Sunday, March 25, 2007


Western Australian people are some of the loveliest, most helpful and friendly people I have ever met. Nothing is too much trouble. This is in part due to the extremely laid-back Australian lifestyle, which can be summed up in two very common phrases, used in response to almost anything - 'no worries' and 'no drama'.
Personally I have quite a lot of worries. No internet being one of them. K still has dial- up (?), which is about as useful as giving me a pen and writing paper with which to communicate. Then there is the heat (on average 35 degrees, which means I have a suntan! Nah, just kidding - I'm RED), crawling wildlife (gardens containing poisonous redback spiders and snakes), and flying wildlife (32 mosquito bites and counting).

The TH has taken to all this like a kangaroo to the outback and has been whizzing around barefoot and bare-chested in a whole series of borrowed cars (people are so generous here they lend their cars more readily than New Yorkers would give their best mate a cigarette ). So last week he borrowed a 4-wheel drive Nissan Patrol affair (which looked like it had had a long career as a getaway car in B movies), and we ventured into the outback for 3 days, driving south to Margaret River. Our truck had no air-conditioning (unless you count the passenger door, which was hanging off one hinge), the windscreen wipers didn't work and the spare wheel kept falling off the back. But no worries, because the population is something like one person per 1000 sq miles here, so we saw absolutely nobody for something like 150 kilometres of sparse cacti-covered dustbowl. That is until we stumbled upon a roadside cafe called, aptly, ' The Centre of the Universe'. There was a family sitting silently inside, eating (each other probably), and they all trooped out one by one to take a look at the TH, as clearly they'd never seen anything quite like him before. We got out of there pretty quick. No drama.

By the time we reached Yallingup, I'd forgotten which phobia I was most worried about, having passed through agoraphobia, arachnophobia, thermophobia, ophidiophobia, molysmophobia, levophobia, insectophobia and hodophobia.
No worries. Much.

Something about this area reminds me of California, and more specifically LA. Life would be totally impossible without a car (and this applies to every bit of Australia I've seen yet). There's one main road surrounded by trees and bush with only dirt tracks leading to anything resembling civilisation. The agoraphobia kicked in big time here (all accomodation being called a 'retreat'), so having retreated quite enough already for one week, I insisted we moved on to Margaret River, which at least resembled a village. There we found an apartment (thanks to ultra friendly helpful receptionist at the full hotel) with a real live television and a road with vague traffic sounds nearby. Next day on a Margaret River winery tour. Four vinyards, a cheese farm and chocolate factory later and I'm feeling a little more grounded. To Lake Cave and Mammoth Cave before the long drive back to Fremantle (where K lives), stopping on the way at Busselton to check out the underwater observatory. NOW we're talking. A couple of kilometres walk out to sea on a narrow piece of board in gale force winds (with railings on one side only) to get to the observatory (I'd love to see this pass a Lambeth health and safety test....) The observatory takes you 8 metres underwater to observe whatever sea life happens to be around at the time. No sharks unfortunately, but nevertheless totally brilliant.

There seems to be a readily available rent-a-crowd of the loveliest people in Freo and K did a fantastic job of creating a gorgeous 40th birthday party barbecue for the TH. I hate to stereotype, but in our first four days in Australia we'd been to four barbecues. Just sayin'.....

The quality of life here is amazing it has to be said. There are stars in the sky every night like you'd only normally see far out to sea, and the bird calls from the garden in the morning are those you'd only hear in a zoo back home. But in the centre of Perth on Friday night, was there a jazz gig to be found? Errrrr no. As the next nearest City is Adelaide, a mere 2500 kilometres away, I don't see a busman's holiday happening anytime soon, nor an emigration......


Anonymous wait all year for 1 & 3 turn up at once! said...

Thank goodness no emmigration imminant! Although you haven't arrived in Melbourne yet, I gather; there IS some jazz there..... so let's wait and see....

I don't even understand half those phobias... which brings on a sense of fear all its own... "phobicphobia" (the fear of not being afraid of nearly enough things, already!).
Right now I'm still struggling with the common or garden: returningtonewyorktoosoonphobia. Especially when things are swinging in a new and pleasant way....
I don't feel quite such a "Dag" anymore...

Hope you continue to have a WONDERFUL time at all those barbies under the stars.
What a CUTE godson!!!! How lovely!

D xxxxxx

11:01 PM, March 28, 2007  

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