Beaches, Banksia and Beasties

Esperance is a port town with a pretty name and a pretty beach of fine white sand that seems to go on forever. It was so nice to stand under a wonderful hot shower and wash away the heat and grime of the past few days, and to dip my toes into the Southern Ocean and take long walks along the beautiful beach.

After a well-deserved dose of quasi-civilization and stocking up on supplies, we plunged on towards Albany, stopping on the way at Mason Bay, a bush camp situated at the end of a long, red corrugated road.

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The water was clear, calm aqua, the sand was powdery white, the sun was beating down in a good way, and we enjoyed a wonderful long walk along the beach until I felt the effects of sunstroke and ended up in a panadol-induced 3 hour afternoon nap, which was equally wonderful.

The following day was not so glorious, and we woke to dark clouds that became darker, and then the rain began, so we decamped in record time and got the hell outa Dodge before the red roads became a quagmire.

I loved the drive under a ceiling of grey, with low forests of fierce-looking Banksia men, a large brown snake slithering across the road in front of us (no – we didn’t stop for a photo…) and the occasional emu and kangaroo in the distance (although we came close to skittling one that crossed the road in front of us).

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The scenery gradually became greener and flatter and more lush, and dirt roads to properties varied with the wealth of the property. Some were rutted and pot-holed leading to small fibro cottages close to the highway, with broken cars and machinery strewn around the yard with surrounding barren patches sustaining a few animals. Other paths had a stylish brick surround at the entrance with a grand name emblazoned in wrought iron, then tall tree-lined substantial paths leading to large houses surrounded by tall trees adjacent to well-fenced green paddocks with plump animals grazing happily.

The skies opened and we had a little trouble navigating our way to our bush camp on a river inlet within easy walking distance to the sea.

Every time the drizzle paused hungry mosquitoes came visiting us, and it was with some relief that we finally closed ourselves in after setting up the van. But this is a pretty place! Rain or no rain, we are going to enjoy it! So we set out in the drizzle towards the beach some 10 minutes walk away along a narrow rutted sand path, and emerged onto a wide shore with angry waves and the wind ripping at our hair and clothes and eyes, and it was …..perfect!

Experiencing Australia is so much more than lying in the sun on balmy days, and we feel enriched by the diversity that Torbay Inlet has given us. We were awoken this morning by birds with the purest whistle, and we lay awake in our snug little van enjoying their song as the rain rhythmically dripped from the trees onto the roof. The birds from yesterday chattered in different tones and rhythms, and we really felt that they were communicating with each other in quite a sophisticated way. After breakfast we set out on a 5km walk along a bush track that ended at a lush green paddock with grazing black bulls, spying on the way poo belonging to kangaroos, emus, rabbits and wombats. Tristan particularly likes trying to eat emu poo – who knows why…..

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There are some European back packers in a psychedelic-looking van camped in tiny flimsy tents nearby, and I think they had a pretty uncomfortable night, probably tempered somewhat by the alcohol they consumed before retiring. They sang a lot – that’s why I mentioned alcohol. We talked this morning with a young German guy who has been in Australia two months and has already travelled from Sydney to Darwin to Perth and is on his way back to Sydney. That’s a lot of travelling in two months – on a motorbike!

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Our next stop will be in a caravan park; we need to dry out our groundsheet and awnings and clothes – and a hot shower will go down well too! But we are far better off than the poor sodden backpackers.

Older too. When you are young getting cold and wet doesn’t matter too much.

Life is good.

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