Christmas holiday in Denmark, Western Australia – Part 1

Happy new year! We spent Christmas and New Year in Denmark, in the Great Southern region of Western Australia. Jac’s been to Denmark many times but this was my first visit.

We drove down on Christmas eve morning. It’s around 4.5 hours to Denmark via Albany Highway but to do the drive safely it takes longer with at least a couple of rest/refreshment stops. We stretched our legs at the roadhouse in North Bannister where I ate a fantastic homemade beef curry pie, and then made a second stop at the town of Kojonup where we picked up bread from the bakery for Christmas lunch.

Denmark Rivermouth Caravan Park

We only decided in August to head down south for Christmas and were lucky to secure one of the last two available studios at the Denmark Rivermouth Caravan Park. The caravan park is in a great spot, right next to Denmark River and Wilson Inlet, around 1.5 km from the Denmark town centre (a few minutes by car or a pleasant 20-minute walk). There are studios, 2-bedroom chalets, 3-bedroom villas, as well as powered sites for caravans and camping – it’s extremely popular with families and international visitors, and during holiday season, especially Easter and Christmas, is usually fully booked. We brought the kayaks and and Jac’s stand-up paddle board and only had to walk across the car park (not even 70 metres) to access the river.

Ours was the middle studio in a group of three. Studios are are self-contained with air-conditioning and are essentially made up of two rooms – the larger room containing a queen bed and single bed, kitchen with 4 burner gas cooktop, microwave and fridge, dining table and chairs, TV and sofa; the smaller room being the bathroom/toilet. A DVD player was provided upon request – we brought a selection of DVDs from home.

We visited friends who live in Denmark, and our mate Murray was also in Denmark on holiday, staying at different accommodation. Jac and Murray went kayaking several times (it’s not my thing) and the three of us went on walks together.

DSCF2650It’s not fancy but we had pretty much everything we needed. I would not hesitate to stay here again.

DSCF2659We ate dinner out on our verandah most nights. It’s not particularly private if your neighbours happen to be enjoying their verandahs at the same time, but we weren’t too bothered by this.

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DSCF2646The kitchen was equipped with the basics – crockery and cutlery,kettle, toaster, saucepan, frying pan and a really good electric fry pan that we used quite a bit, for stir-frying veggies, making fried rice and cooking pancakes and bacon.

DSCF2104Our studio was right next to the river. Jac went kayaking almost every day – as long as the weather conditions were suitable.

Waiting for fishJust about every day, there’d be people fishing from the jetty or out in boats. And whenever someone was in the hut cleaning their catch, the resident pelicans and seagulls would hang around, hoping for scraps.

Denmark River CruiseThe Caravan Park also offers Denmark Rivermouth Cruises, which take passengers out on Denmark River and Wilson Inlet. We didn’t go on a cruise, but on one of our daily walks, I took this picture of the cruise boat.

Like us, many others brought their own kayaks and stand-up paddle boards, but these can be hired from the caravan park office, as well as a dinghy, paddle boats and bicycles. Like us, many others brought their own kayaks and stand-up paddle boards, but these can also be hired from the caravan park office, as well as a dinghy, paddle boats and bicycles.

As well as renting water equipment and buying river cruise tickets, you can also buy cold drinks and ice creams here. You can also buy river cruise tickets, bags of ice, cold drinks and ice creams here.

Denmark Rivermouth Caravan Park
Corner Hollings Road and Inlet Drive, Denmark WA 6333
Check in 2pm, check out 10am
We arrived on 24 December 2015 and left on 2 January 2016
We paid AU$1620 ($180 per night) for 9 nights in a studio.
Prices vary depending on the time of year.

Walking trails

Denmark has many walking trails and the location of the caravan park gave us easy access to a number of them. During our stay, mornings and evenings were cool, with most days reaching a maximum temperature from low to mid 20s Celsius – we went on walks every day.

We walked along the Karri Walk Trail; the Mokare Heritage Trail; the Denmark – Nornalup Wilson Inlet Heritage Trail; and with our friend Murray, walked along the river to replicate the path Jac and Murray had taken in the kayaks a couple of days previously – I’m not sure which trails this walk encompassed, but we turned around at the Riverbend Caravan Park – our return walk took around 2 hours and 45 minutes – it felt great.

DSCF2090Near the Denmark river mouth, the Old Post Office building a landmark on the Karri Walk trail. This building was moved from Denmark town and is now part of the Spirit of Play Community School.

DSCF2231The Wilson Inlet Heritage Trail starts at the old Heritage Rail Bridge near the mouth of Denmark River – we walked past the bridge as well as over it, on different days (Jac and Murray paddled under it). I took this photo early in the morning when there was still a layer of mist over the water.

DSCF2234The Mokare Heritage Trail takes you along the river side towards Denmark town.

DSCF2094-3I photographed this tree multiple times on different walks, always with birds on its branches.

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DSCF2694Jac and Murray kayaked on the river here – a couple of days after, we followed the same path along the river, but on foot.

