I was boggled by the reflections of the sun on the glassy water.

9.Ocean Road10.Ocean Road11.Ocean Road12.Ocean Road13.Ocean Road

There is a house along this road that fills me with more than a little envy.

14.house15.house

The Three Sisters are a group of three small islands (the third is almost hidden behind the headland at the right of the pic)

16.Three Sisters17.2 of the 3 sisters

and, along with Goat Island, they form the 37 hectare Three Sisters – Goat Island Nature Reserve.

18.Goat Island

Goat Island is a granite island and houses a breeding colony of little penguins.

19.Goat Island

It can be walked to at low tide, a lovely spot for a picnic.

20.Goat Island

As we reached Ulverstone,

21.Ulverstone

we spied Pedro’s across the river.

22.Pedro's23.Pedro's

The restaurant has a lovely, relaxed ambience

24.Pedro's

and we were shown to a table on the enclosed balcony, warmed by the autumn sun.

28.Pedro's

The Derwent Estate Pinot Gris came highly recommended. A delicious shade of pink, I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

29.pinot gris

The salt & pepper calamari and crumbed scallops were exquisite, the real flavor of fresh seafood.

Outside, the gulls were enjoying a bathe in the shallows of the river’s edge, soon the tide would be high and their chance would be missed.

33.gulls

The Leven River glistened

34.Leven River

as we left Pedro’s

35.Pedro's

and retraced our journey.

36.old ocean road37.old ocean road

Table Cape emerged in the distance

38.Table Cape

before disappearing behind the next headland.

39.old ocean road

We were surprised to see the masts of a tall ship in the bay, not a common sight in these waters. I read the next day, poor weather conditions had forced the UK ship, Tenacious, to stop in Burnie for a couple of days on its way from Melbourne to New Zealand. Tenacious is the world’s largest operative wooden hulled tall ship and offers opportunities for people with a disability to experience a sailing voyage.

40.Tenacious

What a marvelous way to end our day.

Canal Rocks

The coastline of the Margaret River region delivered one stunning spectacle after another. We had enjoyed a fabulous dinner the previous night at Lamont’s Restaurant at Smiths Beach Resort. Returning the next morning, the stretch of white sand and crystal-clear blue water of Smiths Beach was revealed.

1.Smiths Beach2.Smiths Beach

A little further down the coast,

3.Canal Rocks

the Indian Ocean has carved a narrow channel between ancient granite rocks, creating the remarkable phenomenon that is Canal Rocks. From the car park, a boardwalk skirts the granite outcrop

4.Boardwalk Canal Rocks5.Boardwalk Canal Rocks

and leads to a wooden bridge where we stood, mesmerized, as the ocean currents danced a briny ballet.

6.Canal Rocks7.Canal Rocks8.Canal Rocks9.Canal Rocks10.Canal Rocks

Across the bridge,

11.Canal Rocks

the rocks have been worn smooth over the centuries.

12.Canal Rocks14.Canal Rocks13.Canal Rocks

The water was turbulent enough on this relatively calm day,

15.Canal Rocks

I imagine it would be absolutely breathtaking when the storms roll in.

16.Canal Rocks

A short drive further, we warmed up with a coffee at the White Elephant Café

17.White Elephant Cafe

while enjoying the beautiful panorama of Gnarabup Beach.

18.Gnarabup Beach

Meelup

Our first morning at Dunsborough was overcast as we set off to discover the beautiful coastline of Geographe Bay. Nature has painted the rocks with her wondrous palette,

1-geographe-bay-meelupOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

a stunning contrast to the calm waters.

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Nestled in the next bay is Meelup Beach, a perfect swimming beach, sheltered from wind and waves with crystal clear water. Meelup means “Place of the Moon Rising” and is one of the few beaches in Western Australia where you can see the moon rising over the ocean.

5-geographe-bay-meelup

There is a phenomenon called “Staircase to the Moon” when, during summer, the silvery light of a full moon rising is reflected in the ripples of the water all the way to the horizon. I would love to witness that, it seems a return trip is in order.