Tag Archives: things to do

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

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Penguin Island

Penguin Island can be found off the shores of Safety Bay.  There are two islands in this area.  One is Seal Island and the other is Penguin Island.

Penguin Island, perth
People walking over from Safety Bay.

There are, once again, a range of ways to get to this island.  One is by ferry, the other is by some water transportation device and the last is that you can walk to it.  There is a sand bar ridge which is shallow enough to allow people to walk across.  Needless to say, that the tide can come in pretty quickly and people have had to be rescued before.  Notably, if you walk across it is suggested you wear the correct gear.  Further, if you plan to stay the day, make sure you have money for a ferry across.  Chances are that you will need to take one.

Penguin Island

I chose to kayak across.  Of course I had a number of goals in mind.  One of them was to kayak to penguin island.

McKenzie Well, Penguin Island

Penguin Island has a fascinating history.  Seaforth McKenzie camped on this island between 1914 and 1917 where he later turn the island into his permanent home.  The island was declared a reserve for game, and McKenzie was granted a lease until 1935.  It was not until 1957, when the National Parks Board took over administration and the island was classified as a ‘A Class Reserve’.  Between 1935 and 1957 there was a lot of squabble over who had administrative rights.  Within the time span of squabbling, huts were erected on the island for visitors.  However, the National Parks Board soon removed all the huts and restored the natural vegetation of the island.  They further added a Penguin rescue center which was called the Discovery center and basically restored order to both Penguin and Seal Island.

Fairy Penguin

The penguins that live on the island are called Fairy Penguins.  They are the smallest of all penguins.  Because they molt from December to January, it is difficult for them to hunt and feed until they grow new plumage.  Fairy penguins are shy and will often hide in little caves and burrows.

Penguin Island is also the home to the Pelican colony.  This colony is on the far side of the island which is not accessible to visitors and is strictly off-limits for exploration.  There is a board walk which will take you part the way, however one is left to view the colony either through mechanical binoculars,  compliments of the National Parks Board, or through other devices you may have brought with you.

Bridled Tern

Apart from Pelicans, one can also find an abundance of rock pigeons and bridled tern.  The thick foliage offers a perfect environment for nests.

There are a number of beaches around the island where you can place your gear for the day.  There are also a range of places that offer the perfect scuba diving experience.  With an abundance of rocks and sea plants means there is a strong chance to see a variety of fish and other little sea critters.

 

From personal experience, I found one day at Penguin Island was not enough.  There were a number of rules I broke on the day which I am paying for and I will share.  However, if you have not seen Penguin Island you should put that on the list of places to see and do!

7 Things to Remember:

  1.  The sun during November to February is severe and especially if you are kayaking.  By taking your time to ensure you have enough sun screen will prevent you from a couple of weeks of pain.  Remember – you will not miss much by taking a few minutes to put on sunscreen.
  2. Take a spare set of dry clothes.  If I had to give myself some advice, make sure you have TWO tops with you.
  3. If you are taking your camera, make sure you have a waterproof bag.  My little backpack did not hold too well in the water environment.
  4. Take it all back.  Whatever you take with you to the island, take back with you.  This includes your esky, trash and any other belongings you may have brought with you.
  5. Snorkel gear – if you have some, take it with.  Well worth the experience.
  6. Walking – if you walked across make sure it is safe to walk back.  Otherwise take a ferry.  Some people have drowned from a rising tide.
  7. Water – Always take water.  I went through 2 liters of water.

 

Sealed with a Kiss

Just off the coast of Safety Bay you will find Seal Island.  This is the home to a herd of Australian Sea Lions which is also listed as a threatened species.

Seals, from personal experience, are temperamental. They are generally considered playful, however they can be aggressive and cause some harm.  Therefore it is always wise to respect this creature and keep your distance.

There are a range of options to view seals at seal island.  For those that are here for a short visit can purchase ticket for a ‘Seal Island Cruise‘ which is about an hour and will cost roughly $39.00 per adult.  You can also hire a ‘sea kayak’ which costs about $180.00 for the day.  For those on a budget, the latter might be costly.

Tern Sea Bird, Rockingham

 

Of course, you can access the island through the use of any water transport system.  As for me, as I own a kayak, I used it.

seal island

 

The trip across can be a bit daunting.  With so many myths and rumors about sharks, one can be a little taken aback.  However, it is fairly shallow with an amazing display of sea grass and plants all the way through to the island.

seal island

For the first time in the history of owning a kayak, I decided to take my big camera with.  The water was flat (ish) and I felt that the risk was worth it.  A friend of mine joined me, and she decided to follow suit ~ Two Girls – Two Kayaks – Two Cameras – JUST CRAZY!

