The rest of the West
Trip Start Jan 16, 2007
32Trip End Aug 20, 2007
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I spent the last week around the south-west, an area that is cooler (and much more habitable) than the searing heat of much of the continent. We went from Perth through Bussleton and along the south coast as far as Esperance (of the lead in the water poisoning fame) before heading back past Wave Rock (a huge rock that looks like a wave). As with much of Australia, there's quite a bit of distance between places, but I've got used to this. It'll certainly make driving in the UK seem like child's play.
In preparation for all things life-threatening in New Zealand, we stopped at Bicentennial tree - a big fat Red Tingle fire lookout tree. The only way to get up it is by climbing up metal rods rammed into the tree at 90 degrees to the trunk. That is about it. There's a rather flimsy looking piece of smeep netting that gives you a semi-psychological sense of stability, but if you fell it would probably collapse. The whole thing (up to the platform built on top of the tree) is some 60 metres, but as it was raining, hence slippy rungs, I called it a day at about the 20 metre mark (didn't fancy falling that far without some sort of rope attached to me). It was no joke that you could have fallen to your death from that tree - the poles were a cood foot to foot and a half apart, with nothing (apart from the poles that spiralled the tree) to cusion your fall. Always reassuring when the ground is the softest part.
We climbed a couple of big hills whilst down there too - nothing too major, though Bluff Knoll was the highest point from where we were to Africa. This and Frenchman's Peak would both nave spectacular views over either mountains or the ocean (respectively) but all we could see were vast expanses of white, wet things called clouds. It felt strangely like being back at home, where many a climb is rewarded by being able to see bugger all. That said, the weather did clear up by the time we got down from Frenchman's Peak and headed to the beaches of the south. A similar story to those on the west coast (white sand, etc etc) but with smaller waves, and noticeably cooler (Antartica, perhaps?).
On the way back from way down south, we stopped off at Wave Rock (huge rock that, rather unsurprisingly, looks like a wave). That is really about all there is from Esperance to Perth, unless you like looking at lots of former farm land that's now salinated. Even the 'Pink Lake' attraction (no prizes for guessing where the name came from) was a rather turgid shade of grey. New Zealand will certainly be something else - being able to drive for only an hour or so between places. Fantastic.
Back in Perth, we only had the night to get everything together before flying out the next morning. Though Qantas changed all our flights around about two hours before we flew (ended up going via Sydney rather than Melbourne), we managed to get to Auckland when we were meant to. As to where our luggage got to, that's something else.