Friday, December 30, 2011

Perth Trip Recap (4)

Day 4 - Augusta / Margaret River

Let me start by telling you a little about our travel habits.  My friend is a Let-me-snooze-for-another-15-minutes and I am a I-want-to-get-up-go-out-and-see-everything.  I will be kidding if I tell you I wasn't worried about putting our friendship on a stress test.  So I am really impressed when my friend pretty much wakes up when I get up and starts getting ready.  I think we had a very smooth trip - we all saw / did what we wanted :)  Our mutual friend said we should give her credit because she has warned us about each other but my friend said that's because (1) she slept well, (2) have limited change of clothes and bags, and most importantly, (3) she did not have a blow dryer.  (The day she got hold of a blow dryer, it took her 45 minutes extra to get ready...  if we ever go on a trip together again, I am going to hide the blow dryer... just kidding... haha!)

theme song of the day:

林宥嘉 - 自然醒 Wake Up

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse - The lighthouse is located in Augusta, approximately 45 minutes drive from Margaret River.  It's claim of fame is mainland Australia's tallest lighthouse and the meeting point of the Indian and Southern oceans.   It's also the start / destination of the Cape to Cape Track (the other side is the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse).  The entry fee is $5 just to the grounds ($12 if you want to go up the lighthouse, which we passed). 

didn't see any snakes


can you see where the oceans meet?
One thing we noticed about driving around Western Australia is that they don't like to use street numbers.  Consequently, we have been guessing our way around most of the time.  For instance, it took us another 15 minutes to get to the lighthouse after the GPS said "You have arrived at your destination!"  Luckily, there are few roads so the chance of getting lost is next to impossible.

Augusta Bakery - Augusta is a pretty small town.  We decided to stop at the bakery for some coffee and a quick brunch before we had to our next stop since we were expecting to walk a bit.  The dining area offers a good view of the Blackwood River.  (if you are in a hurry, you can get the pastries to go)

flat white & curry beef pie (with BBQ and tomato sauce)

Jewel Cave - There are 4 caves in the area: Ngilgi Cave, Lake Cave, Mammoth Cave, and Jewel Cave.  In our opinion, you see one, you see all.  Therefore, we asked the receptionist at the YHA "if you can only go to one, which one will you pick?" and he said "probably the Jewel Cave".  Therefore, Jewel Cave that is.

This is the only part of the trip I shoot mostly in manual since it surprisingly yield better pictures. (I still use iA mode for the most part because I am lazy... I know I really shouldn't... -.-|||)

red line = sea level

looks like yuba / tofu skin (腐竹)

the truth is out there...XD
Leeuwin Estate - probably our favorite winery from the entire trip (we finally understood why it is ranked #1 of 13 attractions in Margaret River per as of 12/31/2011)

welcomed by a cute hare

We got there around 2 pm and we wanted to join the private tour at 3 pm (last one for the day).  Since we got some time to kill, we opted for a quick snack at the restaurant.  Finally, a place that speaks "business"!  We asked if we would have enough time to eat and join the tour and the waitress say they will "accommodate".  Food was pricey but fantastic.  We each had a flight and ordered an appetizer to share.   Probably the most expensive meal we had on this trip but also the best!

bread - AUD7

roasted banana prawns, chimichurri, radish - AUD19
the wine and food is paired perfectly
I will be ecstatic if I can dip bread in that marron oil with a glass of that chardonnay everyday :)
The tour itself is very informative. For AUD12.50, we learned about the history of the Margaret River wine region, get to go behind the scene and saw how the wine is made and stored.  Out of respect, we didn't take any pictures until we got to the gallery area.  I don't even recall I can do all this in Napa.  Even if you don't take the tour, you can still go down to their gallery to see their wine art and taste all their current release for free!

the decommission French oak barrel - new one costs USD800 each
the artwork used consistently on the Art Series Riesling,
everything else get a new picture every year
I definitely had more appreciation for the wine and understanding why a bottle of their "free flow" (i.e. no pressing), French oak barrel aged wine will cost you AUD89 (if you want the even better 2005 vintage, it will just cost you a cool AUD125).

the tasting area
our guide
the wines we tasted
our guide told us we were lucky, they don't often have an opened bottle lying around
guess what he'll be doing at 5pm ;)
Voyager Estate – Voyager is right next door to Leeuwin Estate and it’s a beautiful winery.  However, since we stayed at Leeuwin too long, it was the dreaded 5pm when we got to Voyager.  A lady told us we can stay for another 15 minutes in their grounds but everything else is closed.  The grounds are very pretty.  We just wished we had a little more time.

Settlers Tavern - since I can't put the wedges to rest, we went back for dinner.  We ordered the all-fried deluxe seafood platter (hoping they won't be able to say "no" to me this time to substitute the chips for wedged) and a second attempt on oysters - DENIED on both counts!  I actually asked if there is anything I can substitute for wedges (I am willing to pay extra) and they said no – they can add a side order for chips, just not wedges.  I asked them why and they finally told me the real reason why they can't... they don't have a button for it.  Reminded me of the AP report joke Aki, my manager from my last job, told me… LAME… (I have to save the story on the out-of-oyster for later… since I was so speechless about the wedges I had a brain freeze at that time… but I can guarantee you that it’s equally insane…)

I was so fed up at this point I ordered the full order wedges.  We ate the whole thing.  All I needed was some beer (and frustration?).  I asked the bartender (same guy) for another recommendation and said “I liked what you recommended yesterday, but wanted to try something new today.”  He answered “Sure thing! You only live once!”  Didn’t expect that response but okay…

Deluxe seafood platter - more chips that seafood
luckily, the wedges did not disappoint
The tavern was actually busier than the day before and it didn’t took long to find out why.  They have live performance.  The guy was good with his instruments but he seriously need to work on his lyrics.  His songs remind me of Rockafella Shank… aka one sentence on repeat over and over again…


Extras - Later that night we saw Gordon Ramsey on TV.  He was cooking a Xmas meal special.  For a change he didn’t swear at all (and the food looks good).  Well, that would be because his helper on this show was none but his own mother.  We loved how his mom shut him up.  She is definitely a character.


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