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DSCF2710One of our walks took us to the back of the Riverbend Caravan Park.

See more on Denmark’s walking trails (including the trails mentioned in this post).
You can get a trails map from the Denmark Visitor Centre in Denmark town.
For hardcore walkers/campers, Western Australia’s long-distance walk trail, the Bibbulmun Track stretches almost 1,000 km from the Perth hills to the south coast, through Denmark and other areas in the Great Southern region. You don’t have to complete the entire track, of course. We walked a tiny part of it years ago when we visited Albany.

Christmas lunch

We brought lots of gourmet goodies with us for our Christmas lunch: honey cured ham, Elmar’s pastrami, Holy Smoke bourbon and maple hot smoked salmon (Holy Smoke is based in Pemberton in the Great Southern region, but they have a regular stall at the Farmers Market at Manning where I bought the salmon – we added sliced fresh lemon), Poach Pear pork rillettes, with a dish of plum sauce and dijonnaise mustard; antipasto mix (semi-dried tomato, olives and feta) on crisp baby cos; cheeses – Blue Cow French style triple cream, Ubriaco Al Vino Rosso “drunken goat” cheese aged in red wine from Italy, and Woodside Cheese Wrights saltbush goat cheese from South Australia, with dried grapes and Pinot paste. We had regular water crackers, French bread stick from the Kojonup Bakery and, to sneak in more vegetables, Jac made coleslaw.

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We brought all the ingredients to make a trifle. This isn’t really a recipe:

  • Slices of jam swiss roll at the bottom and along the sides of the glass dish, sprinkled with dry sherry (as boozy as you like – or not)
  • A layer of fruit – we’ve previously used fresh strawberries. My favourite option is to use tinned chunky fruit salad, drained of its juice so the trifle wouldn’t be too soggy
  • A layer of custard (you need to make it ahead of time to allow it to cool before adding to the trifle) – instant or made from scratch, it’s up to you
  • A layer of whipped cream
  • On top, port wine jelly (or another flavour if you prefer), roughly chopped. Again, the jelly has to be made ahead of time so it can set. Another variation is to include the jelly on the bottom of the dish or as one of the other layers, and place the fruit on top of the cream instead.

We brought a glass dish from home, our own electric hand-mixer for whipping up the cream, and GLAD wrap to cover leftovers (we had leftover trifle for dessert over the next few nights). That’s the beauty of holidays you drive to rather than fly to – you can load up the car with extra things to make your stay more comfortable/convenient/efficient.

Trifle Trifle

Trifle - serve

Home cooked meals

For our 9-night stay, we brought a supply of dry goods including seasonings, sauces (dijonnaise mustard, BBQ sauce, maple syrup, and even soy and oyster sauces for stir-frying), rice and a selection of tinned goods. We loaded up our portable ice box with supplies including cold meats and cheeses for Christmas lunch and essential items like butter, eggs, garlic… and rasher bacon.

Christmas leftovers were turned into other meals – we used Christmas ham in fried rice, and made ham, cheese and mustard toasted sandwiches, for example. We also bought groceries from the local shops – fresh veggies and fruit, chicken and lamb. Most of our dining out was at lunch time; Jac cooked every night except new year’s eve, when we walked into town and dinner at the Curry King Indian restaurant (great butter chicken and aalo baingan – West Indian curry with potato and eggplant). Most evenings, we ate dinner out on our verandah.

Salt, pepper and garlic chicken with panfried potatoes Salt, pepper and garlic chicken thighs with pan-fried potatoes. Jac served this with leftover antipasto mix (from Christmas eve) and coleslaw (from Christmas lunch). This was the share plate, by the way, not a single serving.

Fried rice Fried rice

Lamb chops and mashed potatoes Lamb chops and mashed potatoes with pan-fried cabbage and carrot. Again, this was the share plate, not my individual serving.

Ham, cheese and mustard toasted sandwiches Ham, cheese and mustard toasted sandwiches

Another thing I love in the country – road-side shacks selling fresh produce, where there’s no shopkeeper – you place your money in an honesty box. This fruit and vegetable ‘shop’ on McLeod Road also sold pot plants, eggs, and jars of homemade fig jam and plum jam. We got a bag of new season kipfler potatoes and a hibiscus plant (which we took back home to Perth).

Fruit and vegetable shop Fruit and vegetable shop

DSCF2571Plants for sale

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The lead-up to Christmas felt particularly hectic this year both at home and the office, and I think I only began to truly relax after my first night’s sleep in Denmark. As hoped, our tranquil surroundings had a magical effect and I soon settled into holiday mode and lost track what day of the week it was. It really is a beautiful, idyllic place to be.

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Denmark, Western Australia

Get more information at the Denmark Visitor Centre.
The Taste Great Southern food and wine festival is on this year from 18 March to 3 April 2016 and features producers from/events in Denmark, Albany, Mt Barker, Frankland River and Porongurup.

Our Christmas holiday in Denmark

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