Category Archives: Family

3 Places you can Visit for Free near Fremantle with Kids

The situation:  It’s the first day of 2018, and my budget for travel is at zero dollars.  However, I would love to take a little road trip with the kids without it costing me money I don’t have!  Where do I go?

Leighton Battery Heritage Site – WWII Tunnels

This is the home to the World War II Tunnels which are only open on Sundays.  However, the park  is open for viewing on all days and entrance is free. Perfect Budget Saver!!

Another location for one of the War Guns Used to protect the coast

The walk to the Tunnels is on an incline.  My kids (now teens) did not mind and seemed to sprint to the top of the hill before I did.

Just near the summit of the hill are two anti-aircraft guns.  All moving parts are sealed for public protection, however it offers a real sense of what it was like back in the 40’s.

While the kids were walking around taking photos of the view, I spent the time contemplating how hard it would have been for Wartime Veterans to man this stations, especially in Perth’s Summer heat.  I could feel the heat and I had only just arrived!

Looking down the barrel of the Big Canon AKA

Just around the back end of the guns is the entrance to the tunnels.  While they were locked up, one can have an outside-in view from just outside the gate.  I felt a cool air come from the tunnels, and wondered if they offered the same coolness during the World War II era.

World War II Tunnel Leighton

At the base of the Anti-aircraft Guns is another huge Canon.  It is the home to the 6 inch BK XI Gun Shield.  Notably, the shield took some beating from years of weather abuse, which were restored to its current condition.

Welcome to the Tunnels – one of the entrances to the tunnel

At this point, one of the kids stated that she had been down most of the roads and did not see anything else.  The feedback at this point was that she was tired and wanting to return to the car.  However, just behind a tree was a circular construction that was begging for a little investigation.

I had wondered where the Tunnels lead to, and I found that there was a range of tunnels leading to different areas of the base.  I found another tunnel entrance at the base of the canon just adjacent to a huge circular structure.

Leighton Battery Guns
One of the big guns

Inside this circular structure were two iron-like doors which was either a storage site (highly unlikely) or a door leading to the tunnels (likely).  The teens whizzed around taking photos of flowers stopping now and then to look at some history.  This gave me the time to look around and just put pieces of the puzzle together of what this place would look like in full action.

You can find the Leighton Battery Heritage site along the Stirling Highway.  It is on the northern side of Fremantle with clear signage along this route.  Parking can be found on both sides of the hill.  Expect some walking.  If you are visiting in the Summer, take along water, hat and sunscreen.

Kids Rating:  6.5 out of 10.
What would make it a 10?  A tour!

The Basilica of St. Patrick’s ~ Fremantle

St. Patrick’s Basilica Fremantle can be found in the heart of Fremantle.  It is a Catholic Church hosting Mass everyday.

 

St Patrick's Church Fremantle
The irony I found with this setting is that Jesus, in the far corner, is surround by roses (also known for thorns). Jesus wore a crown a thorns to this death. I wonder if this setting was created because of the analogy it presents.

The church itself was established in the 1890’s mostly for Diocesan Priests. However in 1894, it was entrusted to the  Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. And since the 1940, during the fishing era, many immigrants visited St. Patrick to give thanks for their safe journey.

 

St Patrick's Church Fremantle

The question I found myself asking was:  What is the Oblates?

According the history of the church:

In 1789 the Church in France suffered greatly as a consequence of the Revolution. Over 34,000 priests were either exiled or executed. More than half of the parishes were without priests to say Mass and administer the sacraments.

It was to answer this desolation of the Church that Eugene de Mazenod was called by Jesus to preach the Gospel. He became a Priest and began working among the poorest villages in the south of France. Soon other zealous priests joined him in his work. In 1816 de Mazenod established the group as a small religious community. In 1826 they were approved by the Pope and given the title Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

Architecturally, the church is amazing.  It reminds me the 13th century era when they used Gargoyles in many of their designs.  Of course, movies such as the Humpback of Notre Dame could make a very interesting conversation piece, especially when talking to kids about the exterior.

