As Scoop’s resident travel whiz I’m always stumbling across exciting destinations and activities that make me exclaim, “That’s going on my bucket list!”. This edition I thought I’d share some of the best of them with our readers, as well as other incredible experiences around Western Australia that I’m itching to try out, like getting up close and personal with the wildlife, or staying overnight in a Dakota aeroplane.
Dinner with Fervor
Fervor should be on the bucket-list of any self-respecting WA foodie. The travelling pop-up restaurant, run by chef Paul Iskov (ex Restaurant Amusé) and his sister Bree, is taking palates by storm all over the state. So far, they’ve hosted their long table degustation dinners in places as far flung as Albany, Esperance, Margaret River, Kalgoorlie, Mukinbudin and Exmouth. “Travelling with Fervor means we can learn about unique Australian ingredients, discover beautiful places, meet inspiring people and share this through the degustation dining experience,” says Bree. “We create extraordinary flavours in wondrous surroundings to stimulate all the senses, reminding diners of the source of produce and our innate connection to nature.”
The pair use wild edibles (native bush tucker) to create meals that can run up to ten courses – think Yallingup marron, finger lime, and sandalwood. There are only about thirty spots per dinner so it’s nice and intimate, and the locations are as impressive as the menu – from overlooking a surf break in Margaret River to a 60-year-old shearing shed in Mukinbudin. $160-$225 per person.
How to do it Book direct with Fervor. 0450 973 813, fervor.com.au.
Snorkel in a Shark Cage in the Kimberley
At picturesque Talbot Bay in the Kimberley you can don a snorkel and jump in a cage to see groups of tawny sharks underwater and watch them being fed. You can even give them a pat if you’re game, but keep your hands in the cage if any salt-water crocs approach! Look out for Gordon, the 150kg groper – he’s known to snaffle up any belongings that fall into the water, especially sunglasses! Broome-based operator Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures runs action-packed day tours that include the cage snorkel and another highlight – an epic speedboat ride through the Horizontal Falls. April-October, Adults $795, children $695.
How to do it Book with Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures (08) 9192 1172, horizontalfallsadventures.com.au.
Mudcrabbing on the Dampier Peninsula
Found in mangroves and muddy creeks anywhere north of Kalbarri, green mud crabs (the larger of the two species found in WA) can grow up to a whopping 2.5kg and 30cm wide – yes, that’s larger than most chihuahuas. You can catch them with drop nets, by scooping, or by hand, but muddies are super-aggressive, and aren’t afraid to latch on and lose a claw if threatened, so you need to know the right way to snag them. On the Kimberley coast’s Dampier Peninsula, you can learn how to catch the crustaceans on a fishing tour with an Indigenous elder: you’ll head off to a creek at low tide with only a metal pole and a hessian bag. Be prepared for an exciting game of tug-of-war with your crab, and to get a bit dirty in the process. Once you’ve caught your share, just clean them and throw them on the barbecue before tucking into their tasty flesh. Top tip: if you’re bitten, hit the crab’s pincer with a heavy, blunt object.
Where to do it Dampier Peninsula,
How to do it Book a tour from Chile Creek (08) 9192 4141, or Kooljaman at Cape Leveque (08) 9192 4970.
These days, you don’t need a degree in zoology or marine biology to get up close and personal with wildlife. There are some special places in WA with hands-on tours so you can interact with native animals, and even play a part in researching them.
BROOME BIRD OBSERVATORY
With its huge variety of shorebirds, Roebuck Bay in Broome is the place for bird lovers. The local bird observatory has a handful of different tours on which you can learn about key identification criteria and see rare birds and species (like the brolga) in large numbers.
Where is it? 25km from Broome
When can I do it? Tours run from April until late September. (08) 9193 5600, broomebirdobservatory.com.
Taking it further Apply to be an assistant warden at the Broome Bird Observatory or the Eyre Bird Observatory. You’ll be trained to conduct birdwatching tours and gather research. The Broome Bird Observatory also runs courses over a few days.
KIMBERLEY WILDLIFE EXHIBITION
Around 30,000 to 40,000 humpback whales travel up the coast to their nursery in the Kimberley’s Camden Sound from June to October. You can put aside a few days for a special wildlife cruise to watch whales diving and breaching, and to learn more about their behaviour. This expedition lets you join in the research and help to record sightings, photograph markings and make hydrophone recordings of whale songs.
Where is it? The seven-day cruise leaves from Broome, and travels up the coast with stops at islands and bays before returning to Broome.
When can I do it? The first dates are from September 5-11, and the second from September 11-17. 0409 886 350, kimberleywhales.com.au.
Taking it further Keen to ramp it up a notch? Volunteer on the anti-whaling vessel Sea Shepherd (there are also positions available on land).
JURABI TURTLE CENTRE
The Jurabi Turtle Centre offers turtle viewing education evenings (about three to four hours in duration) to assist conservation, on which you’ll be taught the correct way to interact with turtles in their natural environment.
Where is it? Cape Range National Park.
When can I do it? Turtle nesting season is roughly from November to March. Jurabi education evenings run December to February, depending on seasonal conditions and turtle activity. Contact the Exmouth Department of Parks and Wildlife Office on (08) 9947 8000 for more information.
Taking it further You can apply for a volunteer or intern position in the Ningaloo Turtle Program (visit ningalooturtles.org.au for details), Barrow Island, Gnaraloo or Mundabullangana (check seaturtle.org/jobs). Eco Beach (Broome) offers turtle programs at a reasonable price.
BUSSELTON TO DUNSBOROUGH PATHWAY
This path, 17 years in the making, has been finished two years early. Stretching from Port Geographe to Point Dalling, it’s mostly flat so it’s great for prams and wheelchairs and, best of all, it takes in awesome coastline views.
Kids’ highlight Walking or riding across the 45m bridge over Toby Inlet.
Where to hire a bike Busselton Visitors Centre (08) 9752 5800; Bayview Geographe Resort (08) 9755 4166; Busselton Bike Hire (delivered) 0413 017 871; Dunsborough Bike Hire 0428 055 200; Mandalay Holiday Resort (guests only) 1800 248 231.
STAY IN A DAKOTA C-49
It’s the quirkiest accommodation you’ll find in WA – a refurbished WWII Dakota airplane once used to lift POWs out of New Guinea. Now it sits in a paddock off Chester Pass Road at the Lily Dutch Windmill in the Stirling Ranges. Hosts Hennie and Pleun hope to complete the restoration of the plane into a two-bed unit with cooking facilities by October, in time for the 100 Year ANZAC celebrations centred on Albany to commemorate the departure of the WWI troops for Gallipoli. “We’ve been working on it for the last one-and-a-half years,” says Pleun. “The aircraft is one of the thousands manufactured for the war effort and it did service in Indonesia, New Guinea and Australia. Talk to any person 50 and older, they all know the Dakota and talk with affection about this bird.” The property is also home to a range of quirky, European-style cottages and a working windmill, all built by hand by the industrious Dutch couple. The onsite restaurant, meanwhile, is a former railway station, and Hennie’s home-cooked meals and fresh bread (baked with flour ground by the windmill) attract travellers from all over – bookings are a must. There’s more on the special Anzac celebrations in our upcoming spring edition. (08) 9827 9205, thelily.com.au.