Seal Island

There are a few rock formation surrounding the port side (left side) of the island.  This little piece of sanctuary gives homage to a range of sea birds.  Because it is surround by submerged rocks, getting close can be tricky.  I found the natural current pushing me towards another island found also to the port side of Seal Island, called Penguin Island.  (I will cover this island in the next article)  Taking photos of the birds was challenging, especially as this section of water was a little ‘bumpy’.

Seal island, perth

Taking a trail into Seal island from the port side, is amazing.  Many take the direct route.  However, I feel a longer journey is a little more adventurous.  As a result of this tactic I was able to spot what I called a ‘Sea Hawk’.  However, after some research I found that Osprey are synonymous for this area.

osprey rockingham

Interestingly, the trail we took is also a trail very few take as one needs to navigate between two rock formations and through rocky shallows.  Getting caught on some rocks can be scary, especially if you have a camera in hand.

Seal playing with people

After rounding the corner to the island, one can see the seals basking in the sun on their own private piece of land.  Around them is the paparazzi.  Boats, kayaks, SUPs, surfboards, and almost every other water transporting device could be seen.

Australian Sea Lion

 

There is a 10 m buoy line around the island, with instructions to people to keep their distance.  The rule is that if a seal comes up to you, that you remain in place and do not venture towards it. However, on this particular day, young seals wanted to play.  They swam between, under and over swimmers.  It was truly amazing just to witness.

Sealed with a Kiss

 

As everyone began to follow the seal, we moved closer to the shoreline to take closer pics.  The natural tide drifted the kayak closer to the island. So it was learning to put the camera back in the back pack and paddling behind the 10m line.

Seals at Seal Island

 

After some amazing shots (which we were proud of at the time), we decided to paddle around the starboard side.  The water was perfectly still, and apart from one other kayak, we were the only one’s there.  Rocks and crevasse were the home to a range of birds, including pigeons.

 

Below my kayak was a clear view of plant life.  It was so crystal clear that one could see the colors on the fish that were swimming through it.


Sea Plants, Rockingham

 

After a looking at the crashing waves behind the island, I decided it was best to go back the same way we came.  Luckily for us, this was one of the best decision we made all day.  Many of the younger seals were now in the water.  Some were swimming under kayaks.  Others were swimming with people, while the big male kept a watchful eye on his herd.

As temperatures soared into the high 30’s (degree Celsius), I decided to jump in for a swim. I gave my camera and gear to my friend and dived into the water. I wanted to see this world from a ‘seal’s’ point of view.  Of course, it wasn’t long before Irene jumped in.  Of course camera gear were left on the kayak.

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Irene decided that she wanted to take shots of the seals from the water.  So she found a shallow area, and crouched down to take some photos.  The big male made a decision to swim right up in front of her and pose for photos.  A moment like this is definitely a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience.  While Irene took photos, I took photos of them!

We took turns looking after the kayak.  I already had to swim 50 metres to rescue my kayak from the first time I jumped in.  Although the water looked still, there was a small undercurrent which dragged my kayak out into the deeper side. With Irene keeping the kayaks in check, I edge myself closer to the ‘big boy’.  Before I knew it, another seal arrived to say ‘hello’.  Both decided it was time to play and with that was a signal for us to give them space.

Sealed with a Kiss

After 4 hours of adventure, it was time to trek back.  I noticed that my backpack was quite wet at the bottom.  And my camera had taken on a few knocks.  Although the camera was fine, the lens was murky and I had nothing dry to clean it with.  My photo taking moments had come to an end…and with that … a few lessons learnt!

The experience was priceless.  While $180.00 might be a bit pricey to hire a kayak, it may be well worth the investment considering the experience one can have.

The best time to visit would be over the summer months which are from November to March.  If you choose to take a cruise prior to these months then there is a big chance you will see whales.  Of course, there is an array of birds.

Things to consider if visiting Seal Island:

  1.  If kayaking – take a waterproof bag of spare clothes (lesson I learnt)
  2.  Sunscreen…. put on multiple times.  I slapped some on while running to get into my kayak.  I am currently paying the price with a  very burnt tummy area.
  3. If Kayaking then take the following:  hat, sunglasses, water, a snack (if going for a long time), swim shoes, a shirt and a towel.
  4. Don’t leave any of your litter around, so make sure you store it away so you can bin it later.
  5.  Camera – if you are using a kayak, make sure it is in a waterproof bag.  Or, keep it as dry as possible.
  6.  Keys – always make sure keys to your car/home are in a place you can find quickly.  There is nothing worse than kayaking a fair distance home only to realize you left the keys on the island.