We arrived at the church during Mass.  Ironically, unlike many churches that are only open on Sunday (some Saturday and Sunday), this church is open everyday.  It was refreshing to see despite the couple of glares from the pews as I walked into the side entrance with camera in hand! #awkward

 

St Patrick's Church Fremantle
Fantastic Architecture that can spring a range of conversational topics with the kids.

Of course, I happened to make it to the church ‘on time’, and in respect of their mass I stayed on the outer perimeter.  I realized it was mass when I entered into the side entrance only to be greeted by a number of ‘unhappy’ glares.  Tracking back, and proceeded to the front entrance where I was able to capture a couple of window shots.  It was during communion time, and I was asked by one of the patrons if I would like to join the queue.  I politely declined as I knew that this honor is for Catholics, which did not include me.

Kids rating:  5 out of 10.
What would make it a 10?  Able to go inside the church (not during mass) and appreciate the design without the glares!

The Prison – Fremantle

The Fremantle Prison was built in the 19th century and continued to be used until 1991.

The Prison Entrance

The first convict transport sailed in 1850.  Convicts were a means to help build the colony and convicts built the ‘establishment’ between 1852 and 1859 using limestone quarried on site.

The Visitors Center

According to the Fremantle Prison archives ‘The Prison was a place of hangings, floggings, dramatic convict escapes and prisoner riots’  The prison saw a fluctuation of inmates throughout its time of use, which could also hold 1000 prisoners.  However, during the gold rush era, the prison was probably the busiest with many prisoners finding  their way to Rottnest Island.

Fremantle Prison
The Convict Depot

During World War II, the Defense Force used part of the prison to detain ‘enemy aliens’ which mostly comprised of Italians.  Later in 1983, due to a number of prison riots, the royal commission recommended its closure.  Almost a decade later it was closed and a year later it was leased to a private entity for public viewing.  This lasted for about 10 years before the government reclaimed the lease and in 2005, the Prison was listed on the heritage site.

Public Bathrooms

The Prison can be found on the outskirts of the Cappuccino Strip found in Fremantle.  There is plenty of parking with the first hour free, which means have a quick look-see can fit the budget.

A quick glance at the prices.

What you get to see for free?

You can see the Visitors Center (former contact area), Convict Depot (former Superintendents backyard), the Cafe (a newly added feature) and the shop.  For all other areas, there is a fee which can be pricey if you are on a shoestring budget.

Kid’s rating 7.5 out of 10
What would make it a 10?  One of the tours!

In conclusion, the day was rated average. However, given the limitations of what we could do for the day, it was very successful.  The kids learnt about a number of things on this trip, and saw things they have not seen yet.  Things I would do differently is to pack a picnic basket and enjoy a meal by the beach.  I normally do this, however this was a trip of impulse and we just decided to go with the flow!

 

The Pinnacles – A Walk in the Desert

The Pinnacles can be found north of Perth, just outside of Cervantes.  The best time to visit the park, in my opinion, would be in the months from March to early November. The main reason for this is that temperatures are lower.  The second reason is that the line to the ticket booth is generally shorter.

The long line of tourists…over the December period. Be prepared to wait!

 

Because some friends of the kids have not seen the Pinnacles, I thought it would be a great opportunity to take the break over Christmas to show the some Western Australian Wonderland.

The trip itself, takes over 2 hours of driving.  There are no gas stations along the Indian Ocean Drive from Yanchep to Jurien Bay.  However, there are many ‘picnic’ spots which allows you to see the this part of world from a completely different angle.

Inside the Pinnacles Discovery Center
Find out more about the Pinnacles and view some amazing photos

Personally, I found the trip towards Cervantes entertaining.  I generally take hold of any opportunity to stop for photo opportunity.  However, the trip home is definitely different with the object to get home.   Of course, this is generally late in the day and after a long day of travel, the trip home can be  exhausting.  The home trip can be dangerous because of the belief that the trip is a short one.  However, with a single lane and everyone doing the same thing as you, this is the time where you need to take a couple of breaks.

