What we missed in Margaret River

Due to time constraint and also partly cuz we couldn’t be bothered, we left 3 interesting activities unexplored. You would have realized that we skipped the cave explorations, the Tuart forest and also the lighthouses.

Prior to the trip, these were on my agenda. However, 4D3N in Margaret River ain’t enough and we decided to cut the caves off because we didn’t like stairs and there’s lots of steps through the caves. The thought of babywearing the kids while struggling with stairs ain’t too appealing. Plus caves are echo-y and Ez is going through this shouting phase where he deliberately make weird noises just to hear echoes. Stopping him is beyond my control. So for everyone’s sanity, we sacrifice.

There’s 4 different caves to explore and 2 lighthouses.

Ngilgi Cave: pronounced as neelgee. There’s a semi-guided tour that takes about an hour and then you get to roam on your own. You will learn more about the Australian Aboriginal mythology from the visit. (Sounds like something the kids can’t appreciate. Yet.)

Mammoth cave: A limestone cave that’s within the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park featuring fossils of extinct animals (jawbones of marsupial species!). Initial tours were conducted by lamplights until 1904! Can’t imagine the tourists then being able to see much. Wheelchair accessible for part of the tour. Free for children under 4 years old.

Lake cave: This is my favourite and I really wanted to have a look. What deterred us?! The 325 steps each way! Goodness! I don’t think I’m fit enough to do this anymore. Expect to see a breathtaking lake that reflects the formations, a suspended table that weights tonnes and also stalactites as one descend through a sunken Karri forest. Nice. Not suitable for young kids as you are supposed to be quiet in order to listen to the dripping sound. Try telling the kids this.

Jewel Cave: The largest show cave in Western Australia with a depth of 42m. This cave contains one of the longest straw stalactites at 5.43m. Not much of a geography student so the formation of this cave eludes me. Sand cemented together to form limestone by the action of rainwater. Interesting. One is also expected to stick to the group the entire duration. But again, I doubt Ez and Lè meimei are interested in listening about sand and rainwater.

Two iconic lighthouses marked the start and finish of the cape to cape track in Margaret River.

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is situated at the most south-westerly tip of Australia where the Indian Ocean meets their Southern counterpart. One must climb up 176 narrow and winding steps to get a view of the seascape. However, children under 4 years old are not permitted on the tour.

Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse is thus more suitable for families with little kids like ours because there’s only 59 steps to the top. There’s also a new observation platform where you can enjoy the coastal landscape.

Tuart Forest National Park has the last remaining Tuart forest in the world. These trees only grow on coastal limestone. I would love to check this out but somehow I doubt Ez and Lè meimei would be impressed by them. Coupled with the bad weather and the lack of time, we gave this amazing piece of nature a miss too.

So many places to go, so little time. Perhaps the reason why it’s cool to bring little children overseas is just so that we can have an excuse to double back just so we get to complete what we missed. Looks like we are coming back to Margaret River again. Maybe not in the near future but WE WILL BE BACK!

AirBnB at Subiaco

Our return to the city took slightly more than 3h despite driving non stop as we came back towards town during the peak hour. It took awhile to get through the traffic lights.

The AirBnB host, Kylie, wanted to meet us at the apartment but because we were going to be quite late, she left the key in the letterbox and gave very precise instructions to retrieve it.

The unit is right next to the lift on level 2. This 2 storey apartment comes with a designated secured parking lot in the basement.

My three loves

Tired Ez on the enormous couch

Tired Ez and Lè meimei even though they slept through most of the 3h drive

Washing machine and dryer

The second floor is where both bedrooms and bathrooms are. Despite my misgiving about the stairs, it turned out alright. Lè meimei managed to master the arts of stairs climbing (up) in our presence. She could pull herself up step by step by holding the railings with both hands (walking sideways).

The host has a boy so her house is pretty kids friendly. Ez loved his room partly because of the double decker bed and mostly because his toilet had adjoining doors again. It can open out to his room and also to the corridor. He loves such an arrangement. The owner has left us some children’s books and toys. We didn’t touch the toys but read the kids quite a few stories. I read some of the books myself. 2 of them about Minecraft zombies (yeah I’m a voracious reader) and another of Roald Dahl’s Boy (nice one).

