Sunday, December 21, 2014

Western Australia Day 2: Exploring Denmark

Panaromic view of Greens Pool, Denmark.

“8.00 am, leave Denmark and travel to the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk”
At least that’s what the itinerary said. In reality, 8 am and we were barely out of bed. It was cold despite the fact that the sun was up before 6 am. The room was still in a relative mess and our belongings were strewn all over the furniture and floor like we were going to be back here again tonight. Mummy had the arduous task of packing up as we took turns to freshen up in the washroom, waiting patiently for our turn under the warmth of the blankets in bed.
After all, this was a holiday, and what’s a holiday without a sleep in and a slow, lazy breakfast? Itineraries are useful in that they tell us everything we didn’t do because we were enjoying ourselves. It also reminds us that there’s a lot to see when we’re ready. 
And by the time we were ready to bid goodbye to Rob, our wonderful host and manager of 31 on the Terrace, it was past ten in the morning. We weren’t ready to jump back onto the itinerary just yet as there was a bookstore we wanted to browse on the way to dinner yesterday, but missed out on as we arrived at closing time.

After looking through the store, we finally got into the car and bid farewell to the town. We had set our GPS to take us to Greens Pool. Apparently, if you only had time to see one beautiful beach along the famed coastline surrounding Denmark, this has to be it. From pictures online and magazines, we expected Greens Pool to be large rock protected calm, crystal clear waters with snorkelers exploring the underwater grass beds, visitors spreading picnic mats, children playing in the sand, and fine sandy beaches littered with sunbathers. We got the fine sandy beach part correct, but summer comes a little late this year, and it the winds were too strong for swimming and it was too cold for picnics or sunbathers. There were instead two or three other small groups exploring the high tide line, but other than that, it still looked like winter! I guess the vision of Greens Pool in summer will have to wait another day.

The girls played with fine sand higher up on the beach in front of the picturesque scenery.

Not your typical beach wear, but it was too cold!

Now back to the itinerary: Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. Back in the car, we were distracted by a signboard pointing to a Meadery. Curiosity got the better of us, and we figured that a holiday good itinerary was only one that could be deviated from over and over again. This was a road trip, and road trips don’t go according to plan.
So off we go to the meadery. Inside was a glass beehive where we had a chance to observe the bees come in and out of their hive, and all the hustle and bustle that goes on inside. The manager of the little one-room shop selling all-sorts of honey derived goodies explained that the bees would go out in the day and return by night to their queen, filling up the little pots in the comb with the nectar they collected. They would then ‘dance’ around them and flutter their wings to warm the nectar, causing the moisture to evaporate and hence concentrating the sugars of what used to be the nectar to make honey.

Bartholomew's Meadery is a small room-sized building.

The glass beehive was interesting to watch.

While the kids were kept busy watching the bees at work, Daddy and Mummy joined some visitors at the honey-tasting corner, where we busied ourselves tasting all sorts of honey. Aside from the more traditional honey flavours, this was the first time we had chilli flavoured honey, which had a unique sweet and spicy after-flavour to it.

Many flavours to taste.

You can’t visit a blueberry farm without eating blueberry ice-cream, and you can’t leave a meadery without tasting honey ice-cream, so here we go… a cone for you and a cup for me. After tasting all the flavours available, we settled for the original stuff and left with a jar of ‘Pure Unprocessed Varietal’ honey.

Hmmm, which flavour should we get?
A short drive away and we finally made it to the Valley of the Giants Tree-Top Walk! Mummy got us a family package for $37. The walk takes us up a metal walkway into the canopy of the giant trees that this region is known for. A was more than happy being high up among the trees but K was cautious and would only move when Mummy held her hands. Still, she was really happy and proud of herself when we completed the whole walk. Strolling and soaking in the views as we went along, we hardly realized just how high we were till we looked down and felt the butterflies in our stomachs. If you’re afraid of heights, we advise you to look straight ahead!

Don't look down now!

If you use your imagination, you may see faces at the bases of these giant trees.

On our way out, the girls decided that they wanted to try abseiling from the walkway. Despite having experienced rock-wall climbing, abseiling was a new experience. Whilst it would probably be cheaper back home, the holiday mood and opportunity for a unique family experience was worth the extra cost. Besides, you get to do it among the tall trees in the Valley of the Giants.

The hardest part was probably persuading the girls to trust their hardy looking instructor, Sven  (SpaceChamelon Adventure) , and step over the railing.  Despite his size and strength, he quickly won the kids over with his comforting, firm and yet non-compelling tone in his instructions and encouragement to the girls, never forcing them to do anything but presenting each step with clarity and purpose. We were very thankful that the girls had such a good instructor for their very first experience. It sure made a difference.

Step of faith...

Learning to trust the instructions, equipment and deal with challenges.

It's K's turn. After seeing how much fun her older sister had, she persuaded us to get her a ticket.

On her final try, our older girl decided to see things from a different perspective...

Wow! What an experience. It’ll be something they’ll definitely be talking about for a long time to come. Mummy bought an extra bottle of lemonade from the gift-shop to celebrate their achievement.
The girls had overcome their challenge for the day, and now, it was Daddy’s turn – a 3.5 hour drive up to Busselton while everyone took a well-deserved nap. The drive was scenic, but after a while it all started to look the same. By the time we got to our accommodation for the next few nights at Busselton's Big4 Beachlands Caravan Park, it was close to 6pm, and we checked in just before the reception closed for the day. As Daddy and Mummy checked out the cabin and unloaded the luggages and did a little house-keeping, the girls headed straight for the jumping pillow at the playground to join the other children who were already bouncing away eagerly before the staff deflated the pillow for the day. We headed out again for a quick scan of the area and dropped by the local IGA for some groceries.

Our cabin for the next four nights!

Grocery shopping.

Dinner was a microwaved ready-to-eat lasagne and roast chicken we got from the supermarket. To end the day, we sat around the table and played ‘Hangman’ over snacks and lemonade. After a long day soaking up the outdoors, it was wonderful how the simplest moments, such as a pen and paper game, was just as enjoyable and meaningful beyond expectations.

Do we really need to fly five hours to experience quality time? Not necessarily, but being away from work and household chores does seem to provide more family bonding opportunities. It serves as a reminder to me that when we are back home in our daily, busy routines, we need to be intentional about setting aside quality time with those that matter most to us. Of course, for Mummy, it just means more reasons for more reasons for family travel and less housework.

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