- Get beeped at by a road train
- Sarah needs to get someone to take off an item of clothing
- Get 10 people to acknowledge us by waving or lifting a finger
- In a roadhouse one of has to ask one of the staff what they would do if they were stuck in a lift with some cheese, a baguette and an angry badger
- In a fuel stop we have to play tag whilst fuelling the car
- We have to make up a story of where we are from
- All day fashion of poll to see if we’re the only ones who haven’t heard what the irishman the night before was talking about!
- We have to ask someone how far it is to Vienna and make them believe that we think we’re in Austria
Above, the list of things Sarah and I arrive at for our road trip back to Perth from Esperance the next morning. We also include writing predictions for each other’s 2014 and counting road trains, roadhouses and how many times the radio plays Bruno Mars! A suggestion from a friend is that we play the first person to see a camel, aeroplane, emu and a black swan in order to make the other do something. We genuinely do not see any of these items at any point on our journey…!
We choose to go via the middle road back to Perth to find wave rock, a tourist attraction just eastwards of Perth on the way. I take the first turn, beginning the 726km to Perth. Not far to go eh?! The first excitement occurs at 10.15am when we are stopped by roadworks and are acknowledged by a man wearing his hair in plaits! Another man holding a stop sign genuinely then bows in gratitude at my acknowledgement of his services! We next reach Ravensthorpe and play the first round of fuel tag :-). Running around the car it is most fun and we don’t care if people think we’re stupid :-). Quite handily a road train pulls up to which I ask for a beep ;-). He kindly gets in on the banter and obliges :-). I snap George and Sarah with a traffic cone then we find a crazy scarecrow on a motorbike! We encounter a wave hello sign which of course needs waved at! The same road train passes us and we get another beep :-). Then get stuck behind it…! We drive past a truck hanging off a mound of sand! Spied by Sarah, I genuinely miss this and have to do a u turn to go back and take a picture! Not quite sure how it got there… Maybe placed just to make the drive more interesting! We play guess the colour of the next car but have to wait quite a while! Sarah is much better at this game than I am!
We reach Hyden, the home of wave rock and of course stop to take a picture of the ‘wave rock’ sign. We are just enjoying the banter when a car pulls up on the other side of the road… Instinct goes into overdrive with it on the ‘not good’ end of the scale… This man offers to take our picture… I can’t work out if he’s thinking of stealing the camera or the car… He wants us to hold hands as he argues everyone waves… We decide we’ll join the masses and wave! I extrapolate myself quickly and get in the car, shortly followed by Sarah… We reach Wave Rock and see him eating lunch. He had been driving the other way five minutes previously…! I guide Sarah the other way and then encounter mannequins and a lace exhibition…! Of course you find that in the outback… This room freakily reminds me of the changing heads scene in Return to Oz! It genuinely feels like the beginnings of a horror movie… I actually ask Sarah if we are in one?! Sitting eating lunch on a picnic bench she decides that you don’t usually see picnic scenes in horror movies so hopefully we should be safe…!
Our feet find the wave rock walking loop. We reach steps with a wear sensible shoes sign! After laughing at people yesterday in thongs, Sarah is in thongs! We walk the rock and I capture my feet. Sarah manages to fashion a cartwheel. We are led to an attraction called the hippo’s yawn a kilometre away from the wave. Walking through cobwebs, we know we’re the first people in the day to attempt this walking… We eventually get there and are a little underwhelmed. Fine to see because we’re there but I imagine disappointing on a day trip from Perth… Back in the car, we phone the actual George and leave him a voicemail to share the banter :-).
Caption the image…!
Safely leaving without encountering act two of the horror movie, on the drive back through Hyden, we find metal figurines. We turn one on a bike into George!! We then get to see Kulin because of a road train accident closing the main road. I hope all involved are ok. Sarah’s tablet providing musical entertainment, we rotate between R&B, hip hop and 1930s music. Phantom of the opera being blasted out in the outback makes me smile then Lady Gaga’s poker face plays next :-). All the banter :-). We stop in Brookton and get more fuel. I get ice cream and encourage Sarah to ask the girl behind the counter the badger story. We have to make it an echidna instead as she does not know what a badger is! This girl responds that she would climb out the top of the lift and doesn’t say anything about the bread or cheese. Asking another friend he tells me he would feed the baguette to the echidna so it would stay away from him and he hopes the cheese is a big enough block to stand on and climb out the top! Sarah tells me this is her favourite answer in years of asking this question! I am bemused by the amount of people rushing to get out of the lift. My own answer is that I would eat the bread and cheese and put up with the badger until someone rescues me :-). I’m just patient me :-). What would you do? And more importantly, what would George do? We reach the outskirts of the city just as the sun is fading. We end the road train count at 19.38. It ends on 67. It took us nine and a half hours to get ten waves! And yes we were waving first :-). We drop the car and find a McDonalds. We didn’t quite manage everything on our list but we had a lot of good fun trying! It was awesome fun :-). I can’t wait to exchange our predictions in December next year and see what actually happened :-).
