Our next instalment starts with our arrival in Margaret River in South West Australia after a scenic drive through forest from Augusta. We liked the Augusta campsite but as it was limited for things to do we decided to move on.
After some of the one horse towns we have passed through Margaret River is a very pleasant change. It has a sizeable main street and we thought a visit to the tourist Information centre might assist us. We were welcomed by a young, very eager woman who seemed to provide more disinformation than information as everything she suggested was either corrected or altered by another member of staff. We left quite confused and decided to go to the Subway sandwich shop opposite for our habitual lunch of an over filled roll, this time in the shape of a foot long Tuna sub (cut in two) with a bit of everything (we may end up buying shares in this establishment, owing to the amount of money that we are handing them).
We managed to find a new campsite and struggled to pitch our tent in an increasing wind (but the good news - no flies!), looking at the other tents around us Nigel anticipated at least one of them would not be standing on our return from some food shopping and he was right. Our next door neighbours tent had flattened out and a rather despondent biker was trying to fix some broken poles. What better advertisement for our Terra Nova tent, built and designed in Derbyshire, England.
We paid a visit to a local bike shop and the owner (a very forthright lady) sized us up for bikes - tomorrow we ride again!
Knowing it was time to try and send the weekly blog we located a Cyber cafe in town (it has not been easy to find wifi), the owner was a lady with a strong German accent who as we entered gave us the usual "Goo-day" but this time it sounded like an instruction rather than a greeting. She was actually very welcoming and we spent a couple of hours, surfing the web and drinking coffee before we eventually managed to update the blog.
The following day we collected our hire bikes and decided to cycle until lunch or until we got saddle sore. We used an off road cycle route alongside the river to which the town takes its name. The cycle path was a little over grown and involved crossing a stream via a ford before we arrived at our viewpoint at 10 mile dam (photo). To avoid heading back on the same route we circled back using the dirt roads and came across a family of Kangaroos, we got very excited as this was our first sighting of them in the wild (no photos, they were moving too quickly). We were informed that the locals treat them as pests as around dawn and dusk they have a habit of jumping out onto the roads and cause serious accidents.
The owner of the bike shop told us that her mechanic had just had such an accident and in trying to avoid a Kangaroo he had rolled his car 3 times and written it off - he seemed ok.
We returned the bikes having had our lunch and completed our route. The rest of the day was devoted to just chilling out.
Wednesday - In the morning we headed to the coast and had a walk along an isolated beach where we paddled for a couple of miles. (Photo's) By midday the sun was getting too hot so we retreated back to the campsite and had a quiet afternoon.
Thursday - We struck our campsite without any plans as to where we would end up. We drove along the coast and to a beach area with a protected reef. As it was still early we decided to head to a peninsular renowned for its views of migrating whales. As it was coming to the end of their migrating season we were not hopeful but after a short stroll we arrived at the viewing platform. We saw several people were leaving having seen nothing. We thought we would still give it a go and along with a young German man we stayed for about 30 minutes. We were very lucky and in the far distance made out 3 whales clearing their blow holes and surfacing. No photos - too far away. We headed further along the coast and to the town of Busselton famous for its jetty which is at over 1,800 meters long, is apparently the longest in the Southern Hemisphere! In Bussleton we found a new well equipped campsite and made use of the facilities including wifi and a swimming pool.
Friday saw us heading up the west coast and further back towards Perth. We checked out of the campsite at the last minute and used the wifi connection to book a tour from Darwin that will take us to Uluru (Formally known as Ayes Rock). We were coming to terms with the distances we would have to travel to get to Alice Springs in the centre of this enormous country if we were to do the trip independently. We were undecided about going into the centre but from what others have said we didn't want to miss this spectacle.
The weather had changed overnight, we experienced our first real rain and dodged some thundery showers as we decided to walk to the end of the Busselton jetty. (Photo) During our internet session Helen located a dolphin centre where if we were lucky, members of the ninety or so pod of wild dolphins in Koombana bay will interact with spectators so this is where we decided to finish our camping section. On our arrival in Bunbury (which is the third largest city in western Australia) we decided to checkout the local cinema and saw Hunger Games 2 having seen the first film in the series on TV in Singapore.
Saturday. In the morning we headed to the dolphin centre which we had found was a short stroll from our campsite. We arrived shortly after 8am as was recommended and within 10 minutes at bell sounded and about 10-15 spectators made their way down to the beach where we watched 3 wild bottle nosed dolphins swim around us for about an hour under the supervision of the centre staff. (Photos). One was a female called "Lumpy" ( apparently after the shape of her dorsal fin). We hoped she wasn't scared by this name - it seems a bit harsh!
During the afternoon, reality kicked in as our time was taken up with booking flights from Alice springs back to Darwin and other chores
Sunday and we're headed to a hotel in Mandurah which is about an hour from Perth. This will position us well for Monday morning when we return our Suzuki Swift hire car.
We've both been impressed with this little work horse although we wouldn't swap it for our Honda Jazz.
Were both well, we've recovered from the insect bites and we're flying to Darwin on Tuesday.
Our next instalment should be from the Northern territories.