Well...what can I say?  It has been QUITE THE TRIP SO
FAR here in West Australia. Absolutely stunning,
brilliant, fabulous, and unpredictable!

So much has happened, that I am forced to write two
emails, one for the South West of the state, and the
second for my trip up the coast of WA to Broome, where
I currently sit in the path of deadly and destructive
cyclone - Cyclone Fay, just off the coast of Broome
and heading our way! I am stuck in our youth hostel,
getting drunk even though its still morning....what a
way to spend a few days!

Anyway, here is the update from when Giovanna and I
arrived in Perth. The next letter will follow, but
this should make it easier for you all to read!

Well, Perth is such a beautiful and cosmopolitan city.
We went to Fremantle in the morning for some
cappuccinos and just melted the morning away in the
blazing heat. We took a cruise back to the city
center, and found that they offered free wine tasting
on board - needles to say, we were both completely
sozzled by the time we got into the city of swans....

Later that afternoon, we hired a car for our south
west adventure and headed south. Our first stop was
the beach at the wondrous Indian Ocean. I was most
impressed with the clarity of the water and the
whiteness of the sand. I would say that the west
coast gives the east a run for its money in terms of
its beaches!

The next morning, in Bunbury, we hurried on down to
the Dolphin Discovery Center, a non-profit center that
boasts a bottle nose dolphin "interaction" zone where
the dolphins swim to on a daily basis right up to
shore to interact with the humans. Tears welled in my
eyes, as "Jet" swam in front of me inches from my
hands. These creatures are truly magnificent and
graceful.

Moving on that afternoon we found several paradisaical
beaches to lounge upon - Meelup and Bunker bay were
highlights! Just crystal blue water: a bounty advert
about to happen and not another soul in sight!

That evening was absolutely mesmerising. We went to a
bay that was supposed to have giant stingrays. Just
about to leave after failing to spot one, I noticed a
grey shape gliding by us close to shore. I ran,
screaming with excitement, and saw the ray : a large
grey "monster" with eyes the size of eggs and about
1.5 meters long. Some local fishermen there were kind
enough to give us some fresh fish to feed the ray with
- it was quite a tug-of-war extravaganza with the ray
tugging on one end and you holding on for dear life on
the other. Such a strange sensation! We were also
able to stroke the strange things, obviously avoiding
its painful "stinger".

Just at that moment, I looked up at the blushing
sunset sky only to spot two dolphins about 15 feet
from shore swimming in. I started to scream with
excitement (again) which was immediately followed by
more shrieks from Giovanna and a mad striptease and
running into the water. This time, without any prior
planning, I was swimming within 1-2 feet of these
creatures who were feasting on a pod of salmon.
Mind-blowing night. Truly.

That night we stayed in the top hostel in Australia in
Augusta. Just so cute and the management so friendly-
pretty much how you can some up all West Australians,
wonderfully sarcastic in their wicked humor and
bending over themselves to be helpful. The characters
we met on our car journey alone were worth the trip!

The following day we visited Cape Leeuwin, the south
western most point in Australia. Then it was on to
the legendary forests of tall Karri and Tingle Trees.
Our first stop, just before Pemberton, was the giant
Bicentennial Tree. Now this was no ordinary tree, it
had a ladder carved into it so that you could climb
its' precarious 70 meter height to the top of the
forest canopy. I have no idea what possessed me to
attempt this ludicrous feat, with absolutely no-one
around, no net to catch you if you fall, and just a
sheer drop awaiting you under each rung, but up we
both went. Fucking exhilarating. Excuse the
language, but we wished there had been a crowd of
people around to cheer us on when we got to the top!
Instead, we sufficed on munching our lunches, feeling
like Ewoks in Return of the Jedi. The climb down was
even more terrifying, and we were most glad to reach
solid ground.

After such a morning, we treated ourselves to a
relaxing swim in Hooker Reservoir before driving to
Walpole for our third night.

The next day we also walked up into a tree-top canopy,
but this time it was via the famous Valley of the
Giants tree-top walk; essentially a bridge platform
built 40 meters off of the ground. It was very
exciting, just not quite as scary as before!

We continued driving through stunning forest and
coastline on to Albany, and since we still had hours
of light, we decided to press on the extra 300 K to
Wave Rock, in Hyden.

People say that Wave Rock is disappointing: 350 k from
Perth and a 10 minute wonder. But I gasped when I
first glimpsed it. A sheer 15 meter high rock that
has formed the shape of a wave through erosive forces.
The view from the top was gorgeous too, my first real
view of the "outback" - red dust as far as the eye
could see in all directions....

The drive back was long, but we arrived in Perth that
night ready for our tour up the west coast in the
morning......

That's where I will leave it for now, its definitely
time to have another beer, and check out this
cyclone's latest heading!

I will write again tomorrow with more adventures. I
hope this email finds you all well.

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