Posted by: Debra Kolkka | January 17, 2018

Curly Flat

My sister has a beautiful vineyard and winery called Curly Flat. It is in the Macedon Ranges area in Victoria, southern Australia. It is the coolest wine growing area on mainland Australia and perfect for the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay they produce.

We visited Curly Flat on the weekend. The weather was mixed…we had some sun, some rain and lots of wind. I took advantage of sunny moments to look around the vineyard. It is a beautiful part of the world.

The oldest vines were planted in 1992 with other plantings following from 1993 to 2000. They now have 14 hectares (33acres) under vine.

The well tended vines are looking particularly healthy. Vintage is about 2 months away.

Curly Flat

Curly Flat

Curly Flat

Quite a large mob of kangaroos visit the vineyard most days. They don’t mind people…as long as we don’t get too close.

Curly Flat

The enormous dam looks good from any angle.

 

Curly Flat

Wine tastings and events are held at Vintage Hall, the original 1880s cottage that was on the property when it was bought.

Curly Flat

I remember when these trees were tiny saplings.

Chewbacca, otherwise known as Chewy, is the resident vineyard cat. He is getting on now, but still manages to charm visitors when the mood takes him.

Curly Flat

 

I think my sister has created something wonderful at Curly Flat. She and her team should be very proud of their achievements. Curly Flat produces some of Australia’s best  Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The wine is available in the best restaurants all over Australia, and of course they sell direct. Have you tried it yet?

Curly Flat

http://www.curlyflat.com

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | January 14, 2018

Moo

We stayed in Cowaramup while we were in Western Australia. The town was established in 1922 as part of a scheme to develop a dairy industry in the area.

Cowaramup

Cowaramup

The town relied primarily on the diary industry and timber industries in the early days and it is still home to numerous dairy farms with approximately 10% of the state’s milk production in this area.

The name Cowaramup comes from the Cowara parrot, a small green lorikeet with a purple crown. ‘Up’ in the Aboriginal language means ‘place of’.  The name is a bit difficult to pronounce and many people call it Cow Town so it seems quite appropriate that the town has its own collection of cows.

The cow story began when Margaret River held a Cow Parade in 2010. Cow Parade is an international public art event which has been held in more than 50 cities around the world including Paris, Tokyo, London and New York. Cow Parade in Margaret River was the first time it had been held outside a major metropolitan area.

The event involves life size fibreglass cows being painted by local artists and exhibited in various locations. At the conclusion of the event each cow is auctioned to raise funds for charity.

A couple of local Cowaramup residents came up with the great idea of continuing the cow theme to give the town a focus. A herd of fibreglass cows were brought in and a team of volunteers painted the 42 cows and calves. Since the local milking cows are mostly Friesians it was decided that the cows should be painted to resemble this breed.

It has been a huge success and now people stop just to admire the bovine residents and stay a while.

Take a look at Cowaramup’s cows.

Cowaramup

Cowaramup

 

Cowaramup

Cowaramup

The beautiful Pioneer Park is home to the chief cow. She stands high and proud above the town. Ron Roozen’s installation for the Margaret River Cow Parade was called “Free as  Cow”.

Cowaramup

Free as a Bird

 

“Free as a Cow” is a tongue in cheek acknowledgement of the local icon “Free as a bird” affectionately known as “chick on a stick”, the once controversial sculpture in the lake at Bob Oatley’s winery on nearby Caves Rd.

“Free as a Cow” stands 20 feet in the air as a cow for the rest of the herd to look up to.

Free as a Cow

Free as a Cow

It really is a case of build it and they will come. Cowaramup is a favourite place for people to stop while touring the Margaret River area.

This is the last of my posts on Margaret River. We loved our stay in Western Australia. It is a stunning area, but best of all we stayed with our lovely friends Jim and Kerry, who were perfect hosts. They showed us much more of the area than we could have done by ourselves and were delightful company along the way. The Margaret River Tourism Board should hire them…thank you Jim and Kerry.

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | January 12, 2018

On the edge

Our visit to Western Australia took us to the far south, to Albany. Near the town, the edge of Australia meets the fierce Southern Ocean which stretches south to Antarctica. On the summer day we were there the wind was howling all the way from the frozen continent.

