21 July—26 July 2002
We set out for Dunsborough in the south-west corner of the state on the last day of the school holidays, so there was a lot of traffic on the road. Around 2 p.m. we stopped for a lunch break, and just happened to stumble on a small national park just north of Perth. It was well attended by people with picnic lunches and kayaks and inflatables for white-water rafting. We had a few leisurely sandwiches and headed into Perth.
We might have cut our trip short a little if we had been using a more detailed map. As it was we drove right into the guts of Perth, rather unnecessarily I imagine, and then out again, south into the hills. It rained heavily as the daylight faded, and we drove on for hours through Pinjarra, then Busselton, and finally into Dunsborough. When we finally pulled up outside of Dunsborough Post Office, we called Susie’s Cousin Cate as arranged. The kids waited expectantly in the wind and drizzle in the dark of night, glad to be able to stretch their legs.
Cate soon arrived and there were warm greetings. Susie, Ruby and Clare climbed into the ute with Cate, and I followed with the Nimbus and box-trailer. We retraced our steps for a few kilometres and then headed off on a side road. We arrived at a large, modern house located on an enclosed block of land. When we went in, we were greeted by Susan’s aunt, who was born Claire Cornish, and before long we were sitting in front of a bowl of pasta getting re-acquainted. The kids were excited to be in a house again. We were assigned a room near Cate’s, far away it seemed, down one wing of the enormous house. We slept very well that night out of the weather, with no flapping canvas or big wet drops on the roof to stir us from our dreams.
The next morning we went for a walk outside. The house is located on 26 acres of land. There is a small artificial lake out the front, and Aunt Claire has a couple of Clydesdale horses agisted on the block. We hung around and watched the blacksmith at work while one of them was getting re-shod. He didn’t have a blacksmith’s shop, but instead carried a gas-powered stove on the back of a ute which could heat a horseshoe until it glowed bright orange. He could then beat it into shape on an anvil that he lowered off the back of the truck. After watching this process for a while, we walked on. Ruby and Clare collected wildflowers amongst the wet grass. It was agreed that I would cook up a curry for dinner, so in the afternoon Cate and the kids went into Dunsborough to do some shopping and hire a couple of videos. I stayed back and started cooking.
Some of Claire’s friends dropped by during the evening, and two decided to stay for tea, so the curry was enlarged. There was plenty of dhal, and Cate made chapatis. After dinner the kids watched a video till bedtime, and then Susie, Cate and I stayed up and watched He Died with a Falafel in His Hand on video. This made me laugh so much that Cate and Susie had to ask me several times to pipe down.
The next day was a day for chores. I cleaned and polished all of the boots with Dubbin and glued the soles back on Ruby’s boots. We cleaned the inside of the car thoroughly, which took hours. Susie went off to the dentist to get a toothache seen to, and came back having had a hole drilled into the skin near her tongue. As the anaesthetic wore off, she sought alternative means of analgesia and pickled herself on a cocktail of painkillers, wine, and Aunty Claire’s brandy. She still managed to go to Yoga early in the evening despite her sorry state.
When Susie and Cate returned from the yoga lesson we had a lovely dinner of roast pork cooked by Claire, which we shared with Val, one of her local friends who turned up wearing a delightful costume that made her look like some kind of elfin queen.
Wednesday was another service day. Susie got a haircut, we went shopping to buy some vegetables, and dropped in to see Cate’s brother, Tony, in his book shop in Dunsborough.
The kids have been dividing their time between schoolwork and art classes run by Cate. Aunty Claire has done some lovely paintings and is evidently enjoying the instruction and the access to all of Cate’s wonderful art materials.
In the morning, I went on the internet and printed out a list of Mitsubishi dealers in the hope of getting our smashed side mirror restored. There was a dealer in Busselton, which was a town we were planning to visit in any case since it had a wonderful jetty that was worth a look. So we drove off to Busselton with Cate. We went to the car dealer, and learned that the part we needed was unattainable in Western Australia. The spare parts guy recommended we just get a mirror cut to size at the local glasscutter, which we arranged, and later on that night I was able to clip the mirror back into place, even though the plastic housing for it had been slightly damaged by its encounter with the emu and subsequent slide along the bitumen. While we were waiting for the glass to be cut, we spent what seemed like ages in a trendy little second-hand clothes shop in Busselton. We then went out to Busselton wharf, which is a couple of kilometres long when it is in good repair. Unfortunately there was only 1.6 km of it, as it had been damaged by fire. God only knows how a jetty catches fire – maybe a lightning strike?
After a hot drink in the shelter of a nearby café, we ventured out into the wind and drizzle. As we set out along the wharf, Clare lost the red hat that her grandparents in Canberra had given her. She was quite upset about that: it blew off in a gale. This was hardly surprising, as it was hard to stay on the wharf at all. The sea was steel grey and the clouds were grey; and the moon, which was almost full, was rising dramatically out in the bank of dark clouds. We stopped at a small shelter about two-thirds of the way along the jetty to chat to some fishermen. They were fishing for Mulloway using handlines. Their bait looked like a rather tasty catch in its own right – a bag full of dinner-sized mullet.
Having been all but blown off Busselton Wharf, we turned our tails towards home. I cooked up a red kidney bean and rice dish at Cate’s request. I was looking forward to a rest from camp food, but it seems to be a popular dish.
The next day we got off our bums and did a day trip. Our first stop was Yallingup, where we sat and watched the enormous surf roll in. This was once a surfer’s hang-out with a few stone cottages. Now it’s full of ostentatious designer holiday retreats. We then drove to Margaret River, browsed around a couple of art galleries (this is Cate’s favourite activity) and then went to a picnic area just outside of town. We ate sandwiches made from roast pork left over from Aunty Claire’s roast a few nights before. We went for a walk in the forest, but we were driven back by rain. We then turned back north and visited the Margaret River Cheese Factory, and then two wineries, Vasse Felix and Howard Park. Susie bought a couple of bottles of wine and tasted some with Cate. We dropped into one more art gallery on the way home, where Cate sells some of her work. We arrived home to a nice dinner of fish and baked potatoes, cooked by Aunty Claire.
The next day was a school day for the kids. I continued to clean and sort while Susie supervised schoolwork. I went into Dunsborough to do some shopping in the afternoon for our upcoming trip South to Albany, and also to buy ingredients for the evening meal. Susie cooked pizzas, and Cate’s brother Tony came around to help us eat them.