Friday, November 21, 2008

Kalbarri never hosted the Winter Olympics

At last I managed to escape from Perth and the questionable "hostel" there. Now that I cannot be beaten up in a dark corner of the place anymore, I'll be happy to reveal that I'm talking about The Grand Backpacker Central in downtown Perth. I look forward to writing a report on the place, although I'm not sure whether I should submit it to www.hostels.com or to the local police!

My first stop out of Perth was The Pinnacles near Cervantes. It's just thousands and thousands of pointy rocks, possibly fossilized tree trunks, in the middle of a small, yellow desert. It's a great place to visit, especially if you're into vivid colours and phallic symbols in general.

When I left the place, my camera told me that during my stay I had taken on average two photographs per minute. I must have enjoyed seeing it very much. Poor me, who sooner or later will have to go through all my travel photos and pick some of them for the rest of the world to see...

I moved on to Kalbarri, a cute and picturesque little fisherman's village with about two thousand inhabitants. It's located some 600 kilometres north of Perth. Since there aren't really that many alternatives, this means that lots of Perthians drive up there for the weekend, easily doubling the number of people in town.

The coziness of the place is in the details; it's nigh on impossible to buy even something as simple as a bread or a roll without having to spend half an eternity discussing the weather with the baker's wife. Oh, and in the afternoon, hundreds of pink cockatoos or something fly in to eat grass from the lawns in the village, so that the locals don't have to do any mowing. Very practical!

The beaches are nice and the streets see little traffic. So this is the kind of place where parents can let their children be children and run freely around, knowing that the worst that can happen is that they will fall and get a scratch on the knee. Or they could step on a snake, be bitten and die. Or they can fall in the water and be swiftly carried off to Africa by rip currents. Or they can be eaten by sharks. Or be horrifyingly burnt by strange, jello-y creatures of the sea. Or be struck by any of the many other surprises that Australian nature has in store for people equally or less careful than the late Steve Irwin.

I went for a walk of about 20 kilometers along the coast just south of Kalbarri. It's a national park with tall cliffs and ample supplies of coastal bush. It took nine hours to complete! That's partially because I had a talk with a park ranger about venomous snakes before I started walking, but mainly because there was so much to see along the trail: A super-blue ocean, whales on the move south to Antarctica, dolphins hunting for fish, kangaroos looking goofy and/or jumping about, and last, but not least, scenic viewpoints near parking lots, where you can enjoy incredible numbers of skirts flying straight up as the strong winds from the sea do their best.

Kalbarri is a windy place. At night the wind howls so much that you can only barely hear the snoring in the hostel dorm!

Next up is Monkey Mia. Even just the name of the place makes me want to go there.
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