Wednesday, June 20, 2007

20 Jun 07 - Day 11 (Hay Street Mall & Murray Street Mall)

Left the apartment about 9+am on my own to explore Perth City. Took the Red Cat Service, a free bus service around the Perth City, and alighted near the shopping area. Spent the next few hours walking around the area, going into shops to look at the clothes and stuff. Got to see the London Court and it would really be an enjoyment to be able to sip coffee and eat breakfast there in the morning. The clothes in the shops were mostly those of the baby doll, baggy type and usually worn with another top inside. The coat, sweater, pullover sweatshirts and knitted wear were very nice but not practical to wear in Singapore so could only see but not buy.

Messaged sis about 11+am asking if they would be going to the shopping area and she replied to say they were just about to go out and arranged to meet me at the junction of Hay Street and Barrack Street, opposite MacDonald at 12 noon. So I started to make my way there slowly and closed to 12 noon, sis messaged again to say that they had arrived and that BIL wanted to go to the shop called Opal Exploration and that they would wait for me in front of the shop, Java Juice, below that opal shop. Found them and we went up to the opal shop and BIL bought a bracelet for his mum, a bracelet and a ring for my sis, a pendent for Lyn and me each. Those things cost him A$2200 of which A$200 is claimable from the airport. While waiting for him to make payment, I looked around the things at the counter and saw some key chains, opal chips and pendants in a small glass bowl. Out of curiosity, I asked the lady how much the pendant cost and she said about A$3 and she said she could give me one for free without much hesitation. Felt very happy about it and then we moved on to have lunch at a food court near the area. After eating, we took the Blue Cat Service to get to the Swan Bell Tower and I bought more souvenirs there.

Exterior of Swan Bell Tower

Birds in open field near Swan River

By the time we were done, it was 3+pm and we took a slow walk back to Saville. About 6pm, we ordered room service which they delivered the food after 45min. I had Apple Tart with Butterscotch Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream and Roasted Potatoes, BIL ate some chicken thingy, sis had pasta, and the kids ate pizza. Left for the airport around 10.30pm and we had some trouble checking in our luggage coz one of them was overweight by 2 kg and so BIL had to take out some stuff. Without recalling that liquid stuff cannot be brought up to the plane, he chose to take out his three bottles of olive oil. It was after they had checked in the luggage that I remembered it and asked sis about it. The counter lady said maybe the counter on the other side of the airport could help package them so that we could check them in but when we checked with that counter, we were told that they don’t have that service and that we either think of a way to check those in or discard them which means throwing away A$100+.

So in the end, BIL put the box of olive oil into Lyn’s knapsack and I gave him the extra number lock that I had brought along so that he could check in those three bottles of olive oil. By the time we reached the gate for the boarding, it was about 12 midnight, most of the shops were close and we had to board the plane at 12.30am. Quickly did the last minute shopping and bought two more sleeveless t-shirts. Boarded the plane and watched two movies in a row, Wild Hogs and A Night In The Museum while eating supper. After the second show ended, I took a short nap. After one hour, we had reached Singapore at 5.50am.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

19 Jun 07 - Day 10 (Caversham Wildlife Park)

By the time we left for Swan Valley, it was already 10am. Got to Caversham Wildlife Park about 11am, the kids played at the playground in Whiteman’s Park while sis and BIL went to the information office to find out about the entrance to Caversham Wildlife Park. Went to get tickets and spent the next few hours in the park. Saw many animals and birds from different parts of Austalia, wombats, wallaby, kangaroos, koala, etc. Spent the longest time in the kangaroo enclosure feeding them and stroking them. Some of them were bigger than those we saw at the Redgate Farmstay. About 1pm, we went for the “Meet a Wombat” session. We got to touch the wombat’s belly and the kids got to take photos with it. Went to the Koala enclosure and saw a couple of big ones sleeping, a 10-month old running about on the tree and one with a 5-month old in her arms. We left shortly coz sis and the kids were hungry.

