ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Cold Country … Dryandra Woodlands Delivers Shivers

It’s time to seize the day and embrace the cold. Really. 

Grab your best flannel shirt and prepare for it to soak up woodfire smoke! For ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast Hidden Treasures let’s drive out of this town and into one of the best woodland adventures you can have in Western Australia. have a listen to the link below of just continue reading:

This is a getaway that will need torches, jaffle irons and ugg boots. 

You’ll even find flowers in winter

The Dryandra Woodlands are less than two hours drive south of Perth, although you may want to stop off at Wandering, Williams or Narrogin, depending on which way you go and whether you need to get supplies.

Dryandra Woodland

In the centre of the 28, 000 hectares is the Lions Dryandra Woodland Village, full of wartime era nissen huts and even earlier, but more recently refurbished, woodcutter cottages of varying sizes and all facing the setting sun with a view of grazing kangaroos in the dying of the light.

The dying of the light in Dryandra

I grew up in the area and it’s fair to say that Dryandra brings out the Les Hiddens Bush Tucker Man in me, or perhaps more accurately the Russell Coight.

My school camps were held at Dryandra and in between kids staking their feet on protruding sticks, eyes being punctured by protruding sticks and kids being impaled on protruding sticks it’s fair to say I’m keen to gather up all the protruding sticks and put them in our fireplace when we arrive.

You’ll need to.  Dryandra is cold.  It’s next door to Wandering which is as cold as cold gets in Western Australia.  I thought I knew what cold was, growing up in Narrogin and playing hockey on a Saturday morning, or more recently hot air ballooning in the Avon Valley, but Dryandra cold is relentless, it keeps shivering itself further inside your skin, deeper, deeper, until it coils itself around your bones and doesn’t let go.

But that’s why you’re here.  To freeze on an afternoon bush walk.  To freeze on an evening discovery tour to see the local wildlife.  To freeze while you’re having a hot shower and to freeze while you sit by the fireplace. 

The bedrooms of the cottages are filled with bunks and, with multiple rooms, there are lots of options for keeping couples and friends together and farters and snorers in their own quarantine. 

There are big sofas and a wood fire and you can use the firewood as it’s provided or chop it into smaller pieces with the axe provided. Wood chopping in a flannel shirt – dreams are made of this.

There’s an inside toilet and there’s an outside toilet for the dads. And there’s a front veranda that looks out over a grass field and the forest.  Perfect for sitting with a cup of tea and a gingernut biscuit while you watch the kangaroos grazing as the sun sets over the woodland.  The caretakers pay the roos well to make their regular appearances.  If you don’t see kangaroos I’ll eat my South Freo beanie and wear a Swan Districts beanie for a week.

Western Grey Kangaroos

There are lots of well-marked walking trails that will last 30 minutes or 4 hours or if you’re worried about drop bears then you can stay in your car for the Darwinia drive trail.

Barna Mia is an unforgettable experience that can be bitterly cold but will warm your heart.  In the middle of Dryandra, as night falls, participate in a nocturnal tour under the guidance of Parks and Wildlife staff and with red light torches spot all sorts threatened and precious animals in our bush, like bilby, woylie, quenda, boodie and maybe even a drop bear.  

Possum spotting can be done from the back porch of your cottage or a short stroll into the surrounding bush.  With an old Dolphin torch, shine it up into the trees like a World War II searchlight and if you see one, hold the light to the side as shining it into their eyes is just as annoying and horrible for their little eyes as it is for us.

Hello possum!

Try some campfire cooking.  Take your trusty, rusty jaffle iron and put some tinned spaghetti between some white bread and stick it on the fire and for sweets wrap a banana with some chocolate in alfoil and stick it on the coals.  Get the kids to make damper balls (as Tom said, “Must have been a big damper.”) and dip them in jam.

Get a local Aboriginal experience.  Have a look at the WAITOC website for Narrogin Aboriginal tour operators or ask the cottage caretakers for advice on who to contact.  I recommend Ross Storey.  Sit on a log around a small fire and listen to Ross talk about his country and he will teach you how to throw a boomerang and he’ll put local ochre on your face, do a smoking ceremony and pass around kangaroo skins and Aboriginal tools from the area, including woomeras and spears.

