Archive for the 'Esperance Tour' Category

by Squage
on Apr 16th, 2007

Margaret River, Albany and Esperance Tour!


It’s been mentioned by a few people (including Pat) that my previous blog about Heading Bush might’ve been a tad no the long side. The words “War”, “And” and “Peace” were uttered. So hopefully this summary of Pat’s 5 day trip to Margaret River, Albany and Esperance will be a little shorter. If for no other reason than this being only 5 days, rather than 10. (In fact, looking through this I think that is the sole reason – Pat)

An Average Day on the Tour

  • Wake up at about 6am
  • Grab a shower (usually required in order to function at all – Pat, as you know, isn’t exactly a morning person)
  • Pack bags
  • Grab some brekkie
  • Check out of the hostel and get in the bus
  • Sing along to G’day G’day (see below)
  • See lots of stuff
  • Grab some typical tour lunch (i.e. some sandwiches)
  • See lots more stuff
  • Sing along to G’day G’day
  • Get to the hostel
  • Make and eat dinner
  • Drink a few beers
  • Get some kip

As you can see, it’s a very hard life this touring lark. And you think that working in an office takes it out of you.


General Highlights

  • A cool group of people and great tour guide (despite her love of “G’day G’day”)
  • Swimming in crystal clear waters
  • Sunbathing on gorgeous beaches
  • Taking in breathtaking views, occasionally from the top of hills and mountains

General Lowlights

  • Walking/climbing up the occasional hill and mountain (Hey, I actually enjoyed that! – Pat) That’s not what it sounded like when you were half way up them… (…true – Pat)
  • G’day G’day. Every day. At least four times. Because Pat made it obvious he didn’t like it, which kinda inspired Emma Jane (our guide) to play it more. (Psst, secretly I think Pat liked the song, given that he’d always sing along to it…)

Daily Diary

Day One (Thursday 22nd March) – Caves, Fudge and Fire Twirling

  • Pat woke up tired after a rather crap sleep (mmm, hostel between two night clubs anyone?)
  • Following trekking down the street to get to the bus in time, Pat was really happy that it turned up 30 minutes late…
  • Once on board, Emma Jane (EJ) explained about the tour and got everyone to write their names on the windows by their seats – it proved to be a really good way to learn everyone’s names. I’m still a fan of the McDonalds-style name badge myself, but that’s just cos I think it’d be funny seeing Pat with one on.
  • EJ played some amusing tunes, such as “Come To Australia (You Might Accidentally Get Killed)”, “Bloke” (an answer to Meredith Brookes’ “Bitch”) and Pat’s Favourite Song In The World ™: “G’day G’day”. It goes a little somethin’ like this:

    G’day G’day
    How ya goin’?
    Whadda ya know?
    Oh strike a light!
    G’day G’day
    Oh how ya go-o-o-in?
    Just say G’day G’day G’day and you’ll be ‘right!

    Apparently it starts to grate after the 30th time…

  • First stop was the Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre. Unfortunately one key attraction wasn’t at the shore so this was more the Bunbury Coffe And Croissant Discovery Centre for Pat.
  • Some more driving and it was a traditional “Aussie Tour” lunch (i.e. sandwiches) by a 1.8km jetty:
    Busselton Jetty Postcard Picture

  • Then onto Ngiligi Cave. Some facts about Ngiligi Cave:
    • It’s 37m below ground at its deepest point
    • There’s not much headroom in places
    • There’s a claustrophobia-inducing pipe/tunnel for people to climb in/slide down (Pat did, despite being somewhat nervous due to the lack of light or space)
    • There’s a huge cavern with acoustics so good that one of the Australian Symphony Orchestras has played there!
    • There’s lots of CO2
    • There’re a lot of steps
    • Getting up out of the cave is quite tiring due to the above two items (oh, and what with Pat being an unfit sod)
    • It’s very pretty:

    Cavearama Pat In The Caves
    Cool Lighting

  • Following the cave, a visit to Rivendell winery (owned by a big Lord Of The Rings fan) was had, including some wine tasting and the inevitable post-wine-drinking purchase of a bottle of wine for Pat (it’s the best of strategies, it must be said: get people a bit tipsy so they reckon buying more alcohol is a great idea regardless of the fact that their only storage is a rucksack…)
  • Margaret River was next. Pat was expecting a huge, bustling sea side town. What he found was a long, quiet street with shops on. About half a k from the beach. Funnily, he wasn’t too fussed as:
    • There was a fudge shop (with free samples)
    • There was a sweet shop, run by a lady who was brought up in Romford

    Needless to say, some fudge and sweets (apple bonbons, ho yes!) ended up in Pat’s pockets.