Entrance fee to the park is $13.00 per vehicle.  December is busy and one can expect to wait in line to purchase a ticket.

The Pinnacles
Drive Through the Pinnacles

According the Australian Coral Coast

These amazing natural limestone structures, some standing as high as five metres, were formed approximately 25,000 to 30,000 years ago, after the sea receded and left deposits of sea shells. Over time, coastal winds removed the surrounding sand, leaving the pillars exposed to the elements.

Once inside the park, you can see the pinnacles either through walking a trail or completing the drive loop.  We decide the latter would be more appropriate because even though there was a wind to cool the temperature, it was still hot.  Furthermore, we had reached the Pinnacles at 11 am which meant the sun was high making it a bad time for photos.

There are many stop points on the Drive Loop.  Many new visitors stop at the first time they can, however there is a great spot to see the pinnacles at the turn of the loop.  This will place you behind the main field of Pinnacles and give you the perfect position for a range of photos.  Of course you can stop as many times as you want but with many tourist wanting to do the same thing means you may not have the opportunity to park and stop.

The Pinnacles

Pinnacles Desert Discovery Center is the home to the museum and shop.  It is open from 930 am to 430 pm.  They sell light refreshments and range of local products which is not often found at other locations.  I did not see any lunch options so I would suggest that you take along a picnic basket.

Pinnacles Desert Discover Centre
The Pinnacles Desert Discovery Center.

Toilets are situated near the Discovery Center.  And there is a request that you bag and take home your own rubbish.  There are no waste bins, so make sure you take a bag for your rubbish.

Pinnacles
Take your Rubbish Home

One of the questions I asked the staff members was whether the park closed at 430 pm?  I could not find any information about what time they closed, and I thought that take Astro Photography in this area would be amazing.

What I found out is that the Discovery Center closes at 430 pm but the park is still open.  This meant that one could stay longer and capture a moment when the light is just right.  As a result, I made a point to return back after the mad Christmas rush for taking photos when the light is absolutely perfect.

Overall, I never tire of visiting the Pinnacles.  Plus, with an all day ticket means you can see more of this area which includes the Stromalites in Cervantes.  If you are thinking ‘Should I?’ ~ then I suggest – YOU SHOULD! 😉

Wildflowers by the Beach in Western Australia

It is September, and it is wildflower season in Western Australia.  Because 2017 saw a winter that embraced a greater than average rainfall, it is expected that we will witness one of the most spectacular exhibition of wildflowers in Western Australia this century!

Wildflowers by the Beach

For many, it is believed that one would need to travel to remote areas just to witness nature’s beauty.  However, as most tend to travel ocean side, I felt that it would be more appropriate to uncover wildflowers by the sea!  I guess in my way – one can experience a 360 degree beauty through a combination of sea, sand and flowers!

wildflowers by the beach
Acacia

Perth’s coastal terrain hosts an array of different wildflowers.  Of course, Acacia is one of the more popular blooms that tend to color trees shades of yellow.  However, if you are wanting to see something just a little more exquisite you need to look for things that might not be a layer of color.

White Clematis

I have learnt, that by looking for little piece of color among green and brown shrubberies will result in a delicate uncovering of fragile blooms that seem to prefer the protection of the greater fauna than to stand out bold and strong.

purple wildflowers, perth,
Native Wisteria: Hardenbergia

Of course, there will be moments when you will see an abundance of color which will offer the many photo opportunities.  Notably, having a wildflower manual will help.  If not, I hope this post will help you recognize a few of the more popular exhibits created by mother nature.

Native Wisteria: Hardenbergia

While walking along bike/walk trails found along the coastal area in the Perth area, don’t forget to look up now and then.  Not all wildflowers are ground-side, like the Red Bottle Brush tree. With bright colors such a red, purple and green means one can capture a hue of colors through the lens.

Red Bottlebrush

Wildflowers by the beach are stunning.  And a little adventure like this is perfect for the person, or family, who is limited with time.  Of course, kids will love the ability to stretch legs and splash in the water (the latter may be just a little chilly this time of the year), while you can take your time an enjoy the artist display custom designed by ‘Mother Nature’.

