There’s some bias to be declared. I’m a Narrogin boy. I haven’t lived there since 1988 but it’s still where I call home and my kids love getting back there every year to see where I went to school, got into fights, played sport (sometimes well, sometimes not) and the houses I lived in.
For this trip we’re doing some different bush walks and we’re also going out onto a farm to drive across paddocks and throw nets into a dam and catch some yabbies which can be called coonacs, gilgies and I’m still not sure what the difference is.
Having checked in to the local motel we grab our coats and trekking poles and head off to Foxes Lair, a local woodland full of trails of varying lengths.
We take the Granite Walk which is only just over a kilometre but has what we’re looking for; lots of granite boulders to scramble up and over and the Old Rifle Range where we successfully fossick for bullets embedded in the old mound behind where the targets would have been placed.
Having secured in the Parry annals our somewhat surprisingly successful archaeological experience, it’s time to make our way out of town to try our luck at catching some yabbies.
Driving across the paddocks to get to the dam attracts the attention of the sheep who all thought we’re there to feed them and they watch every move we make.
We pulled in hundreds of yabbies using nets and we also tried the old way of meat on a string being slowing pulled in. Slowly, Tom. Slowly.
We were on a strict catch and release experience but if we were catching what we caught it would have been a feast for the ages.
Speaking of dinner, the sun was getting low in the sky and the glow of a slow burning tree stump reminded us it was getting late and it was time to think about dinner.
A chicken parmy at the pub for dinner, the venerable Duke of York, was the one request of the kids and I half succeeded. In the world of Covid19 we couldn’t eat at the pub but they happily cooked up a parmy storm and delivered it to our motel room on the top of the hill.
The following day is spent slowing winding our way north through small towns and slightly bigger than small towns; Cuballing, Popanyinning, Pingelly, Brookton, Beverley and York. Beverley in particular was thriving with art galleries and cafes open to all and lots of murals on the walls of shops in the main street.
We take some time on the way back west to Perth to explore the Wambyn Nature Reserve, a gentle woodland with easy tracks that is a nice diversion from the heavy traffic heading back into Perth.
That’s it. A weekender with plenty of time exploring the outdoors and plenty of time in the car exploring each our Spotify playlists. Something for everyone, the perfect roadtrip.
Above: Foxes Lair, Granite Walk
Above: Whether you call them yabbies, coonacs, gilgies or marron…they’re great fun to catch and eat.
A recent conversation with the ever bubbly Andrea Gibbs on ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast explored some destinations that took us around Western Australia, over the border to some of my favourite states and finally overseas to a destination that’s just so cool to say and even better to experience.
Firstly, with ABC Producer Molly Schmidt firmly twisting my arm, we explored her hometown and holiday hangout, the Porongurups and Albany. Then we ventured across the coastline with some descriptions of Elephant Rocks, Greens Pool, a bit of beach driving at Peaceful Bay and the discovery of giants in the forests around Walpole.
ABOVE: WALPOLE TREETOP WALK
Then we had a chat about new ways to see new destinations and Rottnest is a great example of this. This familiar destination is a rite of passage for Western Australians and a bucket list item for most tourists to the state. With the new seaplane service taking off from the Swan River in front of the city you’re on Rotto in 20 minutes and can explore this incredible island, both on land and beneath the waves, before making your way back on one of the many ferry services available.
ABOVE: SWAN RIVER SEAPLANES TAKE OFF ON WATER AND LAND ON … LAND.
ABOVE: THE BASIN AT ROTTNEST ISLAND, MORE THAN A FAVOURITE, IT’S A RITE OF PASSAGE.
Next we took a trip to Tasmania and Andrea got very excited by my descriptions of the more than 20 gin distilleries to be found on the island and various DIY gin courses that are available. We then came back to the mainland and to our great neighbour, South Australia. There’s so much to see and there’s more to see than amazing wineries. There’s some cage diving with Great White Sharks and a slightly more sedate wildlife encounter at Whyalla in the Spencer Gulf you’ll find the opportunity to snorkel with giant cuttlefish.
