After having spent a lazy (sunburnt) day at the pool with a good book, I left Kilbarri on the 28th for Shark Bay / Monkey Mia. It was a good day to drive as it was heavilly raining on the way, around the Billabong roadhouse. Apparently the rain was caused by a tropical cyclone which had passed by. Funny enough I again met the Israeli guys at the Monkey Mia campsite, and Jorinke and Hilde in the local Monkey Mia pub -which was filling up with guys dressed as girls and vice versa due to some goodbye party of a couple of local employees- and I mentioned I wanted to offer them a ride from Kilbarri to here.
The next morning my van was in approximately 20 cms of water so I had to wade through the water to get out. I went to the beach to watch the dolphin feed. While it was really nice to have a look at the dolphins up and close it felt a little bit over organised; all the tourists lined up on shore and the dolphins trained to swim past us. A lot of pelicans showed up as well; getting their own dose of free fish.
As I walked down the beach I saw numerous stingrays in the shallow waters, some other rays (I mistakenly thought they were sharks as they looked like it but found out later they were rays instead), a beautiful sea slug and several sea stars.
I decided to go on a nature boat cruise to Shark Bay to spot dugongs (seacow), turtles and whatever other wildlife we would encounter. It was great to see several of these dugongs and turtles swimming by and the boat cruise itself was excellent. Because I booked the longer boat cruise I got the sunset cruise for free. I almost missed the boat though, so I had to make a run for it
That evening I had dinner at the pub with Hilde and Jorinke (who where on the boat as well) and they asked me if my offer (to give them a ride) was still valid, so I told them they could ride along with me to Exmouth.
Today I went for a drive along the impressive shoreline with huge cliffs and gorges. While the tourists were pretty much absent, the flies had come to Kilbarri in huge numbers, constantly trying to get in to your nose, ear, eye, mouth, or whatever other body cavity was available for crawling into.
While enjoying the views of a lookout (and the absence of some flies due to the ocean breeze) I had a chat with two girls who had a rest stop from cycling on two old and worn mountainbikes, trying to keep the flies out by wrapping sarongs around their heads and wearing big sunglasses.
It appeared they were also Dutch, also from Utrecht and -funny enough- also from the Zeeheldenbuurt. Hence: Neighbours! We spent quite some chatting after leaving for some of the other cliffs and gorges.
That night we again went to the local pub but we didn’t make it that late as everybody was still a bit tired from the night before, and the pub was not as lively as the night before. I was thinking of offering the Dutchies (Hilde & Jorinke) a ride to Monkey Mia, but I didn’t see them anymore at the pub.
As Australia’s West Coast was a popular trade route to Indonesia there are several shipwrecks to be found off the Australian West Coast. Three Dutch wrecks (Batavia 1629, Vergulde Draek 1656, Zuytdorp 1712) have left Europeans stranded on the Western Australian coast. What became of them remains a mystery. Is it possible that these people became Australia’s first white settlers long before Captain Cook planted the British flag in Australian soil?
After the Batavia went down, the Captain took a small boat with him, trying to reach Batavia (nowadays Indonesia) to get help. The remaining survivors stayed behind, waiting to be saved. As water and food ran out two camps formed, one terrorising the other, killing rivals. The captain, however, did reach Batavia and came back with a ship to save the other survivors. On his return he discovered the mutany and murders and had the murderers punished.
On 16 November 1629 two young men, ‘death deserving delinquents’ Wouter Loos and Jan Pelgrom de Bye, survivors of the Batavia shipwreck, were marooned near a ‘small inlet’ on the mainland. This was their punishment for taking part in the murders.
The young men were given a small boat, supplies, and various items for trade with the Aboriginal people. They were instructed to seek information for the VOC, about possibilities for trade, and learn of any gold or silver that might exist. What has become of them is unknown.
The museum contains numerous items collected from the several shipwrecks; from coins to canons. A nice small museum with quite a lot of interesting facts about Dutch VOC trading history.
After Geraldton I left for Kalbarri, a small town close to the Kalbarri National Park. As today was Anzac day, I went to the local pub with a couple of people that were camping next to me (1 Pom, 1 Ozzy girl and 2 Israeli guys). We had quite much fun (as well as beers) there and we got pretty pissed that night; just like the Aussies in the same pub
I woke up early by people driving off to visit the Pinnacles at dawn and I decided to do the same. The Pinnacles Desert (Nambung National Park) was much like I expected it to be; an ancient shoreline which has eroded away to leave sandstone pillars in a sandy desert. It was good I arrived there around sunrise, as the red/yellow light made the Pinnacles stand out and there were no touringcars full of tourists yet.
