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The road from the lighthouse to Ngilgi Cave passes close to the Petra Olive Oil Estate where a quick detour to Sheoak Drive rewards you with easy sightings of kangaroos. There are a large number here and they are pretty domesticated, which makes photographs a bit easier to take.
Dunsborough is a pretty little place on the coast with a good Visitor Centre, a bakery selling all sorts of tempting goodies and peaceful beaches for a stroll to stretch your legs en route.
The Tourist Office was a good source of information on where best to spot wildflowers and had free larger scale maps of the local area – very useful now we are back to “old days” style navigating without sat nav.
You can also buy tickets here to tour the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse and nearby Ngilgi Cave. A combined ticket will set you back $32 (NB all $ are AUD in this section of the blog!), but gives you an interesting way of spending three hours or so on the journey down to Margaret River.
Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse
Tours run every 30 minutes from 9.30. The lighthouse is built on high ground and so there are only 59 steps to the top from where you get some wonderful views of the surrounding coastline all the way from Bunker Bay to Sugarloaf Rock.
You can do a short hike to Sugarloaf Rock (2.3kms) from here if you have the time.
If you come between September and November, there is a very good chance of spotting whales migrating back to their home in Antarctica, feeding themselves and their calves on plentiful plankton en route.
The lighthouse was built on land of very special significance to the indigenous population – “From the high place, they could see over country and signal to come together”.
The lighthouse was built in 1903 and staffed by three keepers living in splendid isolation in well equipped cottages fully self sufficient in (rain) water and with neat vegetable plots. Between them, they kept watch 24 hours a day involving numerous trips up and down the 59 steps. In 1i996, they were eventually eplaced by an automated system – one little grey box did all the work required.
Ngilgi Cave is a 500,000 year old cave associated in Wardandi spirituality with the victory of the good spirit Ngilgi over the evil spirit Wolgine.
It is located in a peaceful area surrounded by peppermint trees and half guided tours run half hourly.
After the short guided visit, you are free to roam the labyrinth of steps inside to explore the beauty of the cave at your own pace. You can lie down in the main chamber, close your eyes for a minute and open the to feel as thought the stalactites falling on your head. If your are very brave, crawl through the “tunnel of doom” – one way only – so be sure you can fit without getting stuck!
In the early 1920s, the cave was a favourite honeymoon destination for couples getting married in Perth. You could travel from Perth to HYallingup over 3 days by steam train and horse and cart, stay at the Caves House Hotel and finish your stay with a guided visit of the cave which lasted between 6 – 10 hours
Tips for Future Travellers
Bring a torch – it really helps to illuminate some of the darker areas of the cave and appreciate the complexity of the rock formations. Practise your singing … a well chosen piece performed in the amphitheatre of the floor of the cave provides great entertainment to those at the top – just as Dame Nelly Melba did years ago.
Flora and Fauna
“South Western Australia contains no less than 12,000 different plant species and 87 percent of them grow nowhere else in the world.” David Attenborough – The Private Life of Plants. How amazing is that?!
The road to our hotel wound past fields full of white arum lilies and beautiful coastline fringed with everlasting flowers – just awesome.
Learning the Lingo
Rule 1 – When in doubt, add an “O”:
- Arvo (afternoon)
- Avos (avocados)
- Bottle-O (Liquor shop/Off Licence)
- Fisho (fish shop)
- Servo (Petrol Station)
- Vego (vegetarian)
Flaming and bloody – seem to be used very liberally to amplify almost any noun?!