Rollercoaster on the West Coast; Handfeeding Dolphins, Snakes Round My Neck, Stromatolites, Robberies and Everything Else

At a guess I would say this is probably going to be my longest blog post, I hope you can make it all the way through though as it will possibly be the most interesting one yet, split into chunks if you have to! This is going to be a piece looking at 2 shit things, one annoying, one absolutely abominable. That however is the lowlight among too many wonderful things. Im going to struggle to remember everything but I’m going to try anyway.

So this adventure starts where I left you; upon my arrival in Perth, the first night I had a small wander around the city and contented myself with not being on a train, which it was rather beautiful to be after the forty one hour marathon slog! (Lord im back on that thing in two days, eek!)

I settled in and watched Hitman on my laptop, entertaining watch and entirely forgettable, I barely remember what happened now six nights later! The next day I went for a wander around the city with one of my former students, Cristina! We had a lovely little jaunt around Kings Park, despite the interruptions of the weather which didn’t help us at all! Still a rather beautiful area it has to be said.

After that it was time to head to Peterpan’s Travel and book everything for Perth, Alice Springs and Darwin, got a couple of hundred off the price and a free sleeping bag to boot, bonanza! After that G roused himself from sleep and found us and we headed down to Fremantle (or Freo as the locals prefer).

Upon arrival we headed immediately to the Little Creatures Brewery, one of my Australian favourites, to sample a few beers and meet a few of G’s friends. The beer was absolutely delicious and G’s friends turned out to be sound as well, Amy, Rose and their friend Dom, grand types.

Post brewery we made a short stop at the shipwreck museum, a rather cool spot, with some excellent things on display, including the hull of a rather old Dutch exploration ship; impressive. We headed in the direction of the train station but not before we could grab a photo of a statue of Bon Scott of AC/DC fame, which Amy decided to grope; filth!

Upon arriving back in the city we decided to head to an Indian by the waterfront which has a rather novel “pay as much as you like” thing going on. Naturally as backpackers we didn’t fling a million dollars down but we did enjoy their food wholeheartedly! Cri then left us to head to the airport and the girls dissapeared to do their “getting ready” as girls do!

After that it was time to head to the hostel and get on the goon, which myself, G and Dom did with gusto, too much gusto it would turn out later on. We headed out for a bar called Mustang’s, at which the hostel gets a number of free pitchers on Wednesday nights. Naturally free alcohol added to my thirst, which after some rather fun banter backfired as I often do.

The memory is hazy but I remember being rather, completely and totally lost, a taxi driver refusing to take me to a cash point and then drive me to the hostel, once I found a street I knew running home in the rain and then waking up on the couch out the front. At which point I dragged myself to bed and upon waking I discovered two problems, one a hangover, which wasn’t unexpected and secondly the dissapearance of my phone.

Another one, not sure if it was lost or stolen but it was definitely gone and despite my holding out hope G had it it was gone, he had been having quite some adventure of his own by the sounds. This meant yet another trip for my fourth Australian phone (two lost and one broken for those counting), though the $59 for a new phone was annoying its the more the loss of numbers thats pissing me off. (Please send your numbers back to me by facebook if you haven’t already.)

After a KFC with G, Amy and Rose we headed back to the hostel, to watch Borat and do very little else, I was definitely having a quiet night before I headed off on my four day Monkey Mia jaunt up the west coast of Oz, something I was rather excited about.

Now so far for those wondering we have only had the annoying shit thing, I feel you might recognise the super shit one in the next few paragraphs! Getting up and making the bus stop went off without a hitch despite the fact that their should only be one six ‘o clock in any day! I joined the bus with 21 others and driver and we headed on our way to the Pinnacles desert.

For anyone who has seen Billy Connolly’s Australia DVD this is the place with the statue like rocks in the sand where he runs around naked, something that I refrained from despite being rather tempted to do it. Not five minutes into the wander calamity occured, I was told that a picture of me jumping infront of a pinnacle was an essential. This sounded like a good idea to me so I picked the one of my choice and gave it my best Lebron James impression.

The picture looks pretty damn good but the rip I heard on leaping turned out go from the belt line of my combats to the bottom of my arse cheek. With my bag at the back of the trailer this was a look I would be sporting for the rest of the day; thankfully my boxers and t-shirt matched so it wasn’t a complete disaster. We had a good wander round and talked about what Pinnacles looked like; most are penis like, but one in particular, which you can see on facebook, look like a massive bellend, fantastic.