It was cold and the air was thick with sea spray. It must have been tough for the early sailors who worked along this coast. I think that wind is a common occurance.

We went to see The Gap, a spectacular channel in the 40 metre granite cliffs. The clever locals have built a viewing platform that juts 10 metres over the edge to give a birds’ eye view of the giant waves below.

The Gap WA

The Gap WA

The Gap WA

The construction is suitably sturdy and much safer that scrambling over rocks to see the action.

The Gap WA

Standing on the edge requires a little bit of fortitude. The wind howls and the sea below would pound you to pieces if you fell in.

The Gap WA

The Gap WA

The Gap WA

Near The Gap is Natural Bridge, a granite bridge in the rocks. The tide was low the day we were there, but in bigger seas the waves splash in magnificent fashion through the hole in the rocks.

Natural Bridge WA

Natural Bridge WA

The beautiful coast looks inviting, but I doubt that swimming  there would be a good idea.

The Gap WA

The Gap WA

Even in this rugged, windswept environment things grow. Pretty wildflowers find a way to thrive between the rocks.

Wildflowers WA

The Gap WA

The Gap WA

 

It is easy to see which way the prevailing wind blows.

The Gap WA

The Gap WA

The Gap WA

The Gap WA

…another magnificent part of Australia.

 

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | January 10, 2018

Stalactites and stalagmites

I am always confused about the difference between stalactites and stalagmites, which one goes up and which one down. I looked it up…again.

The most common stalactites are a type of formation that hangs from the ceiling of caves. They form through the deposition of calcium carbonate and other minerals. The solution slowly travels through the rock until it reaches the edge and then drips down.

Stalagmites rise from the floor of the cave as the mineral filled water drips from above.

We were able to renew our acquaintance with these amazing structures in Mammoth Cave in Western Australia. The region from Busselton to Augusta is one of Australia’s most cave-rich areas. Mammoth Cave is on the aptly named Caves Road in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park.

Come for a walk through the cave. It is well named. It is huge…500 metres long and 30 metres deep. Steps lead down into the cave and a timber path winds through it. It is well lit to enable the stunning structures to be seen.

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave

The path eventually leads to the 170 steps that take you out of the cave into the sunlight and the beautiful Marri forest.

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave

A kookaburra sat waiting on a high vantage point for a meal to appear.

Mammoth Cave

More steps….

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave is stunning. Don’t miss it if you are able to drag yourselves away from the many wineries and restaurants in the area.

 

 

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | January 9, 2018

Far from Rome

While at the weekend market at Margaret River we met an Italian family from Rome… a long way from Western Australia. They moved to the area several years ago and established a bakery. They sell their delicious products at the market each weekend.

Margaret River market

Margaret River market

Take a look at the delicious selection.

Margaret River market

Margaret River market

Margaret River market

Market River market

They love the town and have no plans to move back to Italy any time soon. Drop in to say hello if you are in the area and try one of their treats. Of course we sampled some and I can report they were excellent.

The Margaret River Farmers’ Market is on every Saturday morning from 8.00 – 12.00.

Margaret River Education Campus

Bussell Highway

Margaret River.

http://www.margaretriverfarmersmarket.com.au

claudiobiscotti@gmail.com

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | January 6, 2018

Tree Top Walk

The Tree Top Walk was built to allow people to enjoy the incredible beauty of the tingle forest in the Valley of the Giants in south west Western Australia without damaging the fragile trees. Years ago people used to drive through a single old tingle tree until the tree was destroyed. It died in 1990. The trees have shallow roots so the sky high platform was built to prevent damage on the forest floor.

The walk was begun in 1995 and was opened in 1996. It consists of six 60 metre lightweight bridge spans on seven pylons. Its highest point is 40 metres above the bottom of the valley.

Much of the plant life in the tingle forest is unique to the area. Some of the plants have origins that can be traced back 65 million years when the continent was joined to what is now Africa, India, Antarctica and South America. The region has an annual rainfall of between 1000 to 1200mm, well drained gravelly soil, low nutrient content, hilly terrain and minor seasonal change. The canopy includes the red tingle, yellow tingle, marri and karri.

Come for a walk.

Tree Top Walk

The spans sway slightly as you walk, an interesting sensation. The floor of the walk is see through.

