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Published: January 27th 2019
We rarely revisit a country we have been to again, unless it is on the way to somewhere else or is a hub for plane travel (Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok spring to mind in these categories). We first visited Australia three years ago, after being a bit ambivalent about it to be truthful, and we just loved it so how stupid were we for ignoring it for so long? On that occasion we travelled across the bottom right hand side, up the east coast and down to Alice Springs and Ayers Rock; on this occasion we thought we'd have a look at the west coast and the Outback expecting (and getting!) a completely different experience given the size of the country.
We'd decided against hiring a satnav to go with our rental car. Our previous experience of the country meant we knew that there weren't a lot of roads to choose from and the towns were small enough to not get lost in them. Getting any sort of signal in a lot of places, and especially the Outback, would render it useless anyway so we decided to rely on maps I'd printed out before we set off and the tourist
info that Australia excels at producing and which generally includes maps and route information. Finding our way out of Perth was going to be our biggest challenge but, after an initial wrong turn, we got onto Route 2 (Mitchell Freeway) towards Joondalup where the traffic really thinned out, and then took Route 60 (Indian Ocean Drive) and just drove. There's no skill required for driving in Australia - the cars are automatics, the roads are good, there's not a lot of traffic, everyone just sets cruise control at 110 kms/h and off you go. They drive on the left in Oz so even I felt confident and relaxed when it was my turn to get behind the wheel. The car (a silver Toyota Corolla) did what cars are supposed to do and was reliable and responsive. It had a mean-looking spider living in the driver's wing mirror and we destroyed his web every morning after he started to expand his empire across the door panel but, apart from that, we had no problems, not even with the bent ignition key that we worried might snap on us when we were in the middle of nowhere. I would have preferred a
colour other than silver after the monochrome of Asia but the Aussies like their cars so I got my colour fix from them in their red/green/blue/yellow cars.
Our first stop was in Jurien Bay but we stopped off at Lancelin on the way. I drink A LOT, not just beer but coffee, lemonade, water, any sort of liquid and I need literally gallons of it during the day. By the time we got to Lancelin I was ready to drink the Indian Ocean dry! We called in to an IGA store there. Not only had we forgotten all about those (they're a bit like a mini-supermarket, like Tesco Express, but often with more of a corner shop vibe) but we had also forgotten about the friendly welcome you get nearly everywhere in Australia. 'Hello, how are you? Nice day isn't it?' and, just occasionally, we got the stereotypical 'G'day, mate.' It was lovely. Fully rehydrated we continued our journey passing the Pinnacles and other national parks and admiring the beautiful roads and scenery. We stopped for me to have a cigarette break in a picnic area and I was immediately besieged by flies. It's as if they seek you
out from a distance and I eventually figured I had about three minutes before the swarm arrived. We'd forgotten about those too, so maybe those rose-coloured glasses we were wearing needed a bit of a clean to see reality. The pink parakeet-type birds (I'm sure they have a proper name that isn't pink parakeets but I don't know it) were talking to us from the trees, the skies were blue and the sun shone down on us. Wonderful.
We eventually arrived at the Jurien Bay Motel Apartments about 3 pm. Route 60 just rolled right through the middle of the town, we took a left turn towards the sea front and there we were. Easy, peasy. 'You're late' said the receptionist by way of welcome. Well, pardon us for being stuck with a delayed flight and, in any case, we weren't obliged to give you an expected arrival time. Oh, and by the way, Australians are not supposed to be grumpy. We'd just gone 30 hours with no sleep but remembered that Australia closes up early (often like 4 pm early!) so we forced ourselves to keep moving and walked to the local parade of shops to find something
to eat. The fish and chip shop purportedly selling 'the best fish and chips in WA' was closed so we had to settle for Lesueurs Cafe where their fish and chips and a fish basket plugged the hungry hole before we returned to our room where we showered and promptly fell asleep.
We spent our time in Jurien Bay enjoying the little town and the beautiful seashore. A lot of building is currently underway and I think it is expanding to become part of the tourist trail. With its current population of 1800 it's probably more village than town in our terms but it has a mix of high end property and large plots with run down properties just waiting for redevelopment. Further along the Dobbyn Park Foreshore there is a large boat harbour with all the facilities for the sailing fraternity and a recently built pier adjacent to some caravan park facilities. This area is called the Turquoise Coast and it has everything going for it to make it a thriving tourist town, including a huge IGA store, a lovely beach area with BBQ facilities, toilets, exercise areas and gazebos to take shade under and enjoy the views.
It has a police station, an estate agents, a roadsweeper (it is very, very, clean), as well as all the amenities a small but expanding community needs - a bakery, a supermarket, a petrol station, a pub (ok, limited opening hours but we were off season), an op (charity) shop, a post office and a repair shop for vehicles. I don't see how it can fail and we really enjoyed our restful time there. The apartments were very new and clean and ours (Apartment 14) overlooked the sea. We spent hours on the balcony drinking coffee in the mornings and beer in the evenings enjoying the views and the sunshine and renewing my acquaintance with Pure Blonde, in the bottle if not on the head. The motel dog, Elsie, wasn't a bit impressed with me but took a liking to Steve - ok, you can't win them all.
Towards the end of our stay in Jurien Bay a group of young people arrived to stay in some nearby holiday chalets. They had a whale of a time without being disruptive or noisy and it did make me wonder how the young town people met new people, for courtship and
potential relationships. I suspect that small town Australia has little to offer young people, and they probably move to the larger cities. Nevertheless, we two 'oldies' were glad to be back!
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