Esperance to Albany
Trip Start Mar 14, 2009
34Trip End Ongoing
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After fitful sleep, bombarded as we were by the noise of the lashing rain, we awoke to find that this time, the tent seemed not to be holding out as well as on previous occasions, the clue being in the soaked extremities of our heads and toes. Looking out from under the awning, the tent seemed to be sitting at the centre of a large pond - I half expected to see plump koi carp swimming placidly by. Then suddenly, we were breached. The floor of the tent bulged and bobbed like an under-filled waterbed and in seconds, we were marooned on an island, surrounded by our submerged possessions.
We decided to make a dash for it and within seconds of emerging from the tent and sprinting to the car, blankets bundled under our arms, we were completely sopping wet. We drove the twenty yards to the camp kitchen which were also under threat from rain that couldn't escape quickly enough down struggling drains.
We took stock of the casualties of the tent. Rhiannon's phone had drowned and was resisting our attempts to resuscitate it and our books were as heavy as bricks, with swollen pages clinging to the pulpy spine. Although it was still well before 6am and not yet completely light, the best plan of action seemed to be to have breakfast, and so we did. As other campers began to mooch into the kitchen, all suffering from varying degrees of dampness, there was much grumbling about the pessimistic weather forecast, which all of a sudden was predicting several days of constant rain.
Now, I don't wish to make unfair, sweeping generalisations or posit such controversial statements as 'Australian meteorologists are crap'. I don't want to unfavourably compare Australian meteorologists with their British counterparts - we all remember Michael Fish and the hurricane that wasn't. I don't want to, but I'm going to. Australian meteorologists are crap. Sometimes, I think they just say the first thing that comes to mind because they're aware an opinion is expected of them; that people are going to be looking on weather.com.au and that it is their duty to fill this, and other such websites, with little symbols and numbers that help people decide what they're going to wear that day. And Australians, as citizens of a civilised society, understand weather updates to be one of their fundamental rights, alongside a choice of whole, semi, skinny or soy milk for their latte and free parking after 5pm. They don't necessarily want or need those weather updates to be accurate - indeed, it's almost preferable that they are inaccurate, since the consequences of this inaccuracy form a reliable topic of conversation - how one wore sandals instead of pumps and didn't bring a cardigan because the weather forecast said sunny spells, but my, doesn't it look overcast, etc. Of course, this suits the meteorologists' purpose, since they have no clue what the weather will be like tomorrow, and they are content to just churn out symbols and numbers indefinitely, so that if you check the weather forecast for X city for X-day of the coming week, the numbers and symbols will vary wildly and change frequently as X day approaches and then dawns, with weather unforeseen and inhabitants unprepared.
I digress. Neither the weather nor it's forecasters have been kind to us of late, and the ominous grey of the sky seemed to suggest this wasn't going to change. The problem was not simply that we would prefer not to be washed out as we slept for a second time. We also needed the water feature in our tent to be removed by the evening if we were to sleep in it at all, and if the rains didn't cease and the sun didn't come out, the tent wouldn't dry. Furthermore, appreciation of the top attractions of Esperance was, for the most part, contingent on clement weather. The area is known for it's stunning beaches, pristine sands and great surf. We decided that we would jump in the car and go and check out the sights that were to be seen as best we could and then head over to Albany, where at least we could couch surf and be sure of a dry night's sleep.
Esperance is beautiful and we were lucky because the sun did come out long enough for us to enjoy the views. The town is set in a bay that is populated with tonnes of little islands and stacks and there are boat tours that take you out among them for the day. We could see that on a better day, we could have happily spent the day on the fantastic beaches - the water was a mixture of aquamarine and inky blue, depending on the depth of the swell, the sand was soft and white and the waves were textbook perfect for body-boarding. As it was, the blustery breeze and blue skies made us feel like we were driving around the Cornish coast in June, which as anybody who has done this knows, is no unpleasant way to spend a morning.
We had fun checking out the Pink Lake which, perhaps unsurprisingly, is an unimaginatively named lake that is pink - sort of. I was a little disappointed, since I expected it to be PINK, like a sea of melted marshmallows or liquid candyfloss. In fact, was much like other lakes, other than the pale rosy hue that apparently is caused by salt-loving algae, who secrete beta carotene and thus live long healthy lives and can see in the dark.
The other major highlight of Esperance was an awesome coconut macaroon that kept me going when the tiredness of our sleepless night hit me, so that all my limbs ached and everything seemed too much and I wanted to cry and nearly did.
Back at the campsite, we shoved everything that was damp into a big plastic bag and hot-footed it to Albany, where we would be couch surfing with Gareth. This was a five hour journey - not ideal when we were both exhausted and fractious and a little tired of sitting in our car. I ended up having a very long and expletive filled rant about the lack of signposts in Australia (which in the cold light of day, I do stand by - signposts here seem to be precious, rationed commodity, whereas I am of the opinion that every major junction needs at least one). We also had a rather pointless argument, since Rhiannon felt I wasn't appreciating the magnificent sunset, which I found distracting since I was busy trying to appreciate our position on a map, whose vast scale rendered it essentially useless. By the time we arrived in Albany it was dark and we were knackered and happy to pass out for the night.