On January 4, 2010, Dr. Kathryn Starkey and Molly Evans left Australia and headed for their 5th locum assignment, this time on the South Island of New Zealand. In a previous issue of Hemispheres, the ladies told of an upcoming trip to Margaret River - including a the possibility of a tree climb. We asked for an update, and we got it. Just prior to their departure for NZ, they sent this:
Before we head to New Zealand, we wanted to tell you about an area the Aussies call "our little secret." The Margaret River, in the southwest corner of Australia, is a beautiful, unspoiled world of history, nature and a spirit of all that is important in life...family, friends, food and wine. It features the Gloucester Tree, the highest working fire lookout in the world. Ignoring our age, we climbed its 153 rungs (actually reinforcement bars) to a height of a 20-story building (>200 feet) to the lookout platform. American litigators would have a heyday with this liability prone public amusement. Still in the climbing mood, we ventured to the coastline, driving through majestic Karri and Jarrah tree forests and climbed the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse, built in 1885. It is Australia's tallest at 56 meters (184 feet) high - there are 186 steps - and still supplies a nightly safety beam of one million candlelight power via the 1000-watt halogen bulb and original prism glass. This overlooks the meeting of the Indian and Southern Oceans which clearly is visible in the water and can be seen over 25 nautical miles away.
Our last adventure (before enjoying the wine tasting and a lovely long lunch) was exploring a series of 100 underground caves along a coastal ridge. It was definitely a lost primeval world with crystalline beauty. Back on terra firma, we found the Brown Hill, Voyager, and Brookland Valley wineries - with fabulous Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot blends, Shiraz and Chardonnay. You may not be able to find any wine from this region at home, but we recommend it highly!
As we do our final packing, we find it quite bittersweet. We have enjoyed living and meeting new friends in Western Australia.