There were several parrots flying around, and I spotted my first noisy Kangaroo. They seem so clumsy jumping through the bushes; branches cracking when they crash through the bush. It sounds a bit like someone running through the bushes without trying to avoid the branches or something; breaking everything in it’s path.
After the Pinnacles I drove from Cervantes, past Jurien Bay and Dongara/Port Denison, using the Scenic Route to Geraldton. Strange enough the Scenic route either did not appear on the (TomTom) Australia map or, when it did, the road was a couple of hundred meters off or was shaped differently.
Geraldton seemed a bit of a weird city. They camping I stayed at was close to the Lighthouse in a bit of an industrial area. When I decided to go for a stroll down the beach I saw numerous pimped cars, poser kids and odd people driving around. I don’t know what that was all about, but it seemed like the area was used by local youth for showing off or something. At least the camping was good
After a good night’s sleep in the YMCA I called for a taxi to take me to the Britz/Maui/Backpacker rental company to pick up the camper van I rented. After about 30 minutes of administrative work and paying the excess reduction and insurance fees (more than I though:S), I was told my campervan was off for maintenance and I could get a 4WD Toyota Landcruiser to drive around in while my van was being serviced. So I grabbed my TomTom, stored the office location and just went driving around for a couple of hours. While it was a bummer my van wasn’t ready it was good to get customed to driving on the left side of the road, sitting on the right side of the car and using the gearbox on the left. My TomTom just allowed me to drive blindly and focus on driving without worrying about how to get back to the Britz office, which was great
When I drove back to the office at around 14:00 my van was waiting for me. Finally I could start traveling and I left Perth with Cervantes as my first destination. A tiny town with a good beach close to the Pinnacles Desert.
In the evening I had some dinner at the local pub, and went for a stroll down the beach to the Jetty where people where fishing (spotting two short sea snakes of about 30cm long) before my first night in my shiny new (ahum) campervan.
Apparently because of the bad weather on Australia’s East Coast, Perth is crowded with travelers and all accomodation is fully booked. Same thing for the Perth city YHA I was staying in and I really needed to stay another night because I could only pick up my campervan on the 23rd. I heard from my roomie that the YMCA had private rooms for about $ 8,- more than a YHA dorm bed, so I gave that a try and they indeed had a private room for me. When I opened the closet door, however, I saw a bright yellow sticker which they had tried to remove; still clearly reading the word ‘Infected’. Sweet… I got visions of blood sucking bed bugs between my sheets while I was sleeping; but fortunately the room seemed to have been disinfected properly and none of that happened
Today I decided to walk over to King’s Park. When it opened in 1895 it was still named Perth Park, but it was renamed to Kings Park in 1901 to mark the ascension of King Edward VII and the visit to Perth of George, the Duke of Cornwall.
Most of the park is made up by botanical gardens. A lot of Australian plant species, as well as species of other Mediteranian climates had been grouped in the park. Among the trees there were numerous parots, willy wagtails, magpies and honey birds. I even saw two Kookaburra‘s; strange birds
There were also interesting palm’s growing in the park (Cycades) and I found a couple of seeds. Apparently the fruits that contain the seeds are poisenous (a plate actually mentioned the unfortunate Dutch sailors in the 1700′s to find that out by first hand ). These plants grow in genders, so there it a male and a female plant. I got two seeds and am thinking of sending them over to Holland by mail; see if they will grow there Probably not, and they are probably a bit to wide for in-house use. But you’ll never know
Before I left I had a quick early dinner; a pizza with rocket salad and spanish sausage. And, of course, a pint of Carlton Draught to go with it
When I got back at the hostel I got a couple of new room mates from Holland. They invited me for a beer (‘Amsterdam beer’, imported from Holland, brewed in Enschede… duh…). After they went for diner I decided to go back to the hostel. I got a couple of blisters and one has been getting a bit painfull after todays walk so I decided to give my feet some rest and use up my 2 hours of internet credit as I have to check out tomorrow and move to a private room in the YMCA instead.
Wednesday morning I can pick up the van after 08:00, so this will probably be one of the last posts for a while. I don’t know where I will be able to get connected again…
After I got the campervan arranged and I stopped looking for buying a car, I was able to spend my time in Perth differently So today I decided to visit Fremantle, a couple of kilometres out of Perth to the coast.
Fremantle was founded in 1829 by Captain Fremantle, and was the first penal colony in Western Australia. A little later in the same year Perth was settled.
