Back in (the) black ...
Trip Start Apr 13, 2011
35Trip End Jul 13, 2011
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We have inadvertently chosen the wrong year in some respects, as a number of natural disasters and unpredictable weather patterns have conspired against us to create conditions that are unusual almost everywhere we go. Also, the fact that Easter was so late threw all the holiday periods out of whack, so we have clashed a couple of times with our WA counterparts when we may not have otherwise done so. We now know it would have been handy to be a bit more familiar with the tourist calendar before setting out as well, as even those who don’t want to follow the strict tourist trail are still bound by it in some respects. Whether you like it or not, it dictates how full or empty a place will be when you get there, and also determines what kind of neighbours you can expect to have. It sounds like our next destination, Coral Bay, will be the most challenging yet in that respect as EVERYONE wants to go there – internationals, nomads, random family groups who have taken their kids out of school for a while, you name a crowd, they will be there! That’s because every single tourist currently in WA wants to swim with a whale shark, and guess what? The travelling whale shark circus just arrived in town – from May to September, that is all anyone here talks about
The floods earlier in the year have also affected this area dramatically, so the fresh produce is not as readily available as it normally would be, and a number of roads are still blocked. There’s one spot we visited where an entire farm has vanished because the Gascoyne River decided to carve itself a new tributary during the floods, and did so right through the middle of this farm. The owners are just waiting on word from the government as to whether they will be bought out or simply left to fend for themselves, which means walking away from the place with nothing. (Scroll down to rest of the photos if you want to see how it looks now.) Apparently, Carnarvon used to supply 70% of Perth’s fruit and vegetable requirements, but this would not be the case just now, as the locals are struggling to meet demand while the orchards regenerate. There’s still enough here to impress and satisfy travellers who have been doing without for a few weeks, though, and everywhere you look in the caravan park, there are happy faces munching into fresh tiny bananas, crunchy sweet corn and handfuls of flavoursome grape tomatoes at two dollars a punnet
Carnarvon will stick in my memories of this trip as the setting for the finale in the increasingly stressful credit card drama, which was the inspiration for this entry’s title – "Back in (the) Black". Readers of past entries will know that Paddy’s credit card gave up the ghost before we even left Victoria, and we had a new one sent to Esperance, only to change our minds about going there and subsequently have it sent further up the road to Carnarvon. That was OK, as I had two credit cards, so it became my duty to look after the financial side of things. This was all working perfectly until I left my ANZ credit card in the ATM of the Kalbarri post office, literally as we walked out of town on our last day
We repeated this little drama every morning while we were in Carnarvon, so four times in all – and the joke was starting wear a bit thin on the Friday, especially as we were leaving the next morning. The staff in the Carnarvon office were wide-eyed and sympathetic, and we were all united in our displeasure at the guy from Kalbarri, who despite me leaving at least one (if not four) messages on his answering machine each day, had not bothered to ring and let me know if, when, whether or in what format he had despatched my card into the postal system
We tried one last visit to the post office late in the afternoon before crossing over the road to the ANZ, where I started on my story and got taken into a little office niche to fill out the paperwork. Then the lady asked me my name. All of a sudden, there was singing and dancing, bright lights and music! Well, not really, but you should have seen the action! A man dashed out of an internal office, gleefully asking if I was Kylie Witt, as though this was something really amazing. I usually only get this kind of response from anyone when I show up in a Year 9 classroom with a bag of Haribo lollies. Apparently, I had been the source of great mystery for the last few days, as it turns out there was another Kylie Witt living in town. The idiots at the post office had seen the envelope with her name on it and, ignoring the fact that it said “c/o post office”, had simply posted it in her letterbox. Thankfully, she was an honest and sensible citizen, as you would expect from someone called Kylie Witt, and brought the card into the bank – on the Tuesday we arrived in town
Anyway, all’s well that ends well. I feel that I owe the Kalbarri postmaster an apology for the last spray I left on his answering machine, but by the same token, if he’d shown a little more courtesy one, two or even three days prior (or simply answered the phone once during the 10 days of the saga), it would never have come to that. They did not pick up the phone once in the entire period we were trying to contact them, and we had been in the shop long enough to know that “we’re busy at the moment” just was NOT likely to be true at any of the times we rang! The people in the liquor shop next door were much more helpful, taking messages and passing my phone number on, so if you are ever in Kalbarri, take your custom there and make a point of saying hallo to Rose. Ultimately, though, it’s a lesson learned – don’t leave your credit card in someone else’s hands!