Chocolates, cheese and jumpy castles


Early one morning, while making the rounds, I took a shot of cocaine and I – hang on, I’m not Johnny Cash, which is a relief. Instead, I put on my running shoes and did a two mile run around Margaret River. I got a bit lost and went to the top of a hill, following a trail that I tried (and thankfully failed) to make my wife walk on our first yomp into town a few days ago. At least running on my own I had nobody to suffer alongside me.

I got back, we packed up and then drove off in search of fun. First we went to a cheese depository, or dairy, or whatever you call it, and bought an enormous amount of cheddar, which sweated in the boot of the car as we drove across the country.

Our next stop was the Margaret River Chocolate Factory. This has a large shop almost entirely full of Singaporean families on holiday, and a lot of quokka-shaped chocolate. There’s a window at one end where you can watch a couple of morose guys with tattoos making peanut brittle, a d there’s lots of samples, but after taking photos of the girls looking vaguely proprietorial outside, we failed to buy anytjing and drove on to the Cheeky Monkey Brewery. As it wasn’t 9:30 at night, it was still open so I could get a drink and some chips, while the kids gambolled in an adjacent play area.

Eventually, after Destroyer had given up trying to eat all the sand in the play area, and deigned to eat some chips instead, we drove on. We were looking for a second chocolate factory, which we overshot before pulling into the Yallarup Maze. There’s a bouncy castle there, but it was now nap time, and there was a coach load of secondary school kids loitering about, so we figured we’d drive on to Dunsborough and check into our next lodging.

La Serpiente was very unhappy at this turn of events, howling about how she wanted to have chocolate and go on "the jumpy castle". Until she fell asleep, just outside Dunsborough, and we drove on the coastal road for 30 minutes at 25 kmh until she woke up again and it was safe to stop the car without waking her prematurely.

As we checked in, somebody else was backing out of one of the car parking slots at the resort entrance, and managed to grind their car against a large metal pole, taking off paint and a wing mirror. I have great sympathy with this sort of thing (ever since my wife did it to our hire car two days after we got married) but we were also flummoxed as to why there are enormous steel poles in the car park, serving no apparent purpose apart from making parking more difficult. Oh well.

We refuelled the girls and then drove straight back to the Yallarup Maze, on the basis that it’s better to jump up and down like mad before eating your own weight in chocolate, than straight afterward. Of course, La Serpiente then didn’t want to jump on the bouncy castle, apart from at the very edge. A bit like screaming with rage because you wanted to go swimming, and then sitting by the side of the pool just kicking your legs dusultorily. Hey ho.

There was also a sand pit at the maze, and the kids loved that, to the point that Destroyer exploded with rage when I told her she had to leave and go to eat chocolate. Kids, eh?

Still, when we arrived at the chocolate factory, a large dog appeared and Destroyer was once again in raptures. The dog, Skylar, submitted to being patted and prodded, then wandered off and we went to sample chocolate.

Gabriel Chocolate is vertically integrated and single-origin; they select beans from round the world and then make them into bars. We bought loads and also filled up on ice cream, before taking the kids for a run outside. That was before we discovered the shop next door, where Skylar lived, and which had a small plastic tractor outside for Destroyer to ride:

It wasn’t all demented children being photogenic, of course. The sun began to set, the trees glowing golden under the blue skies, and we drove back to Densborough, to fill the car up with petrol and the kids with scrambled eggs.

Then, with the kids full, we went out for our dinner, which turned out to be Mexican; a passable quesadilla and an excellent (enormous) pair of elotes. Destroyer and I got to dance to the Gypsy Kings, and then we all walked to the sea to look up at the stars. The quality of the night here is great; almost as clear as when I was watching the Milky Way in Utah, back in 2001.

Our chalet for the next few days isn’t as classy as the previous accommodations. It’s right behind a pub, and it feels a little bit rougher around the edges (there were no signs outside any establishments in Margaret River explicitly banning motorcycle gangs, for example) but it’s also much more kid friendly (maybe because previous guests’ kids have battered the crap out of it). At last we can relax, absent dangers like staircases. There’s still glass topped tables, bunk beds and I’m sure other mischief, but I’m tired enough to sleep tonight.


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