18. Rocks

I have a dream… a dream of a world in which the cheapest flights don’t require me setting the earliest alarm in existence on my phone.

– Using Martin Luther King Jr for a blog opening – real original Alex.

Who’s this nutter talking to himself on a blog? Anyway, this is all a distraction from the fact we have left Sydney! That’s right, we’ve moved (Opera) house, crossed that (Harbour) bridge and broken the Bond(i).

– New low for puns there Al

After finishing up at work and saying our goodbyes, we found ourselves in Sydney Airport on the very early morning of Monday the 24th of October ready to fly.

While we’re here, how about a riddle? What do you get when you combine the most expensive city in Australia, airport prices and hunger? 

Answer: $11 out of your funds for a chocolate croissant and a coffee. It’s not actually a riddle. I was just mildly outraged.

Anyway, our destination was Perth, Western Australia. 5 hours flight from Sydney, a flight time  made slightly more bearable by the surprising addition of in-flight entertainment on a domestic plane. (Yes, 5 hours is a domestic flight, because Australia.) After a healthy dose of Dads Army, The Breakfast Club and half of Tinker, Tailor Soldier, Spy we were all of sudden 2 time zones and 3,600km away from where we started. As if by magic (or possibly as if by plane, who knows).

Anyway with backpacks on we set out for our first journey into the real travelling world. We then promptly realised we had less than $10 cash on us, found a cash machine, withdrew some cash and thanked the lord they installed a cash machine that didn’t charge us at Perth Airport Domestic Terminal. Then we started on our first journey into the real travelling world. 

Admittedly, we were getting on a bus from the airport to go to the lovely house of the very generous Tracy along with her family Gavin, Ollie and Ella, so it was hardly Bear Grylls. Nevertheless, I was still proud of us.

So through the joy of the internet we found a bus route to take us to Tracy’s. It is fantastic how being able to google anything means human contact is now virtually unnecessary wherever you are. No asking for directions, no tips on accommodation, just bang it into Google, get your head down, pay the money and get out of there. The internet is truly a wonder (and also will be the death of socialisation, but it’s a small price to pay).

So we spent a lovely 2 days in Perth, mostly enjoying the city’s abundance of greenery and lack of the car smoke which had started to characterise our Sydney city centre living.

Unfortunately we had to leave Perth before we’d really started, as we were getting a coach to start our hop on hop off trip up the western coast of Australia. Luckily we’ll be back to see it all properly in 3 weeks, but for now, our journey took us to a coach stand in the centre of Perth at 9.30pm (sociable time to be starting a trip) on Tuesday the 25th of October.

One quick point before we leave Perth which will shock everyone that knows me – Tracy very kindly made us vegetable curry for tea and not only did I eat it all, I absoloutely loved it. I’m not sure whether my mum will be absoloutely ecstatic to know that I’m eating vegetables or heartbroken to realise it was this easy all along. 

Let’s go back to Perth at 9.30pm shall we? There is precisely one hop on hop off bus up the western coast and it’s called integrity coachlines. So as it arrived we were a little unsure of what to expect… 

Well, we had so many new experiences. A woman who stunk of a curious mixture of fags and BO, her crying child whose name honestly seemed to be ‘Blehbleh’, a charming woman who was hacking up and spitting on the floor every 5 minutes and a woman who was madly (perhaps a little too) excited about the fact they had USB ports on the bus.

Katie immediately made a wise mental note to buy earplugs as soon as possible. Possibly nose plugs too. At one hilarious point, another normal person got on the bus and looked around with horror and bewilderment at his situation etched upon his face. We made brief eye contact to ensure we knew we weren’t alone in this and then quickly settled in to our new cells. 

Did I say cells? I meant chairs.

A lot of these people seemed to be going to Carnarvon, which we had cut out at the last minute on Tracy’s advice that it was highly worth missing. We can never thank her enough for not subjecting us to what we imagine to be a town exclusively made up of MegaBus passengers. (Other budget coaches around the UK are available.)

Luckily given it was late all our new friends quickly dozed off as Despicable Me played on the TV in the coach, so it wasn’t all bad. After a couple of ibruprofen (for knee pain, I wasn’t that desperate)  I quickly joined them.

The next thing I knew we were arriving in Cervantes, our first stop, at twenty past midnight. Cervantes being in the middle of nowhere, the cumulative population of living and awake humans at the time was 2 (and probably a million deadly animals, this is australia after all). 

After a very cold and quick walk/run combination to our hostel, trying our best to admire the insanely lovely night sky, we arrived at our hostel, spent 10 minutes finding the late check in box and eventually got into our room ready to collapse like Cristiano Ronaldo after a fly swishes past his ear in the penalty area.

