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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8 discoveries on Western Australia’s Public Silo Trail

filed15 Nov 2019 from


Newdegate on the Public Silo Trail

Western Australia’s Public Silo Trail is a 1000km self-drive journey linking six towns in the Wheatbelt all the way through to Albany in the Great Southern region.

While the silos themselves are worth the drive to admire the artworks created by world-class local and international artists, the journey reveals an abundance of culture, tasty cuisine and luxurious accommodation. The road might be long and dusty, but the welcome is always warm and intriguing.

Pingrup on the Public Silo Trail

1. Public Silo Trail

The juxtaposition of painted silos set against the red ochre earth, olive green scrub and the everchanging sky of blues and greys seems surreal. The sheer scale of the artworks transforms the Western Australian landscape into the state’s largest and most iconic outdoor gallery among golden canola, pastoral fields, granite outcrops and pink lakes.

The trail spans from Northam to Merredin, Ravensthorpe, Katanning, Pingrup, Newdegate and Albany. The trail can be broken up into segments covering The Golden Edge Trail (Northam and Merredin), Wave to Wave Trail (Newdegate, Ravensthorpe and Albany) or the Central Heart Trail (Katanning, Pingrup and Newdegate). Maps can be found along the trail and are downloadable at publicsilotrail.com


2. Luxurious Accommodation

Katanning’s converted flour mill into the luxurious Premier Mill Hotel wouldn’t be out of place in any cosmopolitan city. Moody, industrial and oh so chic, each of the 22 rooms are unique and a throw back to the glory days as a profitable flour mill once owned and managed by Frederick Henry Piesse. He founded the building in 1890 and invigorated Katanning with a water reservoir, orchards, vineyards, installed the first electric generator, traded in sandalwood and manufactured lemonade – which you can sample in the hotel’s basement at the Cordial Bar as well as cocktails and tapas.

At Mary’s Farm Cottages in Kukerin the one and two-bedroom cottages are a great place to base yourself while exploring the region along the Public Silo Trail. Fully self-contained, you can enjoy all the gourmet goodies you’ve collected along the way.

Beach House at Bayside is Albany’s premier bed & breakfast accommodation. Owners Craig and Sally Pullin offer a personalised service to each and every guest staying in their 10 beautifully designed rooms. Always on hand to offer advice on exploring and eating your way through the region, Craig is a wealth of information ranging from the coastal walking trails just moments from the property to day trips to The Stirling Ranges, Porongurups, Denmark and Walpole.Not that you’re likely to ever go hungry in these parts, but the brownies, banana bread, port and chocolates left in our room were a lovely touch.

Walkers Hill Winery

3. WA’s most remote winery

Australia’s Great Southern wine region needs no introduction, but you mightn’t expect to stumble across a winery in the middle of the Wheatbelt. Bill Walker, the original owner of Walkers Hill Winery, realised his land wasn’t conducive to planting cereal crops. Since he was a fan of wine, he planted some vines in 1995, yielded his first crop in 1998 and won his first award for his Shiraz in 2002. The vineyard was taken over by its new owners in 2011 and they’ve continued on with the wines and also run functions and events from the rustic cellar door.

4. World class food

While there’s nothing quite as quintessentially Australian as a counter meal in an outback pub, you might be surprised to discover Waygu beef, Asian cuisine, Mt Barker chicken, Plantagenet meat, freshly baked goodies, handmade relishes, jams and spreads are just part of the course along the Public Silo trail. Our picks are the Riverside Café (Northam) for the views, Lume Café (Northam) for the huge Waygu burgers, Dome’s After Five menu (Katanning), The Cordial Bar (tapas and cocktails in the basement of the Premier Mill Hotel, Katanning), The Store Café (Pingrup) for freshly made everything, fresh yabbies from Cambinata yabbies (North Kukerin), Hybla (Albany) for local beef and lamb, the upmarket pub Three Anchors (Albany), Hooked (Albany) voted as the best fish and chips and the epic breakfasts at The Beach House at Bayside (Albany).

Lake Dumbleyung

5. Vast waterways

While driving past vast canola fields we also passed a number of boats. Now why would anyone have a boat hundreds of kilometres from the coast? There quite a number of large lakes covering the region including several salt lakes in Lake Grace and waterways and wetlands in The Wheatbelt offering magnificent scenery and watersports. Lake Dumbleyung was made famous when Donald Campbell broke the water speed record in 1964 in his Bluebird. You can swim, water-ski and paddle around the lake, which is home to over 20,000 bird species, and also enjoy a picnic on the waters edge or at Pussy Cat Hill, which gives some perspective on the enormity of this extraordinary waterway and surrounding landscape.

