Saturday 2 April 2011

All sorts of old

It was a long drive today along the Albany Highway through country so dry we even saw a camel. We stopped at Mt Barker (yet another laughable stump) for far more lunch than we intended at the Windrush vineyard - it was just too tempting to refuse, especially the puddings, and it was so peaceful sitting on the veranda looking over the flowers to the vines and hills beyond, with half a dozen guinea fowl busy in the grass.

We had too little time to explore the Porongorups, the world's oldest mountain range (apparently - certainly very weathered and worn) where bald granite domes rose out of the trees, and we didn't get to see the balancing rock or do any of the walking that's so popular there. We had to press on to a meeting at Mt Romance where we were shown over a sandalwood processing factory and showroom. It was really interesting - and smelt lovely, natch - and we learned all about how sandalwood grows and is made into oil that's the base for so many famous perfumes. I'm getting pretty knowledgeable about distilleries now - lavender in Tasmania, rum in Queensland and on Mauritius, ylang ylang on Reunion... all I need is a bit of bent piping, a drum and a fire. Piece of weasel.

There was an aromatherapy-plus room there where you lie on the ground for an HOUR under a huge cone, breathing deeply of sandalwood while someone gently taps huge gongs that reverberate musically and send vibrations through you, till you stagger out at the end totally zoned out. Cruelly, we had a couple of minutes' demonstration: I could have stayed there for the duration.

And tonight we're at a beautiful old stone colonial house in Albany, The Rocks, that was once the Governor's summer residence, and a girls' boarding school, and the Mayor's house and more: high ceilings, creaky floors, four-posters, baths with feet and loos with chains, stained glass and chandeliers, baby grand and full-sized billiards table... not just heaps of history and character, but friendly and welcoming too. Such a shame we have to dash off in the morning.

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