  • Finally we ended up in our hostel accommodation near Pemberton. These were basically a couple of shacks with a few dorm rooms in. Each bed had thin blankets and no room had any heating – but hey, it’s Australia so heating’s not exactly needed!
  • A BBQ meal, few beers and watching of EJ doing fire twirling later and it was off to sleep for Pat:

    Emma Jane Plays With Fire

Day Two (Friday 23rd March) – Trees, Elephants and Bad Singing

  • Hang on, did I say something about Oz being too hot for heaters? Well, I lied. Pat was fur king cold last night and was bloody glad to get in the shower, put a jumper (yes, a jumper!) on and get in the heated bus!
  • First stop of the day was at the Bicentennial Tree in Warren National Park. It’s a rather old tree (not sure how old mind (…sigh… – Pat) and rather high – 73 metres in fact!
    That's As Far As I'm Going, Thanks

    The idea is that you climb the tree via the pegs that spiral the tree, ladder-like. Pat didn’t do it. Why not? Well, Pat’s drawn a diagram to help expliain:
    Tree Climb OF DEATH

    Still, he felt annoyed at himself for not doing it, but wasn’t too cheesed off as, well, in his eyes it justy wasn’t safe (even though a 60-something year old lady managed it without any issues… (Oi, did you do it? – Pat) No, but I’ve got no legs. (Smart arse… – Pat) Ah thank you.

  • An hour of driving later and we’d managed to break the land speed records and end up in the northern hemisphere:
    Blimey!  We Came Quite Far!
    Ah ha ha. Ha ha. Ha. Ahem.

  • Shortly after that , another high-tree based activity was encountered – and this time Pat took part:
  • The Tree Top Walk in the Valley Of The Giants took Pat and the gang high up through the magnificent Tingle forest on some cool walkways:
    Pat On The Tree Top Walk The Tree Top Walk
    Tree Top Walk: High Congratulations!  Now BE CAREFUL!

    Once back on Terra Firma a wander around – and through – the bases of the trees was performed:
    Group Shot! Liz Notices The Camera

  • Some lunch and a stop off at a place that made (average, frankly) honey wine and ice cream later and it was to the Elephant Rocks.
  • Why are these called the Elephant Rocks? It’s down to yet more exciting Australian history, this time courtesy of a man named (you’ll never believe this) Sir James Elephant. He and his crew saved a fleet of British ships during the early colonialisation(?) of Australia, when in 1861 he docked his ship and directed his crew to create an enormous bonfire on top of a set of huge rock cliffs, which they kept alight constantly for almost 4 weeks. This acted as the earliest recorded lighthouse in Australia – and possibly the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Or it could just be because the rocks look a bit like Elephants:
    View From An Elephant ...Can You See Why?

  • Next to these was the picturesque Green Pool, which was set to be the swimming point of the day. Alas as the sky had only just cleared up and started warming up, most people declined from entering the icy waters. Pat decided he’d make up for wimping out on the Bicentennial Tree by leading the way into the water – with Sam, EJ and Liz following suit. It was apparently great fun, with lots of jumping/diving from some rocks, but Pat did mention something about three Adam’s apples afterwards…
  • No wonder it was cold, mind:
    We'd Come *Quite* Far South...

  • Some more pretty sights were seen in the afternoon:
    The Gap:
    The Gap
    The Natural Bridge (which apparently could fall down any day…):
    The Natural Bridge
    Some amazing coastline next to the Natural Bridge:
    Coastline By The Natural Bridge
    Some blow holes (which made a hell of a racket, but only sprayed what looked like steam up through the small cracks):
    The Blowhole!