6. Art & Culture

Apart from the Public Silo Trail itself, the landscape would inspire the artist in any of us. Northam’s Bilya Koort Boodja Cultural Centre celebrates the culture of the Nyoongar people through a gallery and interpretative exhibitions, plus the town offers some unique architecture. Visit the outdoor sculptural gallery in Wagin and its famous giant ram. Stroll through Katanning’s historic streets and follow the public art trail and if possible, time your visit to catch the Harmony Festival in March for a celebration of the town’s multiculturalism. Pop into Newdegate’s Hainsworth Museum for a taste of pioneer life. While in Dumbleyung check out Dumbleyung’s Mini Mall for locally made products and the Bluebird Replica. Using nothing more than a chainsaw and wood, artist Darrel Radcliffe has created over 100 sculptural pieces in an open air art gallery on the Chainsaw Sculpture Drive in Albany.

Dumbleyung Mini Mall

7. Community spirit

While a rural lifestyle on a remote farm seems idyllic and peaceful, you might be surprised to discover life can get hectic, especially for the farmer’s wives who not only raise families often with limited resources, but they also help manage the farms, do community work and run their own businesses. The Store Café in Pingrup is one prime example of three women getting together to set-up and manage the café – before its opening in 2018 they were one hour away from fresh bread and milk.

8. Vast beauty

Don’t forget your camera! The amount of times you will want to stop along the way could easily add hours onto the journey – the scenery is just that staggering and as the light changes throughout the day and seasons no two scenes ever look the same.

A furry friend hanging out at Dumbleyung Mini Mall

Menu Magazine Issue 26

filed09 Oct 2019 from

HELLO and welcome to the 26th edition of Menu Magazine!

The Minister for Tourism Hon Paul Papalia opens the magazine with vigour for our state’s diverse climate, flora and fauna, which have contributed to our premium food and beverage offerings.

In this Autumn issue, I’ve taken the reins as Editor of Menu Magazine while our illustrious leader Scott Arnold-Eyers was busy dining his way around Perth and the south-west, including at Bush Shack’s new location in the Ferguson Valley.…

Western Australian travel book wins gold in NYC

filed06 Oct 2019 from

Dispelling the myth that Western Australia comprises only of a slow pace, balmy northwest and its dinky capital Perth, Australia’s Extra.Ordinary. West is a Western Australian travel book that not only reveals the essence of the nation’s most diverse state, but it has also reached international acclaim in New York City – one of my favourite places on earth.

Australia’s Extra.Ordinary. West won a gold IPPY award the in the Australia/New Zealand regional non-fiction category at the Independent Book Publisher’s …

Australia’s Extra.Ordinary. West wins a GOLD IPPY at the Independent Publishers Book Awards

filed16 Apr 2019 from

I’m thrilled to announce that Australia’s Extra.Ordinary. West has won a Gold IPPY award in the Australia/New Zealand Non-fiction category at the Independent Publishers Book Awards.

Although this isn’t my first IPPY rodeo after having won a Gold IPPY for Artists of the Margaret River Region and a Bronze IPPY for Permanent Impressions: a salute to contemporary heroines (also in the Australia/New Zealand Non-fiction category), winning always feels good.

As a writer, I don’t often get a lot of …

Australia’s Extra.Ordinary. West hits the South West

filed26 Mar 2019 from

It seems only fitting that Australia’s Extra.Ordinary. West tours the South West since this much-loved region features so prominently in the book. Starting at the Crooked Carrot in Myalup, this quick pit-stop was once used to break up the trip down south and has now emerged into an iconic gourmet outlet and unique playground. Next time you’re whizzing down the South West highway, stop and find out why there’s so many cars parked out the front.

I’m a little embarrassed …

Pre-order your copy of Australia’s Extra.Ordinary. West – a Western Australian coffee table book like no other!

filed18 Feb 2019 from

Dispelling the myth that Western Australia comprises only of a slow pace, balmy northwest and its dinky capital Perth, Australia’s Extra.Ordinary. West reveals the essence of the nation’s most intriguing state, well at least in our opinion!

As natural wonders, quirky anecdotes and surprising revelations are shared, even the most zealot local will be compelled to dip into this unique book, with Western Australia playing the beautiful yet aloof protagonist.

