Samara just got back from her first trip. It was her first (and second) plane ride, her first (and second and third) hotels, and her first passport stamp. Her second continent. She's a world traveller. She slept, ate and pooed her way through the Margaret River area as well as Perth and Fremantle. She seemed to love it. Okay - she didn't seem to really notice anything, but she seemed happy enough, and Matt and I had a fabulous time.
The trip started a bit rough when we got to the airport and the guy checking us in asked where our visas to Australia were. Who knew you needed a visa to go to Australia? Oops. Luckily you can buy them at the airport (but it was EXPENSIVE!). Then, we got to Perth at about 1:30am, and the company that we had reserved a car through had no one at the counter and no one answering any of their lines. After a half hour of trying, we went to our hotel and went back in the morning (taxi rides in Perth are no joke - this country is EXPENSIVE too!). So...we were down a few hundred bucks, but after that all was smooth (other than an hour and a half or so of being lost in the woods on day seven or so).
We spent seven days exploring the area around Margaret River, which is about four hours south of Perth, and it's all up and down the coast line. The town itself reminded me of Moab, Utah - people look really healthy and happy, it's really slow, there's healthy food, and people are just busy doing things they enjoy all day. There is BEAUTIFUL hiking and exploring to be done along the coast, and a few kilometers inland there are amazing wineries and breweries. There are also great TALL Karri and Marri forests to walk through, inland. All in all, we tasted beers at four breweries and visited five wineries, including three fabulous meals (two in particular - Cullen Wines and Leeuwin Estates). I wouldn't mind going back when I'm not breastfeeding...We visited a place where they make great chocolate another where they make good ice cream, and a few other random places. We got moving pretty late each day, drove around (on the left - Matt was a champ) and hiked and ate and drank, and then everything closed by about 4pm, so we were home by 5 or 6 each day. We ate dinner in most nights, watched movies and relaxed. It was our first time alone as a family in a super long time, and it was so nice to just be and have very little to do.
We did FREEZE, though. It was in the upper 60s (which is not cold for those of you who haven't lived in Singapore for four years...) and low 70s during the day and colder at night. Poor Sam slept with her long pajamas, her swaddling blanket, a Stephanie and Brad swaddle blanket, a quilt and a knitted blanket by Janice the hygienist. She was still cold, but we cuddled with her as much as we could without suffocating her.
Some highlights included a bunch of hikes along the coast (we can't decide which was best), the lunch at Cullen Wines, and a day trip to Donnelly. We drove the car for an hour and a half (fast - we covered LOTS of kms!), passing about three towns and NOTHING else in between and we ended up in this old timbre mill village. It was opened in 1951 and closed in 1978, so it's super bizarre. The mill workers' homes are now "holiday cabins" so they're not totally run-down, but there is basically just the old mill, the houses and a store in the village. They have been feeding the kangaroos, emus and chickens there for the last 30 years, so they're ally really tame. They come up to the car and people - and it's REALLY crazy.
We also stayed in Perth for two days. We spent one day in Fremantle where we ate fish and chips and walked around in the cute streets (though Sam was a bit tired and not the most fun she's ever been that day...). We found Fremantle great, and we found Perth to be okay. Didn't seem like too much in Perth, but it seemed nice and cute enough. The park on top of the city, King's Park, was fabulous.
We really recommend traveling in the area - the wine and beer was really good and fun to try (though only sips - poor Melanie), the food is REALLY good, and the area is GORGEOUS in general. There is just so much to do there. You just need to be prepared to spend a lot of money. Mind you, this is compared to our usual trips in SE Asia, so probably it's not actually that expensive.
Click here for our photos and a few videos.