 

 

 

 

GIANTS in Perth – a step back in time

In February 2015, the Giants hit the shores of Perth.  At first, many thought is was the football team but soon pictures were seen on billboards, buses, papers, and literally anywhere where you would see something about Giants.

Giants in Perth

This event was free to the public, and was held from 13 to 15 February.  The story of the Giants was based on a true story of a little girl called Faye Howe from Albany’s Breaksea Lighthouse.  She was the last point of contact in Australia for troops departing for Gallipoli in 1914.  It is believed that she signaled to the departing fleet in Morse code.

Throughout the 3 days, Fay Howe went searching through the streets of Perth for her Uncle, who was a diver.  They eventually find each other and on the last day boarded a ship together to go ‘home’

 

Giants in Perth

The total cost of the production was over $5 million.  The event almost did not take place had it not been for the help of the Government and the Crown Plaza.

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The Giants were designed and created by a company ‘Royal de Luxe‘ whom have a reputation for creating stories using giant puppets.

This is a company of inventors, stuntmen, poets and scrap-dealers all at once, led by Jean-Luc Courcoult. Royal de Luxe are currently considered to be an iconic, almost mythical, street theater company – equal to the Theatre du Soleil for conventional indoor theatre

Unfortunately, the Giants in Perth were held for the first and last time on the shores of Australia.  I don’t envision their return to the streets unless there is a huge story to draw them back.

Crowds flocked to the city to see them.  Finding parking near the city was near impossible with many (including myself) taking a chance to park on vacant grass areas.  With most of the security focused in the centre of the city, I think parking was the least of their concerns.

Luckily for us, we were in the prime spot.  Being the last day of the event, both the ‘Diver’ and the ‘Little Girl’ made their way down to the lower part of Perth City before departing.  Initially, after listening to some others who did not enjoy the event because there were so many people, I was a little reluctant to go.  However, on arriving I found it to be the one of the best experiences and it all came down to where you were.  We just happened to choose the last section of Perth where there were fewer people giving one a better view of the Giants.

Hopefully, these Giants find their way back to Perth. It was a once in a Life Time experience and it would be interesting to see other displays like this in other countries.  It would be best to watch their website for any news of future events.  As you can imagine, something of this scale would require a lot of planning.

Arcadia Spectacular Australia – PERTH

Arcadia Spectacular made its way to the shores of Australia thanks to Deloitte and the Event Agency.  With an array of exhibits, this is one of those shows which falls into a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity.

arcadia spectacular

I was invited to join the crew on the premier night for a private ‘Lords of Lightening’ Show.  I can understand where they obtained the name from, because this event was spectacular.  It was notably, only a hors d’oeuvres of what was yet to come in the next few days.

Arcadia Australia

The robotic spider was placed perfectly in the center of Elizabeth Quay, a newly formed central feature of Perth City. Prior to the ‘Lords of Lightening’ Show, we were able to watch performers practice their moves while hanging from a piece of string from each spiders claw.  Believe it or not, spiders actually have ‘bear claws’ which hold their prey. [a fact I didn’t know about until today!!]

arcadia spectacular perth

We also watched spurts of fire being shot into the air which brought a sudden silence to the crowd hovering around to see more of the ‘Metalic Arachnid’.  I could only imagine what the real show would be like and unfortunately knew that I would not be able to see the full performance.  Needless to say, I was grateful to be part of the Premier and show kids how to make their own mini Spider Bots.  [apparently a winner for kids at this event]

Spider Bots TechCamps4Kids

If you ever have the opportunity to see this event in your town, I will have to say it is well worth the investment.  Who ever thought that someone could create a Giant Size Robotic Spider which can be transported in 8 shipping containers.  The history behind this production is amazing where the concept of using recyclable industrial and military hardware to create a “ground breaking spectacular“.

Arcadia Spectacular

Unfortunately for Australia there was only one show which was in Perth. And, according to Acardia Spectacular there are no future events listed yet.  However, it is well worth your time to keep your ‘feelers out’ on when the next event will be held.  You never know – it just may be in your own home town! 😉

 

 

Sailing with Wind Dancer Yacht Charters

Because of my encounter with a 22 footer many years ago, I have steered well clear of the water for many years. However, thanks to White Shark Africa in 2012, I tackled my fear of sharks which in turn, released this amazing amount of freedom.  When one is dominated by fear of a story you magnified in your head, one tends to miss out on a number of things which I would class as the ‘crushing of one’s spirit’.

