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Travel blog I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast, but I'm intercontinental and I eat French toast (Beastie Boys) | | | Photos available at www.istockphoto.com/georgeclerk

South by South West

NEW ZEALAND | Wednesday, 16 July 2008 | Views [2103] | Comments [3]

I spent several days in Perth, mainly taking and uploading photos for iStock, sorting out tickets etc for my next travels, and going out with the guys from the 'Wicked' journey a couple of times.

Then had a few days left to quickly see some of the bottom part of Western Australia, so I hired a car from Hertz (for some reason their daily price - about £15 - is a quarter of their Darwin price), and took a risk by not paying their excess waiver fee, which would have more than doubled the price.  The catch was that if I had an accident, it would cost me either $3000 or $5000, depending on whether other cars were involved.  Also, with some trepidation, I 'bought' the full tank of fuel at a very low price, on the agreement that I'd return the car to the airport, empty.  Uh oh!

So I left Perth, driving extra carefully, and headed south.

This jetty (Aussies don't like to use 'Pier') in Busselton was the second one I'd seen that was claimed to be the longest the Southern Hemisphere.  The first one was in Port Augusta in SA.  At well over a mile, this one is pretty long, but I've stopped believing these 'biggest ... in the Southern Hemisphere' claims, which seem to be made about something in every part of Australia.

The weather got worse after that picture, and eventually I arrived in the small town of Pemberton.  It was dark, cold, windy, and pouring with rain, but fair enough, it is mid-winter over here!  I found a dorm for the night, and got some sleep while the town took a battering from the increasingly stormy weather.  

The next morning I was up early, with lots to try and see in a short space of time.  But the roads were littered with big branches, and the heavy downpours still hadn't stopped.  I managed to negotiate around this in my little car...

... but not this!...

Rather than going far back on the main road, then having to take a long way round, I found a forest lane, and meandered through a maze of soaked forest tracks, which also had plenty tree debris from the storm.

I kept reminding myself that I was driving a base model Corolla, far outwith phone reception, that an accident would cost me $5000, and managed to resist the urge to treat the deserted tracks as the forest stage of a rally!  But it was very tempting!  I was glad to eventually find the main highway again about forty minutes later.

Having stopped on the way to walk through some amazing Karri forests, I arrived at Walpole before it got dark, which was lucky as the whole town had a power cut.  I checked into a hostel and the lady explained about the power cut before taking my cash.  She then seemed almost as forgetful as me as she showed me around: "Right.  This is the kitchen, and here are the fridges - oops, we've got no power, so they don't work.  OK, there's a TV room in here, and we've got Foxtel. But there's no power, so the TV doesn't actually work either tonight.  The washing machines and dryers are just here.  Come to think of it, they won't be working either."  She then opened the door to room 8 where I was staying and flicked the light switch.  "Ah yeah, there's a power cut! Sorry - the lights in the room aren't working at the moment."

Quite British looking countryside in places

One of the big attractions of the area is the tree top walk through the Valley of the Giants, where you can walk around high up in the canopy of Tingle trees.  Unfortunately I didn't get there, as it was closed for safety reasons following the storm.

But the weather was great for this wind farm near Albany, which obviously claimed to be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere!

The city of Freemantle, or 'Freo', prides itself as being a boho place of culture.  It's not far by ferry from 'dull as' Perth, but feels very different.  I only stayed there for one night, before going to the airport.  Unfortunately the hostel I stayed at seemed like a drugs rehab centre that wasn't doing very well at the rehab part!

So 1,500kms later, I washed the forest off the car and returned it to Hertz at the airport, managing not to run out of petrol on the way.  That would have been a nightmare since as well as missing my flight, I'd have been in trouble with immigration, as I was flying out of Australia on the last valid day of my visa.

For you pedants out there (I know there's at least two of you what read this), the misuse of the apostrophe in Australia seems to be even worse than in the UK, and is often seen on printed signs - an airport example...

Tags: perth, trees, western australia



George, this sounds so much esp. your car ride, am glad to hear you didnt have to pay $5000 :) So where is your nexct stop? When is my hometown going to appear in this list...:) hope all is well, Usha xx

  UL Jul 31, 2008 9:54 PM


Hi Usha, Thanks - next was Bali (where I am now) but then going back to Australia to see the East Coast after here. I'm planning to to to Kerala end of this year / start of next year, so I'll def be after some tips!

  George Aug 1, 2008 6:13 PM


George, it sounds like you were setting the scene for an ovelry gory 1970s slasher flick. Scary mary. Glad you survived.

  Frankie Aug 5, 2008 1:39 AM

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