The apartment is situated right between lots of restaurants and eateries. There’s also a KFC and Hungry Jacks (Burger King) right around the corner. Baskin Robbins is just next to KFC. Less than 5 minutes’ drive away, you can find a Coles which has a Target in the same building as well as a Woolsworth. Usually parking is free for the first 3 hour. Remember to get a ticket and display

Fussy Ez hadn’t been eating well. He wanted rice. Hard to find that in Margaret River but fear not, there’s quite a few eateries that sell rice and noodles (not spaghetti) in Subiaco. Bibik Chan, Rice Baby, 2 other Japanese eateries are just right round the corner.

There’s a free bus that will bring you to the city and there’s also a Subiaco train station. Since we were driving, we didn’t explore them. But you can probably check in with the host to find out more. About 10 minutes away by foot is the Subiaco Primary School where the venue is used for the Subi Farmer’s Market every Saturday. Do check it out if you happened to be in the area.

Here’s the link to her listing.

Margaret River Chocolate Factory

We spent a stormy morning hanging out at the chocolate factory. After touring the Ishiya Chocolate factory in Hokkaido, this one looked very very small and very uninteresting.

Though touted by many bloggers that chocolate lovers can try out unlimited chocolates, in reality, there’s only 3 types of chocolate buttons. White chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate. They did have 1 huge bowl each. Lè meimei and Ez loved them. And we made the mistake of giving them chocolate samples the moment we entered. So we had 2 sugar overloaded kids by the time we had our breakfast served at the cafe. Don’t make the same mistake as us.

$2 each

Sugar fueled weirdness

We ended up spending about $100 on chocolates and cocoa drinks and about $80 at the cafe. The fish and chips ain’t too shady but the Waygu burger was a tad too salty. I had the mint chocolate milkshake and my suggestion is to skip that. Can’t taste the mint and it’s pretty diluted.

Then we bid the chocolate paradise farewell. Pockets pretty emptied and a shopping bag that ain’t too full.

Busselton Jetty and Underwater Observatory

A visit to Busselton Jetty is highly recommended. Here’s a few reasons why you should put it on your itinerary.

It would also be wise to book the tickets for the jetty train and the Underwater Observatory in advance unless you wish to vie with the other tourists (only 90 seats available) to queue for the next train which might be at least an hour later. Proceed to the row of blue houses to purchase your tickets/wait for the train. I had to wait in line at the information counter which is a distance away to know about this so I’m saving you the hassle. Of course the train ain’t the only way to the underwater observatory. You can walk. It’s only about 1.8km away (one way).

Look for this Blue House

Reason #1: The Busselton Jetty is the second longest jetty in the world. They actually extended it many times before they settled on its current status. It used to be the only legal place in Geographe Bay to load and unload goods.

Reason #2: It’s also a survivor! It remained resilient despite facing Cyclone Alby (1978) and a massive fire (1999). Much of the structure was damaged and had to be rebuilt. It had earned itself a place amongst the State Register of Heritage Places.

This girl insisted on sitting on the poop. I give up.

Reason #3: This Observatory is 1 of 6 natural aquariums in the world!!! It’s built on land (@Fremantle) and transported to its current location. They had to sink the entire structure then drain out the water thereafter. Such an amazing feat. You can’t enter the observatory unless you are part of the tour. Each 20 minutes tour can accommodate 44 pax. Do note that you need to climb several flights of stairs on a spiral staircase but they do have a lift for disabled access.

Excellent guide

Tiny play area to entertain the kids while we listened to the guide

Reason #4: The Stocker Preston Express (aka jetty train) is a special one and first of its kind in Australia. It’s powered by solar energy! They charged it overnight in the railway house behind the Equinox restaurant. Each carriage accommodates 6 people. It comes with see-through blinds on both sides to block out the wind. Ez was worried that his hair would fly away so we had to leave the blinds down. According to the website, you can’t bring along your pram/stroller onto the jetty train. However, you can opt to pay $10 for them to chain it to the jetty structure.

Reason #5: The Busselton Jetty is managed by a non-profit organisation and all proceeds (entry/tour fees) collected go back to conservation and preservation of the structure. Very nice.

Whale watching @ Augusta

Augusta is about an hour’s drive from our accommodation. Previously, the hub had arranged for the tour to be on Thursday but because of the storm alert, it was cancelled. That day, it rained cats and dogs (and that’s an understatement actually). Trees were uprooted and roads were closed due to ‘ponding’. During this period of thunderstorms which brought us lots of rain, even the ferries to Rottnest Island were canceled.

We decided to try our luck at rescheduling the whale watching to Friday, the day we had to drive back to Perth City. We drove there with all our luggage. Heard lots of horror stories about carsthat got broken into for mere tissue paper so we were quite apprehensive about leaving our bags there. The hub used the Doona travel bag to ‘cover’ our luggage. Theoretically, the first thunderstorm had past and the next one was only due on Saturday so we thought it would be alright to proceed. We thought wrong! Haha.