For $ 31,- you can get a return ticket from Perth to Fremantle. On the nice boat ride over the Swan river I met a Dutch woman who was actually living here in Perth. Apparantly she is also active on xpdite.net, small world eh?
I really picked the best day to visit Fremantle I guess, as there was a lot of activity going on with several markets, street artists and a boat fair near the harbour. The city itself is much nicer than Perth as it contains a lot of colonial buildings and hence looks more appealing than Perth with the new high rise buildings.
A great invention is the ‘food court’. I have never seen anything like that in Holland, but I still remember the foodcourts from my previous Australia travels in 2001. It’s -obviously- a court with tables in the center and food stores circled around it. You can visit all stores and when you decide what you want to eat you order something with them and eat it in the court at a table. If you want a beer or a wine to go with it you order it at the liquor store. The good thing is that you can go out to have dinner with friends and everybody just choses a meal from a different kitchen. I decided to go for stir fried beef from the Singapore store. And a Stella Artois to go with it
When I was waiting on the pier for the ferry to arrive, I had a look at the buckets of fishermen on the pier. Most of them had tiny fishes, but one had a pretty big octopus. It will probably have found it’s end on an Aussie BBQ… When I could board the ferry I got a suprise phonecall from Marten (aka PaGA aka Peer); apparently he had bought a ‘make-cheap-calls-abroad’ card which allowed him to make 6 (euro) cent per minute calls to Australia. Really nice going Peer; it was nice hearing you Do call again
Back in the hostel I decided to go out for a beer with Enrique, an import Aussie from El Salvador who was staying in my dorm. We went to the Belgian Beer Cafe to drink a Leffe and a Hoegaarden, to an Irish pub who rudely kicked us out due to closing time, and to another Irish pub in Northbridge (a suburb indeed north of the bridge). Nice pints of Tooheys
Well, it was harder to find a car than I initially expected. There are no cars dealers in the area, only a few private adds in the newspapers, and the only cars available are backpacker cars which I do not really trust.
So I decided to go for something else and hire a campervan instead:
It turned out to be quit affordable; it costs about $ 39,- a day + $ 26,- a day for zero Excess (eigen risico) so that about $ 2000,- for a 29 day trip up North. Not too bad really
I arrived at the Perth City backpackers yesterday around 16:00 Perth time. My booking was indeed made properly and I got a bed in a 8 male dorm. After I put my stuff in the locker and put on my shorts I walked around town. Perth actually is smaller than I would have expected. There are only two main -pedestrian only- shopping streets but it feels a bit American due to the high rise buildings. The Perth river is a short walk away and it’s a very broad river (twice the Schelde in Antwerpen). I tried searching a open WiFi access point as internet access is paid and often occupied and I cannot really use my laptop here. I found one access point in the center (outside London Court to be precise) and sent a quick e-mail home. As I didn’t get any sleep on my way over to Perth I went to bed early (21:00).
Today I walked around town again an my mission was to score:
1. my YHA card
2. a iPod charger (I cannot really use my laptop here and my TomTom charger does not seem to work for my iPod)
3. a GSM card
4. a car
As the main GPO (general post office) is under construction the Poste Restante is handled elsewhere. It took me quite a while (about 2hrs) to find the Post Store that handled the Poste Restante mail and they indeed had an envelope with my YHA membership card for me. It seems like Poste Restante indeed works
Mission 2 is also accomplished as I found a $ 28,- iPod charger, a good thing as my iPod is almost out of juice.
I checked out three mobile companies, Vodafone, Telstra and Optus and it seems like Optus has the most interesting plan for me. The other two only offer Pre-paid plans that only last a month and cost at least $ 25,-. That’s different from Telfort in NL as my Telfort pre-paid lasts a year. Optus also offered a 186 day Pre-paid plan for people who don’t call that often. Seems like my kind of plan so I’ll go pick up a simcard from them later on today.
Below at the reception there is a couple of adverts by people trying to sell their car. I found three interesting cars; two Ford Falcons and one For Econovan. One of the falcons is owned by ‘Nathalie’ who had it checked and serviced every 5000 kms. Also, the rego expires in August so that will buy me some time. Unfortunately it does not say of which state the rego is. As only WA rego can be renewed by mail, you will have to drop by a local office for other states. I also saw a QLD registed car expiring in may; no use at all because then you can’t see the west coast because you will have to drive straight to QLD to renew your rego :S
Ah well… I’m off in to the city again… I kinda fancy a beer