fluffy towes

Carmen Jenner is a copywriter, journalist, travel writer, communications consultant and the founder of travel blog Fluffy Towel. She specialises in many industries including tourism, hospitality, aged care, health, real estate, property, business, charities and not-for-profits. Carmen is also the editor of Menu Magazine, catering to the Western Australian hospitality industry and hungry foodies.


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Perth, Australia

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Moonburra Stay: A place to breathe

filed14 Nov 2017 from

With towering gum trees and a quintessential colonial homestead, there’s no mistaking I’m in Western Australia, and despite the outback setting, only an hour or so from Perth. All that’s required is to slow down and succumb to Moonburra Stay’s outback luxury.

Elevated over the Avon Valley National Park in the Chittering Valley, the view resembles an exhibition of the Heidelberg School. The scene below could very well have been the inspiration for artists, Frederick McCubbin, Arthur Streeton or Tom Roberts had they camped in the very spot. Except this is a 3D gallery complete with bleating sheep languidly grazing as kangaroos and birds stealthily rustle among the gum trees.

The sprawling homestead sleeps 12 in total, and Moonburra’s flexible floor plan accommodates groups of families, friends or work colleagues, as well as couples who may well never emerge from the Moonlit Suite, except maybe to investigate the contents of the kitchen. Throughout the homestead, cleverly placed signs indicate where items belong. The beautifully appointed sleeping quarters also include thoughtful details such as room numbers, so you know which rooms to activate on the air-conditioner remote as well as treats on the pillows.

As if the expansive valley views weren’t enough, the fridge stocked with organic produce makes it’s easy to imagine moving into Moonburra Stay for an extended sojourn. I cheekily wonder if owners Michael and Lizelle Hartley would mind a writer-in-residence.

Evidence of the Chittering Valley’s bounty is laid out like a Mediterranean smorgasbord. Citrus water and apple juice cool in the fridge on tap. Honey is sourced from West Coast Honey in nearby Gingin. Sweets and desserts are supplied by Maison St Honore´ and are situated in the Swan Valley a few minutes away (who incidentally are the only place in Perth to my knowledge who make the delectable canales, which are little French pastries that are somehow crispy and caramelised on the outside and custardy on the inside). Salads, curries and soups are also available by pre-order.

The following morning Lizelle and the homestead’s manager Christine prepare an elaborate breakfast, which includes eggs from Christine’s chickens. The jam is handmade by Christine, and the quince paste is one of her Swiss family’s recipes. Had we indulged in a BBQ pack, the meat would have been supplied by Bullsbrook Meat & Gourmet who sources his meat from local farmers. Instead, we opt for gourmet pizzas and foolishly bring enough supplies for a platter that would feed a burgeoning group despite being only a party of four. We forgive ourselves since it’s Clare’s birthday. Clare McAlaney is my business partner at the Extra.Ordinary. Hub and owner of Creatavision Publishing, and apart from her special day, we have plenty to celebrate as our latest book project Australia’s Extra.Ordinary. West Coast is in full swing.

The Chittering Valley is dotted with groves of oranges, mandarins, lemons, avocados, mangos and pumpkin, available from roadside stalls. They’re easy to find along the 76km wine trail which winds through Bullsbrook, Bindoon, Gingin and Muchea with wineries specialising in Verdelho, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Time your journey for the 4th Sunday of August for the Taste of Chittering food festival or come during the wildflower season and follow the Everlastings Trail from September to November.

Further afield the quaint historic towns of York, Toodyay and Beverly await, where country charm, architecture and art abounds, especially at the East End Gallery in Beverly. New Norcia was founded in 1847 by Spanish Benedictine Monks and is Australia’s only monastic town.

Or don’t move off Moonburra’s sweeping deck and swan around the pool or create a feast in the outdoor kitchen. Summon a massage or attend a workshop regularly held in the homestead. Or wander out to the fire pit for kangaroo sightings beneath a starry night.

As night falls and the frogs commence their symphony and wood fires puff away, I can think of nowhere else I’d rather be. It never ceases to enthral how easy it is to get away without ever really leaving Perth.

Moonburra Stay, 21 Kooyong Close Bullsbrook, Western Australia www.moonburrastay.com.au; Lizelle +61 433 655 983, Christine +61 458 212 528

Mango madness

filed09 Mar 2015 from

mango boxWe generally associate mangoes with the tropics but about an east of Perth in Gingin, there are about 20 commercial growers handpicking their juicy fruit as I write this. The Mediterranean climate in the part of the world allows the fruit spend 120 days on the tree, which is one month more than in the tropics. The extra time before harvesting allows the sugars to become more developed, making them sweeter to eat, and the warm temperature also means minimal …