A few things in life are certain, like death and Delhi belly in India, and that I’m going to be drinking a lot of booze when I visit old mates who now live in Perth.
Al moved to Perth with his wife Sarah from the UK about a year ago and loves it, and what’s not to love about it? The weather is fabulous, people friendly and surrounding landscape spectacular. The only problem for me is that it’s pretty expensive. As a price comparison to the UK, the minimum wage in Australia is around $17 AUD (over £10), much more than the measly £6 or so in the UK. Western Australia also has plenty of mining work which pays very well, which all leads to an expensive place to live if you’re not earning local wages (like myself).
As my Tiger was past her 20,000km service point (about 2,000km over…) I thought I’d best book her in for a service & new rear tyre (the front still had plenty of life left), but because of my poor planning they couldn’t fit me in for 3 days. This meant I had a longer stay in Perth than expected, but also meant I could take a bit of time to look around, relax and get myself a new camera.
After a night of excess involving BBQ, beer, wine and hot-tubs, my philosophy is there’s no point trying to be healthy the next day, and so bacon and egg rolls are usually consumed in great quantities the next morning. During my Perth 3 day holiday bacon & egg rolls were consumed in great quantities every day. Fortunately I had some weight to gain after living off camp food for the past few days and certainly made up for lost time, although my arteries may not have agreed with my choice of food.
I loved the clean, open feel of Freemantle and spent very enjoyable hours down by the harbour at the ‘Little Creatures’ brewery, ‘Sail and Anchor’ pub and walking Al’s dog on nearby beaches.
The last night we pub-crawled downtown Freemantle and met some interesting local characters, and in the morning my liver was ready for me to collect my bike and continue on my journey for a rest, after a bacon & egg roll of course.
Heading north, getting out of Perth was a nightmare – traffic works everywhere! Luckily I was on a bike and employed some nifty manoeuvring to filter in between the slow moving traffic. However, I was loaded up and as my panniers stick out a bit further than my handlebars (annoyingly) I have to allow room for error so as not to scrape a pannier down the side of a car.
I was feeling rather ropey to say the least after my marathon drinking session the night before and didn’t feel like riding too far. Truth be told, I didn’t feel like riding anywhere, and felt like crawling up in bed and dying. However, time was pressing on and the ferry from Darwin to Timor was not going to wait for me.
A few days earlier I had eventually found a shipper (SDV) to ship the bike to Dili for the very reasonable price of 262 AUD, but it had to be in Darwin in 18 days, and I had to find a crate for her to ship in. This left me not much time to ride up the West Coast to Coral Bay, meet Dee (another mate teaching diving there) and hopefully do some diving, explore Karijini National Park, ride the Gibb River Road and finish with Kakadu National Park. I’d better stop yapping and get my skates on!
The coast immediately north of Perth is nice, but not THAT nice, and the beaches I stopped off at were small and sea-weedy. Anxious for the great wide open again I rolled on the power to put some distance between us & Perth. In fact I wasn’t impressed by the scenery until I reached the giant sand dunes of Nambung National Park and came across The Pinnacles.
By the time I reached the Pinnacles it was approaching sunset and the shadows cast by these strange eroded limestone pillars painted an eerie picture. A circular sandy track takes you around them which is good fun on a bike and gave me an opportunity to test out the new back tyre I’d had fitted in Perth (another Heinakou K60 which I had been pleased with on and off-road). In fact, it was such great fun I went round twice, increasing speed until a couple of close ‘pinnacle calls’ made me slow down and stop for a few more twilight photos.
As it was now dark I thought it best to find somewhere to sleep ASAP to avoid any close encounters with Kangaroos. I’ve heard of several motorcyclists being hit by them and didn’t fancy the experience. Hiding from the sun in the shade during the day, Kangaroos come out in their thousands at night and judging by the hundreds of dead ones lying on the side of the road they obviously aren’t clever enough to cross without getting splattered by the huge road-trains with their ‘Roo-Bars’. A bike would be another matter though, and I would probably be the one splattered over the road. Roos are fast (up to 70kmph) and not small (up to 6.7 foot tall) and I don’t have a good track record with bikes and animals ever since I was taken-out by a suicidal dog in Sri Lanka and slid down the road on my scooter (in my shorts and flip-flops, which wasn’t clever, and hurt a lot!).
As the weather was cold and cloudy, and in my delicate condition, I felt no guilt wimping out of camping and decided I needed a proper bed for the night. Shortly afterwards I came across a Backpackers in Cervantes, named after an American Whaler of the same name was wrecked off the coast in 1844, and promptly checked in.
Looking forward to a quiet, alcohol-free evening, it soon became apparent that I would not get one. Sitting down in the lounge, minding my own business and about to update my hopelessly behind blog, I was set upon by a Canadian couple and a French lady who made me join in a card game with them (Presidents and A**holes). And it wasn’t long, surprise surprise, before a bottle of vodka appeared, and shortly disappeared into glasses during a game of ‘Battle of the Sexes’, which the girls won because we had to let them, of course. Oh well – maybe tomorrow I can have a ‘quiet night in’.