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Published: March 14th 2018
This trip is about seeing Australia through the eyes of locals. With few exceptions, there are no hotels, no taxis, no organized tour groups or guides holding umbrellas while trying to herd souvenir hungry tourists in my plans. I really don’t know what this trip is going to offer, but for my part I am saying yes. Simple as that. Hey Brendan do you want to drive 1000km in 2 days? Yes. Do you want to share a bed with someone you have only met yesterday? Sure, sounds good to me. Feel like tagging along on a business meeting with me? Yup! And you know what? It has been awesome so far. This is easy, laid back and pure Australia.
Cindy came to pick me up in the morning after I had an amazing night’s sleep and off we headed down to Margaret River and Southwest Australia. About an hour out of Perth we stopped at a roadside service center where they had several different restaurants and shops in a central court. I was like a kid in a candy store and came walking out with my bounty of chick pea curry with rice, a watermelon blast smoothie, black licorice
and nacho cheese tortilla chips. As we drove, I stuffed my mouth while Cindy told me stories of where we were going, not only relating to history, but to what these places meant to her. She lived here, dived there, hung out there. I was content to enjoy most of my food, the curry was not something anyone would have enjoyed, watch the scenery and listen to stories. The whole drive was less than 4 hours, but then and again, in vacation mode time and what day of the week it is mean little to me, so it could have been a little longer or shorter. We made a pitstop at a shop called Cowtown Candy. Let that rattle around in your mind. Not 5 sentences ago I said I was just like a kid in a candy store so imagine how I must have acted in a true candy store where they were making peaches and cream fudge in the kitchen. Yeah, it was like that.
Not long after the candy-palooza we pulled into a charming, historic guest house where we were going to spend the night. This building had at one point been the lobby of the
hotel and retained the carved woodwork from front desk with the key cubbies. Now it serves as a common lounge for the two rooms in the building. We sprawled on historic leather couches from the original Parliament house. The longest couch was curved so that the men making important decisions could see each other as they discussed and voted. Today they are merely overly comfortable couches in a room that Cindy and I claimed as our own.
After jettisoning our luggage, we headed to the Indian Ocean so I could meet it. The spot where we went held special memories for Cindy, so I know she is enjoying this trip too. We walked down to the beach, over the most beautiful rocks to a place where we could stop and take our shoes off for a quick soak in the Ocean. The water was a special color of blue normally found only in movies. It was cold, only slightly agitated where we were, but full of rip currents and sharks not too far out. This was a special moment sharing this with Cindy. This is *her* beach and that she would share it with me was something special. As
we stood with our feet in the indigo, salty water we didn’t really need to talk. It was all about the ocean and our private thoughts. We were the only two people on the beach, so could linger as long as we wanted. And that we did. Sadly, we needed to dry off and head back to the car and return to our Victorian room.
I know we were both relaxed and feeling Zen from our time at the beach, but I don’t think that had anything to do with what happened next. As we were driving along at 100 Km per hour, Cindy exclaimed “censored, we are being overtaken by a school bus. A *censored* school bus. Censored, censored, censored.” And sure enough we were. This thing went whipping around us and left us in the dust. Far ahead we could see it slow down to let some kids off. I am not sure that it really stopped. I feel that it was more of a duck and roll type ejection from the bus. Sitting where you are reading this, it may not seem that funny, but in
Look at the swirls in the round one.
the moment, we were howling. It was just one of those things.
The next morning, we hit the road early to go see where the Indian Ocean and Southern Ocean meet. This is at a place called Cape Leeuwin. On the edge of the continent we stood in blustery winds watching the oceans fight each other. It was a spectacular show. Cindy has sailed around this Cape many times and as we talked, she told me that she couldn’t remember seeing the lighthouse on the bluff from the land side in years. For her the lighthouse was either the time to buckle down because the sailing was about to get real, or the time to breathe a sigh of relief that home was coming up soon. From Cape Leeuwin we went to Canals on the Coast a place where the pounding waves have created groups of rocky islands and canals. Once again, I was overwhelmed with the intensity of the colors of the ocean.
After taking in more beauty than one should legally be allowed to see, we drove through the forests of eucalyptus trees, peppermint trees and all other vegetation in the bush. At one point we
stopped to take pictures and simply enjoy the clean, menthol smell from the trees. I was amazed at how strong the aroma was. We did hit up a winery for some tastings and then worked our way on to lunch at a local bakery. I had a beef and mushroom pie that was amazing and a sausage roll that was not. Hey, part of traveling is trying new things and I know that not all are going to be eye rolling amazing. It is part of the experience.
Our next stop was back to Perth. Cindy dropped me off at her sisters and went home for a nap. Deanna, her sister and I sat up on a patio in the shade and talked for hours. She is a foodie, so we had lots to discuss. Little did she know that she would end up having to cook dinner for me. Truthfully, it was very good and the fact that she had to cook for a chef with no warning and did such a good job is a testament to her being a foodie. It was nice to have a quiet evening to relax.
Our next adventure was a
trip to Rottnest Island to visit the famous Quokkas. These are small marsupials that are only found on this island. The Dutch explorers thought they were large rats, hence the name for the island. We drove to Freemantle where we caught, and I mean just barely, caught a ferry to Rotto as it is called. It was a beautiful day with the same intense colors that I have found to be the norm here. Lunch was a treat. We at ceviche with flatbread, chili mussels with charred crusty bread for soaking up the spicy sauce, hand cut chips and I had a beer. Sitting outside looking at the ocean while eating this feast is what I call “roll your eyes and moan” good. Seriously. Even now I am looking back while writing this and I am making uncontrolled Mmmm sounds. Fortunately, I have my headphones on so I can’t hear myself and I am pretty much alone, so it is all good.
After this sensory experience, we decided to take a walk and find some quokkas. Our first one was a threadbare guy who, although very friendly, didn’t have the star quality I needed. Across the road we found
several others, along with a baby. We sat in the shade while this little guy licked our hands. They have these expressive faces and are too darn cute for words. A couple of them were sleeping. When they sleep, they put their tail between their legs, so it sticks out front, then they drop their head down on it and sleep. We sat with our furry friends for a good half hour or so. That was the point of today. Food, quokkas and sun. So that we didn’t fall asleep, we walked around looking over the ocean while feeling a warm breeze. Add some sweet cubed watermelon and it was yet another special day
Rather than go out for dinner, Cindy stopped off at the store to pick up a leg of lamb, potatoes and some vegetables for dinner. She made me the most wonderful homecooked dinner Slices of potatoes and a yam were roasted in the pan with the lamb, soaking up the juices. She cut corn off the cob and sautéed it in butter, while the green beans were served al dente and au natural. I did take a picture of my plate, but I promised her
I wouldn’t post it on the internet. I thoroughly enjoyed it, although when she asked me to carve the roast I didn’t know what it was. Our leg of lamb is shaped vastly different from this version. It caused quite a lively conversation. For my last day in Western Australia I don’t think I could have chosen a better way to spend it. Tomorrow I catch the Indian Pacific Railway across the continent. I will let you know how that goes; however, I am more than confident that it will be another amazing leg of this trip.
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