Sand Dunes and Sea Air

Trip Start Jan 10, 2005
Trip End May 10, 2005

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Flag of Australia  ,
Friday, March 18, 2005

Not only does the SW coast of Australia have some beautiful forests, there's also some magnificent beaches. These beaches aren't the crowded and commercial tourist places like Surfer's Paradise on the east coast; rather, they're wind-whipped, rugged and unspoiled. Limestone cliffs and mammoth rocks just sharply out of the water.

We stayed at such a place last night, right beside the beach. The surf thundered in our ears all night long as the wind rocked us to sleep in the van. I'm not too sure how comfortable the tenters beside us would have been. Mostly we've been camping in national parks and the sites have been well tended and very scenic. From our campsite we could see the wind generators just outside Albany.

The flowers here are also spectacular, both the garden variety and wildflowers. You can grow roses here like nobody's business. Nikki had some beautiful (and very fragrant) roses that she carefully tended in her garden. The soil here is very fragile; in the Kojonup area there is little topsoil, so gardens must be fertilized on a regular basis. I would love to return here in the spring (September/October) during peak wildflower season.

So what changes have I noticed from 20 years ago? Well, Australia definitely feels more cosmopolitan than it did. The grocery aisles of most grocery stores have a fairly diverse ethnic foods section and you can get any type of coffee you want - cappuccino, lattes - or herbal teas. Gone is the instant coffee and thank goodness there's more on menus that meat pies and sausage rolls. (Though I would venture a guess that it's still the food of choice for many people, considering the size of some people here.)

The currency has changed somewhat, too. They have done away with their one pence coin (penny) and, similar to Canada, now have one dollar and two dollar coins instead of one and two dollar bills. These larger denomination coins are considerably smaller than their 20 cent and 50 cent coins which can become rather heavy in your pocket! All their bills are made of some sort of plastic and are virtually indestructible.

Though groceries are not terribly expensive, it is pricey to eat out here. You'll pay at least $2.50 for a single cup of coffee (and more in touristy areas) and can expect to pay at least $15 for lunch and $20 for supper. The campervan which has a range top, microwave and fridge has allowed us to make most of our own meals.

One of the things that I thought was funny all those years ago was that when you enter a shop, the salesclerk asks you, "Are you all right?" instead of "Can I help you?" It took me back and my first thought was, Why, don't I look all right?" Even though we both speak English, we often use it in different ways!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I did hear it mentioned on the radio here, but there appears to be no green beer served! They certainly gear up for Easter in a big way, though. Grocery stores are chock full of chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs.
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