Easter 2022, a great time to get away, thanks to the extra day off from my employer. With five nights off, but no booking, we weren’t optimistic of finding anything by the coast. Despite this, I called the Discovery Park in Bunbury at Koombana Bay and they had an unpowered site available! Booked! We were very hopeful it would be as great for a holiday as it was for a day trip earlier in the year.
We have been to Bunbury many times, but always as a stop off on the way the to or from somewhere else. The equivalent in NSW would be Newcastle or Kiama. The place where you get out of the car to stretch, grab a coffee or ice cream, have a comfort break, and get going again. It’s known for being the end of the railway line south bound, the home of the dolphin, the Farmers Market, the port, WAs meth user capital and the home of the Bunbury Tower. It strikes me as a sleepy place, always sunny, with great open beach and bay options. The kids and I stayed here for a single night when we were road tripping once, but we didn’t explore much. So here, we are for an extended stay.
We arrived safely, after work on Thursday, to find we had been allocated a tiny little site, no wider than Maz is long. We dropped the camper, parked up the trailer and set out the tent for the toys. This trip we have the kayaks, the road bikes, the electric scooters and the stand up paddle boards with us. At the moment, there aren’t too many others here, but it looks like it could get busy and squishy. Time to stock up on food and drinks for a lovely weekend.
Happy Easter to all. We woke to a lovely day, perfect to get the road bikes out for the first time in ages. In fact, the last time we rode them was probably in Jurien Bay when we stayed at Karda last year. After a hot cross bun, we started off towards the beach. We rode out from the caravan park to the shared path at the back of the park that follows the inlet. We headed around to the gap, over the inlet access and onto the foreshore. The place was full of people enjoying the morning sun and the water. Onwards we explored the jetty and baths area. Looks like a perfect place to SUP. Next, we crossed over to the ocean and rode as far as we could on the shared path. There is so much beach here, more than enough for everyone to have their own patch! Eventually we needed coffee, so we rode back to the jetty area and indulged in coffee and cake at Corners on the Bay. To finish off our fabulous ride we added a loop of the inlet. That was loads of fun and it was great to be back on the saddle, though my butt may not agree.
In the afternoon, as a means to lose the cake calories (are there calories when you are on holidays?), we put the kayaks out into the inlet and paddled through the cut, into the bay and around the yachts. The we headed along the beach, towards the Dolphin centre. No dolphins out this late, but we noticed the “Bar open. 3pm to 10pm” sign and hatched a plan for sunset drinks. Back through the yachts, with names like Miss Behavin, Still Dreaming, Crews Control and Empty Pockets. What was it we called our kayaks that time we paddled around Ascot?
Back on dry land we loaded our vessels back onto the ute for the 200m trip back to the camper, before we crossed the road back to the Dolphin Centre for the world’s most expensive sunset drink, with must-order-Public-Holiday-fries. I only wanted a drink with a view. After sunset the show started back in the now jam-packed campground. When I say jammed, think of this. Our site is as wide as our ute is long. On site we have our trailer and the camper with one awning tent off the side. Our trailer on the left is now stuck on site, while we can’t access the tent door on the right. We have very near neighbours on both sides, as well as right around the loop. There are an estimated 3 million children among the 20 odd sites in the loop and half their parents are rip roaringly drunk. The antics and shenanigans from fellow campers are both amusing and ugly, in equal portions. There are going to be some sore heads tomorrow! Meanwhile, cheese and crackers for dinner at our house, with a few more drinks, including a tasty hot cross bun gin.
Despite my butt telling me I really should stay out of the saddle, we were up and off from a ride to Pelican Point. It was an awesome ride, along a lovely flat path to the back of the main inlet, directly opposite the entrance where Turkey Point is. It was a beautiful morning and after riding around the canals, admiring the homes, we rode back to our smaller section of the inlet and circled around it, surprised to see a dolphin just a few meters from the inlet wall! We were also lucky this morning to see an amazing Osprey and some stilted beauties, as well as few ducks and silver eyes. I am ever watchful for an Emu Wren, but don’t hold out any hope.
After a home-made bacon and egg wrap for lunch, we headed off on the electric scooters in search of some plastic or acrylic martini glasses. FYI, you can’t get them in Aldi, Kmart, BCF or Anaconda. Luckily Spotlight has plastic ones, so now we have six. Four more than we need. On our way back we scooted up the hill and checked out the Catholic cathedral. I was trying to recall why it seemed like I had heard something about the cathedral. Turns out it was destroyed in a tornado in 2005! The St Patrick’s cathedral we visited is new, impressive and unusual. Visited on Easter Saturday meant we saw it all dressed up, resting after Good Friday and before Easter Sunday. From there we headed around to the lookout opposite the superbly positioned high school. Mr Perspective is hopeful he can get a gig there one day, as long as the science rooms are the ones with the ocean view. The Piper would have had heaps to stare at during maths classes.
As predicted, the need for ice cream emerged and we satisfied that with, dairy free options. I’m going back to creamy ice cream next time, but Mr P is happy. Eventually we made it back to the camper, charged the scooters and headed back out to Hungry Hollow for after sunset drinks. Mr P’s fault we missed it by the amount of time it takes to pee! Luckily the scooters (barely) had enough charge to get us home, in time for a homemade curry followed by delicious salted caramel espresso martinis. It’s a tough life, but someone has to do it. And for the record, despite the place being chockers, it’s a bit quieter here tonight! First night excitement has passed and the hangovers linger.
