3rd of June to 8th of June 2011
Deb and her family live in the suburb of Mandurah, about an hour train ride from Perth itself. I spent the first day with the family
at the estuary, and was welcomed to the area by a pod of dolphins that frequent the area, a good start if I say so myself.
Day 2 I headed into Perth and spent some time at the library before meeting some couchsurfers who were interested in heading up to Coral Bay in the next week. I was hoping to meet some folks who would want to do the trip in 2 days and rent a car or something. I had great potential with the kiwi girl who had a friend and wanted to go up for 4 days, meaning they could take the car back with them. Another girl, from Belgium, wanted to take her time going up and spend at least 3-4days on the road, which meant it would end up costing more than the Greyhound bus. We all exchanged numbers and went for lunch. That evening I heard from the kiwi saying her friend only wanted to go the
following weekend, so that option was out. I called Liezy, Belgium, and we decided to keep our ears and eyes open for others and try do the trip together, she had decided 2 days would be ok.
Monday was a public holiday so Deb and I went into Perth and spent the day wandering around and catching up. She is Scottish and I met her at the Ben Nevis hostel in 2000 when I was traveling in the area, we have stayed in contact since and have been able to meet up once since then. Its crazy how random meetings can mean lasting friendships.
While in Perth I made a few contacts with possible travel buddies but by the end of the day none of them had worked out. I called Liezy and we both decided if we had heard nothing by the next morning that we would most likely take the bus.
Tuesday I was supposed to head to Rottnest Island with some of the folks I had met at a hostel yesterday, but woke up with a killer
headache and decided to just hang around the house and catch up with my blog. Deb went to pick up her client, she works with disabled people, and then came back to pick me up. Her client for the day had decided he wanted to go to the beach and have coffee and it would be cool to have
someone new to go with. The beach was stunning and made me feel much better. I called a couple more people to see what was happening, but to no avail, it appeared the Greyhound was the way forward… for 15.5hrs, again I hate long bus rides. I also spoke with the girls who were going to Rottnest Island, turns out the cheap ticket was only available online, and when they showed up they were told it would cost $69, so they decided to spend the day in Fremantle. We headed that way for lunch and I met up with the girls as they explored op shops, 2nd hand stores. I managed to find a skirt for $1 that was brand new with a broken zip, a smart casual shirt, half price for $4 and a good book for $2 (my most exciting purchase).
When we got home around 5pm I went to book my ticket, I was told I had till 6pm to get the special $160 ticket, apparently they were in
Brisbane and that was 6pm east coast time, so my ticket ended up costing $191… ouch! I was set to leave at 7.35am in the morning, which meant I had to get up at 5.30am to catch the 6am train to Perth by 7am.
The bus ride
When I got to the train/bus station I had been told to go to over the phone, you would think I would have been suspicious considering they failed to mention the ticket price conditions, I discovered Greyhound had done it again and I was on the wrong side of town. I frantically tried to catch a cab, none available and rush hour. I called Liezy who was at the bus station, and asked if she could find someone who had a taxi number. I called and the taxi finally showed up 15min later giving me just 10min to get across town. The driver waS from Pakistan and we had a great talk about life and travel and such. He was very sweet and calmed me down. I arrived paid my $17 taxi fee (there goes food money for the day, glad Deb had given me stuff to eat) and ran to the bus arriving at precisely 7.35am. The bus hadn’t even been loaded yet.
We met a very confused Japanese guy by the name of Kazuki, who had a ticket to Exmouth. He was told by the driver that that service had been cancelled a week ago and they would not be able to drop him off anywhere there. You could see the attempt to comprehend what they were telling him, but the fear to truly understand that he would not be able to get to his destination. We told him to come with us to Coral Bay, 2hrs from Exmouth, and that we would figure it out in the morning. I called the hostel to let them know we were coming and that we had picked up a stray.
The bus ride was very long and very tiring, but our drivers were amusing and Liezy and I had managed to get the very front seats. About 5hrs into the 15 Liezy was able to move to a free seat and we both got some shut eye. The 2 drivers took turns every 3 or so hours driving or napping in the back. They would have to do a total of almost 60hrs before arriving at their destination of Broome, get a few hours sleep and then turn around and do it again. Call me crazy but that
just sounds like they are pushing the limits.
At the outpost of Overlander, the turn off for Monkey Mia, we were treated to a beautiful sunset. We also met a guy named Jason, Aussie,
who was heading up the coast from Perth to try get work on the boats and get a direction in his life. Then the last 3 hrs were started. We were running 40min late so would only arrive in Coral Bay after 11.30pm. On this last section you had to be very careful of stray cows
and bouncing kangaroos. the kangaroos apparently don’t have an iris and so are blinded in the headlights and have a nasty habit of jumping the
wrong way. We didn’t see any cows, but on the last loop off the highway towards Coral Bay we found the mob of kangaroos and I merrily started counting them. It involved something like this:
1,2,3……9,10,11 THUMP!, 10…..
I counted a total of 16 minus the one we hit making 15. The driver slowed down dimmed the lights but at the very last minute the roo jumped smack in front of the bus and there was nothing the driver could do without risking rolling the bus. Later when I got out I checked the front and there was no damage or sign that we had hit anything, the driver assured me being hit by a Greyhound killed them instantly… good to know.
I went into my room to discover it appeared full, but it was the guy on the bottom bunk who had all his stuff everywhere, he cleared it off and I attempted to climb into the top bunk, there was no ladder, and promptly fell asleep. Did I mention I hate long bus rides.