Feb 18 – Busy Sightseeing Day in Dunsborough Area
SIMMO’S ICE CREAM, BUSSELTON JETTY, WONNERUP, TUART FOREST, BUNKERS BAY, SHELLING AT SHELLY BEACH, DUNSBOROUGH SUNSET/DINNER
Vingt-Huit (28): Our French Connection 🙂
Elizabeth was back to 100% this morning and in high spirits. Me, I was still sneezing and sniffling but was otherwise fully functional. So despite the lingering cloudy weather, we continued our “hop till you drop”-style of sightseeing in my old Bolt Hole neighborhood. Feb 18 turned out to be one of our busiest days.
Simmo’s Ice Cream
One establishment near my former Aussie home that has always attracted people, especially families with small children, was Simmo’s Ice Cream. Besides a delectable selection of homemade ice cream flavors, Simmo’s has always had a fun playground for kids, including some animals, like the Emus.
That was our first stop, just down the hill from the Blackboy Cottage, our home for a week. It was too early in the day for ice cream, though a young lady behind the counter disagreed. She tried to get us to change our minds. But we held firm. At least for the time being… 🙂
Instead, we walked the grounds and enjoyed these funny signs about what would happen if the parents didn’t watch their kids. Wish more such good-humored warnings were posted around America to teach over-doting parents the difference between love and permissiveness.
From Simmo’s, we drove east to Busselton. That is the nearest “big” town to Dunsborough. Back in my days, Dunsborough population was less than 2,000. Now it’s over 4,000. Busselton, on the other hand, has a population of between 15,000 and 20,000, depending on the area one considers.
So when you had to do some “major,” shopping you drove the 15 miles to Busselton to do it. Which is exactly like the distance from the Rainbow Shower in Maui to Kahului.
Well, on Feb 18, we did not have any shopping in mind. But everybody else seemed to. Busselton was bustling. So we went to the beach. Not to swim. To sightsee.
Instead of joining the “mad shoppers,” we walked the 1.1 mile Busselton Jetty both ways. The jetty was originally built in 1865. Back then, it was only 150m long. The ships were small and did not need deep waters to dock. Now it is a well known tourist attraction.
The jetty was used for its commercial purpose until 1972. In 1978, the cyclone Alby destroyed much of it. It was then rebuilt to its present length. In 2011, a $27 million refurbishment of the jetty structure was completed. Now it looks as good as new despite its 150 years.
Churches in Australia
After our jetty walk, we cruised on foot through the center of Busselton. Elizabeth has been asking me “where are the churches?”, both in Dunsborough and here. Eventually, I showed her some in both towns. “But religion is not a big thing in Australia,” I told her.
Take this church, for example, in the heart of Busselton. The plaque on the left speaks of its former glory. Now, it’s a mere coffee shop. From spiritual to secular. That seems to be the path of religion in Australia.
I shared with Elizabeth a dinner conversation I had at one of my Bolt Hole neighbors. Asked what the dominant religious denomination in Australia is, my neighbor replied: “Non-believers.”
The fate of this Busselton church amplifies this answer.
Wonnerup House: A Historic Site
Our next sightseeing target was Wonnerup House, one of the oldest dwellings in Western Australia. The Layman family first built it in 1837. It is now part of the National Trust of Australia.
The museum was closed. But we still got to enjoy walking the farm and looking at Busselton’s first schoolhouse from a distance.
IN THE LAND OF GIANTS: TUART NATIONAL PARK
After Wonnerup, we drove through the magnificent Tuart National Park, the land of the giants (trees). In the old days, the Tuarts were also known as “widow makers” because of their propensity to drop their imposing limbs on the heads of early lumberjacks.
By the time we emerged from the forest, we were about as far away from Busselton as Busselton is from Dunsborough. So we turned around and headed back toward our home base.
BUNKERS BAY, SHELLING AT SHELLY BEACH
After a brief visit to the Busselton airport, wee drove on past Dunsborough all the way to Bunkers Bay on Cape Naturaliste.
First, here are some panoramic shots of this magical spot. Back in my days at the Bolt Hole, people used to say that the two trees you see in these pictures are “the most photographed trees in Western Australia.” 🙂
We then walked on foot to its jewel – the Shelly Beach.
This is where Elizabeth found herself in shell jewelry maker’s heaven. Like a kid in a candy store on an unlimited budget, she kept bagging shells non-stop for about 15 minutes. She finally reluctantly stopped after I reminded her that the US customs officials may get suspicious at her shell haul.
Check out the loot Elizabeth brought home from Shelly Beach… 🙂
The French Connection and Twenty-Eight’s (Vingt-Huit)
Vingt-Huit (28): Our French Connection 🙂
After I finally pried Elizabeth away from shells, I showed her this plaque posted at Shelly Beach. It is a testament of Western Australia’s French connection.
Long before the “Poms” (Britons, “Red Coats”) arrived here and colonized this part of Australia, the French scientists had made their mark. And it has lasted more than 200 years. The names like Cape Naturaliste, Geographe Bay are both based on the names of the French explorers’ ships. And they are still being used to this day.
But there is more to the WA French Connection. And also to Elizabeth’s and mine…
We finished this amazing day with a delightful dinner at the home of our friends Andrew and Lindsay, my former neighbors at the Bolt Hole with whom we had lunch at Wise winery on Sunday. Before dinner, they took us for a sunset walk along the Dunsborough beach, steps away from their home.
During a lively dinner conversation in which all three of their now grown children participated, and their cats and dogs witnessed, at one point we started talking about the birds of the WA.
“I never understood why the Australian ringneck parrot is called “twenty-eight” around here,” I said.
“I know the theory…,” I continued before waiting for an explanation. Their calls sounds like the number 28. But I could never hear that in their call. Try as I may, there’s just no way that they are singing ’28’.”
“Aha,” Andrew chuckled. “But they don’t speak English. They speak French.”
“Vingt-huit” – which sound phonetically as “Ven-ouit” in English – is exactly the sound this beautiful bird produces (click on number 28 here to hear the French pronunciation). And since the French scientists were the first to see and catalogue the plants, animals and birds of the region, that’s what they also heard in this parrot’s call.
“Vingt-huit, vingt-huit,” Elizabeth and I kept on chiming this call for days afterword, adding an ascending lilt at the end – at the “huit” vowel.
Eventually, I can’t remember how, this parrot call turned into a bathroom call for us. When either of us has to go “she-she,” as they say here in Hawaii, or “wee-wee” as the people say on the mainland, we say “gotta go vingt-huit,” with that extra lilt at the end.
Like this… (click on the sound file to hear it). Vingt-huit (28 in French):
So with that, “good night, good night.” We both slept tight that night.