Wildflowers by the Beach Perth a roadtravelled

Mount O'Brien LookOut

Just 10 km outside of Wongan Hills, you will find Mount O’Briend Lookout.  It was opened in 2001 offering tourist the opportunity to see a 360 degree view of the Australian Golden Outback.

Mount OBrien Lookout

Mount O’Brien Lookout is the 2nd highest point in the Wongan Hills measuring 424 meters.  The spiral walkway offers guest the opportunity to see a view from a different perspective.

Mt OBrien Lookout

At the pinnacle of the Lookout, there are different plaques showing a variety of landmarks. This includes a direct line of sight to Wongan Hills Town, Mt. Matilda Hill, Lake Ninan and Lake Hinds Neakaling.

 

 

Mount OBrien

Barbecue and picnic tables translate in to a perfect lunch or sunset dinner.  However, there are no rubbish bins which means you must take all your trash back with you.  There is also no toilets on site, so I can only suspect these stops would be short.

Mount OBrien

Another thing to factor in, if you plan to take this journey, is that no trailers, campers or motor-homes are allowed on the tracks.  It is not the fact they are not allowed but more so that fact that the narrow gravel road has sharp turns which will cause blockage.  There is signage outside of the lookout area explaining the types of vehicles allowed.  However, it would probably be best to check with the Wongan Hills Tourism office before making your way to this experience.

Mount OBrien

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our time here.  As it was mid-August, the wildflowers were just starting to show their colors.  The temperature was cool and tolerable.  And the air was crystal clear offering perfect photo opportunities.  Of course, choose the right time of the day would be a bonus, however in our case – we were grateful for the opportunity to see this area.

Mount OBrien

Holy Trinity Church – Rottnest Island

The Holy Trinity Church can be found only a few paces from the ferry landing.  It is tucked in between some trees with a beautiful hand laid brick pathway that leads to the front door.

The building itself is a Spanish style church that could quite easily making the leading role in a Western Movie.  The ochre colored exterior blends in harmony with its surrounds.

What impressed me the most was the open doors which seem to say: “Welcome, please come on in”.  If you journeyed through  Perth, most churches have closed, locked doors.

Holy Trinity Church is a Catholic Church built-in 1975.  According to artifacts, a large portion of the church was built by an Irishman/Pastor named Monsignor John O’Shea. He died in 2012, but left behind a Jarrah Wooden Cross which seems to complete the Church.

If you make you way to Rottnest Island, it is well worth your time to stop in and see this amazing little venue.  I can understand what Monsignor John O’Shea meant when he said “He felt closer to God at Rottnest”.  There is a sense of complete peace, that lasts a lifetime, when entering this little church.

 

10 Things You Need to Know Before attending Rottness Carnival

The Rottnest Carnivale 2017 is one of the more popular events in the Perth Region. It is the one time of the year where you can enjoy the Rottnest Experience at an affordable price.

Last year, I took the family over to see the island. I forgot to purchase ferry tickets ahead of time, and as a result ended up leaving late morning which meant that we missed out on some amazing experience.

So if you are planning to see the festival this year, here is a quick guide to help you have a more enjoyable experience:

1. Book your Tickets Early

Rottnest Ferry

Ferry tickets to this event book quickly. So make sure you book now. For only $29.00 return from Fremantle, this is one event you do not want to leave to the last minute.

 

2. Take Motion Sickness Pills

Rottnest Ferry

Motion Sickness does not impact me, however it impacted a LOT of people on the ferry. If you are prone to motion sickness, make sure you have something before you board.

3. Plan for Snacks.

Yes, you can take a picnic basket with you. However, make sure you pack foods that won’t perish in the day. Furthermore, make sure you ‘picnic basket’ is a backpack. Carrying a basket/bag around all day is a real mood killer.