A kangaroo with a joey in pouch in Caversham Wildlife Park in Swan Valley

Wallabies in Caversham Wildlife Park in Swan Valley

Ate late lunch at the café at the entrance of the Caversham Wildlife Park about 2+pm before going into the souvenir shop to look around. Left around 3+pm and BIL wanted to go to the MR Chocolate Company again to get a two more packets of chocolates for the groomer and also the kids’ tuition teacher, Mrs Han. So drove there and Ry and I followed him into the shop to eat the dark chocolates from the bowl. Headed back to Perth City at 4pm and drove to Hertz to return the car by 5pm. Then walked around the Hay Street Mall and Murray Street Mall before eating in a Korean restaurant. Holiday ending soon and I would be going back home tomorrow.

Front view of Margaret River Chocolate Factory in Swan Valley

Monday, June 18, 2007

18 Jun 07 - Day 9 (Bunbury & Mandurah)

Left for Bunbury about 9+am and got there about 11+am. Visited the Dolphin Discovery Center, a non-profit center set up to educate people all about dolphins, especially the bottlenose around Koombana Bay. Watched an 18min video on dolphin before getting some souvenirs from the shop. Then walked around the interactive zone at the beach and we were quite lucky to sight a couple of dolphins. Spent a while on the beach before moving off. Intended to head straight to Mandurah for the Canal Cruise but we made a wrong turn and got to an area with some food places. As the kids were hungry so decided to eat lunch there before moving off. Most of the restaurants were closed so ate at a Turkish restaurant that was opened. Left for Mandurah about 2pm and thought we could make it for the 3pm cruise, which was the last cruise for the day but we only got there about 3.15pm. Walked around the Mandurah Visitor Center area and BIL bought dinner from a Cicerello's branch there to eat in our apartment. The boss was a Chinese and he even gave us a plate of fried squid with chips to eat and said it was on the house while waiting for our food.

Area near the Mandurah Visitor Center

Cicerello's in Mandurah

"Fine" Dining in Saville - Cicerello's Meal

Sunday, June 17, 2007

17 Jun 07 - Day 8 (AQWA & Swan Valley)

By the time we set off for Aquarium of Western Australia also known as AQWA, it was closed to 10am. BIL wanted to do coastal drive and we stopped at the “Street Dog Beach” to walk around the beach and looked at the sea views. As the name implies, there were lots of people bringing their dogs there for walk and play. There were big dogs and small dogs running on the beach and some swam in the water and some played with each other. Set off again and reached AQWA shortly. Bought tickets and walked around the place. It was similar to our Underwater World in Sentosa but this has more marine fishes that were in Australia region. Saw a big, big stingray of about 3+m from tip to tip and sharks and there were divers feeding the fishes. Ate lunch at the café in AQWA about 12+pm and bought some souvenirs before watching the seal training outdoor, followed by a walk around the stingray section.

Dogs playing in the water

Dogs running around at Street Dog Beach

Left AQWA about 2.15pm to go to the Margaret River Chocolate Company in Swan Valley. Reached there about 3pm and there were many people there. The children were the happiest there coz they got to eat lots of chocolates there. Once you enter the place, there were three big bowls with three types of chocolate, dark, milk, white, for tasting. Took a handful of dark chocolates to eat while walking around the place to see the various products. There were so many chocolate products, chocolate bars, truffles, rocky road, jams, sauces, massage oil, bath salt, soap, mugs, wine glasses, t-shirts, etc. Ate rum and raisin ice cream cone at the café there before shopping for chocolates. Then we moved on to Mondo Nougat which was on the next street. Finally made our way back to Perth City about 4+pm and reached there around 6+pm. Bought KFC back to the apartment to eat as dinner.


