Our final stop on our whistle stop tour was Perth on the West Coast. I've been wanting to go to the West Coast for ages, since it seems to be so much less explored and also because Perth is so remote, its closer to Singapore than it is to any other city in Australia. We decided to do a tour up to Exmouth on the North end, about 3500 km there and back, which would take about a week.Unfortunately the day we arrived I decided to visit the dentist because of a reoccurring tooth ache. Upon inspection, it was decided that I needed a root canal - on my front tooth! Because we were going to be on a tour within the next couple of days, they did two of the procedures immediately. I have never had a root canal before and the pain was astounding. The dentist wasn't the nicest bloke in the world, told me he hated his job, and then happily told me my tooth would probably go grey in a couple of months! WTF???So most of my time in Perth was spent in the dentists chair and when out of it, in massive pain both in my mouth and in the wallet!
Luckily the dental work didn't interfere with our planned tour. A mini bus packed with about 20 people and our luggage set off at a snails place along the coast, stopping at various points of interest for sightseeing and eating, and sleeping in hostels each night.It was a great group of people, which was good because for the next week we would be spending 24/7 with them. There was however, one tool who managed to wind everyone up. He had seen better and done better than everyone else there, and he was only too happy to inform you how your life experiences sucked in comparison to his. Annoying wasn't the word. It was amazing, I don't think any of us have been so corrected so often in our lives. And he was usually wrong. You couldn't ignore him either, he was going to have his say whether or not anyone was listening. After a week of it got seriously grating.However, one night we played egg roulette (hardboil a bunch of eggs except one, and everyone has to take one and smash it on their heads) and he got the raw egg. That was amusing for the rest of us. It wasn't rigged - I swear!
The aim of the trip was to see the Whale Sharks up in Exmouth, which meant an awfully long drive from Perth. We had some great stops along the way up though. The West Coast is absolutely gorgeous, theres just miles and miles of nothing on one side and the sparkling ocean on the other.We stopped at a beach where wild dolphins come every morning to be fed, you just stand ankle deep in the water and they swim right up to you.They look like they are perpetually smiling too, it was such a great experience.The night before the feeding we were all on the beach and three of them came to within a foot of the shore, it was brilliant.
We also stopped to see the Stromotolites, which are basically living fossils that have been there since the world as we know it began.If it wasn't for them, the level of oxygen on earth wouldn't be high enough for life as we know it to begin.So in that sense they are pretty incredible. Up close and personal however, they are rather underwhelming.Large brown blobs in the water that occasionally bubble.
Up at Exmouth a few of us went on a boat trip to see the Whale Sharks. These fish are HUGE! Massive spotted things that eat (thankfully) plankton and crill and spend their days near the surface. You get your snorkel gear on and hop into the water in front of them and wait with your face down. Then, out of the gloom, this huge shape emerges and is heading right towards you. If you are smart you get out of the way and swim alongside it. The two we saw varied in size from 4 metres long to 7 and a half metres long.That a bloody big fish!They are gorgeous up close too, its like someone has painted them with white spots and swirls.Although they are harmless it was quite nerve-racking to be so close to them, their tail fin along was about a metre and a half high, and they could swing it! The group that had gone the day before were joined by a Great White shark, who started to circle them with its mouth open.Im REALLY glad we didn't learn of this incident until after we got back on the boat.I did wonder why all the boat staff kept such a close watch when we were in the water.That day was so brilliant, we also swam with 3 metre wide Manta rays and for most of our journey back to land we were joined by three humpback whales who swam alongside our boat.It was awe-inspiring and I'm so glad we did it.
Reubs and I decided to split up at that point, and he stayed on to dive while I went back to Perth to have the final part of the root canal done. On the way down our now rather depleted group stopped at a place called the Hutt River Province. From what I can understand, some Australian bloke didn't want to pay tax any more and so started his own country.Because of some loophole in the law he was able to. You have to get a visa stamped to get in and out and it has its own currency. Upon arrival, you are greeted by the man himself, who calls him Prince Leonard. Your passports are stamped by his wife, Princess Shirley, who didn't, I must confess, fulfill my expectations of what a princess should look like. Theres really not much I can say about this place except I think hes been Prince Leonard for too long and has been a little bit warped by it. The school books are all written by him, the postcards are all of him, he has his own throne, and in the church the stained windows all feature him. His face is even in a painting of the Last Supper on the Church wall and he has a giant rock carving of his head by the side of the road. Obsessive wouldn't really be the word! He also swore that the Kings Pyramid (a corrugated tin erection) has special energy flowing from it (Kind of like Lost) and no planes are allowed to fly over it because it would interfere with their electronic and navigational equipment.Riiight.
Still, it was an absolute trip and you too can become a citizen of his country, providing you aren't "too much of a criminal". Good to know.
The final stop was to an animal park that rehabilitated injured or orphaned native animals. It was a private park and despite its small size, had an impressive array of animals, including dingoes, a crocodile, and a whole heap of kangaroos. I got to give a baby 'roo a cuddle!It was so cute. Back in Perth those that were left on the bus spent the next two days hanging out in Perth and Freemantle together. Even Annoying Boy seemed to mellow, or maybe we just got used to him. I even missed him a bit when he left, in a weird sort of way! All in all a brilliant trip and filled with wonderful people and wonderful sights along the way.