Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Western Australia Day 4: Busselton Jetty, Wonky Windmill Farm & Eco Park

Busselton Jetty Interpretive Centre

This morning, the sun was out such that when we stepped out of the shade, we could feel the heat beating down on our skin. But when we stepped into the shade, the wind chill was enough to make us shiver. Interesting!
Breakfast, if there was such a thing on road trips, was a bag of chocolate coated cookies, finished up in the car on the ride to Busselton Jetty which was located just a short drive away. We wanted to make it for the 9 am train ride and observatory tour, and found ourselves running into the ticket counter to buy a family day pass while a staff of the centre held the train for us. Just in time!

Our family pass includes the morning train ride and guided tour at the Underwater Observatory.

Calm and crystal clear waters. Great weather to enjoy the ride.
Our group was about a dozen strong including us, and Warren, our guide, gave us the housekeeping rules before taking us down to the different platforms at the intertidal, open water and ocean floor levels. At each level, he explained a little more about the marine life at each level and the history and significance of jetty.

The children are right in front with their faces pressed against the glass to get a glimpse of the 'inter-tidal' region. Life in this region is dynamic as the organisms are exposed to tidal changes throughout the day.

The 'Open-Water' region is fun to watch as many fish and animals that depend on the currents for their food can be spotted here. The colours and formations of the encrustations on the jetty pylons can be appreciated as they are illuminated by the sunlight coming through the water's surface.

The children try to discover little fish and animals hiding among the jetty pillars.

At the 'Sea-Floor' region, the jetty structures are heavily encrusted with coral and life-forms, and the rubble at the bottom of these structures provide shelter and hiding-places for all sorts of underwater life. It is a little darker down here as much of the sun's rays have been filtered out, so it takes patience to spot the smaller animals. Here, the resident batfish greets the children.

After the guided tour, participants are given time to explore all the platforms and ask our guide any questions. We had a good time asking Warren about life working in the observatory and what it takes to be a guide.

The train took us back to the Interpretive Centre, and along the way, we observed the jetty spring to life as people threw in fishing lines, took a stroll down the jetty and even use it as a diving platform. The weather was turning out to be the hottest since we got here and the beach was starting to look a little more like summer with sunbathers and swimmers out and about.

There is a new platform built near the beach that is a safe, designated swimming area.
Our next stop was the Wonky Windmill Farm and Eco Park, which lets children feed a variety of animals by hand. These include smaller animals such as chickens, guinea pigs and rabbits, and larger animals including kangaroos, llamas, ponies, cows, sheep and emus. The highlight of the visit had to be the bottle feeding of the energetic and adorable little lambs. Although full of enthusiasm at the start, the girls soon realized how large some of these ‘adorable’ animals were. They ended up spending most of their time in the pen with animals actually smaller than themselves – guinea pigs and rabbits turned out to be their favourites.

Bottle feeding the lambs! Each entry entitles you to one bottle feed.

The smaller animals were extremely popular with the girls. Not only were they less intimidating, but they had such adorable faces too!

Enthusiastic llamas can appear daunting especially when they are twice your height. That's when Daddy had to take over.

We headed back to the shed where the rabbits and guinea pigs were. It was nice to get out of the heat.

It took us over an hour to finish four bags of feed, and after washing our hands, it was our turn to get something to eat. There is an air-conditioned café that serves warm homemade scones, pastries and freshly squeezed juices.

There's a whole range of olives and pickles for tasting.

Simple toys and souvenirs for sale.

Outdoor dining area would be wonderful if not for the heat. 

There was a nice sand-play area outside, but it was too hot to enjoy today.

The homemade sausage-roll was full of juicy minced meat.

Scones with cream and jam for tea.

We decided to grant the girls their wish to take it a little slower today and spend time enjoying the amenities at the caravan park. However, they were so tired they knocked out on the short ride back. Once back, however, they changed out quickly. The sun was so strong that there were no kids out on the jumping pillow yet, so they played a little while with the neighbours before heading outdoors. Daddy joined the girls in the swimming pool and after their shower, our neighbours set up an ‘outdoor cinema’ with their iPad, which turned out to be quite a hit. We topped up the experience with a big bag of popcorn we picked up at Woolsworth the day before.

The girls had a dip in the pool to cool off from the heat.

While the girls bounce around outside, Mummy cooks up some tasty spaghetti.

Chicken sausage and vegetable stew.

No drive-through cinema, but just as fun.

Tonight we’re turning in early. A last night snack before brushing up. Tomorrow is our last night in Busselton before heading up to Perth. Heard it’s really hot up there.

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