  • Then it was onto the night’s destination: Albany.
  • After a drive around the town (which took all of about 2 minutes) we checked into Albany Backpackers, which was a great deal better than the previous night’s accommodation as a) there were heaters and b) there were proper sheets. Makes a nice difference, that.
  • A (lame) included curry meal later and the gang went out to the local pub to enjoy some bevvies:
    Evening Drinks!
    Before Hannie, Margie, Sam, Stefan and Pat headed next door to a rather shady looking bar that was providing some high quality musical entertainment. Oh no, wait, it was Karaoke night.
    Alas Drinking Leads To Karaoke

  • Disgustingly (Pat was in a state of shock for quite a while) they didn’t have Love Shack, so Pat, Sam and Stefan ended up doing The Time Warp (despite only Pat knowing how it went) and Pretty Fly… (despite only Pat knowing how it went). The latter was a little difficult as it consisted mainly of shouting at a high pitch. Apparently people loved it though. That’s what Pat said anyway. Personally I imagine the pub was on the empty side by the time he’d finished “singing”…
  • Pat stumbled to bed tipsy at midnight only to be woken by Hannie and Margie jumping onto his bed saying “niiight!” and Sam gifting him a dead mouse named “Mr Bo Jangles”.
  • I’m still convinced that he imagined it.

Day Three (Saturday 24th March) – Hangovers, Knackering Climbs and Great Views

  • What Pat needed this morning was a nice lie in. What Pat got was a 6am rise and a walk up a 750m mountain. I’ve no sympathy for him. Mainly because he knew about this before he started drinking the night before.
  • Nevertheless, Pat and the gang (three of whom (you can probably guess which) were also sporting fine hangovers) were taken to the first stop of the morning at 7am, which was at a viewpoint over Albany at the top of Mount Clarence:
    Sunrise? At Albany?  Yes Please!
    My Fave Albany Sunrise Shot

  • A short drive and an easy walk on a promenade later brought them all to a lovely looking Albany beach (and a jetty, whereupon a woman from Sydney who’d decided to sod work and sit by the beach for 3 months was sitting doing some fishing – Pat was impressed):
    Albany Jetty More Albany Jetty Entertainment

  • Then it was onto the Stirling Ranges for the Kill Or Cure™ hike up Mount Trio; a nice 750m-above-sea level mountain.
  • Amazingly, despite sweating bucketloads and feeling like he was going to die on about 5 occasions up the mountain, Pat was one of the first few to the top of the mountain (taking about half the normal time, apparently!) and by the top his hangover had totally vanished – replaced by a) a great feeling of achievement:
    The First Four Up!

    And b) a sense of awe at the sights:
    Rocky Bit Of Mount Trio Western Australia: Quite Flat

    I also decided to take a breather (hey, sitting in a rucksack can be hard going!) and enjoy the view… and as usual I couldn’t help but attract the ladies:
    Thekla Loving The Squage!

  • Funnily enough the trek down wasn’t so hard (despite lots of loose rocks and uneven steps) and when it came to lunch it was rather wolfed down!
  • For the driving-based afternoon (5 hours straight, with a couple of loo stops) Pat sat in the front passenger seat of the bus and spent the time chatting with EJ about Visas, jobs, hobbies, Australia, home and of course annoying Australian songs to do with traditional Aussie greetings… he enjoyed the chinwag and both were impressed that he didn’t fall into a semi-hungover sleep at any point! They were less impressed at the number of locusts on the journey:
    Locusts: Attracted To Buses

  • It was a little evident that Pat was still a bit worse for wear as he attempted to explain the effect of the clocks going back – and us also not needing to leave until 8am (as we weren’t going to be doing that much driving)… he managed to confuse the people who didn’t know what was happening, the people who previously thought they did know and himself. I’m surprised he didn’t take up a career in teaching…
  • Once in Esperance, it was a quick stop off for some alcohol (Pat almost smashing his strongbow bottles on the floor of the bottle shop (I think it might’ve been fate trying to tell him something)) and then onto the hostel for dinner.
  • Following the night before, the evening was a low-key affair so after some lasagna and chips, Pat and the others just sat around the big dining area (which looked somewhat reminiscent to an old school dining hall) and headed back to the huuge dorm (where just about everyone was sleeping) for some well-needed kippage.

