Dwellingup days

Ange and I spent the weekend at Dwellingup, a charming holiday town nestled in hills, red dirt, and jarrah forests about an hour or so south of Perth.

The experience was delightful, possibly because we’re in our ‘no kids’ honeymoon phase. With Jacqui moved out and Hayley in the middle of a European epic adventure, the time was right for a weekender to ourselves – especially with all the work stacked on top of us in 2005.

There were surreal moments though. I kept looking into the backseat expecting kids or huge suitcases. It was only until we realised we’d never, ever been on any kind of holiday without at least one of the kids being in tow, or it being something kinda work related like a convention, that the penny finally dropped.

Dwellingup was a great place to test the waters of our newfound freedom. The drive was leisurely. The scenery pleasant. Our accommodation was also a delight – the Berryvale Lodge, a B&B with a touch of class. We realised this was the first occasion we’d even been to a bed & breakfast – not singularly or together had we been to one before.

We arrived in the afternoon, had a big ole nanna nap, then freshened up for our main attraction – dinner on the Hotham Valley Railway train. The railway was a little disappointing, however. We were expecting something more intimate, but we were stuck on a table of four with a young couple who didn’t want to be there. Not only did this ruin any group conversation, but it made our personal conversation stilted and self-conscious. Oh well. The train was nice, albeit slow, and the dinner was a five-course affair of good but not spectacular food, but the experience was certainly one worth having, despite the drawbacks. It would be great to go in a party of four or eight, but as a couple it is a lucky dip.

The next day was started with a generous homecooked (and scintillating) breakfast at the Lodge, where we shared the meal and an animated conversation with the other couple staying there. In fact, the conversation was great, and the couple paralleled our situation (work-wise, family composition and issues, etc) in many ways. It’s a shame we didn’t have them on the train!

Bloated from this luxurious breakfast, we wandered/drove the town: saw some so-so handicraft places; bushwalked around the leaf-shaped Forest Heritage Centre (with its accompanying School of Fine Wood). The wordwork furniture and homewares were overpriced but of outstanding quality – definitely a place to go to buy stuff if we had a spare $20,000 lying around. The treetop walk was a series of walkways and stairs, which defeated me in the end (all those swaying jarrah trees, so impossibly skinny), so I chickened out from climbing to the highest platform (Ange didn’t, of course, that woman is made of steel).

After that, we popped over to a place called the Wine Tree, where Ange talked me into buying a ridiculous number of wine bottles, including Quince, Berry/Nashi, Sweet Cider, and Apricot Wine. This, of course, was after we tried generous samples of every wine they had. So, woozy from the ‘tasting’, we sought more crappy crafty-type stores, endured the biggest and most inappropriate sales pitch from the spooky old lady at the gallery (something about ‘buy these artworks because the Cambodian children have been burnt to death and land-mined and killed, and buy this and buy that because *insert various horrible forms of suffering and death* and death death death!’). Feeling guilty over buying nothing (and still woozy from the wine), I craved a triple shot of scones and cream (especially the cream), which I found at the cafe and chocolate place, but the cream was canned and so my triple shot became a half-shot before my eyes as it melted in the heat.

So, head less spinny, and stomach particularly full (but not nearly as creamed up as I’d have prefered), we scooted off back to Perth. T’was a good weekend.