Last week, we reached May and neither of these experience presents had been put in to place. On the babysitting front, we had tried once but needed to reschedule when one child was sick. On the Perth Hills outing? There we were just disorganised.
Prompted in to action, we identified the Bickley Harvest Festival as a possible outing to aim for. The festival is held annually on a weekend in early May, and aims to showcase the Bickley Valley region of the Perth hills, about 40 minutes east of Perth. The region is home to forests and walk trails, wineries and restaurants, various small businesses, and local produce stalls. It seems that the festival event has run for the past sixteen years, so it was a little perplexing to discover it for the first time this year!
|Melville Nurseries and Rose Heritage Cafe, Bickley Valley|
On Sunday, we headed out for day two of the festival. You can move between 15 different locations, either driving yourself or taking a shuttle bus, but we focused in on the places that appealed to us the most. This resulted in visits to Paul Moro Metal Craft, Melville Nurseries and Rose Heritage Cafe, the Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, and a Grower Direct Fruit and Vegetables stop that also sold other local products.
|Paul Moro metal craft|
We weren't sure quite what to expect from metal crafts, but were pleasantly surprised by the quality and variety of art work on display. The artist usually sells his work through local markets, meaning that his workshop is not open routinely. It is set against forest, and the juxtaposition of metal animals against trees was a nice image to arrive to.
We bought one of the meerkats pictured below, and also left with an intricately crafted metal fly for my mother-in-law.
From metal, we moved on to flowers. The Melville Nursery predominantly sells and displays roses, but incorporates vast stretches of other gardens too. The hedges below were part of the French provincial gardens, and I would quite like some of my own, even if there's no way I'd fit them in our courtyard.
There is also a cafe on the site, with broad verandas that overlook the gardens as well as indoor seating. It is a casual stop, but when compared to the sorts of cafes you usually find in parks or gardens, it is well above average in the setting and in the food on offer.
There were three vegetarian dishes on the lunch menu, as well as a vegetable soup of the day (tomato) and a Greek salad. We managed to try all of the main dishes, with Mr Bite having the grilled vegetable foccacia, his mother ordering savoury scones (which came with sides of cheese, pickled onions and relish), and my dish being the roast vegetable stack, minus feta. It included pumpkin, sweet potato, eggplant and zucchini, with tomato salsa and pine nuts on top and an artistic drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
I have to concede that the dish looked nicer than it tasted, largely because it wasn't quite hot enough, but they were so busy I didn't want to send it back for reheating. Given I didn't do so, I take partial responsibility for the dish being a bit sub-par, and would still like to return for an afternoon tea of rose scones one day. They also have a rose milkshake and rose lemonade, for those with flowery tastes! Mr Bite and his mother enjoyed their lunches, and the popularity of the cafe suggested it usually delivers meals at appropriate temperatures.
Our next stop was the Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, which we were excited to see. Unfortunately, it was extraordinarily busy, so they had stopped traffic driving up to the centre itself. The walk from where we parked wasn't particularly long, perhaps 2km, but given we weren't expecting it the distance took us by surprise. On arriving, we were also surprised to see huge crowds of people and long queues for anything animal related. The centre isn't usually open to the public, so it is understandable that plenty of others wanted to see it too.
We skipped the lengthy queue for the animal hospital, but did see an echidna, a bilby, and several baby kangaroos (joeys). They were worth the visit, and the walk.
|Baby kangaroos in man made pouches.|
These cloth pouches serve the function usually achieved by the mother's pouch, keeping the babies warm as well as safely contained.
After bracing ourselves for the walk back (with a big up hill section!), we ended up being offered a lift part of the way by a State Emergency Services vehicle that was shuttling back and forth. Riding in the back of an SES 4-wheel drive was a fun end (or near end) to our outing.
|Dairy free carob with mint, and dairy and sugar free carob with goji berries|
It wasn't quite the end, though, because before driving home we stopped at a stall selling local fruit, vegetables and other products. I didn't buy any fruits or vegetables, simply because I already had a good supply at home, but I did make a beeline for the carob blocks above. It is so rare that I find carob in interesting flavours, and even rarer that it is dairy free, that I think I did well to purchase only two blocks. I did round those out with two dark chocolate blocks too, but I'm sure you'll agree that it's important to support local businesses. Right? Right.
|Dairy free dark chocolate with apricot (not sure how that will turn out...) |
and dairy free dark chocolate with lime and coconut.
It wasn't meant to be an outing for us, but I think it's safe to say that we all enjoyed ourselves, and it was definitely an occasion where giving to others felt like a reward for oneself!
- Bickley Harvest Festival, an annual May event organised by the Shire of Kalamunda in the Perth hills.
- Paul Moro Metal Craft, which is usually sold through the Kalamunda Markets (first Saturday of every month) and Fremantle Markets (weekends) or online.
- Melville Nurseries and Rose Heritage Cafe, located at 40 Masonmill Road, Carmel, Western Australia.
- Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, open on limited occasions but with lots of online information.
Have you had any good outings lately?
And what do you think about presents that are activities or experiences instead of tangible products? I love them, but they do sometimes carry a risk of not being used!