Thursday, 26 November 2009

Australian travellogue: Perth to Albany

1 Nov 2009. Did I mention that the drive from Perth to Albany was the most boring part of our trip? Yes? No?

Doesn't matter. Anyway, it was necessary but it was boringly boring. Considering that we had freshly arrived in Australia and were looking forward to moving around in a foreign country, this first drive - or any drive for that matter - should be looked at with a lot of anticipation without boredom setting.

But I got bored. Except for that little diversion (at the top of the map) that took my wife and I through Serpentine, the rest of the journey was a long and monotonous drive straight down the Albany Highway. Not many cars on the road and there was the wide open space around us. Where's the excitement? Therefore, I shan't be spending too much time elaborating on this part of the trip.

We passed through this little place called North Bannister at about 10.30am, stopping only for a nature's call. This building was the most visible sign for miles around us. They were probably not lying when they claimed to be a half-way house. That's how isolated it was.

At 11.15am, we arrived at Williams. We drove a bit around the small town, having heard much about the Williams Woolshed and their oldest community building, but apart from the cafeteria and the obvious tourist shops with their overblown prices, there wasn't much to impress me.

After lunch, we pressed ahead again in the south-south-easterly direction, passing through other small towns like Arthur River at about 2.20pm. Again, this convenience store in the middle of no where made it look like a one-building town along the same straight road.

Talking about roads in Australia's south-western region, it amused me to no end that a major road like this Albany Highway which used to be the lifeline connecting Perth and Albany for at least a century - maybe it still is - is only one lane in either direction. The only time you can ever think of overtaking a slow-moving vehicle is at designated stretches where the road widens into a double lane. Otherwise, it is only a single lane.

Anyway, Kojonup loomed ahead at about 4.45pm which was just about the biggest community we saw since leaving Williams. We took in a few interesting landmarks along the main road, including this Hard Work Cafe. I should have asked them whether they sold any "Hard Work Cafe" t-shirts...

But it dawned on us that the whole of the Australian countryside may perhaps have shut down because it was a Sunday. It was with some relief that we reached Mount Barker at 4.10pm because it was a really nice place with a commercial centre but except for this bakery and one of two other establishments, there wasn't any sign of people moving around.

A grim reminder than speed kills: a car impaled on a verticle post. Speed limits are strictly imposed on Australian roads. Along the highways, it can be anything between 90kph and 110 kph. As we moved into towns, the speed limit could drop to 60kph and in urbanised areas, only 50kph.

So, okay, on the second day of our trip to Australia, travelling from Perth to Albany took us about 10 hours to cover about 490km. Of course, the travel time included the many stops we made, especially the two hours at the Western Australia Buddhist Society in Serpentine. But it was a long drive. I couldn't wait sooner to take a rest.

Next: Mt Clarence's war memorial
Previous: Serpentine, Western Australia

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