I really tried hard to like Western Australia
Trip Start Oct 19, 2005
33Trip End Ongoing
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I should have realized the early signs were not good as my flight was cancelled and I had to spend several meaningless hours in Virgin blues terminal (in more than one sense of the word) slowly sipping my soy latte watching the slow hand of the clock ticking by. I only had an Aus $10 voucher for compensation, which in any airport doesn't stretch far and with the words "Don't spend it all at once" still ringing in my ears from the over smiley and cheery check in (what's the word?) crew, staff, hostess?
As said I tried hard to like the place, but things kept going wrong and just when I thought my luck was on the up, lady luck showed me what a cruel and demanding mistress she actually is
Arrives for one week and finds themselves sitting in the hostel courtyard 3 months later, rolling cigarettes, passing around the communal lighter, discussing the finer points of the cheapest beers, bitching about having no money and that they really should get a job. They normally have matted dreadlocks, various piercings and are aged between 24 and should know better. They kinda smell you know that smell of a non-ventilated bathroom that has the dark spots of mould on yellowing white tiles. They dress in ex-army jackets, combat trousers and heavy toed boots (yup even the girls) and discuss what the next lot of newbies will be like and whose sleeping with who!
Normally aged between 18 - 24, bright eyed and enthusiastic, overbearing smiles plastered on excited faces, perfectly gelled hair/ make-up depending on the sex, trendy clean clothes and brand new rucksacks
We could have stayed in a hotel
This breed of hostel dweller is an enigma; the we could have stayed with friends or a hotel, but "Find hotels so impersonal and formal, you never get to meet anyone!" Well correct me if I'm wrong isn't that the point of a hotel - the anonymity. "We much prefer to stay in hostels and do the whole hostel experience and get a bed in a mixed dorm rather than a private room." Smug looks abound - are they mad!! They like to be kept awake by some bastard snoring, people coming and going all hours of the night, opening every hidden and secret compartment of their precious backpacks slowly unzipping all the fastenings and rustling every plastic bag in site and then there's the getting changed in a bathroom that is too small to even swing a cat, even a starved Siamese, whilst trying to avoid the puddles around the toilet and the flooded floor as the shower door no longer fits the shower properly!
Back to Western Australia
Trying to be positive it wasn't all bad:
+ I met some really cool people
Sian - cool British chick, some sort of drinking partner although she was using western Australia to dry out her liver!
Linda - lovely Italian who tried to teach me choice Italian phrases and lent me t shirts when my luggage went AWOL - see the chapter on the Adventures of Brad the Backpack later on
Fiona - another lovely pom who is temporarily based in Melbourne and we have friends in common and made a fun traveling companion!
Anthea and Nick - two lovely doctors on their way to start a new life in Perth, good luck guys and who joined me in the disappointment of not seeing a whale shark
Marcia - a friend of Anna's who took me under her wing, opened up her house and gave me a brief but much needed social life in Perth
And many more
+ The sun, Perth was a tropical 22 - 23 degrees compared to the freezing temperatures of Melbourne. The further north the warmer it got to the extent of sunbathing on the beach in a bikini - if only I had one that wasn't traveling the length and breadth of western Australia in my rucksack!
+ Swam with mantas as in manta rays and snorkelling in beautiful reef and chasing beautiful coloured fish - photos to come later!
+ The scenery - stark low scrub like desert rolling into grass covered dunes down onto perfect sand coloured beaches meeting green turquoise, azure, deep blue waters under a clear blue sky....BUT....It lacked the wildness of the acacia covered vast earth of Botswana and Namibia, the romanticism, tropicalness and colour of Mozambique, but it tried!!
Okay now the negatives -
Camera eventually giving up the ghost, too much African sand - Mum and Dad will know all about that
Got it fixed, well so I thought, then 24 hours into a fateful tour up western Australia to Exmouth from Perth it refused to work!!! So thankfully was able to use both Sian and Fiona's camera to take some shots but only as far as Monkey Mia (a horrendous place where they feed dolphins that they try to con the public are completely wild!! So once the feeding is over we all wash out our buckets so that these totally wild and unconditioned dolphins know there is no more fish for them and look they swim away!)
