Day 1 of Western Australia started out with something I hadn’t seen in a long time:
Due to the time change, our 5 hour flight landed in Perth at 8am. We quickly grabbed our rental car and decided to stop at a local shopping mall on the outskirts of Perth to grab a quick breakfast before the 5 hour drive down to Albany. And this mall that we found was just full of fat people. It’s something that I hadn’t seen in a long time.
All of my Aussie friends have told me that Australia now rivals the United States for the percentage of obese people, but living in a wealthier part of Sydney with lots of young people, gay people, and beach-goers of all sorts, most people keep in good shape (except for me of course). But here – in the inland suburbs of Perth – probably in an area that’s not all that well-to-do, there were people of all shapes and sizes – namely plump, chubby, rotund, and grotesque. The general setting of the mall – with its tacky stores (i.e. K-mart) and food court and fat people walking around – just reminded me of something straight out of Texas. It was like a blast from the past. I imagine Sydney’s western suburbs are similar to this. I’ll stay away from them.
Later that day we arrived in Albany – the first British settlement in Western Australia and a sizeable city (by Australian standards) with a population of over 30,000. After checking into our low-budget motel, I realized that I didn’t have anything planned for the afternoon, which is strange because I’m normally a control freak and most days’ itineraries were planned weeks in advance. I handed the reins to Cade and Karen. After consulting the iPhone and a few tourist brochures that they snagged, we headed to the coast. First stop: blowholes!
The blowholes are caused by waves that force water up through cracks in the rock and then they blow into the air in a grand performance. Sadly, the waves weren’t strong enough to make the blowholes blow that day, so we headed back up the hill to our car. On the way, we were greeted by a friend…
My first snake in Australia. I’ll call him Mr. Slithers. My original name for him was Mr. Getthefuckoutofhere, but now that I’m in the safety of my own home, I’ll give him a kinder, more gentle name. We waited for a few moments before Mr. Slithers slithered off into the bush, but rest assured that I was on the verge of panic for the remainder of the short hike back to our car.
Next stop: the Gap! I was all excited thinking I might get to buy some new jeans or a sweater vest, but then I realized that “the gap” was a gap in the rock where waves crash in a nice display.
This is where Antarctica broke off from Australia several million years ago, and signs all along the southwestern coast of Australia remind you of that.
From there it was just a moment’s walk to a natural bridge.
Cade and I got adventurous and climbed down some rocks and ran across to stand on top of the natural bridge despite the signs warning us not to. Actually, Cade got adventurous and I just went along so I would have a better excuse for bailing on whatever more adventurous thing we were sure to encounter in the subsequent days. As my bad luck would have it, I was wearing flip-flops and scraped my toe. That’s the last time I ever leave a sidewalk.
Then we asked some nice tourists to take a photo of the three of us because I was determined to get a shot of all 3 of us together every day of the trip (I only missed one day).
And then I got a photo of Karen trying to dance like a duck or something.
On the way back to the city, we stopped by the Albany Wind Farm to have an educational moment, learn about how wind turbines power Albany, and take a nice walk around the premises.
We checked out a local beach, arrived back in Albany, and decided to pop into one of the local pubs for a beer before we had dinner and pass out from exhaustion. I was determined to try a local beer, so after perusing the taps at the bar, I spotted what appeared to be a local Western Australian beer that I had not seen before. I thought I’d ask the barmaid what type of beer it was…
Me: Excuse me, what type of beer is the Swan Draught?
Barmaid: It’s a full-strength beer.
Me: ::confused deer-in-headlights look::
Barmaid: ::facial expression packed full of stupidity::
I’m not sure if she was referring to the alcohol content of the beer or the calorie content of the beer, but either way, that was not the answer I was expecting, and really, people should wear signs warning you that they have no idea about anything so that you won’t ask them anything and risk getting slapped in the face with stupid. After clarifying that I wanted to know if it was a porter, a pilsner, a stout, or a pale ale, etc. her facial expression went from one full of stupidity to one of complete and utter confusion.
She had no idea what I was talking about. That’s ok. I got the beer anyway.
Luckily, it was good. Swan Draught FTW!