Before saying farewell to Perth we chose to do a short journey to the north to see a few interesting sights we had missed on our way down. Our first stop was the Leighton Coast Battery and WW 11 tunnels in Mosman Park, north of Fremantle, unexpected relics of the war years this far south. Moving further north we came across the site of the abandoned Atlantis Marine Park, in Two Rocks, a former Alan Bond venture, closed in 1990 but with its large prominent statue of King Neptune still attracting tourists. After a lunch break we continued on to Lancelin to check out the recreational sand dunes, hosts to sand boarding and buggy driving, regrettably the weather preventing us from enjoying any activities.
Today we proceeded up the Turquoise Coast on route 60 (Indian Ocean Drive) to the Pinnacle Desert in Nambung National Park. As our rig is to long we were unable to do the 4km one way driving loop through the desert, so after paying our $12 park entry fee we had to park in the designated area and explore on foot, even though we were allowed to walk the drive if we wished. We rugged up and hit the 1.2km trail to the Desert View Lookout where we marveled at the impressive vista, with its vague similarities to a miniature Cappadocia in Turkey. We wanted to immerse ourselves in this wonderous desert so continued our walk along the designated roadways before returning to the Interpretive Hall where we could gather more information. A very different, surprising and impressive National Park. A little further up the Turquoise Coast we stopped in to Lake Thetis at Cervantes to visit the home of Stromatolites and Thrombolites, diverse microbial communities which have been growing for about 3500 years. From here we continued on via Moora to New Norcia, Australia’s only monastic town.
The following day we booked in for the 11am walking tour of New Norcia but first we had time to roam through the Museum and Art Gallery to see the eclectic array of Mission and Monastery memorabilia, European religious art and contemporary Australian art works as well as the Charles Austin Gardner Exhibition of Botanic drawings. Then it was off on tour with Sue our volunteer guide who was very knowledgeable on the history and architecture of New Norcia. She took us through the Abbey Church where luckily on a Saturday only, one of the Monks (Dom Robert), who is an accomplished musician, played an original piece by the towns founding Monk (Rosendo Salvado) and a piece by Chopin on the piano and then we were privileged to have him play another Chopin piece on the 2000 pipe German pipe organ. Continuing on we visited the New Flour Mill, the Education Centre, St Ildephonsus’s Boys College with its ornate chapel, finishing at St Gertrude’s Girls college and it’s ornate chapel, a very interesting and informative tour. After a refreshing beer and wine at the historic New Norcia Hotel, established in 1927, we set off on the self guided New Norcia River Walk encompassing the Old Piggery, Moore River Weir, the Apiary, Bishops Well, the Olive Groves and workshop, the Old Blacksmiths Shop and the Farm Road Bridge. By now it was time to “meet a Monk” so we proceeded to the Monastery to meet Dom Chris, who gave us a very entertaining perspective on the life of a Monk.
Our last day was spent wine tasting at some of the Swan Valley wineries. At Sittella Winery we ventured in to try their wares, and with the help of the friendly staff we choose four different styles, a sparkling Chenin Blanc, a 2014 Petit Verdot and two 2016 Shiraz Grenach Tempranillo for our mobile cellar. After a light lunch we strolled through Maali Park and crossed the Swan River to visit another couple of wineries. The first here was Black Swan which didn’t have anything to our taste so we moved on to Little River which did have a few we ended up purchasing, a 2016 Malbec, a sparkling Brut de Brut, a 2010 Shiraz and three Viognier Marsanne clear skins. Then it was back to Perth for our last night before heading further south.