Published: March 13th 2007March 18th 2007 Rather than blog every stop and end up emailing you all every couple of days we're doing one for Western Australia (WA) and updating it as we go... so do pop bak to this one if you want the latest.
Taken from King's Park
Tom speaking: Arrived in Perth mid-afternoon. Got a taxi to a hostel in town - really weird as all the shops were shut and no-one about. A bit like a ghost town. Not sure if they have a siesta maybe as it was 39C (but at least dry heat unlike SE Asia). Found out next day that it was a Bank Holiday... hence everything being shut. Although to be honest it is really quiet here. I suppose when they've got over 5 times the space and a third of the population of the UK there's bound to be a little space for tumble weed.
Bry speaking: First time round in Perth we jumped on the free bus... they're great, zig zag all over the centre and you can just jump on and off as you like. Stopped in for a coffee and prawn sarny and guess who should walk in? Matt Lucas from Little Britain (they're
doing a live show here at the mo), he had a couple of burly black fellas with him, who I thought were mates and tom thinks were minders. I just don't think he's famous enough to need bodyguards. Resisted the temptation to tell him we went to the same Uni... the food obviously didn't appeal as he didn't stick around. Second time round and we had an accomodation nightmare. SE Asia and rock up and find somewhere is the way to go; Oz is clearly a book-ahead kinda place. So 10 hostels later and we still haven't found anywhere and the tourist office only has $200 hotels. Lastminute to the rescue, pricey at $135 a night, but at least we had a bed... and a bath, and a nice shower, and a jacuzzi, and a pool, etc.
For those of you who've been following the waterproof camera saga... we're going for third time lucky. Bought an Olympus waterproof digitial today that's only been out a week or two. It goes to 10m deep, which is pretty remarkable. Now I have my prescription goggles we'll go snorkeling on the East Coast and give it a thorough test.
Bry speaking: I slept through the journey (nothing new there then!) but was rudely awoken by Tom being issued a speeding fine! No joke, an hour into driving the great lonely roads of Oz and the car we happen to pass coming towards us turned out to be a cop car in an area having a special crack down on speeding. Great! So, $150 and 2 Ozzy points later and we're back on the road. Hyden, the town near Wave Rock, was pure hicks-ville. With one place to eat in town and the only choice being what slab of meat to have with the salad bar, the normal half hour rumination from Tom over a menu was joyfully reduced. The rock itself was worth a visit (see piccies), although I think I enjoyed the Aboriginal cave most, quite awe inspiring to see something so different from our own culture... a bit how I feel at celtic burial chambers and the like... a window on the past or something. Apart from that, not much doing in Hyden.
Tom speaking: So, a planned circular drive route from Perth via Hyden took us to Albany on the South coast (where the
After dinner in Freo, we happened by a pub where there was some local music on. The guy in yellow is getting pretty excited.
ANZACS got on the boats for Gallipoli apparently). Pretty standard provincial town I thought - the main attraction for tourists is the rugged coast and whale spotting, but for the latter we were here at the wrong time of year, so we moved on after a night. Stayed at a pretty cool hostel though and got chatting to some interesting fellow travellers.
Bry speaking: Fantastic tree top walk. The Tingle variety of Eucalyptus grows to about 60m. The forest is vast and smells wonderful. The real difference, apart from the height and weird flora, is that the canopies are not as dense as British forests so the light is dappled and quite stunning. To really give a different perspective they've built a forest walk that gradually climbs to 40m... closest we'll get to being Koalas (although I hear they're not native to WA) I guess. Then there's a ground level walk where you can walk through the buttress roots. Totally magical and worth the entry fee!
Tom speaking: This is the main tourist draw in WA. Great surf and great wines and food. On my birthday we went on a cave walk around one of
Car in field
An example of the average bush farmer's sense of humour?
the many here. Quite spectacular - better than Wookey Hole I thought. In the afternoon we went to chill on a nearby beach, then I rustled up some barby food for dinner washed down with a couple of bottles of local vino. Day after we went on a wine tour of around 5 estates. We've discovered that we tend to like younger wines it seems, and definitely aren't oak fans. However they don't grow the bustier grape varities here (not hot enough), so I guess we'll need to make a trip to Argentina - oh yeah I forgot we'll be going there!
So as most of you know it was my 30th on 11th March. Definitely had a good one - it's the irst birthday where I've had time on the beach and a barby! A generally chilled day - the 3rd bottle of wine later in the evening wasn't such a good idea as we were booked on a wine tasting tour the next day, so on waking I wasn't feeling too keen. Still I recovered after a couple of hours and had a really good day. Included a cracking lunch at one of the top estates and
Pretty impressive - a big rock face shapen like a wave, in the middle of the outback
a chocolate and cheese factory visit later on.
After Margaret River, we headed to Eagle Bay for a couple of hours bod-baking and catching up on the Spanish CDs, then headed up the road to Busselton. Nice seasdie place but the front itself was strangely devoid of any big development. There's a 2km long pier here with an underwater observatory at the end which was spectacular - loads of colourful coral and sponge growing on the wooden piles and some huge schools of fish - photography was a little tricky through the windows but a got a couple of half decent ones. Now we've just rocked up in Bunbury where we're going to stay a couple of nights before heading back to Perth. There's a dolphin centre here that Bry's quite excited about!
Bry speaking: Hit Bunbury at a great time... there was a latino-influenced street festival last night. I managed to dance to a few numbers, but only after Tom had had enough beers to get his legs moving to the beat. Other than that Bunbury has been about meeting the locals... Roos and Dolphins that is! Yesterday we went to a wildlife park which
Another weird rock thing just next to Wave Rock. You can see why it's got it's name
proudly markets itself as allowing kids to feed the Kangaroos... so the big kids we are we spent a happy hour or so feeding the friendly females who roam around the other enclosures. Then, this morning we went to the beach where the local Dolphins have obviously heard is the best place to see humans up close. It was amazing, 2 adult females and one calf swimming within a foot of us. We've booked to go out on the viewing boat later today, and I can't deny that we're both pretty excited.
Bry speaking: Headed back up the coast stopping in Cottesloe on the way, where we stayed in one of the worst equipped hostels we've been in yet... still Tom managed to rustle up a fine feed. Went for a walk along the beach last evening, really stunning watching the surf-style waves make their way into shore. Then in the morning we headed along the coast a little to another beach where they were having an open air sculpture exhibition on the beach. A really ecclectic mix, from the figurative to the bizarre. Great to see old and young enjoying the art.
Then on our
penultimate day in Perth we decided to keep on finding our inner children and headed to Adventure World, like Oakwood (mini Alton Towers). The rides were a little lame, but I made the most of the puke-making spinny things and Tom was a water baby on all the slides. Fun was had and icecream devoured.
Bry speaking: Australia is big! We've travelled over 1000km and only covered a tiny corner of this vast country. The outlying towns are how I imagine American rural towns - all low buildings and straight roads. They're also a bit dated, a bit like that scene in Back to the Future where Marty steps out into his home town in the 50s. I've certainly enjoyed it but I won't be filling out my visa application just yet, a bit too sleepy and parochial for me.
There are more photos below