Someone told me a long time ago that Western Australia is often cheekily referred to as “Wait Around” Australia. I have found this to be all too true. I fully expected to jump on a plane, train or kangaroo after the holidays and go explore some other corner of Australia. But I have not. I am still in Perth. I am still in the same hostel. I’ve surprised myself and settled into a comfortable little routine here. Settled.
Well. Not entirely. I have been working away at plans for a grand Road Trip with Shane, my Irish partner in crime. “Plans” may be a strong word, though. It’s more of an endeavor to pad the bank accounts as much as possible with the intention of hitting the road. The skeleton of a plan that we do have is to buy a camper van and head South. And from there, we’ll play it by ear.
Following the inevitable comedy of errors, mishaps and general obstacles that happen whenever I try to plan anything, we are finally – finally – nearing our departure date. On a related note, hopefully this blog will become a lot more interesting in the near future.
In the meantime, a little update.
I have been working for the Western Australian Government in the Department of Education (nice one, Universe!). It’s your garden variety administrative work: not terribly exciting, but not terrible. I traded battling malevolent spiders with stubborn copier machines. Lateral move? It is nice to be surrounded by people, though. Everyone here thinks I’m Irish. I have stopped correcting them. I like the idea of creating an Irish alias. You know, just in case.
In an effort to quell the restlessness and impatience a touch, Shane and I pulled a sickie from work a few weeks ago and went to Rottnest Island. Rottnest is Dutch for Nest of Rats, named so presumably for the weird rodents that inhabit it: quokkas. They look like a cross between a beaver and a mangy kangaroo. One quickly understands why the quokka population has nearly been wiped out save for Rottnest and another tiny island – they’re slow, kinda dopey and far too trusting. They are, however, another example of how Australia is awesome – there is no shortage of weird animals.
Rottnest is a very popular and very expensive tourist hot spot for either a day trip or overnight camping, accessible by about an half hour ferry ride. It’s small and beautiful, surrounded by unreal white sand beaches and cerulean blue water, and a small cluster of little rustic looking shops, bakeries and restaurants. The idea is to rent a bike and cycle the 22 km circuit, stopping at the beaches to go for a swim or a snorkel, surreptitiously feed the quokkas in spite of what the signs say, and finish up with a drink and some deep fried seafood. Which is exactly what we did. It was just what I needed to tide me over until the big adventure starts.
Also, I nearly stole a koala. I would have, too, had the koala wrangler not hovered so much. We had gone to the Cohunu Wildlife Park near Perth where for an extra 15 dollars they let you cuddle with the koalas. Ethically it’s a little suspect, but it’s hard to resist the temptation. They are like little stoned old men with fur that’s not quite as soft as you think it’s going to be (think Pomeranian crossed with steel wool). They settle into your arms, chew on their eucalyptus leaves and regard their surroundings with perfect indifference.
The rest of the park was somewhat dilapidated and haphazardly organized. Inexplicably, large broken statues of dinosaurs and scorpions were scattered about. The looked like the ruins of some tacky theme park. Miniature horses, donkeys, llamas and all sorts of strange looking birds wandered around freely. There were a few enclosures for the critters not allowed to wander. One for the evil looking ostriches who were preoccupied with what looked like a very awkward and ill received mating dance. Another for sleeping dingos and the echidna, a rotund hedgehog looking little creature related to the platypus. Yet another petting zoo style enclosure that you could walk around in and annoy the herd of bored kangaroos and other marsupials. One got the impression that someone had completely forgotten about this park, and the animals were too laid back to notice or care.
That is all for now. Soon to come: the fun times of trying to buy a backpacker van that isn’t completely useless.