Udder Delight

In the south west corner of Western Australia there are ninety towns and villages whose names end with the syllable “up” which, in the local Nyoongar dialect, means “place of”. There’s Boyanup – place of quartz, Dwellingup – place of nearby water and Kojonup – place of the stone axe.

At first glance the little town of Cowaramup seems like all the others, named after the native purple lorikeets living in the area. It’s only when you notice the herd of fibreglass Jersey cows in the main street that you realise something is different here.

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When the town was first settled, some residents decided the pronunciation was too difficult and Cowaramup soon became Cowtown. In honour of the town’s nickname the herd was created and installed in 2012, and now there are cows everywhere – grazing in the park, wandering along the main street and adorning every shop sign.

There’s even a sculpture – “Free as a Cow” – in the park; it’s a quirky reference to an iconic local sculpture at a nearby winery.

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If you really want to get into the ‘mood’ be there on the middle weekend of the July school holidays for the Deja-Moo Fair. As they say in Cowaramup, you’ll have an udderly good time.

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Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Dreamy

The Swan River meanders through the city of Perth on its way to the Indian Ocean.

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The river is wide, deep and as blue as the sky, and along the banks there are cafés, boathouses and shops.

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This shag was sunning himself on the end of the pier on a brilliant winter’s morning. Was he dreaming of his breakfast, like the birds on the billboard?

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Weekly Photo Challenge

Tiny Treasures

One of Western Australia’s major tourist attractions is wildflower season which peaks in swathes of glorious colour in spring. There are more than 12,000 species of wildflowers in the state and 60% of those are found nowhere else on Earth. Each region hosts its own variety of blossoms: we were at Ravensthorpe in the Fitzgerald Biosphere in the south-west of the state. Even in mid-winter, with some determined searching and a little luck, we found plenty of delicate blooms. Some are single, tiny flowers while others grow in large clusters, in all the colours of the rainbow.

Lighting the Way

There have been more than 1400 ships wrecked off the coast of Western Australia since records began, and with its rugged, rocky coastline, strong prevailing winds and often stormy weather, the south west corner of the state has been the site of many of these disastrous shipwrecks. There are two lighthouses on this part of the coast, at Cape Naturaliste in the north and Cape Leeuwin in the south, built to guide sailors through the treacherous waters of the Indian and Southern Oceans.

The lighthouse at Cape Naturaliste is perched high on a cliff at the western-most point of Geographe Bay. It has only 59 steps but with its elevated position it is 123 metres above sea level. From the top of the lighthouse there are wonderful views of the Indian Ocean, Cape Naturaliste and the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park.

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The lighthouse was built in 1903 but it wasn’t until the Lighthouse Keepers’ cottages were built in 1904 that the lamp was lit. There were three Lighthouse Keepers who worked a continuous rotating shift to keep the lamp maintained and lit through the night.

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In the reserve below the lighthouse are the cottages of the keepers and their families, who continued to live there until the lighthouse became automated in 1996. Looking back down from the lighthouse it’s not difficult to imagine the isolation of living here: they had to be completely self-sufficient. One cottage now houses the Visitor Centre and a small museum while a caretaker lives in another.

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At the southern end of Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park is Cape Leeuwin, the most south-westerly mainland point of the Australian continent. It is here that the Indian and Southern Oceans meet in a flurry of white-capped waves. The Dutch ship Leeuwin, for which the cape is named, visited the area in 1622 while the English navigator, explorer and scientist Matthew Flinders began his survey of the southern part of Australia from Cape Leeuwin in 1801.

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Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse was built in 1895 and became operational in 1896. At 39 metres it is Australia’s tallest lighthouse. Its lens, still the original, projects a light with the power of a million candles, which can be seen up to 47 kilometres away. Like the lighthouse at Cape Naturaliste, this lighthouse also had a resident population of keepers and their families who made sure the light never went out.

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The ocean route along this part of the Western Australian coast is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes with ships travelling to and from Fremantle Harbour. These two old lighthouses continue to play an important role in the safekeeping of the vessels that sail past.

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All Hail The Sausage King!

There’s nothing like a tasty barbecued sausage, full of flavour and goodness. And if the sausage was made by the Sausage King of Western Australia it’s also an award winner.

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At the Beef on the Reef Butcher at Dunsborough Centrepoint Shopping Centre you can try and buy Western Australia’s 2014 Champion Sausage. Flavoured with onion, garlic, turmeric, ginger, chilli and spinach, the Balinese chicken sausage was first awarded State Champion Sausage at the Royal Perth Show in 2013. It went on to win second place in the National Sausage King Competition in February this year.

Asked if the sausages are spicy, Gede Rai, the creator of this gourmet delicacy, smiles and says: “If they weren’t spicy, they wouldn’t be Balinese.”

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There’s a new flavour being developed for this year’s competition – Satay chicken sausage. If Gede and his delicious sausages win at the Royal Perth Show at this weekend, they will travel to Adelaide in February next year to compete again at the National Competition.

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Good luck Gede! All hail the Sausage King!

Living Fossils ~ Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Endurance

Along the shore of Lake Clifton, just south of Mandurah in Western Australia, is a reef of smooth, round structures covered by shallow, brackish water. The wind stirs up sea foam which gathers around them and there’s an eerie feeling that something ancient exists here.

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They look like rocks but the reef is actually composed of thrombolites – the creation of micro-organisms called cyanobacteria. Their ancestors were among the first forms of life on Earth during the Archaean eon, 3.8 billion years ago. These microbes create a film of calcium carbonate during photosynthesis and gradually, through a process of clotting, the thrombolites are formed. It is only the very outside layers that support these tiny living organisms and depending on water levels they can be exposed, or like the day we were there in mid-winter, completely underwater.

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Once the oceans of the Earth were full of thrombolites but now Lake Clifton is one of only two places in the world where living examples occur and measures have been taken to ensure their protection. It’s a short walk through the bush to the edge of the lake and on to the specially built boardwalk, which allows visitors to see the thrombolites up close without causing any damage.

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In geological terms these thrombolites are in their infancy at just 2000 years old. Let’s hope they endure for at least another 2000 years.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Endurance