Wine, Sheep and Tingles…Katsjourney Around the World: 21 Feb 2003

Subject: Wine, Sheep and Tingles…
Date: Fri, 21 Feb 2003 00:42:41 -0600
I have just returned to Perth from a bus trip tour of southwest Western

Australia.  It was an organized tour with a guide.  I got to see so much of

this vast and beautiful state…and we only covered 1400 kilometres in four

days through Albany, Pemberton, and Margaret River.  My coach mates

consisted of the over 60-year-old set from mainly Germany and the UK.  They

were all really nice and gave me great advice on two of my next

destinations: Tasmania and Thailand. But let me tell you, the red carpet was

rolled up right after dinner with this jet set!  Just as well, since they

had us up at 6am every day.

Some of the highlights of the trip included:

Travelling through the Karri Forest.  I have never seen the great California

Redwoods, so I really can’t compare things here…but I was in the most

beautiful forest that I have ever seen. Perth Hollow tree karri forest  The majority of the trees are Red

and Yellow Tingles, a type of Eucalyptus tree and pine trees.  The Tingles

grow to massive heights and over 400 years.  They are the sort of trees that

get so large at the base that you can cut a hole in them and walk through.

There was a Red Tingle so large at one time that you could drive a car

through it.  Unfortunately, all of the weight from the cars eventually

killed the root system and the tree died.  So now, they have constructed a

tree top walk.  This is an elevated walkway made of a series of suspensionPerth suspension bridge

bridges interlocked at viewing platform junctions.  As you trek through the

forest 40 meters in the air you see birds from above.  It was very cool.

There is also a walk there called the Valley of the Giants.  It is there

that you can walk through the giant Tingle trees.  It had rained that

morning and the air was cool and crisp.  The wind gently whistled through

the leaves in a very peaceful and soothing way.  The scents took me back to

my days of Girl Scout Camp in northern Wisconsin.  What a great moment!

We also went to a working sheep-shearing farm for a demonstration. Although

I had been to Australia before, I never saw a sheep being shorn.

The shearer had me hold the sheep in position while he explained the process.  I

am sure that will be a really cute picture of me in a dress holding on to

this goofy sheep!  It completely reminded me of the sheep farm in the movie,

The Thorn Birds.  We also got to see a working dog demonstration with a

Border Collie gathering up the sheep in the field and herding them right

into a chute and then into the holding pen by the barn.  To move things

along, there is also a Keltie dog that jumps on top of the sheep in the

chute and scares the hell out of them so they move quicker.  So the Keltie

is running all along the tops nipping and the Border Collie is behind the

heard nipping.  Meanwhile, all the not-so bright  sheep are just stampeding each

other and throwing up a whole lot of dust.  It was so fun to watch.  They

tag the sheep by age and use their wool through age seven.  When they reach

the age of seven they are sold for mutton.  The farmer works on a rotating

basis shearing each sheep just one time per year.  They do not shear in the

winter months of Jun-Aug because it rains a lot and the wool is too damp.

The wool is also rich in lanolin, so the shearers actually have very soft

hands for all the manual labour they do.

We visited a couple of wineries in the Margaret River valley.  This is a

relatively new area for growing grapes.  The oldest vineyards are only 30

years old.  The Evans & Tate Shiraz won wine of the year in a major

competition in London a few years back and that has put their wine-growing

region on the map.  And I must say, most of the wines I sampled were pretty

good.  Not as cheap as South Africa, but still a good. Perth Margaret river wine

price.  AU$11-$24 per bottler.  BTW, the exchange rate here right now is

AU$1=US$1.59, so the greenbacks still go a bit further.

We also got to see the Mammoth Cave (ours are bigger in Texas!), an old

whaling station, an eagles heritage centre, and beautiful, rugged coast

where the Indian Ocean meets the Great Southern Ocean.

I will be heading to Tasmania on Monday.  This is the first place I will

arrive without a solid plan or any bookings made.  Just get off the plane

and have the taxi take me to the city centre of Hobart.  Isn’t that

exciting?  If there were anyplace to do something like that, I would think

it would be very user-friendly Tasmania.  I will let you know how it goes!

Hopefully there won’t be some big event going on and I will have to sleep in

the park.  That gives a whole new meaning to unemployed and homeless.

Anyway, I hear there are lots of Internet cafes, so I will be in touch!

I saw a special last night here about how America is in a panic to stock up

on duct tape, plastic, bottled water and gas masks.  Now c’mon, is this an

example of the media taking a remote incident and making the world think

it’s much worse than it is? I hope you are all well and safe.

Love from Down Under,

Kathleen

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