Gaze up at sheets of bright night skies stretching from …

Six romantically remote WA destinations to woo your honey

filed13 Feb 2018 from

There’s nothing quite like being whisked away to luxury digs where the signature dish is your lover and dessert is, um, well I’m sure you can conjure up some scenarios. Crown Towers, Como The Treasury and Margaret River’s Cape Lodge are obvious choices, but why not go for gold and head to a remote pocket of our huge state where no-one will mind your cries of glory.

Esperance Chalet Village, Esperance

Esperance’s isolation already appeals to those craving an uninhibited …

Wagin: An outback gem

filed06 Mar 2015 from

paddock art

Almost exactly halfway between Perth and Albany, the dusty outback town of Wagin toils away beneath a vast expanse of nothingness except for clouds swirling on a background of blue.

Wagin Little GemAs the outback scrub gives away to hills of faded gold, the Southern Wheatbelt region is dotted with cattle languidly grazing in paddocks while lorikeets and galas nibble on roadside picnics of seeds. The quintessential outback town of Wagin is at the crossroads of the Great Southern region; with Albany …

Permanent Impressions: Independent Publisher Book Awards Winner

filed01 May 2014 from

I’m very proud to report Permanent Impressions: A salute to contemporary heroines won Bronze in the Best Regional Non-fiction category for the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards, also known as the IPPYs. It was an absolute honour to work on such an amazing project with the incredibly talented artist Jana Vosedil and dynamic Carina Hoang of Carina Hoang Communications, who incidentally won Silver for her Boat People book in 2012. Permanent Impressions pays homage to 50 of Western Australia’s …

Finding Perth

filed29 Oct 2013 from

I’ve landed a great gig writing for Findery where I get to “find” cool stuff in my hometown Perth, Western Australia.I’ve seen dead animals at the Natural History Museum in Guildford, got my girls out with a Breastique Art workshop, braved a storm in a campervan in Denmark, discovered some great coffee at Love Thy Neighbour, unearthed why honeymooners once flocked to Ngilgi cave in Yallingup and even did some of my research in the horizontal position at Hidden Valley …

Truffle Time

filed29 Jul 2013 from

On the 28th July in 2003 the first ever (well, the first documented one) truffle was found in Western Australia’s Manjimup. Ten years on, the Wine and Truffle Co. is so successful they now export to the US, Germany and France.

I went on a truffle hunt last week and I can still smell that earthy aroma. And as you can see below hunting for truffles is a very simple process…once you’ve selected the right plot of land, inoculated the …

The Mexican Suitcase

filed19 Jun 2013 from

zocalo fish eye

How fortuitous for a suitcase containing thousands of lost negatives from the Spanish Civil War to be found by a film-maker. In fact, the story of the journey of the suitcase is interesting on its own, but not nearly as fascinating as its contents.

As war survivors share their horrific tales, The Mexican Suitcase incorporates many of the retrieved photos into the documentary with disturbing images of ravaged corpses, boy soldiers with rifles, women performing hard labour and sad-eyed children.…

The Artist and the Model

filed19 Jun 2013 from


Set in the Pyrenees in occupied France during 1943, The Artist and the Model depicts a time where men dressed elegantly, creative types didn’t rely on technology to produce art and models had bodies that embraced their womanliness, body hair and all. So when model Merce, (Aida Folch) reveals the wisps of her armpit, it’s almost as shocking as the complete nudity she displays for much of the movie.

After escaping from a concentration camp Merce is picked up off …

Rooftop Comedy

filed19 Jun 2013 from


As patrons perched on top of the Conservatory Rooftop Bar bathed in red light while giggling about the ridiculousness of life, it was easy to forget about the crisp night air. With a New York meets Miami vibe, the light changed to blue and then green to match the palms and turf flooring.

MC Dan Willis swifty carried the show and was surprisingly gentle on the “white collar crowd” considering he was no doubt more liberal with his previous performance …

Apache CLIP Award

filed19 Jun 2013 from

Svetlalana Baily_CLIP 2012 Winner

If photos of pretty landscapes are your thing then you won’t mind that the Apache CLIP Award is over. On the other hand, if you’re swayed by the grittiness of reality you’ll be watching this space, particularly the exhibition space of the Perth Centre for Photography (PCP) for its next exciting instalment.

CLIP stands for Contemporary Landscapes in Photography and the criteria of the competition was to create original and stimulating pieces to challenge traditional landscapes. The Apache CLIP Award …

Craft Beer Festival 2012

filed24 Feb 2012 from

Thirst quenching honey-hued bitterness satiates WA’s south west.