The next morning we woke up ready to see Cervantes in the daytime. Remember how quiet I said it was at midnight? Turns out that was rush hour. Cervantes town centre constitutes a newsagents and post office, a general store (yes this is the Wild West) and a liquor shop. The population is 467 (469 for the two days we were there) and boy can you tell. But all this means the views and coast are as untouched and unspoilt as you can want and look a bit like this;

Now, these views are lovely, but after our trip to this lookout and a walk to a lake with some stromatolites in we had completed 3 of the top 5 things to do in Cervantes. I know you’re now wondering what stromatolites are. They are biological structures which are incredibly important to the presence of all life on earth as we know it. They also look like cow  pats:

Tell me I’m wrong about the Cow Pat thing…
So after cow pat gate we quickly realised that there wasn’t much else to do in Cervantes other than drink/ponder the futility of existence. We headed back to the hostel to have a nutritious lunch of crisps and ginger nuts and await our pick up for our sunset tour to the number 1 activity in Cervantes and arguably the only reason the place isn’t a ghost town – The Pinnacles.

The Pinnacles are put simply, thousands of rocks randomly sticking out of a desert, itself randomly placed in the middle of a lot of green bushland. You can’t ask for a more eloquent description than that. 

They’re interesting in a number of ways (honestly, just bear with me); 

1. They shouldn’t be there really, it’s a desert in a very green landscape

2. They seem to have been known to Dutch explorers in the 1700’s, but disappeared for a few hundred years and reappeared in the 20th Century.

3. Nobody knows how they got there or why they are there. Nobody on earth. Considering we know more about the private details of Kim Kardashian’s life, I find that totally maddening. 

Anyway we were picked up by the lovely people at Jurien Bay Adventure Tours (remember the name, it’s important later) to head to The Pinnacles. After a drive around the desert and some photo ops with some of the aforementioned pinnacles, we watched the sun set over the desert and a very good first day.

Picture for sale for any free food really, I’m not fussy
My god that was cheesy. Sorry all.

Thursday came and after checking out of the hostel (as our bus was at 20 past midnight that night) we headed out to see what else Cervantes had to offer.

You can probably guess how this went for us, given earlier descriptions of the town. The extent of our findings was a bad poem accompanying a slightly less worse lighthouse sculpture:

It doesn’t even rhyme

At this point we were a little lost and running out of options; if Cervantes was a one horse town we’d ridden the horse, killed the horse, flogged the dead horse and buried the flogged dead horse. 

To our rescue came Kass from Jurien Bay Adventure Tours, who rang us with an offer to go sandboarding and 4 wheel driving that afternoon. It was an offer we literally could not refuse.

As a result, around 60 minutes later we found ourselves in this situation;

At the start line and they’re raring to go
Poor start from Alex and Katie pulls into an early lead
And she’s flying now! What can possibly go wrong….

What’s this? Trouble for the leader and the momentum generated by Odlin’s beer belly is pulling him back…
Oh No! Disaster at the last! He’s come through for an undeserved win after a fall. What scenes here on a sand dune in the middle of nowhere!

The winner of this race remains in dispute. I say it was me, while Katie says it wasn’t a race in the first place and I nearly crashed into her and to stop being so bloody silly. 

After finishing off with a drive along the beach as the waves rolled in, we headed back to the town of Jurien Bay. We were supposed to be taken straight back to Cervantes, but as Jurien Bay was like Sydney or London compared to the ghost town of Cervantes, Kass very generously let us have a look around and go to a shop that wasn’t a historical relic, before dropping us back to our hostel.

All that was left to do that night (literally, all we could do really) was cook our tea and relax until midnight to get the coach. For me this involved a book and some excellent TV put on by an elderly Australian lady – something called Murdoch Mysteries which I have never before watched and involved something in Toronto and a lot of Egyptian things in my episode. Didn’t really take it in. For Katie this time involved a nap. Which was probably the more sensible option, given that we’re currently on a bus overnight and sleep is being mischeviously evasive. Maybe its the suspense. Maybe it’s the suspension. Who knows…

So you’ve caught me up. It’s 4:32am and the next adventure at Monkey Mia awaits. For now I need to see if I can add to my 2 hours sleep so far tonight. Here goes nothing!

Alex Odlin would like to assure all readers that no horses were harmed in the writing of this blog. About 59 flies were killed and a few ants stepped on, but who’s going to miss them? 

Accommodation: Cervantes Lodge, Cervantes

Clean and very friendly backpackers with good facilities. Unfortunately closing in January so… bugger.

Tours: Jurien Bay Adventure Tours

Brilliant fun, very flexible and easy going, excellently priced and run by enthusiastic and generally lovely people Kass and Kriss. 

Don’t Miss: The Pinnacles, Sandy Cape

Maybe Do Miss: Lake Thetis, Cervantes 


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