To finish our travel tour we hopped on a plane to Malaysia and visited Malacca. I love just saying it. Malacca. The Straits of Malacca have been an important sea trading route for centuries and led to an influence in this gorgeous town of food, culture and architecture in the styles of the Portugese, Dutch and British. Interestingly, as well as having world heritage significance, funky hidden bars, evening river cruises and smiling faces everywhere, it is also one of the first large towns anywhere in the world to ban smoking in public. Malacca. Say it with me. Malacca.
ABOVE: AN EVENING CRUISE IN MALACCA
ABOVE: MALACCA, OR MELAKA.
Travel discussions can lead you down a rabbit hole of inspiration. This year try and think a little bit about trying to benefit the destination you’re going to. Consider, for example, amazing destinations like South Australia who need our help as tourists to recover from the bushfires, particularly on Kangaroo Island. In Western Australia, try a road trip to a country town you haven’t visited before or find a new way to visit a familiar destination, like a seaplane ride to Rotto.
Enjoy your travels, don’t be put off travelling, just try and contribute with your travelling.
There’s a little island off the coast that for quite some time now has attracted Western Australians, other Australians and increasingly the international traveller seeking a genuine sand-in-your-toes destination or maybe just an insta-worthy-pic with the worlds cutest animal.
Wadjemup (Rottnest) has just taken a couple of Red Bulls and is revved up for a summer that can still remain laid back or it can put you on your back with exhaustion.
Skydiving, fishing tours for kids, water parks, walking tours and new facilities like refreshment vans on the west end of the island now mean you don’t need to carry litres of water on your bike (plus, always remember that the various tour sites with volunteer guides carry lots of water that you can use to top up your water bottle ….. for free).
Tom and I began our day a bit differently for a trip to Wadjemup. Rather than Barrack Street, Freo or Hillarys, we head to the South Perth foreshore. Within minutes of our arrival, the Cessna Caravan from Swan River Seaplanes comes diving out of the morning sun and lands smoothly on the water in front of us.
Above: From South Perth to Wadjemup
The take off was more graceful than my graceless body surfing at City Beach. The aircrafts pontoons lift off the water in the direction of Crown Casino and the Optus Stadium before banking to the west.
There was time to take in the view of the city, the coast, the ocean and then Wajemup came in sight.
I was scheduled to go live on air, in the air, with 6PR radio to describe the experience but the flight was so fast we’d landed at Wadjemup before they could cross to me. Even with two laps of the island to take in the view the flight was only 20 minutes.
Above: Wadjemup from the air with Swan River Seaplanes
Meeting us on the island is the Rottnest Island Authority Executive Director, Michelle Reynolds, who has very generously accepted the challenge of showing us around the island. For the next few hours we are regaled with historical stories, modern day plans and have the opportunity to learn and experience the island like I have never done before.
A climb of the Wadjemup Lighthouse is 155 steps and because I’m a father I’m allowed to generate the odd dad joke or two so I asked Tom how many steps it was coming down. Easy. Remember he’s only ten.
Above: Wadjemup Lighthouse and one of the new refreshment vans
We visit the bays, inspect the beaches, salt lakes and tuart groves and watch as ospreys nest and seals bask and loll. We buy refreshments from the new vans and felt a bit guilty, as we entered Michelle’s airconditioned car, that we were possibly depriving a thirsty cyclist of a much needed peach iced tea.
Above: Refreshments from the van at Fish Hook Bay
When we parted ways with Michelle it was with a new appreciation for the work that is going into making Wadjemup better but also for acknowledging what people love most about the island experience, a laid back lifestyle where even sunburn and grazed knees just don’t seem to hurt as much as they do on the mainland.
Tom and I headed to the bakery to get a well deserved cream bun and a choc milk before making the ten minute walk to The Basin for a well anticipated swim. Along the way Tom met his spirit quokka. We didn’t attempt a selfie but first contact was made as Tom got down to eyelevel with a quokka and his outstretched finger was sniffed and touched by this amazing little animals nose.
At The Basin, a Christmas choir was singing from the waters edge and even the fish were joining in. As carols reverberated off the limestone cliffs Tom and I swam along the reef edge and spotted all sorts of fish that were bigger than my foot, in fact both feet put together! Bream, Trevally, Snapper and even a couple of retired old cods, just hanging out by a weed bank discussing the latest flotsam, jetsam and tidal trends.
