Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The 3rd Leg: Western Australia

So we are considering New Zealand, the first leg of our trip, our time with Carolyn and Andrew the second, and then came our time in Western Australia. It was definitely worthwhile and the most adventurous part of our journey! We did some incredible hikes, drove for hours through the middle of nowhere and went snorkeling in the deep sea of the Indian Ocean! I'll get to all that though...

First we flew into Perth and spent a day wandering around the city. We stayed on the beach in Scarborough in a room that overlooked the Indian Ocean. I never thought I would get to say that I've seen the Indian Ocean! It was beautiful, but I have a whole post on Perth prepared to show you in the next couple of days since we came back and spent another night there later. We left there bright and early on Monday morning and set out to go south. Patrick had his eye on the Stirling Ranges and we were hoping to make it to Albany by nightfall.

We arrived at the Stirling Ranges around noon. Literally I think we were the only ones in the entire National Park. I think we may have seen one other car.

Before we even got to the mountains, we had to dodge these crazy emus that ran out into the road. They were hilarious! It was like they ran out, panicked when they saw the cars, and rushed back to the security of the bushes. Emus are very impulsive we learned.
Then we saw our first glimpse of the mountains.
These were different than other mountains we had seen thus far. More similar to our Blue Ridge mountains that we have around here.

And they went on for miles.

We stopped at a few overlooks and even did a hike (although much shorter and simpler than Mt. Olsen Baggee).

We made it to a place in the park called Knoll Bluff (or Bluff Knoll? I can't remember) and the view was breathtaking. We decided to stay and watch the sunset from here.
Because that was another hour or so away, we took a little walk down one of the paths and found another little overlook. We set the timer on the camera and tried to take self portraits.

And made it back just in time to see the sunset over the whole sky.

And that was the night that Patrick hit a baby kangaroo.


Now, he did get up and hop away, but Patrick was a little traumatized. He felt so incredibly bad that he kept insisting that we turn around to make sure it was ok, but I convinced him that we must press on (Does that make me heartless? Sorry!). From then on, though, Patrick proceeded to honk the horn obnoxiously every 10 seconds or so each night at dusk if we were driving (dusk is prime "kangaroos might hop into the road" time). It made him feel at least like he was warning the kangaroo world of his presence and to stay out of the way!

We stayed the night in a little motel in Albany, a beach city with a few National Parks along the coast which had some great beach sights.

We stopped at the famous Albany Blowholes. We were thinking they would actually be holes formed by the rocks, so were surprised that they were huge cracks in the rock that the air came up through. You couldn't really see down in them but you could feel and hear the air!

On the way out of town we stopped at MuzzBuzz Coffee. They had 3 sizes: Small, Large, and RBO. We asked what RBO stood for and the lady nonchalantly replied, "You know, the Really Big One," pointing to a huge cup.
Guess which one we got...

We made a little loop around and starting heading back to Perth. We wanted to spend the night in the Margaret River region, so we enjoyed the drive along the way, stopping and sightseeing when we wanted.

We stopped at a place called Peaceful Bay, which was THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BEACH I HAVE EVER SEEN. Like better-than-a-postcard-this-must-be-what-Heaven-is-like-kind-of-beautiful.

We also stopped and did a Tree Top Walk at a place called Valley of the Giants.
We were so high up that it was pretty terrifying. After we got off the walk, Patrick told me that he had formulated a plan in his mind of what to do if the thing actually collapsed and started falling. The plan included grasping the bars in certain ways to hold on and then climbing down it like a laddar, etc. etc. I told him that I had secretly formed my own plan too which included running like mad and clinging onto the platform for dear life until someone could helicopter me out of there.

Maybe we had been in the car too long...

Safely off the Tree Tops and back into our cozy little car on the ground, we proceeded on with our afternoon of driving and sightseeing.
Coalmine Beach. Lovely little hidden spot.

Are you tired of my sunset pictures yet? Do we ever tire of a beautiful sunset?

And we spent the night in Brussleton in the Margaret River Region at the Royal Palms Hotel.
This is actually the upstairs.

