Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Southern hemisphere record-breaker

Our time in Western Australia is nearly up. We've driven almost 1,000 kilometres in the last few days, looked out across the Indian and Southern Oceans, and twice visited the Dome coffee shop in Bunbury. If holidays are about making memories, then this fortnight has been a resounding success. Here are a few snippets from our exploration of the south-west corner of Australia. To re-cap, our base camp was in Walpole - the home of Harold Luxton.

First stop along the way was Conspicuous Cliff. I'm sure you'll agree that it merits the title. We had to veer off the beaten track and drive along a dirt road to get there, but it was well worth the detour. Harold later told us he had attended to a shark attack victim on this beach, but the surfers we saw walking back towards the car park each had four limbs intact and smiles on their faces. With these waves, it was easy to see why.

The magnificent panoramic view at Conspicuous Cliff merited the inclusion of a second photo. Apart from a couple of fishermen, the beach was deserted. To reach this lookout platform, we had to climb a flight of steep steps akin to the cup winners' walk at Wembley Stadium.

Further along the coast was this bay, sheltered by the huge rocks you can see in the background. My Singapore football shirt blended well (sort of) with the two-tone sea water.

After driving through Denmark (yes, really) and Albany, we retraced our steps and called in to do the Valley of the Giants treetop walk. We felt a bit like Ant & Dec on I'm A Celebrity (see photo), only without the Geordie accents and million-pound contracts. A family from Singapore recognised the flag on my shirt and we shared a nod of acknowledgement 40 metres above the forest floor.

There is a brief story behind this photo. I decided a back-to-back shot on the fallen log would be a good idea, so balanced the camera in a nearby tree and set the 10-second timer. Unfortunately, I couldn't turn and scramble into position on top of the log before the time had elapsed, so we gave up after three attempts. This was the closest I got.

Harold and his cocker spaniel agreed to pose for a picture before we said our goodbyes. We were well looked after during our time in Walpole, which featured a strong episode of Miss Marple on TV and a fish pie which had us all coming back for seconds.

Rachel spotted, and photographed, this wayward emu on the forest road. It loitered, momentarily, in front of the car, but as soon as I slowed down it skipped to the safety of the verge.

It was a long drive back to Rockingham, given that we ventured west to Margaret River, up to the jetty at Busselton (see below) and then through Bunbury before rejoining the Perth-bound freeway. Australians are used to covering those sort of distances in a day, but when you consider that we drove almost the length of England (I worked it out as Maidstone to Newcastle), it was hardly a run-of-the-mill journey for us.

This exhibit shall henceforth be known as 'The Northern Hemisphere's Most Over-Dressed Lady on the Southern Hempishere's Longest Wooden Pier'. Rachel, in fairness, was well protected from the strong sea breeze that buffeted us on the two-kilometre walk to the end of Busselton's famous jetty. Although we felt travelling by train was unnecessary, we didn't dwell too long in front of the plaques halfway along the jetty, commemorating fishermen who had died after falling into the sea.

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