Easter Sunday 2022
We had of course heard about the Koombana Bay dolphins and have seen them many times at Turkey Point, so we decided to try our luck doing the free morning experience. We wandered over with coffee in hand and as we arrived the dolphins also surfaced. We were so lucky to stand in knee deep water as they circled past us numerous times. There were 2, a mummy with her darling baby! I was absolutely thrilled and this experience is as good as the one at Monkey Mia. They stayed long enough for a really good look, before drifting away to the north. What a great way to wake up to to a new day!!! If you want to do this, just front up to beach outside the Dolphin Centre in the morning and you’ll see the volunteers waiting there to host your experience.
More coffee was needed after that excitement so we drove around to the ice cream shop for a wood fired brew. I would love say that we can recommend it, but the barista burned ours. Perhaps we can get it elsewhere and try it again, another time. Onwards, we headed around to Turkey Point, keen to launch the kayaks, but the water both on the beach and in the mouth of the estuary looked too rough. So we instead enjoyed a thrilling leaping dolphin spectacle from the shore, hatching a plan for tomorrow.
Home for a charcuterie lunch, before a walk into town for a divine relaxation massage. What’s a holiday without a massage? This one was particularly good and we both thought so. In case you are wondering we went to Sky Tree Massage and Body Healing and would recommend you do too. All stretched out, we took the kite down to the open beach. No this is Western Australian coastline, where the wind always blows. Except when you want to fly a kite. In fact the weather this weekend has been faultless. Cool in the evenings and mornings but dry, calm and sunny. How lucky are we to live in this part of the world?
Tonight’s sunset drinks are proudly bought to you by the Parade Hotel. We enjoyed a delicious ginger, apple and pear GAP cider. Yes, Mr Perspective drank a cider. I think it was the ginger that convinced him. I could easily drink more than one, but we drove tonight, so we didn’t miss the sunset. Home for nachos dinner and another martini or two. I really hope calories don’t count on holidays … and for the record, it’s even quieter here tonight.
This morning we hit repeat on the dolphins treat and once again were overwhelmed with adrenaline when they showed up! I could do this every day, and might just have to volunteer here when I retire. Totally thrilled by seeing the gorgeous dolphins two days in a row, we celebrated with a lovely brunch at the foreshore café.
Seeing as we brought them with us, we decided we should use the SUPs. The only problem is the water is cold! I decided it was worth the risk, on the off chance I might get to SUP with dolphins so in we went. Fortunately for me, I didn’t get dunked, although Mr Perspective did. Unfortunately we didn’t see or SUP with and dolphin friends. It was still fun to do and no now toys have been unused. A quick swap of the toys and we were off again, this time making a massive paddle to Turkey Point. It was not overly hard but a long distance. We were fortunate to see dolphins in the mouth of the harbour but once again, the mouth of the inlet looked too rough to attempt. One day we will get to the point of the northern break wall to see the dolphins that hang out there all the time. Eventually, we made it all the way back to Maz, tired but pleased with the paddle, one of the longest and most open water paddles we’ve attempted.
As a reward we decided to scoot back to the Parade Hotel for a lovely last-night, sunset drink and dinner. The GAP cider was as good as last night, the pizza was delicious and the playful dolphin was a wonderful sight to see. I can’t recall how many times we have been somewhere and I’ve said “cue the dolphins” only for nothing to happen. I think I could confidently say it here and they would bob up! I love to dolphins!
After dinner we packed up the trailer of toys and other things, ready for an early start tomorrow. No chance that our pack up would disturb anyone, it is mostly deserted here now! There’s just us and one family. In complete contrast to Friday night, it’s almost silent here tonight. Time for a little hot cross bun gin.
Thank you employer for giving us Tuesday as an extra day off. No traffic to contend with. An empty camp site. Bliss. After checking out we hit the road, headed in the opposite direction to home, bound for Busselton. On a recommendation, we booked into the jetty underwater experience. What a great time we had. We’ve been on the jetty before, but this time we did 2 new things. We sat on the train, journeying to the end of the 1800m long jetty. The ride is fun and the view is great, especially if you travel backwards, looking towards the shore as you travel away from it. The shoreline gets bigger, and bigger and even bigger, the further along the jetty you get. At the end, we disembarked and headed into the shop where the underwater experience starts. It’s 3 levels of being underwater, each one with different things to see. And it’s a fabulous experience. After 20 minutes of sharing information, the guide stops talking and you have about 30 minutes to stare into the ocean, up to 9m underwater. For at least 15 minutes we had it to ourselves, as most people left before our time was up! God bless Dopey, the big fish with the white forehead, scarred from ramming into things. I hope the poor fish with the trail of hooks hanging from its mouth loses them soon (they rust away). As for the butterflyfish, impressive is all I’ll say. Go see it first yourself. You won’t be sorry.
Back in Maz we drove around to the northern park, past the chaos of the jetty and indulged in another wonderful lunch (charcuterie) on the foreshore. I love this part of Bussleton and we are now planning a holiday here. I am sure we could find as much to do for 5 days here, as we did in Bunbury. All the toys could get a workout here too! After lunch we headed back to Bunbury for one last ice cream (and a litre to take away), before one last look at the Turkey Point. It was too windy for the drone at the mouth of the inlet, although there were loads of dolphins, and the dolphins in the inlet were way too fast for me to set up the drone. Maybe next time.
What a great idea it was to spend Easter here in Bunbury. We would highly recommend this amazing playground and we will be back. Next time we will actually go into the Dolphin discovery centre, we will go to the Wildlife Park and we will eat more ice cream. But it’s time to go home now, for 3 nights, before we head off again on Friday for the ANZAC Day weekend. See you out there!