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Published: October 21st 2013
The Nullarbor behind me, I began my drive through Western Australia by heading to Esperance, on the Southern Coast. The beaches began to become more and more brochure style; white sand and turquoise water, near deserted. The weather was a mixed bag with sunshine during most days, but major wind at night (not just caused by my diet) and a fair amount of rain. I woke on several occasions wondering if I had done a 'Dorothy' but thankfully each morning the tent had remained in situ.
My days usually consisted of a drive, heading out to beaches, walks along rivers and in forests in small towns, getting to campsites in the afternoon and relaxing. My Kindle and I became inseparable. I passed through a series of towns, some only a couple of hundred people big, some larger, but not many. For a lot of the journey, I travelled alongside train lines that led to each town and the big silos they contained, the trains themselves few and far between, but incredibly long when they did appear. I passed road trains up to three trailers long, and, while I did see plenty of people, the campsites I stopped at were often
the smaller (and cheaper) kind with few people present. To say it was relaxing is an understatement. The scenery changed significantly from the plains of the Nullarbor and became one of forests and farmland, reminding me of home, albeit on a grander scale.
From Esperance and its beaches I headed down the coast to Albany for a little taste of civilisation. Here I visited an old whaling station (in case I hadn't had enough of this in my earlier travels) and was once again reminded of how mindless humans can be in their slaughter of these incredible animals. I'm constantly amazed that it all happened so recently, and also that it was allowed in the first place, and is now still being allowed with other animals such as sharks. It is, however, quite mind blowing to see the skeletons of some of these animals and realise just how huge they are. After seeing the museum and taking the tour, I also got to visit a few of the natural sites in Albany: the blowholes, the gap and the natural bridge. There were some signs about strong winds and king waves, but naturally I did the stupid tourist thing and
ignored these to see them anyway - and thankfully I made it 😉 The pictures of the gap don't do it justice, but hopefully you can get some idea of the sea's ferocity from them. Now have a think about the guy who fell into the sea around this point and was subsequently rescued by a ship who braved the rocks. Quite how he survived I'm not sure, but he was one lucky guy - though I didn't find out how he 'fell' in, so perhaps he was an idiot tourist, too...
I hiked up to Monkey Rock near the town of Denmark, my first decent bit of exercise in days, and was rewarded with great views out across the farmlands, and also stinging rain and fierce winds. I visited the Valley of the Giants in Walpole where a walkway takes you amongst the tree canopies around forty metres up, and wobbles like Santa's big fat belly. I saw the windfarm at Albany that, when built, had the tallest turbines with the biggest blades in the Southern Hemisphere. I read more tourist information boards than I care to remember, and promptly forgot 99% of the information they contained. I
watched movies on my laptop in my tent, read, wrote, listened to music and developed an ability to pitch my tent (that's not code) in three minutes flat. I finally bought blankets and a blow up mattress and wondered why on earth I ever set out on the trip without these invaluable items at hand. I ate, I drank hardly any alcohol, and hardly missed it, and looked at the stars at night wondering if there was life on other planets, what would become of our futures, and why I have a single nose hair that grows coarse and thick as string, continually, no matter how many times I pull the bastard thing out. All the important stuff.
Eventually I began the drive north toward Fremantle, where their AFL team had made Grand Final. I stayed in a hole of a hostel, but at least it was a room to myself, and ventured out to the pub to watch the match. Fremantle was incredibly busy; the line for the pub was over an hour long, and that first beer was extremely well deserved. Everyone there was in high spirits... until they lost. Sad times, but it was a good
day, and the evening became a bit of a blur between pubs, before I made my way (via Stagger Street and Wobble Way) home to bed.
I upgraded the next day to a real hotel and spent a lazy afternoon watching films and having a curry - result. The next day was my birthday, so I saw friends I had met while travelling for sunshine, beers and fish and chips on the green in Fremantle. Not a bad way to spend the day and forget that I had turned the grand old age of 34. I had another two and a bit weeks before I was due to fly to Sydney, so I started my trip up the west coast the next day, not wanting to get too used to the hotel life. Back to the tent!
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