Some of the most enjoyable experiences at the beach are to be able to sit and admire the view to the horizon... to feel the sea breeze on your face and to smell the aroma's of the herbacious dune vegetation and the salt of the ocean.
The Bunbury City Council has provided jarrah (a local hardwood) shelters with benches to gratify like-minded individuals all along Ocean Drive.
Buy yourself some fish and chips and a drink to enjoy the experience even more. Be sure to buy an extra portion of chips to feed the sea gulls who enjoy these starchy treats as much as we do.
I wanted to start this tip off with some of the famous song lines from Teddy Bears Picnic - "If you go down in the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise . . . " because Gnomesville reminded me of that song.
Although hard to find, Gnomesville is a real treat for young and old - even if you don't really like Gnomes - and there are thousands of them in an idyllic bush setting. There is a real international flavour as some Gnomes have hitched rides on whatever transport Gnomes use to be part of the largest collection of Gnomes in the World. Some have mysteriously arrived with signs from their owners (can you actually own a Gnome?), or as a memorial for lost, stolen or vandalised Gnomes - there was even a sign, "Tomb of the unknown Garden Gnome" and I shed a quiet Gnome tear. Also spotted was a group of "Shirley" Gnomette's - is that the female form of Gnome? - with one very sexy "lady" included.
There was a collection of South African Gnomes under a sign, "It's a small world after all" complete with a SA flag. There was a bird cage made to look like a Gnome home and even a Gnome caravan. Gnomes peered out from many places and the greatest collection of gnomes had congregated near a picnic table perhaps in the vein hope of a shared meal from some of the many who do manage to find Gnomesville. So if you happen to be eating away and you feel a little tap on the ankle, it may be a snake, but it also could be a hungry Gnome asking, "Giveusabitmate." (When talking Gnomes do not have any breaks between words and makes them a bit hard to understand - or so I'm told).
Sadly some Gnomes have suffered terrible injuries from vandals, but Gnomes are a bit like the Hydra of Greek Mythology in that they grow again and usually overnight so none of us humans can see it all happening.
Warning - there is no food or water available at Gnomesville, so please bring your own . . and if you'd like to bring along your own Gnome and leave him or her with thousands of friends, then please do so. Use your imagination for a sign too.
Enjoy a unique and free attraction, but don't get lost - LOL
Getting there: Can be a bit tricky, so you may like to visit the tourist office to get directions. However from the city centre, get onto Picton Road, which becomes the South Western Highway. At the town of Picton, turn right at the Boyanup Picton Road and go about 8km to the town of Dardanup, cross the railway line at Ferguson Road and follow that for about 20 kilometres (beware of roaming stock and kangaroos) until you reach a round-a-bout - you have arrived at Gnomesville.
Choice mouthwatering chargrilled aged eye fillet
The Lighthouse Restaurant overlooks the Indian Ocean by day and is the perfect spot to eat and watch the sun set in the west. At night you can view the city lights of Bunbury's CDB while wining and dining on local fresh produce and award winning South West wines. It is part of the Lighthouse Resort Aged eye fillet chargrilled on sweet potato mousse, spinach and sultana salad, roast garlic and sticky beef jus with parmesan crisps.
I'll apologise in advance to my vegetarian friends and even to those meat eaters who prefer their meat dead. But I personally enjoy a mouthwatering "blue" steak if it's perfectly crisp and glistening on the outside and warmed right through. It was so tender I could have sliced through each tender morsel with my fingers. And I washed it down with a rich, ripe berry fruit Cabernet Merlot from Amberley Estate :~)
Marlston Hill Lookout looking south
The Marlston Hill Lookout Tower isn't all that high but certainly more than enough to deter the acrophobic.
Built in 1988, the lookout looks directly over the harbour beach, the small boat harbour and the breakwater reaching out from casuarina point.
It was built by local builders, Devaughs, at a cost of $150,000 of which $100,000 was contributed by the State Bicentennial programme and the remaining $50,000 was donated by the builders as a bicentennial gift to the city of Bunbury.
Local architect, Sasha Ivanovich designed the lookout, and the Bunbury Leschenault Rotary Club were the project organisers.
Of Dolphins and Gnomes
Some years ago we had driven through Bunbury returning to Perth, but had stopped at the Dolphin Discovery Centre in the hope of getting to see dolphins in the wild rather than in an aquarium. We were disappointed because we were told the dolphins generally only come to the beach in the mornings, so we vowed to return "one day" and get to see what we had missed.
Here's where being a member of VT has its real advantages - I asked for some help from members in Western Australia on what to see and do in Bunbury and local VT member buffybird (Heather) really helped out. We got to meet Heather and her husband Chris a few days later when we visited Gnomesville and then went on to their home in nearby Burekup (see my Burekup page for the hilarious adventure we had).
We arranged accommodation at a motel in the city and after checking in, drove to a local pub - The Parade Hotel - for dinner in a spectacular setting right beside a waterway. It was at that pub that my mind was transported back home to Melbourne on the first Tuesday in November (Melbourne Cup Day) when all the ladies appear dressed to kill - it was Bunbury race day and the local lass's - and some slightly older - were a match for their Melbourne counterparts in the well-dressed department. We enjoyed a steak each while watching the sun set over the waterway with the moon rising in the opposite direction.
After a sleep at the motel an early start (for us) and we got to enjoy the experience of wading in the Indian Ocean at 8 am with a mother and baby dolphin swimming as close to 2 metres away from us. We then learnt more about dolphins at the centre through their excellent information panels and displays.
Time to leave, but breakfast first and we happened to find the best place for an excellent starter in the form of one of the biggest egg and bacon rolls I've ever had. Not the sort of place that a visiting tourist would stop at, but knowing local workers flock there like seagulls - a yummy start for their day and ours too.
We went back to the motel for a quick shower and then checked out, but were called to a large cage where "Harry" the corrella (Australian parrot) kept saying 'Hello' and off course we just had to scratch the birds head.
We had noticed a spectacular tower on a hill overlooking the city of Bunbury and glad we took the time to climb the Rotary Lookout Tower and snap off a few photos.
Although our visit to Bunbury was short, we were very impressed with the city and its amenities - maybe we'll return one day and do it all again.
NOTE - I have included Gnomesville in tips below - and a seperate travelogue. Although its not really part of Bunbury, the famous resting place for so many Gnomes (love them or not) is easy to reach from Bunbury - so long as you don't get too lost.
Next stop in our trip, spectacular Margaret River and more adventures.