We were down south twice – once on the way up from Margaret River with our mates, Kieran and Maria, and again a few weeks later to check out some more places. On the way up, we stayed at Frank Lupino Memorial Park and had a few final drinks and silly pics before saying farewell in Perth.
Only 30 minutes from Perth, Armadale is a regional city with a fully stocked metropolis and really pretty parks. There are two shopping centres in the city, and one of them has the Armadale Fresh Market – the place to go for cheap vegetables and Asian groceries.
Nearby is the Churchman Brook Dam, which was built in the 1920s to provide the Perth Hills with a water supply until 1937. There are BBQ and picnic facilities, toilets and a few walking paths to guide you around the dam.
The first busy cosmopolitan city we explored on our way to Perth, and got stuck in morning peak hour traffic. There is a beautiful river running right through the centre of town and the lifestyle is built up around it. Cruises on the river and Mandurah Estuary are a popular activity, as well as picnics along the foreshore.
There is a schmick new development at the mouth of the river called Dolphin Quay, with big, sterile apartment blocks and venetian-style canals surrounded by townhouses. It seemed nice, very expensive, and has the potential to be quite charming over time.
If you go for a short drive south of Mandurah, you’ll find the Lake Clifton Thrombolites, living fossils that are significant markers of the Earth’s natural history. There’s a boardwalk that leads out over the lake with information panels about the thrombolites, which are basically single-celled bacteria that accumulate layers calcium and silt over time and turn into these rounded rock. Scientists reckon they’re about 350 million years old.
A beachside city with a big Kiwi presence and plenty of Italian spirit. All of the action was down on the beach and in the fish and chips shops.
The War Memorial behind the information centre was cool but the lady inside the information was thoroughly unhelpful and could only recommend one attraction for Rockingham – Penguin Island.
Araluen Botanic Park
This place was absolutely beautiful – a heaven in the hills! As we walked around the gardens, we imagined family picnics on the grasses, outdoor performances in the amphitheatre or wedding ceremonies in the Margaret Simmons Pergola. They are perfectly happy to hire out the park for events and they even hold their own bush dances and holiday activities.
The gardens are filled with native and exotic plants that are tended by staff and volunteers. Entry is $4 per adult or $10 for a family
Borrello Cheese Factory
A simple outlet for delicious cheese, Borrello Cheese is a family business that has been running for about 10 years and is quite well known throughout Western Australia. They purchase the milk, then pasteurise it to make savoury Romano varieties, Provoletta, firm, nutty Pecorino or bold feta cheese, and with the whey by-product, they make ricotta. We sampled their Chilli Romano and plain Pecorino, walking away with 1kg of luscious ricotta and a wedge of Pecorino.
Located in the Serpentine National Park, the waterfall is a short walk from the car park and picnic area. The water is a mysterious emerald and it is all set up for swimming and cooling off in the summer sun, but if you’re the daredevil type, you can climb the granite walls and take the plunge.