Facing the Sunset

Seashells Apartments

I’ll not be having a holiday this year. That’s absolutely fine, I’m not feeling hard-done-by.

I’m going to be away for a couple of days later in the month, volunteering for the National Trust at CountryFile Live, Castle Howard. I’ll be camping there overnight – so almost a holiday!! We get our mileage paid, and the camping is free – and it sounds like the whole weekend is going to be immense fun.

Let’s call it a short working holiday. That sounds good.

And I have to mention one of my lovely Followers, who happens to run an AirBnB on the West Coast of Ireland (http://bit.ly/2KfTUtG) and who offered me free accommodation if I wanted a bit of a break. If I hadn’t landed the Explainer job, I would have taken her up on the offer. And just knowing that someone who didn’t even know me would do that for me meant so much, it really did.

But this time last year, we were in Perth, Australia, for three weeks. Perth is on the west coast of Western Australia, the Sunset Coast.

My step-daughter lives there, and this was our third visit. Visit #1 was in November 2015, and while we were there my step-daughter and her man got engaged. Visit #2 was December 2016 – for the wedding. And visit #3 was in August 2018 following the birth of baby. Not to be confused with the birth of the latest Grandbaby, which I wrote about in Put the Kettle On

After three visits, we know the area pretty well. Seashells is an apartment complex close to the beach, and also handy for the supermarket, the bottle shop, bars and restaurants, and not far from where my step-daughter lives. We’d looked at it on previous visits, and said, ‘Next time…’

We left the UK during one of our hottest summers on record and arrived in Australia during one of their coldest winters on record.

The first week was dreadful – wind, rain, even hail. The squalls were coming in across the Indian Ocean, and the first thing they hit was our apartment window. It was cold. In the same way that our UK houses aren’t built for hot weather, Australian houses aren’t built for cold weather. No central heating.

The second week, we headed north (which in the Southern Hemisphere means warmer). During the Australian summer it’s just too hot for Poms up north, so we thought we’d grab our chance while we were there during the winter. We’d planned a trip to Monkey Mia, on Shark Bay – which has nothing to do with monkeys, or even sharks, and a lot to do with dolphins.

I spent some time planning the journey before we left home. Distances in Australia are huge. It was a round trip of 1050 miles. I drove all the way, which I have to say I’m quite proud of.

The Pinnacles

Day One – Scarborough Beach to Jurien Bay, via The Pinnacles (one of my favourite places on Earth). The thing to do in Jurien Bay is eat crayfish, so that was lunch sorted. Then Jurien Bay to Geraldton, which is a surprisingly big town – lots of choice of places to stay and places to eat.

Day Two – Geraldton to Monkey Mia. I’d looked at the map, and there was nothing there. Nothing. To quote Google maps – ‘Sorry, your search appears to be outside our current coverage area for driving.’

My step-daughter’s husband’s step-father said, ‘You have to stop at the Billabong Roadhouse’. I thought he meant ‘have to’ as in, ‘You have to see St Paul’s if you visit London’ – but no, it was more in the sense of, ‘There are no other options’.

The Billabong Roadhouse is, quite literally, the only thing on that stretch of road. It’s two hours north of Geraldton and it was signposted the whole distance – because there was Nothing Else. That’s like Watford Gap Services being signposted from Leeds.

As you can imagine, it’s a bit of an institution – http://www.billabongroadhouseonline.com.au/

From the Roadhouse, it was another two hour drive to Monkey Mia.

Day Three – we arrived bright and early so as to be there for the first feeding session. They feed the dolphins, but in a very eco-friendly way. They don’t feed every dolphin every day, and even the ones they feed are only given five fish each, which is a tiny fraction of their nutritional need. This means that they don’t get lazy and stop hunting – but it does mean they come and allow themselves to be seen, which of course brings visitors and much-needed money into the area. They came in really close, within touching distance. It was hard to know if we were looking at them or if they were looking at us.

Are we looking at them, or are they looking at us?

Day Four – back to Geraldton, via the Billabong Roadhouse (we felt like regulars now!!). Coffee, pie, loo, fill the car up, get sweets for the journey, buy a souvenir T-shirt. All of life’s essentials.

Day Five – back to Perth.

That was the end of our second week, and now the weather was starting to warm up just a bit. Not hot by Australian standards, but perfectly pleasant for Brits from the North of England. Much more conducive to getting out and about – Kings Park, Fremantle, wineries, breweries, walks down on the beach, watching the sunset from the apartment.

Watching the sun set on the Sunset Coast

We’d had a pleasant time. We’d loved seeing the baby (and his Mum and Dad), we’d visited some new places, done a road trip, explored some favourite spots. We’d enjoyed drinking Long Blacks and eating smashed avocado.

But by the time we were heading for home, I had a sense that our marriage might be nearly over. I also had a sense that, if it was, I probably wouldn’t mind too much. It wasn’t dark yet, but the sun was setting.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. anglosvizzera says:

    I love hearing these kinds of accounts of Australia, rather like Bill Bryson’s book “Down Under” – describing it ‘as it is’.

    Do you think your step-family will come over here to visit at some point?

    My ex-husband had “rellies” in Oz who always seemed to be popping over here to visit whereas he and his parents could never afford to go there. Eventually, his mum got fed up with never going to visit her cousin over there, his dad never really enjoying being anywhere away from home (and Australia being just a little too far if he really wanted to go home), so we all persuaded her to go on her own at the age of 70. And she did!

    She stopped overnight in Singapore and said it was the cleanest place she’d ever been, and had a fantastic holiday in Australia. Her husband, my ex-father-in-law had been left with some previously-made meals in the freezer and a list of instructions – his culinary skills being limited to opening a tin of baked beans!

    Anyway, I think it did the both of them a lot of good 🙂 and we were very proud of her achievement, as was she!

    Like

    1. I’m very much in favour of being tied down by what other people want (or more often don’t want) to do. Like you mother-in-law – if there’s something you need to do, just do it. And if you need to do it on your own, do it anyway!!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. anglosvizzera says:

    Just looked at the place in Ireland – looks lovely, especially for a garage!!

    The place name, Lahinch, seemed very familiar to me – I went on holiday there about 23 or so years ago with my then husband and our then three children (ie now four children), my parents and one of my sisters and her youngest son – and I’m pretty sure we stayed in Lahinch. It was a lovely place, near the Cliffs of Moher – where my mum accidentally left her handbag on a wall when we left…but when we got back to our rented house, I drove back and someone had handed it into the gift shop, all intact!.

    We visited Bunratty Folk Park, very interesting, and the beach. Was a bit cold and windy to do any swimming really – the Atlantic isn’t the warmest sea in the world – but the kids enjoyed it anyway. I discovered the ‘modern’ folk group “Planxty” and bought a Bodhrán (and a video of how to play it!)

    On the way back to Dun Laoghaire to get the ferry, we met a man driving the wrong way down the dual carriageway…that was a bit unnerving!

    Oh yes, and I recall the day we left Holyhead for the holiday was the first time I ever bought a lottery scratchcard – and won a tenner! Haven’t been very lucky since then though, so I don’t buy them any more. Although, I did contribute to a lottery syndicate at work for several months – and two weeks after I left, they won £20,000! Seems I was never meant to win the lottery… 😦

    Liked by 2 people

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