Hello, I'm reporting today from Bunbury library, where I have discovered you can use the internet for free (for everything except for e-mail). Thus blog updates are on!
Sunday 19th November 2006
Woke up early this morning, feeling rather tired after a late-night out in Northbridge with two of my fellow dorm-mates (both Australian, funnily enough). It was good fun... and because I cooked for them and shared my (cheap - 6 bottle of clearskin for $11) wine, I didn't pay for a single drink - bonus!
I met up with Victoria (Scottish) and Clay ([nice] American) and we headed up to Kings Park to watch the Red Bull Air Race from there. We thought it might be a bit quieter away from the main spectator areas, but we were wrong (well, it may have been a bit quieter, but was still awash with picnickers and revellers). There were hundreds of people and it was hard to find a spot with a good view. It was also a bit distant from proceedings, so it didn't seem as exciting as I thought it would (having seen it before on the TV). Still, we had a nice picnic and Kings Park is really beautiful (although most of the flowers had gone over since my last visit - I timed it right in October it would seem). I'm obviously more impressed by the natural wonders of Australia.
Later in the afternoon (after doing the newly re-opened tree-top walk in the botanical gardens - another anti-climax - perhaps it was the wrong time of day... but we didn't see a single bird or anything else of note), we went back into the city to look for a restaurant for dinner (we decided to treat ourselves). But after much wandering we didn't find anything suitable (we all fancied Mexican). So, in the end we went to the supermarket and got various Mexican things to cook for ourselves. It turned out really well and was nice to have a weekend of company after my somewhat lonesome wanderings on Rottnest.
Monday 20th November 2006
Was planning to get the train from Perth to Bunbury this morning, but when I got to the station (in the rain!) I discovered that the train service was cancelled and replaced with buses instead. Boo. This meant that the journey was an hour longer and there was much malcontent muttering in Perth (mostly silver foxes on this particular route it would seem).
I started chatting with a fellow backpacker (the only other person under 60) and she was really nice so the journey went really quickly, despite stopping at every small town between Perth and Bunbury (the sun came out shortly after leaving the city). She's a teacher from Switzerland (around my age, I guess), and as she liked cooking we decided to make a Thai green curry together in the evening.
Beforehand, we wandered around the city (well, it's called a city, but seems about the size of Honiton) and went up Bunbury Tower (10 storeys high) and up another look-out point for the views and to get our bearings (there's not much to it so this was pretty easily done). Doris went back to the hostel for a rest and I checked out the beaches and mangrove swamp (the most southerly mangroves in W.A. apparently), which made for a nice walk but didn't offer anything in the way of awesome sights. Then I came to the library and discovered the internet which I am taking full advantage of today.
Hostel is full of odd-bods. This includes a fat middle-aged man with bottle-bottom specs, who cooked half a cow and 2 huge burgers for dinner, and ate it as it was, just with a bit of barbecue sauce as an accompaniment. He followed this with a massive bowl of ice-cream and (fake) chocolate sauce. A healthy meal indeed. Perhaps he is on the Atkins diet.
Our curry was delicious and considerably better for us (unless you're an Atkins advocate*). Also, a hugely-fat retired couple from Blackpool (who have lived in Oz for 40 years but still retain broad Lancashire accents) and a decidedly odd woman/girl who hasn't uttered a word or cracked a smile since I've been there. I think I'll be glad to move on tomorrow (although the hostel itself isn't too bad and the staff are friendly).
*I'm thinking it must be international alliteration day today - I can't seem to help myself!
Tuesday 21st November 2006
Another early start today (I think I'm still running on a Rottnest rhythm). I got up at 6am and there was a decided chill in the air - I've just looked on the internet and it went down to a mere 8 degrees overnight - brrr. The coldest I've felt since I don't know when. Luckily the sun was already high in the sky by about 7:30am and feeling much warmer. Also no wind, which was a bonus after the strong onshore breezes of yesterday.
Went to go and see if the dolphins were in the bay. Apparently it is a bit hit and miss whether they come or not, but we were really lucky and saw six come right into the bay, and got to go into the water up to waist height (deeper than in Monkey Mia, the previous dolphin place), so they came and swam around our legs. We were then asked if anyone had goggles/snorkels, so (as I did) I was able to go up to chest-height in the water and put my head under for a close up look (and listen - amazing to hear all the clicks and whistles underwater). There were only two of us able to do this so it was quite an honour (I think one of the volunteers took a bit of a shine to me as she kept talking to me about the dolphins long after the rest of the crowd has dissipated. Very friendly. Shame about the moustache). All in all, very impressive.
After this large dose of excitement I went for a quiet walk along the beach and around Big Swamp Nature Reserve. Lots of wetland birds to see and a beautiful area of reeds/swamps/pools. Very tranquil. The beach isn't quite as impressive as those further up the coast, but it is still quite dramatic, with some pretty hefty surf and long stretches of golden sand. So spoiled!
Crikey - I've packed in a lot already today and it still isn't lunchtime.
Reet, that is enough for now; my stomach is rumbling. Back to the hostel for lunch with Doris (leftover Thai Curry). She is staying on for a bit longer in Bunbury, but has kindly offered to put me up in Berne if I ever want to visit Switzerland. I'm turning into the Lord of Dunscombe (family joke), what with my newly-improved networking skills.
I shall be leaving for Dunsborough on the 3:28pm bus, so might not get the chance for further updates until I find my next public library (thanks, Mr [and Miss/Mrs/Ms] Australian-tax-payer).
Best wishes all. Take care...