Get the most troublesome bit out of the way first
We decided to take the very long and very straight Albany Highway all the way down to Albany and work our way back round the coast to Perth . This drive took 5 hours and took us alongside mountain ranges and through English-looking green woods and then through bleak scrub not unlike Dartmoor . Pick up free maps at info centres which surprisingly are MUCH better than the ones you pay for!
Charge up the iPod
Aussie radio stations have a fondness for playing Midnight Oil. Without the MP3 connector I would have had to sing. Ben would not have been happy.
Take loads of water, enough snacky food for 3 days and always fill up on petrol
We always tried to have about 5 litres of water between us in the car and at least half a tank of petrol – there are stretches of road with absolutely NOTHING for miles and miles and no other cars. The roads are long and it can be tiring so its good to stop for a quick snack now and again. However, I don’t think either of us wants to see another can of tuna for a loooong time!
Get some of that antibacterial hand stuff and tissues
You never know when you will need to stop for a wee at the side of the road. Watch out for snakes and kick yourself when you drive round the next corner and find a 5-star deluxe toilet with soap.
Pay attention to the many crosses at the side of the road.
Every so often and usually always under a tree will lie a cross with someone’s name and date of death on it.
Tell Ben that he is a wonderful person
“Please can you look where you are driving!”
Make friends with the many people you will meet in hostels who are living there
We seemed to end up in dorms with people on working visas who had made it their permanent home. This was not a bad=2 0thing – they left their laptops and things lying around which made it feel safe to leave valuables in the room but they bloody woke us up early.
Take the time to eat every kind of cake you would never dare eat in England
Lamingtons, Bestings, Melting Moments. Full of fat, cream and sugar. Eat them, who cares?? The bakeries here are a national institution and make the best cakes for very little money.
Learn to LOVE coffee
Coffee is a major business in WA. Coffee is advertised more than beer and its almost impossible to get a bad coffee. Even a crappy looking petrol station will have a good coffee machine to give you a buzz. Every type of coffee you can think of.
Tell Farrah that she is a wonderful person
“Oh for gods sake!”
Don’t risk getting caught in a bushfire
In Albany , everyone raved about Two Peoples Beach so we tried to go check it out. The road leading to the beach was 16km long with no side roads and lined both sides by forest. Just as we turned in we saw a sign saying the beach was closed due to EXTREME fire risk. We continued gingerly for about 3km then decided that it was not worth the risk – we aren’t locals, we don’t know how seriously to take these things so we decided to leave well alone. We returned to a café at the top of the road and were told by the staff that they had never seen the warning before and that everyone was a bit wary given the situatio n in Victoria . We also missed a bushfire in Prevelly where we based ourselves for Margaret River by a week and when we went to sleep at night we did so with knowledge of our nearest exit – run for the sea!!!!
Stay at the Blue Wren in Denmark and hang out with your room mates
Ahhh, a lovely hostel with a great big golden Labrador and chooks living under the house. Here we met Janine, Shaunagh and Gareth. We went to see the sunset at the beach together and took Shaunagh and Gareth to look at Giant Tingle trees in the Valley of the Giants. I can now tell the difference between yellow, red and Rates tingles. I am such a geek.
Always have emergency back up dinner in the boot
Days are light until 8pm, it didn’t get dark until 8.30pm at the start of our road trip. By the time you get some place and check in its pushing 9pm. Almost everywhere in these rural areas shut at 9. Its good to have a packet of 50c noodles in the bag somewhere. But we didn’t eat them until the very end of our trip….
Appreciate how beautiful life is away from the city despite it being not so easy.
Pictures of Perth : http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=217860&id=535680087&l=3c5b7
Look for stars in Pemberton
Pemberton is an old timber t own in the middle of national park territory. Its perfect for looking at stars at night. We took some head torches out so we could find our way home. The locals found this highly amusing. I told them I was looking for mining work in Kalgoorlie .
Climb the Gloucester Tree
Bloody hell. Im never doing that again!!! A huge 60m Karri tree with spikes sticking out, a few people sat at the bottom said they tried to climb it but had returned because the vertigo had got too much for them. It wasn’t the heights that worried me but the strength to climb up without any help!! If you missed a step or fell to the side there was only one way to go – down!! So, wearing my trusty Merrells, I took one spike and then another. I felt my arms pull, I ached but I kept going. And this was after running a couple of k with the mad Frenchman from our hostel. There’s a lookout built on top and once I was up there I was shaking! Shaking but so glad I did it! Ben went one be tter and also climbed the Bicentennial Tree. Nutter.
Tell Ben that he is a wonderful person
“If you keep looking out of the back window Im going to make you map read. I don’t care if it makes you feel sick, just look at the road!”
Fill your tummy with goodies in Margaret River
Wine tasting, chocolate, olives, marron, venison, fudge, coffee, its all going down in Margaret River ! We visited some wineries. Ben was very gentlemanly and offered to drive. As it happened I didn’t like much of what I tasted. Ben bought a bottle of red which I couldn’t take – I pas sed out after one glass (haha no jokes about me being a lightweight please) But boy oh boy, chocolate!!! But it melted as quickly as we ate it so sorry I cant send you any! Also visited a cave!
Marvel at the beaches along the way
White sand, turquoise water. Keep your bathers on every day, plan time to make several stops at every bit of pretty beach.
Laugh at the ‘chi chi’ people in Dunsborough
Nice town, nice beach but where did all these rah rahs come from?
Walk the jetty at Busselton
Every time you look up you think you are nearer the end. You are not. Its 2km long.
Find your inner peace by swimming with dolphins at Bunbury
Im glad that we left Bunbury til the end. A lovely place and we stayed in a really good hostel too with hammocks and places to chill out. The sunsets were sublime. We woke up early every day to go spot dolphins. One morning we arrived to find that we had missed them by a couple of minutes and they had been interacting for nearly half an hour. BUT! They returned about 5 times that morning and swam up and down past our legs with curiosity. Ben was a happy boy and ended up eating the muffin he refused to eat when he thought he had missed out on seeing dolphins YET AGAIN (Ben always seems to miss dolphins by split seconds on his travels haha).
Make a quick decision on what to do with those last few days before Ben returns to the cold, grey and damp of England
Not enough time to do the coast north of Perth up to Monkey Mia and Exmouth as planned so we went as far as Cervantes and visited the Pinnacles desert which is full of weird limestone formations. The best time to go is just before sunset when the sun is low and to be back in town before it gets completely dark. On arriving in Cervantes we noticed a bushfire!! An electricity pole had caught fire resulting in a power cut for the town. The blaze was quickly put out but it did mean that all the shops shut up for the day, no ATMs worked and that we would have to live by oil lamp that night. However, the power came back on about 9pm and Ben, as determined as he was to not eat those 50c noodles, insisted we see if anything was open. Nope. We had noodles for dinner. They were good.
Tell Farrah that she is a wonderful person
“Will you just shut up???”
Visit all those places the Lonely Planet makes very little mention of
Such as Yanchep National Park where we saw koalas, had the privilege of being jumped past by kangaroos and sat in warm sunshine on green grass by a big lake where pelicans ate fish. And Farrah ate chocolate. Yeah!
Say bye bye to Ben, look back on your photos and decide what to do next…
Until my next adventure, here are some pikchush: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=221804&id=535680087&l=43fa6