Michael Sullivan Online

Roadtrip across Australia: Southwest Western Australia

PERTH AUSTRALIA - 2 December 2002 - We left Fremantle relatively early and headed for Bunbury. They have a dolphin museum there and usually dolphins come in to swim. The place was packed and we found out that there was a 1600m (1 mile) swim race going on in the water there. We had a look through the museum and waited for the dolphins to come in. We waited a bit longer and had a snack but the dolphins never came. They hadn't been coming in much lately and that day was one of the days they didn't come into shore. After finally giving up, we drove to the Margaret River Wine Region. We tried some very good wines. At night, we stayed at Taunton Farm which was a lovely place to stay even with all the schoolies.

The next day we stopped in some more wineries, especially the big estates with beautiful grounds. Again, we bought more wine. After this, we went to the timber area. We first stopped in the Four Aces, a collection of 4 karri trees in a line that are straight as an arrow. Just down the road from here was the one tree bridge. The One Tree Bridge was built by cutting down a HUGE straight tree and putting it across the creek. Once there, a proper deck and railing were built. Now it's set off in a parking area with a "Bridge Closed" sign on it.

Our next task was the lookout trees. These trees have metal spikes that wind their way to the top and were used to spot forest fires. We stopped at one and had a look. We didn't have enough time to climb them all so we thought we'd go to the tallest one. We drove over to the Dave Evans Bicentenial Tree. We had a look at it, and it looked pretty high. It has about half inch (just over 1 cm) spikes that you climb on. There is only netting on the outside but not below. We made our way up the tree and it was a bit scary. We got to the first platform (the one that barely makes it onto the postcards cause it's so low) and had a look. There was a sign there that said, "That was the easy bit". We were a bit nervous and with great hesitation proceeded. After a handful of steps, Irene said, "Let's turn around". I quickly agreed and we made our way back down. By the time we got down, our thighs were aching. In addition, Irene's shoes didn't have very stiff soles so here feet were getting sore from walking on the thin "steps". Afterwards, we found out that the tree was about 75 meters (246 ft) tall and the first platform that we reached was at about 25 meters (82 ft).

We continued the tree climbing the next day but at the Tree Top Walk in the Valley of the Giants. They have ramps that take you 40m (131 ft) up along the tops of the Tingle trees. It was much easier than climbing the lookout trees. In addition to the Tree Top Walk, there are some smaller trees you can walk through and look at. Some of these trees are 400 years old and have a girth of 12.5 meters (41 ft).

We made our way towards Albany and stopped in at William Bay. It was an absolutely beautiful beach. There were lots of rocks a ways out into the water that the waves washed over. Closer in to shore, the water was calm. The water was perfectly colored and mixed with the white water that broke over the rocks. After getting our hotel, we drove up to see the Natural Bridge and Blow hole. The rugged coastline was gorgeous. At the blow hole, I walked up to a crack in the rock with a sign on the other side that said not to go beyond the sign. I was a bit unsure where blow hole was. All of a sudden, there was a blast of air up from the crack. I was so startled. That evening, we went out for a fancy dinner at Kooka's. I had steak and Irene had ostrich. It was great. In addition, our hotel was great and relatively cheap since it was the low season.

The next day we drove to the Stirling Ranges and the beautiful Bluff Knoll. We were short of time and our legs still hurt from the lookout tree so we only went to the car park and didn't walk up Bluff Knoll. A little ways away, a couple built an authentic 16th century Dutch Windmill. After touring Holland and finding the appropriate materials, they single handedly built the windmill between 1991 and 1997. Currently, it's got a cafe inside but they want to turn it into a truly working windmill that will ground flour. We had a great tomato soup there. We drove back to Perth via some back roads that were quite scenic. The area has some of the best bushwalking in Western Australia.

Once back in Perth and Fremantle, we spent most of our time doing things to sell the car. To get the best price, we needed to transfer the licensing to WA, which meant having an inspection and fixing up some things. We went around putting up ads in the hostels and ran an ad in the paper. There wasn't too much interest. In the end, we sold the car to a dealer JUST before we left Australia.

On Saturday, we cruised down the Swan River, seeing some of the most expensive homes (mansions?) in Australia. A lot of people that live in Perth made a load of money from mining claims in northern WA. It was a lovely ride. From there, we went out whale watching. We caught sight a mother and her calf and watched them swimming for about 20 minutes. That was pretty spectacula even though they were pretty far away and hard to see.

On Sunday, we went to the lovely Rottnest Island. It's about a 45 minute ferry ride from Freemantle. It's relatively unspoilt and some of the beaches are stunning. It was a bit cold for swimming so we passed on that. Cars aren't really allowed so we took a shuttle bus to get around the island. We hiked along the shore and rested on a rocky outcrop. In addition, we went inland to see some of the rare quokkas. They're a marsupial (like the roo) that looks like a rat but it's as big as a cat. They're kind of cute in their own way.

Monday, we got the car fixed and took it in for inspection. It passed and we sold it to a dealer. After getting dropped off back at the hostel, we hussled out to the airport. Before we got there, we had to pick up more luggage that we'd had shipped from Canberra. The taxi went from being full to absolutely over flowing. We loaded our stuff on a cart and I could hardly see over the top. A service representative and security each snickered to themselves as we went by. I responded, "Quit your laughing" with a big smile on my face. When we tried to check in all our luggage, we were told what we could only bring 5 pieces between us and we needed to lighten one of them up. We accepted this reluctantly and took our other bag to an unaccompanied baggage company. Tired, we went to our gate. On the way there, we were stopped by a security guy that said Irene's bag was too heavy and must be checked in so we headed back to the unaccompanied baggage guy to get another bag sent to Singapore. With that done, we were able to relax as we flew out of Australia for Singapore on a relaxing 4 hour flight.

Here ends my days in Australia.

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