Ross Storey’s Stories

Do some modern day treasure hunting by locating sneaky geocaches in the bush.

Geocaching is modern day treasure hunting

The nearby Williams Woolshed is another unforgettable experience on your way to Dryandra or on your way back home. They’ve recently set up a drive-thru but sitting inside and being presented with the best sausage roll in the world is worth getting out of your car for.  My dad never allowed food in the car.  Once every three years he’d stop for a drumstick or spearmint milkshake but that was it.  No food in the car.  Ever.  Not even butter menthols.

Dryandra is a Hidden Treasure because it’s not featured in any big tourism campaigns but it’s always big in my annual getaway plans and it’s a getaway that gets you together, whether it’s huddled by the fire telling stories, walking through inspiring bush or waiting for the first person to ruin the ambience and scare the roos as they bite through their gingernut bikky. Soak it in your tea people!

Just what I needed

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Aboriginal Tourism around Perth and a bit further.

Beyond stories, Aboriginal tourism is about tangible opportunities to feel ochre on your face, touch kangaroo skins, dance and have some fun.

For ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast, Ro and I thought that we should do something to be a part of NAIDOC Week, which celebrates the culture and contribution of Aboriginal people in Western Australia. Below is a link to our discussion about Aboriginal tourism experiences in Perth and down the road.

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/perth/programs/saturdaybreakfast/naidoc-hidden-treasures/13449400

I thought we’d look at just a few of the immersive experiences that are available to learn and understand more about Aboriginal culture and just to enjoy and have fun.

As a local, it’s a great time to be exploring tourism opportunities.  Without the international tourists crowding the scene our world is our oyster and our world has the oldest and most remarkable living culture in the world. 

Whether you’re after education or entertainment the opportunities to immerse yourself in an Aboriginal Tour and Experience aren’t just limited to the great red dirt northern expanses of the state, they’re right here in your backyard and in your neighbour’s backyard.

They’re even increasingly around where you’ve always walked and cycled or gone to the footy.  Keep a look out for signage, statues and sculptures at your favourite spots, particularly for interpretive signs giving new life and understanding about where we live and who has lived here before us.

Here are a few of my favourite Aboriginal Tours and Experiences that are here in Perth and just a couple that are a little bit down the road.

All of them are accredited tour operators and are members of the WA Indigenous Tourism Operators Council who have the coolest corporate values you’ll find; 1) Connection to Country 2) Welcome to Country 3) Have Corroborees … to share and learn!

No buzz words.  They’re real words.

Let’s start in Mandurah and welcome you to Mandjoogoordap Dreaming. Anyone who has taken the Freeway and Forrest Highway down south has seen the longest name sign Main Roads has ever had to install.  The ‘Mandjoo’ means ‘meeting place’ and the ‘goordap’ means ‘of the heart’.  George at Mandjoogoordap Dreaming will teach you how to make bush twine and forage for bush tucker and learn the bushcraft of the region during walks along the Mandurah foreshore and estuary and a little bit on a bus for little legs and older legs.

Let’s keep going a bit further down the road but only as far Bunker Bay just to the west of Dunsborough.  Pullman Bunker Bay have partnered with local Elders to give guests the opportunity to do a Six Seasons Tour by exploring the gardens at the resort.  When I did the tour with my kids, Elder Nina Webb showed them the plants that could be eaten, used for medicine, and showed me what ones just look good as a bouquet for.  We found frogs behind leaves and lizards on rocks. 

This is one tour that showcases not just the flora and fauna but also the culture and language of the local Wardandi people and are showing how to work alongside a modern hospitality experience to include some authentic culture in your resort getaway.

Wardandi Elder Nina Webb takes resort guests at Pullman Bunker Bay on a tour of what is right before their eyes … and opens them!

We’ll stay south for another experience but head east to Kojonup to the Kodja Place.  It’s with great sadness that my friend and local legend Jack Cox passed away in March and I wish to thank his family for letting me mention his name today.  Jack used to greet visitors with a bush tea that was actually bought at the Kojonup IGA and he used to tell international visitors that he needed their help to find lost sheep in the gardens surrounding Kodja Place. The Kodja Place will continue to tell stories about his remarkable life and his family who lived in the area.  If you are putting together a bucket list of Western Australian cultural travel experiences, make sure the Kodja Place in Kojonup is on it because it’s a complete tapestry of stories from Noongar life to settler life in the area.

