Road Trip 1 - West Side Is Da Best

Trip Start Aug 08, 2007
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Trip End Sep 01, 2009


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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Start of a new week and start of a great road trip.  Monday morning and me and Rich set off with our new accomplice in crime Kimbo (a massive 6 foot plus ginger bloke - always good to have with us in the event of a fight) on a voyage of discovery up the west coast of Australia.  Our eventual destination was to be Exmouth in the North West corner of Australia before heading back to Perth and we were expecting to cover around 3,600 kilometers - same distance as driving from Leeds To Cairo.  We picked up our silver Mitsubishi from Thrifty's and we were soon of up the coast to our first stop, Cervantes.
Cervantes is famed for its Pinnacles Dessert, a dessert with hundreds if not thousands of limestone pillars, all rising from the sand in the middle of nowhere.  I've no idea how they got here or how they were formed but they looked great.  From here we traveled to hangover beach, so called because its good to go here with a hangover.  Nice beach, but while walking around the place I managed to stand on a rather big lizard who snarled its displeasure at me.  Don't think I hurt it, but must remember to look at the ground in future while walking around Australia.  From here we traveled up to Jurien Bay for our first over night stop off.  After a bit of driving about the place we managed to find a caravan park that did dorm beds so we settled for staying there, but instead of getting a dorm bed each we manged to get a dorm room each to ourselves.  With 4 beds to myself I could split my sleeping up into a different bed every 2 and a half hours which was great.
Following day saw us drive to Geraldton - second biggest city in West Australia - but just for a very brief lunch stop before traveling on to Kalbarri.  Kalbarri town centre was a lovely place, small, compact but very close to the beach and a nice place to have a barbecue and stay the night.  The following morning I spent having a jog on the beach, followed by a swim and then watched the Pelicans getting fed on shore - a different start to the day from getting a suit on for the office and sitting in a rainy traffic jam for an hour.  Later in the morning we headed back into the car to travel through Kalbarri national park.  This place was like a mini grand canyon, with one of the best features being a rock formation with a hole in it called 'Natures Window'.  Again the scenery was breathtaking and blowed you away.  From here we headed towards Monkey Mia for our next overnight stop.
Despite its title, there are disappointingly no monkeys whatsoever in Monkey Mia, however there was the chance to see Dolphins which regularly come near shore for breakfast.  There aren't many places to stay in Monkey Mia, as its that small, but the resort we stayed in was really good and again literally 30 seconds walk to the beach.  And because its such a small town with little in the way of city lights, when you go out onto the beach and look up at the stars you really do see all the stars - millions of them.  I could quite easily have spent all night on the beach looking up at them.  At the resort I saw my first good old Aussie bust up as a couple of guys started randomly fighting at the resort bar.  Not that much to see only a bit of a scuffle and broken glass but enough to create some excitement in a sleepy little resort.

The following morning I got up at 7 to catch a sight of the dolphins.  Dolphins obviously don't carry watches on their fins so we were told that they could arrive anywhere between 7 and 12 for their fish breakfast if they even arrive at all (the previous day they hadn't) so we waited patiently...and patiently.....and patiently.  By 10.30 it wasn't looking to promising and I was running out of coffee to drink at the beachside so we got on with packing up to hit our next spot when Rich came running back to tell us that they'd finally arrived.  There were 2 in fact a mother and son I think, and the wardens in charge of the feeding would randomly pick people out of the crowd to hand feed the dolphins.  Despite using all my best facial expressions running from 'Very eager to feed dolphins' to 'I love dolphins me' to ''Mild anger at being overlooked' to 'I've been overlooked and feeling sorry for myself now' but I still didn't get picked out.  Never mind.  

After our dolphin extravaganza we drove on to Eagle Bluff, an island lookout by the coast, and then to Shell Beach which is quite literally a beach made entirely of shells.  Very sharp shells at that, there was no bare foot walking to be had in this place.  We then went to see the Hamelin Stromatolites which are the oldest living organisms on the planet and millions of years old.  They didn't do much though other than sit there, so I still prefer to see monkeys.

After this we headed further north to the town of Carnarvon for an overnight stop but first we headed back out to the coast again and to the blow holes.  These were pretty spectacular and created by the strong tides coming in and spurting up through the holes in the rocky shore surface, and looked pretty similar to a geyser.  In Carnarvon I saw my first Aboriginal person which i was quite surprised at as I'd expected to see more by now.  Interesting but shocking fact for you, Aboriginal people were classed in the national census as flora and fauna up until 1967.

From Carnarvon we traveled up to Exmouth.  So far on the road-trip I'd seen loads of Kangaroos - none of them alive unfortunately, all dead Roo's at the roadside being feasted on by vultures.  Kangaroos generally get attracted by headlights after dusk so unfortunately they have a habit of jumping in front of vehicles and on the particular stretch to Exmouth I must have driven past about 20-30.  Its quite a nasty thing if it does happen and you can expect to have your car take quite a battering too if it hits a roo.

On arriving in Exmouth we were greeted by lots of Emu's which just happen to roam around the streets, and again you wouldn't particularly want to hit one of these at speed.  While we were there the temperature soared to a massive 47 degrees and you could really feel it.  I spent most of the day by the hostel pool before having a massive but delicious tea of ocean fresh fish and chips, before hitting the hostel bar in the evening.  This place got really busy and I think it was the main place for the town to come and party, although a lot of women in here lost the capability to hold their glasses with at least 5 or 6 glasses being smashed on the dance-floor that night.  My Michael Jackson dancing impression was re-unretired once again (but this times its retired now for real) and I even got some high-fives for its quality.

The following day we headed for the beaches and in particular Turquoise Bay which you'll be surprised to here was named so because of its beautiful turquoise colour.  This beach is definitely the best I've been on yet and even surpassed that in Ko Phi Phi.  The snorkeling was great here to with really clear water and a great reef in the Ningaloo which is the largest on the west coast.  From here we started our move back south and went to Coral Bay where Kimbo had stayed before and raved about the place.  The place was indeed brilliant and I spent the next three days mainly beaching and snorkeling and taking it very easy indeed.

After Coral Bay there was just one more uneventful stop off on the way back in a place called Port Denisson before finally arriving back in Perth.  And so that was the end of 10 days on the road which was brilliant and an experience I'll never forget.  When we got back to Perth we found out that the hostel we'd booked beds with 10 days earlier had decided to cancel our booking because we hadn't left any credit card details - which incidentally they hadn't even asked for - so our return to Perth involved a frantic 2 hours of trying to find somewhere to kip for the night amongst a very busy Perth packed with people coming to watch the international cricket 3rd test at the WACA.  After getting settled into yet another new hostel I spent the rest of the day with birthday-eve celebrations in Perth.
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