Saturday, March 8, 2014

In a State of Wait Awhile

Thursday 27 Feb

As I said in the last post, we left Adelaide on Thursday and touched down in Perth. Western Australia is the most wealthy of all the Australian states and actually drives the economy for the rest of the country. The reason for all this wealth is that there are mines here…tons of mines. Mines of precious metals. And those, are worth a lot.

We read that the cost of living in Perth is higher too. Gah!! We’ve already found Australia to be rather expensive.

We got our new rental car…a stick shift!! Preston did an awesome job of driving on the opposite side of the car AND changing gears as he went. The gears are in the same place as home…super weird. So, first gear is still up and to the left.

Beep beep

The woman at the rental car place told us Western Australia is the state of ‘wait awhile’, because its more relaxed and slowed down than the east coast. Haha. Sounds a bit like home.

This was my first trip to Western Australia and I LOVED it. Preston and I both thought that it was exactly what you picture Australia to be. First of all, it’s hot. Really hot. (This changed of seems everywhere I go...Fall weather follows :P) And it’s red and burnt and there are gum trees all around.

Hey o!!

We drove about 4 hours south from Perth to the teeny town of Augusta to stay with my friend David.

*This was our first time driving even close to evening in Australia, which we were advised not to do. Many of the animals here are nocturnal...and driving at night is unsafe. Even at dusk, as we were...we could see why. 

David is an older gentleman that was on the same tour of Ireland that my mom and I did for her 50th birthday. We’ve stayed in touch as pen pals (as in-we’ve written REAL pen and paper letters to one another. David doesn’t have email) ever since.  David is English and was in the Royal Navy…he’s the perfect mix of tough and soft:P He moved to Australia nearly 40 years ago and has led a very full and interesting life. David tells hilarious and wonderful stories and is just an insanely positive and spiritual person.

Days of old :D

One of my favorite David stories is this:

In Ireland, I was in the pub drinking a Guinness lamenting a bit on life and my failed relationships. At 26, I was feeling that I’d never meet a suitable partner and would always be unlucky in love. David said to me, “Kelly…the joker is always wild. You have to put your faith out into the universe…into that joker-- and life and love and happiness will come to you. You never know and that’s the beauty of it all. The joker is ALWAYS wild. And one day…you will find your joker”. I really took this to heart and thought more about my attitude and the brilliant magic of life. Years later, David was cleaning out a drawer and found a joker card lying inside face up. He said that he knew it was for me and sent it to me in the mail. It’s a decrepit old thing, but I’ve carried it in my wallet ever since. It now sits with the $2 bill Preston gave to me on the night I met him :D

David kindly offered that Preston and I stay with him during our time in WA, so we were heading his way.

We arrived to David’s cozy house and I gave him a big hug!! He had an appropriate Irish stew waiting for us and we talked into the night. His house is quite unique as he has collected artwork from all his travels. There is not much blank space on his walls.

Friday 28 Feb

We woke up on Friday and had our coffee with David, who drinks something like eight(!!) cups a day, before heading off to Margaret River.

Cute town just north of Augusta

We had driven through Margaret River the night before. It’s an adorable and charming little town frequented by the residents of Perth as a holiday spot.

It is also home to (another) famous surf break. We headed to the river mouth and caught our very first glimpses of the Indian Ocean. It was gorgeous with clear and sparkling water.

The beach where we stopped was surrounded by a reef, so the water was quite shallow, but in places…little lagoons had formed where the reef was open to the ocean floor. Preston carefully paddled out and I sat in the baking sun. Many of the surfers who were headed out into the waves would leave their dogs behind on the beach. I was impressed with the good behavior of these dogs, who would lay down and/or play while waiting for their owners to return.

Three of these dogs joined me on my beach blanket. It was so cute. Before I knew it, I was running some sort of beach doggie day care :P

To relieve myself of the intense sun, I ventured out to one of the little lagoons and after working up some courage…I jumped in. The water was COLD!! It took my breath away, but after a moment…it felt good to be out of the sun.

We had lunch in Margaret River (more fish and chips) and drove back through an amazing National Forest of native trees.

Margaret River

We spent the afternoon back at David’s drinking tea and coffee in his beautiful back garden. The whole garden is full of flourishing rose bushes.

Since it was Friday night, we headed to the pub. David is quite popular in the town. He used to be on the council and people seem to just love him. The best part is that he doesn’t know any of their names!! Haha. We had a pint and got dinner with the incredible views of the forest, river, and ocean.

Kind of obsessed with pie #gaining10lbs

Augusta is bigger than I imagined, but still very much a small town. It’s a wonderful place.

Saturday 1 Mar
I can’t believe it’s already March and that we’ve been traveling for over a month.

Preston and I bought some croissants in Margaret River yesterday to have for breakfast. David hilariously busied himself with what to do with these ‘things’. He called up some of the women in the town and asked them how they should be cooked. So sweet and funny. We had them with ham and cheese and they were delicious.

