9 February 2013
Just north of the town of Margaret River is the town of Cowaramup which has gone crazy in the few years since we visited here last and have invested in dozens of life-sized statues of fresian cows and calves to adorn the streets and park. My favourite is a cow atop a 30 foot pole in the local park, coloured in gold, standing on her hind legs about to take a faultless 2 and half turned pike (or so I think). She really is a Super Cow.
We enjoyed the Sundowners concert with all the locals on Sunday night and we think we might head there again next Sunday to enjoy more local talent (or endure, in some cases). When you’re travelling it’s going to these small, community gatherings that give you more insight into a place than anything else. The juggler-cum-comedian who was really not that good, although the kids loved him, received polite applause rather than being heckled off the lawn as might happen in other venues. The local tennis club was selling home-made cakes and slices, the Lions club was selling hot chips and the local primary school was quite enterprising and they were selling cold drinks, hot dogs, cheap chairs and were doing a spot of face-painting.
The highlight into our few days here at Margaret River has been our visit to the Department of Environment and Conservation-run Calgardup Cave (some of the other caves around here are commercial enterprises). There are more than 300 caves between Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste (the road joining the two capes is called Caves road) and has an internationally recognised karst system.
At this cave you don helmet and head torches, and a great LED torch hung around your neck, and descend the steep, narrow stairs into the cave. We all loved the adventure of exploring this cave in our time, style and pace; Isobel was our leader for the first leg and Hugo was our leader for the second. At one place we all had to crouch (except Otto) so our heads didn’t bump the stalactites growing on a low section of the cave. It was the most fun I’ve ever had in a cave and I really appreciated the beauty of these amazing stalactites and stalagmites.
You could see hundreds of drops of water on hundreds of straws on the ceiling and they really did look like jewels. We saw 5 motorbike frogs and fortunately not the dugite (poisonous snake) that was in the cave last week. The rangers were incredibly informative and warm and answered all the questions the kids had, brought out activity sheets for the kids to do, and really made the visit special. We’re thinking that Simon might take Hugo and Isobel to check out the DEC run Giant cave that requires you to be at least 6 years of age and willing to climb down ladders (and up), scramble over boulders, squeeze through gaps and again, provides you with a helmet and torch as these caves are not lit up by permanent lighting. I’m sure the kids would love this adventure as well. Isobel is already plotting her adventure story of “Explorer Isobel” as she swings through the cave because in her story, there are no stairs or platforms. I look forward to reading her story. The kids’ imaginations are being fuelled all the time by amazing places like this.
Even our Otto got bolder and more adventurous and walked most of the way himself and sat on my lap as we all sat in the dark and listened to the drops of water…it’s the darkest dark I’ve ever experienced and he sat their silent and content. Hugo later said he loved the dark and the silence.