Saturday, September 17, 2005

WA Coast day 1

The Pinnacles Desert

The only real way to see the coast is to get on a tourist bus and be driven about - at least if you can't hire a big 4WD and do it yourself. I booked myself on the Easyrider bus tour and had a four-day trip up the coastline of Western Australia from Perth to the northern reef destination of Exmouth. They do love those UK place names in Australia. It was very similar to the trip I took in New Zealand - the same kind of 'jump-on, jump-off' idea, but again I hadn't the time to jump off so I did the trip in one go. Actually as I write this they are still going as the trip continues to Darwin and takes almost two weeks.

The first stop was the Pinnacles Desert - aptly named as you can see. Hundreds of thousands of limestone pillars are scattered around the sand, and you can wander around anywhere you like. Early ship-bound explorers looking at the land thought it was a ruined city, which maybe explains why they kept crashing into reefs and sinking. It was very impressive, and I could have spent hours there - but bus travel being what it is we were off after half an hour. Still, it was worth seeing. The Easyrider buses run every four days - so if you wanted to jump off you really needed plenty of things to keep you occupied until the next one turned up.

The main difference I noticed with the NZ trip (and of course this is blindingly obvious) was the sheer distances involved. In NZ we would stop every hour or so and look at something, but here in WA there was hour after hour of arid scrubland and bush rolling past the windows. Have a look at an atlas - Western Australia is simply huge. It's the same size as India - but with 0.5% of India's population. This is a big, empty country. But a spectacular one...