We headed back onto the bus and headed out to Geraldton for sandboarding! After discovering that there were only five boards for 22 people I decided to take the camera out and get some photos. We headed out to the dunes and had a whale of a time. Myself and Jack Jack made arses of ourselves bailing in spectacular fashion and everyone had a fantastic time. Special mention to Irish Anna and Alana (sp?) for spectacular photos, boo to the sand for friction burning my ass thanks to the hole in my combats!

After a good dose of merriment we headed back to the bus and shellshock rebounded into the air. While we had been enjoying ourselves on the dunes some absolute reprobate/s, who I hope has since died in horrific fashion, had let them themselves onto our bus and stolen a whole host of people’s stuff.

The fucker had gotten away with ten handbags, including nine passports and numerous cameras, ipods, credit cards, driving licences, etc. etc. Somehow, despite them being left on my seat, my wallet and phone were still there. If I hadn’t decided to take the camera to sandboarding my bag would have likely been gone as well, that would have been my passport, D-SLR camera, iPod, Nintendo and lord knows what else.

I felt relieved for myself but massively and utterly shit for all the girls (none of the guys had any stuff nicked, somehow) who had been relieved of their possessions. I can only imagine how awful it must be to lose all that important stuff, especially your passport when you are halfway around the world. Eugh.

The bus was an absolute disaster zone, thankfully it was just stuff taken and no-one was hurt but it was little more than a small consolation at the time. The next stop was the police station, I handed away my phone, as did a couple of others and told them to burn the credit if it could help them to cancel credit cards, call embassies and let their families know, those of us who hadn’t been robbed tried to help wherever we could but what on earth could we say?

I would like to compliment JenJen on her restraint in not punching the girl, who shall remain nameless, who ran up to her, waving her passport, screaming that it wasn’t in her handbag after all. If someone had the insensitivity to do that when I had just lost mine I would have lamped them. Idiot.

After a lot of phone calls, hugs and tears the bus pulled away, shellshocked, and headed to our digs for the night. On the way myself, JackJack and Claire decided that as we actually had money still we should get the goon in that people had been talking about. The victims readily agreed so we promptly got to a bottle shop and bought six boxes, the least we could do. Many thanks to the guy behind the counter who gave us his staff discount as everyone had been robbed!

On the way back myself and JackJack conferenced and decided that as he used to be a chef and I was until recently a catering pleb that we would take over food duties and let our driver and those who wanted to have a little time to collect themselves. In true Jon in a kitchen fashion I organised things, bossed people around and chopped things, JackJack handled all the cooking duties on the Barbie and everything went off flawlessly; things were, slowly, getting back on track.

A few of us sat up and chatted shit over the goon, joined by clouds of moths and creatures on the above light, candles were used as lighters and everyone smiled, at least a little, the mood was still, understanably, quite somber.

The next morning saw us head for telephones and internet connections so people could begin to repair the damage, one girl had an account with the same bank as me and internet banking so could transfer instantly to my account, (sorry Mum for waking you for my numbers and everything; JenJen and ClareBear are extremely thankful) so that at least meant they could have some cash. Everyone helped everyone in similar manners and did what they could for people, and when we needed to stay out of the way we played basketball with a volleyball!

A little later we went for a walk down to the local beach and headed off toward a pelican down the beach, while taking some photos it decided to come out of the water and investigate us, they are bloody tall when they are stood up. He stood around long enough for myself and JackJack to get some photos stood behind him, excellent waddling skills.

After that it was finally time to get on with the tour proper, the mood was in the infancy of lifting and the events of the previous night had pulled the group closer together, once we got back on the road there were too many good people on board to let a couple of wankers ruin everything and the smiles started to come out.

Our first stop was Kalbarri National Park where we saw the “Z Bend”, which was a pretty cool looking gorge and then moved onto the much more impressive Natures Window, where the middle of the rock has worn away and you can sit under the arch. This seemed a good place for a group photo so I accosted a random and got that sorted. After that we did a little climbing on a ledge with good holds and took some absolutely awesome photos. This was followed by heading out onto a rock that looked (although probably wasn’t) a little unsafe for an awesome photo opportunity!

After that it was a bus ride on to the Monkey Mia dolphin resort, for this journey I took the front seat and played DJ for the rest of the bus, providing an array of quality listening for all onboard, even though they often disagreed. We nearly hit quite a few kangaroos and the driver informed me thay if we hit a cow the two of us in the front would probably die, so that was excellent. The higlight however was “Fairground” by Simply Red, four of us absolutely loved it and sang along with all our hearts; the rest of the bus hated us!