"Fine" Dining in Saville - KFC Meal

Saturday, June 16, 2007

16 Jun 07 - Day 7 (Fremantle)

Left for Fremantle close to 10am and got there after about half an hour. Once out of the car, I was freezing coz of the wind as the Maritime Museum & Submarine Ovens are along Victoria Quay. Wore the jacket and waited for BIL to get parking tickets from a machine. Walked to the museum where BIL bought tickets for the museum entrance and the submarine tour at 11am. Walked around the souvenir shop and view the museum displays before joining the 11am tour. The submarine was very, very big and the inside was very, very narrow. It could hold 62 people inside with 20+ torpedoes. The guide was an old man who used to work in the submarine and he explained a lot to us about the submarine but I couldn't remember much now. After the tour, continued with the museum before getting some souvenirs and headed to the E-shed market nearby.

Inside the submarine

It was basically a warehouse with many small shops and a food court. Walked around the shops and went into a shop selling wallets, magnets, t-shirts, jackets, pens, caps, etc. The shop was operated by Indonesians and BIL bought fleece jackets for the family except me coz I didn’t want any as I had many jackets at home. He also bought some t-shirts for the kids while I got two. Walked around the shop and was browsing at the opposite shop when the owner came out. She was from Singapore and told me that the Indonesians sell things at high prices. Chatted a while and got to know that the lady and her husband came to Australia in 1989. Bought a Fremantle cap from them before leaving. After shopping, ate at the food court. All except BIL ate Chinese food consisting of rice or noodle with honey chicken, sweet sour pork, spring rolls and prawn crackers. BIL ate lamb and beef steaks. After I was done, I walked around other shops while the rest continued eating. After they were done, I joined them to walk some more before leaving. BIL bought sunglasses for the kids before getting into the car.

Headed for Fremantle Market and we walked separately. There was a section selling fish and seafood, one section selling veg and fruits and a section selling souvenirs, jewellery, clothes, etc. There were many things to see but not much to buy coz most of the things were made in China. Took some free postcards and stickers and then bought a ring for myself that cost A$74 and a pendant for a friend that cost A$24 from a shop and I paid A$100 for them. Walked around the area outside Fremantle Market before driving to Cicereilo’s, known to be Western Australia’s No. 1 fish and chips restaurant for dinner. As it is near Fishermans Wharf, it was cold and windy so I wore my jacket. BIL ordered seafood basket, battered fish and chips, battered squid and chips, chili crab and mussels. Didn’t manage to finish the food so ta bao back to eat in Saville.

Friday, June 15, 2007

15 Jun 07 - Day 6 (Cowaramup)

After the kids were done with eating and washing up, they wanted to go into the fenced up area again to see the joeys and I was dragged along. We jogged to the reception office to get more animal feed and jogged back to the fenced up area while sis and BIL packed the things in the cottage. Spent about half hour feeding the animals and then returned to the cottage.

Lyn then said that she got scratched on the neck by a joey so told sis to clean the scratch for her. Washed the hands and then loaded the luggage into the car to check out by 10am. While at the reception office, we got to see another golden retriever named Mozart. In the cottage, there was a write up on him telling guests not to feed him with meat but veg is ok but if possible, not at all coz the 5-year old dog was overweight. Though he looked big, he was quite docile. Then came Soc and they played together and they played rough. Soc was jealous of Mozart when we stroked Mozart more than him and so he fought with Mozart. We left the reception office and went to another part of the farm to see horses. We approached the fence and 3 horses approached us. The black horse seemed to like to be stroked. We then left to head for MR Town to visit The Melting Pot Glass Studio. The two men who are the makers of the art pieces came and started the demonstration around 11am. We got to try our hands at using a tool to pull the molten glass. The man named Nick then went on to show us the different methods used to create the different pieces such as starfish, seashells, etc. Then another man, a plump one named Gerry Reilly then demonstrated the making of a big plate. The demonstration lasted 1+hour and after that we browsed around the gallery to see the art pieces. Ate at the bakery shop beside the studio and had chicken sandwich before going back to the gallery to collect our purchases.

