Scribbles from our Travels: Day 8 – Lake Clifton – Halls Head

Today we’re driving to Yalgorup National Park to see thrombolites.

A lot of place names end with “up” – Yallingup, Cowaramup, Meelup, Yalgorup. “Up” in Nyyongar Aboriginal language means “a place of”. “Yalgor” means “a swamp or lake”. So, a place of swamp or lake.

This is because Yalgorup National Park protects 10 lakes that run in a chain – Lake Preston, Swan Pond, Duck Pond, Boundary Lake, Lake Pollard, Martins Tank Lake, Lake Yalgorup, Lake Hayward, Newnham Lake and Lake Clifton.

Lake Clifton is a very elongated lake spanning about a quarter(?) of the length of the Old Coast Road that leads from Mandurah.

The thrombolites, which are found on the eastern edge of the lake, are rock-like structures apparently built by micro-organisms too small for the human eye to see. Within these structures are living communities of diverse inhabitants with population densities of 3,000 per sq metre.

It’s intriguing, but it also sends shivers down my spine a little.

DH says it looks like a scene from the movie, Alien. 😛


After the visit to Lake Clifton, we drive to Miami Bakehouse for lunch.

This episode is so funny I just have to recount it.

We picked up these cards at the Tourist Information Centre in town.

They entitle the bearer to one complimentary cup of tea or coffee, so we took three of these cards, one each for the adults. We order our pies and when paying, furnish our cards to redeem the coffee.

Whilst they do give us our free coffees – one decaf flat white, one latte and one cappuccino, DH says that he overheard the cashier complaining about the cards.

Now isn’t that a strange business model – why print complimentary coffee cards and leave them freely at the tourist i-centre if you’re not happy for people to use it?

And even if you do, there’s nothing on the card that legally binds you to include premium coffees, I’d have had no issue if they had said the complimentary would only be a standard black coffee, any requests for premium stuff would require a cash top-up. 

There’s more – if one wanted to be thoroughly exacting, the card should state “limited to one coffee per person”, not “one coffee per card”.  Can you imagine if someone turned up with like, I dunno, thirty cards, and wanted to redeem all thirty of them! 

Okay, I think I’ve quite analysed the verbiage to death…

Anyway, these cards are stamped with a validity of up to 31 Aug 2011…so if you happen to be in Perth or Mandurah, and happen to be near the tourist i-centre, you know how and where to get a free specialty coffee. 😉

My personal opinion is that Dunsborough Bakery‘s pies are much better though. The difference between them is that the Dunsborough meat pies have more chunky meat pieces inside, whereas the Miami Bakehouse ones are mostly gravy.  Depends on what one’s preference is, at the end of the day. I like chunky. 🙂


After lunch, we drive to Peel Pottery Studio in Darley Grove, Halls Head. The brochure says that they do demonstrations and allow children to make their own clay pieces to bring home.

It sounds like a promising and fun activity, so we rung up Murray Lewis, the owner, earlier today and have made an appointment for 2pm.

Murray meets us at the gate and we chat a bit about his garden. The hibiscuses, (Malaysia’s national flower) in his garden are way bigger than the ones in Malaysia. He also proudly shows us three pumpkins growing in the vegetable patch.

In the pottery studio, Murray hands the kids a blob of clay each to play with, and then he sets up the spinning base, draws a lump of brown ordinary looking clay from an amorphous pile in a bucket, puts the clay onto the wheel and starts spinning the base. How fast the base spins is dependent on the amount of pressure the potter puts onto the pedal – pressing down more speeds the wheel up.

We watch, mesmerised as a tallish bowl begins to take shape and results in a beautiful, refined vessel – ready to be left to dry and fired in the kiln.

Next, Murray offers DH a try at making his own piece of pottery. He tells DH that he’s very good for a first-timer. After that, it’s my turn. He tells me that I shouldn’t give up my day job. Ah, drat… 😉

Some things I learnt today about pottery (on its own as well as from the biblical angle):-

  • It’s not easy to shape the clay while the wheel is spinning. The potter has to apply a fair amount of pressure to get the starting shape he is looking for. Too little gets one nowhere. Too much causes the clay to go out of shape.
  • I had to focus and pay attention. If I got distracted just a little, my bowl would be history. It would just turn into another lump of clay. Which did happen – one side of the the rim of my bowl went completely out of shape, because I accidentally took my fingers off the side. So Murray stepped in and helped to reshape the rim again.
  • Pottery requires patience, patience and more patience. It takes a lot of patience to shape, refine, shape again, refine again, and keep repeating the process until the desired curvature, diameter and height are achieved.
  • It takes a few days for the clay to properly dry out and firm up. However, an air-dried clay vessel, although fairly firm is still very fragile as any very light pressure exerted, e.g. just carrying the bowl, will result in some clay residue or powder coming off in my hands.
  • For a clay vessel to be optimally hardy for actual usage, it needs to go through the fire of the kiln. Which is around 450-950 degrees Celsius.


Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8


Am I glad that He is the master potter, and my life is in His hands, and not my own clumsy ones!

I’m bowled over (pun entirely accidental, heh) – the kids have had fun and we got ourselves a free-of-charge but invaluable experience today.

We get to bring home the clay bowls we made (the larger one is DH’s), plus a life-lesson that has made the biblical analogy of God being the potter and us being the clay, more real to me. I will remember this for life.  🙂

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