Upon arrival myself and JackJack once again took over the cooking duties, directing everyone in a concerted effort that produced steaks (with two different marinades), sausages, coleslaw, potatoes, a large salad and cheese. Thanks to DJ Poppen for his Swiss Army Knife, the only one present that wasn’t dogshit! The barbecue went off beautifully and a few of us carried on with the goon.

Sadly my body decided to let me know it had had enough and required recharging so after I started falling asleep at the table I threw in the towel and headed to bed. The alarm woke me in the morning just before it was time for the dolphins to come in to the shore for their daily feeding, so after rousing JJ and DJ P I wandered outside into a beautiful sunrise and wandered along the shore to find the dolphins were already around waiting for the first of their three daily doses of fish.

For the first feed we waited on the peer and I snapped away with the camera and just marveled at the dolphins, they are simply truly amazing creatures, you can just tell they are so intelligent and they are so playful with each other.

Feed number two brought the amazing, myself and JJ headed down to the shore in hopes of being picked to be one of the feeders selected, miraculously both of us were picked out of the crowd. It was so cool to get within a foot of the dolphin, hold out the fish and have him pluck it out of my hands; wow! As if I fed a dolphin, another truly amazing experience from Australia!

That was followed by myself and JJ not accepting cereal or jam on toast for breakfast; we went with buying some eggs from the local shop (yes Moms I got your fridge magnet too :P) and doing fried eggs on fried bread. Ingenious and delicious, love it!

Next we found ourselves headed for the Stromatolites, for those who haven’t read Bill Bryson they are the oldest living thing on earth and only exist in two places in the world now. They are/were incredibly important to evolution and are responsible, in part, for life as we know it. They are more cool in words than in person but they still look kind of freaky, I loved them.

We then arrived at Shell Beach, a beach entirely covered in tiny cockle shells, absolutely crazy, not sure exactly how or why but absolutely stunning. This was the place we got a picture of everyone jumping for the skies, check out facebook to see DJ P’s Lebron impression and a fantastic picture all around.

From there it was back down the road a short while and time to split up the group; 5 of us were heading back down the coast with one more night stop to make and the rest were heading on further up the coast. It was a rather sad parting, across the 2.5 days we had got through we had all become friends and its always sad when a group parts from a tour. I’m gonna miss all the guys from that bus, absolute legends one and all; depsite the shittiest thing happening everyone got past it and made the tour a wonderful experience.

So thank you to every single one of them for that, hope you all have a wonderful time on your way to Broome/Darwin and to the ones whose paths I will cross on the remains of my travels I look forward to seeing you soon. God bless Granny Rosa. JJ I hope you found someone new to shout out at you, Alana I hope you bossed JJ around and Team Ireland I hope the bank of Clare is still open.

The show however had to go on, so the five of us remaining; JenJen, ClareBear, SteffSteff and Yuri got on the bus with our new driver for the remainder. The tour continued in its amazing fashion despite our reduced numbers; after a stop to gather firewood (why do girls walk away from the already dead tree?) next destination Riverside Sanctuary for our overnight farm stay,.

From the second of our arrival it was a fantastic experience, Jock, the dog, leapt on to the bus to greet everyone when the door opened, what a lovely dog, wow. We then headed over to feed the kangaroos, including one who had a Joey in its pouch, whose head was sticking out as Mum ate all of the food; too cute.

Next was Ozzy the Ostrich, they are such a bizarre creature; the wife comes back and tries to kill its mate and eggs which the mate is protecting and nesting on, they are huge and have the most ridiculous neck, too cool to feed but I did fear for my hand for sure.

After that it was time for a delicious and rather unique dinner; Shepherds Pie made with kangaroo meat and emu eggs. It was of course absolutely sensational, wow, not sure if anywhere else in the world serves it but if they do get it ordered. It was so good I had some reheated for breakfast the next day!

I digress however; next up it was time to head out in the 4WD and drive around the farm grounds, with a huge spotlight on top of it, amazing to see all the kangaroos hiding around the place and then a barn owl up in a tree. We then headed out to the back of the property and watch the stars. We learned about the genius of Captain Cook, saw the Milky Way, a star that is actually no longer there anymore and the Southern Cross.