Day Four (Sunday 25th March) – French Impressions, Drip Castles and Sammy The Seal

  • A nice lie in until 7am, or 8am, or 6:15am, or whatever time it was in “New Time” was just the ticket and Pat felt a hell of a lot more awake than the previous day.
  • Today was definitely the best of the tour – not only because we were returning to Esperance in the evening and thus didn’t need to pack anything up, but also because it involved some fun climbing, awesome sights and serious chilling out on beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters.
  • If you’re the jealous sort, I’d stop reading now. In fact, I guess I’d just stop reading until some time in mid September, where this blog will be full of Pat bitching about having no money and being back in cold, rainy Essex (La la la, it’s a long way away, not listening… la la la… – Pat)
  • First stop was at Frenchmans Peak (a mere 262m above sea level). It was a cool looking thing:

    Walking up it was much, much easier than the day before due to a number of factors:

    1. Pat was sober
    2. It was about a third of the height
    3. It was an angled rock surface, without loads of bloody stairs
  • Pat, Sam and Liz lead the way to the top, powering up many of the damned steep areas (Pat’s logic was that it was easier to run up them than walk as you gave yourself more momentum… I guess when you’ve got the, ahem, momentum Pat has, it really makes a difference (Look who’s talking, you big round thing! – Pat) Ooh, bitchy!)
  • Once at the top (15 minutes rather than 40 minutes as guided), some panoramic videos were taken (definitely not accompanied by childish French impressions along the lines of “Haw hee haw, diis ees tres manifique, oui oui oui, baguette”, no) and some tasty shots too:
    View From Frenchman Peak
    The Bus

    Pat was quite pleased to be up there:
    Quite Happy To Have Reached The Top

    Once everyone else was up there, a nice group shot was taken:
    The Western Exposure Team At The Top!

    And on the way down we had a wander in the rather cool cave, which cut all the way through the mountain:
    Pat And The Cave

  • Following a climb down, it was on to the beaches! First one was called Lucky Bay, which looked rather tasty:
    Lucky Bay!

    A nice swim later and after Pat showed people up by using EJ’s “Pois” in an incredibly coordinated fashion (i.e. hitting himself in the face, getting tangled and giving up slightly red-faced), we moved towards Hellfire bay – saying hi to a couple of locals first:
    Friendly Neighbours

    Hellfire Bay was just as pretty as Lucky Bay:
    Hellfire Bay Is Quite Nice

    And featured its own friendly locals:
    Hey Mr Lizard!

  • Whilst dinner was on the go, Sam, Liz and Pat sat on the beach playing with “drip castles” (something Liz’s father had told her about years ago). They’re quite fun, actually, and go something along these lines:
    1. Dig a hole in the sand until you reach the water
    2. Scoop sand from the watery bit and drip it bit by bit on a flat bit of sand by the hole
    3. Repeat until you get a “tower” of dripped sand

    Easy and quite fun. Especially in competitions to see who can build the highest (they get a bit thin and fragile as they get higher…)

  • After some tasty burgers (veggie ones, of course) there was some more swimming and lying in the water thinking “Ah, this is the life”… the proceedings marred a bit when Emily managed to get a fly in her eye, which proceeded to bite/sting her inner eyelid twice before buggering off!! Luckily, despite some swelling, she was ok and it had calmed down by the next morning. Still, bloody scary stuff at the time!
  • After some more swimming, sunbathing and general lazing about, we headed back to Esperance and then out to see a local celebrity – yep, a guy from a local station in Esperance called Graham Torrington (you’ll not have heard of him, he does this love songs show on Today’s Best Mix- Esperance FM). Ok, ok, it’s actually a Seal. Not Seal, but a Seal. Called Sammy:
    He loves the crowds! ARRWW ARRWW ARRWW

  • Later on we went along the Great Ocean Drive, saw some kite surfers:
    Wind Kite Surfer Dude!
    A windfarm by dusk:
    Windfarm At Dusk
    And Twilight Beach – at twilight!:
    Silhouetted Windmill

  • Once back in the hostel it was a tasty rice, pasta and BBQ’d veggies meal and another pretty early night. I think Pat’s getting a bit old.