Didn't see a whale shark or go swimming with one, which had been the reason to going to Exmouth, and the disappointment was all the more poignant as I had originally been booked on a tour on the Sunday, but they didn't have minimum numbers and as in the middle of the outback my phone didn't have any signal so I knew nothing about canceling the tour and being pushed to the Monday, had I, I would have gone with another operator, as it was those that did go out on the Sunday saw and swam with a whale shark, whereas we that went out on the Monday did not. Okay I'm not bitter!!! We had the chance of a free repeat and with no intention of coming back in a hurry to WA, I changed my flight back and took the free repeat scheduled for the Wednesday and yes guess what we didn't see one either on that day - but we did see loads of hump back whales and adolescents jumping out of the water doing amazingly ungraceful back flips displaying there white stomachs to an enrapt boat full of people
Encountering surly sullen women and inbred chauvinistic men that seem to populate WA, not a fan!
Western Exposure - not a great fan of organized tours Fiona and I found ourselves cajoled (word of the moment) into joining this tour as driving was not a wonderful option, vast distances on long straight roads, roos jumping out at you and mad axe men waiting to attack two stranded females (OK I made the last bit up - artistic license!) So we embarked a mini bus with mostly females who were a lovely bunch, but we had a creepy, sleazy and licentious bus driver - who made my skin crawl - great as the last two days it was him, me and team Italia (Linda and a couple on their honeymoon from Milan)! Then there was the small matter of my luggage going AWOL...and no apology from Western Exposure.
The Adventures of Brad the Backpack
This ended up as a cathartic Greek tragedy, the saga continued and continued, just when I thought it was near the end it changed direction, the plot thickened, new characters emerged, twists and turns were introduced ending in rapturous delight as the hero (Brad the backpack) was reunited with its protagonist and victim of the story (Hester) to the misery of the villain (Tjilipi or Paul the bus driver)!
So Hester, yes I'm doing that weird thing of referring to myself in the third person - what is that about? I go into this shop whilst waiting for the bus to take everyone but Team Italia and myself south and when I come out bags are being loaded from one to the other (yes obviously the other bus has turned up in the meantime!) I look and can't see my backpack in the lot to be loaded onto the other bus and give a cursory look into the back of our trailer and see a blue and grey backpack okay mine's safe. Except it wasn't mine and mine had already been loaded onto the bus going south. This was discovered when we got to the middle of nowhere sheep station run by a racist Swedish man who kept referring to the aborigine women he was shacked up with as Blackies or black men - errr interesting turn of phrase!
Once the discovery was made, frantic phone calls were made, well would have been made, but being in the middle of nowhere there was no signal, but there was an amazing night sky!! It was freezing and the lovely people at the sheep station as my sleeping bag was in the backpack somewhere south of me, lent me a ratty smelly blanket and that was all - lovely! The next day on arrival in Coral bay, a plan was hatched the backpack would be put on the greyhound bus and would arrive in Exmouth at 2:30 am! Awesome only one day to get through, swimming in my underwear, lucky I had boardies with me in hand luggage and the lovely Linda to lend me shampoo and endless t shirts that were a little too tight across the bust, but hey there was no one to impress - I was still on the look out for these beautiful people that allegedly populated WA!
Next morning awake to find no backpack had been delivered, Brad was obviously having too good a time on the Greyhound to get off and onto the Exmouth shuttle - oh my god I'm giving an inanimate object feelings and emotions!! So it transpires that the drivers realizing the mistake meet halfway to Broome, transfer Brad to the greyhound going south who brings it to Exmouth. Doesn't hear from us, again at the Beach and no signal! So takes the pack with them when they go back on shift and takes it halfway back to Broome before bringing it back on Monday morning 3 days later! Why they couldn't have left it at the backpackers where they knew we were staying is beyond me. The excitement was infectious when I was told Brad was in Exmouth, but close but no cigar - the saga continued.
Eventually Brad had had been to more places than me in WA and hadn't lost a thing - thank god!
I decided to get the hell out of WA and head back to calm and safety of Melbourne, before anything else could go wrong...oh and then there was the footie, positive it was because of my run of bad luck and being in Perth that we lost to the cheating Portuguese!!
Well too soon I will have to leave these shimmering, seductive shores for the freezing conditions of New Zealand...but before that time to enjoy my birthday tomorrow - HURRAH - party on, looking forward to cooking up some mischief!!
Until the next time... love ya!