We awake to a different background than the night previously. Darkness and stars are replaced with blue skies, water and waves. The beach literally just across the road from the hostel, Esperance's coastline stretches on for miles. Following the road east out of Esperance, we reach Cape Le Grande National Park. For an area covered in outback terrain some pretty impressive contrast is apparent. Frenchman's Peak, a 262m steep rocky climb was the first task of the day! Walking boot prepared, I put George in my bag and we begin. A warning of its steepness at the bottom, we were pretty surprised to pass girls wearing thongs! The Australian definition of thongs that is! Definitely burning off the calories from breakfast and stopping a fair few times (pretending to be checking the view of course), the hard slog to the top was definitely worth it :-). I think George got it easy ;-). We see the outback laid out in front of us, the coast surrounding it and roads winding their way through it. The girls in thongs not quite making it to the top, fair play to them for giving it a try! I enjoy a timtam and think of a certain French friend whilst at the top of a Frenchman's peak and do some more yoga ;-). Sarah, a bit more adventurous, climbs on top of a rock! George just enjoys being carried everywhere :-).
Our morning exercise completed, we drive further into the park and reach Hellfire Bay. It is a pretty windy day but Sarah is determined she's swimming! Her enthusiasm makes me smile but it now takes quite a warm temperature to get me into the water… In the back of my head I have Ray's 37 degree rule and it is definitely not that warm! I try my feet in the water. Freezing, I dare Sarah to get in! Bless her she tries hard bouncing away but it is a bit cold and choppy and unfortunately not going to happen! We move onto Thistle Cove and find another beach, a whistling rock and some good chat :-). My favourite beach is the one we reach next – Lucky Bay. Beautiful turquoise and dark blue waters merge, surrounded by rocks with only four other people enjoying the beach :-). We enjoy a subway lunch then find two kangaroos just waiting around the corner for us! Not too shabby a stop for lunch at all!
Very much a coastal town, Esperance, of course, has a tourist ocean drive. Similar to Victoria's Great Ocean Road between Melbourne and Adelaide, this one is named the Great Ocean Drive. There are many beaches to find. Too many after so many days landscape sightseeing! It helps to have George and know I will be able to distinguish in years to come! He jumps out at Blue Haven and Twilight Beach (no vampires or werewolves were found…) and we let him see the south west coast being battered by the ocean! A pretty impressive coastline I have to say. We find another western Australian pink lake, though not quite as pink or as nice as the last one I saw and take George to Wiseman St. He is a very wise man you know ;-). Back in the hostel, I sit and chill in the lounge area where some hostel residents are watching Woody Allen's 'Midnight in Paris'. This movie always makes me think of the actual George :-). It being the last night of our road trip we decide to celebrate and take George for dinner. We enjoy a very tasty meal even if it does take a long time to arrive. Stopping in at the pub on the way back, I try a new kind of beer (the legacy of the drinking challenge lives on) and Sarah and I are left in shock with the brazenness of an Irishman talking about girls. The night ends with us formulating an outback bingo game of things to do on the drive back to Perth the next day :-).
Free pancakes start the next day. We go driving. We take George up Mt Melville and revisit the Brig Amity in daylight. We explore the buildings nearby and learn more of Albany’s history. Until 1897 and the opening of Fremantle as a port, Albany was Western Australia’s only deep water port. It nearly became modern day Western Australia’s major port. It lost out due to the routing of mail from Albany to Perth. We learn the water surrounding Albany is called King George Sound, so named by George Vancouver. It was good to learn of its history. We take George up Mt Adelaide and load him into a cannon and have some cannon fun ourselves. On a recommendation from the visitor centre we go to Two People’s Bay. We find Little Beach for lunch. Pristine and peaceful, we sit and enjoy the moment. Buying chips and dip for lunch, neither me or Sarah can get it open. I have to enlist the help of another man on the beach with the whitest teeth and skinniest of legs! A man walks past us smiling away to himself. We wonder why he looks so happy. He disappears behind a rock. We then see a flash of pink run into the water… Is he naked we ask each other?! I walk the water’s edge. I enjoy the peaceful moment near the water. The man then emerges from the water. I can confirm he was most definitely naked! He then appears to put on swimmers after swimming?! Madness. This situation is made funnier by Sarah telling me she has a habit of random men getting naked around her!