Wind Dancer Yacht Charters

Since 2012, I have made leaps and bounds when it comes to water.  The first step was stepping into the ocean to swim.  I would normally be the one sitting by the beach watching everyone swim wishing I had the courage to do the same thing.

Wind Dancer Yacht Charters

Earlier this year I was given a kayak for my birthday.  I remember how nervous I was on the kayak and a mere 500 m paddle set my heart rate well into the 200’s.  I kept watching the water below, waiting for that 22 footer to show itself. [stories in your head]

Wind Dancer Yacht Charters

As each day goes past, I gain more confidence knowing that the sea demands 100% respect which I give in return for the freedom of my spirit.

Wind Dancer Yacht Charters

I firmly believe that there are a range of skills one must learn in life.   One of these skills is understanding water and wind which is encompassed through sailing.  So, when given the opportunity to learn to sail with Wind Dancer Yacht Charters, I committed with both curiosity and nervousness.   How will one know if you like something if you don’t give it a go?

Wind Dancer Yacht Charters

Tony from Wind Dancer Yacht Charters met us at Hillary Boat Harbour.  I invited my daughter to join me, as learning the skill of sailing is advantageous, especially for teenagers.

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I was a litter nervous at first, but after the rest of the “crew” (others seeking the adventures of the sea) arrived, Tony briefed us on the day and what to expect.  My daughter was given the helm, as we made our way outside of the harbour.  I looked in amazement how easy she took to the wheel navigating us through the maze of yachts & boats.  Tony was giving her instructions all the way, and one could see a sudden sense of confidence as she looked forward to big blue sea in front of us.

Wind Dancer Yacht Charters

The swells were fairly high, which I didn’t mind.  I did my small bit helping where I could but staying close to the entrance to the cabin.  Just when I was become comfortable with the gliding of the yacht through water, Tony called me to the helm.

A Road Travelled Sailing

I will admit that at first I was extremely nervous.  Even though I was told that turning the wheel, as seen in movies, is NOT what one would do in reality, I still found myself doing so.  Like most novice yachtsman (or woman in my case) I made a number of mistakes which I quickly learnt to correct.  I am not entirely sure when I become comfortable at the helm but I just remember looking down the bow of the yacht and thinking “WOW, I could do this everyday”.

gopr1845-0001

I could feel the yacht slicing through the water.  For that moment I was her [the yacht] and could feel every part of the water around her.  Tony started to teach me how to read the wind direction monitor on top of the mast as I headed the nose (bow) just a little left (port side) from direction into the wind.

Wind Dancer Yacht Charters

The swells became bigger and I began to have a lot more fun.  Somehow I could feel the boat riding up on the wave and then dropping down into the water.  Each drop of the bow caused water to spray over the boat.  It felt AMAZING!

Wind Dancer Yacht Charters

 

We tacked a few times.  While I was keeping the nose pointed into a direction, I began to observe the actions of the tack.  I watched the mast move, the sails adjust to the wind and felt the acceleration of the boat as we headed into another direction.

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Of course, I was loving the helm and even though I wanted others to share that same experience, secretly I did not.  I offered others to take over, but I think they all knew how much fun I was having and gracefully decline.  I was gracefully thankful.

wind dancer yacht charters

As time went on, I urged a few others to give it a go.  And in doing so, started to watch how things were done with more interest.  I was taught how to roll up rope and to move a mast.  I watched how Georgia, another crew member of Wind Dancer Yacht Charters, scaled up the mast.  She looked so nimble and I wondered if I could ever do that?

Wind Dancer Yacht Charters

The sail back to the harbour was a lot calmer with the wind behind us.  I grabbed my camera and began to take photos.  Everyone seemed to relax a little more, including myself.  Somehow I found my spirit – or did my spirit finally find me?

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Upon entering into the harbour, it was noticeable that I was a different person.  I didn’t initially feel it, but I think another yachtsman can sense when someone has been ‘set free’!  Or maybe it was this smile on my face that remained there hours after our voyage – not entirely sure!  But the world did look different and I felt extremely happy!

Wind Dancer Yacht Charters

I would like to thank Wind Dancer Yacht Charters for inviting me for this amazing experience today.  I know they will see me again in the near future.  So much to learn, so much to experience and so little time to do so!

Wind Dancer Yacht Charters
Photo By Georgia at Wind Dancer Yacht Charters

If you would like to experience something like this, then you can book an experience with Wind Dancer Yacht Charters.  They are offering an ‘Introduction to Sailing’ for December 2016 and January 2017 for only $70.00 which is an amazing value considering the length you are out at sea together with the amount of things you learn.  Who knows – you may just find true happiness on the water and that, in itself, is priceless.