thrombolities

On a recent visit to Western Australia, I was tasked with finding somewhere near Perth for lunch.  The actual instructions were ‘find somewhere not too far away, preferably near the sea, with good food and wine – a winery would be fine but find one with plenty of character.’

It was an easy enough task given that where we were staying was surrounded by wine regions: the well-known Swan Valley to the north and Margaret River to the south, plus numerous other smaller wine regions in between.

But having already done Swan Valley on a previous visit and wanting to save Margaret River for a longer, more leisure visit later this year, I started looking for a winery off the beaten track, preferably by the sea.

A quick Google search came up with the Cape Bouvard Winery & Brewery.

The winery was named after French astronomer Alexis Bouvard (1767-1843) noted for having discovered eight comets and also hypothesizing the existence of an eighth planet (later to be acknowledged as Neptune after his death).

It fit all the criteria. It had wine. It had food. It was near the sea. It had character. It even had beer.

Unfortunately, it had one slight flaw, discovered only after we had arrived.

It wasn’t open.

cape bouvard

The permanent sign on the entrance might have said open daily, but the small chalkboard begged to differ, announcing that ‘the Cape’ was closed on the one and only day that we had chosen to visit.

But all was not lost.

Just a few minutes down the road was a hidden attraction that more than made up for the lack of food and wine.

The Lake Clifton Thrombolites, more commonly known as living rocks, are believed to be amongst the earliest forms of life on earth. Dating back about 3500 million years, these ‘living rocks’ are made up of bacteria, silt, and calcium deposits

From a distance they look like round rocks.

thrombolities1

Up close they look more like over-sized cow pats.

Standing on the observation walkway, looking down at them in the water, I wondered what would happen if they were poked with a stick. Would they deflate like a balloon?

It’s an interesting thought.

But given their rarity and protected state as ‘critically endangered’, poking a thrombolite is not something I’d ever deliberately do.

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Liz Lewis is a New Zealand based writer who favors wine tasting and food markets over bungy jumping and mountain climbing.