One Irish Stalker
Trip Start May 19, 2009
67Trip End Ongoing
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The next leg of what is surely a frontrunner for the title of "slowest roadtrip of all time" saw our little two car convoy heading towards Kalbarri National Park, but not before a short trip out of Australia. Yep, you read that right.
A few hours of hellish dirt roads took us to Hutt River Province, one of those little gems of travelling that hasn't yet been overrun by the tourist hoardes. Years ago, the owner of the Province decided that he objected to the rules and regulations of the Australian Government so decided to make his land its own country, earning him the title of Prince Leonard, and us a few more stamps in our passports. (Mum, don't get any ideas about the Bickley Estate. Please. I don't want to end up in the Daily Mail.) His Highness kindly allowed us to camp for the night so we soon sprung into action
Despite my admittedly overzealous preparation for this trip there is one thing I claimed I would never, ever buy, and that's a head torch. Abbey was determined to change this and by the time we hit Hutt River my head was proudly adorned with a miner's light. Despite the fact that I look like an utter tool wearing this I can confirm that it makes the process of collecting wood at night without encountering any of Australia's weird and wonderful wildlife an easier proposition. And Abbey, I must concede that despite my whining I do indeed love my headtorch, but it ain't a look that will ever hit the pages of Vogue.
After that pit stop we were back on the open road burning rubber towards Kalbarri. Well, the car was burning rubber at least. I'd become a bit obsessed with fuel consumption by now and insisted that we had to drive like grannies to keep the costs down, leaving the guys in the car to speed past us with only a cloud of dust in their wake. This would be the shape of things to come as we waved them goodbye with Randy's pirate flag, only to meet up with them again a few hours later
So, on to Kalbarri. Now, there are some encounters in life that even Mystic Meg would be hard pressed to predict, and then there are those chance meetings that make you want the ground to open up and swallow you up, headtorch and all. Unfortunately, fate was about to play the joker card.
Going back a few weeks, one night in Perth a few of the hostelites went out for a Sunday session at a local live music boozer. There I met a typically charming Irish lad called Nick. At least, I think it was Nick. Or Rick. Or perhaps it was Mick. Anyhoo, when I left for the night I gave him my number and he called the next day and suddenly appeared in the pub where Abbey and I were enjoying a little hair of the dog. Sadly, though, my bit of Irish intrigue had turned into an utter weirdo who didn't even look either of us in the eye when we were talking, and he thankfully disappeared after only a sup of his pint. (Which, disgustingly, we then drank. But that is par for the course.)
Over the course of the next week, the Irish texted three or four times, which only ever resulted in wear and tear of the delete button on my mobile
Leaving Perth I thought I was free from my Irish stalker. That was before our group headed out to a lookout at the start of Kalbarri and I turned round to ask some chap to take a photo of us all and realised it was him. Cue embarrassed glances between me and Abbey and my insistence that the group photo should be taken with our backs to the camera.
After that hideousness, it was time to enjoy the beauty of Kalbarri, and our little group of eight headed out on an 8km trek around the Park. Predictably, before long we'd lost sight of the track and ended up clinging to cliff edges like Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible. Still, it at least made a very long and samey walk more exciting, although I think the girls (and Deano) could have done without getting so up close and personal with some of Australia's eight legged beasties.
After some time spent on our two legs rather than eight wheels, it was time for our exhausted little group to head onwards and upwards with one simple ambition: that we might at last manage to drive over 200kms in one day.