Upon on our return to the buildings Jock could be heard screaming his head off at something so we got in the 4×4 to investigate; he had chased a feral cat up a tree, an enemy of farming, Damian, the owner, hit it square in the guts with a rock but Jock didn’t quite manage to capture it and it got away!

By the time myself and Steff had returned from that little adventure the others had got the home fires burning; which was fantastic as it was ball-achingly cold. The dead tree we had found earlier was a eucalyptus, which made for an excellent flame when the oils in the dried leaves touched the fire, amazing!

After another jampacked day no-one made it too late into the night and we all headed to our dorms, thanks to my being the only boy I received a room to myself, which meant I could steal an extra sleeping bag from one of the beds, on top of my wearing boxers/shorts/jeans and t-shirt/2 hoodies and hat. As you may have guessed there was no central heating in the farm dorms so the aim of the game was to wear as much clothing as possible ala Joey in Friends; anyone for some lunges?!

I awoke to the same freezing cold of the night before and shuffled my way to breakfast and the bus as we got ourselves on the road for the return leg of our journey to Perth. We had two stops left to make, neither of which I was expecting anything too spectacular out of; I’m glad to say that I was rather wrong on both counts.

The first was Hutt River Providence; or if you will a seperate country within Australia which pays no taxes or anything of the like thanks to its owners ingenious exploitation of loopholes which have long since been shut down. However Hutt River is its own place, with stamps, currency, a church and all other things that are requires. Prince Leonard even has a star named after him.

The place was an adorable experience that I completely loved, Prince Leonard and Princess Shirley are getting on a little in years now but you can just tell the guy is incredibly intelligent; exceptionally sharp and extremely knowledgeable – I hope I’m that cool when I’m old, I also hope I have my own country at some point too!

From there it was on to our last real stop of the tour; a wildlife park. I wasn’t expecting few of the things that happened in there; we fed the usual animals; kangaroos, goats, sheep, horses, etc but then came the unusual; there’s now photgraphic evidence of two things:

1) Me feeding a camel (no it didn’t spit on me).
2) Me both holding a snake and with it around my neck.

Both of these things were insanely cool, neither of them was I expecting at the beginning of the day, just an absolute wow factor, everyone held the snake too, the girls decided not to be girlie in the least, love your work ladies! The last thing to do was get pictures next to the large Steve Irwin cutout before getting back on to the bus for the 450km drive to Perth.

The fun was not to end there however, at one service station stop I was browsing the books when I noticed a stack of one that looked a little local and unusual, I picked it up, gave it a quick gander and decided it sounded like one for me, a local WA story about two boys who run away and the region itself, sounds fantastic to me and it’s not like its one my Mum can get out of the library for me back home! Reports to be made on it as soon I get done with Blockbuster and get it read, its skipping the rest of my reading queue!

The last highlight of the journey came as we closed in on Perth, the BBC Radio One Live Lounge album was located on JenJen’s iPod; Numb by Jamelia and Love Machine by Arctic Monkeys were the highlights but all in all that album is top class!! Some top quality singing mixed in with the sounds from the stereo for good measure.

After our arrival in Perth we have since been for a KFC (much needed, yes I know I don’t need any more junk in my trunk after ripping my trousers at the Pinnacles but I’m ignoring that!) and then four of us ended up back at my hostel, eventually. Clare and Jen nearly checked into the shittier one down the road and I had to run down and concoct some story about them getting a free room in the nice place to get them out of there; you know its bad that when they said they had been at the Emperor’s Crown the guy said his hostel was “the other end of the scale” – ouch, not a place I’d want to stay in!

Once all that excitement was over it was time for a much required and incredibly appreciate shower, wow, it felt so good to get clean in a nice, warm, powerful shower! Since then we have waved goodbye to Steff who is currently on a plane somewhere between Perth and Sydney. Come back!!!

For the rest of this night I have spent my time by transferring 1,000 photos to my computer, deleting the shit/duplicate ones and photoshopping the rest of them while writing this blog. Lord knows how long I have been here but I was determined to get it done; so here it is!

And wow this blog is exactly four thousand words, mega!

Love and Fairgrounds

J. Xx


One Response to “Rollercoaster on the West Coast; Handfeeding Dolphins, Snakes Round My Neck, Stromatolites, Robberies and Everything Else”

  1. You never mentioned you had lost another phone!! Nor that you got lost in a drunken state again I really hope you are not trying to worry me again!! Just started my third Harry Potter and sent for the boxed set of movies 1-5 you will be able to watch them all when you get back!! You are certainly seeing Oz love Mam

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