Ry having a go at glass blowing during the demo

Blowing into the molten glass to create shape

Then headed for Cowaramup to a shop called Moon Haven. It was a disappointment coz the shop sells mostly stuff like essential oils and soaps. Didn’t get anything and left after 15min to the Candy Cow shop beside it. Ry missed it previous round and so he bought a packet of candy this time. I bought another bag of soft candy and two pieces of fudge and got to taste the banana choc fudge. Left to head for Cape Lavender, which is also another disappointment coz unless you are one into wine and Lavender products, it would only be good for the scenery.

Lavender in Cape Lavender

Left the place about 3.30pm to head for Perth City. The initial part was all right coz there was still daylight and so easy to navigate and we managed to travel along Old Coast Road to see the sea view. We stopped at one part of the road to see the sea before continuing. It was after the Old Coast Road, heading to Mandurah that the sky started to turn dark and navigating was hard coz we were not familiar with the roads. Missed a few turns before we managed to get onto Kiwinana Freeway back to Perth City. I was quite stressed when we missed a few turns coz I was supposed to be the navigator. Got to West Perth and ate at a Japanese restaurant before checking into Saville about 8+pm.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

14 Jun 07 - Day 5 (Redgate Farmstay)

We checked out at 12 noon exactly and walked around the resort before having lunch at the café. Ate seafood basket and after eating, we left for Redgate Farmstay closed to 2pm.

Reached there about 2.30pm and saw a big golden retriever named Soc at the reception office. He was very friendly and active, couldn't stop running about. We then went to our cottage and the kids wanted to go to the fenced up area behind out cottage to touch and feed the animals. So I went with the kids while sis and BIL unpacked the things. We saw a goat with two horns first in another fenced up area, then we saw some baby kangaroos also known as joeys, they were so cute and allowed us to stroke them on the back. From far, there were two lamas, something that looked camels, one black and one white. They came galloping towards us and for a while, I was quite scared coz they were slightly taller than me and they didn’t stop till they were right in front of us. The white one kept following us especially me coz the kids were busy with the joeys. The white lama nudged and nibbled my sleeve and jeans. Ry then ran back to the cottage to get the animal feed that they had bought from the reception office during the check-in. We started feeding the animals and a lamb came over as well. Then BIL and sis came to join us and we fed the animals till 3+pm coz a man would be coming to bring us to see cows in a neighboring farm.

The White Alpaca (Jet)

The Black Alpaca (Raincloud)

A Joey

The man named Frank explained the operation but I couldn't remember much now. Only remember the cows were impregnated artificially, there were about 450 producing cows; one batch consists of 150 cows and the other consists of 300 cows; two batches were impregnated at different time of the year; each batch had to be impregnated within a month; the boy calves were no use to them coz they couldn't produce and their meat were not good enough for the Australian market so they were sold to Arab; beware when the cows held their tails up coz it would mean they are going to either pee or shit. Frank led us to the place where the cows were lined up with 20 in each row, two rows per milking, and showed us how they used a sucking machine to milk the cows. He said that some of the milk produced were shipped twice weekly to Singapore where QAF imports them, processed and packaged them to be sold under the brand name Magnolia. We were then showed the place where the calves were kept. Frank said that after a calf was born, the cow would wonder off and only start to bond with the calf after 2-3 days. The farmer would separate the calves before the bonding begins.

Got to touch the calves and because they were not fed yet so they kept sucking the hands that tried to touch them. Then Frank brought us back to the place where they milk the cows and let us have a try at milking the cow with our hands. I got to get a go and only succeeded at the second try. Left the place and headed back to the cottage to have a quick wash up before heading out to see if we could make it for the sunset horse ride. The place was not opened coz they were having some competition the next day. So we headed for MR Town to get dinner. Bought milo, bananas from Coles, a supermarket like our NTUC and then bought burgers, roasted chicken and fried chicken at a fast food restaurant called Chooks, like KFC back to the cottage to eat.

