Having spent 7 months in Australia last year, I’d figured out that everyone and their dog travels the East Coast, but not many travel the West. Possibly because I’d lived in WA (Western Australia), I really wanted to go and see what the mysterious West had to offer, partially influenced by my friend Jess’ Instagram posts of spotless beaches, red mountains and, gasp, whale sharks. So I booked myself onto a ridiculously expensive seven day bus tour, figuring that as this was, y’know, the outback, and all, it probably wasn’t something I should attempt to do alone.
Oh, the bus. Little did I know, as I hopped on optimistically on day one, clutching a chai latte and a couple of lukewarm maccas pancakes, just how much time I would spend sweating to death, gazing out the window at a literally never changing landscape. The landscape was red, dry, more red, and more dry. The only highlight(?) to the many years of my life spent in the bus was the occasional sighting of a dead kangaroo at the side of the road, or, even better, a live one. Our super Australian tour guide also had a fun habit of randomly pulling over to show us spiders/snakes/termites/whatever happened to distract him from his manic driving, so there was that too, I suppose. #buzzing #not
First stop on our whistle-stop tour of WA was Kalbari national park, where I experienced how bloody hot this country gets. To my absolute horror, we were up at 5am (just don’t) to abseil down into a gorge, as you do. I’m pretty sure the severe lack of sleep gave me immunity from the fact I was lingering over the edge of death, kept safe only by a piece of string and the instructor, who made a comment about my ‘breasticles’. Nice. By 10am it was 45 degrees down in the gorge and I was starting to regret my tactical packing decision of only bringing a 250ml bottle to save space in my bag. I felt like a member of the cast of Lost as I rationed out my water supplies, promising myself that, after that hill, I could have a tiny sip. Kalbari itself was very… red. It was almost as if, maybe the rocks that formed the park were once a normal colour, but then the sun got to them and they just couldn’t deal. A bit like me in the sun, to be honest. The other thing that struck me about the place was how quiet it was. At one point, having taken an inconvenient toilet break, I got separated from the group, believing they’d gone ahead without me. So I walked to the next viewpoint by myself, and literally didn’t see a soul, leaving me to conclude that, in the 10 minutes I was alone, I would die of dehydration and be found helpless and desolate, on my back like a tortoise (I was okay). Unlike the Blue Mountains in Sydney, there were no selfie stick baring tourists or handy signs, just… red. True ‘stralia, some one more pretentious than me could say.
The next few days, were, luckily, less walking filled and more beach-and-cute-animal filled. First stop was Monkey Mia, known not for its monkeys but it’s dolphins (the name bemuses me too). However, the thing that struck me most walking along the resort beach at night was all the crabs. As we dolphin hunted late one night, I shined the torch at the ground and saw literally hundreds of the buggers scuttering around my feet doing that stupid sideways run crabs like to do. Having done a little scream and grabbed the arm of the poor sod next to me, I decided it was better just to turn off the torch and pray for the best. The moment, however, when a dolphin just casually glided past us in the water is one I think I’ll always remember, the way her skin glinted in the moonlight, and how nonplussed she was by all these people going ‘omigod there’s a dolphin’. Feeding them was like a military operation, with each dolphin swimming to the shore, receiving its two fish and then disappearing until next time. Eating and then disappearing sounds like a pretty good life plan to me tbh..
The final few days were basically something out of a postcard. The beaches looked like those kinda idyllic beaches that you see in holiday brochures with happy attractive families with 2.4 children. But they were real! Clear water, blue skies and white sand. And, obviously, a lot of sunburn. After purchasing a cringe floating device to help me snorkel as I’m like the world’s weakest swimmer, I jumped into the (freezing) water and saw a turtle! Just chillin’, you know. Completely unphased by the fact that a million tourists were clambering about with go-pros, snorkels and, in my case, floatation devices, Mr Turtle and his friends just did their thing. It really was an ‘omg-pinch-me’ moment, being so close to such a cool animal. So I basically turned turtle stalker and spent hours just swimming about after the turtles, in beautiful blue waters. Such a hard life.