Touring the South West: Donnybrook to Pemberton

It has taken three weeks, but here I am, sleeping all day as I inevitably always do when left to my own devices. My hope is that Murphy's Law will kick in and the movers will announce that they're bringing the stuff at 8 a.m. tomorrow, since last we heard said stuff had entered Customs just over a month ago and "should be ready in 10-14 days." (Googling since has shown that the Australian movers contracted by our shipping company have a known history of taking much longer than they said.)

If it takes much longer, I'm going to have to bump back my return ticket to the States. Part of me coming here when I did (other than being desperate to see Mike) was so I could deal with arranging and semi-unpacking the incoming shipment. (Then again, both of my suitcases are still lying on the floor, a quarter full, so I don't know who I'm fooling.)

But let us return to the week before last, when Mike was still on school holidays and one Sunday morning he said, hey, let's go for a drive down south and stay a night somewhere.

Partial Itinerary

(Little did I know that I was looking at our itinerary.)

Donnybrook - Gull Fruit Barn

Our first stop was in Donnybrook, which is known for its apples, hence the apple-headed creatures seen in the terrible photo above.

I know Donnybrook is a beautiful place because I've seen photos from a day trip Mike took just before coming to the States (back when Donnybrook was a day trip for him and not just a place down the road). However, the quaint downtown on our left was overshadowed by a monstrosity of a plastic playground that stretched just as long and high on our right. I guess I didn't take a photo because I was too agog.

So, my main memory of downtown Donnybrook is stopping at the Big Apple Bakery and eating my first pasty. (I couldn't keep holding out for a trip to Cornwall to do it properly.)

Donnybrook - My First Pasty (Vegetarian)

This one was vegetarian with peas and potato and carrots, etc. It was nice - like the child of a pot pie and an empanada, but with the preferable pastry crust that skipped a generation.

(Here's where I stop typing and go looking for pasty recipes to add to my "Vegetarian Pleasures" Pinterest board.)

(Then I was too hungry to keep typing because, you know, it's 3 p.m. Time for breakfast.)

Our next stop - and it was a proper stop - was Balingup. This isn't to be confused with Boyanup, which we'd passed through earlier. I felt like we were in the opening chapter of The Hobbit. The "up" suffix on the end is prevalent in many Australian town names, and (according to Mike) these are all places that have water nearby.

As Mike had promised, each of these little towns that we passed through were all charming and tourist-friendly. It's kind of an alternate universe where Route 66 survived. (Kind of.)

Balingup was especially charming, though. Who cannot be smitten with an arcade in the center of town that features a cheese shop as well as a bookstore that also sells socks?

Balingup - The Packing Shed

Balingup - The Packing Shed Sign

Balingup - The Packing Shed again

The woman behind the counter in the cheese shop offered us a taste of one of the cheeses. I assumed she would offer us one of the one-centimetre squares (see, I can speak metric) already cut, but no, she shaved a bit off the same 1cm square for each of us. (Never before has my use of "a bit" felt so literal.) Odd.

But she was otherwise very nice, so I was happy to buy a little sheep and some soap from her. (Was tempted by the cumin gouda, but that's not the kind of thing you can buy at the start of a trip that, by now, I knew would involve at least two nights away.) Of course the first Aussie soap I bought had to be eucalyptus.

Cheese Shop Sheep and Soap

(I dig the black backdrop provided by our balcony furniture cushions. We'll see how long that lasts when we're no longer able to pull in the furniture when it rains because of all the boxes in the apartment. If the boxes ever arrive. Oh, my head.)

We enjoyed peeking in at the restaurants and looking over the antiques.

Balingup - The Mushroom Bakehouse & Cafe

Balingup - Antiques

Balingup - Nutbrown De Luxe Icing Outfit

It seems like every town has a visible war memorial as you drive through.

Balingup - War Memorial

(Yeah, I'm so unused to seeing vibrant blue skies with fluffy clouds that I have no idea how to get the exposure right in my photos.)

Balingup - Rose Near War Memorial

I struggled again with proper exposure in the photo below, so you probably can't see what got me SO EXCITED.

Balingup - Places to Go

Unrelated photo from the parking lot in Balingup that I just like:

Balingup - Hillside Near Center of Town

Back to what I was saying. What's not really visible in the signs above is this:

Balingup Lavender Farm - Entrance

Lavender farm! Lavender farm!