4. Bus or Bike?

There are very few cars on Rottnest Island. Transport is either Bus or Bike! Of course, you can walk it but it may take you longer than a day. So here is the in’s and out’s about transport!

Bicycle

There is a logistic fee if you plan to take your bicycle. This ranges about $15.00 return fair.

You can also hire a bike from Rottnest Ferries or on Rottnest Island. However, here is the small print many people forget to read. There is a bicycle deposit of about $50.00. Then there is also a hire fee for the hour, half day or full day. Many people think that they can budget on the hire fee only, assuming they will get their deposit back. However, if you abandon your bicycle at any point on the island, you lose your deposit.

Furthermore, your bus home will probably cost about $20.00. So, while the thought of cycling is entertaining, I would urge you to think carefully about this option if you are on a budget. We saw many people abandon their bicycles

Bus

After considering options of riding a bicycle and taking a bus, we opted for the latter. The bus ticket for 4 cost us $50.00, with a bus departing from the town center every hour.

Buses stop at major points, which means this gives you time to see parts of the island without ‘huffing and puffing’ up hills. If you are feeling extremely energetic, you can walk to the next bus point while enjoying the native scenery.

5. Clothing

There are many photos of Rottnest Island with people wearing a singlet and shorts. However, this event is planned for October, so make sure that you also have something warm and something that will keep you dry. (Who knew it would rain on our ‘day out’)

Also, don’t forget to wear the correct shoes.  You can expect to walk A LOT!

6. Camera

Quokka

Rottnest Island is a beautiful island with many amazing things to see and locals love photos.  Unfortunately, my battery ran flat halfway through the day.  Luckily I had a charger with me.  So I would suggest spare batteries or charger.

7.  Expect a Long Day

WA Birds of Prey has a Treat or Treat Guest

This is a festival which means there will be a lot of fun things happening.  The Rottnest Carnival has two programs.  The first is the day program filled with a lot of fun things for kids and families to do.  The second part is the evening program which everyone has a chance to dress up for trick or treat.  If you stay for this session, remember to take an outfit.  It is not necessary but it is a lot of fun seeing everyone dress up.

8. Cash

There are some amazing little cafes and convenient stores on the island.  Take a coffee break at Dome was a life safer, especially after a chilly morning.  It also helped with charging my phone and camera.

9.  Map Your Route

The bus arrives at each bus point every hour.  The last bus is scheduled at about 4 pm.  If you plan to stay longer at one particular place, make sure you account for enough time to catch the ride home.  Also, do a little homework on the different locations.  I have written about a few locations on Rottnest Island which include Cathedral Rocks and Quokka on the Island.

10. Parking

This is one that is often missed by many travelers.  If you leave you car at the Ferries, make sure you purchase a day parking ticket.  This parking area is owned by another corporations and parking fines can reach up to about $70.00.  Tickets can be purchased at machines stationed around the parking area.  Day Parking costs about $10.00 and I suggest you take change for a quick transaction.  The eftpos system was down at the time we were there.

If you want to read more about this event:  READ MORE

Tsitsikamma Wolf Sanctuary

Tsitsikamma Wolf Sanctuary can be found just outside of Plettenberg Bay. It was founded with a small pack of wolves imported from Canada.

There is a lot of theory about packs having an Alpha Male.  Some think that there is no such thing.  I tend to disagree.  From personal experience, I saw both Alpha Male and Female in Action.  And part of our experience was stepping into a Wolf Enclosure with a couple of Trained Guides as our ‘protectors’.

Although I was on guard and keeping a watchful eye on where the wolves were, the girls began to listen to how wolves work in packs and take a few pics of their own.

Tsitsikamma Wolf Sanctuary

Outside of walking on the ‘wild side’, the is an opportunity to meet a great a wolf that enjoys a little human interaction.  This experience is a real winner, and the kids learnt so much from touching the fur to reading ‘body language’ and action.

Apart from personal encounters, the Tsitsikamma Wolf Sanctuary also is home to Wild Dogs, Giant Tortoises and many other amazing creature.

To read and see more about our adventure at this amazing place READ MORE HERE