The Adventure Begins

Sat. 18th May 2019

The Beast - loaded up and ready to goNow, after 3 plus weeks of preamble, we are finally at the heart of our trip to Australia – the drive up the west coast from Perth getting to Darwin 6 weeks later. Today we are swapping our little tin-box Toyota for its bigger beefier brother a 4×4 Land Cruiser. There is a bit of juggling to be done as the two cars are hired from different companies and the process at Britz to pick up the Land Cruiser is slow going – though at least they had some videos to show us to demonstrate how to use the 4WD and how to put up the roof-top tent. The 4WD looks straightforward enough, but I think that we will be selling tickets as a comedy act at the first campsite where we put up the tent!

Too much of this at Yanchep...And not enough of thisAt last, the car swap is done and were ready to go. The Land Cruiser is a very different sort of Toyota to the one we’ve had for the last fortnight and it immediately gets christened ‘The Beast’. For a start, it’s a climb up even for me and the big, lumpy diesel engine sounds very agricultural. It does have central locking – but only if you sit in one of the front seats and swivel around and pull up the lock buttons on each individual door. When underway, overtaking and braking need to be planned well in advance and there is a rolling motion as you drive along. I scoffed when I learned that we had roll-over insurance, but I can now see how that could happen. For sure, there will be no swerving to avoid kangaroos.

A lorra lorra parrotsThe one creature comfort that the Beast does have though is a fridge (running off a second battery). We’ll be able to keep our wine and beer cool then! As we head north out of the seemingly never-ending suburbs of Perth, we spot a supermarket and dive in to sort out some essential provisions (and also some bread, ham and cheeses for the next couple of lunches). We’re heading for the seaside town of Cervantes, but first we call in at Yanchep National Park – not only is it around lunch time but also there are some walks, caves, a lake and a koala colony.

Keeping an eye on usWhat first strikes us though as we get out of the car and find a picnic table is the cacophony of bird noises – not just the sarcastic ‘ooaawooow’ of the crows but also a rusty-hinge like screeching that we finally nail down to grey parrots lodged in the tree tops. Actually, a bit of patience is all that is needed (never my strong point, I know) as periodically a massed squadron of parrots will fly from one clutch of trees to another. For sheer numbers as well as noise they are quite impressive but as with other parrots we’ve seen they are very timid and don’t seem to like being photographed – unlike this duck who was content just to keep one eye on us.

Unusual bark on these treesOf all the options available to us, and with a daily step target to meet, we were sold when the lady at the information desk told us that there was a 45-minute walk around the ‘wetlands’ especially as we could see a lake from the picnic area. As it turned out, that was the only view of water and, actually, we were kept to very dry wetlands and not even a distant view of the promised bulrushes. Ah well, the steps still count and some of the trees were interesting with bark that had the feel of a wodge of tissues – very dry, papery and springy.

Not the most photogenic aspect of a koalaWalk done, we headed for the koala colony which was in a sanctuary area (apparently koalas are on the endangered species list and these ones are descended from animals in Perth zoo – and so, presumably, will never be released into the wild). As with the quokkas at Rottnest, you could tell where the koalas were as periodically along the walkway there would be a clump of people peering up into a tree and waving their phones around. Unlike the quokkas though, koalas are both timid and nocturnal – not a winning combination when you want to take photographs of them. I hope at some point in this trip we’ll do better than just a picture of a koala’s backside!

Beautiful colours at sunset / moonriseBy now, the city is long behind us and from our perch high up in the Beast, the countryside just rolls by. The speed limit on standard roads is 110kph and the Beast seems to be happy enough around 100kph and so we make decent progress. On arriving in Cervantes, it becomes quickly apparent that this is not a big town. Nevertheless when we get to our B&B, our hosts Gary & Lynn (ex-pat Geordies) very quickly fill up our itinerary for the next 36 hours with all of the sights that we have to see. Blimey, Charlie! I was looking forward to a cup of tea and that chocolate cake we bought in Freo!

...and then it got even betterWith clear blue skies, we’re not optimistic there is going to be a super sunset, but Lynn has recommended that we go to the beach at Thirsty Point. Well with a name like that, how could we not (apparently it was so named by fishermen sailing up from Fremantle as this is where they ran out of water). In comparison with other beaches we’ve seen over the last week or two, this was nothing to shout about (even though the sand was fine and white). What was magical though, was that we arrived with the sun about to set, and with our back to the sun, looking along the coastline, the moon started to rise. At first it was a smudge half under the horizon but, surprisingly quickly, it became clearer as it rose and the sun set and the sky went from orange to pink in just a few minutes (just 5 minutes elapsed between these two photos). Well done to Janet for the photos and what a great start to what we hope is going to become Janet & Dave’s Excellent Adventure.

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One Response to The Adventure Begins

  1. Nick J says:

    Looks like your going to have to drink all the wine and beer in the Beast’s fridge for every night you want to get some sleep in that contraption on the top!! Good luck with that

    Drive safe and enjoy. Great posts.

    Nick xx

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