Balingup - Lavender Farm

Balingup Lavender Farm - Lavender

Balingup Lavender Farm - Plants for Sale

Balingup Lavender Farm - Egerton Blue

Balingup Lavender Farm - Gardens

We didn't stay long, just enough to know we'd be back, since it's mid-autumn here and the lavender isn't in bloom. In fact, two days later the farm closed for the season. So, until the October comes when I can visit the farm in its prime, I'll just have to comfort myself with the souvenirs of lavender honey, lavender soap (shaped from leftovers to look like BUNNIES), and lemon marmalade (with lavender). The last gives me all kinds of satisfaction, knowing how hard the orange marmalade cartel works to keep other marmalades a secret.

Lemon Marmalade, Lavender Honey

Hand-Milled Lavender Milk Soap Bunnies

Bunnnnnies.

On the way back to the highway, we stopped in at The Old Cheese Factory.

Balingup - The Old Cheese Factory Is A Lie

Now, having been fooled by the Old Butter Factory in Busselton just the week before, which turned out to be a museum and not a butter factory at all, you'd think we'd be on to this Old (Dairy Product) Factory scam. But as you can see, there's a sign for a cafe and everything. Food seemed to be involved!

It wasn't, but the building did house all kinds of objects made by Western Australian (and beyond?) talent. Granted, some of those objects were things like signs with sarcastic slogans, and other objects were "typical" Australian souvenirs (some typically made in China), but we still found quite a bit of unique artistry and some antiques to see as we stepped over and ducked through a labyrinth of rooms. No cheese, though, nor did we see a cafe, but definitely a place to prowl over more than once for the hope of treasures in the corners.

Still, I think there was food, or something, once. This sign does truncate rather abruptly:

Balingup - Old Cheese Factory Sign

Our next pause was in Bridgetown, which like Donnybrook I remembered from Mike's photos. Our big event was to stop in the local IGA and get some sodas and snacks to have in our room that night. (It's sad how relieved I was to go to a grocery store that wasn't inside of a shopping mall. I don't know why the "go to a mall to buy groceries" thing is bothering me so much. It should be just a quaint bit of trivia, but culture shock tickles even my numb self.)

So, Bridgetown was another stop not done any real justice, but that just means more for next time (we kept saying). We were told by an IGA employee that gummy vitamins for adults are due in the shops in two weeks. Woohoo! I've been suffering since running out in Texas and didn't realize they wouldn't be available here. (Yes, I could grow up and just go buy a bottle of regular multivitamins, and maybe it would last for several years before being thrown out for being out of code, just like all the ones I bought before they invented adult gummies. I'm not good at vitamins - if the smell doesn't bother her highness, it's the size.)

Obligatory photo of Bridgetown taken with phone when schlepping a box of lemon Solo (does Solo come in other flavours?) back to the car, meant to hint at the historic aspect that we'll appreciate some other day:

Bridgetown - The Blackwood Pharmacy

Next on the hey-cool-click-click-through-car-window was Manjimup, where signs for a cherry festival caught our attention (but we'll forget before December), and Mike told me the area is known for its truffles. (Not the chocolate kind.)

Manjimup - Entrance

Email later from Dad: "I read that Manjimup is known for its truffles."

Remember (no.) when I recently posted about how small and pointless Target is in Australia? Well, in rural Australia they have an even smaller version of Target (how?) called "Target Country," which Mike said he "hadn't seen in years." However, given the size/location of Manjimup, it's probably not pointless and is instead... more pointful.... pointridden... something useful.

Manjimup - Target Country

I pretended this was street art:

Manjimup - Vandalism or Street Art

Call in Fred and Carrie and start shooting Manjimupia.

Manjimup, despite being hard to say without grimacing while repeating MANZH MANZH MANZH (you know, like "zh" like "Zsa Zsa") until your gums feel funny, seems like a lovely place with promising economic development afoot. (I HTML'ized a bunch of eco dev copy back in my old, old, one-before-that life. I recognize the potential for "alluring business-friendly infrastructure in a well-appointed community" when I see it.) I was going to say that it was very clean, but so far everything in Australia is clean. On this whole trip I didn't even spy one derelict turn-of-the-century farmhouse.

We turned off the highway for the sixteen kilometres to Pemberton. Pretty blurs, like wineries and gazebos, flicked past.

Beautiful Blurs Whizzing Past

(I swear I didn't overprocess that photo, or even process it beyond re-saving it. The windows on our much-appreciated gift of an ancient - 1991? 1992? - but steady car have special properties.)

Among the things whirring by was the turnoff sign for that night's lodging, which Mike had selected and booked himself with zero input from me (who'd been lolling in bed only three hours before). (Uber-planner here was kind of excited.) But it was only early afternoon, and we had somewhere to go first. Somewhere Mike had been talking about for a long time...

15 May 2013 |



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