At the cow farm, cows getting ready to be milk

Frank, the guide, explain the milk production

Me having a go at milking the cow

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

13 Jun 07 - Day 4 (Cave Tours)

Left the apartment slightly after 9am and got to Nigilgi Cave slightly before 10am. Walked around the souvenir shop and then we started the tour at 10am. The guide told us the history of the cave but I didn’t remember much now. Only that legend has it that the cave used to be occupied by an evil spirit. Then Nigilgi, the good spirit with other sea spirit had a battle with the evil spirit and defeated it. The cave is about 11 storeys deep and has many formations. The guide brought us down to the platform, explained to us that we could spend as much time in the cave as we like and that she would be at the main chamber to explain to us the different formations and answer any questions that we have. There’s also a tunnel crawl for the kids. Explore the cave and went to one part of the cave where the area was very spacious and produce great echos when we speak loudly. By the time we reached the bottom of that area of the cave, we were alone, as the others in the group had ventured to the other part of the cave. The formations inside the cave were very beautiful and felt as though I was in the Indiana Jones movie. Went back up to the platform and then saw another flight of stairs leading to the deeper area of the cave.

The deeper we go, the harder it was to breathe coz of the humidity and also because the airflow comes only from the entrance that we got in which is also the exit. Left the place about 11am to eat at the café beside the cave. Ate fish and chips and after eating, bought souvenirs before leaving the place about 12+pm. Before reaching Lake Cave, we passed by Olio Belio, a place that specialized in Olive Oil and olive products and there’s also a café that sells food. Traveled to Lake Cave and got there about 2.30pm, just in time for the 2.30pm tour. This cave was even more magnificent, not because of the size but because there was a lake formation in the cave which creates a totally different formations and feel. Entered the cave and it was like entering into a whole new world, so quiet except the sound of the dripping water. Left the cave and bought more souvenirs at the shop.

Lake Cave

Left Lake Cave to head for The Berry Farm but BIL thought we had missed a turn and decided to give up to head for the Candy Cow shop instead which is in Cowaramup Town. Managed to reach there about 4.40pm and quickly grabbed some candies. Bought 2 jars of candies, one for me and one for a friend, 2 packets of candies for office. Left the place and headed to Margaret River (MR) Town to eat at VAT 107 restaurant. It was a high-class restaurant and I had fish of the day. Left slightly before 8pm and got back to Abbey at 8+pm. The journey back was slower coz there weren’t any street lamps along the road back to Busselton.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

12 Jun 07 - Day 3 (Margaret River Town)

Reached Busselton Jetty about 9+am, BIL bought tickets for the tour and then walked around the souvenir shop where Ry saw a machine that sell gold souvenir coins for A$2. He had two A$2 coins and so got one for himself and one for the sister. I didn’t have any A$2 coin and so I thought I wouldn't be able to get one of those coins. Ry went to his father and got a A$2 coin and gave to me and so in the end I got a souvenir coin as well. It was really very sweet of him even though he could be a nuisance at times. Started our walk to the end of the Jetty where the tour was and it was very windy. Wore my sunglasses during the walk, though not the branded ones but it was better than nothing. Reached the Observatory Center and looked around the souvenir shop while waiting for the tour to start at 10.25am. Bought a magnet for a friend. Started the tour and the guide introduced the Jetty and the underwater marine life. Spent some time there before walking back to the mainland.

Ate Simmo’s ice cream at The Nautical Lady Entertainment Center and I had a double scoops cone of Swiss Chocolate and Mango Macadamia. The kids and BIL also had double scoops cone each and sis had coffee with muffin. BIL bought one more extra muffin and after a while the ice cream, the kids gave their cones to me and BIL to finish while they eat the muffins. Done with eating, we moved on to Cape Naturialiste Lighthouse and by the time we got there, it was 1+pm. Bought tickets and while waiting for the tour to start at 2pm, I bought some souvenirs for a friend and myself and also looked around the museum. Climbed the lighthouse and the view was spectacular on the top of the lighthouse. Then we moved on to Nigilgi Cave coz BIL bought combine tickets for the tours for the lighthouse and the cave. We managed to get there before 3.30pm but as Ry wanted to nap longer in the car, we ended up missing the 3.30pm tour, last tour for the day, by a few minutes. So we decided to head south to Margaret River Town to look for food. Left the cave area and to head to Margaret River Town, we made a wrong turn at the junction and ended up at Yallingup Reef. It was a good thing though coz else we would have missed the beautiful sea view. All except sis ventured out towards the sea, climbing rocks to take pictures.

