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Published: December 9th 2013
Well, as you all know, I have returned to England by now but the blogs aren't done! I still have a few left up my sleeve to get out to you and let you know what other adventures I got up to in all that time off... Get ready for some reading, as these will be longer than usual while I finish up my travel experiences...
Last time we spoke, I had left Fremantle and had started my little jaunt up the west coast. I visited Cervantes and the pinnacles, pillars of limestone that rise out from the desert floor. Formed over millions of years (apparently!), they are pretty cool to wander around between the sand dunes and see the various shapes and sizes. From there, I took off on the road, the windows down and the wind in my, erm, face, and promptly stopped after about an hour to help a guy who had had two tyre blowouts within twenty minutes of each other. Talk about bad luck. Worse still, he had his mother and her friend in the car - poor bloke! Imagine being stuck with your mum in a car...! But more about that in the next
I know, kind of looks like a cock on the right, right?!
I made it up to Port Denison, camped, and the next day headed to Geraldton via Greenough, seeing some sideways trees and some wildflowers on the way. Geraldton was relaxing, Japanese food on the foreshore, and a walk up to another memorial - it seems there are quite a lot of these in Australia, but all are well made and great to see. Just a shame that this one had kids climbing all over it and parents who clearly didn't care. Nice to see them respecting it and all that...! In my travels along the next road I swung by Port Gregory where I had read I would come across a pink lake. I thought, as with some things on the internet, that it would be a slight tinge or only visible at certain times of the day, but Australia came through again. The lake is indeed, pink. Very pink. This is due to the early settlers that sacrificed one million pigs to the God of Bacon in the 1800's, who had come down from the farm in the sky to instil fear of retracting pork from the lives of all. Or due to the algae in
the water. I forget which one. The campsite that night had rabbits and wind. The clean kind of wind. Before my dinner anyway, and after, well, let's just say that it's good the tent had a mesh material on the inside. Ah, tent farts, how I miss you and your lingering stench.
Next up, Kalbarri National Park. An 8km walk along the ridge of a gorge, starting and ending at a rock formation called Nature's Window, left me hot and tired but happy to get out walking again. And these warnings of not walking alone - pah! I laugh in the face of such danger! And on my return to the town, on a Friday night thousands of kilometres away from anyone I know, I opted for the only viable option. Pizza, and beer.
I decided the next day that I would drive as far north as I had planned to go, up to Coral Bay, and work my way back down to Perth gradually. Seven hours later I arrived there to find the campsite full up and my only option a hostel dorm room. I have never been a massive fan of dorms. I don't know if
it is my age, my need to wee during the night, or my intolerance to snorers, but thankfully, for the first night, I was in a dorm with some decent people including English Eddie who kept me company in the bar during the evening. Coral Bay is, as the name suggests, a bay with coral in. Elementary, eh?! I bought myself a snorkel the next morning, slipped (oooerrr) into my swim shorts and grabbed my face mask. Coral Bay is pretty unique and different to the east coast with the Great Barrier Reef, as you can literally swim out to the coral from the beach. So I did. You go out about two hundred metres and there you are, directly over a field of coral, complete with little fish and a patch of coloured coral known as the heather patch. The pictures don't do it justice, but you'll get the idea. The tide brings you around to the main beach so floating is the order of the day. Most relaxing! The hostel had a burger night that night which was too good to refuse, and then my hostel nightmare - a snorer in the room! What a git. So not
the best night's sleep but I would be back in the tent the next day.
I drove south to Carnarvon and stopped along the coast to see another, much smaller, memorial, and some blowholes, where water surges into small caves or openings in the cliffs at the edge of the water and is forced upwards and out through holes in the rock. Pretty impressive stuff. Carnarvon is home to a space museum, and, being the geek I am, I spent a morning there having a little look around. The radio telescope there was one of those used to relay messages during the first space missions when the moon was around the earth, and there are a bunch of items to do with those missions as well. Buzz Aldrin has even paid a little visit, and I got to stick my head in a space suit cut-out, which can't be bad at all. When I ventured to the next campsite I found the sites to be not of grass, but shell. No problem, I thought, and tried and tried to get my tent pegs more than an inch into the ground by hand. It did not work. I went back
to reception and borrowed a hammer, and tried and tried to get my tent pegs more than an inch and a half into the ground. It did not work. I went back to reception and was handed a hammer drill and 6mm drill bit. Nice! I didn't think I would be doing any power tool work on this trip, but there I was, drilling into shells at a campsite with the equivalent of a Black and Decker.
My next stop was for Monkey Mia, one of the destinations I had wanted to visit since starting to read about the west coast. Monkey Mia is unique as, for the last forty-five or so years, dolphins have visited daily to be fed by the locals. Originally this went unchecked, but now it is more controlled and only certain dolphins are fed a small amount of fish so that they do not become dependent on these visits. Specifically, Nicky is one of those lucky few. After a long time sat on the beach waiting, I was finally rewarded (along with another fifty people!) at the sight of five dolphins headed towards the shore. After milling around for a while, the staff picked
a few people out from the line up and got them to feed Nicky by hand. Sadly, I was not one of the chosen few, but it was another great experience being less than a metre from them.
On my way further south from Monkey Mia, I stopped at Shell Beach, another Coral Bay esque name where the beach is made from millions and millions of shells, and I also stopped to see stromatolites off the coast. Although merely appearing like some other rocks, sticking out of the water in the shallows, these things have been around for a long, long time. The ones I saw have taken thousands of years to grow, and are formed of sediment mixed with cyanobacteria, which are the simplest form of life to use photosynthesis. They are responsible for providing most of the oxygen for the world over three billion years ago. And yes, I have been reading up on Wikipedia...
Onward! My next entry in my journal, for the evening after the dolphins, reads thus: "Roadside Camp..." - literally camping by the side of the road again - "...kind of cool..." - which is very true, it is quite fun just
rocking up and setting up your tent, cooking out the back of the car - "...though I need a poo, poor old Nick." Now, this last statement is a sad fact about camping. When out in the wilderness, or by the side of the road, there is a definite lack of bathroom facilities, resulting in many a moment where my dinner requests space yet there is none to yield. Thankfully, public bathrooms in Australia are well looked after, and in a way, it kind of gives you something to look forward to in the morning 😉
And what becomes of the Pinchbeck for the next few days? Well, he makes it to Perth. His car breaks down the day after he arrives, the gearbox becoming less use than a solar panel in a cave. He walk around Northbridge, falls asleep in Hyde Park, and drinks lager in The Brass Monkey. He then walks through Kings Park and the botanical gardens, visits the Western Australian Museum which he finds very interesting as it involves space stuff again, and meets his friend Lisa for more beer and pizza. He stays in a nice apartment/hotel and finds time to cook. He counts
down the days until he flies to Sydney, to see his friends there for leaving drinks, and to see his mum for the first time in fourteen months...
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