Well, many of you will already know that Jamie is back at work in Manchester now. I however was lucky enough to have another month off, and I thought you might be interested to hear a little bit about what I've been up to.
As I said in the last blog, I went down to Bunbury and had a lovely couple of days there with my cousins. After that it was back to Perth to stay with the in-laws for a whole month! Yes I can hear you all wondering, did they really invite me to stay for a month without Jamie to keep me in check?.... well no, of course not! I invited myself, not just so that I could enjoy the good Aussie weather for a bit longer, but also so I could do some work for WaterAid. For those of you that don't know anything about WaterAid (it's a charity dedicated to providing clean water and sanitation to the World's poorest people), check out www.WaterAid.org.uk.
But that is enough about that, it's travelling you want to hear about! Well after a couple of weeks in one place I started to get itchy feet. I just couldn't
get used to sleeping in a comfy bed night after night. So I decided to go on a tour of the South West, and visit all those places that Jamie had mentioned but that we hadn't had time to visit (and some he's never seen despite living here for 7 years).
I booked on to the Planet Perth 5 Day South West tour. It was an early start as I had to be in the city centre for 7am, and in fact it was early starts for all 5 days, just like South America. First stop was the historic town o York, it wasn't nearly as good as the English York, but was good place for a spot of brecky. Then it was a long drive over to Wave rock. This rock is so called because it looks like a wave - check out the photo, it was really cool, and well worth a visit, even if it is in the middle of nowhere. We then headed on to Esperance, where after bonding with Sammie the Sea lion we headed back to hostel to prepare dinner and eat.
The next morning we awoke to cold weather - shock
horror! After the high 30s we'd been experiencing in Perth for the past 2 weeks and the ferocious heat at Wave Rock (which with the flies was very reminiscent of Uluru, I guess one big sandy rock is likely to be similar to another) it was a bit of a shock to the system. It was also threatening to rain, and did later on. Now some of my tour group were very ill-equipped, with only t-shirts and shorts, however I don't go anywhere without a fleece and a gortex jacket, so I was fine. We drove the Cape Le Grande National Park, where we climbed Frenchman's Peak. It was an interesting climb with a smooth steep rocky surface, and I the views from the top were pretty good, although the cloud did take the edge of things. Apparently the climb can be very hot, and it was probably with this in mind that the itinerary takes you next to three beautiful beaches within the National Park. We visited Lucky Bay, Thistle Cove and Hellfire Bay. I think Thistle Cove is the most beautiful beach I've ever been too. I dragged a few of the tour group in to swim despite
the cold weather. I think everyone else thought we were mad, but hey I knew I'd probably never be there again! We went back to Esperance that night, and of course couldn't turn down the opportunity of an Aussie Karaoke Session. Most of the group went home after singing, but a hard core of us (the English, the Irish, a Canadian and a German) stayed on to sample Esperance's nightlife!
Day three, we travelled to Albany. Stopping en route at the Castle Rock winery, which had some excellent pinot noir and shiraz, and an award-winning Riesling (which I didn't like!). After a spot of wine, what better thing to do than climb another scary rock? So we went up Castle Rock (in the Porongurup Ranges), actually it was an easy walking track for most of the way up, and it was only right near the top that we had to squeeze through a small gap and walk out along a little bridge. It was well worth the effort and we were rewarded with a bracing wind and some excellent views of the surrounding forests. It was my turn to cook that night, and our tour guide disappeared off to
A Whale Skeleton
at the Whale Museum
do the shopping, leaving me with three Japanese tour members to cook for our group of 20! Just as well it was bolognaise, and the only person I've ever known to cock that up wasn't there (you know who you are). I needed the Castle Rock shiraz to help me through.
Day four, and we were off to see the Whale Museum. Now most of the group didn't seem to impressed by the museum, which was formerly a whale processing station. But I actually thought it was really interesting, and they had some amazing whale skeletons. Next we went to see the blow holes and the natural bridge on the coast. I was one of the first to reach the blow hole and not really realising I was right by it, got quite a fright when it suddenly blew. In the photo you can see me standing in the blow holes path, it was an amazing blast that you got when it went. We also saw Greens Pool, another beautiful beach, but I'm afraid by now we were getting a bit fed up of beaches since it was too cold to swim. But it was en route to the
This is on the way up Castle Rock
'Valley of the Giants' that things started to go really wrong! Unfortunately out bus just couldn't make it up the hill, and after an hour and a half on the side of the road, we had to turn around and look for somewhere to stay the night. Luckily we were able to get into a hostel nearby, and I did feel a bit sorry for the couple of people already there, when our group came in and drowned it's sorrows and celebrated the last night.
Planet Perth managed to get another bus down to us over night, and our group all agreed that we wanted to do the Tree-top walk in the Valley of Giants more than anything else. It was a good choice, the views were amazing. It's impossible to do the trees justice in the photos because they are just so big. After that we went to a fire tree (a reall massive, high tree) with a ladder winding all the way round it. It went up 42 metres, and pretty much everyone climbed all the way up. It was pretty scary though, with only a bit of netting to hold you in place if you were
to slip. Unfortunately we were so far behind schedule that we had to drive pretty much straight back to Perth after that, stopping just briefly in Busselton (where I'd been just a week before). All in all, it was a great, if slightly rushed trip!
Now I think that will be a last entry from us, as I doubt that riveting though it will be, you probably don't want to read about my flight home and first week back at work. I hope you've enjoyed reading about our travels, and we look forward to reading about lots of yours in the future.
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