A short(ish) drive to the coast brought us to Salmon Bay in the d’Enrecasteaux National Park. The view from the lookout is truly stunning. From the headland, crystal clear deep blue water, rolling surf and miles of deserted, golden sand stretches out before your eyes, beckoning you to discover it at close hand. The short winding path down to the beach is fringed with geraniums and a bright purple daisy like flower, which I had yet to identify (all contributions welcome via comments please!). I dipped my feet in the Southern Ocean for the first time in my life and it as … really cold! I suppose it has just rolled in all the way from Antarctica though. This is not a good beach for swimming, unfortunately – there are rip tides and blue jellyfish (just how lethal are they, I wonder… click the link on the photo for more info. What are the black lines on the beach I hear you ask? Tim reckons that’s where the snakes are lying, buried beneath the sand just waiting to come and getcha …. I think we’ll be OK – I’ve decided take the Aussie approach to life – “No Worries!”
At the top of the path back to the lookout, we met a lovey Australian couple (well, she was from Denmark, originally), who taught us a few things about Australia…
Australia is the world’s sixth largest country and its largest island. It is the only island that is also a continent and the only continent that is also a country. It was the first continent conquered from the sea, and the last. It is the only nation that began as a prison.
The guy we met told us his grandfather was a transported convict – convicted of embezzlement. Australia began as a prison in 1787. 1500 convicts were transported originally – mostly small time thieves. Allegedly, one had stolen lace and ribbons, one had nicked a few cucumber plants and another had pinched a book on Tobago – the punishment seemed to be rather out of scale with the crime?! Generally, the term of transportation was seven years, but effectively, it was a life sentence as there was no provision made for a return journey which at the time took a massive 252 days by sea.
As we chatted, a kangaroo jumped out of the bush right by us. It would have made a great photo – the roo, the blue sea and the geranium fringed curving beach road, but three seconds later, he had bounded off. How tall are kangaroos? The ones we have seen so far have been a bit shorter than me, but apparently red kangaroos are taller than the average human and when they stand up tall, it is a sign of aggression. Kangaroos look like the sweetest animal you could ever meet and those of us brought up on “Skippy, Skippy, Skippy the Bush Kangaroooooooo” remember how Skippy used to be a part of the family and watch TV etc. just like a pet dog might. It is best to remember though that they are wild animals and so inherently unpredictable – best to keep a safe distance?
As we chatted some more (it’s so easy to make good friends with Aussies really quickly!) , we exchanged some good humoured banter instigated by discussing the plight of farmers in Australia, who are always whingeing. The conversation raced amicably through whingeing POMS, body line and sanding the cricket ball before ending in a long conversation about photography. Another hour had raced by and crikey … it was nearly pie time (AKA lunch time)! The pies are really great here. They start baking at 3.30 am and sell steadily through the morning so by 12, they are pretty well sold out. No pressure then…!
POHM – Prisoners of his Majesty. Early settlers were transported to Australia as a punishment and became known as POMs for short – i.e. – Englishmen.
We spent the afternoon driving through Karri forest. Some of the huge trees are growing very old and will eventually fall (leaving a huge gap in the forest), but be replaced by younger growth very quickly. Sad but true – even giants grow old.
Vegemite – I thought it was rather bland, surprisingly. Meaty and quite tasty, but nowhere near as nice as Marmite, which I have now started to really miss. It’s a bit like Bovril really. Crocodile Dundee would probably say that it tastes like sh**, but you can live on it!
Tips for Future Travellers:
We were going to fill up on petrol today as we were 2/3 full. The servo had cashed up by 4pm though and so would only take cash or – if you used a credit card – wanted to charge $150 and refund the difference in 2 weeks time. We decided to wait until tomorrow morning – they are open on Sunday, fortunately.
The nearby Yeagarup sand dunes could have been a good place to visit, but you need a 4×4 vehicle and a compressor to access them. The alternative is to book an organised full-day tour, but you need to pre-book and they start early in the morning.
“Everyone is happy-go-lucky and one couldn’t fret about anything if one tried” – DH Lawrence