Tree Top Walk

There are signs along the way to explain the story of the tingle forest and its inhabitants.

From the bridge the tops of the trees are on eye level and you can look down (if you have no fear of heights) to the forest floor.

Tree Top Walk

Tree Top Walk

Tree Top Walk

Tree Top Walk

Beside the Tree Top Walk is the Ancient Empire, a ground level experience of the tingle forest. Bitumen paths lead visitors around the trees to minimise damage.

The red tingle is the star of the show at the Valley of the Giants. It is the largest buttressing eucalypt and can have a base circumference of up to 20 metres. They have a shallow root system that spreads as they grow older, causing the trees to buttress. This gives them more stability and also allows them to absorb more nutrients from the shallow soil.

A distinctive feature is its large, hollowed out base. The hollows have been created over a long time by fire, fungal and insect attack.

Tree Top Walk

Tree Top Walk

Tree Top Walk

Tree Top Walk

Tree Top Walk

Tree Top Walk

The texture of the back is fascinating.

Meet Grandma Tingle.

Tree Top Walk

Grandma Tingle was so named because of her gnarled and wrinkled appearance and her distinct ‘face’ which gives her an almost human character. In the past she was called the Gatekeeper as though she was keeping watch over the forest.

The matriarch of the forest measures over 12 metres in circumference, 34 metres in height and she is estimated to be over 400 years old.

The Tree Top Walk is a must do in Western Australia. The walk through the tree tops is excellent, but if you have a fear of heights the Ancient Empire Walk will allow you to get up close and personal with these gorgeous giants.

http://www.exploreparks.dbca.wa.gov.au

 

 

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | January 3, 2018

Purple flowers

I love artichokes. I like to eat them and I love the plants. They look striking as they grow and I want to have some on one of the terraces at Casa Debbio.

Globe artichokes are a type of thistle. The edible part of the plant consists of the flower buds before the flowers come into bloom.

If the artichokes are not picked to be eaten they go on to develop the most beautiful purple flowers. Bees love them, another good reason to plant them.

artichokes

artichokes

artichokes

artichokes

artichokes

artichokes

Artichokes

Artichokes

 

Artichokes

These stunning specimens were spotted in Margaret River, Western Australia. I can’t wait to have my own artichoke flowers at Casa Debbio.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | January 1, 2018

A new year begins

2018 is here and I hope it shapes up to be a great year. I will head back to Italy in a few weeks to start work in the garden at Casa Debbio. It gets bigger and better every year.

Of course it is fun to look back over the last year to remember some past adventures. If you click the highlighted name the relevant post will appear. There are lots more if you look back through the archives.

In January I visited the  Great Ocean Road with my son and we stopped at the magnificent Twelve Apostles. Even a grey day could not dampen our enthusiasm.

Twelve Apostles

Noosa on Queensland’s aptly named Sunshine Coast is always a favourite and a place to enjoy a gorgeous beach before heading to European winter.

Noosa

February called me back to Bagni di Lucca. I do like the winter landscapes there. Ponte a Serraglio looks wonderful at any time of the year.

Ponte a Serraglio

I went to the Carnevale in Viareggio in March. Trump was obviously a popular topic for political satire.

Carnevale Viareggio

In March we also went to Saturnia in the Maremma area of Tuscany to soak in the hot pools. It is an area we will explore forther in 2018. We spotted several gorgeous villages tucked into the hillsides and can’t wait to get back.

Saturnia

By April the garden at Casa Debbio was really coming to life. Peonies were blooming along with wisteria, lilac, roses and all the other gorgeous things in our expanding garden.

We visited Elba with friends and loved it. This is another place we will try to return to on a regular basis.

Elba

We also drove to Croatia and stayed beside the sea in Rovinj.

Rovinj

May is the perfect time to enjoy our terrace at Casa Debbio. Afternoon tea with a view makes the hard work in the garden worthwhile.

Casa Debbio

In May we also went to Greece for the first time. Why did we wait so long!!! We loved Athens, Santorini and the quiet island of Syros.

Santorni

Athens

We took visiting friends to one of our favourite places in Italy, Portovenere, an easy day trip from Bagni di Lucca.