Day Five (Monday 26th March) – Wave Rock, Dead Dogs and Driving. Lots of Driving

  • Following the nice lie in on Day Four, today was something of a shock to the system. Even if the clocks have just gone back an hour, 5am is still 5am.
  • After falling out of bed and mumbling incoherently for a while, Pat and the gang packed, grabbed brekkie and made their way onto the bus and Liz and Pat took position in the front and next-to-front seats for the day’s journey.
  • Today we needed to travel about 700km. Today was mainly spent in the bus. Still, it went quite quickly and there were a couple of stop offs on the way:
    1. Wave Rock
      It’s amazing what the forces of nature can do to relatively soft rock. They can turn it into odd ball-crater things:
      Big Boulder Fun!
      Or even into huge surf-wave objects:
      Everybody's Goin' Suurrfin!

      Wave Rock was pretty damned impressive to see! And of course, as you can see, Pat couldn’t resist the cheesy tourist photo either…

    2. Dog Cemetery
      One group wrote in EJ’s tour survey form that this was the highlight of their tour. It’s a selection of graves, about 2km from a small town, with dogs in. I think that group might’ve been on something. Either that or EJ had hit them all on the head repeatedly for the rest of the tour and finally tired just before arriving. In other words, it wasn’t that exciting. It was shocking though:
      We couldn’t believe that he’s finally gone…
      Also, there was a chair by one of the graves, which was quite sad to see as you could imagine the dog’s owner sitting on it, staring lovingly at the grave for a long while and wishing that his life-long pal was still around to keep him company. Aside from that touching moment, Pat, Sam and some other folk spent most of the time looking for the best dog names.

    3. Toilets By A Kid’s Play Park
      Not normally a highlight of any day, but this was particularly funny as EJ dragged a few of us onto a three-way see-saw, and then proceeded to have a go on one of the springy toys. This went well at first…
      Emma Jane Manages To Look Quite Dignified On A Kid's Park Thing...
      …then not so well:
      ...Then Fails.
      Pure class.

    4. Finally after just a bit more driving we arrived in Perth – the entire bus being directed to do the actions to “Home Amoungst The Gumtrees” (ask Pat when he gets back) whilst at a set of traffic lights, much to the amusement of many other drivers – and dropped everyone off.
    5. A big set of hugs later and Pat was back on his own (well, aside myself) and checked into good ol’ Globe Backpackers. I think he’s ranted about the cramped, dark, hot conditions already so I won’t go into it again.

All in all, a great trip with some cool people – Liz and her mate Melissa are in fact up with Pat here in Darwin, so that’s pretty cool – and it must be said that despite not even being an Aussie (she’s Oirish born and bred) Emma Jane was easily one of the best tour guides Pat’s had. Despite her love of that bloody song…

Right, Pat’s bugging me to go and do something more fun than be in a net cafe so I’d best be off. Til later… byeeee!



Just a quick one (for some reason, despite Squage being the one typing that previous blog entry, I am feeling very unenthusiastic when it comes to writing blogs today) to let you know a couple of things:

  1. Photos from my Esperance Tour are online!
    Browse through them at Their Special Album if you fancy a look. There are some more awesome sunsets, along with lots of nature spotting, views from mountains and, er, our tour guide playing on a kids’ play park ride. Bring it on!

  2. My week in Perth is over :-(
    I’ve been spending a lot of this week in Internet Cafes, but around that I’ve seen Hot Fuzz (excellent (but may need to see it again to judge if it’s better than Shaun)), Wild Hogs (poor), had some awesomely tasty food, swam in the ocean at Fremantle and visited a few pubs (the best by far being the awesome Little Creatures Brewery/Bar/Restaurant in Freo).
    Typically, I’ve just started to enjoy this city and now I’m leaving! (Oh, but I’ve not enjoyed the very-cramped-and-noisy Globe Backpackers. Don’t stay there. It smells of rain and lies (i.e. it’s not good)).

  3. The Maggie River etc Blog will appear soon…
    …Well, in about 11 days anyway. That’s because…

  4. I’m off on my Perth to Broome tour tomorrow!
    Wooh! Looking forward to it a lot – even if it does mean hearing more of that bloody “G’day G’day” song (all will become clear when I blog in Broome)…

Righty, so it’s off to get some dinner and a nice early night (to then be kept up by people in the outdoor hostel communal area until 4am) in preparation for catching the bus at Stupid O’Clock tomorrow morning!

Take care – speak to you soon and have a Very Happy Easter!


Pat :-)