During our one hour drive down to Augusta, it was raining intermittently. Not thunderstorms but more like an intense drizzle. Wind speed was alright too. The trees weren’t bending over like the previous day. However, when we got to the boat, it was pouring.

The boat ain’t those open air kind. There’s 2 levels with sheltered seats. You don’t have to pay extra to sit next to the skipper. There were 2 other families. One from Aussie and the other family from Malaysia. The Daddy from the Malaysian family got sick too and he retired to the lower deck midway.

Grey skies

Our handsome captain

Cheeky – motion sickness hadn’t kicked in

We got Lè meimei this gray jacket from Target. Very thick and very warm. Only $15! What a steal!

Back to the whales.

The season for whale watching in Augusta begins in June and ends in August. After that, you will depart at Busselton Jetty from September onwards to catch a glimpse of the whales. Each session is about 2 hours and they more or less guaranteed that you will see a whale or two. If you are really unlucky, they will give you a DVD with photos FOC. The package also includes biscuits and tea. There’s 2 departure timing, one at 10am and the other at 2pm. Bring along a jacket and no high heels please.

There were only a couple of boats out at sea. Initially, the waves were still manageable. Ez and Lè meimei could still stagger around cheekily. Then once the boat ventured further from shore, the kids began to get quieter and paler. The skipper (aka the captain) communicated regularly with the other skippers on alleged sightings then they would close in. We had quite a few false starts and kept changing directions which made us even more queasy.

Ez started complaining of a tummyache. Then he got crankier. He insisted on heading back but we barely started our ride. Then Lè meimei stopped saying “Wah” to everything and instead started making retching sounds. Poor her. She absolutely had no idea what’s happening. She just clung onto me and told me by pulling on my Tula to indicate she wanted to get in. I started feeling sick too. I blamed it on the 2 ice cream I had in the car. That ice cream promised us a gay time but obviously it’s not so wise to eat them when one’s heading out to a choppy sea.

Not having much of a gay time cuz ice cream and choppy sea don’t go well.

The guide saw us struggling and offered us a puke bag. Thank god for that cuz I puked the ice cream out in no time. Then the hub got sick too. Poor him. He only had an ice cream but he puked way more than me. He grabbed my puke bag and proceeded to puke his guts out. He puked so much that he filled the puke bag. 🤢🤮😰

The above were some of the photos captured by our guide using my iPhone. Because by the time we saw the whales, the sea was really choppy and we had to hang onto the railings to keep us from being flung off our seats. Of course by this time, the hub was so sick that I had to hold onto both kids so it was impossible to get any shot. We just wanted to get back to shore.

Such a miserable experience.

If you think you have sea legs, you should experience it yourself. Book your tour here.

Ez emerged champion because even though he was crying and complaining so much, he didn’t puke. This little guy is not bad at all. Really. Cuz he ate half my ice cream and he only ended up with a queasy tummy. Lè meimei fell asleep and only woke up to puke after we left the boat.

After our puking stint, everyone was hungry and we went to have some fish and chips. It was really good and everyone passing through Augusta should try it. Much better than the ones we had later on at Cicerello.

The average wait was about an hour. You could call ahead and order in advance. This place has baby chairs though not too many and comes with FOC chilli and ketchup (in case you wanna BYOS). Here’s the website. Check the opening hours before you head out to avoid disappointment.

Lè meimei became a chips-eating machine on this trip.

And with a full tummy, we wrapped up our Margaret River experience.

Onwards to Perth City.

Margaret River: Sunflowers Animal Farm

We woke up bright and early for our farm visit! Well, actually the kids are early risers since they were little but the 3 hours drive yesterday totally wiped them out. They only woke up around 7.40am which was extremely rare.

Sunflowers Animal Farm was an hour’s drive away from our accommodation. Prior to our trip, the hub had booked and paid for a tractor ride because Ez is crazy over all these huge vehicles. But when we checked in with them, the girl at the ticketing counter informed us that the tractor ride may be cancelled as they could only proceed if 6 people signed up. Ez was literally crestfallen. We managed to talk our way through to the agreed upon entry fee (sign up for tractor ride will have discount for admission) to walk around the farm while waiting to see if anyone else would sign up.

So fluffy and so adorable! Lè meimei loves them! One can climb into some of these ‘animal nursery’ to pet the babies but I refused to let Lè meimei in cuz I fear for the lives of the little ones. She might eat them!