I must confess I’m not a beer lover. There I said it. I may be a failure at the Australian tradition of a downing a coldie, but after a tasting at Eagle Bay Brewery, I didn’t mind it. In fact, I even finished my sample of the German style Kolsch. Drank as a lager and likened to the crowd pleasing Little Creatures Pilsner, my Kolsch (note how I’ve already become a …

Buskers of Fremantle: The Freo All-Stars

filed28 Dec 2010 from


Fedora tipped over blue

Seductive plucking of tune

Street-side superstar

Freo presents Ivan Zar

Travel Photography Workshop 068b_edited-2

In amongst the throng of bohemians languishing along Fremantle’s capuccino strip, I’m immediately drawn to the man sporting a suit and fedora in mid-night blue. Oozing 1960’s glamour evocative of the Cuban time warp, I learn his name is Ivan Zar. A master of blues, the haromonica, and his unique metallic slide guitar, his style is gutsy yet unassuming. Influenced by …

Oprah’s wild west

filed09 Dec 2010 from


Okay, so Oprah’s not gay or coming to Perth…but she did change her plans on a whim to visit Uluru care of singer and friend Paul Simon. Oprah and her entourage’s itineraries are shrouded in secrecy so you never know the world’s most isolated of cities, Perth may still feature in the limelight. So far Oprah hss hammed it up on Hamilton Island and has cuddled a koala, but here’s a few of Fluffy Towel’s weekend suggestions if she does …

Great Gourmet Weekends In Australia

filed25 Nov 2010 from

Okay, here’s a bit of shameless self-promotion. Great Gourmet Weekends in Australia has just been released by Explore Australia and its jammed packed with delicious options around the country. I was lucky enough to “research” and write the Western Australian content. Each state has in-depth coverage and is available in stores across the country and there’s giveaways too. Available to purchase online at Great Gourmet Weekends in Australia

Andy & Michelle 4

Here’s a little tease for your tastebuds,

Meet the Osbornes of Darlington

The hills are alive: getting back to nature

filed18 Nov 2010 from

“Beep, beep, beep,” drones the forklift. It reverses up and down the salvage yard next door, just a few metres from our lounge room. A grunting semi-trailer pulls up with a delivery of wood to be unloaded throughout the entire afternoon. Soon, the rubbish truck will arrive to empty the enormous bins with its noisy hydraulic lifts. A plane thunders above and if I run outside I can wave to the passengers. A train “toots”. On the other side of …

Broome Vroom

filed11 Nov 2010 from

Broome Vroom was a finalist in The Purple Passport travel writing competition. If you liked my story please vote http://diary.thepurplepassport.com/global/other-global-cities/cast-your-vote

“My name is Roger and I’ll be your guide today. Welcome to the Mango Tango Tour,” drawls our driver as he caresses his white Harley-Davidson trike, our mode of transport. We climb aboard the curvaceous blonde and hit the highway to sip wine at a mango plantation.

This is our second trip to Broome and I can see why so …

What Race?

filed01 Nov 2010 from


I had lasted 11 hours in my silly shoes, but there was no way I could wear them for the twenty-minute hike back to the car. As my sandals dangled from my hands, the cool tarmac had taken a velvety texture beneath my bleeding feet.

The brisk air itched my sunburnt shoulders and ached every muscle as my hangover kicked in. However, I was healthier than many of the other punters we passed along the way. Some were in vomiting …

Holy Cow! Five Reasons to Not Bustle Past Cowaramup

filed28 Oct 2010 from

If you’re moo-ving around the Margaret River region three hours south of Perth, you may notice some life-size cow sculptures left-over from the CowParade Margaret River, an international event held in over 50 cities. The competition saw local artists hussling up the bovine creatures in all kinds of attire and positions. It seems only appropriate to start your cow hunt in the charming dairy town of Cowaramup, situated on the Bussell Highway and just 10 minutes north of Margaret River.…

Breasts Out West

filed30 Aug 2010 from

Jiggly giggles abound on this crisp winter’s day and with only the sun to kiss our skin, we smear body paint over our torsos. This is not the scene for some titillating fantasy, although the guy “working” on his roof next door may dream otherwise. We’ve gathered here today to celebrate the female form and to raise awareness for breast cancer by creating art with our breasts.

Breastique Art is the brain child of Shiona Herbert, “I came up with …

Top 50 Restaurant Guide Western Australia

filed24 Aug 2010 from

The Top 50 Restaurant Guide Western Australia 2011 is due for release in November 2010. This guide is STILL the first and best independent restaurant guide for WA, and I’m proud to say I was a key contributor and restaurant reviewer to the guide.  To thank our valued supporters, the 2010 edition is available for free download at the Gourmet Godfather