The Nautical Lady Entertainment Center

Lighthouse at Cape Naturialiste

Yallingup Reef

Got to Margaret River Town about 4+pm, drove around the town and then decided to eat at the Waves Seafood restaurant. We went there about 5.30pm but the restaurant only opens at 6pm so walked around the area to kill time. Share seafood platter with sis and BIL, Lyn ate pasta while Ry ate pizza with mussels. Left the place about 7+pm and headed back to Abbey.

Monday, June 11, 2007

11 Jun 07 - Day 2 (Busselton)

About 8+am, BIL and Ry went to collect the rented car from Hertz at Milligan Street while the rest of us stayed back to pack up and check out at 10am. BIL and Ry came back with the car, a Ford Territory, close to 10am and we packed our luggage into the car to set off to Abbey Beach Resort in Busselton. I was told to sit beside BIL to help navigate while sis and the kids sat behind. We started off quite well coz Perth City was fairly easy to get around with a map but after we were out of the city, it was a bit tough. Fortunately, I photocopied a map that shows the way from Perth to Mandurah and also the route to take. Missed a turn couple of times when we got to a roundabout to connect from Kiwinana Freeway to Safety Bay Road to connect to Mandurah Road. The unfortunate thing was that my map only stopped at Mandurah and not further south. The route I had printed say to travel along the Old Coast Road but when I realized that we were on the Australind Highway, I didn’t suggest the route coz I found that traveling via Highway is safer. Though longer to get to our destination, it was easier to navigate.

After traveling for about 2+hours, BIL needed a break and since it was 12+pm, we decided to stop at a Gull petrol kiosk to have lunch at the Settler’s Roadhouse Café. Shared food with sis and BIL and BIL bought two maps from the kiosk that show more detail roads in Perth City and also the Southwestern Regions. Hit the road again about 1+pm and this time it was easier to navigate with the detailed maps and we reached the resort about 3+pm. It was supposed to be a 5-star resort but we ended up having to bring our own luggage up two flights of stairs to our apartment ourselves, unlike at Saville where the porter would do that. Some of the lights in the apartment were faulty, only one receptionist, no aircon in the room, had to open windows for ventilation, etc. Hit the road again about 4+pm to Busselton Jetty, took some photos before paying for the Jetty entrance fee to walk along the Jetty. Only walked half of the 2km Jetty and turned back coz we planned to return to the place the next day for the Observatory tour. By the time we walked back, it was about 5.15pm and the sun was setting. The sight was so beautiful, just like those in Pirates of the Caribbean.

 Busselton Jetty

Beautiful Sunset

Left the place to hunt for dinner and ate at the Red Rooster, a fast food restaurant, about 6pm. The food was salty but better than no food. Then we hunt for supermart to buy bread, cereal, and milk as breakfast for the next day.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

10 Jun 07 - Day 1 (Perth City)

Touched down about 2.25pm on Perth International Airport and only got to leave the airport after about 1 hour. Took a maxi cab to our apartment, Saville Suite Apartment, and the journey took another about 20-30 min. The air felt cold when we stepped out of the airport. Checked into the apartment around 4pm and set out to walk along Hay Street half hour later. Most of the shops were already closed by then. Just when we reached Murray Mall, the kids said they were hungry and so ate at Subway. Sky turned dark about 6pm. Done with eating about 7pm and while walking back to Saville, we stopped by a supermart to get water, tibits and instant noodles.

Front door of Saville