There were lots of baby animals around. All very hungry for food and attention. Most of the visitors were Singaporeans. Very obvious not because of our accent but because all of them had Jujube!

At about 10.30am, we headed back to their office to check on the status of the tractor ride, only to be greeted by the owners themselves. Apparently, they were willing to drive out even though only 3 of us were paying. They were very friendly people but it was very hard to have a conversation in the presence of Ez and Lè meimei over the roar of the engine. The owners have 3 dogs. 2 of them were mother-daughter while the 3rd one was the boyfriend (couldn’t catch if it’s the mum’s or daughter’s beau).

The bread was for the calves who were out roaming with their mummies but the dogs ate most of them. One of them had like 6 slices in a minute. Do you know that Mummy cows take turns to babysit their calves so they can go out to graze? Guess they don’t have much appetite when their kiddos are running around them too.

The kids did not appreciate being left on the bucket

Sorry, no photo of the beverage machine cuz I was trying to prevent Lè meimei from stepping on the poop landmine

The owner has a state of the art beverage machine right in the middle of his vast land, powered by a generator. Comes with Tim Tam chocolate biscuits and even a pit for toasting marshmallows. We didn’t get to do the marshmallow as there was a fire hazard warning in place that day due to dry weather. But just as well cuz I didn’t want Ez and Lè meimei to be high on sugar. The lady boss even pushed us on the swing. Haha! Well worth the price!

This one is sooooooooo cute. Kept looking at us with his sheepish eyes!!!

Lots of animals on the farm! My favourites are the llamas and alpaca. Don’t go too near to them eh, it’s said that they can spit at you. Cheeky fellows.

The Sunflower Animal Farm is great for exposing the kids to the great outdoors, the stinky poops and cuddly animals. Ez didn’t have much love for them though. He’s terrified of them and much rather be in the baby carrier. Lè meimei, on the other hand, didn’t want to be carried and instead waddled around on her own, poopy grounds also didn’t deter her from sitting down randomly.

You can get a bucket of assorted feed to offer the animals at $3. Very affordable and it’s quite a generous portion. Not like 5 slices of carrots for $5 at the Singapore zoo. 😓

There’s also a decent size playground on the grounds. Do allocate at least 3h for this place if you intend to go on the tractor ride too.

Airbnb @ Margaret River

I took a long time to choose our accommodation. So much so that we only confirmed the accommodation for Perth City like 8 days prior to the trip. Was telling my colleagues how stressful I was cuz we couldn’t find something we liked.

My Airbnb criteria:

  • We must have the entire house to ourselves cuz the kids are noisy.
  • Sleeping arrangement – bed(s) must be able to accommodate all of us (we co-sleep).
  • Shower facilities – have a detachable shower head for ease of showering the kids, they hated those overhead rain shower fixture and bathtub is a plus.
  • Kids friendly furniture – I scrolled through lots of photos in the listings just to shortlist those that have chairs Lè meimei can sit without falling, doesn’t have sharp corners glass tables, no excessive fragile decorations and certainly no books-filled bookshelves. No stairs if possible.
  • Affordable – not more than $140 per night.
  • Ample space for the kids to play.
  • Location – near to food and supermarket (low priority on this trip cuz we drive).

This listing fulfilled almost all my criteria plus came equipped with lots of wonderful surprises. I highly recommend this place for summer vacations. We will definitely be back. Here’s why.

A high chair!!!

So much space

King size bed with en-suite

Rain shower unfortunately but the kids enjoyed the tub

Washing machine and dryer

Fully equipped kitchen with stuff for the kids too

So thoughtful! New foil in the oven!

Outdoor grill

So much space in our own private ‘garden’

Books! But all hidden away from itchy hands

Games! Lots of them!

Though most of the games are not suitable for Ez and Lè meimei, but it’s such a nice touch. There’s also an entire drawer of DVDs which we didn’t watch because there’s Netflix! We allowed Ez to watch one episode of Tayo station each day, much to his delight.

One important reminder is to secure the knives and scissors found in the second drawer ASAP. Since it’s a fully equipped kitchen, with huge fridge, oven, microwave and dishwasher, the owner had also provided a few serious looking knives. So be sure to keep them away from little hands. Another thing to note is that as of June 2019, the bedrooms do not have heating facilities (only a ceiling fan) and it can get very cold at night especially when it’s raining. The owner has plans to install air-conditioners but it’s still pending approval.

Here’s the address for this lovely house just in case you want to check out its location via google map.

42 Little Colin Street, Broadwater, WA 6280, Australia