On our way back up to Perth let’s stop near Narrogin and go into Dryandra to meet my friends Ross Storey and Marcelle Riley.  As part of the Narrogin Noongar Ranger Tours and Experiences these guys tell beautiful stories through the use of dollmaking and in bush walks. I grew up with Ross and if you’ve ever wondered if anyone can talk more than me then just listen Ross talk about his country.

Ross Storey, based in Narrogin and telling stories about the Wheatbelt
Ross makes sure that all ages can participate, learn and have a lot of fun

Back in Perth let’s look at some tours that will be so immersive you’ll no longer see the land around you as a city landscape, you’ll see and feel the land the way it was.  Go Cultural Aboriginal Tours and Experiences will walk you around the city, the river, and even on Wadjemup and get you singing songs, touching kangaroo skins, using tapping sticks and smelling ochre and crushed leaves in your fingers.  This is storytelling with knowledge, passion and fun and have you smiling all the way home.

Deadly Diva Experiences for Women is an experience I wish they’d let me participate in.  Tahn tells campfire stories and does wildflower walkabouts and it’s all for the ladies. It’s inspiring and intriguing and let’s use my favourite word of the day … immersive.  She is now looking at a once a year tour for the curious fellas so watch this space very carefully.

Get up to Kings Park as a family and participate in the Kings Park special events program that focuses on local Aboriginal culture and takes kids into the world of Kings Park before roads and playgrounds.

Finally, get to the Yagan Square Nyumbi where at 5:30pm every Friday you watch and participate in a smoking ceremony and dance.  The performers change each week.  Some Fridays it’s an Elders group and other times it’s the kids getting up and sharing stories with an audience that includes tourists, office workers and passers-by who never walk by when they see what’s going on. They also love a photo at the end of the performance and some of those kids will give you some cheeky feedback on your own dancing skills.

These are experiences for our community to be proud of and enjoy. Aboriginal tours and experiences are hidden treasures because they’re immersive and substantial on so many levels but most importantly, you can discover, learn, and have fun while you’re doing it.

ABC Breakfast Show: It’s a long way down the holiday road

 

“I found out long ago, it’s a long way down the holiday road” 

That line, from Lindsay Buckingham’s, ‘Holiday Road’, theme tune for the movie, ‘Vacation’, is so evocative of those road trips from the past and the present.

Peeling mandarins, playing travel games based on the colour of oncoming vehicles, the stench of spilled milkshakes and the music that never suited every passenger in the car so it all got turned off.

My discussion on the ABC Saturday Breakfast Show about roadtrips turned into more of a nostalgic romp through time for Charlotte, Jamie and I and we almost forgot to mention some of the good road trips from Perth that can take you to so many wonderful places.

The Avon Valley, the Ferguson Valley and Dryandra Forest are all ideal day trips from Perth that make even better overnight mini vacations.

A good road trip is all about the journey as much as the destination so make sure you pull off the road and discover a new roadhouse sausage roll or a granite outcrop full of lizards basking in the sun.

Enjoy listening to our roadtrip discussion in the link at the top of this page.  Hopefully it brings back fond memories and is just a little bit inspiring for when that next long weekend comes around.

 

 

6PR Interview: Easter Travels by Road and Rail

Enjoy listening to the story below about getting those Easter long weekend travels booked before it’s too late.  I’ve suggested a road trip and a rail trip that will get you out of Perth for a couple of days.

 

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In the centre of Dryandra at the Barna Mia Sanctuary, little critters shuffle, scuff and scurry under a wonderful canopy of stars.

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The locals are friendly

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Picture Above: The Australind, from the heart of Perth to the heart of Bunbury in just two and half hours (you can even buy snacks).

To help plan your road trip to Dryandra or rail trip to Bunbury I’ve attached some website addresses below:

http://www.dryandravillage.org.au

http://www.visitbunbury.com.au

http://www.bunbury.wa.gov.au

http://www.transwa.wa.gov.au/plan-your-journey/the-australind

If you’re driving this Easter, take the time to get there and back safely.