This is a continuation of the Australia series that I haven’t returned to since April 8, 2012. It reports on a wildflower tour of Western Australia that Ruth & I took with great Australian friends, Robert and Lynette. The 4 of us rode the Indian Pacific train across the Nullarbor Plain from Sydney to Perth and joined an all-Australian group on a bus excursion taking us east to Kalgoorlie, south to Esperance, west to Cape Leeuwin and north to Perth. The first 28 installments tell about this leg (about 1/3 of the trip), ending in Margaret River, wine country.
Now Day 8, we would be in Fremantle, Perth’s port city, by noon. For Ruth and me, this would be our 2nd visit to this important Australian seaport. The trip was in rain and, except for a few mild attractions, uneventful, so I tried to focus on the passengers who were from all over Australia. Some had emigrated from England and were very happy to be away from its problems.
The passenger who fascinated me the most this particular day was Margaret, an elderly woman sitting across the aisle from the rear bus exit. Margaret got up while the bus was in motion to retrieve something from the overhead just as the bus lurched to the right. She did a backflip into the exit well. I expected to see the men who rushed to help lift her dead, broken body from the space, but instead they eased her out and into her seat, apparently not severely injured.
One man aboard who repeatedly tried to befriend me had such a thick Australian accent that I never understood a single word he said. Apparently my nodding and smiling a lot gave him the impression that I understood.
Another man name Brian was telling me about a $500 tip he received from Jerry Lewis as we pulled into Busselton, “a popular holiday resort with a slightly faded air,” according to Lonely Planet. Its claim to credibility & biggest attraction is its jetty. The longest wooden one in the Southern Hemisphere, its construction began in 1865 and ended 95 years later with a 6,040 foot projection into Geographe Bay. It had to be lengthy for horse-drawn trucks to load timber products, I assume very long logs. A couple of major restoration projects have added a museum and an underwater observatory that draw almost half a million people each year to this now non-working jetty. Go figure.
The oldest limestone church in Western Australia, Anglican St. Mary’s, is in Busselton we were being told as we left town and I fought nodding off.
I revived when I spotted a dead kangaroo in the middle of the road, a not so unusual sight. Gwen, our well-informed and frank tour guide, saw it too and noted a problem in the Northern Territory. Drunk Aboriginals sometimes go to sleep in the middle of roads and get run over. As a result, its government had recently imposed a 130 kilometer speed limit on NT’s roads. Gwen went on to note that also human roadkill are forgetful visitors (like me) who pull over to take a photo on the wrong side of the road or try to pass a road train and don’t make it.
Lightening up as we entered Bunbury, Gwen mentioned that local mineral sands were now yielding gold rutite and zircons. I had never heard of the former.
A bustling industrial city of 60,000, Bunbury is infrastructurally neat but generic (see the proof above). Except for bottlenose dolphins and a boardwalk, travel literature can find nothing to say about it. At least we were only 104 miles from Fremantle.