Monkey Mia

I don’t know if place names get much sillier than ‘Monkey Mia’. It just soundsĀ dumb. And very touristy. The actual history behind the name isn’t fully know.

It was indeed a very touristy place (existing really for one big reason, which I’ll get to), but also a very pretty place. And when you are up before 6am, it’s also a very quiet place.

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Kalbarri National Park

After an early breakfast we set out for the day, this time making the short drive to nearby Kalbarri National Park (Australia has a ton of National Parks!). Here we would be spending our entire morning hiking and exploring Kalbarri, notable for some nice gorges. It was proving to be another stellar weather day.

Our first taste was the Z-Bend section of the Murchison Gorge…named because I guess it looks like a Z from above.

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Pinnacles and Sandboards

I debated back and forth quite a while on what to do in Western Australia. The problem with travelling the state is that, like most of Australia, is that is is massive, remote and often difficult to get around. I originally had just planned to see Perth and Fremantle in order to save my money for the East Coast. Once I got there and starting hearing about the West Coast, especially further north…my resolution broke and I decided to join a tour. And not just a short tour either, this would be a 14 day monstrosity covering 6,000km and seeing many of the highlights scattered across the vast expanse of Western Australia.

To that effect I found myself on a sunny late-September morning boarding a small van and heading north. Our first destination was the sand dunes of Lancelin.

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The Crown Jewel of Perth

For being the most remote, isolated large city in the world, Perth doesn’t feel like it. The population of ~1.75 Million likely has something to do with that – Perth isn’t small. It has all the usual amenities and conveniences of living in a large modern metropolis with a few surprises as well. Kings Park was most decidedly the best surprise.

I awoke one morning and put my walking shoes on (which oddly look a lot like my lazy-day shoes, my hiking shoes and my dress shoes). My first stop was the Swan River, which runs beside the downtown area of Perth and connects the city to the sea. At least it did when the town was first formed – Greater Perth now sprawls all the way to the Indian Ocean, some 10km away from the downtown. On the river lies this oddity:

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Exploring the Yuppie Wasteland

The next sunny day I was out and about in Fremantle again, this time hitting the beaches. To be honest, there wasn’t much more to Fremantle that I wanted to see, the city was somewhat of a disappointment. Many had mentioned it as a great place to stay and find work, relax in, etc. While I guess I could understand that to a certain extent, the denizens that took to Fremantle were hippies, yuppies and druggies, at least in my hostel (the highest rated one in the area) and surrounding area (the main part of Fremantle). Not to mention the hostel was a disaster and in rather squalid shape. I’m not entirely sure where the high reviews of the place came from. So in general, I was pretty exasperated with Freo.

On the other hand, the beaches lived up to their billing as fantastic.

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The Long Ride West

It was time to head to Perth. I boarded the Indian-Pacific train in the evening. Following my eventful day and given my continuing cold, I pretty much passed out as soon as the train was moving. I awoke the next morning to find myself crossing the Nullarbor Plain.

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