Friday, May 10, 2013

Margaret River

The second part of our Western Australia trip was about a 2.5 hour drive south of Perth in a small town called Margaret River. Greg could move there forever- Climate is similar to San Diego, it's in the middle of wine country, and there are just tons of things to do everywhere. Our first morning we drove south where there are a series of gigantic caves carved into the limestone rocks. This particular one was called Lake Cave. Here's the approach down into it, which starts as a large, open-air chasm.

And this is why it's called Lake Cave. While not very large, the bottom of the cave is submerged by a giant groundwater river. Makes for some really cool reflective pictures. It was pretty spectacular. Unfortunately our camera just can't do it justice.

And this is the main selling point for the cave. It's a hanging column. Thousands upon thousands of years ago, a stalactite formed and eventually grew so large that it merged with the stalagmite on the ground, forming a column. Then the river came through and slowly eroded the rock away from the bottom of the column. Now the whole thing, several tons of rock, is suspended in the air, supported only from the top of the column. This is one of the very few places in the world that this phenomenon has been observed.

This cave is still an active cave, meaing water is still running through the rocks, carving out new crevices and ever changing the inside. Here are a collection of relatively "new" stalactite straws. If we came back in a couple thousand years these will have turned into some pretty impressive stalactites.

On the geologic scale, this cave is still pretty young, but since its made entirely of limestone, not the strongest of rocks, in a couple million years it will collapse in on itself and all this will be gone. Nothing, not even rocks, is permanent.

All of us, with Immy passed out, back on the outside, kind of dreading the stairs we're going to have to climb to get back out. Laurel got a serious leg workout that day!

Following the cave we drove to one of Margaret River's premier attractions A-Maze-N Margaret River! Aside from the cafe, where we had an excellent lunch, the main attraction are the gardens which features a giant hedge maze. It's something Greg has always wanted to do, but never had the chance. Upon entering the maze we all vowed to stay together, but that lasted until the first intersection. Greg and Laurel went left, while Bob and Olivia wanted to go right. So much for unity. Tina followed her own path, testing out the theory that the way to solve the maze is to "always follow the wall to your left."

Oops. Imogen hit a dead end. She's lost, gone forever.

We made it to the center! Success . . . now we just have to get out again.

It was a dangerous maze. Around every corner there was the possibility that a hedge gremlin would be hiding, poised to strike.

The Jacksons escaped! We all found our way out (although we totally beat them), and had a great time. The weather was fantastic and it was a fun way to spend an hour. Greg wants more, bigger mazes now. And, by the way, Tina's theory totally works.

In front of the building was a pretty sweet crocodile sculpture- Pictured here attacking Greg.

Following the maze we went for Margaret River's main attraction- the wineries! This particular one was a no brainer for the Jackson/Otey family. In addition to the the wine they also sold an assortment of home-made nougats. Free samples? Why yes, we would love some! How did you know?

Imogen was being pretty cheeky. She bellied up to the bar, and she did her best to look as cute as possible (which is ridiculously super cute), but we didn't let her try any of the wines. Silly girl, wine is not for babies!

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