The fast and comfortable journey back to Perth by SeaLink ferry was made even better by the opportunity for Tom to take the captains chair on the bridge and monitor the compass as we made our way into Fremantle Harbour. He was in his element, scanning from river bank to river bank and warning pelicans to get out of the way.
Above: Tom gets instructions from the SeaLink Skipper
Are you a tourist? Are you a local? Are you interested, curious, amazed or attracted to learning more about the oldest living culture on Earth?
Here are my Top 10 Aboriginal Tours and Experiences in Western Australia, a state that stretches across a land that is over 2.5 million square kilometres with the worlds most beautiful beaches, remote deserts and ancient forests:
Six Seasons Tour at Pullman Bunker Bay Resort (see featured image with local Elder Nina Webb showing Tom Parry how to use the guidebook while Pullman Bunker Bay Resort General Manager Leighton Yates watches on).
Camping With Custodians (Pilbara and Kimberley Regions)
Bindjareb Park (Pinjarra, South West Region)
Black Tracks (Kununurra)
Wuddi Cultural Tours and Centre (Dumbleyung, Wheatbelt Region)
Laverton Art Gallery (Laverton, Northern Goldfields)
Nyungar Tours (Perth)
Yamaji Art Gallery (Geraldton, Mid West Region)
Mandjoogoordap Dreaming (Mandurah)
Jacks Story Telling Kojonup (Don’t let Jack tell you the tea is made from bush plants. He gets it from the local supermarket up the road.)
These are experiences for the world to be proud of.
I recently spent a brilliant evening on Radio Melayu chatting about my recent adventures and how we all need to find a way to get packing and escape winter by getting overseas or embracing winter and snuggling into a gorgeous resort down south.
The link below features descriptions for a few of my new favourite things, including Bali’s spectacular new resort the Apurva Kempinski Bali, Hong Kong Star Ferries and markets, Hong Kong Disneyland, Pullman Bunker Bay Resort and amazing airlines for travelling with children, including Malindo Air, Batik Air and Cathay Pacific.
What a great chat on Saturday morning ABC Breakfast with Christine Layton, discussing the Australia Day events from Broome to Albany to keep you entertained and then a few suggestions for daytrips and overnighters throughout Western Australia. Get out there and find new adventures even on the most well trodden path.
Below are some pics to help you pick your next regional day trip or overnighter. Have you been to Bridgetown or Rockingham recently?
Above: Go down The Rabbit Hole on the main street of Bridgetown for an amazing range of local artist workshops and galleries.
Above: There’s no way you will leave the lolly shop in Bridgetown without a smile on a face and a bag full of sweet treats.
Above: Get to Rockingham which has the best range of aquatic activities in Western Australia. Kite surf in Safety Bay, visit the penguins and dolphins on Penguin Island and in Shoalwater Bay, swim with dolphins off Palm Beach, hire jet skis, jet packs, stand up paddle boards, kayaks or cast a line on the beach and flick in some whiting and flathead.
“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.
As published in the newspaper, Have A Go News, October 2017.
When I was a kid growing up in the country there was a time of year when I wasn’t allowed to spend the weekend with my mates, playing cricket or football or lazily riding our bikes around town looking for sources of adventure, like stealing mulberries from a tree and flinging them at passing cars.
It was that time of year, the only time of year, when Mum wanted to go bush. That one time of year when we went bush and didn’t take a chainsaw to chop up firewood.
I look back now and picture in my mind the sheer rolling hills of my childhood, a mass of pink everlastings that changed the colour of the landscape so greatly that even the snow gums picked up a pinkish hue from the reflected colour of this explosion of flora.
I didn’t enjoy it as a kid. You’ve seen one hill of everlastings and you’ve seen them all. Hunting for orchids was worse. Softly walking through the bush in search of something I can’t ever recall finding. The others found them. Eyes down, concentrating and walking slowly. I was more intent on filling my bucket with kangaroo poo to later throw at my friends, if I was ever allowed to play with them again.