Portovenere

We reluctantly left Italy in June and travelled home via Iceland and Helsinki.

Iceland

Helsinki

Noosa is excellent in winter, so a beach visit in July seems like a good idea.

Noosa

In August I visited my son in Victoria again and we visited some charming country towns.

Victoria

I was back in Europe in September and took a quick trip up to glorious Paris to revisit this wondeful city and see the spectacular Christian Dior exhibition.

Tuileries Paris

Dior Collection Paris

October sees the leaves begin to change colour on the Tiglio trees beside the road in Ponte a Serraglio.

Tiglio trees BdL

I went south in Italy to visit my relatives in Sorrento and took day trips to Positano and Capri. I really must go there more often. We are planning a trip to Naples in spring so I can see the Amalfi Coast being added to this.

Positano

Capri

Autumn is one of my favourite times to be in Italy. In November  Lucca put on a great  show, making a walk on the wall even more spectacular than usual.

Lucca

December saw us back at the seaside, this time in Western Australia.

Watershed winery

WA beach

We stayed with lovely friends we met through the blog. One of the best things about writing a blog is the people you meet along the way.

2018 will surely bring new adventures…I am ready.

I hope the New Year brings delights for everyone.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | December 30, 2017

Breakfast visitors

While staying in Denmark on the southern coast of Western Australia at Gumnuts B&B we were joined for breakfast by a noisy group of galahs. It is fun to watch these comical birds squabbling over their food.

Galahs WA

Galahs WA

Galahs WA

There was one bird sitting aside from the others. We think he was young and perhaps had to wait for the others to eat before he could move in.

Galahs WA

Galahs WA

Galahs WA

The galahs chased the other birds away. They sneaked in and took anything that fell to the ground or swooped in while the galahs were fighting in the tree branches above.

Galahs WA

Birds WA

Birds WA

Rosella WA

Bronze wing pigeons were happy to stay on the ground and pick up anything that fell down.

Bronze wing pigeon WA

A black and yellow honey eater made do with what it could find on the agapanthus.

Birds WA

BirdsWA

The wonderful garden at Gumnuts is the perfect home for these lovely birds.

Gumnuts B&B

Later on gorgeous bright blue Splendid Wrens joined us for lunch. They showed no fear at all and came quite close. Their movements are incredibly quick, making it difficult to get clear photos of them.

The male birds are brightly coloured.

Splendid Wren

 

 Splendid Wren

The pale blue feathers at the side of his head add a festive touch.

Splendid Wren

Splendid Wren

The female is pale grey with a blue tail. Only one female appeared, but she scored the prize of a delicious insect.

Splendid Wren

This gorgeous hebe was a magnet for bees. I hope my plant at Casa Debbio looks like this one day soon.

Hebe

The area around Denmark is beautiful…keep an eye out for the bird life. Gumnuts B&B was a great place to stay in Denmark. http://www.gumnutsbnb.com.au

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | December 28, 2017

Beside the sea

The coastline along the south west of Western Australia is stunning. The sea is crystal clear and sparkling. There are white sandy beaches and rugged rocky outcrops with forests and scrub coming right down to the sea.

Tiny towns hide in the trees and it looks remarkable untouched.

The Margaret River area has some beautiful beaches.

Margaret River beach

 

Margaret River beach

The sky looks amazing too.

Blue sky

Redgate beach has some fierce wave action.

Redgate beach

 

Redgate beach

Redgate beach

Redgate beach

Redgate beach

Redgate beach

Redgate beach

 

The sea is a serious blue at Cape Naturaliste.

Cape Naturaliste

Cape Naturaliste

Cape Naturaliste

 

Cape Naturaliste

Cape Naturaliste

Cape Naturaliste

Yallingup beach provides excellent conditions for kite surfing on a windy day.

Yallingup

Yallingup

Busselton has a long jetty. Take a walk out there to admire the view.

Busselton

Busselton

Busselton

Cape Leeuwin is the most south-western point in mainland Australia. Here the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean.

Cape Leeuwin

Indian Ocean side.

Cape Leeuwin

Cape Leeuwin

Cape Leeuwin

Southern Ocean side.

Cape Leeuwin

Cape Leeuwin

The lucky residents of the area are spoiled for choice.

 

 

 

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