Im now in the deepest greenest gorgeous-smelling Southern Forests area of Western Australia. I made it to Perth and am now exploring the south coast and working my way round from Albany to Margaret River and back up to Perth.
The Indian Pacific was bloody good fun. After a day bushwalking in the Adelaide Hills with Craig the rock star where we spotted koalas, possums, turtles and -eek- poisonous hopping ants, it was time to head west and so I boarded the train which would take 2 nights to cross the Nullabor Plain. I had absolutely no idea what to expect apart from huge expanses of desert. So many people warned me off doing the train at all and when I said Id do the cheap seats they were even more like WHHHAAAAT??? and reviews I read were not favourable. I think Bill Bryson in ‘Down Under’ even suggests its not a good idea (do not quote me on that – I will find out as I just got it for my birthday), but as you know, I never listen to anyone so of course, this was a journey for me! I’ve travelled on overnight trains through Thailand alone and they were fine so I expected that this would be a similar if not better experience. Craig and Lili teased me and said that they heard a huge team of WeightWatchers would be on my train but I got on and it was full of … BACKPACKERS! ALRIGHT!!! PARTY TRAIN!!! The seats were comfy, larger than airline seats and almost fully reclining. I sat next to a Japanese student called Nao all the way and=2 0she was great. The other side of the aisle and behind we had some German backpackers and a couple of guys. And we’ve all exchanged contacts so thats nice. Yes, there were times when you felt the scenery was on pause but I slept all of the 2nd afternoon (as one of the German girls said, ”I cant believe you slept all day!”) Sleeping was not a problem although the first night fully through the desert was quite cold so if you ever take this trip and dont fork out for your own cabin (boring – you’d never meet anyone) take a blanket. The staff were all really cool and friendly. The food wasnt too expensive and it was OK but loads of people take their own. From the train I saw kangaroos hopping away and that was pretty magic. I saw the stars really brightly at night. And we stopped at a couple of places – Cook, a ghost town – Im not even sure why the bones remain – and Kalgoorlie – a gold rush town where men still go to mine and – ahem – enjoy the company of the ladies of the night – I tried to get some pics of dollies but they started screaming and running indoors. I was with one of the guys off the train. We laughed at them and went off to eat pizza.
Some pics of Adelaide and the train: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=213654&id=535680087&l=2fac4
In Perth I stayed with my friends Frank and Andy. I met them some years ago in Koh Samui when I hijacked their taxi (if I emailed you on my RTW trip you’ll know who Im talking about) and they just havent managed to get rid of me since (And I love you so much boys xx). My first story about Perth begins the day I arrived. Frank picked me up from the station and left me in his house to get on and he went to work. I sorted myself out, worked out how to get a bus into town and so on and was about to leave the house when I saw a massive yellow thing jump off the wall. I froze. I ran into Franks room and picked up a Havaiana and threw it at the yellow thing. It jumped!! OH MY GOD!! A MASSIVE JUMPING YELLOW SPIDER!!!! I shrieked and grabbed my stuff and ran out of the house!!! Even though it was boiling hot outside, I was shivering all over. I texted some friends to see if they could identify the spider. I texted Frank. And I texted Andy who was due to fly in from Malaysia that afternoon, warning him there was a yellow jumping thing in the house. I went straight to a bookshop in the city and looked up what it could be, keeping the spider pictures at arms length and sort of half keeping the pages closed. There was something called a grey spider. I thought it might be that but none of the descriptions said these spiders jump. My friends texted back to say that as long as it wasnt black and red then dont worry. But arrrggghh yuk I was pretty shook up. Later on in the day, Andy contacted me to say he was back so I headed back to the house. He asked me where my kangaroo was. I was like, what? And he said ý ellow, jumping thing?’and I told him what happened and he replied ever so calmly…óhhh the grasshopper?? I put him ooutside..’. <sigh of relief and eyeball roll>.
The evening I arrived in Perth, Ben also flew in from London! He was a bit jetlagged but nothing as bad as I was as his flight was considerably shorter than mine, minus the stopover in Singapore and not going as far as Melbourne! Actually, I think I fell asleep before him that night! Perth was just hot, hot, hot! We spent a lot of time at the beaches; Cottesloe and Scarborough, had drinks in Fremantle and spent all day riding bikes and playing with Quokkas on Rottnest Island. During this time Australia also witnessed its worst bushfires ever. Very sad stuff guys. One man was on TV saying ‘I lost my 2 kids mate” . So matter of fact, so, but we’ve got to get on and help each other through this.
I also had my birthday last week and I had a lovely day! Thanks so much everyone for birthday wishes, emails, texts, calls and so on!!! I was rather touched Frank and Andy were amazing and made me a very naughty breakfast of french toast, fruit, cream and coffee, Ben managed to bring extra pressies from back home for me and then the boys took me to the Hippo Grill at Hilary’s Boat Harbour and I had an extra special time at the Aquarium of Western Australia and touched a shark and flirted with a sea lion (he was soooo adorable) before meeting up with a very old school friend also called Ben20who I havent seen in 20 years despite us both living in the same village until our early twenties!! He is very well and has now moved out here with his girlfriend. It wasnt weird at all, we had loads to talk about and hopefully we shall meet up again!
So now Ben and I are touring the cool forests (and watching out for bushfire!). We got a hire car and drove 5 hours straight down to Albany (and missed out on seeing the most talked about beach at Two People Bay because of EXTREME fire risk and have made our way through the hippy town of Denmark, hugged some giant Tingle trees and we are now in Pemberton ready to climb the giant Gloucester tree which reaches I believe 60 feet? The beaches down here are amazing. We have hooked up with people that we have been staying with in the hostels and gone to see turquoise waters. We even watched a man fishing a shark the other evening – he cut his tail off but still he wriggled! We are staying in a dorm with some crazy guys – one, French guy, William is going for a run tomorrow morning and is taking me with him because I havent been running since I got to Australia – Its been too hot!! – so um, we’ll see how I do waking up at 7am and running for the first time in 3 weeks… ouch!
Will post some pics up of Perth and our little road trip next time – havent had time to upload them all yet! And by the way, I have a new word – BOGAN! Its what they call chavs overhere, hee hee hee!!!!
Lots of love xxxxx