The fifth best kept secret in Australia apparently…
We take George back on the road to Esperance, with me behind the wheel. The road is the same for a long part of the way but George finds a boxing kangaroo (I am still regretting that I did not stop to take a picture of this), a kangaroo sign and passes through the Fitzgerald biosphere. We pass a cyclist! Carrying a heavy load, this is not a journey I would wish to undertake on a pedal bike! George becomes a soldier in Jerramungup. A given in the outback, we have the radio for company. The words ‘premature ejaculation’ and ‘dissolves on your tongue’ provide for a lengthy giggling fit and no end of banter. We apparently venture into a radio black hole. The only station we can find is 88fm. BibleFM! George finds Jesus! We wonder how many people find Jesus on this drive! Nothing wrong with having a bible channel but when it’s the only one you can pick up… This situation lets us realise we have an mp3 socket in the car! :-). I drive most of the 480km from Albany to Esperance. I’ve travelled through the outback before but I’ve never driven it. The landscape totally blows me away. The way it changes; the way it goes on the same for so long; the vastness; the open road :-); the trees – being above them then beside them. You really do feel like you’re the only people in it :-). Sometimes you are! There is something very liberating about the open road. It is an awesome feeling :-). Definitely preferable driving than being driven :-).
We show George his first sunset. The blue skies that have followed us since Albany are replaced with stars. I love being under the stars. We reach Esperance. We rock up to our hostel a little bit tired and hungry. We are met with a pretty rude woman who seems to not know where to put us. She tells us we’re in a 24 bed dorm. I was 99% sure we had booked either a 4 or a 6. She ends up putting us in a 3 bed dorm which we have to ourselves. We are made to read the house rules and learn there is a 3 hour window for drinking. We are informed it is $10 to hire a bag of plates and cutlery and on safe return we will receive $5 back, termed refund bond on the sheet. We agree this is buying rather than hiring and on principle decide not to give this hostel our money. We have plastic cutlery and can always eat out of pots and pans. I’ve had to hire them before but in a year of travelling never paid money for them. We find this situation ridiculous and try out the local pub. We take unimpressed faces with free knives and forks. We discuss what the actual George would have done in that situation. I am pretty sure we both have the same image in our heads! We both know he wouldn’t have been happy :-). We both laugh a lot. The night ends with us hearing a boy playing jingle bells on the guitar :-). It is without a doubt one of my favourite days in Australia :-).
Perth is filled with a lot of character. There is a cultural centre housing a library, art galleries, museums and the all important free wifi. There is a lane called London Court depicting London in Elizabethan times. The city is surrounded by water. The Swan River and the Canning River meet and provide a very wet background! Two hundred and forty two steps lead up Jacob's Ladder to the city's most impressive attraction – Kings Park. Many joggers run up and down these and through the park. The view from Mt Eliza is pretty impressive. Housing the Botanical gardens, a war memorial, an elevated walkway and a garden filled with words and space for reflection and quiet time away from the city, there is plenty to do apart from jog :-).
My feet, now no longer farm bound have been exploring the city. They have taken me to apparently the only place to meet here – a big cactus sculpture on the edge of the main square in the city. To a food festival and an impromptu pub crawl with an English friend. They wandered Kings Park on Remembrance Day. They ambled through a day of culture exploring the Museum of Western Australia and some free cathedrals. They found Peter Pan in Perth's Queens Gardens! They found a very naked statue on Heirisson Island! They walked through the city at 6.30pm on a Saturday night. With shorter licensing laws in Western Australia, people apparently head out early. Dressed up ready to go out, there were quite some outfits to behold. A lot of tight leather! Left astounded on more than one occasion, is it my age?! Have I been working in regional Australia for too long?!
Whilst here, I have managed to finish an entire book in 2 days. An actual record. 101 adventures that got me absolutely nowhere. Loved it. Pretty cool to know of the places and things he wrote about :). I've had a nice lunch with a friend of a friend and we have made plans to road trip the Southwest corner of the country to Esperance. I've also decided to do something FUN and am doing a tour northwards from Perth up to Shark Bay and Monkey Mia. It is most nice to be exploring again :-).