Travelling tittle-tattle, tall tales and shameless name-dropping by Jon ‘Don’t Call Me’ Norman

About Me

Sunday, 17 December 2006

Rip van Winkle

Lazy mornings spent in bed aren't exactly the norm over here.  When the cricket's on I need to be out of the door a good hour before play starts.  When I'm being spared the pain of watching England play I'm usually hungover after a night of celebrating that very fact.  And if my hostel room air con isn't working I'm lucky to escape drowning in my own sweat.

And then of course there are the room mates.  If they're not having sex, having a snore-off or emitting high pitched squeaking sounds from their nether regions, they're 'morning people' and love to let you know it.  Don't get me wrong.  It's hardly the same as working on the breakfast show and the bleary eyed and downright surreal 4am cab.  But it's still a rarity to get to stare at the unusual stain on the ceiling/top bunk past 8am in the morning.

Last Monday I embarked on a 'get out of Perth and forget about the cricket' 3-day tour down to Albany.  It meant the first of 3 consecutive 6am starts.  Our group was 11 strong and led by a ginger dude called Pete.  We had to cover quite a distance and take in a fair few sites of interest so at times it seemed a bit of a whistle stop tour.  But it was more than worth it.  I met some great chaps and chapesses.  And thanked my lucky stars I wasn't on the 5-day tour which included three of the most boring, sanctimonious and patronising English blokes I've ever had the misfortunate to meet.  Shamus, if you're reading this, you are a complete tool.

As I write it's Sunday evening and I've been sitting in the 36 degree heat of the Waca cricket ground in Perth for the past four days.  For this reason, plus the fact that I've had too many nights on the sauce and I'm awaiting England's Ashes demise tomorrow, I'll keep this blog relatively short and let the pictures do the talking.

The first day we set off and after an hour or so drive we stopped off at the coast where dolphins swim to the beach and let you feed them.  Which is good of them.  However after a 45 minute wait the buggers weren't to be seen so we had to leave.  I hope they all get eaten by sharks.

Another stint in the coach and we found ourselves at the foot of the longest and most pointless jetty in the Southern Hemisphere.  It costs $2.50 to walk the bloody thing.  Our bus driver had already told us we didn't have enough time for this so we thought 'sod it' and so this photo will have to suffice.

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Not a great start to proceedings.  However the next stop off was a sight to behold.  Apparently 100 years ago an English dude lost three horses.  So he tried to find them and stumbled upon this cave.  Not sure why he thought the horses would be down there.  But anyway it was pretty damn impressive.  It was full of weird looking rock formations, stalactites, stalagmites and a Styracosaurus.  It was cool.

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A couple of days after I visited the NGilgi caves, three Australian elephants got into a fight on the ground above the last photo.  The shockwaves these marauding trunketed ones caused led to this entire ceiling collapsing.  60 German tourists were impaled at the bottom, cameras in hand.  A sad day for all involved.

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Day one of our trip ended with a stop off at a vineyard winery place.  We sampled loads of bottles of wine that tasted exactly the same and then bought the cheapest one we could.  Then we retired back to our camp and spent a boring evening with the 5-day tour party.  It consisted of two hugely unattractive girls who spent the entire evening sitting on each other.  In their demented wisdom they thought this would impress the boys.  Oh, wait, it worked!  Because the boys were about 40 years old, boring as fuck and spent their time lecturing everyone on the practicalities of lighting fires, leering at the two female beasts rollicking around on the sofa, pretending they knew about wine all the while giving each other knowing winks if anyone else dared speak.  Pricks.  I studiously ignored them and day dreamed about beating them all to death with their own shoes.

Another early start the next day and a chance for me to prove to myself that Australia had turned me into the man I clearly am not.  I'm shit scared of heights and we were taken to a tree 75 metres tall.  It's called the Bicentennial Tree and is used for a looking post to spot for forest fires.  You can climb all the way to the top.  Since arriving here I've tried to throw myself into every situation I find myself in.  But I just couldn't do this one.  In fact I couldn't even look at the people who did climb it.  It made me feel rather poorly to watch them scampering to their certain doom.  So I went for a little walk, all the while expecting to hear the kind of horrifying death plunge scream that you hear every time England lose another wicket and a chap in the top tier decides 'enough's enough'.

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I was so pleased to find out that the next task was a clamber along a tree top walkway.  It was okay though.  This one was just 40 metres tall and the bridge you walked along only wobbled and swayed alarmingly when more than one person was on it.  So, I happily clung on for dear life while our party and the 5-day tour started doing the running-man in lead boots for the entire walk.

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We then walked along the canopy and I tried to take a photo whilst standing in the hollowed out section of a tree.  And this is it.

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SPAN>And this is my first attempt which was ruined by a fat kid who popped into view.  This is me telling him to bugger off. 

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The kid was only 9 or 10 but he must have weighed more than me.  He was wearing a wonderfully ironic and self-depreciating T-Shirt emblazoned with the slogan 'Future Basketball player'.  Ha ha.  I don't think so chunkboy.

Here he is again, ruining another of my snaps.

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We then drove to the beach where I had the best moment of my trip.  Since landing in Australia I've dreamt of my first beach cricket session.  It's something me and my family used to play every year.  It was another beautiful beach, and despite a late gate-crashing appearance by those 5-day tossers, we enjoyed a cracking game.

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So, after all this, and taking some nice snaps, we ended up in Albany.  Albany is a pretty quiet place to be on a weekend.  And as we turned up on Tuesday night the search for an all night boozer was a fruitless one.  Still, we managed to have a good night's entertainment.  And once back at the hostel we got the bottles of wine out and attempted to continue the festivities.  It was such a shame that nobody had a bottle opener.  One girl was so desperate for a drink she tried to open hers with a chop stick.  I kid you not. When that failed, the sight of her ravenously chewing away at the top of the bottle was enough to send me on my way to bed for the night.

The last day was spent making the long journey back to Perth via a steep hill climb, followed by a sheer rock face clamber.  Apparently the view was amazing.  But as I clung to my rock, with the wind whistling round my ears, I felt too unsafe to take many photos.

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We then went and looked at some rocks called The Gap.  And here they are.

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Then we sat by a blow hole awaiting a water explosion which never occurred.

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We also checked out a maze.  Hampton Court it was not.  And I didn't even bother taking my camera out of its case.  And to finish we stopped off at another vineyard for another wine lesson.

This one was much better than the one we did before.  The woman actually explained a lot of the jargon and described the wines in layman terms.  She was also sober. This wasn't the case with the woman at the first winery.  While being taught about Chiraz Sav Cabernet whatevers our driver and his assistant were outside preparing the food.  Midway through the talk we heard an almighty crash and a cry of 'Oh, Shiiiiiiiiit!'  We all peered out the window to see our driver desperately trying to hold onto a table full of food and cutlery.  He failed.

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I grabbed my camera and took a quick snap through the window before opening the door to get another.  When he saw the camera he went a bit mental shouting 'No camera's!!!!!!' He did this whilst performing a cross between a rain dance and punk stomp, all the while brandishing his fist.  Ha ha ha!!!!!  It was hilarious.

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Although, he didn't find it so funny and he was in a real mood for about 45 minutes.  We didn't care though.  I had got a great snap and it meant we didn't have to eat any of the wet lettuce and soggy cucumber he'd prepared.

A few short hours later we made it back to Perth.  Our driver cheered up once we got back on the coach and as we were all slightly tipsy we played games and he did a quiz.  I tried to cheat.

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And that was about it.  I arrived back in town refreshed, with some great memories and a funny story or two.  I was almost looking forward to the cricket.

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