After breakfast, David took us on a tour of Augusta. We stopped at his coffee shop. The town was very busy, because we had unintentionally come on the biggest weekend of the year!! It was Labor Day weekend in WA and the weekend of the Augusta River Festival. David said the population over the weekend would swell from 1000 to around 4/5000. Crazy!!

One of the men walking the street had two trained parrots that he put on David’s head (I’m telling you---people are just drawn to David. It’s so funny).

I'm SO glad he didn't put those birds on me!!

We drove down along the beautiful ocean and out to Cape Leeuwin, home of an old lighthouse.

David said to title this :"Ain't Love Grand!"

The coolest thing about this spot was that it was the meeting point of two oceans…the Southern Ocean and the Indian Ocean. It was pretty epic to see these two forces converging. Preston felt that it was a very spiritual place and I had to agree. We stood and watched the magnificent force for some time.

Can you spot the meeting point? :P

After tearing ourselves away from nature’s show, we took in the sights at some other local beaches…Quarry Bay and Skippy Rocks.

We headed back to Margaret River which, in addition to being known for its surfing, is a world renowned wine region.

We stopped at Briarose Vineyard first and had 5 tastings in their charming Spanish style tasting room. Most of the tastings in this area are FREE!! How amazing is that? In California, you’ll generally pay $10-15!! We each bought a yummy bottle of Sauvignon Blanc

From Briarose we headed to Hamlin Winery. Hamlin boasted terrific views of the vineyard and a lake, so we bought a bottle and enjoyed the scenery (after our free tasting, of course).

We headed home and Pres took a quick surf near the river mouth in Augusta.

We had tea with David and his delightful neighbor Jan.  David made us pizza for dinner (he’s a right eligible bachelor he is!! Cleans AND cooks!!).

Sunday 2 March

David had a BBQ breakfast in our honor on Sunday morning. He invited the neighborhood crew over to join us. We’ve never had a BBQ breakfast…this is apparently an Aussie thing. It was great!! Jan came again, and wonderful Helen from next door, as well as Daryl and Bev.

May be bad placement of eggs :P

Pres hanging with Toby-David's old dog

Today was the day of the River Festival. THE big event in Augusta. After breakfast, we walked down along to the river to meet the festival. It was an adorable little street fair…with all the usual stuff: food tents, activities for children, little rides, a petting zoo, a beer garden. It was just adorable.

Jan flirting with the stilts guy

We spent most of the afternoon in the beer garden listening to bands play. David and I were drinking a yummy beer that we later found out only had 2% alcohol!! Haha!!

David said he'd never worn sunglasses here is in mine :P

and Preston's

It was a wonderful afternoon and we made new friends with Leslie, Slavanco, Jordie and their friends. Leslie’s parents live in Augusta and she has been vacationing there for years. Everyone gave us lots of tips on Bali (some terrifying).

We followed the parade of dancing girls (as David called them) up to the pub and had a pint before enjoying chicken and chips for dinner.

Monday 3 March

We had a much needed lazy morning watching the Oscars. (Leo was robbed AGAIN!!)

We stopped by an internet cafĂ© to book some things for Bali and I found an email from Wicked Camper (the company from which we’d rented our tent car). The email said that they were reporting the car stolen!! WHAT?!

In an email a few hours from that one, the person explained that they found the car and were retracting the police report, but that we had left it at the wrong depot.

Now, I had found the address for their depot on the internet…and when we got there…all the signs for Wicked Camper were in place. We waited for about 10 minutes and banged on the door and called loudly, but no one was there.

Frankly, our service with this company has not been the best…so we reckoned that this was another example of their shoddy customer service and left the key in a box labeled ‘key drop’.

The second email said that they were charging us TWO HUNDRED dollars for cleaning, which is preposterous, because the car was NOT dirty. There was some sand and grass, but nothing excessive in any regard.

I truly feel that this was some sort of scam :( The car had no floor mats, so it was hard to get out every last speck of sand/grass. It’s very disappointing. If someone had been at the shop to meet us and told us that the car was dirty…we certainly would’ve rectified the situation as best we could, especially since we returned the car two hours early.

Repeated attempts to contact the company and dispute the $200 have been ignored.

I would caution ANYONE from renting from this company-Wicked Campers.

I suppose in travel, you have good experiences and bad…this was a bad one, but we won’t let it cloud our overall time in Australia.

David and Preston spent the afternoon playing 9 holes on the local par 3. I walked the course with them and it was a fun time.

We had another BBQ for dinner…sad to spend our last night in homey Augusta.

Tomorrow we drive back to Perth and board our flight to Bali. I’m a bit nervous to start our Indonesian/Asian adventure. I’ve not spent any time in this part of the world and have no idea what awaits us!! This is travel though…to experience the unknown!!

Until then!!

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