The downstairs had a complete kitchen, dining, and lounge area. We got Domino's that night, which has a totally different menu than our Domino's here. Really fresh vegetables, sundried tomatoes, roasted garlic, etc. It was really yummy. We decided to have a slow morning the next day. We slept in and leisurely got ready and packed the car. Patrick did some schoolwork while I watched their version of the Today show. Great to relax a little before hitting the road back to Perth.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Thursday in K.I.: Big Trip Day

We geared up on Thursday for Big Trip Day! We started referring to it as this when it became clear that we could not handle anymore all day trips for days in a row once we got to Kangaroo Island. So as we started planning, we put all the things that were pretty far away all into one day and spent the earlier part of the week resting and priming ourselves for another big outing with NO NAP! Our plan was to check out the west coast of Kangaroo Island, which included Flinders Chase National Park and all the gloriousness it has to offer.

Our first stops were Vivonne Bay, which Patrick and I like to say with a hardy French accent because it’s just more fun that way, and Hanson Bay. The thing that is most striking about all these beaches is that there are so many of them, and they are all beautiful in their own right. I realize our pictures make them all seem slightly the same but they are not. There is individuality in each of them, which is pretty amazing when you think about it. God just didn’t churn out a bunch of beaches on every coast. They are all different and all magnificent. Each ring out His glory, which I believe is what Jesus meant when he said that if we don’t cry out for His glory, the rocks will. God is the most famous artist.

Vivonne Bay

Here is Uncle Patrick and his little helper exploring Hanson Bay. Notice the pink Little House on the Prairie bonnet that Grandma Herndon made for her granddaughter. She wore it EVERYWHERE!

After the bays, we stopped at the Koala Walk in hopes of spotting a koala!
These wallabies were pretending to be rocks! I can’t believe how close they let us get to them. They were everywhere!

We did see a kaola! Munching away on the eucalyptus tree. They are actually pretty pesky because they eat all the leaves off the trees, which eventually kills the tree. Tricky because the little boogers are pretty cute.

We made it to Flinders Chase late morning and our first stop was Admirals Arch. The seals were snoozing and playing all over the rocks.

Really. ALL OVER. They blended in with the rocks so well it was hard to believe how many there were when you really started looking.

And the Arch.
Amazing and powerful with the waves crashing furiously on the rocks and echoing through the cave.

Patrick could not get over the height of the waves. He must have taken over a hundred pictures of just the waves. They were incredible.

And finally, the Remarkable Rocks

They are HUGE! Perhaps we need some better perspective on their size:

We just kept saying, “They are…. remarkable!” There’s just no other word.

We were about to make our way home, when on a whim we took a right turn to see this square lighthouse. It’s square because it’s so high up anyway, they didn’t need the roundness for the height when it was actually in use.

I looked over towards the side of the lighthouse, and Patrick had found 2 kangaroos. He was quietly approaching them to see how close they would let him get. Pretty close!

We ended the day at Scott’s Cove which has the highest cliffs in South Australia. When we got to the parking lot, the paths were all overgrown and we couldn’t find the way out to the cliffs. We made our way through the brush, which was full of thorns and prickly things, not really knowing if this was such a great idea.
Then the brush sort of cleared out and all of the sudden, we saw this:

It was perfect. The sun was setting, the waves were crashing, the cliffs unbelievably high. 273 meters to be exact. We were again in awe. We all just stopped and stared. It was hard to leave because we wanted to stay and watch the sunset from right there.

Then we remembered we would have to crawl back through the thorns in the dark and we started towards home.

Carolyn had a stew in the crockpot. It was warm and delicious after a chilly day of walking and driving.

After dinner, Andrew took us out into the yard to show us the Southern Cross constellation in the sky. The sky at night is completely different here. A whole different set of stars than what we see. You never really think about these things until you’re actually seeing it. We could see a very bright light that Andrew identified as Venus. Seriously, we could see Venus.

Their friends Gary and Barb came over for an evening of fellowship and coffee later in the evening. We sat around the kitchen table until bedtime talking.

It was satisfying end to another fantastic day.