South We Go

Week 8 Sheep, Yabbi’s and Wine

This post in Francais

Visiting a sheering shed, catching yabbi’s in a dam, learning the difference between different types of chickens, staying in a ghost town, tasting wine in the famous Margaret river wine valley, walking along the Cape to Cape track, reaching the southern most point of Australia and getting lost in the middle of the biggest trees in the country near Denmark.

Day 49 (20/10/10) Sheep sheering and Yabbi’s

Last night, Beverly was a ghost town and we could not find anything open and did not see anyone on the streets. After walking the length of the town twice we found the bar of the town’s hotel open there were 2 people inside, a very quite night.

Today was the most exciting day for us so far in Australia, in the morning just after 9am we met up with Shane, Shannon’s dad, who kindly spent the day showing us around the town of York. First on the agenda was going to see sheep sheering, we all know this happens as this is where wool comes from, but I had no idea how they do it. We drove up to a dusty shed in the middle of fields and fields of sheep; we go inside to see it all in action. You have three shearers each sheering a sheep at the same time, they are able to do this in less than 3 minutes and they take the sheep’s coat off in one whole piece. You have the girls that clear the wool from the floors, and you have the wool classer that looks at the wool and decides what quality the coat of the sheep is, depending on its strength and texture. They shear over 250 sheep each a day, a total of 750 per team per day. That’s incredible, but they have to be that fast as a small farm here has over 900 sheep and a normal size one has around 15000, that’s a lot of sheep to get through each spring.

The next stop of the day was Yabbi catching, what on earth is a yabbi? That was my question, they are small crayfish and they live in dams that farmers have on there land. It is easy to catch them, you just set out a trap with dog treats in and they fall in. After pulling three traps of yabbi’s out of the dam we are ready to go back to Shane’s home to cook them. To cook them you boil them in a pot of hot water, and then you peel them and make sandwiches out of them. After lunch we had a look around Shane’s Chock (chicken) farm, he raises chickens and many other kinds of birds to sell them later on.

We left the farm with a bag of lamb chops, a bottle of olive oil and a box of yabbi’s that all came straight of the farm, we were spoiled today.

We drove down, past Perth a campsite near Pinnjara, the campsite is in the middle of the woods and we and another caravan were the only ones there. We saw a kangaroo hop around and heard the sound of many others. I love camping in the wild.

Day 50 Bumbery & Busselton

Today it is cold, for the first time since arriving; we have not taken off our sweaters all day. The skies have been grey and we have been feeling sleepy, I guess that’s what happens when you get use to seeing the sunshine everyday. Now we are in the south west of the state, well under Perth, this area, around Margaret River, is a famous wine region in Australia. The town of Bumbery was small and cute; we climbed the look out tower and took pictures of the town below. We then continued down the highway to Busselton where we have camped tonight, in a camping only a few minutes walk from the centre of the town. Driving each day is very tiring and we want to stay here for a few days and do some walking a visiting. Tonight we cooked the lamb chops that Shane gave us on the BBQ, and desert we made apple flambé, sometimes we eat better on the road then we did back in Paris. We don’t have the luxury of take out food in our van so we have to be creative and work hard so that our meals don’t become boring.

Day 51 (22/10/10) Busselton

The last few days we have been driving a lot and we are a bit sick of it, so we decide to stay in the camping in Busselton a night longer. Today we visited the town, which is small and cute like most of the towns we have seen so far in Australia. Then we headed to visit the jetty, which is the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere, built of course by the English during the early 1800’s today it stands as a historical monument. We then decided to go and visit the marina, thinking that we would find a shopping complex there, after 6kms of walking all we found was a residential area, and of course no public transport to come back. After walking on the side of the road for a while, we found an English lady that took pity on us and dropped us back to our campsite. People are scared of hitchhikers here, just like they are in Europe.

Day 52 (23/10/10) Margaret River Wine Region

It is really expensive to visit tourist sites in Australia, most of the ones we have passed since being on the West Coast have been over 20$ to visit, so we visit around the sites mostly. Today for example, we went to a lighthouse that could be visited, but did not go inside because of the price. So instead we visited around the lighthouse, where there are walking paths that are free to walk on. We saw whales off the coast; it was shocking to see them. We also saw a big lizard and other tourists said they had seen a snake, but we did not see it. We then did the same thing at a cave site, we visited around the cave, but did not see anything interesting. In the evening we stayed at a campsite that was in the middle of fields full of sheep, when we drove down the path we could not see the campsite but only fields full of sheep, it is funny to see where you can camp in Australia. We met some other travellers like us staying at the campsite, a couple from Germany and another couple from Finland; we spent the night trading travel stories and tips.

Day 53 (24/10/10) Wine Tasting

Being in this famous wine region we had to go to some vineyards and taste Australia wine. We picked out three vineyards to visit; one which had won the best vine of the year 2009 award, a runner up and a very small vineyard hidden between the giant ones. Surprisingly we liked the vine at the small place the most; we brought a bottle of white from there. Some of the vines we tasted were really good, others were not so good. Here you don’t visit a vineyard the way you would in France; here visiting a vineyard means going to a vineyards and tasting the wine they have on offer. In France, when you visit a vineyard, you are taken on a tour of the land, and shown how the wine is made, stored and bottled. In the afternoon we lay on the beach on watched windsurfers, it was a lazy and relaxing Sunday. In the evening we moved to another campsite, we are now staying in the middle of the woods, and there are kangaroos spying on us, they just hop across the path as if they were alone and pay no attention to us humans who are making camp fires. The people also don’t notice the kangaroos they look at them like the way we would look at rabbit in the woods in Europe.

Day 54 (25/10/10) Cape to Cape walk

After a goodnights sleep in the middle of the forest, we have decided to walk park of the Cape to Cape walking track, the track starts in Busselton and continues to Augusta, following the coast. We walked 10km along the stunning limestone cliffs, watching the Indian Ocean. We see lots of different brightly coloured birds. Watching out for snakes, which I am happy, we did not see on this walk because there were moments when we could not see where we were walking. We were looking out for kangaroos or possums that are known to live in this area, we saw some tracks but we did not see them.
Once back at the campsite we set up our 6 person tent, which is almost as big as our van. We plan to use it when we stop and stay somewhere for a longer time.
We built a campfire tonight and cooked bananas on it, really tasty. I am sure I am going to miss all of this when we go back to the real world.

Day 55 (26/10/10) Leaving the West Coast

After packing up our camp site and leaving the forest that was our home for the last two days we drive to the sleepy small town of Augusta, the town is at the tip of the west coast; from here the South Pole is only around 6000kms away. We have a coffee at the lighthouse and look out over the stunning Indian Ocean for the last time before we head off the west coast and on to the south coast.
We drive 400kms and reach the town of Denmark on the south coast, it is colder here, very green, and here the forest meets the sea. We plan to stay here for the next 3 days visiting vineyards, walking, going to the beach if the weather gets better.

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