Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Western Australia Day 1: Tour to Pinnacles (5th July 2007)

We started our day early at 6am, cracking up in laughter to Jan's findings that her maid didn’t pack her panties in her luggage – she had her clothes and matching underwear sets laid out for her maid to pack back home so we couldn't quite make out why her maid decided not to include the panties. She ended up borrowing one from Sylvia (I should have taken a photo!) and had to buy some for the rest of her stay.

5 of us – mum, me, Sandra, Jan and Jenny went on a tour with Australian Pinnacle Tours booked by Peter (Cynthia’s brother) who works for Valentino Holidays - he got us a deal of AUD280 per person for a 2-day tour.

Day 1 was the Pinnacles Desert 4WD Adventure tour. Sylvia dropped us off in the city at the corner of Hay and Pier St by 7.30am where we hopped on the coach and headed north. The ladies sat with each other while I sat with a German school teacher who was currently working in Melbourne (Alisa??), a lone traveller in Perth.

Our first stop was at Caversham Wildlife Park, arriving at 8.30am and did a ½-hour tour of vicinity – took photos of us feeding the kangaroos (ops, somebody’s excited - see photo of mum and the male kangaroo), a large wombat and some koalas. I kind of felt the tour was rather hurried - would have been nicer if we could spend more time at the park. Photos taken from Sylvia's house to the park: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157600739221283/detail/

We stopped for lunch at Cervantes Pinnacles Motel – simple buffet lunch of bread, rice, salads, meats for sandwiches brought there by the tour bus as part of package. It was a 15-minute ride to see the Pinnacles at Nambung National Park and we walked around for 30-45 minutes to see the different limestone formations. These shells were broken down into lime rich sands which were carried inland to form high mobile dunes. The Pinnacles were formed from lime leaching from the sand and by rain cementing the lower levels of the dune into a soft limestone. Vegetation forms an acidic layer of soil and humus. A hard cap of calcrete develops above the softer limestone. Cracks in the calcrete are exploited by plant roots. The softer limestone continues to dissolve. Quartz sand fills the channels that form. Vegetation dies and winds blow away the sand covering the eroded limestone. The Pinnacles appear. Photos from the Pinnacles: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157600741472920/detail

The weather had been generally warm the whole day (about 18 degrees) but started to shower at the Pinnacles. We were quite lucky to escape the pouring rain and after 2 hours on the bus (my god, the bus rides were tiring - our legs were short for the seats causing leg and bum sore!), we arrived in Lancelin at 4.30pm to do the 4WD ride over the sand dunes (reminds me of a less exciting Haglund ride at the Christchurch Antarctic Centre - another story for another posting). The sand in the dunes are so white and fine! Hmm, I think it'll be fun to drive one of those 4x4 quad bikes there though it can be dangerous if you don't know the dunes well. The dunes changes as the winds blow; what you see today may not be what you saw yesterday or see tomorrow. The highlight of the day had to be sand boarding, sleighing downhill on the dunes. The board is like a snowboard with a small foot rest in the front. We had to first use a candle to wax the sides and the bottom, then carry the board uphill (it was difficult to walk up the fine dune - the trick is to step into other people's footprints). To manoeuvre the board, sit on it with your legs bent and feet on the rest (don't let your legs fall outside - not a wise move), lean forward a little to push off and use your hands to slow yourself down. And weeeeeeeeeeeeeee...down you go! Heaps of fun, just tiring to drag yourself up for your next ride (hmm, they should have a pulley like at the ski fields...). More photos to view: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157600741982780/detail/

Despite the long bus ride, the commentary was pretty good. Lots of Singaporeans/Malaysians on board. It gets dark around here about 5.30pm in winter.

Came back home to another home-cooked meal of shark-fin soup, pineapple rice and chicken curry (we are so pampered by Sylvia!). Jan and I wanted to go salsa dancing so we all headed out to Burswood Casino thinking that being the usual Thursday night, they will have salsa dancing but turns out to be loud thumping music. Sandra went to the casino while the rest went to the nearby hotel lobby to get a drink. Because it was about 10.30pm, they wouldn’t serve us any drinks (bar closed) and then took away the candles and starting turning off the lights! What a bummer – no dancing, no drink and now, no place to hang out!! Went home feeling rather disappointed... :(

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