I guess that’s how it is with some kids. I now take my own children on bushwalks of varying distances and they love it but I don’t know that they’re really interested in flowers. It’s about climbing to the top of a big rock or finding a big spider or finding their own animal poo to have fun with and then stopping in a country town for a Peters Drumstick.
If you love wildflowers and you want to share them with people who don’t love them as much as you do then build a trip that easily includes a lot more than petal-spotting.
Pick a direction to head in and just go for it.
How long is your trip going to be? A day trip? A weekender?
Let’s spin the bottle and pick a few destinations that mix it up for everyone in the car.
The Bibbulmun Track has a lot of opportunities that can be explored for periods of time ranging from a few hours to a few weeks. For a day trip, a drive up to the Kalamunda hills will put you in beautiful country for wildflowers and the fresh green growth of our own Perth hills. Kalamunda has a great range of art galleries, mountain bike trails and of course the famous Kalamunda Hotel for lunch and a cold refreshment or two.
If you feel like heading north for a daytrip then the Nambung National Park, home to the iconic Pinnacles, is an ideal wildflower daytrip with plenty of time to see plenty of other sites. As well as the Pinnacles, there are the dunes of nearby Lancelin and the township of Lancelin itself with good beach walking and swimming.
To turn this daytrip into a gorgeous weekender, head east to Carnamah, Dandaragan and the Coomberdale Wildflower Farm just to the north of Moora where wildflowers are picked, boxed and shipped all over the world. From there you can make your way back to the coast by travelling through the Coalseam Conservation Park which from September to November is simply a carpet of wildflowers that stretches to the horizon. From there it’s just a short drive for an overnight stay at Dongara.
Further east and an absolute WA bucket list is to get stuck into the Goldfields and do a tour of a region that’s not that far away and bursting with more colour than the Perth Skyshow. More than a daytrip, more than a weekender, give yourself at least a week to travel well throughout this region that is full of history and remarkable people and landscapes. Adjacent to Kalgoorlie-Boulder is the Karlkula Bushland Park, comprised of 200 hectares of bushland and very popular with bushwalkers.
An easy daytrip from Kalgoorlie-Boulder is to head 133 kilometres north to the small town of Menzies and then travel 50 kilometres west to Lake Ballard where the 51 statues by artist Antony Gormley are located.
For a south, maybe south-western spin of the bottle, head down the Albany Highway to a part of the world I’m proud to have grown up in, the Wheatbelt. The golden canola, dusky dryandra and fields of wheat that might bring on a few sneezes will also bring out the photographer in you.
Dryandra Woodland, 164 kilometres south-east of Perth and just to the north of Narrogin, is a wonderful land of wildflowers, emus, kangaroos and maybe even the elusive numbat. There are a number of well-marked trails to explore and the Dryandra Lions Woodlands Village manages a number of various sized woodcutter cottages if you want to turn an easy daytrip into a very relaxing weekend.
For those in your group who are bored sitting by the fireplace or walking through the bush then you can arrange to visit Barna Mia, in the heart of Dryandra, where you can do a night time tour of the sanctuary for all sorts of wildlife that you can watch under the stars.
Finally, if you can’t leave Perth there is one of the greatest wildflower displays in Western Australia right in the heart of Perth. Kings Park is so renowned for its annual wildflower display that there’s a risk of complacency because you expect so much. With a variety of species and colour to dazzle our eyes and cameras, plus the nature playground, various cafes and walking trails and only minutes from every Perth CBD activity it’s little wonder that Kings Park is the centre of Perth’s universe from September to November.
So my tip for a trip to see the wildflowers this year is to remember what else there is to see. Enjoy the wildflowers but try and enjoy something else to go with it. You don’t need to be a kid to enjoy a Peters Drumstick as you lean against the bonnet of your car in the main street of a country town that’s not so far from home.
For further information on local tips to find wildflowers, best places to stay and local attractions, have a look at the following websites or contact Chris through email@example.com or his website at www.chrisparrywritesforus.com
To find out what’s going on at Kings Park look at: www.bgpa.wa.gov.au or call (08) 9480 3600
Please remember that however you choose to travel make sure you are safe and prepared. Much of Western Australia is remote and you should always carry what you need to survive including medications, water and suitable clothing. Please be aware that mobile telephones may not work in some locations featured in this story.