You should have already seen that my photos are now in the public domain. In case not, they can be found in the following locations:
Monday 6th November 2006
I was woken up at 5:00am by an Aussie chap who was cycling from Taiwan (!) to Perth. He was a bit of an odd character (travelling for over 7 years and the first time since then that he will have been back to his home city) but quite friendly (the day before, that is... it was too early to more than grunt on his departure). I'll have to look out for him on the way to Perth (see later entry!).
Had a mooch around town in the morning and walked a little way up the Murchison River. Watched the pelicans for a while before going to the supermarket to get a few bits for lunch. Had a post-prandial snooze (the weather is still hot and therefore conducive to torpor) and then dragged myself to the beach. Found a nice spot for a swim (just inside the river mouth). The water was warm and very clean, not unlike the River Sid! There were a few fish about but it wasn't a patch on Ningaloo.
Was planning to watch the sun set, but it got a bit chilly (low 20s) and I didn't have a jumper with me. I am now even softer than before! Got back to the hostel and cooked minestrone to share with Marylene (French girl) and Matthias (Swiss kite-surfing bloke - bit of a nobber who reminded me of my Swiss exchange person). Bed by 10pm. (Rock 'n' Roll!)
Tuesday 7th November 2006
After watching the daily pelican feeding, which was total carnage (the pelicans kept on eating* the seagulls instead of/as well as the fish), I walked to the Kalbarri Wildflower Centre with Marylene, only to find that it was closed for the season. Still, we saw a dying bat in the car park (of the flying mammal variety) - soon to be eaten by a crow no doubt - and a massive shed-snake-skin lying beside the road.
Got chatting to a friendly chap from Aosta, Italy (Mattia) and had a leisurely lunch with him. Got rather confused linguistically as I had previously been speaking a bit of French with Marylene. Still, it was good to have a bit of a mental challenge - I don't want my brain to atrophy completely.
In the afternoon I walked along the beach to Red Bluff with Mattia. It was about 10km return, but seemed particularly hard going in the predominantly soft sand. The beautiful sea and scenery more than made up for it, however.
Was pretty exhausted by the time we got back (me slightly less so than soft-Italian-boy!), but managed to cook risotto to act as a starter before the nice steak that Marylene and Mattias had bought and cooked.
*well, getting them trapped in their mouths, before releasing them, at any rate.
Wednesday 8th November 2006
It was a mainly quiet day today before the travails of travelling south. I spent the large part of the day brushing up on my Italian with Mattia from Val d'Aosta (he's got Calabrian roots, you know, so that's all right then...). After he had left (heading north) I walked along the coastal cycle track. It was a beautiful walk but I have never seen so many flies (see picture of my green jumper on www.picasaweb.google.com/sidmouth2). I really should have dug out the fly net, but the twin evils of embarrassment and it being in the bottom of my bag somehow dissuaded me. As it was, every time I did a sudden movement, I was surrounded by a swarm and looked like Linus from Peanuts/Charlie Brown.
There was a gorgeous sunset and the colours in the sky afterwards were amazing. There were huge flocks of galahs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galah), which seem to be the equivalent of the urban pigeon around these parts. In the evening Clay and Victoria arrived on the incoming Easyrider bus, along with various other people who I had met along the way.
I enjoyed my stay in Kalbarri. It was a bit quieter without the majority of the Easyrider crew, but it was a good change to reflect and recuperate before moving on. Kalbarri is in a lovely setting on the river/sea and the whole place still had a real sense of being in the middle of nowhere. It was so laid back it was positively recumbent. The hostel was nice and quiet, although a bit lacking in atmosphere, perhaps.
Thursday 9th November 2006
It was back on the original love bus today (it had done a complete tour of the west coast and was back for another circuit). Bart was the driver, who turned out to be the best value since Rebecca on the first leg (not bad for a South African). Perhaps the old Toyota with the green upholstery somehow brought the best out of people. We stopped briefly at Geralton for coffee and saw the first traffic lights south of Darwin! There is definitely a sense of increasing urban sprawl as we move south (although that means a farm every 30kms or so, rather than every 200km)...
After playing musical chairs on the bus (I was the MC), we stopped at Dynamite Bay for a swim. The water was warmer than I thought it would be, which bodes well for Rottnest Island.
We visited Namburg National Park (the busiest NP in Australia, apparently) to see the Pinnacles. Beautiful area - it would have been nice to spend longer exploring (especially to see the colours at sunset). Passed the cyclist I met in Kalbarri en route and had the good fortune to see copulating kangaroos (a first for everyone on the bus). How we laughed...
We passed through the Great W.A. wheat belt (approx the size of the UK), but there was also some interesting scenery; salt lakes, sand dunes, small hills. Played bus cricket (which involves trying to invoke a response from passing drivers) and bus surfing (standing in the aisle, without holding on, for as long as possible). Road safety campaigners would have had a field day. It was quite an entertaining journey as they were generally a friendly bunch of people on the bus.
As we pulled into a service station on the outskirts of Perth we experienced the first rain for weeks! It was only a light shower, but also felt quite chilly (probably a mere 23C).
Got to Fremantle without and problems and checked straight into hostel. It's a bit noisy for my grandad-tastes, but the free internet more than makes up for it. Meet Francis, another French person who hates France (there are a lot of them in Australia). And he is threatening to move to the UK....
Friday 10th November 2006
I'm rather serendipitous with the weather today. Spent the morning doing odd jobs, which principally involve the internet (of course: it's free!). Am glad to be able to upload my photos and start clearing out the full memory cards. It was just as well I was indoors as there were frequent showers. It was also fortunate that I hadn't walked too far because my left sandal decided to break (after less than a month of [albeit extremely heavy] use), whilst walking around the hostel kitchen. I think I should be able to fix it, or get away with sporting a strapless version - otherwise a trip to the shops may be required. Exciting stuff!
The sun had come out by lunchtime so I ventured to the supermarket and booked my ferry for Rottnest Island. I also has a good wander around the Quayside, which included the stunning (slightly less-so on closer inspection) Maritime Museum. This was only from the outside - I didn't pay to go in, obviously. I wrote this entry from a bench outside the MM. Not a soul about (repeating theme, here), so just the sea gulls and passing boats for company.
Well, it's 11pm and clearly time for bed (exhaustion!), so I'll leave it there for now and update today and tomorrow tomorrow.