I finally left the farm about 2 weeks ago and headed to Brisbane where I met up with a group of friends all of whom I worked with at some point on the farm. I spent about 4 days in Brisbane, in torrential rain. I really dont think it stopped once! We visited Australia Zoo which was interesting, Steve Irwin was everywhere!! Its very well done but I was surprised by the size. There really isnt many animals there although there is a lot to see and do! The croc displays were, of course, pretty impressive, as were the tigers! The following day I went shopping to replace some of my pretty worn out clothing which I was extremely bored of after 6 months with the same 10 tops!! I then flew over to Perth...
My flight took 5 hours, pretty incredible to think Im still in the same country! I arrived to temperatures in the mid to high 30's, bright blue sky and brilliant sunshine. It's fantastic! I spent a couple of days wandering around the city which is lovely. The central shopping area is clean with some lovely architecture but also feels pretty modern. The Swan River runs nearby and you can walk to Kings Park on the edge of the City Centre which is actually above the city and gives fantastic views. There's also a botanic garden there. Later I took a train to Rockingham and Mandurah which are coastal towns just South of Perth and enjoyed some time on the beach and took a boat around the harbour in Mandurah to see the luxury homes!
Last week I began a 7-day tour of the South West Coast. There were only 2 of us on the tour which I hadnt expected. It was brilliant in some ways because it made us so much more flexible. We were able to fit lots of extra things in and choose exactly what we did/didnt do. Unfortunately it didnt get off to a very good start when our bus crashed just 2 hours into the journey. It was pretty serious as we were on the high-way, I was thrown from my seat across the bus and there was glass everywhere. After about an hour on the side of the road and a few hours in hospital we were all declared ok. I had badly bruised the muscles in my back and am still covered in little bruises now but there was no lasting damage fortunately and I have now stopped taking painkillers so am feeling back to my normal self. The other passenger, Hannah, had sprained her neck and we were both a little shaken but she is also back to normal now. We continued from the hospital, a few hours later, to a winery, to ease the pain! And then to the pub!
Fortunately day two was less eventful. It was a fantastic day, we visited several winery's, chocolate, cheese and preserve factories! We visited several bays, one of which had rays swimming in the sea that came right up to the beach and allowed you to touch them. We also went underground into Jewell Cave, the largest in the area. That evening we stayed in a little house in Pemberton forest, had a BBQ. drank some of the wine we had purchased that day and exchanged stories. Another advantage of having such a small group was that we were able to talk to our tour guide a lot and I learnt a lot about the area and travelling in Australia as a whole.
On the third day we visited Valley of the Giants. This is a walkway above huge Red Tingle Trees, the only place in the world where they are found. We also went to a Toffee Factory and a meadery. We finished the day in Albany where we decided to treat ourselves to dinner out!
The following day we headed to Bluff Knoll, the 3rd highest mountain in WA. We didnt climb it as we had a long drive to our final destination for the day, Esperance. We went via Wave Rock which you may recognise in the photos. We entered Esperance along the Great Ocean Drive which is fantastic. It's so green down there, with the whitest beaches and turquoise sea! Absolutely gorgeous! We also received some good news. As compensation for the accident on the first day we were given a tab of $150 to spend on dinner and drinks. So we had a pretty wild night, and made sure we spent every last cent of our budget!
Fortunately we didnt have to do anything too strenuous the next day. We headed to Cape Le Grand National Park where we spent about an hour lying on the whitest sand in Australia at Lucky Bay. We then climbed Frenchmans peak to get views out over the park before spending another hour soaking up the sun in Hellfire Bay.
Hannah left the next morning as she had a flight to catch so I spent the final day on my own. We went in-land to Kalgoorlie, the biggest inland city. Its population are all there due to the huge goldmines which provide most of the employment in the area and pay really well. (I discovered that this is basically because it must be on of the most boring jobs on Earth!) I went underground into a mine and watched a gold pour which was interesting. Later on we went on a tour of a brothel. I know that must sound very strange but its a huge part of the city's history with so many men in the area and so few women. There are only 3 operating today but there used to be a whole street lined with them. We had a guided tour of a real working brothel just before doors opened for business. I was impressed with the amazing decor, it was like being in a hotel with themed rooms!
So finally today we embarked upon a 6 hour journey back to Perth which was, thankfully, less eventful than my journey out of Perth. I am now in my hostel but going out in about an hour to meet up with Rachael. For those of you who dont know her she is a family friend who moved over here a few years ago and used to teach my brother the flute. She is going to show me some more of Perth and it will be nice to see a familiar face! The events of Saturday really made me wish I could just pop home for the weekend but I did have a fantastic week after that and am really enjoying Western Australia.
To see photos of Perth and my week in the South West: