Alex & Jane's Australian Odyssey
Days 6 to 7 - Margaret River to Perth, Western Australia
Day 6: Headed straight for Prevelly Bay after breakfast, a really beautiful beach nestled in a rugged coastline. Clearly a great surfing beach too, judging by the size of the waves and number of surfers. With our proper tourist hats back on, we paid a visit to Lake Cave. Usual underground cave stuff, pretty and all, but what really set this aside was the Indiana Jones style spider web infested cave walls. Apparently, the venomous Brown Box spider is actually harmless to humans because its teeth are too small. Fortunately, we never came close enough to find out. Picked up some more tucker in Augusta and found a fabulous spot for a picnic right at the bottom left corner of Australia. Cape Leeuwin is where the Southern Ocean meets the Indian Ocean but not so remote as to be unknown to the flies - again. Still, as a picnic spot, hard to beat.
After lunch, we now started to head east (well, we could hardly head south or west) through endless Karri forest. Hardly saw another car on the Vasse Highway all the way to Beedelup National Park. We got out here and ventured deep into the park in search of the Beedalup Falls. Well, ok, we were on a prepared trail, but scared none the less. Almost every tree had a triangular sign with a picture of snake on it. Warnings, no doubt, helpfully telling us not to stray from the path, as if we needed reminding. (We later found out they were simply trail markers - doh!). We managed to cross a rather exciting wooden rope bridge but at this point the flies were now at biblical plague proportions. They seemed to be of the kamikaze variety, flying into your mouth at every opportunity - yum.
Back in the car once more, through Warren National Park (on a dirt road - don't tell the car hire company) and on to the one-street town of Pemberton, evidently stuck in a 1950's time warp. Rather sweet, in a slightly unnerving kind of way, so after a swift ice cream we made it as far as Walpole and the very comfortable Tree Top Walk motel. Surprisingly excellent meal, washed down this time with an unoaked Goundrey Chardonnay. Tomorrow, we will be walking with Giants.
Day 7: Pretty much this entire trip was influenced by Bill Bryson. Thanks mate. Halfway through reading Down Under it occurred to me that we really ought to go and see this place for ourselves, so here we are. One place in particular caught my attention, and that's where we headed today - Walpole's Tree Top Walk in the grandly named Valley of the Giants. He wasn't wrong and we were pleased that we engineered our route to take this place in. Walking high above the forest floor on gently swaying metal gantries gives a fantastic perspective of this ancient forest. Definitely not one for vertigo sufferers or fearless toddlers! It's tempting in this heat to wear shorts and T-shirts, but we were glad to be fully clad for the forest floor walk. Way too many spiders and snakes out there for our liking - although they must all be on holiday because we didn't see any at all.
Next was something quite unexpected - the beautiful Greens Pool. Shallow turquoise waters and golden sands where William Bay National Park meets the Southern Ocean. Spent an hour or so kicking back, watching the local school's swimming lesson. Sure beats the local council pool back in Blighty! After brief stops for ice cream in Denmark, some bottles from the Goundrey Winery (that unoaked Chardonnay last night was particularly nice) and lunch in Mount Barker, it was now a long straight run back to Perth on Highway 30. The roads, in this part of the country at least, are a driver's dream. Traffic free - nothing to it. But not cop free. Forgot to slow down in one of the many small towns enroute and attracted the attention of a Mad Max stylie patrol car cruising in the opposite direction. Thought about outrunning the V8 monster in our little Hyundai but decided to pull over instead. What weird accents these rural Western Australians have. No, it wasn't Mel Gibson, but turns out the cop was from Birmingham (a surreal moment indeed) and was happy to warn us that at dusk, the Kangaroos love to come out of the bush with an alarming habit of getting into your car - via the windscreen. Got the message - slow down.
Finally arrived here in Perth fairly late, thankfully with no extra passengers. We have checked into the Good Earth Hotel on Adelaide Terrace - a sort of hybrid hotel/hostel/motel, a mostel perhaps? Looking forward to exploring the city tomorrow.