G’day from the west coast! Here I am sitting in Perth at a cafe in the Northbridge suburb. I arrived in Perth on Thursday, February 24. The next morning, bright and early I was waiting at the stop to get on the bus that would take me up the west coast on a Perth to Exmouth tour. Being a lone backpacker, I put on my friendly face and put myself out there, talking to the other backpackers who were waiting to also be picked up. I soon met Laura, a British girl; Steph, an American girl; and Cara, my fellow Canadian! We all hit it off instantly and made sure to sit close to each other on the bus, as it was going to be a long driving day.
Our first stop was the Pinnacles Desert. And boy of boy, it was HOT! I guess since there have been a number of cyclones that have come through the area in the last little while it was a lot more humid than normal. Needless to say, despite the fact that it was quite beautiful with giant limestone formations that are scattered around throughout the park, it was hot as hell and we were very excited to get back to the air conditioned bus. That afternoon we stopped for lunch and a swim in the Indian Ocean (current ocean count: 3), went sandboarding (think tobogganing down sand dunes) and eventually ended up in the town of Kalbarri. That evening after a minor feast, Cara and JB (the Frenchman) and myself went to the local pub for literally one drink each. It was going to be a very early start the next morning so we didn’t want to go too hard that evening.
After a very uncomfortable sleep in a room with no air conditioning and 1 fan for 6 people, we were up at 5ish, and on the bus before the sun had even yet come up. Our activity for the day was hiking into the Kalbarri National Park and visiting Z-Bend Gorge and Nature’s Window. We even got to do a couple abseils. We were back on the bus and back to the hostel by 11ish (possibly even earlier than that), we got to have a quick dip in the pool, and then lunch, then back on the road. A few hours later we were stopped at Shell Beach, a beautiful beach made entirely of cockle shells. CRAZY! Not a grain of sand, just shells. After about a half hour worth of picture taking, we hopped back onto our trusty bus and it was off to Monkey Mia for the evening.
Monkey Mia is somewhere that I have been dying to check out for the last 6 years or so. It is a place where wild dolphins come into the shallow waters and every morning get fed by lucky visitors who are picked by the marine biologists who live and work there. It’s really cool and on our morning there about 11 wild dolphins ended up swimming into the bay — including about 3 babies. It was a really neat experience and I’m so glad that after all these years I finally got to visit. After the morning feedings it was time to hit the road for a long leg of our trip up to Coral Bay, however, in Monkey Mia we had to pick up 9 more people, thus resulting in us having a completely full bus! NOT COOL. There literally was not ONE seat empty and we had to pile up our bags into the aisle cause the busses we were on had very little leg room.
Coral Bay ended up having air conditioned rooms which were absolutely amazing. Trust me. After having two nights of really bad sleeps due to sweating your ass off and just general stuffiness, air con definitely seems like an amazing luxury. The next day Cara and I went scuba diving on the Ningaloo Reef — one of National Geographic’s top 10 reefs in the world to dive. And I must say, I found it to be better than the Great Barrier Reef. We got to do 2 50-minute dives, as well as snorkeling with a manta ray (it’s wingspan was 3m!). On our dives we saw everything from octopus to sting rays to turtles, and at one point we were even surrounded by 12 reef sharks! It was an incredible feeling — to realize that we were doing something and seeing stuff that not a whole heck of a lot of people ever get to experience. From the boat we also saw dolphins swimming alongside us, and at one point, a 3m long tiger shark was spotted! (Ironically enough we spotted that guy about 10min before hopping in the water for our 2nd dive! HA go figure.)
Once reunited with the rest of the people on our bus — most of them had opted for the $100 cheaper option of snorkeling (personally I wouldn’t spend $155 on simply snorkeling, but to each their own), we were back on the road headed for our 2 night stopover in Exmouth. After numerous hours on the road and a bunch of roadhouse stops, and a THORNY DEVIL stop The place we stayed was quite nice with the exception of the bathrooms — it was grasshopper, moth and cockroach heaven! Trust me, walking into the bathroom before going to bed all you smelt was burnt grasshopper or moth or cockroach which had been fried to a crisp in the electric bug catcher thing… ewwww! But the air conditioning was so amazingly cold that I actually had to wear long pants – AMAZING! It was a nice place to chill out and relax. I even introduced Steph to Flight of the Conchords — or at least the 4 episodes of it that I have on my laptop.
After a day snorkeling in Exmouth and a nice thai curry dinner and yet another super comfortable sleep in freezing cold air conditioning (almost reminded me of what everyone back home in Canada is feeling right now) it was another obscenely early morning and hitting the road for the 800km trek for the day. We made a few stops at a bunch of roadhouses along the way, and then had a little stop at the Principality of Hutt River (a micronation within Australia, just outside of Northampton). We met the Prince and Princess and even got our passports stamped. That evening we stopped at the Northbrook Farmstay, were treated to a dinner and got to sleep in swags in the field, under the stars. It was gorgeous.
The next day… it was back on the road to finish up the last 500km or so. It was the end of our Perth to Exmouth tour. Our major stop for the day way at the Greenough Wildlife and Bird Park outside of Geraldton where we got to feed all the non-meat eater animals (emus, goats, sheep, kangaroos, chickens), and then we got to hold a 2m long python named Angelica, and got to cuddle with 2 lovely little 13month old joeys named Lexi and Lavendar. They were so adorable. The place is private and doesn’t get any government funding, so if you’re traveling up the west coast of Australia, be sure to stop in and meet with Michelle (the owner) and interact with tons of amazing animals.
Then it was back to Perth, where I’ve now been for a few days, and to be quite honest I’m getting quite bored of it. I haven’t really ventured too far out of the city center, but I find making friends here to be very difficult. I did meet a few people though and am heading out on a road trip tomorrow morning for 5 days around the south west coast. Can’t wait to get out of the city and explore more of this amazing country! 🙂
Now Playing: S&M by Rihanna