Our initial challenge was getting used to driving a small Toyota Corrola after 4 weeks driving our huge campervan
! We both felt quite claustrophobic for the first few days and were stunned at how we could hardly hear the engine and gear changes could be done with one finger. On the first few days we took on some quirky tourist activities. We visited a place called 'Gnomesville', which we expected to be some kind of organised museum. But it turned out to be a little piece of woodland next to a road, where people brought gnomes and left them in a random place, maybe with a little plaque saying something like 'There's Gnome place like Home!'. Unusual to say the least. We then ventured down the road to have a round of 'Disc Golf'. A small course was set up, which was played by throwing a frisbee into a basket, some 100 metres from the tee or so and counting the number of throws to do this. We thought it was pretty unusual, but the owner said that its becoming a huge world sport and there are tournaments where people play for large sums of money!!! We also did some wine-tasting in the vineyards (or wineries as they're known out here) around Margaret River. This involved trying 6-7 wines at each of 5 wineries and deciding whether to buy any. At the start, the group we were in were very attentive as the owner explained how he grew his grapes. But by the end, as the wine flowed, it was more like a trip down the pub, with people getting to know each other!
We visited a few more wildlife parks to see more of Australia's unusual animals and birds
. Apparently 80% of living things in Australia can not be found anywhere else in the world! Andy got to pet a kangaroo, but was a bit surprised when it started standing tall, hopping around and throwing a few friendly punches his way! We've also seen some white kangaroos and a lot of beautifully-coloured parrots and cockatoos, that are abundant in the wild. A few of them in the wildlife parks were quite chatty actually and very curious about us....we weren't sure who was more amused! Kangaroos are everywhere here - one golf course Andy played on had 300 'roos living on the land. Several were only a few metres from the first tee and obviously hadn't been warned how bad Andy's hooked shots are!
Andy had his 30th birthday on the trip, which we spent taking a tree-top walk - a huge elevated, suspended walkway, 40 metres up in a forest canopy! The day was rounded off with bangers & mash (& wine) cooked in our little chalet (we still prefer home-cooked food at the moment, after 6 months of eating out every night in Asia). He had a great set of birthday cards to open, as Lou had organised for people to be able to send the cards to Perth's post office, for collection. What a sweetie!
We finished off our rural adventures with a trip to 'Wave Rock'. This is a huge piece of rock, that through erosion, has been formed into a wave crest, 100 metres long and 15 metres high). Its apparently been around for 2700 million years - around the time of the dinosaurs. This is another unusual thing about Australia, its geologically one of the most inactive places on Earth, so old rock formations and fossils are often found in abundance!
So, we hit the road for 10 days to check out 'some' of Western Australia's (WA) more rural places. When we say 'some', we really mean a tiny fraction. WA is the same size as Western Europe, so although we drove about 1000 miles, when you look on a map we only managed to see the very small south-west corner of the state! The other strange aspect of the state is that 1.4mill of its 1.9mill inhabitants all live in Perth and its commuter towns - which is like taking 75% of Western Europe's population and putting them all in one city on the coast of France, leaving the rest of the land pretty empty! Therefore, our trip was one of visiting small towns and villages every hundred miles or so. The kind of places where the petrol station, is the supermarket and the post-office as well! This means that the tourist attractions weren't of the Great Wall of China scale, but fun nonetheless!