Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Wheatbelt

Dorothy gets swept up by a tornado, lands in the Land of Oz, looks around, and says “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Phill lands at the Perth Airport, sets off on a road trip across a different Land of Oz, looks around, and says “Oscar, it looks like we’re in fucking Kansas.”

And it did.

I present to you:  Australia’s Wheatbelt.


And lots of it.  Just like Kansas.  Western Australia’s Wheatbelt covers approximately 60,000 square miles to the north and inland from Perth.  Western Australia is the largest wheat producing state in Australia, and the relatively small Wheatbelt accounts for two-thirds of that production.  Aside from wheat, the region also has some livestock and a bit of mining as you edge inland toward the Goldfields.  After that, it becomes semi-arid and then desert.

The Wheatbelt has some major cities, such as the bustling metropolis of Corrigin:

And yes, that was sarcasm above.  With around 1,200 residents, Corrigin is one of the larger cities in the Wheatbelt.  It’s a hub for these parts.  It’s hard for me to imagine anyone living here, but the towns actually got smaller and smaller the further we drove from Perth.  Crazy.

Corrigin is famous for setting the world record for the longest queue of dogs in utes.  For the Americans reading this, I’ll rephrase it this way:  Corrigin is famous for setting the world record for the longest parade of SUVs with dogs in them.  And I’m not even shitting you.

I suppose for a town of 1,200 people, a seven kilometer parade of 699 sport utility vehicles with a dog in each isn’t too bad.  But what’s even more incredible to me is that another town over in Victoria broke the record a few years later (on purpose), so Corrigin reorganized and decided that they had to break the record again, this time with dogs in 1,527 utes.

So, this town has broken the most dogs in utes record twice.  Excitement! (?)

Also, to go along with that longest queue of dogs in utes, Corrigin is also known for its famous dog cemetery:

Started in 1974 by a man who wanted a place to bury his best friend, the Corrigin Dog Cemetery now has around 80 dogs buried in it.

Sadness:  we even found Scooby.

The other big attraction in the Wheatbelt is the Wave Rock.

Part of the larger Hyden Rock, the Wave Rock formed when this portion of the rock was underground and some geological process did something that rotted the rock away in this smooth curvy surface and if you seriously want a geology lesson then you’re going to have to Wikipedia that shit because I don’t quite get it and even if I did it would be far too long to explain here.  But the important part is that Oscar went surfing.

We climbed up top and noticed that other parts of the rock had smaller wave rocks on them – it’s common in this area – and Oscar was certain that parts of this rock looked like Mars.  I can see that.

The views off the top were fantastic – just miles and miles of wheat and not much else.

There was one way that I knew we weren’t in Kansas.  That’s because there was a pub here.  Only in this version of Oz do you get pubs in the middle of nowhere.  I present to you, the very strange looking Ettamogah Pub:

What started as a fictional pub in a cartoon in a magazine, there are now four real ones across Australia, and this one sits in bustling Cunderdin – population 700-ish.

And then, then we saw the fantastic…. Oh wait.  No we didn’t.  There wasn’t all that much else in the Wheatbelt, but the region was something drastically different than anything in Australia that I had seen so far, so I’d definitely recommend a quick drive through if you ever have the chance.  At the end of the day, it was sort of like Kansas a bit, but with fewer people (can you imagine?), and fewer churches, and probably more evolution in schools.  Oh, and dogs in utes.  I doubt Kansas has ever set a world record for the longest parade of dogs in sport utility vehicles.  Just another reason that Kansas is lame.

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