Tuesday, September 04, 2007

my wonderful weekend away

Well - I apologise to all who took the poll - I did not end up following your advice. Monkey Mia, the clear winner, was rejected in favour of a road trip up to Kalbarri National Park and the Pinnacles. To explain myself, next week I am going to Bunbury, in the south, with my sister, where I am almost certain to encounter dolphins. Also, going to Kalbarri meant I could borrow the car and save money. (Of course, it also meant driving for hours. Australia is much too big.) I stayed at backpacker hostels for three nights, in the dorms, which was an entirely new experience for me - I can't say I liked having no private space and having to be sociable 24/7, but I'm glad I tried it, and it certainly saves money.

Here I am at "Nature's Window" in Kalbarri National Park on Sunday, one of The places you have to go to have your photo taken in the park. I don't mean to make it sound touristy, because it's amazing. Red, red earth, huge cliffs and whopping natural formations. Fossilised remains of creatures that could be over 450 million years old. And a heck of a lot of flies. To be fair, I chose the right time to come; in February or March, it's much worse. But even in September there are enough to seriously bug you. No pun intended. Unfortunately, I chose an inopportune moment to open my mouth, walking back to the coach, and a fly flew right in there - I had no choice but to swallow it in the end, and I cannot describe how disgusting that is. Probably I don't need to, you will all be gagging away happily at the thought of my suffering. I took a small coach tour in, which was a good idea, because the roads are very rough and it was nice to do it with some other people. Apart from the fly incident, it was absolutely fantastic.

In the early afternoon, an Aussie girl in my dorm cornered me and got me to drive her down to the local surfer's beach near the Kalbarri township. I wasn't too keen at first but I am so glad I went because it was beautiful. Apparently a low moving up the coast meant there was some pretty awesome surfing to be had, and this beach was remarkable because these huge waves were crashing right by the shore - this photo doesn't show the biggest one but if you look closely you might be able to see the little surfer riding the wave. It was also an amazingly interesting beach to take photos of; as well as the predictable sand and dunes there was this big flat rocky bit right by the sea, with these little pools in it.

Later that afternoon, I drove around the Kalbarri coast for a couple of hours (after having shaken the Aussie girl because I wanted some alone time), stopping at all the viewing platforms for the coastal gorges. I hadn't expected them to be that special because some people at the backpackers had been a little dismissive of them, but they were wonderful. It's hard to show in a photo how colossal that cliff is, and how massive those waves are, hurtling in.

In the evening I went and got pizza in the township and then spent a relaxing evening reading books and checking email, etc etc. The next morning (Monday), I got up as early as possible, resisted all hints from Aussie Girl that I drive her south (this may seem mean and antisocial but she wasn't even out of bed yet), and I drove to Cervantes, a very small township about four or five hours down the coast. Cervantes has a quite nice beach which I spent an enjoyable half hour fooling around on, but the real attraction behind the town is the Pinnacles Desert, about a 20km drive away, and I went out there in the late afternoon/dusk (the recommended time if you want to take photos). It was very hard narrowing it down to only two photos because I took so many, but here they are:

It's small as deserts go - I could easily have walked around it - and it wasn't scorching hot, but the thing that makes this desert special is the eerie mounds that rise up out of it. Some are not big while others are about twice my height or more, but they all look very odd, perhaps like an army of trolls that got themselves turned to stone or some prehistoric aliens that found they couldn't live with earth's air. I really should have found out something about them and why they are how they are, but it's much more interesting to make something up, I think.

There was not a lot of choice at the Cervantes general store so for dinner on Monday night I ended up having chip sandwiches on the beach. Unhealthy, perhaps; uninteresting, perhaps; but very satisfying. And today (Tuesday) I drove back to Perth!

It seems like I've been away for days - probably the fault of all that driving. It didn't help that on Saturday when I was driving up to Kalbarri, I managed to get seriously lost on the Perth highways, taking the wrong exit about three times so it took me about three hours just to get out of the city. Silly me. Luckily, today, nothing went wrong, and I was back in Perth by lunchtime. And now, I'm eating marshmallows and recovering. :)

[plug]And it's that time of year - Halfway Down the Stairs is out again, which is of course the biannual literature e-zine that Stacy and I are both members of the staff on. The theme this time is 'Notes' and you should definitely visit and admire the beautiful work Avis did on the web design and the stories/poetry/interview we feature this time![/plug]


Sarakastic said...

It's amazing how much Australia looks like Utah, well minus the whole ocean part, but I'm a huge fan of red rocks as well.

Mental note to self: say keen more. Ok, now I am keen on going to go read halfway down the stairs. Ok, so I didn't use keen correctly, I tried.

Trish Ryan said...

What a gorgeous trip...nicely done! Just count the fly as protein, part of one of those low-carb diets...perspective is everything :)

LEstes65 said...

Oh my goodness, I totally want to live there now! My niece is doing a year of college over in Australia and now I want to go visit her. Damn my no-lottery-winning life!!!!

Thanks for sharing. Those pictures took my breath away.

Stacy said...

Wow, Allie. Those are some gorgeous pictures.

ukrainiandiva said...

Oh, those pictures are beautiful, Allie! It looks like a great trip. So glad you had fun :-)

heidikins said...

Gorgeous pics! Love it!